“Fuck you carrying that around for, Johnny?”
Sebastian’s voice comes out of the darkness just behind his right shoulder and John jumps, drops the photograph in the reddish-yellow sand. There’s a breath of laughter that ruffles his short hair, two fingers trailing down his spine. He can just feel it through the body armor and John shifts, a little, resettles the gun against his hip.
“Leave off, Moran.” John shrugs to dislodge him but Sebastian’s hand is nowhere near his shoulder.
“Mm.” The man leans over him, gazing gray-green and level into the night. “Didn’t exactly answer my question, Johnny.” He bends down in one swift predatory motion, plucks the picture from the ground. Weighs it in his palm. John’s hand comes up, fast, and grabs it; Sebastian chuckles.
“It’s a postcard, you illiterate tit.” But John keeps his voice soft, and there’s no malice in it. Sebastian settles down into a crouch beside him, their arms just touching. “From a mate of mine in the colonies. Thinks he’s clever, he does. Moved over there just before I shipped out.”
“Kinda mate we talking, Johnny-boy?” He can tell that Sebastian is leering.
“You can fuck right off, Basher.”
A snort, and how a snort can sound that pleased is what John wants to know.
“That kind then.” John shrugs; there’s a glint of teeth beside him. “Had a few of those myself. One in particular. Planning on following him, then?”
John looks down, then up at the stars that are so bloody bright in the Afghani sky, brighter than he’s ever seen them in London.
“No money. Got myself stuck out here instead, patching up young idiots like you.” John tries for casual and fails. “Anyway he’s not much interested in me. Went over there muttering about the swarming habits of bees on the great plains. Pretty clear where his interests lie.” He knows he sounds bitter, but it’s almost midnight and he doesn’t care.
A short silence, and Sebastian shifts his weight again until they’re leaned together knee and hip. His fingers come up to brush the nape of John’s neck. He swallows, closes his eyes, and Seb settles his hand more firmly against suntanned skin.
And John leans back.