Remittance Chapter 1

August’s head lolled back against the touch smooth  worn door. It thumped a little but he didn’t care. His fingers scrabbled along  the wood door frame and gripped the sides, his nails dug into the wood. The  light was dim from the heavy curtains that hung over the windows blocking out  the morning sunlight. He shouldn’t have been surprised because this happened  every time but he always was caught off guard.

His hand slipped  from one of the doorframes down to glide over his husband’s head. He’d gotten  it cut the night before and it was odd to feel the shaved scalp and short  bristly hair on top. He liked it short but didn’t like why he’d gone in and  gotten it shaped up. It was hard to think about when the other man was on his  knees, swallowing him whole.

“Oh…An..Anthony…don’t  stop…” He licked his lips and kept panting for breath as his knees grew weak.  It made his skin feel like it was burning and his body shivered in pleasure. He  wanted to come, he wanted it so badly but if he did it would end. If it ended  Anthony would leave and while he knew his husband had to leave, he wanted to  cling to every second they had. He wanted to keep his eyes open to watch his  husband, dressed in his barracks dress uniform with the crisp, perfectly  tailored khaki pants and matching short sleeve shirt with all his chevrons,  ribbons and insignias but he couldn’t. There was no way he could watch when his  body was so tightly wound around pleasure.

“Ah…oh…oh…please…oh…”  His hand slipped away from the cropped hair  and he lost his fight for control. August moaned and writhed against the wood  door as he spilled himself freely as his husband swallowed with ease. He would  have slid down the door to pool in a pile of arms and legs on the floor any  other time but a light was blinking on the door frame and there was no time for  giving in to his weak knees.

“Oh…the  transports here…” he sighed.

“I know.” Anthony  sighed and tucked his face against August’s thigh. He hugged his husband close  for a moment before he climbed back to his feet. He ran a hand through August’s  curly light brown hair and he studied the watching brown eyes before kissing  him.

August moaned  softly before remembering to kiss back, devouring his husband’s kiss, trying to  hold him close a second longer. The kiss had to end and when it did he couldn’t  help but whimper a little. “You can’t stay longer?” He whispered as Anthony  tucked him back inside the black fabric of his pants.

“You know I  can’t.”

“Not even through  exams?” He sighed as Anthony’s fingernail traced his fly and sealed the fabric  closed and that easily he was presentable again.

“If I go now I’ll  be able to come back for your graduation. It’ll be better this way, you can  actually study.” He smiled and it made his eyes crinkle. “Besides, than I get  to kiss you goodbye again.”

“You’re so bad.”  August grinned and kissed him again. “I still want you to stay.”

Anthony sighed  and cupped his husband’s face between his hands. “I know, Augs, I know but I’ve  a year and a half of combat time left, another year of support duty and I can  retire with full benefits and get any commission I want. Two years and I can be  the constable of whatever backzone lump of dirt they put you in charge of and  we can be big shots and grow old together.”

“I don’t want to  be a big shot, I just want you by my side.”

“I’ll have  handcuffs.” He wiggled eyebrows.

August clenched  his hands into the front of Anthony’s uniform. “I’ll walk you out.”

“No, stay here.  It’s easier.” He pressed his forehead to his husband’s and drew a deep breath.

“You’ll write?”

“Every day, voice  or text, as always.”

“And calls?”

“Every week.”

“Admit it, you  kiss me goodbye this way so I’m too content to fuss when you leave.”

Anthony laughed.  “Yeah, that and I like the taste of you on my lips until I get checked in.” He  kissed August one more time before stepping away to pick up his duffel bag.  “You’d better study, mister, I didn’t marry a drop out, I married the best  Guide in the empire.”

“You don’t worry  about me, you just make sure you come back.”

Anthony smiled  one of the heartbreaking smiles that had won August when they’d first met.  Without another word or, worse, saying goodbye, he stepped back from the door  and drew August with him. Without looking back at him, he slipped out of the  old wood door of their tiny apartment and out into the morning sunshine.

August leaned on  the door again, trying to catch his breath and calm his nerves. When he thought  he could see Anthony walking away without too much fuss he moved to the window  and pushed back the curtain. Anthony always left without saying goodbye, he  always said to not walk him out and August always stood at the window and  watched him walk down the walkway, to the curve and out of sight. Anthony never  looked back and he never asked his husband if he knew he stood and watched. It  didn’t matter, he did it for himself because the moment he disappeared around  the side of the building the countdown to his husband’s return started again.



“Stop laughing,  you’ll hurt my feelings.” August wanted to pout but he was smiling. “I think I  look dashing.” He scratched at the beard that was growing in.

“You look like  you’re sixteen trying to look like an adult.” Anthony kept laughing.

“It’s tradition.  No one cuts a hair until the exams are over. I don’t think it’s bad for a  week.” He caught his reflection in the video call screen and had to admit he  did look silly.

“You’ll be all  bushy when I get home. Will I see you with it?”

“Yeah, I won’t  shave again until the night before graduation. You’ll be home that day right?”

“If all goes  well. I can’t be home long, three days tops.”

“I’ll take that.  I don’t like you being on Plethor.”

“I’m fine,  really, it’s hot here and I’m working on my tan.”

“I’m serious.”

“So am I. I  almost feel guilty taking the combat credit time. Really, if one in twenty of  these greenies has a gun I’d be shocked. It’s barely a war.”

“But people are  still getting killed.”

“Take out  friendly fire, illness, accident? Less than five hundred of us have gotten hurt  or killed in the last year. Most of those are from being out on the trail in  the jungle, which you don’t need to worry about because I’m being transferred  so no more jungle treks for me.” He cut off the protest before August could  even make it.


“Forward Amory  Base Delta, it’s this nothing little fort, a hundred or so stationed there.”

“Should you be  telling me that?”

“I don’t tell you  anything you can’t know, Augs.” He grinned. “The sign on it says Forward Amory  Base Delta so they aren’t keeping it a secret.”

“Sounds remote.”

“A little but  stop frowning. We’ve three heavy guns and everyone has shock rounds and the  land is cleared for five hundred yards in all directions. It’ll be fine. I’ve  spent more time working out than in any danger. Look.” He pushed up his sleeve  and flexed.

August reached  out and touched the screen. Anthony was always in good shape but it was pretty  obvious his husband had been putting in extra time. “Now you’re just being  mean.”

Anthony laughed  again.

“You’re not  beefing up for anyone are you? Should I be jealous?”

He leaned in closer  to the camera so he could talk softer. “Just thinking about being strong enough  to hold you pinned to the wall when I get home. Some of those poses we saw, in  that book? I want to be able to try them.”

He blushed bright  red. “Now you’re being deliberately mean.”

“Maybe a little.  I miss you.”

“I miss you too.”

“How was your  first exam?”

“Horrible. Five  to eight hour exam, no breaks allowed.”

“How long did it  take you?”

“Five hours and  twelve minutes.”

“That’s my boy.”

“Boy? I’m six  months older than you!”

“Yeah but I’m all  tough and rugged. How do you think you did?”

“It was long but  didn’t seem too hard. Going to be an exhausting four weeks though. Next one is  in two days.”

“Yeah but four  weeks and you’re done. Four weeks to finish sixteen years of study. I’m proud  of you.”

“Thanks. Father  Benerad wants me to apprentice in Benkley. I’ve told him I want to go to the  outer colonies where I can do some good.”

“And he said?”

“Said he’d  support it if I did my year here first but that he was going to put my name in  for Senate when I have my ten years of service whether I like it or not. He  seems pretty willing to let me do what I want until then.”

“I think it’s a  great idea. You’d be good at it and I get to be the husband of a Senator.”

“I want to be a  Guide, not sure I want to be a Senator.”

“That’s what you  get for being the most promising up and comer in a decade. Don’t worry about it  now, get through the exams, we’ll figure it out together. Okay?”

“Yeah.” Anthony’s  eyes flicked to the side of the screen and some of his smile faded. “Time’s up  huh?”

“Afraid so.  Martin’s wife had their baby this week, we’re all shaving off a couple of  minutes of our time so he can spend extra with them.”

“Boy or girl?”

“Girl and your  stalling.”

“Yeah. Promise me  you’ll be careful.”

“I always am but  really, don’t worry, Augs. This is the least dangerous deployment I’ve had.”

“I always worry.”

“I know. Love  you.”

“Love you too.”  The screen went black because they never actually said goodbye. August sighed  and scratched at the newly grown beard. The letters were nice but only being  able to talk live once a week was difficult. “Two years.” It was an ongoing  reminder that he needed.



Final exams were  brutal and exhausting. August was born tired after spending seven hours  finishing the last one. His hands hurt and his back as well from being crunched  over his desk and keyboard for so many hours on so many days. All he wanted was  a hot shower, something to eat and a letter from Anthony. It had been two days  since he’d had word but that wasn’t worrisome. His husband had warned him that  while being transferred he might go silent but as soon as he arrived at his new  station August was likely to be bombarded with several days worth of letters.  If ever there was a day when he needed those letters to arrive it was today.

He’d always been  grateful to have one of the apartments on the campus. It was old, as the school  itself and not one of the newer apartments. He was only a short walk to any of  his classes and the line of tiny apartments opened onto a covered walkway which  spilled out into a small green common area. It had been a good home for a lot  of years and he was going to miss it when he moved out. The dark wood of his  front door was worn smooth from years of hands touching it.  Inside was tiny, a small bedroom, tiny bath  and a smallish common living room kitchen area. It wasn’t modern or fancy but  it was cozy and home and it seemed empty when Anthony was away.

He dropped his  satchel inside the door and pulled the black shirt out of his black pants while  he kicked off his shiny black shoes. He scratched at the beard that had grown  in fuller than even he had expected and stripped on his way to the bathroom and  waiting shower. It wasn’t just the day’s exams but the pressure of so many over  the past days was exhausting. The biggest one was left, a series of six exams  with only an hours monitored break in between. It took some people nearly two  days to complete it and he’d heard stories of folks studying their whole lives  to become Guides only to fail the endurance of the final exam.

August wasn’t  worried. Anthony had helped him practice because they both knew the final test  was less about right answers than being able to think and reason while  exhausted. Guides were the backbone of the Empire, passing on the word of God  and the laws of Man. It was a tremendous responsibility and the most difficult  order to be accepted into. It was also the only thing August had ever wanted to  be and when he’d shown aptitude had been given a full scholarship to study. As  the shower water hit his back and shoulders all he could think about was how  close he was to being finished and how close he was to Anthony’s return yet  again.

He stepped out of  the shower and wrapped one of their oversized towels around his waist. They  were big on him because he was narrow through the hips but Anthony liked the  larger size so he swam in the extra cloth. Not that he was scrawny, August kept  in shape, but he would never be as tall or broad as his husband. He ruffled a  towel over his wet curly hair and let it fall wherever it wanted.

“Dinner and back  to studying…” He was understanding now why there was a tradition to not cut a  single hair during exams. Even if he’d been allowed to shave he would have been  too tired and gotten scruffy anyway. “At this rate all we’re going to do on his  leave is sleep.”  He dried off quickly  and pulled on the loose cotton pants and shirt both in muddy brown. His  wardrobe was lacking color, Guide students wore black, Guides wore black, gray,  tan but always somber colors with the gold chain holding the star and crown  that marked a Guide. The chain and symbol were what August would receive at  graduation it was what he’d spent a lifetime working for.

Out in his living  room he turned on his computer and set it to download messages as he moved to  the kitchen to find something to eat. He poured himself some juice and glanced  to the screen. “Huh.” His computer wasn’t downloading and that was odd because  it was supposed to connect automatically. Not once in all the years had there  been a single problem. He was just about to fiddle with it when his doorbell  rang.

That wasn’t an  unusual occurrence when Anthony was away. August had friends, both yearmates  and younger students and even other Guides and they’d all learned to call  before stopping in when Anthony was home but that if his husband was back on  active duty they could stop in anytime. The only thing that was slightly odd  was that most everyone knew he was in the middle of exams and too exhausted to  hold a decent conversation. Half of his friends were in the same situation and  the other half would wait until it was over to stop in.

That meant it  could only be one person. Edward Rothschild was his oldest friend. They’d been  room mates and year mates at school until they’d had to pick an order. August  had gone for Guide but Edward had chosen to become a Brother of Mercy, a more  monastic order devoted to doing good in a charitable and missionary manner. It  also meant he graduated two years before August but had been apprenticing  locally until he found a calling. Edward was likely to drop in just to bring  him dinner and help him study.

He sipped his  juice and opened the door. “Hey Edward.”


“I’m not much  company tonight.”


The old childhood  nickname made him really glance up and see beyond Edward in his plain, simple  brown robe. He saw past the concerned look on his face and the seriousness of  his tone to really see the man standing behind him. The man was sharp looking  in his dress uniform, crisp and precise and from the ribbons and badges on his  shirt as well as his age he’d been in the service for a while. When August’s  eyes swept over him the man quickly removed the small peaked hat he wore and  something like lead settled into his stomach.

“What’s  happened?”

“Mr. August  Jones-Hawthorn? Husband of Sergeant Anthony James Hawthorn-Jones?” The military  man asked.


“May we come in,  sir?”

August stood  frozen at the request for a heartbeat before nodding and stepping back. His  mind was stuck because he knew what the man was about to say and he didn’t want  to hear it.

“Sir, please,  would you like to sit down?”

“No, I’m fine.  Just say it.”

“August, you look  like you’re about to faint, please, sit down.” Edward tried to sooth.

He was only  helping but when he took one of August’s elbows and tried to lead him to a  chair he shook off his friend. “No. Just tell me!” He snapped. There was a  possibility that Anthony was fine, if communications had gone down, a patrol  was missing, a transport lost, families were prepared for the worst even before  more information was known.

“Sir, around  fourteen hundred hours local time yesterday Forward Amory Base Delta on Plethor  was overrun by the enemy. They held the base for three hours before  reinforcements could arrive. By the time they reached the base, there was  little they could do.”

“No.” August  shook his head.

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