Chapter 3

Sebastian’s mobsters, having dropped Kai at the headquarters, as ordered by Sebastian, came to report to him.

“Kai was taken to the headquarters. He had another night of entertainment today: the Japanese camp is attacked by jihadis. They needed to save the Japanese and squeeze the jihadis to the mountains. Here’s everything we know.”

“He’s forgotten his phone, take it,” Sebastian said after listening to them.

“No, he said that the last phone hit with a bullet. He doesn’t want to take this one with him.”

Sebastian frowned. He thanked the guys.

“Now I can only hope that everything will be all right with him,” he thought of Kai.

He was always worried about him, although he never showed it. Feelings must be hidden here. The brutal life of thugs boys dictated its own rules. Anyone who started whining fell under the stigma of a “nancy” and was buggered. These are the laws of the zone. He installed them himself.

Turning away, Sebastian kissed the cross on his chest, mentally asking protection for Kai.

***

By the evening of the next day, armored personnel carriers and vehicles with infantry returned to the garrison.

Kai remembered his phone, so after a report at headquarters and a detailed debriefing of the morning battle, he decided to stop by Sebastian’s to pick up the phone.

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But debriefing took a long time.

Kai was silently present at this, realizing that this was his fate. He could not leave here. They had to wait for the colonel’s permission.

Finally, everyone was released.

“Where are you going now?” Bartholomew caught up with Kai on the stairs.

“I’ve forgotten the phone at Sebastian’s, I’ll go pick it up.”

“I’ll take you.”

Kai realized it was useless to argue. Bartholomew would not back down: he was worried about him and did not want to let go of one.

Having approached the gangsters’ barracks, Kai went inside, and Bartholomew remained to wait for him in the car: his presence there would not have made anyone happy.

“Hello again,” Kai said as he entered the living room. His face and clothes were stained with soot and blood.

“I’ve come for my cell phone.”

“How did everything go?” noticing Kai’s appearance, asked Sebastian.

“As always. It was a massacre. They settled in the kishlak. We were wiping them out for several hours. The streets are narrow, besides there are civilians everywhere. It was hard to shoot. I had to fight with swords. It was good that it was already dawn: at least something was visible. In short, the kishlak was cleared off, and whoever did not have time, he was late …”

“Do you have a task again, or do you have time to rest?” Sebastian asked.

“This is all, I have time for the rest, for crying out loud! …”

“Stay with us, you need to sleep. You are already the second day without sleep,” Sebastian came up and, hugging Kai by the shoulders, began to move him to the table. “Let’s have a drink!”

Kai had a glass of cognac in his hand.

“Drink!” Sebastian clinked glasses with him but didn’t drink himself. He looked closely at Kai.

“There Bartholomew is waiting for me in the car,” Kai drank the cognac in one gulp.

“I’ll go down and explain everything to him. You need to take a break from this rhythm of life.”

Kai’s glass was refilled again.

“Drink,” Sebastian said.

The cognac flowed pleasantly through his veins. The tension and fatigue that Kai was holding back burst out. These days he lived in some crazy rhythm. And now relaxation came.

Sebastian helped Kai’s hand bring the glass to his lips. Kai drank some more.

The glass was refilled again.

“Drink.”

Kai saw Sebastian’s gaze – so attentive, caring. This moved him.

He felt that he was already wobbling and the earth was floating from under his feet, only Sebastian’s hand on his shoulder left him in an upright position.

He drank some more. The tension of the last day was gone; battle, shooting – everything was forgotten; there was only a feeling of pleasant lightness and relaxation.

After the third glass, Kai began to slowly go limp and sink. Sebastian grabbed him tighter by the shoulders. The guys nearby helped. They caught him in their arms.

“Take this hero to the room. Put security at the door,” Sebastian watched as the guys carefully lifted and carried Kai.

“He’s probably really very tired. You did the right thing to get him drunk. A little cognac – and that’s it, it was cut out,” said Irtysh, watching Sebastian’s actions.

“I’ll go and talk to Bartholomew him not to worry.”

Sebastian went to the exit.

An UAZ was at the gate, Bartholomew walked next to it and nervously smoked.

“Hello,” Sebastian said, and held out his hand.

Bartholomew gave him a look, and then he also extended his hand.

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“Where is Kai?” Bartholomew asked warily.

“I know you care about him, but trust me, he will be safe with me today.” Sebastian looked in Bartholomew’s eyes.

It was such a direct, honest look. Sebastian couldn’t hurt Kai.

“Ok, I believe you.”

Bartholomew held out his hand, they once again shook hands. Then he got into a UAZ and drove away.

“I need to check on Kai,” Sebastian recalled as he walked back inside. As there his guys reported: three glasses and he was simply knocked out. Sometimes Sebastian thought Kai was iron. But no, he was wrong: Kai was ordinary, he just kept up well. And now he drank cognac, and dashing bravado left him. Okay, he held it, otherwise he would have fallen.

He went into the room where Kai had been brought.

He was lying on the bed. Sebastian leaned slightly towards him – that was asleep.

He turned off the lamp on the nightstand and left. He turned to the guards.

“Don’t sleep a wink at the post!” he ordered sternly.

Although this was his “kingdom”, he did not trust anyone, never and to anyone. Therefore, he always put security at Kai’s room, as well as at his own room.

***

Kai woke up from his sleep. It was a day. He was lying on the bed in all his uniform and felt rested. Cognac gives such an excellent result that Kai completely recovered his physical and mental strength.

The living room where he entered was not crowded now. Sebastian and Irtysh were sitting at the table.

“How are you?” Sebastian asked, looking closely at Kai.

“Good.”

“Bring Kai some food,” Sebastian ordered.

“Oh, no! I’ll eat later. Can I have some water?” Kai tried to find ways to get away from feeding.

“I ask you to eat,” Sebastian said sternly.

Kai took a fork, rummaged through the plate, put the food in his mouth. Seeing Sebastian’s gaze, he repeated it again. He had to force himself to eat, realizing that it was important for his friend.

“I’m already full,” Kai put down his fork. “Well, please, don’t make me eat anymore! I can’t eat so much!” Kai with a suffering face bent over the plate.

“I’ve never thought that food could deliver so much torment,” Irtysh said in a cheerful voice, watching Kai’s torment over a plate of food. Then, gloomily, he added: “You still do not feel the taste of food?”

“No, but I’m used to it,” Kai replied resignedly, looking at the food he hadn’t tasted for a long time.

“Maybe we’ll have a drink?” Sebastian suggested to the three of them.

Kai took this as permission to leave the table with food and moved to a chair opposite Irtysh. Sebastian sat in another chair.

It was a great time. Kai enjoyed the company of friends. They rested, drank brandy, talked. He felt good with them.

It was getting dark. All windows were open. The air felt cool, the heat of the day was leaving. The grasshopper chirped.

“Sing something, please, you sing so well,” Irtysh asked. It was strange to hear such a request from him. He had never asked for anything at all. And even more so, he did not show his attitude to Kai’s work.

“What do you want me to sing?”

“Something for the soul,” Irtysh said thoughtfully.

They brought Kai a guitar.

Hearing that Kai would sing, the people began to gather around them.

“Something for the soul,” Kai thought. It hurt inside.

“But, as soon as you think about the soul, I get a freaky feeling.”

Memories – how he wanted them not to come! What for?! After all, he has practically no chance of returning there!

He remembered the autumn forest, the freshness of the morning air, touched by the first frost. The rustle of fallen leaves underfoot, the glitter of frost on the grass. The blue of the sky and a light breath of wind tearing leaves from the branches.

It was autumn.

He liked autumn, its beginning, its imperceptible fading of summer colors, muted tones, fresh air. The first light raid of snow melting under the rays of the sun still warm.

How long had he not seen this, how long …

“Prokhor, my friend! You’ve promised to get me out of here! You are welcome! Keep your promise. I’ll wait! I’ve waited a long time – but it doesn’t matter. I’ll wait as long as necessary. The main thing is to know that you will keep your word. Only this gives strength to live!”

Kai played the guitar strings gently and sang:

“There was a rustle in the floodplains, and the hunting dog froze sensitively.

Ah yes, shot! Only I was not lucky again.

It is getting dark. And ducks fly over the lake.

They got fat. Duck in the fall is in demand.

Autumn again spins a carousel of melodies.

I’ll hunt, I’ll ride the notes with the breeze.

And I’ll play … If I’m still good at something,

And I will sing to you … If I am helpful in something.

I remember, long ago, my father and mother taught me:

To treat is to treat really well! To love is to love truly!

To walk is to walk! To shoot is to shoot really well!”

The guitar chords faded into silence. Each thought about his own things: about what was dear to them, about what was hidden deep in the soul. About what it was so painful to think and remember here, on the sun-baked earth, soaked in blood. They remembered about Russia.

The silence was broken by the ringing of the phone in Kai’s pocket. Feeling that he was now in the spotlight, he took out his phone. The Sheikh called. He needed to answer.

“Guys, I’m sorry, a friend is calling, I must answer,” Kai got up and, stepping aside, began to answer in Arabic.

“Hello, Arshad. I’m glad to hear from you.”

“I’m very angry with you. The phone is off, you don’t call back. I am the great Sheikh Arshad and I will not tolerate such disrespect!”

Kai understood that this was feigned anger and, in fact, the Sheikh was glad that he got through to him. Although he preferred not to joke with the Sheikh. He was very unpredictable and his principles of life, which no one had the right to violate.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you,” Kai wanted to sort things out. Goodness knows, maybe Arshad was angry?

“Do you want my forgiveness? Come! I’m at the Riviera Plaza Hotel.”

There were beeps in the receiver.

Kai smiled. If in the Plaza, then the Sheikh is making merry and wants to see him at the “celebration of life”. Maybe he is angry, but he has to go. There, on the spot, he will figure out how much the Sheikh is angry at him.

“I have to go,” Kai looked at Sebastian, who was expecting these words, watching Kai’s phone conversation. “Sheikh wants to see me, he is now in Kamrat.” He didn’t want to hide it from Sebastian. “Long time no see. While it is calm, I want to go.”

“You go to drink with the Sheikh. Your fun parties become legendary,” Cher said with envy in his voice.

“Yes, with the Sheikh you can normally have a high time,” confirmed Kai Sher’s words.

“Sure! Why are you sitting with us! You’re not a prisoner!” Sher said evilly.

Kai was hurt by his words. But he had nothing to respond to this attack.

“Go,” Sebastian held out his hand to Kai.

Irtysh also shook hands with him.

Kai waved his hand to everyone, realizing that now it was better to leave and say nothing more.

“Sher, if you hurt Kai with your words again, I’ll shoot you in the head,” Sebastian said very seriously after Kai walked out the door.

He was enraged by Sher’s act. But he held back his anger.

“Not now. It’s not time yet! What a pity tonight ended like that.”

Sebastian was glad Kai was going to town. He was not offended by him. On the contrary. After all, he could immediately leave or be anywhere – after all, he was not a prisoner, he was free. But despite this, he was with them, Shared their fate.

“It’s a shame that Sher doesn’t understand and appreciate this.”

Sebastian exchanged glances with Irtysh.

“But Irtysh appreciates it in Kai.”

***

Kai immediately decided to drive his jeep.

He drove to the headquarters. He had no doubts that he would find the colonel there. He never left early. After all, he had such a responsibility.

Going to the colonel’s office, he asked for permission to leave – to go to the city.

The colonel shook his head sadly and said that if he hadn’t even given permission, it wouldn’t have changed anything: Kai would have left anyway. Therefore, he can go. Only he asks him very much that information about his vacation does not leak into the press And in general to behave more modestly, not to dishonor the honor of the uniform. After all, he is an officer!

Having humbly listened to another lecture, Kai left Pyotr Ivanovich.

The garrison guards were used to quickly opening the gates at the sight of Kai’s car flying. Everyone knew: Kai would not slow down – he would take out the gate, which he did repeatedly.

They barely had time to open the iron doors, when Kai’s jeep swept past them, from which very loud music was heard, and disappeared from sight.

Kai always drove fast, very fast.

He turned on all the instruments in the jeep that only existed for assessing the situation on the road: Navigator, satellite tracking systems, thermal sensors for tracking the presence of people, mine finders, and detectors of metal accumulations.

So far, everything was calm. He could safely go.

The music played loudly. The mood was good. He was glad to see the Sheikh, despite the rather difficult relationship with him, he was glad all the same!

Kai reached the city in just over three hours: there was not a single problem area on the road, and he did not slow down.

He drove into his apartment to change. He put on an expensive suit from some famous fashion designer, a white shirt, a tie. He tried to smooth down the unruly hair still damp from the shower. Expensive shoes, good watches – he could easily afford these. Moreover, it was not customary to go to the Riviera Plaza hotel in ordinary clothes. This was the most expensive private hotel in the city. Only rich people stayed here. Therefore, he needed to look appropriate.

While he was getting dressed, his car was washed. They washed away the dust of the road. In the dark, his jeep gleamed pleasantly with polished sides, reflecting the light of the street lamps.

He was known well in the hotel. The doors were opened in front of him, the staff smiled in greeting.

He was taken to the hall where the Sheikh was sitting with his retinue.

Sheikh Arshad and his retinue were now in national oriental clothes.

Arshad was lounging on the sofa. The sofas were located around the table. All the interior decoration of the hotel showed the luxury of this establishment. In front of the table was a low stage on which dancers were wriggling. The music was sounding soft.

To the right of the Sheikh sat his faithful eunuch Maksud, on the other hand, was the head of the security and loyal friend Giffar, his “right hand”. They also sprawled on sofas. The rest of the retinue stood at a distance, ready to fulfill any whim of their master.

Kai walked over to the table. He met Arshad’s gaze. He froze, not knowing if he was seriously angry with him or joking.

The Sheikh made a formidable face, but seeing Kai’s bewildered guilty look, he took pity on him.

“Aha! What, frightened of my anger?” He asked, rising from the table with open arms.

“To be honest, yes! I know you’re scary in anger,” Kai said seriously.

They hugged, as is customary – twice. Arshad hugged him and held him in the embrace longer than the usual greeting required.

“I am very glad to see you safe and sound,” taking a look at Kai, said Arshad happily.

Then he let go, showing with his hand that he could sit down.

“I’ve heard about your last glorious deeds. The jihadis were driven away. The Japanese were saved.”

“And you are offended that I did not call. You know that I was busy.”

“If I hadn’t shaken you down, you wouldn’t have come running,” Arshad said slyly.

“Well, you set everything up,” Kai said cheerfully.

“I wanted to see you, don’t be offended,” the Sheikh’s words sounded sincere.

Kai looked into his eyes.

“I’m not offended. Thanks. I am pleased that you want to see me by your side.”

“All right! The lyrical part is over,” Maksud entered the conversation.  “Kai has been driving here for several hours. We need to feed our dear guest, and we haven’t eaten yet. Hey!” he waved his hand. “Let them lay the table.”

The waiters began to fuss and began to set the table with all kinds of food.

Arshad and Kai had not seen each other for a long time, and they had something to talk about while eating. However, Kai, as usual, was picking at his plate more than he ate.

Today he drank whiskey and washed down with cola. He liked to drink whiskey like that. The cola softened the taste. Not feeling the taste of food, he could still taste the drinks. That’s how strange it was. The doctors could not explain this phenomenon to him. They just said – a nervous breakdown.

The Sheikh and his entourage did not drink, as it is customary for their faith.

But then they brought a hookah with weed, which they lasted for the rest of the evening.

Their friendly conversation flowed more smoothly, measured to the bittersweet taste of intoxicating smoke. The hookah was passed in a circle.

Kai also took a few puffs. He felt lightness throughout the body and the absence of any problems.

“This is the most important thing – not to think about anything, Just live. It’s easier this way. “

A tall young man dressed in a black suit walked past them.

“Toyami,” Kai blurted out involuntarily.

The young man turned around.

Kai realized that he needed to explain everything to everyone.

He switched from Arabic to English.

“Sheikh Arshad, let me introduce you to Toyami Takeru. It was him with whom I fought yesterday shoulder to shoulder.

Toyami was shocked: first after seeing Kai here, and then Sheikh Arshad himself in his company!

He walked over to their table, bowed politely, and expressed his deep respect for the Sheikh and his entourage.

The Sheikh looked closely at Kai and Toyami. Then he got up, greeted the Japanese guest, invited him to their table. Toyami sat down opposite Kai.

Toyami explained why he was here. It turned out that his high command was also here, as they were negotiating with the British. Therefore, they stayed at this hotel. He returned after negotiations and decided to have a drink at night. And so – he found Kai here!

Kai, in turn, briefly told the Sheikh their first and second meetings and joint hostilities.

“I am very glad that you have a comrade-in-arms,” the Sheikh said sincerely. “My friend’s friend is my friend!”

The Sheikh himself told Toyami how long they had known Kai and how many ties they had, without going into certain details of their relationship.

During the conversation, Toyami was offered to drink and share a hookah with them. He categorically refused the hookah, explaining that it was unacceptable for him. The Sheikh understood and did not insist anymore. But he shared with Kai whiskey, however, he drank it straight, without the cola, but with ice and not so much.

Sitting opposite Kai, Toyami saw him in civilian clothes for the first time.

“Fashionable suit – how it suits him! – a shirt, a tie.”

Toyami’s eyes slid over Kai, who unbuttoned several buttons on his shirt and loosened the knot of his tie.

Toyami admired him.

“He is as from a picture of an expensive fashion magazine … although no, I have not seen such an aristocratic youthful beauty in glossy magazines.”

Kai was also amazed at Toyami’s civilian appearance.

“This strict style suits him, there is nothing superfluous. He looks good.”

Toyami did not allow himself to loosen his tie. He observed all the formalities.

“Maybe we will dilute our male company?” Maksud offered and waved his hand.

There were dancers – half-naked beauties in transparent clothes.

The music began to sound louder. The girls squirmed in front of them.

Two sat down with the Sheikh. He relaxed reclining on the sofa, blowing smoke from the hookah, allowing them to innocently caress him.

Two more sat down with Kai. Kai inhaled again with sweet smoke. A picture of what was happening floated before his eyes. Feeling the girls’ hands on his neck and chest, he leaned back on the couch, not resisting their caresses.

Two sat down next to Toyami and also wanted to give him affection, but he grabbed the hand of one girl, tenderly, but unquestioningly, showing by this that he did not want more. The girls understood, they just stayed next to him.

The Sheikh caught this movement, saw him and Maksud. They also saw the burning gaze of gray eyes constantly looking at Kai.

Sheikh and Maksud once again looked at each other.

It was too late. Kai understood that he needed to stop smoking and drinking and it was time to go to bed. He obviously didn’t want anything from girls today.

“Arshad, let me go. I’ve had enough fun for today.”

“Will you take anyone?” asked Maksud, pointing at the girls.

“I’m going to sleep,” Kai said, getting up, but swayed.

Toyami immediately came to the rescue: he held him by the waist, but immediately released him as soon as Kai regained his balance.

“Thank you for tonight, I have to go too,” Toyami bowed politely.

Kai moved towards the exit. His gait was uncertain.

“Take him to his room,” the Sheikh called his two servants with his hand.

“I’m taking him out, don’t worry,” Toyami said calmly and was about to go.

“Take the key to his room. He has forgotten,” Maksud handed over the key to the room, which the Sheikh had rented for Kai in advance, worried about his convenience.

Toyami took the key, bowed again, and went to catch up with Kai.

Maksud and the Sheikh looked at each other again.

“Does it seem to me?” the Sheikh asked in surprise.

“Does it seem what?” answered Maksud. “The gray eyes burning with passion that were looking yearningly at Kai all evening ?!” he chuckled.

“Did we do the right thing to let them go together?” the Sheikh asked briskly, not yet knowing how to react to this.

“They themselves will figure it out. Kai has long lacked such a person nearby. They are warriors. And then they will find a common language. But Kai will not go further than friendship with him.”

“I also know that it will not work. It’s a pity! It is foolish to deny yourself the pleasure, especially when they want you so passionately,” the Sheikh sighed. “Well, by the way, they look together.”

They laughed.

The Sheikh immediately saw this sparkle in Toyami’s eyes. No, this is not the glitter of lust. He has already understood this indeed. This is more. Is it love? Maybe…

For the Sheikh, such relationships were quite commonplace. But he had not yet met a person in his life who would look at him so passionately Or him to look at someone the same way. Although no, he was ready to look at Kai like that, but Kai was not ready to be with him, and the Sheikh not ready to take by force what he wanted to receive for love. And it was their vicious circle.

Arshad understood this and was content with little, the little that sometimes allowed himself to touch him and be with him. Their relationship was innocent and chaste, like at children playing in love.

***

Toyami caught up with Kai at the elevator. They entered the elevator together. The doors closed. Kai staggered slightly when the elevator started, felt Toyami’s hand on his waist again, but did not attach any importance to it. He thought that didn’t want him to fall, so the man was holding him.

Toyami did not remove his hand while the elevator was moving.

The doors opened; they went out together into a luxurious corridor with a soft carpet. Pictures hung on the walls in elegant gilded frames, and the dim lighting created a pleasant atmosphere of comfort. It was already late and deserted.

Kai felt pushed against the wall. He looked up at Toyami in confusion.

Kai tried to push him away. Toyami caught his hand.

“What are you?” he asked, but then he saw Toyami’s eyes opposite his own So shrill, silvery. Toyami looked at him, and this made his thoughts get confused. “Toyami, let go,” Kai did not even know whether to be angry or to ask. Toyami’s gaze baffled him. He was lost, did not know what to do.

They were standing there for a few more seconds. Then Toyami stepped back from Kai.

“I’m going to my place,” Kai said, puzzled, forgetting that he hadn’t even taken the room keys.

“I’ll walk you. Here are your keys,” Toyami showed the keys.

Kai had nothing to answer, he followed him to his room, being in a strange state and not quite understanding what was happening.

Walking to the door of his room, Kai turned around.

“Toyami, thanks for seeing you. Can I not invite you to the room?”

Toyami took a step towards him; Kai stepped back against the wall. He saw those eyes again.

“How strange he looks!”

Kai was lost under this gaze. He couldn’t even bring himself to get angry.

“Toyami …” he said uncertainly.

“Let me kiss you,” Toyami said in a calm voice.

Kai instantly sobered up.

“I will not be angry with you, we will even remain friends, but you will leave now! Let’s assume that we have gone over too much,” now he was speaking firmly, with notes of steel in his voice.

“Do you think that my desire for you arose under the influence of alcohol?”

“I do not want to discuss it. This topic is not interesting to me.”

“Why?”

“What you suggest is unacceptable to me.”

“I’m not suggesting anything. It’s just a kiss. What’s wrong with doing that?”

“Please take a step away from me. I would not want to use force on you,” Kai’s eyes flashed unkindly.

“Are you used to solving everything by force?”

“Get away from me!” now Kai was no longer joking.

Toyami understood that. He remembered how skillfully Kai mastered the technique of Eastern martial arts and decided that lying on the carpet because of ankle trip was not the best end of this evening.

He took a step to the side and, constantly looking into Kai’s eyes, said:

“Now you have won, but remember: I always achieve what I want. always! I will make it so that you yourself – voluntarily! – let me kiss you. In front of everyone! Do you hear it? It will be my way! I promise you This!”

Then he turned sharply and went to the elevator: his room was on another floor.

Kai remained standing by the door, his back against the wall. He didn’t expect this! He didn’t even want to think about it; his brain refused to think about everything that had happened now, and even more so to analyze it!

And to top it off, Toyami’s angry speech. He was just shocked. And his threat. Yes, it sounded like a threat. A kiss in front of everyone. Voluntarily!

“Crazy!” said Kai and went to his room. “to bed! Do you hear! To Sleep and not to think about anything!”

Note

The author of the song “Duck Hunt” Alexander Rosenbaum

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