Flash fiction – He Understood. (NSFW)

The excuses tumble through Rowan’s head. It’s war. Things are done in war. Sides become blurred. There is no such thing as family, only us and them.

Rowan still finds himself trudging back towards the shop in the snow. It had been abandoned, they’d thought. Looted, pulled apart, as if someone had gone looking for it’s soul and had been pissed when they hadn’t found it.

The women cooking in the back room had been wearing masks. By right, they shouldn’t have been there – this was disputed territory. By right his captain should have brought them in to base for questioning. Women cooking food for the protesters wasn’t unusual. Women pretending to be supporters when they were actually spies wasn’t unusual either.

With his hands shaking on his weapon, all Rowan had been able to think was he was glad it was Jonathan who was leading  the patrol today. If it had been Cameron there would have been a distinct possibility of war crimes taking place in the back of that shop. Jonathan though, was committed to two things in his life – his wife and his compassion – and so they hadn’t even brought them in.

They had turned them around, pushed them up against the wall, and stepped back. They’d loaded rubbed bullets into their guns. They’d fired. Rowan can still feel the recoil, can still taste the blood that had filled his mouth as one of the women shrieked.

He’d known that voice.

And now he was here, hoping… well, he wasn’t sure what for. Danielle… it might not have been her. It might not have been anyone important. It could have gone so so badly.

The cold bit at him, tearing the protective layer of heat from his face as he pulled the scarf off his face. He was dressed in civvies, but those that he’d passed on the road to get here had skirted around him none-the-less. They’d known.

The door swung open under the pressure of his hand. The layer of dust that they’d disturbed had settled again, and the shop smelled of must instead of cardamom and bay leaves. No more cooking here.

Danielle was there though, sitting on the front counter, her face blank, her eyes forcing him back a step.

There were no lines in this world. No boundaries. There was just disputed territory. He understood. He understood when she grabbed his hair, forced him down to his knees. He’s understood as he breathed in her scent. He’d understood as she’d pushed him back to the sleeping bag in the back corner, behind the remnants of the front counter. He’d understood.

“Keep your fucking hands on the sheets.”

He’d done that. Gasped and tried not to move as she pressed the flat of a small blade against his forehead, moved above him and whispered “me first,” into his ear.

And when afterwards, when he was gasping and shaking and desperately wanted to hold her, she slipped off him. He could see the egg shaped bruises on her back, could feel the heat pouring off the damaged flesh.

He pulled himself out, his breath ghosting along her back, a warning. When she didn’t move away, he kissed her, there, feather light.

She relaxed back into him, let him put a hand around her waist.

Yes. She understood too.

This was written for Chuck Wendigs Flash Fiction Challenge. Picture attributed to Bobbie Hanvey, photographer, from the Bobbie Hanvey Photographic Archives Archives, John J. Burns Library, Boston College. Taken from: http://flic.kr/p/7ksbtd Some rights reserved.

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