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Author's Chapter Notes:

Brian and Justin have one last night at the Beaulieu Estate, but morning brings unwelcome but necessary news.    

The Sarge and his Private enjoyed just one more night in their secret sanctuary at the Beaulieu estate. They had been given the scare of a lifetime when they realized that they had been caught by a third party in the barn that day, but it only increased their ardor as they came together in a blinding flash of all consuming passion. They nearly choked on the screams of ecstasy they felt as they reached the pinnacle of feelings throughout every inch of their bodies, and yet knew they couldn't let a sound out. The pressure of holding it in made their orgasms all the more intense as Brian poured himself into Justin at the precise moment Justin exploded between their sweating bodies.

There was something bittersweet that overtook both men as they lay completely spent side by side in the narrow bed. A feeling of confusion lay between them. On the one hand they gloried in the feelings, both emotional and physical, that they had just shared. On the other hand they sensed that it couldn't last much longer and knew that it might end in tragedy, or great loss at the very least.

It passed through Brian's mind that he would have loved adding Justin to his circle of friends at home if they had found each other there in good old Pittsburgh P A instead of in war torn France. He had never been one to form lasting relationships or date in the conventional sense of the word, but Justin just might have proved to be the exception to Brian's usual rule.

Justin lay there wondering if Brian would have been as attracted to him as he seemed to be now if they had met at home in the States with no threats of imminent death over their heads. He wondered if it was just the fact that they were two lonely men with the same desires and no one else to share them with that made them a couple in this time and place. That thought hurt Justin somewhere deep inside his gut, but he was too afraid of the answer to ask it out loud. He lay next to Brian and let his hand creep slowly into Brian's hand. At least Brian didn't pull away, but instead he squeezed the blond's hand and held on tight. They waited too long to separate this time and Brian woke in the morning with a start while spooned together with his arm pulling Justin tight against his body.

Brian was about to wake Justin when he heard a soft tapping on his door. He quickly shook Justin awake and scrambled out of the bed, making sure to pull apart the bed next to the one they'd slept in together. Brian grabbed his discarded boxers off the floor and threw them on. He quickly unlocked the door and peered out as if he'd just awakened that very minute. He breathed a deep sigh of relief when he realized it was Aimee at the door.

"I thought you would like to know that your men are up and about, Sergeant," she warned him with a conspiratorial wink. "I have breakfast almost ready."

"Yes, yes, thank you Mademoiselle. I'll...I mean, we'll be right down."

Aimee smiled and turned on her heel to rejoin the soldiers who had begun trickling in to her kitchen. She had been right to be concerned. Usually the Sergeant and his 'friend' were always the first ones down in the morning. She didn't want his other men to start wondering where their leader was and what was holding him up so she decided to make a quick trip to the second floor and check things out. From the look on the Sergeant's face, it had been a wise move. She hurried back down to the kitchen and continued her morning preparations for a good hearty breakfast for the hungry men. Soon their Sergeant and Private Taylor joined them. The men were barely into their breakfast consisting of slices of fruit with croissants and platters of eggs when the familiar sound of an incoming call came from Private Carruthers radio-pack.

Brian didn't waste any time answering and heard Lieutenant Masters voice, who immediately passed on the news Brian had been dreading for days now. He spoke into the phone quickly and hung up. He turned to the faces looking up at him curiously and began barking orders.

"Samuels, gather up Norton and Kelly from the road and have them hurry back to the house asap. We need to be ready to move in less than an hour. The rest of you finish your meal quickly and gather your things."

Samuels snapped to and, grabbing one more croissant, ran for the front door. The men knew what was coming. They couldn't deny that this place had been a breath of fresh air for them, but they also knew they had a job to do and it wasn't finished yet. The sooner it was, the sooner they could go back home and have a normal life again. That was the part of them that made it easy to stuff down a few more bites of food and race off to gather up their belongings. Brian followed Justin up to the second floor and into their room.

"Well, Sir, it looks like we're back in the war," Justin said with his back to Brian.

Brian could hear the tiny hint of fear in Justin's voice, but so faint he knew no one else would have noticed it. He came up behind Justin and put his arms around him.

"It looks like we are, Private," he answered softly. Brian turned Justin around. "I'll miss this place, Justin. Maybe we can come back as real guests someday in the future. Would you like that?"

Justin looked up at Brian and a flicker of surprise crossed his face. Had he heard Brian correctly? Did he really say 'we' could come back? Did he mean together, as a couple? The look Brian gave him said yes to all the questions that had formed in his fevered brain. He was unaware that Brian had locked the door when he entered so he was caught completely by surprise when Brian suddenly grabbed onto his lips with his own. The kiss was deep, penetrating, desperate. It said all the things Brian couldn't or didn't know how to say in the far too short a time they had left in this special room of theirs. The kiss lingered for a dangerously long time, but then Brian seemed to regain his senses finally and pulled back. He hesitated moving away, as if waiting for something. Justin finally understood.

"Yes, Brian, I'd like that," he responded at last.

Brian released Justin and gave him an approving smile, then turned to the task at hand gathering up all his earthly possessions and repacking his knapsack. Justin took the cue and did the same. The men were almost finished when they heard a timid knock on the door. Brian quickly moved to the door and unlocked it. He was relieved to see Aimee standing on the other side. She had been cleaning up on the third floor and heard from the other men that they would be moving out almost immediately. Her disappointment was clear on her face.

"Sergeant Kinney, your men tell me that you have orders to leave. I must tell you that I and my family will be sorry to see you go. You have been a godsend to us. We are truly grateful. We owe you our lives. For all we know, the Germans would have destroyed our home and lands to keep the Allieds from having any use of them when they all left. My grandfather wishes me to tell you that you and your men are welcome in our home any time you wish to return. Hopefully the world will finally be at peace when that next happens."

"Merci Beaucoup, Aimee. We are truly grateful to you and your family for all your kindnesses to us. Perhaps we can return some day in a peaceful world," Brian responded.

Aimee stood on her tiptoes and gave Brian a peck on each cheek. She then moved over to Justin and did the same for him. Tears formed in her eyes and she let them fall unashamedly. She knew that she would miss the comfort and safety she felt with these men, not to mention the companionship. Every man had been nothing but a gentleman to her thanks to the strong leadership of their Sergeant. Now all she could do was pray that they and their allies would be able to end this frightful war and she could start her life all over again.

Once Aimee left to attend to her family and inform them of what was happening, Brian and Justin prepared to leave the room for the last time. They stopped at the door Aimee had closed behind her when she left. They held onto the straps of their heavy packs and let their eyes sweep the lovely old room where they had known such happy moments together. The two beds were still disheveled, one for real and one falsely. They could see themselves laying there together as one man, connected in a way that only lovers could connect...with their bodies and their hearts. Brian gave Justin one last kiss and opened the door. They exited together, not knowing what the future would hold for them.

They found the rest of the men gathered in the kitchen, a favorite place for all of them. Norton and Kelly were stuffing down their share of the last breakfast at the estate and they all turned to the Sarge when he walked in. Anxiety and anticipation fought for control over their emotions. Brian waited until he had every man's rapt attention and proceeded to let them know what the Lieutenant had told him in detail.

"Lieutenant Masters has informed me that the troops are on the move again. Our goal is to reach the Rhine and cross it, This is straight from Eisenhower. Apparently no invading force has crossed the Rhine in a hundred and forty years and the high command says it will be a final blow to the German resistance. The Battalion is advancing again and we will be rejoining our Company when they get here, which could be at any time now. Gather up your things and meet me out near the road leading to the house. Make sure you don't leave anything behind and you haven't left any messes for our hosts to clean up."

The men wasted no time in hopping to it. Justin, who was the last to leave the kitchen looked back at Brian with one final unguarded look of affection and then quickly changed his face to one of all business. It was his way of telling Brian what he needed to hear...that Justin knew their idyllic time at the estate was over and there could not and would not be any more stolen moments for a while to come. Brian felt a surge of pride in the kid he'd trusted with his secret and his life. He knew in that instant that he'd chosen wisely when he had let down his guard with Justin. He sent a silent prayer heavenward, whether there was a God or not, that both he and Justin would survive the coming events of this war and end up at a chance to make something of this thing that had grown between them. He gave the room one last look and went out to join his men at the end of the road.

To be continued.......................

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