|No rights infringement intended.
No infringement of the following characters and situations is intended.
Warning: Rated [MA] Mature Adults only. May contain strong sexual scenes, violence, coarse language, drug use, horror and adult themes.
No infringement of the following characters and situations is intended.
Warning: (MA) Mature Adults only.
This story is based on the friendship between Sharpe and Tom Garrard. They had been Privates together in India, had both risen in the ranks during their careers to become Sergeants, had met again years later, though briefly, during the Destruction of Almeida, and now meet again just before the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro. It is 1811.
This first paragraph is taken from Sharpe's Battle - apologies to BC!
"Who'd ever believe it, Dick? You and me Captains? And I remember when you were broken down from corporal for farting on church parade."
"They were good days, Tom," Sharpe said.
"Only because they're a long way back.Nothing like distant memory for putting green leaves on a bare life, Dick."
The two men had reached a dark open space, out of earshot of any bivouacked cascadores........
They sat on the ground and Garrard said quietly "I thought you were going to die, Dick". He hesitated, then added "You know, the day they flogged you".
Sharpe gave the slightest of smiles, then, "So did I" he said grimly.
"I couldn't watch" added Garrard "I just couldn't watch. I never thought I'd see that happen to you."
"T'was only a matter of time with Hakeswell around," said Sharpe sourly "That bastard was determined to get me, one way or another". He sighed at the thought.
"It looked agony," said Garrard, glancing at Sharpe.
"Bloody was," said Sharpe "I couldn't have taken much more. I'd never have walked away from 2,000, that's for sure."
The flogging had been stopped after 200 lashes, an occurance almost unheard of. But Wellington had had his reasons.
The two men sat in silence for a moment, then Sharpe asked "You never get flogged then, Tom?"
Garrard shook his head, "No, thank God".
Sharpe hadn't thought about the flogging for a long time, but now he remembered it, the horror of it. The pain, the hatred he'd felt for the officers watching, Hakeswell......Perhaps because Tom had been there, seen it, he felt he could talk about it.
"It wasn't how I imagined" he said slowly "Not at all. I thought the whip would just hit and slide off, yer know, but it wasn't like that. The leather drags and pulls at your skin, tugging it." He shivered at the thought. "After a few strokes your back burns like its on fire. You can't move, you're tied so tight. I thought I was going to be ripped apart. And the drum, banging in me ears, and it wouldn't stop. Like a Death March".
He sat still, staring ahead, and then said quietly "I've never given the order for a man to be flogged".
Whether remembering the hurt or just to change the subject Sharpe lay on his back and looked up at the night sky. The blackness was peppered with stars. He clasped his hands behind his head. Tom, too, looked up.
"Remember the sky in India, Tom? I used to spend hours looking at the stars there, they seemed so bright! And shooting stars, remember them? Don't see so many here......." Sharpe's voice trailed away.
"I remember those bloody birds" said Garrard "What did you call 'em?"
"Rats with wings" chuckled Sharpe, thinking of the big, ugly vultures.
"Plenty of time then, for looking at the sky," said Garrard. "When you're in the ranks. Plenty of time for everything".
"Aye, I never spent so much bloody time doing nothing" said Sharpe "Bit different now, eh? Too much to do when your an officer, other people's problems, the bloody paperwork......."
Thinking still of India ,Garrard said "Were you really going to desert? I would have run with you, you know?"
"Aye, I was. Anything to get away from Hakeswell. Would you have run, Tom, truly?"
"Course, I would" said Garrard, then "That Mary Bickerstaff, she disappeared after your flogging, you know".
"Yeah, I heard about Mary." But Sharpe said no more than that. No need to tell Tom she'd dumped him and married someone else.
"Thought you were set to marry her," teased Garrard.
Sharpe laughed "Didn't get permission, did I?"
Garrard too, had been in the fighting at Seringapatam, he'd heard all the stories surrounding the Siege, and about the Tippoo Sultan being found dead, robbed of all his jewels and gold. He looked at Sharpe. Were the rumours true? There were always stories, always rumours. Soldiers were the worse gossips in the world.
"Was you, wasn't it?" he asked slyly.
"Was what"? asked Sharpe.
"Stole the Sultan's jewels?" insisted Garrard.
"Don't be daft" Sharpe replied with a laugh "Do I look like a rich man?"
Garrard looked at his friend. Sharpe didn't look like a rich man, he looked a mess. Long, untidy blonde hair, his threadbare green jacket was open, his shirt was of coarse linen, he wore French cavalry overalls stolen from the battlefield, and his boots were so worn from marching they should have been thrown away. Not a proper officer, some would say, no spit and polish here. Sharpe was a soldier, a ranker dragged into the officer class.
After gazing along his length,Garrard looked back to Sharpe's face, smiling at him.
"You look like a bloody scarecrow, Dick," he said " But it was you, that killed him, wasn't it?"
"Maybe," laughed Sharpe and grinned.
"And the jewels?" persisted Garrard.
When Sharpe just laughed again, Garrard playfully jumped astride him, quickly holding him down before his friend could move.
"Was you, wasn't it? Go on, confess!" said Garrard grinning.
"Get off, yer silly bugger," laughed Sharpe.
"Come on," insisted Garrard "Confess, or I'll get rough!"
"Yeah" said Garrard, his eyes bright.
Sharpe smiled up at him. "No!" he mouthed.
"Right then," laughed Garrard, and his head dipped to Sharpe's shirt, pulling it open with his teeth, Sharpe protesting and wriggling beneath him. Garrard bent low and his wicked tongue started teasing Sharpe.
"Get off, get off," laughed Sharpe, trying, in vain, to buck his friend off him. Then, "Alright, stop, I'll confess". He knew Tom Garrard too well to know that the teasing would be nothing than that, until Tom got an answer out of him.
"It weren't me at all, it were that Mr Lawford, really. Right thief, he was".
The mention of Lawford made Garrard's smile slip slightly. His hold on Sharpe lessened a fraction.
"Lawford?," asked Garrard."You're a bloody liar, Dick Sharpe," he said lightly. "Lawford couldn't pick his own pocket".
He remembered Lieutenant Lawford, the well-bred handsome young man, the nephew of some high ranking officer. It was said that Lawford had played some part in the Siege of Seringapatam, too.
Garrard let go his grip of Sharpe and lolled back on the grass, looking down at his friend.
"I heard he'd made colonel, your Mr Lawford," he said.
Sharpe took him up straight away. "My Mr Lawford? He weren't MY Mr Lawford! he said defensively.
"He bloody was," shot back Garrard, serious now.
'Jealous bastard' thought Sharpe. He'd never realised, never thought that Tom would be jealous.
He nearly said what he was thinking but instead he said, again, "He weren't my Mr Lawford".
"No!" grinned Sharpe. There was a pause and then he said "He was anybody's Mr Lawford," and chuckled.
Tom looked at Sharpe, his face serious at first, then he too started laughing.
"You bastard," he said, shaking his head.
"I know I am, born that way," laughed Sharpe. Then he said "But Tom, don't forget what they say".
"You can't choose your officers but you can choose your friends".
He'd said it very softly, and Garrard leaned across and touched the silver buttons on Sharpe's jacket, he ran his fingers along them, some of the buttons only hanging on by a thread.
"Scruffy bugger," said Garrard.
"Poor bugger," said Sharpe wistfully.
Garrard's hand moved from the silver buttons to Sharpe's red officers' sash round his waist.
"Never thought either of us would be wearing one of these" he said. His hand wandered down, coming to rest when it reached the hardness of Sharpe's erection. Sharpe didn't move, just waited for Tom to slide on top of him, as he knew he would.His hands were back behind his head and he smiled up at his friend.
Theirs had been an easy, uncomplicated friendship. Two rankers together, mates. They'd fought in their first battle together, whored together, got drunk together.When they'd had no money for women and drink, they'd sought each other out, mates. There'd been no questions, no permission needed, no foolish promises made or broken. An easy friendship.
Sharpe put his hands on either side of Tom's waist and pulled him closer, feeling him hard and warm against him, feeling his hips moving, the movement getting faster.
Sharpe remembered the times with Tom. The two of the roughly and quickly satisfying their needs, always having to steal their moments, listening out for the sergeants calling, the lack of privacy in the bustling camp, busy all day doing nothing, but always being watched over by Hakeswell and the others. It had always been a quick rough and tumble with Tom.
"Wait," said Sharpe and he gently pulled Tom's face to his, kissing him tenderly.
Garrard smiled when the kiss was finished. "Soft bugger," he whispered "You never used to do that".
Then he guessed.
"Lawford?" he asked.
"I heard he taught you to read," said Garrard quietly.
Sharpe smiled, his eyes bright. "He taught me many things," he said softly.
"Better teach me, then," said Tom.
"Aye, I will" said Sharpe, gently rolling Tom over onto the grass "I'll teach you".