Mountains and Mercenaries Donít Mix

Orithain & Rina

July 2001

Disclaimers: Tom is owned by Sony Pictures, and Tyr is owned by the estate of Gene Rodenberry, Majel Rodenberry, and Paramount.

The peace of the late afternoon at the quiet staging camp on K2 was broken by the sound of shouts and gunfire. The unsuspecting and unarmed mountaineers were no match for the trained squad of mercenaries, and they soon found themselves bound and herded into several of the tents with armed men standing guard over them.

A tall, muscular black man strode toward the group of Europeans, who had been kept together. Clearly the leader, he eyed the group speculatively. "Whoís the leader here?"

Wondering what the fuck he had done in his life to earn him such bad karma on K2, the expedition leader stepped forward. "I am. Just what the hell do you think youíre doing? If youíre looking for the Indian or Pakistani armies, theyíre that-a-way." As he spoke, he jerked a thumb toward the distance.

Tyr motioned to his men, and the other members of the expedition were led away to the tents, leaving the mercenary and expedition leaders alone. "íFraid not. I have orders to keep your group here. If you cooperate, youíll be released unharmed when the time comes. But make no mistake, you will do what I tell you."

"When the time comes? Do you have any idea what youíre doing here? We have a fucking three-week window at the most here. Iím not spending it waiting around here until you soldier boys decide that we can go up. Thereís something seriously wrong with this picture, and itís you."

"You have a strange idea of how a prisoner is supposed to behave," Tyr said, sounding more amused than annoyed.

Tom glared up at the larger man, refusing to be intimidated. "I already told you, Iím an American citizen; I have the permits to climb here, so Iím not a prisoner."

"And I have the gun and orders to keep anyone from climbing, so I say you are." Tyr smirked, knowing it would annoy the other man. This still failed to strike fear into the guideís eyes, though he was beginning to look annoyed. "Look, bud, Iíve had a psycho millionaire try to kill me; you and your little pop gun donít impress me overly much."

Tyr glanced down at his submachine gun wryly but didnít bother to argue. "So what does it take to impress you?"

"Show me it at the top of K2, and that might do it." Tom chuckled cynically, then rubbed his wrists under the cuffs. "And take these off me."

The mercenary shook his head slowly. "Not going to happen. I was paid a lot of money to do this job, and Iím not going to screw it up for a pair of pretty green eyes."

"Paid by whom if you donít mind me asking?" Tom asked, gazing at the nylon walls of the command tent, before looking back at the mercenary inquiringly.

Tyr shrugged. "By the Pakistani army. Seems theyíve decided to shut down this enterprise for the time being."

The guideís black eyebrows winged upwards. "Shut down the countryís biggest money-maker? Why?"

"I didnít ask. Theyíre paying my asking price; thatís all I need to know. Probably some kind of internal politicking if I had to guess." Massive shoulders rose and fell again, signaling the mercenaryís indifference.

Tom went to scratch his head, making a face when the movement yanked his other hand up as well. "Lovely. So they plan on holding us hostage until when? Whenever they decide to re-open the borders? Shit, I knew I should have gone to Everest this year."

"Probably would have been better for you," Tyr agreed. "But cheer up, they canít keep this up too long. Iím very expensive, and theyíve only paid for one month so far."

Tom snorted at that. "How wonderful for you. As for me, Iím going to miss the entire climbing season because of this. Iím expensive too, but customers donít pay for what they donít get." He frowned, calculating his accounts. "And how long are you into your month anyway?"

"Two days." Tyr shrugged apologetically. "Observing, planning and capturing the lot of you wasnít exactly difficult."

Tom scowled at that. "Well, considering we were expecting resistance from the mountain and not armed men, I can imagine why. And that being the case, I obviously donít have to introduce myself."

"No, I knew the expedition leader was Tom McLaren, even if I didnít know which one you were... no photographs. And no offense," Tyr said, smiling faintly, "but even if you had been expecting us, you wouldnít have stood a chance. Only in the movies do the valiant heroes overcome trained soldiers."

The older man nodded in agreement, then shrugged. "Though if weíd been five thousand feet higher, I think you might have been in for a surprise." He rotated his sore ankle as much as he can inside his thick climbing boot, trying to gauge the severity of the injury.

"Donít be so sure. My men and I have been trained to fight in all terrains, and we have the experience. Every one of us started out in some countryís elite special forces. That doesnít really matter now, though. You should sit down." The mercenary glanced at Tomís foot, making it clear he was aware of the injury.

Tom half-laughed again, then did as the other man suggested. "Ahh, the mercenary leader graciously allows his captive a chair. Trying to get in my good graces so that you wonít get in too much trouble with my government?" He stretched his legs out in front of him, getting as comfortable as the situation allowed.

Tyr only laughed, knowing there was absolutely no danger of the American government coming after him. "Maybe Iím just trying to get into your pants."

The guide burst into real laughter at that, ending up wiping his eyes when he finally got control of himself again. "Oh, thatís a good one; think itís more effective on the ladies though." He looked over at the other man, the glance telling him just how effective it probably was; the man defined the word buff.

"I donít believe in limiting my options." Tyr gave the other man a feral grin. "Men and women each have their pros and cons. You should try it some time."

"What makes you think I havenít?" Tom asked, shooting for a bored tone to his voice in an attempt to cover his sudden nervousness and supposing that he should be thankful there werenít any women on the team this time, or who knows what they might have had to endure.

"Really?" Tyr smirked and suddenly moved closer to Tom, tilting his head up and kissing him, making sure to keep his gun out of reach of the guideís restrained hands. Finally, he released him and stood up, then looked at him searchingly. "No, you havenít."

Jaw clenching and his eyes narrowing, Tom glared at the other man. "And you can tell from one kiss?" He fought to keep from licking his lips, not wanting to taste the other man again."

"Yup." Tyr smirked at Tomís glare. "Youíve never kissed a man before, Tommy boy." Tom started to cross his arms over his chest defensively, growling out a curse when the cuffs didnít allow it. "Canít say as Iíve been missing much if thatís an example."

Tyr laughed at the pouting expression and brushed a thumb over the slightly out-thrust lower lip. "Youíve been missing a lot. Maybe weíll be here long enough for you to decide to give it a try."

"Pardon me if I donít do a dance of joy at the thought of that," Tom answered wryly, nodding down at his ankle. "My timing is going to be a bit off until that heals."

"Donít worry, Iím not into rape, pretty boy. And neither are my men. Doesnít mean I wonít try to change your mind though. Something tells me you might be worth the effort."

Tom stared at the other man, trying to gauge if he was serious or not. This whole situation was surreal to begin with, and now this... "Itís your camp; I suppose you can do what you want. I would like to see my people soon though; theyíre my responsibility."

"If you like," Tyr acceded. "Of course, you realize that I canít just allow you to roam around freely. Iíll take you to see them when you want to go."

Wondering just where this guy thought he was going without any gear and without his people, Tom sighed. "That would be now, then," he said, giving the other man a pointed look.

Tyr gestured expansively toward the entrance to the tent. "After you." He swung the gun into the ready position and zipped up his jacket again.

Tom eyed the rifle for a moment before getting to his feet, limping slightly as he walked to the door. Squinting as the other man opened it, he trudged outside. "Such manners," he said wryly. "Donít tell me - you were a debutante before you went to mercenary school, right?"

"Nope, worse, a West Point graduate." Brown eyes narrowed slightly in the glare, but Tyr adapted quickly, scanning the area to see where his people were positioned.

The guide whipped around to stare at the taller man, unbelieving. "How the hell did you end up here then?" he asked, wondering why he even cared, but curious.

"I didnít like taking orders from idiots, so I didnít re-up. But I was trained to be a soldier, so that didnít leave too many fields of endeavor. Besides, this pays a lot better." Tyr seemed to think that was sufficient explanation.

"Yeah, Iíd imagine killing and torturing innocents does at that." Tom turned away again, surveying the camp and positions of the other mercenaries, wondering how long it was going to be before rescue came.

The mercenary looked around theatrically. "Yes, I see so many dead and tortured innocents here. Youíre so right."

"Asshole," the guide muttered under his breath as he limped along. "Where are they?"

Nodding toward a cluster of tents being watched by several of his men, Tyr explained, "There are one or two of them in each of the tents."

Nodding, Tom made his way to each tent, checking on the emotional state and health of his people, aware of the guards and the mercenary leader watching them the whole time. Once assured that everyone was doing as well as could be expected, he turned to look up at the soldier. "So what now? You canít seriously expect to keep us trussed up like this until whenever the government calls this stupid farce off."

"Why not? Iíve found that the man with the gun can pretty much do whatever he wants. Like this." Unable to resist and wanting to accustom the pretty green-eyed man to his touch, Tyr stopped him and pulled him in for another, deeper kiss. When he released the other man moments later, he smiled at the wide-eyed look and nipped at Tomís lower lip, breaking his daze.

Tom blinked, shaking his head slightly, trying to convince himself that there was no way he was reacting because of the taller manís kiss. It would be insane - the man was a hired killer for Godís sake!

"Thought you said you and your people werenít into rape," he tossed out, eyeing the other man challengingly, determined not to back down. "Doesnít that go against what you just said?"

"Kid," Tyr said, ignoring the fact that the other man was older than he was, at least in years, "if you canít tell the difference between a kiss and rape, you have bigger problems than I thought." He shook his head.

"As for my remark, I was referring to keeping you and your people however we wanted to. I didnít say anything about sex." He smirked at Tom knowingly.

"Unwanted attention is unwanted attention," Tom shrugged, refusing to bristle at the derogatory nickname. "If you donít know that, youíre the one with problems."

He shifted his weight off his bad ankle, studying the mercenary. "And no, you didnít mention sex, but the implication was there whether you meant it or not. If youíre going to threaten people, at least be honest about it."

Tyr chuckled. "Iím not the one avoiding honesty here, McLaren. But if the only way you can deal with being attracted to a man is to pretend youíre being threatened, hey, who am I to mess with your coping mechanisms? But donít think youíre fooling me." He placed a hand over Tomís heart, smirking as he felt it racing beneath his palm.

"But one of these days, youíll admit it. I just hope you donít wait too long."

Jesus! Dealing with this man was trickier than crossing the seracs at the base of Everest and probably just as deadly. Tomís gaze dropped to the dark hand resting against the flannel of his shirt and took a deep breath, willing the speed of his pulse to slow. "Is it just me, or do you have the biggest damned ego Iíve ever seen in my life?"

Considering heíd dealt with Vaughn, this said a lot, though Tom doubted that the other man would understand the jibe that way. "You kidnap my team, lock us down in an avalanche zone and expect me to be thankful that youíre Ďinterestedí in me? Thereís definitely something wrong with this picture."

"Yeah, there sure is. If theyíd shown me a picture of you, they could have saved themselves some money." Tyr grinned, knowing he was driving Tom crazy. Several of his former instructors at the Point would have commiserated with the mountaineer. They would also have told Tom that no matter how aggravating he was, Tyrell Cliffe always succeeded in what he set out to do.

Deciding to let Tom off the hook for the moment, Tyr motioned back toward the radio shack. "Hungry?"

Tom opened his mouth to say Ďnot reallyí, but he thought better of it. Even at this altitude, you burned off calories faster then at sea level, and he was going to need to keep his strength up when and if a chance to get his team out occurred.

"Since theyíre our supplies, I might as well get a share of them," he answered, turning and limping toward the supply tent, trying to stay ahead of the other man but doubting he was going to be able to.

The mercenary followed behind the other man. He was perfectly content with his position since it gave him a fantastic view of Tomís ass. He could stare at that for hours. He looked forward to seeing it without the muffling layers of cloth, preferably with himself buried between those perfect cheeks.

"Donít worry, McLaren, Iím not planning to starve you or your people. Youíll be fed adequately. Iíll even throw in extra if you get additional exercise," he added with a smirk. "In fact, I look forward to it."

There was no point in even dignifying that remark with an answer. Instead, Tom shook his head again, pushing past the guard outside the tent as if daring him to try to stop him. Entering the small room, he dropped into the larger of the two chairs, deliberately commandeering it and starting to unlace his boot, intending to inspect his ankle.

He heard the door open again but didnít bother to look up, concentrating instead on undoing the thick leather and peeling it off.

Following McLaren inside, Tyr watched his power games with veiled amusement. He slung the automatic over his shoulder, out of reach, and knelt at the other manís feet. He brushed aside Tomís hands, unfastening his boot and removing it carefully. He rotated McLarenís foot gently, testing its mobility.

"Not too badly injured," he decided with satisfaction. "Youíll be fine in a day or two."

"Gee, youíre a doctor too? Never knew that hired guns had to be so multi-talented." Tom swallowed hard to quell his pounding heart, damning his body for its reaction to the other man. What the fuck was wrong with him?

His eyes flicked to the rifle hanging across the other manís back, and for a moment, he contemplated making a grab for it before discarding the notion as stupid. If he tried and failed, it would just go worse for all of them - better to wait until the odds were more favorable.

"Nope, not a doctor. But I am a field medic," Tyr replied absently, his concentration split between the injury and the tension in the other manís body that would tell him if Tom decided to be stupid and try for the gun. When McLaren relaxed back into his chair, Tyr finished wrapping an elastic bandage around the ankle and sat back on his heels.

"Stay put. Itíll heel faster if you keep off it. Iíll bring you the food." He flowed to his feet in a single, graceful movement and paced across the large tent to the locker containing the supplies. He tossed one of the packages of dehydrated food to Tom, faintly surprised when he caught it without difficulty.

"Nice reflexes," he said.

"You climb, you develop them or..." the guideís voice trailed off, and he examined the foil packet instead. "Reconstituted sweet and sour chicken, be still my heart." He flexed his foot carefully, impressed against his will at the other manís skill as the wrap wasnít too tight or too loose.

Tyr made a face. "God, that sounds worse than the shit they fed us in the army. And we were in a war zone. Though I suppose it would be pretty hard to lug a cow and stove up here. Still..." He made a face at the packet he still held, wondering if he was really that hungry. Only knowing that he needed it made him tear it open.

"Then again, maybe I should have charged double for making me eat this," he muttered. He walked back over to sit down near Tom, just out of reach if the guide should suddenly decide to attempt to overpower him.

Tom eyed his own so-called food for a moment, then came to a decision. Who knew how long they were going to be stuck here; he might as well make the best of it, both for himself and for his people. "Mind if I take a look in there? Iíve learned a few tricks in my time, might be something I can make edible."

Tyr waved a hand in the general direction of the locker. "Feel free. Anything would have to be better than this." The look of disgust he turned on the food was very expressive of his thoughts. Besides, he wasnít unhappy to spend more time more companionably with McLaren. He was going to wear him down and have him in his bed before this job was over.

The grimace twisting the younger manís features brought Tom very close to laughing, but he managed to control it, not wanting to react that way to his captor. "Hopefully youíll still say that after youíve tried it." He hobbled over to the locker, sifting through the contents, setting things aside, then setting to work over the propane burner.

"Well?" he asked, some time later, watching the other man try the meal. As makeshift beef stew, it wasnít half bad, that Tom knew for a fact, but he was interested in hearing the mercenaryís opinion, maybe too interested.

Tyr grinned at him. "If you can come up with dessert, Iíll have to marry you."

Tom snorted. "Have to see the ring first to believe that." He took a bite of his meal, then nodded at the taste and dug in. How much?" he asked finally, his curiosity getting the best of him, wondering just what the Pakistani government had to pay this man.

Though sorely tempted to pull the ring off his finger and offer it to the older man, just to see his reaction, Tyr restrained himself. He decided that Tomís reaction to his answer ought to be almost as entertaining. "For my entire team? Five hundred a month."

"Somehow I think there are a lot more zeroes at the end of that than you implied. How much is your cut?"

"Smart boy. I get half, and each man with me gets ten thousand. The remainder is for supplies."

"Boy?" Now Tom looked openly amused. "What is it with you and the age cracks? I may not dress up and play Rambo, but Iím sure as hell a long way past being a boy." His green eyes hardened to agate at the memory of what had transpired the last time heíd been on this mountain, and his expression turned grim. "A long way, so lighten up."

"I should lighten up? Iím not the one worrying about words, kid." Tyr held up a hand, forestalling any comment Tom might make. "Before you start, I know all about your last trip. Itís impressive that you survived, no denying it. But the fact remains that I, and my men for that matter, had been in worse situations a dozen times over by the time we were twenty." He raised somber, almost haunted, brown eyes to meet the hard, green gaze.

"Thereís a reason so many soldiers either fall victim to PTSD or become mercs. After what weíre trained for, what so many of us experience, thereís no place for us in civilian life. We donít fit any more." He sighed and looked away.

"But thatís nothing to do with today. Tom." Tyr changed the subject, not willing to discuss his unusually open comments. "Good stew. Thanks."

The seriousness of the younger manís answer caused Tom to hold back any retort he might have considered making and increased his curiosity as to who exactly the other man was. There was a world of pain hidden in his dark gaze, and Tom felt that there werenít many who got even that small glimpse of it.

Jesus, what was he doing, feeling sorry for the guy who kidnapped him! Still...

"Thanks," he finally answered, taking a bite of stew before giving voice something heíd wondered for several hours. "Are you allowed to tell me your name, or is that on a need to know basis?"

Tyr looked startled, then smiled faintly. "After so long training with the same men, I forget that not everyone knows me. Tyrell Cliffe, at your service, Mr. McLaren." He inclined his head slightly. "Everyone calls me Tyr." Though I look forward to hearing you call me other things. Something of his thoughts showed in his eyes, which raked hotly over the other manís body.

Tom met the other manís eyes steadily, ignoring once again the quiver in his gut when those self-same eyes swept the length of his body. "At my service? Why do I think the Pakistanis would disagree with you on that?"

Tyr sighed. "A figure of speech, as you very well know, McLaren. Although I could be convinced to make it a reality in some respects," he admitted. He knew he would be willing to do almost anything, anything that didnít conflict with the job heíd accepted, that was, to have this man. He wanted him more than he could remember wanting anyone or anything in a very long time. Something about Tom McLaren touched something inside him that heíd thought long dead, and oddly, he wanted to explore the possibilities.

Tom stopped, his spoon raised halfway to his mouth, then set the utensil back into his bowl, his appetite gone. It was back to that again. "I canít see that as being an issue. Now, if youíll tell me where Iím to sleep, I think Iíll go do just that. Itís been a long day."

Much as he might wish otherwise, Tyr knew that Tom would not be sharing his tent that night. "Youíll sleep in your own tent... but donít get too excited. My men have already searched it and removed any weapons." He gestured toward the door. "After you. Iíll secure you in your tent for the night."

Tom stood, then paused, looking at the dark-skinned man. "Honestly, that hadnít even crossed my mind. Ice axes donít do well against rifles as you already proved. As much as I probably shouldnít, I trust your word that once whatever it is the government is doing is over, weíll be released."

"Thank you," Tyr replied quietly. It meant a lot to him that Tom trusted his word, especially on such short acquaintance and under these trying circumstances. Now if only he could get past the manís hang ups for both their pleasure. He followed Tom closely, wanting to be near enough to offer him assistance if his injured ankle gave him any trouble.

He crawled into the tent after Tom, leaning over him once he was in his sleeping bag in order to bind his feet, taking care not to hurt his ankle any further, then zipping the bag up around him. "Sleep well."

Tom searched the other manís eyes for any sign of irony, and, finding none there, felt his confusion deepen. Just who was this Tyrell Cliffe, how had he ended up here, doing this? The questions went unanswered of course, though Tom spent most of the night tossing and turning, trying to come up with answers to them, and to other questions that were plaguing him.

"Stormís coming in." Theyíd been in the camp for a week now, and so far the weather had been good, but looking at the peaks that ringed their position, Tom knew that was going to change quickly. "Weíd better shore up the site."

Somewhere over the past days, the line between Ďweí and Ďtheyí had blurred for the guide. Tyrís men were just what he had claimed, professionals. They seemed human enough and hadnít abused or injured anyone; in fact, it seemed that Tomís people were getting along as well with them as he was with the mercenary leader.

"Shore up the site?" Tyr repeated blankly. He had a vague idea what Tom meant, but he didnít have a clue how to start. He eyed the man assessingly, then leaned over and unfastened his cuffs. "Do what you have to do." Unsaid but understood was that if Tom took advantage of his slight freedom to try to leave, Tyr would track him down, and their current, relatively friendly relationship would take a turn for the worse.

Tom rubbed at his wrists, the freedom of movement after the long days of confinement almost intoxicating. "Thank you, and donít worry. Youíre an expert in your field, and Iím one in mine. We shouldnít have any problems, but it always pays to prepare for the worst. Tell your people they should buddy up; once the front comes in, the temperatureís going to drop fast, so two or three in a tent is better for warmth."

Tyr frowned, quickly considering the best deployment of his men to maintain control over the climbers. Of course, he would buddy up with Tom himself. The idea of being snowed in with the attractive man was far from upsetting. He gave his men their orders, and once the preparations were made, the men and women scattered to their tents.

The mercenary leader turned to the green-eyed man with a smile. "After you," he said quietly, repeating his words of the first day.

Somehow, Tom had known that he was going to end up paired with Tyr for the duration of the storm. Strangely, he found he didnít mind. Maybe it would give him a chance to unravel some of the mystery surrounding the other man.

"No cuffs?" he asked, once Tyr crawled in after him, shutting the flap against the stinging snow. The wind had picked up during the last hour, and the ice crystals were flying almost horizontally outside. Tyr glanced toward the rippling tent wall, hearing the wind howl outside. "Itís not like youíre going anywhere," he said with a faint laugh. "And I really donít think that youíd shoot me, even if you did manage to take my weapon away from me. No sense making you uncomfortable." He shrugged, refusing to admit that he wanted to put Tom more at ease.

As he pulled off his boots and parka, Tom took a visual inventory of the supplies stored with them. Food, propane for the small burner, flasks of water, cooking utensils, everything seemed in readiness. The tents had been roped together, and he trusted that his people knew what they were doing in these conditions.

"Thank you," he said, tugging off his hat and running a hand through his hair. "Feels almost strange to have full range again."

"Know what you mean," Tyr admitted with a slight shrug. "After youíve had Ďem on for a few days, you start to adapt. It takes a while to get used to being able to move each hand independently again. At least you donít have sores on your wrists to contend with." Unconsciously, he was rubbing his own wrists as he talked.

When the other man massaged his wrist, his shirt sleeves pushed back and Tom caught sight of the skin there. He was familiar enough with scars to recognize them when he saw them, and he wondered just under what conditions Tyr had acquired them.

"That a case of Ďbe thankful for small favorsí?" he asked, shoving his pack under his sleeping back to use as a backrest. Leaning back against the incline, Tom folded his arms across his chest, thankful that he was able to do that now. "And any chance you brought some cards on this mission of yours? We may be stuck here a while, and itíd be good to have something to do." This opened him up for the other manís suggestion as to other things they could do, and Tom winced, though he schooled his features not to show it. This really was a bad idea; problem was, he couldnít get out of it.

Tyr smirked but didnít make the obvious reply to Tomís comment. Instead, he reached for the pack heíd grabbed before following the other man to his tent and pulled out a pack of cards. He tossed them to Tom wordlessly, although his eyes did run appreciatively over the sprawled length of the mountaineerís body. That body had a starring role in his dreams every night, and he hoped that this enforced solitude would help him achieve his goal.

"What game did you have in mind?" he asked with a small smile.

Tom shrugged, opening the cardboard box and spilling the well-used cards out into his palm then beginning to shuffle them. "Know pretty much all of them, not much else to do when youíre stuck at 20K in a white out."

He continued shuffling, tumbling the cards back and forth with quick flicks of his wrists. "Poker? Rummy? Euchre? Canít offer much in the way of stakes unless you want to bet on matchsticks."

Tyr stared at him for a moment, unable to believe his ears, then snickered. "Oh, I think you can come up with something more interesting for stakes," he said, his voice a deep, rumbling purr and his eyes flaring. "Itís not too cold yet, so we could even play a few games of strip poker," he suggested hungrily.

Tom stared at the larger man in amused disbelief. "Itís near zero out there now, the temperature is dropping fast, and you want to strip? God, the Point does turn out crackpots." He shook his head and started dealing the cards, giving each of them five. "Put on your poker face, Cliffe. Itís time to lose."

"I donít think so," Tyr replied, amused. "Havenít established the stake though, McLaren. Kisses would work." He smiled wickedly. "For every hand I win, you have to kiss me, a real kiss."

"Jesus," Tom groaned, "you arenít serious, are you?" A look at the glitter in Tyrís dark eyes gave the guide his answer. "Want me to get out a thermos, and we can play spin the bottle instead since you seem so focused on that?"

"Well, if you insist. Though I think poker is probably more interesting." Tyr reached over to run his thumb over the other manís lower lip, tugging it down gently. "Deal the cards, Tom."

The older manís hand hovered over the last cards, then he tilted his head to look at Tyr. "Fine, you get a kiss if you win. For every hand I win, I get a by on your conditions." The last cards fluttered into place, and he picked up his hand, studying the cards, his expression remaining impassive.

Tyr wondered if he should have been fair and mentioned that heíd won the down payment on his first condo at the poker tables in Atlantic City. Nawwwwww. Heíd tell Tom about it sometime tomorrow... after heíd enjoyed tonightís winnings. He glanced at his cards, expression completely blank, and immediately tossed down two, waiting for new ones.

Tom dealt the other man his cards, taking his time and studying his own before setting a pair of them down and picking up two more. A pair of tens and a pair of jacks. Not a horrible hand, but not a sure-fire winner. He glanced at Tyr, unable to read anything in the other manís face, then looked back down at his cards. "Show or fold?" Tyr laid down his cards face up, showing three fives. He looked at Tom expectantly, waiting for the man to show his hand. "Well?" he asked, eyebrows rising when McLaren just stared at them for long moments.

Shit. Tom clenched his jaw before laying his cards out, his eyes still downcast. Why was this bothering him so much? Why did he agree to it in the first place?

The mercenary was hard-pressed not to smirk his satisfaction, but he wasnít going to give the other man a single excuse to delay. "Looks like I win." He leaned back, reclining comfortably atop his sleeping bag, and waited.

Tom collected the cards, squaring the corners and setting them on the tent floor, obviously stalling for time. He heard Tyr clear his throat and swallowed, then leaned over, crossing the small distance between them. The younger manís lips were curved slightly behind his neatly trimmed beard, and Tom frowned, realizing that he was a source of amusement for the other man.

Annoyance getting the better of him, he leaned in, covering the mercenaryís lips with his own, flicking his tongue out over the soft flesh, then sucking lightly on his lower lip. It was more then he had planned on doing, but the other man had said a real kiss, and Tom McLaren didnít welsh on his bets.

Tyr smiled at him, having to sit on his hands to keep himself from reaching for the older man. Damn, he tasted good! He looked forward to when Tom came to him without reluctance. It was going to be amazing. "See," he said softly. "That wasnít so bad, was it?" Without waiting for a reply, he nodded at the cards. "Gonna deal the next hand?"

Tom sank back onto his own bag, fighting the urge to fidget, wondering if Tyr would notice if he adjusted his pants as they were fitting a bit tighter now then they had been before. Shit, who was he kidding? Of course heíd notice and probably comment on it.

Picking up the cards, he offered them to the other man. "Nope, your turn. Name the game."

"Seven card stud," Tyr replied, predictably enough. He accepted the deck of cards, making sure his fingers brushed over Tomís as he did. He shuffled and dealt, not even glancing at his hole cards. Once done, neither man having folded along the way, he set the cards down. "Whatcha got?"

"Full house, deuces and queens," the guide responded, fanning the cards out. It should be a winning hand, but he couldnít tell if he was pleased with the fact, or it he regretted it.

Tyr glanced at the other manís hand, then at his own. Thanks to his hole cards, he had a straight flush, a winning hand, but he wasnít sure what to do about it. Deciding to take a chance, he flipped the top cards over with a shrug. "You win. And your deal." He scooped the cards up, adding them to the pack and handing the whole deck over.

Tom gathered up the cards without comment, cocking his head as the high-pitched wails of the wind increased in volume. "Probably going to have to dig out to check on the others tomorrow," he commented, dealing out the cards, frowning for a second at his hand, or lack of one.

"Wouldnít it be smarter to wait till the stormís over?" Tyr asked curiously. Despite his years as a soldier and mercenary, heíd never spent time on a mountain before. If Tom would talk, heíd like the opportunity to learn. He glanced at his cards, seeing that he had a mere pair of kings.

"If too much snow collects on the tents, theyíre going to collapse. If that happens, weíre going to have a lot of people without shelter - not a good thing. This way you get cold, but youíre safer in the long run." Tom tossed out his low cards and picked up more of the same.

"Hadnít thought of that. Makes sense." Tyr nodded, taking three new cards and adding another king. "So why do you do this, spend all your time freezing your ass off and risking your life?"

"Itís what I love, what I wanted to do as long as I can remember." Tom squared his cards and leaned back on his elbows. "Saw a special on Everest when I was about ten, and I just knew I had to get there somehow. Once I was old enough, I got out to the Rockies to cut my teeth, and worked my way up until I managed to get on a Himalayan expedition. Itís addicting, I admit that."

He twisted to grab his thermos, and took a drink. "Why do you spend your life risking your life by fighting other peoplesí fights?"

"Itís what Iím good at. You ever see Lethal Weapon? You know that line where Mel Gibson says that itís the only thing he was ever good at, and how only a few guys in the world can do what he did? Well, thatís me. Besides, if I do it, I know itíll be done right and people wonít die for no reason because someone panicked or is a bully."

Tom thought about that for a moment. "But what if you find that the people who hired you arenít what they claim? That theyíre using you for something you donít agree with?"

"Unlikely. I check them out pretty thoroughly before I accept any jobs... and I still have contacts who can get me information that isnít common knowledge. Iíve turned down a lot of jobs in the past. Drug dealers and gun runners know better than even to ask me now."

"Now?" Tom glanced at his cards again, saw that the hand hadnít gotten any better, then tossed them down between them. "I take it something like that happened in the past?"

Tyr shrugged. "A few times. Like you, people assumed that a merc would work for anyone who could meet his price. I had to explain their error a few times before they got the idea." He put his cards down, showing his three kings, and waited to see what Tom had.

The guide flicked his cards over like the junk they were. "Must have been a surprise to them. As for me... itís a little out of my mindset, especially since Iím looking at you over the barrel of a gun, figurative or not at this point." Tyr may have won this hand, but Tom had his by from the last, so he didnít owe the other man anything.

"I challenge myself against other men instead of mountains. Does that make more sense to you?" He took the cards back, rapidly shuffling and dealing, growing impatient to chip away at the attractive guideís barriers. Being closed into this small tent together made him want the man all the more.

Tom had to smile at that. "Yes, it does, actually. More than it did before anyway." He ignored the cards for the time being, more interested in finding out about the other man than the game, even considering what the stakes were.

"So why the service to begin with? What sent you to the Point?"

"Thatís what men in my family do. Thereís been a Cliffe in the armed forces since the Civil War and at West Point since the first black man was allowed in. My dad never even considered that I might not want to go, that I might want to do something else. Not that I did, but still." He shrugged again. "Didnít matter though. I enjoyed it, and I was good at it. But soldiering in peacetime isnít for me. So I took an honorable discharge when my time was up, and here I am."

"So you never thought about doing anything else?" Tom asked, drawing a knee up and resting his elbow on it, the down and nylon of his sleeping bag soft against his sock. "I mean, what if some day you canít do this? What then?"

"Some day I wonít be able to do this. Itís a young manís game. When that happens, Iíll probably retire somewhere tropical... for about a month till the boredom gets to me, and then Iíll find something else to do. Maybe go to college and take some classes. I dunno. Iíll figure it out when the time comes."

A particularly strong gust of wind bowed the tent wall over them, drawing Tomís gaze. "There are times that Iíd trade everything I own to be out on some beach somewhere warm, smelling of coconut oil with a tall drink in my hand," he admitted. "But even when I have the money and the time, I find myself somewhere up a mountain, hanging on by fingertips and will-power."

His eyes grew unfocused as he thought about the rush that came with a hard climb. "Some day Iíll get too old for the big ones, but until then, they own me." He looked back at Tyr, feeling his face heat with the intensity of the other manís gaze. "Maybe weíd better look at our cards."

Tyr watched the older man, wondering when things had changed from him wanting a quick fuck to actually liking the guy and wanting... he wasnít sure what. He definitely wanted the guy, but maybe there could more. He wasnít sure. He glanced down at his cards, seeing four of a kind. The odds were on his side, and another kiss might resolve some of this tension.

Tomís hand didnít get any better when he picked up three new cards, and he sighed. Maybe it was a good thing they hadnít gotten up the mountain; his luck was for shit these days. Or maybe itís because youíre distracted, a small part of his mind protested.

He saw Tyrís cards, and groaned, though he wondered if it sounded as half-hearted as it felt. This was plain weird, that was all there was to it. "Looks like I owe you something."

Waiting until the mercenary arranged himself again, Tom leaned over, once again closing his lips over the younger manís. This time, however, the kiss deepened, and he felt Tyrís mouth open under his and the velvet slide of their tongues against each other. Part of Tomís mind was screaming at him to pull back, but the rest of it was determined to keep him right where he was, and he let out a soft moan at the internal conflict.

Tyr tasted Tom, and he deepened the kiss, unable to resist. His hands rose to clasp the other manís head, holding him, yet not so tightly that he couldnít free himself if he wanted to. When Tom didnít object, he wrapped an arm around the other man and pulled him off balance, tumbling him into his lap.

The feel of the broad, hard body beneath his legs brought Tom back to reality with a jolt, and his eyes flew open. He should move, should get away, put as much space between himself and this torment as humanly possible, should... Instead of doing any of that, Tom leaned back in, rubbing his stubbled chin against the other manís neatly trimmed facial hair, then dove in for another kiss, his hand rising to tangle in the multitude of long, thin locks hanging over Tyrís shoulders. Groaning his approval, Tyr pulled Tom closer, his arms wrapping tightly around him. The kiss deepened, each man seemingly trying to swallow the other. Taking a chance, Tyr spread his legs and arched up slightly, rubbing his erection against the man in his lap. His hands were busy exploring every inch he could reach, trying to find a way beneath the thermal gear to the warm flesh he so desperately wanted to touch.

At the feel of the iron length rubbing against his thigh, Tomís whole body tensed. No way, no way was that going anywhere near his ass. In shock that heíd even consider such a thing when up until five minutes ago the thought of kissing another man was a turn off, Tom groaned. He felt a chill draft, then Tyrís hands were under his shirt, rubbing and kneading his back, working around to the front and his chest.

"I donít think I can do what you want," he gasped, finding his fingers itching to explore the other manís broad chest, to see if he was sensitive in the same spots Tom was.

Tyr immediately understood what the problem was. "You canít fuck me?" he murmured as he nibbled on Tomís ear. "Iím sure you can. Itís not much different from a woman, you know." His fingers were moving over the other manís chest, exploring the nearly hairless expanse and plucking at rigid nipples.

That straightforward answer stopped Tom dead in his tracks again. "Excuse me?"

"I said I want you to fuck me," Tyr repeated with a grin. "Seems pretty simple to me. You put this," stroking Tomís cock through his pants, "in my ass and fuck me blind." He smiled toothily. "What exactly did you not understand?"

"You," the older man answered honestly, the pace of his breathing increasing as his hips arched against Tyrís hand. "I donít understand you at all, or how you can make me want this - you. I should hate you, but I canít."

Tom growled in frustration and pulled Tyr back in for another kiss, this one more demanding as his emotions and needs got the best of him.

"Tom, donít strain yourself. I donít understand myself half the time. Another few days, a couple of weeks at most, and weíll both go our separate ways, never to meet again." Tyr sounded faintly wistful as he said that. "Why not just relax and enjoy what we can do for each other?"

The soldier was right. What did it matter? Who would ever know what happened here? Nodding shallowly, Tom placed his hands against Tyrís chest, pushing him backwards and swinging around to straddle the larger manís waist.

"All right, I can live with that." Tomís voice was barely audible over the wind, and he shivered as he ran his hands up under Tyrís shirt, learning the rock-solid planes of the other manís body by touch.

Tyr bit down on his lip, nearly overwhelmed by the sensation of this manís hands on him after wanting him for what seemed like so long. His back arched, pressing his chest more firmly against the exploring hands, and he growled softly, a rumble of pleasure that started deep inside him. He lay prone, chocolate brown eyes staring up hungrily, and his own hands stroked the firm body above him.

"Youíre going to have to give up some of these clothes," he teased lightly, his face straight but the twinkle in his eyes giving him away.

"I know." Tomís growing desire was reflected in the deepening of his voice, and he offered the man a smile in response to the small jibe. "Though speaking from experience in these matters, weíd be safer with losing only what we need to - and doing that inside the bags."

The corner of his mouth quirked, and he chuckled, though it deepened to a moan as Tyrís thumbs rubbed circles over his nipples. "Donít - donít need to freeze any important parts off."

"That would be bad," Tyr agreed, most of his attention on Tom. "Maybe we should move this to the sleeping bag now?" he suggested, his hips moving suggestively. "God, I want you, canít believe how much. It almost hurts," he groaned, pulling Tomís head down for another kiss while his legs parted and his knees held the guide.

"Good - " Tom had to stop talking when he found his mouth full of Tyrís tongue. With each successive kiss, his doubts faded, until they totally vanished. He wanted this, and now that heíd accepted that, he was going to enjoy it.

"Good idea," he gasped, pulling back from the larger man and twisting, flipping out their bags and zipping them together, creating a larger cocoon of warmth. Sliding inside, Tom shucked off another layer of clothes, setting them within easy reach in case he needed them. "Coming?" he asked, watching Tyr with a decidedly hungry gaze.

"Not yet, but I have high hopes." Tyr slid in beside the older man before he could change his mind, having removed most of his clothes. "Think you could help me with that?" He pressed against the other man, their erections rubbing together, and he groaned softly. "God, you feel so damn good!"

Tom had to groan at the pun, then the pressure against his erection drove all other thought from his mind. So very different than anything heíd ever experienced, but it was also addicting. Tyrís body radiated heat like a furnace, and each pass of his cock against Tomís made him crave the next one more.

Hands that could handle an ice ax or grip an outcropping, supporting Tomís whole weight, trembled, then tightened around Tyrís back, and he arched into the other manís body. "This time - can we - just this?" His voice was raspy and faded in and out with each panting breath he took. In the back of his mind Tom knew he had just agreed to this happening again, that, in fact, he wanted it to happen again - if he survived this time.

"Anything you want," Tyr promised breathlessly, arching and rubbing eagerly against the other man. "But now that weíre inside where itís warm... itíll feel a lot better without the layers between us." He squeezed a hand between them, pushing down their briefs so that naked flesh pressed against naked flesh. The first touch of Tomís cock against his own made him stiffen and bite his lip to keep himself from coming instantly.

"Oh God." Tom sucked in a breath to keep from crying out at the first brush of the other manís erection against his, the sensation so very different from what he was used to, but at the same time, addicting. He pressed inwards, seeking more of the contact. It was as if his body took on a life of its own, rubbing and writhing against the larger man, the friction between their cocks lessening as clear droplets of precome lubricated their movements.

All Tom could do was feel: the silky liner of the sleeping bag over him, the solid bulk of the mercenary pressed against him, the hard rush of breath as Tyr exhaled, and, most of all, the sensual glide of flesh against flesh, driving him closer and closer to orgasm.

Tyr spread his legs so Tom settled between them, moaning as their erections rubbed together. It felt so good, even better then heíd imagined, and he figured that it would probably kill him when Tom finally did fuck him. He couldnít wait. His head lifted, mouth hungrily seeking its counterpart, and he sucked Tomís lower lip into his mouth.

He sucked and nibbled on the silky flesh for a time before releasing it to explore the moist cavern behind. His tongue tangled with Tomís, and he groaned deeply. He tasted so good.

Tom groaned as Tyr shifted, and he pressed even closer against the larger man. His hands were tangled in the mercenaryís hair, fingers twisting in the thin locks almost viciously. Their opposing thrusts raked their cocks against each other, the pressure increasing as to be almost unbearable, then vanishing to a feather touch.

Tearing his mouth away from the other manís, Tom fastened his lips on Tyrís neck, closing his teeth over the wildly beating pulse, groaning against the hot flesh as his balls tightened. He thrust once, twice, then came, his seed slicking the space between their bodies, making them move more freely together.

The sensation of Tomís mouth on his vulnerable throat drove Tyr over the edge. After all his backing away, the other man was marking him, and Tyr loved every second of it. Driving against his loverís slick groin, he groaned his satisfaction, his own seed mixing with Tomís between them.

Tyr lay panting, then shifted to lie beside Tom, one arm around him and the other half over him as he trailed his fingers through the creamy mess on Tomís belly. While Tom watched in fascination, the mercenary raised his semen-coated fingers to his mouth and sucked them clean with every evidence of enjoyment. He ran his fingers through the cooling puddle once again, this time holding them out to Tom.

"Wanna taste?"

The mountaineer eyed the mercenaryís wet fingers, then shook his head, his nose wrinkling and his lips curling like a child offered brussel sprouts. The sight of both his and Tyrís semen mixed together brought home with a vengeance just exactly what he had done.

"No thanks," Tom murmured, feeling the chill air crawl across his damp flesh, making his balls draw up close to his body. "Weíd better clean up before we get colder." Part of him was strangely content to rest right where he was, but he wasnít willing to give into that desire.

Tyr frowned and stretched out, eyeing the other man with a distinct lack of pleasure. "Most people at least have the courtesy to wait until cleaned up and dressed again before rejecting a lover." He grabbed the t-shirt heíd been wearing earlier and wiped himself clean, then shrugged back into his clothes.

"Donít worry," he said coldly, "youíre perfectly safe. As Iíve said before, Iím not into rape. And now let me add that Iím not into people who like to pretend they were forced into something beneath them." He turned his back to the other man, refusing to admit to his disappointment.

Tom stared at the larger man, his confusion plain to see. "What the... Jesus, I was commenting that it was cold and that staying wet wasnít a good idea. Did I say I was forced? No, so be happy that you just gave my fucking straight-boy scruples a whack. Ass..."

Growling to himself, Tom grabbed the shirt and swiped it at his belly, kicking out of the sleeping bags and dragging on his long underwear, then starting on his other layers, wishing he had a bottle of something somewhere in his things.

Swearing, Tyr grabbed for his pack and pulled out a bottle of scotch. Swallowing a healthy amount, he offered it to the other man. "Sorry," he muttered. "Seemed like you were regretting giving in, backing away again."

Taking the bottle, Tom chugged back a swallow, closing his eyes as the fire burned its way down his throat to his belly. "I guess I was - some," he admitted, rubbing his mouth with the back of his hand before raising his eyes to meet Tyrís. "Youíll have to forgive me if I donít get the etiquette of the situation; itís not one I encounter every day."

Tyr sighed, once again fully dressed and settled comfortably on top of his sleeping bag. "Itís not so different from being with a woman, you know. Or are you going to try to tell me that you donít encounter that situation either?" The lustfully appreciative look he raked over Tomís body said how likely he thought that was.

The older man snorted out a breath and took another drink. "That situation, as you put it, usually doesnít involve getting physical with someone whoís got me held captive on the side of a mountain. Itís usually more soft bed, soft curves and a good, satisfying fuck." He realized that could be taken as him admitting that he hadnít enjoyed what had happened, and Tom sighed, not wanting to be called a liar again. "And there is no way anyone would mistake you for a woman, even with that hair."

Tyr laughed faintly. "Iím glad to hear you can still tell the difference between the male and female of the species." Deep brown eyes rose to meet wary green. "And if itís a Ďgood, satisfying fuckí you want, Iíd be more than happy to help you out with that."

He shifted onto his knees, bringing him within armís reach of Tom, and he curved one large hand around the back of the mountaineerís neck, pulling him into a kiss. "I like to leave my partners fully satisfied," he purred. "Besides, your mouth tastes so good the rest of you has to be even better."

Tomís eyes fell closed, and he sighed, allowing himself to fall into the kiss and enjoy it, not thinking about the consequences. "You really go all out when you want something, donít you?" he husked, quirking a small grin and opening his eyes to look up at Tyr. "Have to admire that in a man."

"When I see something I like, I go all out to get it," Tyr admitted, nibbling on Tomís chin, then working his way along the stubbled jaw to a delicate, almost elfin ear. His tongue swirled along the whorls, following the trail to the sensitive inner curve, which he first licked, then blew lightly on.

The wind buffeted the tent, causing the nylon to bend in nearly on top of them. Tom watched the poles as they curved, then straightened when the gust eased up a bit. "Yeah, kind of guessed that," he murmured, his head tilting to the side as a shudder ran through his body and he shifted closer to Tyr. "Itís a trait that kind of grows on you."

"Glad to hear it," Tyr said somewhat distractedly, pressing closer again. "Anything else have that effect on you?" His hand curved over Tomís groin, lightly cupping him in the warmth of his palm but not applying any pressure, most of his attention still centered on the ear he was exploring.

The climber gave a strained laugh and twisted upwards, his body rubbing against Tyrís palm, almost mesmerized by the swirl of the other manís tongue around his ear. "You could say that - can probably feel it too."

Closing a hand on the fabric of the mercenaryís shirt, Tom pulled, bringing Tyrís lips back to his and holding him there, but having no illusions that the other man couldnít break away if he wanted to.

Tyr smiled slightly before his mouth closed over Tomís, taking it hungrily, slowly beginning to believe that maybe, just maybe, Tom wanted him as much as he wanted Tom. He allowed his hand to press down, kneading the rigid length beneath it, his own erection trapped against Tomís thigh while he concentrated on the other man.

"God..." Tom moaned into Tyrís mouth, the force of the lust overtaking him, especially in the face of his earlier climax, almost unnerving. He wanted this moment, this man with a fierce passion. Flexing his leg, he rubbed at the hard bulge of Tyrís erection, his own hips rocking wantonly against the other manís hand, his hands sliding beneath Tyrís shirts to dig into his flesh, wanting more contact between them. "Think weíd better get back in the bags..."

Tyr flashed a brilliant grin at him as he hastened to follow the suggestion, relieving himself of the outer layer of clothing before sliding into Tomís sleeping bag after him. His body was immediately plastered against the other manís, and he returned to his oral explorations while his hands worked their way under the guideís heavy clothing.

Tom shifted, shrugging out of most of his clothing before moving back in against Tyrís large frame. "Feel so good," he breathed, licking his way down the mercenaryís neck before closing his lips around the pulse point there.

The bigger man groaned and allowed his head to fall back, exposing his throat more fully to the other man. "Can make you feel better," he rasped, tongue flicking out to moisten lips dried from panting. "So much better." His hand stroked over the firm curves of Tomís ass in demonstration.

Swallowing hard, Tom lifted his head and stared into Tyrís deep brown eyes. "Show me."

The mercenaryís eyes widened, but he saw the determination in the green gaze, and he smiled slowly. "Itíll be my pleasure... and yours." His mouth closed over Tomís again as he divested them of their lower garments and reached for a tube of ointment, placing it under his hip to warm it. He shivered at the cold sensation, but he wanted nothing to distract Tom.

Warm fingers traced the cleft of the guideís buttocks, slowly stroking over the tight ring of muscle, and he murmured soothingly when Tom jumped.

"I-Iím okay." Tomís voice was a little unsteady, but his gaze was steady. Concentrating on the feel of Tyrís skin under his fingers, he relaxed bit by bit, letting out a small sigh as Tyrís fingers kept circling and circling, the pressure light but intoxicating.

"Better then okay." Conflicting desires made him want to thrust forward into Tyrís groin and back to increase the pressure of his fingers at the same time, and he bit back a growl of frustration, and his fingers tightened on Tyrís hip.

"Much better," Tyr agreed in a rumbling purr, the expression in his eyes making it clear what he was talking about. Tyr bit gently at Tomís lower lip, his tongue stroking over the tender flesh before he pulled his head back, tugging at Tomís lip. "Gorgeous," he praised, retrieving the tube of ointment and squeezing some out onto his fingers while distracting Tom with his kiss.

Slickened, one fingertip slipped inside Tom easily to the first knuckle, and Tyr let it remain there to get Tom accustomed to the sensation. God, he was incredibly hot and tight, Tyr didnít dare let himself imagine that around his cock.

"Can the sweet talk," Tom growled, feeling his body attempting to tense up at the feeling of increasing pressure on his anus and telling himself to relax. After a while, he realized he wanted more and pressed back, spreading his legs more to urge Tyr on.

His hands traced over the taller manís shoulders, digging in a bit when Tyr pressed his finger in farther, then going back to their mindless circling as he panted into the mercenaryís ear, his breath ghosting white in the chill air. "So, how often you do this?" Tom asked, striving for a light tone, but wondering for the first time about diseases and other possible unfortunate side effects of this tryst.

Tyr continued to stretch Tom, getting him accustomed to having something inside him. "Not often, actually. Nowadays, itís suicidal to indulge in one-night stands, and Iím rather fond of my life. And if that was worrying you, donít. I have a clean bill of health," he said calmly, adding a second finger while his tongue lapped at Tomís lips.

Tom considered this for a moment, then nodded. After all, he was planning on letting this man fuck him, and that was about as big a trust issue as you could have. "íKay," he murmured, wincing slightly at the increased pressure but putting it aside.

"Glad to hear that, donít really want to stop having gotten this far." Deciding to experiment a little, he ran one hand over Tyrís shoulder to his broad chest, rubbing a thumb over one flat nipple, bringing it to a peak.

Tyr shuddered, a faint sound of pleasure escaping him. To touch Tom, to have Tom touching him and know that he would be deep inside the beautiful guide soon... it was almost more than he could bear. He couldnít remember ever wanting this much, but he had to keep control, had to remember that Tom was a virgin in this respect.

He groaned softly, his hips pressing against Tom as he slowly stretched him and stroked more ointment into him.

Sensing the restraint Tyr was showing and suddenly frustrated by it, Tom growled. "Jesus, Tyr. I climb mountains for a living; you think I canít take a little pain knowing what itíll get me? Do it for Godís sake!"

He reached between them, circling the younger manís cock and pumping it, watching the fire ignite in Tyrís dark eyes.

Suddenly Tyr was all motion, aroused growls falling from his lips as he rolled Tom onto his stomach, still trying to make this as easy for him as possible, pressed the head of his cock against his opening. One arm curled under Tom, raising him slightly, and his hips rocked forward, forcing the head of his cock past the resisting muscle.

Once inside the other man, Tyr forced himself to still, to let Tom get accustomed. "Okay?" he rasped, tongue lapping at Tomís shoulder blade, tasting him.

Tom nodded, forcing himself to take deeper breaths and let his body adjust to the new sensations. It hurt, but it wasnít unbearable, certainly nowhere near as bad as the feeling of hitting bottom after falling through a crevasse, plus there was the certainty that things were going to get a lot better soon.

"Yeah, just needed a minute." Tom twisted his neck to look back at Tyr and smiled, arching his back and feeling the larger man sink into him a little more. "How Ďbout you?"

"Never better," the mercenary gasped, starting to push deeper once Tom relaxed. He was just as hot and tight as Tyr had imagined, better even. "So good," he groaned, shivering when he came to rest with his balls pressed against the other manís ass. He shifted the arm under Tom, reaching for his erection, and he was pleased to find him still hard. A few strokes and he had the mountaineer even harder than heíd been when they started, and Tyr knew it was time for more.

He slowly drew his hips back, gliding back out of Tomís ass almost to the tip, then hovered there, rotating his hips a little to rub against the sensitive inner surface.

A small whimper spilled from Tomís lips, and he let his head drop back to the surface of the sleeping bag, breathing in the heated air from the confined space around them and almost tasting the musky scent of their coupling. The feel of Tyrís hand on his cock combined with the now pleasurable stretching of his ass to make him groan and rock back, wanting more, wanting it all.

As Tom began to meet his strokes, Tyr allowed himself to move faster, taking Tom a little harder, adjusting his angle slightly on each stroke until the guideís gasp let him know heíd found the right spot. He permitted himself a satisfied smile as he settled into a rhythm, not wanting this to be over too fast. He had Tomís cock in his hand and was deep inside him, and it was even better than heíd imagined.

"Tyr... ah fuck, yes..." Tom gasped, shuddering as the torrent of pleasure ran through him. Guess thatís my prostate, he thought wildly, not really caring at this point, only knowing he wanted to feel that again.

Their soft grunts and the slap of damp flesh filled the tent, though the wind still howled outside. Now Tyr was moving freely in him, and Tom knew it was getting close to the end. Even though heíd come not long ago, he was on the edge, and each slap of the other manís balls against his ass brought him closer to oblivion.

Tyr stroked Tomís cock hungrily as he took his lover, bumping Tomís prostate with every stroke. As he moved, he licked at whatever parts of the guide were convenient and murmured hot words of sex and praise. He pressed Tomís legs a little farther apart, letting him go a fraction deeper, and he growled his pleasure as he felt the knot of tension gathering at the base of his spine, ready to explode through him.

Biting down hard on the side of his hand to keep from screaming, Tom came, his partnerís rough voice and hungry motions carrying him further and further along like a rock caught in an avalanche - with no choice but to fall. His whole body shook as wetness gouted over Tyrís hand, and he felt his body seize up around the mercenaryís erection, dragging at it with his next stroke.

Tyr felt Tom come, his body tightening and rippling around him, and he let himself go. A few more hard strokes into that incredibly lush ass and he came as well, muffling his own cry of satisfaction in Tomís shoulder. Unwilling for them to separate yet, he sank down on top of Tom, still deep inside him, and lay there panting for breath.

"Jesus," Tom gasped, easily holding both their weight and strangely content to stay that way, blanketed in the other manís heat. "That was..." He shook his head, unable to find the words to describe it. "Guess Iím a convert."

"I guess saying I told you so would be kind of crass just now?" Tyr chuckled.

Tom snorted. "Do you even have to ask?" He moved slightly and muscles unaccustomed to this kind of activity protested, making him muffle a groan. Tom managed to grab his undershirt and clean up the damp spill under him before collapsing into the down, feeling Tyr follow him down.

Tyr rolled them over so that they were spooned together inside the warmth of the sleeping bag, his arms loosely enfolding the other man. "Thank you for trusting me," he said quietly as he pressed a kiss on the back of Tomís neck.

"Gotta go with my instincts, man." Tom tilted his head back and gave a half smile. "Well, that and you are pretty fucking persuasive." He moved an arm backward, resting his hand on Tyrís hip, tracing a finger over the hipbone there. "Gonna have to go out soon and clear the tents. Feels like itís really socking in out there."

"Can I tell you how much I donít want to move right now?" Tyr sighed. "Of course, being buried alive doesnít appeal much either." By mutual consent neither of them mentioned what this was going to mean for them once the storm was over. For now, they could just enjoy each other.

Tom made a noise of agreement and rubbed his leg along Tyrís calf. "Neither does being without shelter or having to try to fit three or four in a two man tent. Have done it before, and it gets old really fast."

"And in this case, three would definitely be a crowd," Tyr agreed fervently, amusement clear in his voice as he pressed their naked bodies closer together. "Iím not into shows."

"Not one for public display, eh?" Tom chuckled and luxuriated in the feeling of the hard, hot body curled around him. "And here I thought you were adventurous..."

"Oh I am. I just prefer to share that side of myself with one person, not all and sundry," Tyr responded dryly. "And are you going to try to convince me that you would have done this with someone else in here with us?" He snorted derisively. "I donít think so."

"Maybe not right now, but when youíre young, mostly broke and have to share hotel rooms with whoever chips in, you get used to company." At Tyrís incredulous laugh, he shrugged. "Building a rep in the climbing business is a long, expensive process." Tom sighed at that. Between his last trip to K2 and this one, his rep was pretty much shot. Maybe it was time to consider that job Adventure Consultants had offered... Evans, the owner, was a bastard, but the pay would be good.

Tyr shook his head. "Well, Iím glad not to have an audience. Talk about performance anxiety!" he chuckled. Resting his chin on Tomís shoulder, he asked, "Do we have to go out right now to clear the tents, or can it wait a while?" He pressed closer, reminding Tom of why they should stay right where they were.

In all reality, Tom didnít want to move any more then Tyr did, but he had an obligation to keep his clients as safe as possible. "Possibly... Let me check ours and see how bad the drifts are getting. You stay here, no sense in both of us moving."

Grabbing his clothes, Tom quickly dressed, pulling on layers, then pausing, confused by the damp feeling between his legs. He flushed a bit when he realized it was Tyrís spunk oozing from his ass.

"A definite advantage to being the one on top," he murmured to himself, grinning back at Tyr as he crawled over to the zippered flap. "Better get under cover, itís gonna get cold in here."

Tyr eyed him as he pulled the sleeping bag up to his chin. "And youíre gonna drape that icy body over me when you get back in here, arenít you?" He shivered just at the thought, then again when Tom unfastened the flap.

"Baby," Tom chuckled. "And you really think you would have made it up at 24,000?" Still laughing, he pulled on a hat and gloves and stuck his head outside, squinting against the wind before ducking back inside, shaking his head.

"They need to be cleared. I can do it, might be better that way since Iím used to this weather and you arenít." As he spoke, Tom began digging through his pack for his heavy down suit and his boots and liners.

Tyr didnít argue. There was no way he wanted to go out in that if he didnít have to. And if the price was having Tom crawl all over him to warm up afterward, well, he thought heíd be able to bear it. He smiled. They werenít nearly done yet. "Hurry up. Iíd hate to have to go out there and rescue you."

The guide pulled his goggles on over his hat and looked back at his new - what exactly would he call Tyr now? A lover? Oh well, whatever. "Somehow I think that itíd end up being the other way around."

Pulling his goggles down over his eyes, Tom then tugged on his over gloves and picked up the collapsible shovel. "If Iím not back in an hour, call out the dogs." Wanting more than anything to simply crawl back into that warm cocoon beside Tyr, Tom shook his head and ducked out the flap, zipping it shut behind him before going to work clearing the accumulated snow from the sides of the tent.

Tyr stared after him for a long moment, then dragged himself out of the sleeping bag, knowing he wouldnít be able to relax until the other man was back inside. He dressed quickly in the chill air, then turned on the small Coleman stove to heat some water that he would add to some powdered milk and Ovaltine so there would be a hot drink waiting for Tom when he got back. He wouldnít mind some himself for that matter.

Once the beverage was ready and poured into a thermos to keep hot, Tyr stripped back down and crawled back into the sleeping bag to keep the inside toasty warm. He had a feeling Tom was going to need all the warmth he could get when he returned.

It took almost the full hour to clear all the tents and check on the others, and Tom was dragging ass when he made it back to the blue dome he was sharing with Tyr. "Mother-fucker," he gasped, collapsing into the tent and sealing the flap behind him. Snow caked his whole body, and he knew that unless he was careful, things were going to get damp in here, then freeze.

He stripped off his goggles, gloves and hat, then turned to find Tyr watching him. "Your folks are all okay, if a little antsy about being cooped up. We should be fine the rest of the night unless things really deteriorate. That for me? God, thanks." Grabbing the cup the other man offered, Tom gulped down the hot liquid, barely registering the taste in his hurry to get the warmth inside his chilled body. "Fuck. Thatís better." Managing a tired smile, he started the laborious process of getting out of his thick layers, trying to avoid showering Tyr with snow as he did so.

Tyr watched, waiting in the sleeping bag. Heíd like to help, but he was aware that Tom knew what he was doing and that he would be more hindrance than help. Heíd warm Tom up once the guide got into the sleeping bag with him.

"Do we have enough supplies to last this out?" he asked curiously.

"We should." Tom shrugged out of the top of his down suit, then pulled off his boots before shimmying out of the bottom and setting the whole thing aside to dry as best possible. "Most storms here blow themselves out in a day or two, and this camp has all the supplies we were going to take to the upper ones to stock them. So long as your people stay under cover, we should all be fine. I told them if they needed to go out for anything, to take one of my group. They know how to survive up here."

Crawling back to the sleeping bags, Tom glanced at Tyr, then decided it would be pushing it to climb back in beside the other man in his frigid state and started to climb into the spare.

"Where do you think youíre going?" Tyr demanded in confusion. Were they back to this again? "I thought we were past this?"

"Huh? What?" Tom caught sight of the look in the other manís eyes and understood. "Fuck. Itís not that, I just figured you wouldnít want my cold, skinny ass next to you until I warmed it up some."

"Even I know that the best way to warm up is to share body heat. So get your cold, gorgeous ass over here." Tyr held the sleeping bag invitingly open, wanting Tom against him, even if he was cold as an icecube.

"Hey, I can admit when I make a mistake." Moving quickly, Tom slithered across the space between them and into the bag beside Tyr, chuckling at the other manís sudden indrawn breath when his warm skin came in contact with Tomís icy extremities. "Still so sure about that?"

"I think we need to find a way to generate some additional heat." Tyr covered Tomís lips in a hungry kiss, already addicted to the flavor of this man, and his hands began to move over his body, rubbing warmth back into near frozen limbs and teasing him into arousal at the same time.

"Man, what do they feed you guys, the opposite of saltpeter or what?" Tom chuckled, enjoying the tingling feeling as life came back into his fingers and toes and the drowsy arousal Tyr was creating with his touch. "Iím really impressed!"

Tyr chuckled as well in response. "Have you looked in a mirror lately, Tom? But donít worry, I know youíd be too sore if I took you again, much as I would love to. But turnaboutís fair play," he whispered against Tomís lips, his tongue lightly licking at them.

The guideís expression became more alert at that, and he smiled, flicking his tongue out to slide against Tyrís, then pulling the larger man closer, his fingers closing in the lengths of his locks as they kissed.

"It would be a really good way to get warm," he murmured, running a hand down Tyrís back to his tight ass. "And seeing how it feels from the other end could be fun, but after that we sleep, understand?" He maintained his serious expression for a beat, then grinned and squeezed Tyrís ass, rocking his crotch against the other manís leg.

Tyr pulled back slightly smirking. "Well, I wouldnít want to keep you up. You need your sleep after all."

"Fuck you, Cliffe," Tom growled, rolling them both over so that he could look down into Tyrís laughing brown eyes. "Hmmm, thatís a really good idea; I think I will."

"Please, help yourself." Tyr grinned up at him, his legs spreading slightly in invitation. "We have to make sure every bit of you is warmed up, after all." His hands ran appreciatively over Tomís back and down to cup the curves of his ass. "We wouldnít want you to get frostbite."

The guide had to laugh at that. "Yeah, Iím pretty attached to that part of my body myself. Having it turn black and fall off is not a nice thought."

As he spoke, he settled closer between Tyrís legs, rocking their cocks together, feeling them both lengthen and grow as the lust grew between them. Deciding that he might as well explore some, Tom twisted his neck to rub his face over Tyrís chest, feeling the rasp of his stubble against the other manís smooth skin.

"Mmmm," Tyr moaned happily. Tom had found his weakness. He loved the sensation of stubble rubbing against him, and when Tom brushed over his nipples, he yelped and nearly levitated. "Oh God! You learn fast," he gasped out laughingly, his legs spreading a little wider.

Tom flicked his tongue out over one of the dusky circles, then rubbed his cheek over the spot, enjoying the shiver that got him. "Like you said, not that different from being with a woman and Iíve had plenty of experience with that."

"So I gathered." Tyr caught his lip between his teeth, hips rising to rub against Tom. "And do you tease them too, or do you actually do something?" He yanked Tomís head to him to feed hungrily on his mouth. "Fuck me, you damned tease!"

"Bossy, pushy..." Tom muttered against Tyrís lips even as he reached for the tube heíd felt earlier. "You want me to fuck you, let me do things my way."

Giving the younger man a stern look even as the hunger in his eyes made his gut clench, Tom rocked back some, coming almost up onto his knees in the confines of the sleeping bag. After letting his hands roam down and over Tyrís hard cock, he reached back further, squeezing some of the lotion into his palm as he pressed a finger against the puckered muscle, pushing harder until he finally breeched the ring and immediately felt his finger surrounded by clinging heat.

"Goddamn," he whispered, licking his lips and moving his hand experimentally.

Tyr groaned, his eyes falling shut to allow him to concentrate on the feeling of Tomís finger in his ass. It felt so good, and he wanted this. Theyíd come so close earlier before Tom backed away, but now Tyr knew he was going to get Tom in him, filling him, and he wanted it. "Please... oh god, so goddamn good..." He braced his feet so he could raise his pelvis, making it easier for him.

Tomís tongue flicked out over his lips, wetting the dry flesh, his eyes never leaving the sight of the other man arching upward, practically begging for more. Drizzling more of the lotion over his hand, he waited until it warmed up, then added a second finger to the one stretching Tyrís body, curving and twisting them until he rubbed against a small bump deep inside the other man, the reaction that touch earned him making him smile tightly. "Guess that was your prostate," he chuckled, recalling the way it had felt when Tyr brushed against his.

"Fast learner," Tyr gasped, riding Tomís fingers eagerly. "Oh God, fuck me, you tease," he growled, lunging upward to bite at Tomís throat before falling flat again. His legs were spread wide, knees raised and bent, feet braced on the insulated sleeping bag, and he obviously wanted more. "Come on, Tommy boy, you wonít believe how good it is," he whispered seductively, writhing.

"I think Iíve got a pretty good idea," Tom murmured, pulling his fingers back, feeling the tight muscle close behind them. Warming a bit more of the lotion, he slicked up his erection and leaned in over Tyr, looking down at the larger man through eyes gone almost pure black with need.

He placed one hand on the center of Tyrís chest and steadied his cock with the other then pushed inside the mercenaryís body, finding himself surrounded by a grip tighter than any he had ever known. "Jesus!" Tom gasped, taking deep breaths to keep from coming right on the spot. It was amazing, strange but yet somehow familiar - a warped echo of the times heíd spent in bed with previous lovers.

Aware that Tyr was growling for him to move, Tom began circling his hips, driving in and out of the younger man with rhythmic precision, knowing he wasnít going to last long and not really caring at this point.

Tyrís eyes half closed as Tom finally began to move in him, and he rose up to meet each thrust. "Thatís it," he groaned, "fuck me, take me, come on, Tom, you know you want to..." His hands rose to tease Tomís body, thumbs rubbing his nipples through his clothes, then falling back to hook his arms under his own knees, pulling them up and back to open himself even more to his lover.

Grunting, his whole consciousness focused on the moment and his actions, Tom shuddered, feeling his climax approaching in the way his balls drew up against his body and the lightning singing through his nerves. "Going... need to come, Tyr. Want to feel you too..." His voice trailed off to a groan as need won out, and his body spasmed as he came.

Tyr watched the pleasure contort Tomís beautiful features, and the sight combined with the sensations racing through him were enough to push him into his own orgasm even as Tom groaned and quaked inside him. He arched up powerfully one final time, driving Tom as deep as he could go, then growled as he came as well.

"Fuck," Tom gasped, dropping his head to rest against Tyrís chest, feeling boneless and wrung out. "That was... Fuck."

He didnít want to move and wasnít honestly sure if he could between the time heíd spent out in the snow and the rounds of sex in between. "I think I could sleep for a week. What about you?"

Tyr let his legs stretch out again, tangling them with Tomís, but that was the extent of his energy. "It sounds like a good plan to me." He lay contentedly, though he could feel the increasing chill now that they werenít expending any energy, and he knew they would have to zip up the joined sleeping bags soon to avoid losing too much heat.

Shifting to the side a bit, Tom grabbed the damp, chilly shirt theyíd used earlier and cleaned them both up as well as possible so that they could pull their clothes back on. Shifting back into place, not even considering it strange that he was comfortable resting mostly atop the other man, he sighed, closing his eyes, his head pillowed on Tyrís shoulder. "Need to check the tents in the morning if this is still blowing... If you wake up before I do, kick me or something, kay?"

Tyr mumbled an affirmative, vaguely wondering when theyíd gone from captor and hostage to partners but too tired to care. His arms wrapped around the other man, holding him firmly as they both drifted off to sleep.

Tom was actually the first to wake the next morning, but Tyr awoke the moment the guide started to move. "Is it still snowing?" he asked lazily, eyes still closed.

"Canít tell," Tom mumbled, yawning widely enough to crack his jaw as he extricated himself from Tyrís arms and sat up as much as possible in the confined space. "Either it has, or weíre buried enough to block out the wind - Iím hoping for the first."

Tyr sighed, finally opening his eyes and also sitting up. "Iím not sure whether thatís good news or bad news," he admitted, the dark gaze fixed on the older man making it clear what the source of his uncertainty was. "Iíd imagine my employers are going to have more orders soon... and thatíll probably have us pulling out of here." He watched Tom carefully for his reaction.

"Oh." Tom stopped moving at that, his teeth closing on his lower lip before he spoke. "Thatíll let you get your men off the mountain and me get mine up her. We should be glad." His tone said this wasnít quite the case, a fact that left him confused and a bit anxious. Thinking that this was anything but what it seemed was insane. When the mercenaries moved out, Tyr would be gone and Tom would... what? Climb a mountain, he supposed.

"Glad. Right." Tyrís tone wasnít any happier than Tomís. He picked at a flaw in the fabric of the outer covering of the sleeping bag, carefully not looking at the other man. "Iíd like to see you again," he said quietly, uncertain what Tomís reaction would be.

The guide looked up sharply at that, as if unable to believe his ears. "You would?" he asked, flabbergasted, before recovering slightly. "How? I donít imagine you get many contracts to shanghai climbing parties, and my work tends to keep me out of war zones... Not that Iíd mind if we could figure it out..."

The mercenary smiled faintly at Tomís comments, finally raising his eyes to meet the vivid green of Tomís. "Well, neither of our professions is your traditional nine to five," he shrugged. "I have weeks or even months at time when I donít have a contract, and since I donít need the money, I donít scramble to fill the time. Iíd imagine youíre much the same. We could spend our downtime together."

Tom smiled thinly. "Aside from the money issue, youíre right. Considering my luck the past few years, my amount of downtime is going to be seriously limited if I want to get solvent again. I have the feeling this is my last time here."

He shrugged philosophically at that. "Maybe itís for the best. I had an offer from one of the big package firms, may just take them up on it - might not be as exciting, but itís a job. Think you can deal with a regular working stiff?"

Tyr curled on hand around the back of Tomís neck and pulled him close so he could kiss him. When they were both panting for air, he pulled back. "I can deal with you," he replied, nipping at Tomís lower lip and tugging it gently with his teeth. "And knowing your schedule would actually make it easier for me to schedule my jobs so weíre free at the same time."

Mulling the idea over, Tom finally had to chuckle. "Exactly what is it weíre planning here? Is this just going to be get together and fuck or something more? Honestly, if itís the first, Iím going to have to decline. If I - weíre going to do this, I need - it need to mean more." He shook his head, chuckling. "Jesus, I sound like a woman. I think Iíve heard this speech a few times before, just from the other end."

Snickering, Tyr replied, "Well, I can say from firsthand experience that you are most definitely not a woman! And... Iíd like it to mean more too. Despite appearances, I donít usually hop into bed - or sleeping bag - with everyone I meet." He eyed Tom with a grin. "I knew you were going to be trouble the first time I laid eyes on you."

"Just because I was ready to take you on, ice ax versus rifle?" Tom asked with a smile, relieved that Tyr seemed to want the same thing he did. "Canít imagine why that would be."

Still grinning, he leaned in and kissed the mercenary, keeping his eyes open so that he could watch Tyr the whole time. "And now I need to keep everyone out of trouble by checking on the weather and the tents. Interested in joining me?" The last said with a purely evil smile.

"Always," Tyr responded with a laughing leer. "Oh, you meant outside! Iíd much rather join with you in here."

"Jesus, that was bad," Tom groaned, thumping Tyr on the chest to emphasize the point. "Tell you what, if itís still snowing, after we get everything dug out again and get something to eat, we can give it another go. If not... Well, thereís always later, right?" Winking, he squirmed out of the sleeping bags, handing Tyr his clothes before starting to pull on his outer garments.

Tyr remained motionless, watching Tom dress before he crawled out of the warmth and hurriedly began to dress. "You look as good putting your clothes on as you do taking them off," he laughed softly. Once dressed and no longer in danger of freezing off any important body parts, he pulled Tom into his arms and kissed him thoroughly. "All right, guide, lead on."

"If only half my clients were so agreeable," the older man murmured, indulging himself with one final kiss before pulling on his hat and gloves. "Or half as gorgeous." Looking back over his shoulder at Tyr, Tom grinned and unzipped the tent flap, knocking the snow away before sticking his head out and peering around. "Itís clear. Looks like itís work now, play later."

"Talk about inspiring me to work fast," Tyr chuckled. "Okay, what do we need to do?" he asked, following Tom out of the tent into an almost featureless, uniformly white world.

"Grab a shovel, follow me, and dig in. Faster we get everyone out and checked over, faster we can discuss those incentives..." Climbing to the top of the drift near the tent, Tom slung his shovel over his shoulder and headed off toward the barely visible hump of the nearest tent, whistling as he went.

Tyr shouldered another shovel and followed the other man, enjoying the view even in the heavy winter clothes. He looked forward to a similar view on a nice Caribbean or Mediterranean beach... a nude one preferably. He grinned and followed, looking forward to discussing incentives.


  since 02-03-07


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