Death and its possibility have always been part of his life; as a soldier, they have their rightful place in everything he does, thinks, says. And yet, he never properly stopped and thought ‘What then?’.
He made predictions, expected the moment to come much earlier, he even wished and invoked it for a big part of his life, when he was trapped in the threshold, in the living hell the patriots had laid out for him.
It is safe to assume that John never really cared about what could have happened once he died, there really was no point, and even now that Foxdie is painfully and excruciatingly shutting down his organs, he’d rather focus on the taste of his last cigar and the thought that, at least, as much as he didn’t want to admit it, David can count as something good that he did.
There’s a lot that comes with this moment, the ‘old age’ dies with him and he can’t help but feel like that it’s fitting that it should be so slow, painful, and pathetic. Because bullets hurt much less and leave no time to think and regret… That’s what he deserves, probably. He can only hope that his mistakes finally die with him.
Every breath comes harder and burns hotter, like nails and shards of glass being poured down his throat, it never seems to reach the end… Until it finally does and there’s a moment of blessed darkness and quiet and nothingness.
Only now there’s time to wonder what can possibly come next. Will it be Hell? Void? Some kind of payment?
Turns out Death isn’t about retribution or punishment. It’s about closure. Because right now, in front of him stands The Boss and boy, do they have stuff to sort. Or maybe not.
He finally understood, while he was dying on her grave, what she tried to accomplish, and what was the world she wished for… How wrong he had been.
Her expression is calm, she’s not angry or sad or resentful. But she does sigh with patience, a knowing look in her eyes “You utter cretin” she mumbles and he can’t reply, he’s a rookie all over again, blushing and looking away. He feels scolded.
She doesn’t add to that and there’s no need, really. Just as he doesn’t need to apologize or justify himself. He had been blind and a fool and couldn’t even understand that it never was about betraying him, it was about getting her own hands and name dirty just so the next generation could steer away from past mistakes, clean. And yet, they made it worse, he betrayed her and not the other way around.
She forgives him though, it’s clear in her blue eyes. No need for words. Her hand moves to point out a door that stands alone in the field of white flowers, their scent is gentle while they wave in the breeze.
“You get this chance only once” she explains “Don’t waste it.”
She is there to guide him one last time, he realizes, not even Death can prevent her from showing the way to the helpless fools that supposedly followed in her steps.
The Boss chuckles at his obvious frown “You’re nervous.” she states, moves her hand to take his “Don’t be. It’s like a halo jump.” She edges closer and brushes her lips on his forehead, tender and reassuring, while her grip is as tight and firm as ever “This is the time for closure. But not just yours. You owe it to others.”
“One last duty” he grumbles and The Boss nods.
“Just tell me one thing.” she adds, her voice lower while she looks away, towards the horizon “How was he?” there’s no need for a name, John knows who she means.
“He was the best in everything he did. And the most loyal to the end.” Too bad his loyalty rested in him, he doesn’t say but always knew. Neither does The Boss, she smiles with fondness instead, allowing herself to look the most human she ever did.
They are in front of the door now and her hands move to cover his face briefly while he feels it change, going back to his younger self, around that age when he started screwing everything up with his mere existence, after her funeral.
“This isn’t about what you or anyone else deserve.” She reminds him “This is about making things right.” And wouldn’t that be a first for him? How ludicrous to realize this late that he always sought retribution instead of justice, just like Zero always sought control. But making things right doesn’t mean you own them nor it means you’re going to like them.
So yeah, a brand new world which makes him nervous, especially when he’s too old for it. And either way, it would be too late to change anything. As if he wasn’t a hot mess of regret already.
“Jack” she calls him and that’s her command voice “open that damn door already.” It’s harsh enough to make his back snap straight, his whole body tenses, ready to obey, his hand is on the handle before he can even think.
As John steps in, he turns one last time to see The Boss is already far, pacing through the flowers, somewhere in the distance he can see gray rainclouds hovering over two figures waiting for her.
When he finally crosses over, he’s in a study. He recognizes it before he even notices the two figures facing each other on either side of the desk.
“That was a vicious fight we had, even for our standards.” Comes the soft voice of Zero, watching the scene from the opposite side of the room. They both look like their younger selves currently shouting, soundless, in front of them, even the clothes are the same.
He remembers having that fight, but he can’t for the life of him remember what was it about. That’s just how pointless it all becomes after you die.
“I thought I was doing the right thing” Zero admits and his usually carefully controlled voice sounds terribly forlorn, shaky with the knowledge of how wrong he actually had been and it makes John flinch because he can relate all too well.
“What you did to me couldn't possibly have seemed right.” He finds himself saying, it still hurts because they had been friends, he cared that the other would consider him more than cannon fodder, they fought so much after the mission in Russia because they considered each other equals, and yet, at some point, he became nothing more than a resource slash weapon for the Patriots and Zero turned into evil incarnate in his own vision.
Their past gangers have now frozen and Zero crosses the room to stand in front of him “It never did. It couldn’t. Ever.” He concedes “But I figured that it would have been a necessary evil. That whatever world I tried to create had to have you in it somehow. But I never wanted for you to be used as it later happened.”
Zero’s carefully blank expression falls to reveal hurt “I would have never allowed for you to be used as a battery. If only I hadn’t been…” his voice falters while he frowns deeply, as if turning into a comatose vegetable had been a rookie mistake he could have avoided.
In a sense, it had been Zero’s own making, but still, it hits close enough that they both ended up trapped into their own selves, everything they put in motion just kept going even without them and escaped their control entirely.
There’s a moment of silent realization as they can only assess the consequences of their own stubborn blindness.
“I was so wrong” Zero admits with a shaky exhale “And everything I did to you… Only because I couldn’t admit to you or to myself that…” he sighs and shakes his head “I just wanted you to be there, to be part of my vision.” He sounds so utterly dejected and pained, like a man that failed at confessing his love.
John makes him look at his eyes “I did just the same” he admits “And made the same mistakes, suffered the same consequences.” It took them dying to admit as much… Death does put things into perspective.
Zero offers him a bashful little smile “I feel better now” he says “And I’m happy that it was you that put an end to my existence.”
It had been a mercy killing, even John can’t deny it, so he returns the smile “I like to think you would have done the same if you could.” He admits, but that’s… That’s probably one of the many secrets Zero will take with him to the grave, because his smile turns unreadable and he just pats the other’s shoulder before stepping aside, allowing him to get to the door on the other side of the room, seemingly happy to stay behind with their past gangers.
When he crosses the next door he already knows who will be there. He doesn’t need to look around and see that he’s standing in one of the Patriots’ safe hideouts, nor he needs to focus to remember when that was. He goes straight to the middle of the room where another scene from his life is frozen in time…
His past self is there with disappointment and anger painted on his face… But there is disgust too and it’s not easy to realize how obvious it is and how ugly it looks. Especially when it is directed to Eva, who could have picked on it with her eyes closed. Back then he had felt entitled, though.
That was when she had told him that she had taken part in the ‘Enfants Terribles’ project and that it was too late. That was the moment something irremediably changed between them. Whatever frail balance of semi-trust they could have had broke right then and he drifted away from her.
He probably would have done so either way, but that moment made sure of it. With time he got to understand that she’d rather have something certain from him at the price of his esteem than keep following his flimsy whims. But right then he felt so utterly betrayed, the most sickly twisted thoughts had run through his head.
The two figures are still and frozen, so John takes his time to look at the scene as an outsider. He can clearly see how defensive Eva is in her posture, her eyes filled with tense nervousness… He remembers her as defiant, challenging even. Now it’s clear that his senses had been clouded by spite and there’s no doubt she had been facing her own fear of his reactions just to be fair and let him know.
What did he ever do to deserve such care? He never asked himself because it sure came in handy; it was useful that he had such a strong influence on so many skillful people. Right now, though, there’s no use for it and he’s left with questions about what does he do to people to have them so enamored with him.
Luckily enough, ‘past Eva’ moves to turn and look at him, she gives him one long look and then steps closer, leaving his copy behind, frozen in the memory.
“It had to be this moment, right?” she says, pushing back her long golden hair, half-smile dancing on her lips, body lean and daft as it always was “The one when I lost you.” She adds, bitterness stinging her voice and face.
He would want to say that this changed nothing, that whatever it was that bloomed between them was just following its course, but that wouldn’t be completely true. Of course, she never was among those he really trusted and she never wanted to, but that revelation right there made him see her as selfish and dangerous.
Now John can only shift on the spot and look between her and his past self “You can’t hold against me that I was mad at being used like that” he reasons, voice low.
Eva shakes her head “Of course not. You were right about that” she then fixes her gaze on him, the patented look of an authoritative mother “But fuck you for making me need something tangible from you. Fuck you for acting so high and mighty that this one selfish thing cost me losing you entirely” her voice is clear and unflinching.
He knows he took enough from her and she never asked for anything in return, if not his reassurance that she mattered to him in some measure. Because she couldn’t know, she wasn’t Adam.
“I never demanded to be your only one” she adds in a sweeter voice “God forbid. Who cares about such trivial things? I’m not a child” her shoulders slump lightly as she turns her back on him “I only wanted to matter to you, to have a place in your life. I clearly wasn’t ready to pay the price for it.” a soft snort escapes her before she faces him again “I’m not Adam, I just loved you.” And that had been her final downfall. But at least it only cost Eva her life.
They don’t address what happened to Adamska, it’s not her place… It’s no one’s place, really.
“Even though I loved you more than words could describe, I could never show as much naked raw devotion. Such selflessness.” Her eyes trail back to his ganger, her lips pressed in a thin line “For all my best intentions, I couldn’t help but take something for myself” her hands move to press softly on her belly “I needed to have something, some reward, mindless of your will. As I said I loved you… But Adam… He completely devoted everything to you.” She swallows against a painful knot in her throat because it is too much to fathom and it brings back memories.
“And I even thought we were competing for you at first” she adds with a snort “It took me time to understand how it actually was and… Yeah. I never stood a chance.”
John tries not to think about Adamska, he will have to meet him eventually, but he offers her a quiet smile “I doubt you even wanted to have a chance at that.”
“Exactly” she admits, eyes swimming in tears despite her smile.
They are silent then and John pulls her in a gentle hug “You deserved better” he whispers to her ear and Eva chuckles “I know. We all did, but you know how it is.”
Some things you can’t control, he reasons.
They stretch their hug for a while longer, it feels terribly final and it surely is, but at least Eva got to tell him to go fuck himself which sounds quite fair.
When they part, she gently shoves him towards the next door “You won’t get away this easily next” she says with a soft laugh.
He already suspected that much at this point and he knows who is waiting on the other side.
John is conflicted: on one hand, he longs to see him, on the other, the length of things left unsaid between them would scare anybody. He takes his time, not even trying to anticipate what could be waiting for him because their whole story had been built on what they didn’t or couldn’t say; they already knew, after all.
When he turns to say goodbye to Eva, she is already gone and with her, his copy. John sighs and quietly crosses over to the other side. He finds himself in a dark room, moonlight streaming from the window, an empty bed in the middle, and countless vases of white flowers scattered around, their delicate scent as nostalgic as ever.
There are no past gangers here, no scene frozen in time, that’s not a stage to present him some unseen truth through cathartic realization. That’s a place pulled from their shared memories and all of them are extremely unique and rare.
John looks around himself: the way the moon shines and the sweet scent in the air, the warm temperature… It’s enough for him to pinpoint exactly what night this was. He remembers this, it was before the attack on Cyprus before Venom woke. In those months he and Adam tried to spend every waking moment together even though it wasn’t nearly enough. It never was.
“It was the most heartbreaking thing you ever put me through” comes the low raspy voice from somewhere on his right, in the darkness “to watch over you, never knowing if you were going to wake up. If only I had known back then that those nine years had just been a prelude. A mere taste.”
When he finally walks in the light, Adam looks as gorgeous as he did back then, even more so, that time only nine years had passed.
His pale blue eyes glimmer in the moonlight, his blond hair almost looks silver, and John had terribly missed those thin lips, the high cheekbones, the handsome bone structure that had something noble to it. He smiles at him, it’s quiet and controlled, one could even say polite, hiding beautiful melancholy frailty that he surely allows to show only in front of John (who is the only one that can clearly see it).
He is left speechless, how long had it been since he last saw him? Besides, that had been his ‘favorite’ look for Adam, when after nine years he found a man waiting for him, all of his boyish softness had grown into pointed elegance, sharp lines, and handsome intensity.
Of course, those weren’t the words Adamska spoke to him back then, but the way he steps closer and takes him by the hand is every bit the same feline strut. He makes him sit on the bed and they are so close now it would take John just a move to kiss the other. It was what happened back then…
But right now, Adam looks like he has so many things to say, like it almost pains him not to speak and, to be honest, it always seemed like that when he actually looked at Adam. No matter how much he wants to reach and kiss him, this isn’t about John. So he patiently, and not without difficulties, waits, heart racing madly in his chest like it never did before.
“I need you to know” Adam starts and his English has no particular accent or cadence, it is the purest language he only used with John “There used to be a whole part of me that you didn’t know, whether I wanted it or not. It never felt true to me, honestly, but it existed nonetheless.” He looks away from his eyes like that’s some kind of crime and he would like to ask why the other acts so guilty about it, but the Ocelot is quicker and beats him with his next words “Whatever side of me you didn’t get to know felt fake to me. That’s how devoted I always had been.” He is even closer now, so much so that he’s whispering those words against his lips.
“Why are you saying it like you’re apologizing?” John asks softly and he leans closer still while replying “I don’t know” his hands slip beneath the fabric of his t-shirt “I probably just can’t have you not knowing this… Not knowing something about me.” As he says this he’s taking the piece of clothing off him, revealing toned defined muscles, pale blue eyes dancing across his chest, taking in the sight, and there it is: the naked unabashed devotion.
No one else ever looked at him like that and that look, that unfiltered worship, he himself never took for granted. He might have overlooked most of the purest love confessions that many poured on him, but the look in Adam’s eyes was like a celestial body shining especially for him… And with time it only grew brighter.
Adam climbs in his lap, fingers buried in his messy hair, he pulls him into slow deep kisses and John’s hands can’t keep from exploring his shoulders and back, all the way down to his narrow hips, fingers slipping under his shirt and tracing the lines of his muscles.
“So, I’m a selfish piece of shit,” John says in a rough whisper, lips grazing that sensitive spot right beneath the other’s ear that sends shivers all through his body.
Adam sucks a deep breath, hands clawing on his shoulders while they press closer “Yes, but it’s not my problem” he replies with a shaky chuckle “I had you figured all out since our first meeting, John.” The way he says his name makes it sound like something sacred and it collides violently with how practical he is being about it. Adamska pulls back to take off his own top and offer himself to the other’s gaze.
Rough lips are on his neck immediately, leaving vicious marks and love bites behind, just to underline possession even though he never needed to.
“You can’t help it” Adam sighs, offering more of his neck and chest to such abrasive care “Snakes are greedy… It just comes naturally to you. You kept asking and I kept giving and I would do it all over again” he bites on his lower lip to swallow a moan while possessive hands undo his pants and grope him all over, heat quietly expanding and seeping through his skin.
“You swallowed me whole and I allowed it. I wanted it. nothing was too valuable, not my wishes, not my will, not my body or mind or being.” He then forces John into a consuming kiss, all teeth and hunger while he rolls them over, their hands fumble to take off the remaining clothes with an urgency and a fury they didn’t feel until then.
Only when they are naked, bodies pressed together in a heated pile on the wrecked bed, they do take some time to look at each other. If only John could find the words to describe what lies in the other’s eyes… And yet, how can anyone describe the deepest infinity?
“Nothing could hold a thing compared to you” Adam whispers, welcoming him between his legs, giving up control with such faithful abandon, his breath comes ragged as soon as John enters him. They had been doing that every day, indulged in themselves so much, their bodies fell into place all too easily but still, that tightening heat never failed to feel perfect, like he was sliding home, and right now it is just as they remember.
John sets a slow pace then, aiming to reach the deepest he could, watching the other coming undone beneath his eyes, between his hands, back arching, chest heaving, moans leaving his lips.
“I t-tore myself to pieces” Adam presses out between a gasp and a groan “lost everything that made me ME.” It should be strange to receive such confessions in a moment like that, but it really isn’t. Their intimacy had always been about all the things they couldn’t say or do.
“I never asked you to do any of that.” John almost growls, hips picking up speed just to make his words more punitive. Adam whimpers, insides twitching at the forceful pace, but he welcomes it. He always does.
Just like that time, Adam takes it and then rolls them over once again, straddling the other that is left startled enough. He smirks, challenging, and sets the new pace, riding him the way he likes it.
“Of course not” he replies breathlessly “I scarcely required you to ask. I just knew what you needed and complied” his hips move sinfully, grinding so good, he squeezes helpless sobs from the other.
He can’t help the satisfied grin that creases his mouth before he presses the fingers of a gloved hand against John’s lips, watching, enthralled, while he sucks on them, pulls each of them in his mouth all the while never taking his eye off his. He then places that hand on his own cock, pumping it in time with his movements, feeling the piercing gaze of that blue eye on him, his whole focus on him as he skillfully brings them both to completion, a broken whisper of John’s name dropping from his mouth.
Just like in his memories of that night, Adam slides off of him far too soon for his liking, but, while back then they went on to comment jokingly on how he had just ridden him like a damn rodeo, they now look at each other with obvious longing… How much time did they waste before they both died? And just how cruel had it been to not be able to say goodbye to Adam? When he came back the other wasn’t even himself, trapped in his own body and giving the pseudonym ‘Shalashaska’ a new frightening meaning.
But as they never had time on their side to even address what they made each other feel, now it’s not the time to dwell on their sad and horrible ending. Deserved, but cruel nonetheless.
“Do you remember how the night went on?” Adam asks.
“I remember every moment we ever shared” he admits while the other pulls him into more kisses, now it’s his turn to mark his skin somewhat possessively, a soft snort and exhale before he pulls back, the devotion in his eyes almost painful.
“It was the first time I topped you,” he says while a gloved hand moves along the lines of John’s body, appreciating the rippling muscles “It speaks volumes on what it means to be in that kind of relationship with you” his words make John frown, but he kisses it better with a soft amused laugh “How many years had passed before you asked if I might have been interested in switching?”
The other gets distracted, thinking about the question while Adam nimbly crawls between his legs, fingers digging in the juicy muscles on his thighs, gently, but firmly spreading them.
“You said you didn’t particularly care” John tries to defend himself.
Adamska chuckles while he calmly takes his gloves off, fetching the lube from the nightstand right after “Well, yeah. I only cared that we were sharing this” he adds with a warm reassuring smile that could have made anyone swoon.
Their lips meet again then, it’s slow and deep and serves as a distraction while two fingertips quietly breach him. It stings and the breath hitches in his throat, but soon enough the burn grows pleasurable and of course, Adam knows how he might like it, how he needs to properly feel it.
“I tried as best as I could to keep myself from having sex with others that weren’t you” Adam explains while his fingers turn more daring, firmly loosening the ring of tight muscle and forcing helpless sounds from John “I’m extremely faithful even though it’s a huge drawback for the job” he adds naturally with no hint of saltiness, he never demanded that same ‘faithfulness’ but he needs him to know.
Even though he sounds controlled, his eyes won’t lose a reaction from the other, he licks his lips at the sight and it’s almost nervous, afraid to let him down or hurt him in any way.
“What we do, what we share when we make love… That’s special.” He says while his hand pulls back, only to return with three fingers, plunging straight to the other’s sweet spot.
John moans and when he did the same back then, he never had let out that kind of sound before.
Adam looks like he just witnessed a miracle, eyes fixed on that writhing body, on the curve of the neck as the other throws his head back.
“This is the space where all those things I couldn’t say, do or feel existed. Where my truest and most sincere part lived.” Are Adam’s next words and even though John wants to reply, to say that yes, he knew, that in those moments he had been about to say ‘I love you’ to him more than once, he can only pant and moan, body taut with pleasure and the strain to not come while being prepped.
Those clever fingers pull out right then, leaving his insides to clench on the gaping emptiness for some excruciating second, then the blunt head of the other’s cock takes their place and he wastes no time to ram it in all the way.
The sudden sensation and the sight are enough to force his orgasm, he shoots all over his chest and abdomen, spasming around the solid force of that perfect cock.
It all must be to Adam’s liking, because he grows that tiny bit more inside him “If it isn’t us, like this… like men” he pants, eyes and hands roaming all over that offered body “Like Adam and John… Then it has no meaning. It’s empty.” He ends, voice about to break. He then dares to move. Rolls his hips with the intention of making the other feel every inch of him slowly pulling out, just to slide back in. gently, but firmly… And what do you know, John apparently is a cockslut (of course, neither of them is going to tell anyone else).
The pace quickens, Adam forces his legs to spread wider, they are kissing each other stupid and one would think that it all is somewhat punitive for John… If only he wasn’t so shamelessly in love with every second of it. the friction, the pressure, the slightly painful burn, and the surge of sudden pleasure… He never was a screamer but he could be about to become one.
His hands scramble to fist on the headboard, body tensing with each vicious thrust, attention focused on his man getting lost in the act with such passion.
“Adamska” he calls, voice wrecked, and that’s all it takes, the other slams home one last time and fills him up with a broken whimper, every sensation too raw and too much, forcing another orgasm from John that arches and sobs, shivers wrecking his whole body while he revels in the sensations, Adam still fucking in him until he spills every last drop.
They stay like that for a while longer, buried in each other, mouths kissing, biting, and breathing one another. Back then Adam had smiled smugly at him saying ‘Didn’t you know that I ace everything I do?’, they had laughed and spent the whole night fucking.
Right now, Adam is smiling and kissing him like he’s the most sacred and fragile relic.
Neither of them wants to let go, to shift and change position, their entwined bodies bathed in blades of silvery moonlight, mouths breathing the same air, hearts beating together.
Adam closes his eyes as he presses his forehead against John’s, if only he could, he would have dissolved in him, sipped through his skin, and nested behind his ribs… John can see the heartbreaking longing in every line on his face.
It is a frightening thought to try and fathom how deep and crippling Adamska’s feelings actually are and what did he ever do to ensure that? Or to deserve it, really.
John looks away, a sliver of guilt stinging him, it’s so unbecoming and he hates it, but he guesses that if he ever was to feel it, this moment after his Death is the last occasion.
He’s brought back to reality with brutality when Adam slaps him.
“I know what you’re thinking,” he says “First of all, how dare you even think to tell me the same thing you told Eva?” he glares at John who stammers uselessly, grumbling about how he totally wasn’t (of course the other is completely spot on and he had exactly been thinking ‘You deserved better’).
Adam shakes his head before moving to lay on his side, pulling John close between his arms, one hand grabs on his chin and forces him to look in his eyes “It’s so not true” he whispers with a knowing smile, he even manages to look disappointed that the other had implied that no one can help falling in love the way they do.
“I’m afraid you have me confused with some other cheap whore.” He looks affronted, outraged even “Don’t even think for one second that I could make such a crass mistake as that of carelessly ‘falling’ for you.”
It’s almost comical to see Adam so mad about it, John can’t help the amused smirk curling his lips while the other relaxes and softens a bit, hands moving to caress his chest “I made a choice” he says and has switched to Russian, probably without even realizing “I could have done anything, I could have become whoever I wanted. I had the skills, the guts, and the talent… But I chose to devote all of it, all of me, to you.”
John kisses him, only partly to shut him up, he mostly wants to apologize.
“Say it” Adam whispers “Recognize it, already.”
“We deserve each other” John concedes and it is like the confession the other had been waiting for his whole life “We’re both pretty good.”
“Took you long enough” he whispers with a chuckle.