Love Letters

A Tale of Two Soldiers

by Tarabeth


~*~ ~*~ ~*~

"All of these lines across my face tell the story of who I am. So many stories of where I've been and how I got to where I've been. But these stories don't mean anything when you've got no one to tell them to." ~ Phillip John Hanseroth's The Story

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

The Story of Two Soldiers told in Love Letters

I met my partner at work; we were both working -- me as a park ranger for the National Park Service at Niagara Falls, and Edward as a helicopter pilot and commanding officer of Western New York Trauma Air Rescue. He had flown into the park to pick up an injured hiker.

To make a long story short -- I called him to consult on my report. He called me to consult on his report. He brought his report by for a signature. I dropped off a copy of my report to him. I asked him out to coffee. He asked me out to dinner. I asked him to stay for the night. That was three years ago.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Edward and I have always gotten along great for the most part. But I want to get married, and Edward is in the Air Force Reserve. He's promised me that when he finishes this enlistment he'll retire and we'll get married, but that is two years away. I want him to leave the service under Don't Ask, Don't Tell; I'm terribly worried he'll be redeployed to the Middle East. He's already done three deployments, two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, but those were before we met. I've tried to get him to promise me that if he were to be deployed again that he'll tell them he's gay, but he won't. You see Search and Rescue Helicopter Pilots in the Army and Air Force are in short supply, and Edward is good -- really good. As opposed to the high school education and the nine months to a year of training that many of the Army chopper pilots have -- Edward has a college degree from the Air Force Academy. He was trained as a fighter pilot, and then Edward was trained as a helicopter pilot. He'd decided his calling was in Search and Rescue. So, you see my Edward has years more training and experience than most pilots.

Edward disagrees with the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, but he's very committed to his job of getting injured soldiers to medical care as safely and quickly as possible. He believes that the service he provides for those injured soldiers is vital. He doesn't go out of his why to hide being gay, and he doesn't care if the military were to find out. But, he won't out himself to the military because he believes his service is important and it saves lives.

When I'm particularly worried about him being deployed or insecure that maybe he loves the military more than me, I've threatened to out him, and I've received MANY a spanking for saying mean and hurtful things when I'm upset instead of talking rationally about my fears. I think my Edward is a hero, and I think the Air Force is lucky to have him, but I need him and the thought of him dying scares me to death. Words could never describe how proud I am of him, but I'm selfish and I want him to myself. And as many times as I've threatened to turn him in, I could never do it. Although he says it wouldn't, I know it would devastate him and ruin our relationship.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Well it happened. Edward received his deployment orders yesterday. He was very sweet, and maybe a little to smart, when he told me. We drove across the boarder and went to the Revolving Dining Room in the Skylon Tower. It really isn't fair to dress a Brat up and take him out for a romantic evening to drop devastating news on him. But it did save him from a lot of yelling, screaming, and throwing of things -- well, at least for that night. It didn't stop my tears, but I was able to hold it together so that we could rationally talk about what a deployment really meant.

He had spent the day printing out everything he could find about preparing your spouse for your deployment. Did you know there are checklists? Yeah, me neither. There are also support groups, pot lucks, and knitting circles. But, oh wait, I'm queer and I can't go to any of those.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I'm sure that preparing a partner or a family member for deployment is a difficult experience for every type of family, but I would like to register my vote that getting a top ready to deploy is HELL! And hell made all the worse by his continued comments about it being far more work to prepare his brat for the deployment than it was to get himself ready.

"Argggg!" I shouted, which earned a not so soft swat. "I'm the one staying home. Why are we spending all this time doing stuff for me? We need to get your stuff ready."

"I've done this three times before. I know what to bring, and besides I already have all the stuff I need to take with me to Afghanistan. It's important to me to make sure you have everything you'll need here at home."

"It's home," I said, rolling my eyes at him. "That usually implies having all the needed supplies."

"Would you like me to swat you again, or maybe you need some time in the corner?"

"Why don't you just spank me if your hand is itching?" It really wasn't one of my better answers, as I ended up in the corner rubbing where Edward had left a firm impression of his hand on each of my butt cheeks.

"I don't want to spank you. I think we're both a huge jumble of emotions, and honestly, at this point I think we'd both feel horrible if I spanked you. Not to mention, I think a spanking would ruin the afternoon, and we have a lot I want to get done today."

'Hmmm,' I thought to myself, 'would a spanking be worth...'

"And FYI, I know you really don't want to do this, so if you start angling for a spanking to get out of this -- I'll spank you and then we will finish."

So what was so horrible that I'd take a spanking instead of finishing it. We were making lists, and menus, and calendars for me. Edward had bought an accordion folder with a section for each month he would be gone. Each month had a calendar which listed days bills were due, when oil changes were needed, family birthdays and anniversaries, doctor's and dentist appointments, days the housecleaner and gardener were coming, garbage day, and reminders to take his car out and about. For each week there was a menu and an accompanying shopping list.

He had purchased tickets for me and various friends and family members to go camping, fishing, to concerts and to the movies. Sunday evenings were dinner with his family.

There were monthly budgets, and deposit and withdrawal slips to Edward's savings account. There were lists with phone numbers for all the repair people we used, paper work for how to shut down all the utilities -- he had seemed to forget that I was the one that had to show him how to do this.

He had copies of his information -- the name of his unit, his commanding officers' names and ranks, a copy of his orders, his travel itinerary, his social security number, and the address to mail things to him.

The plans of what to do if he was injured or killed were clearly mapped out. His parents had this information as well -- since legally these were their decisions to make. Edward's family is wonderful, and they have fully accepted me as a member of the family, for which I feel very lucky. I just fear that this could change if something happened to Edward and they decided they didn't like the decisions he and I had made. There was a copy of his will, a power of attorney so I could handle anything that came up for him while he was gone, and his military ID.

There were lists of his expectations of me and what I was required to report to him on a regular basis such as how I was eating, if I was exercising, and other such things.

He hadn't even left yet; he was still here standing before me, and I couldn't imagine how I would possibly function while he was gone. I was a jumbled wreck of emotions at the thought of him spending six months living and working in a war zone. And I am loath to admit it to Edward, but I was thankful for his lists, calendars and various other forms of paperwork. Some how knowing that I had the schedules he had helped me to make -- that I just had to do as he instructed me to -- allowed me to believe I might actually make my way through the one hundred and ninety days he would be gone.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

"Sit down," I said giving him a gentle push down onto the sofa. "We need to talk."

Edward took hold of my hand and pulled me down next to him. "Okay Baby, what are we talking about?"

"You," I answered, and he nodded at me to continue. "I know this isn't your first deployment. I know you've seen horrible things and with the previous three deployments you were good about talking to your dad and Kenzie, and you saw a therapist. I'm really glad. I want you to do those things this time too. But I want to make one thing very clear."

"What's that sweetheart?"

"I want you back whole -- in mind, body and spirit. I don't want you not telling me things because you want to protect me. I'm a strong man, and it is my job to protect and take care of you -- just as you do for me -- no matter what the power dynamic is in our relationship. I don't want you to think that you experienced and saw things that were too horrible to tell me about. If you hold in the horrors you see they will destroy you...and that will destroy me. No matter how bad something is that you witness, experience or do...it is a part of your life and we share our lives with each other."

Edward pulled me a bit closer to him.

"I want you to tell me what you are experiencing while you are there, and I want you to continue to tell me when you get home." I paused to look more closely at him. "Too many men and women are coming home from these wars so damaged. Strong soldiers like you, who came back after their first couple of deployments and were okay...but something about their third or their forth broke them. I don't want you broken. Promise me you will let me help keep you together and whole."

Edward pulled me into a strong embrace. I could feel his whiskers on my cheek, and a tear falling down his cheek stopped at the joining of our faces. "I promise," he said; his words spoken so softly that if they weren't spoken directly into my ear I might not have heard them. "I love you."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Edward had invited his little sister, Kenzie over to dinner. She has been unemployed for over six months and she appreciates a free meal every now and then -- plus we both her love her to death.

Edward grilled burgers and we all sat on the patio enjoying the early summer weather. About half way through the meal Edward said he had a proposition to make. He knew Kenzie was running low on savings, and he was worried about me living in the house on my own while he was gone. He was hoping that we both might be okay with Kenzie moving into the spare room while he was deployed. She could live rent free, and I would have someone to keep me company. After a few more beers and a lot more discussion we had all agreed it was a great idea.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Finally, a week before he was due to leave, he allowed me to start packing his things. He supervised of course, to make sure I wasn't packing porn, sex toys, or a lifetime supply of lube for him.

I wanted to make sure he was well taken care of, so it was important to me that I be the one that did most of his packing. Sadly though, I wasn't allowed to pack him any surprises. This may seem cruel, but the man was entering a war zone, and would have all of his belongings searched -- he needed to know everything that was in his bags. I was allowed to pack him a small care package to give him comfort for his travels. We planned for him to open this the night before he left.

Edward sat on the bed and checked items off while I placed them in one of his duffle bags. We played soft music, shared a beer and lightly teased one another about our different packing styles. He preferred rolling -- I preferred folding.

I had prepared a lot of small labeled envelops and bags for various different types of things, so his belongings were well organized and he could easily find anything he needed. "ID Card," I said checking his wallet and the copy we had in his duffle bag.

"Check," Edward replied.

I counted the copies of his deployment orders. "Ten copies of your CED orders."

"Check."

We continued down his various lists of supplies. "Two-hundred malaria pills."

Edward made a sour face. "Check."

"You are not allowed to come home with malaria Edward Marks! In fact you are not allowed to come home with any creepy crawly things...or I'm not having sex with you until they are totally eradicated!"

"Thank god you laid that boundary out, I was thinking about coming home with sand crabs."

"I'm sure you were, just to spite me," I told him.

He grabbed hold of my arm and pulled me down onto the bed beside him. He started to unfasten my pants. "Well I guess I had better make sure I have as much sex with you as possible before I leave."

"Edward, we still have a lot of packing to do."

"Uh huh." Edward took hold of the bottoms of my pant legs and pulled -- leaving me distinctly pantsless.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

"I expect you to be good while I'm gone," he instructed in a sad yet firm tone.

"Yes, Edward, I know," I answered. "I'm not planning to go on a bratting binge while you're deployed," I said with a sigh.

"I'm serious Nathan. I know it's going to be hard for both of us while I'm gone. You're going to have an easier time if you behave. I'm worried that if you misbehave, you're going to feel guilty and start to spiral. The Air Force isn't going to consider my needing to come home to spank you sufficient reason for family leave."

Edward sat up against the head board, and quickly pulled me over his lap.

"Eddddward!" I whined.

He pulled down my boxers and began to spank the under curve of my butt very firmly. When I began to gasp, he paused. "Do you want me to stop?"

I shook my head and began to cry. "No."

He administered a very thorough hand spanking, and where normally I fought him and protested when he would pause to take the paddle out of the bedside table, I said nothing. I wanted this spanking to hurt. I wanted to be able to feel this spanking after he left, and he wielded that paddle in such a way that ensured I would.

When he was done he helped me to climb into his lap and I clutched him tightly and cried. I felt tears falling from his face and landing on mine. When my crying stopped, I stayed cuddled close to him. "I want love letters, lots of love letters," I told him.

I could feel the movement in his face as he smiled. "I can do love letters," he answered.

"I want one every day."

"Baby, I love you, and would like to send you several every day, but I'm going to be in a war zone. I don't have control of my hours or the situation. There are going to be times where I work several days in a row flying search and rescue missions and then escorting transport planes into friendly airspace. How about I promise once a week?"

I sat up and looked him in the eyes. "Once a week?!" I said in outrage. "Do you only love me enough to send one letter a week?"

Edward rolled his eyes at me.

"I'm serious!" I said, pushing hard on his chest. "Five times a week." I issued a counter offer.

"I love you far more than once a week. I will send you e-mail, call and write as often as I can, I'm just not sure I can do five times a week. How about I promise three love letters a week, plus e-mails and phone calls when I can?"

"Okay, but the love letters need to be mushy, and sexy, and hot. Any other stuff needs to be in an e-mail or phone call. Okay?"

He smiled, "Okay, you've got a deal."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

We made love three times the morning he left. It was sad, passionate, and very intense. How many people know that it could be the last time they make love to their soul mate? That the moments they are sharing could be their last, because you are sending your lover off to war? I know there are many people who have felt those emotions throughout time. I just never imagined it would be me. I'm a tree loving bleeding heart liberal fag for fucks sake. I'm not supposed to kiss my lover and send him to war. This wasn't supposed to be my life.

We sat on the front porch, me huddled close to him and a little bit sniffly. We were waiting for his parents to pick him up and take him to the airport. "I wish you'd let me come to the airport," I said pouting. "I'll behave; I promise. I won't do anything that would out you."

Edward smiled and kissed me gently on the lips. "Nate, love, it's not you I'm worried about. We were just kissing inside the house, and I pushed you up against the front door and fucked your brains out. I'm not sure I could keep myself from doing that at the airport."

I squeezed his hand, and cuddled in a bit closer to him. "Yes, you do have some serious self-control issues when it comes to sex," I teased.

I received a look of mock outrage. "And you, my dear Brat would have it no other way."

His parents pulled up into the driveway. Kenzie was sitting in the back seat. Edward gave me a tight embrace and a deep kiss, before throwing his duffle bags into the trunk of the car, and climbing in the back seat next to his sister. I bravely waved before I ran into the house and cried my heart out.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

"No they don't know who I really am, and they don't know what I've been through like you do, and I was made for you."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

July 24, 2008

Edward flew on a small commercial plane from Niagara Falls Airport to Baltimore-Washington International. He called me when he landed, it was awkward, but he'd promised he would call. He had a several hour layover while his orders were checked, and then texted a quick message that he was boarding an Air Force Transport to Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Ramstein is the Air Base closest to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Landstuhl is the hospital where wounded troops from Iraq and Afghanistan are brought for treatment. The Air Force flew regular medical and supply transports in and out of Ramstein. Edward called when he landed at RAB and then again before he boarded another transport to his destination of Kandahar Air Field.

It takes mail seven to ten days to travel from the U.S. to KAF, but it can take mail three to five weeks to travel the reverse route from Kandahar Air Field back to the United States. This had made Edward nervous, and there had been many conversations about how he would send e-mail and call as much as possible during the first month until his letters would start to roll in regularly. It was also important for us both to realize that urgent messages needed to go through the Red Cross or the Air Force, current news through e-mail and phone calls when we would be lucky enough to have them, and that items sent through the U.S. Post Office were to be for love and comfort purposes only. The wonder of the USPS was that it would be the one source that allowed us to share tangible items with each other.

It turns out my sweet and ruggedly handsome soldier boy, was worried about how I might handle not receiving mail from him, while I was writing and sending letters and packages to him. I know, shocking.

My first postcard from Edward, a lovely picture of the Horseshoe Falls, arrived the day after his departure. It read simply, "Stay out of barrels. Love you."

My second postcard from Edward arrived on Saturday, a picture of the Ace of Cakes. This also arrived with a simple message. "Don't forget to eat your vegetables. Miss you and love you."

As much as he was trying to make me not miss him, it didn't help.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

On July 27, 2008, at 4:30 PM "Nathan Coles" <usafsbrat@niagara.com> wrote:

Subject: Daily Brat's Journal

From: Nathan Coles <usafsbrat@niagara.com>

To: Edward Marks <topofthefalls@niagara.com>

"Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning." ~unknown

Dear Sir,

Please find your first Daily Brat's Journal submitted respectfully by Ranger Nate. I understand that these are to be submitted on a daily basis until further notice. Please note that I have submitted the Journal to my commanding officer in the form of the Military Daily Journal.

DAILY BRAT'S JOURNAL
1st Regiment of Honorable Brats
Niagara Falls, NY

00:00 26 July 08 to 23:59 26 July 08

00:00 to 05:30 -- -- -Woke up Missing You
05:31 to 06:00 -- -- -Cried on Your Pillow
06:01 to 06:15 -- -- -Got Dressed had a banana
06:16 to 08:00 -- -- -Went for a Run
08:01 to 08:10 -- -- -Ate Breakfast - eggs and toast
08:11 to 08:30 -- -- -Had a Shower
08:31 to 10:00 -- -- -Read the Paper
10:01 to 11:15 -- -- -Went to Coffee with Kenzie
11:16 to 12:00 -- -- -Checked e-mail and Played on the Computer
12:01 to 12:35 -- -- -Lunch - ham sandwich, apple, and carrots
12:36 to 15:00 -- -- -Watched TV
15:01 to 16:15 -- -- -Went for a Bike Ride
16:16 to 16:45 -- -- -Had a shower and got dressed
16:46 to 18:30 -- -- -Kenzie and I went dinner at Bangkok Thai
18:31 to 21:30 -- -- -Kenzie and I went to see the Dark Knight
21:30 to 23:99 -- -- -Watched TV

Howdy Handsome!

What do you think, do I pass muster? You won't send me to the brig, will you?

I miss you terribly, can you come home now? I know I shouldn't ask; I know it has only been three days. Will it get easier? Thank you for your postcards. You are a bit of a cheeky bastard, you know that don't you? Pleases don't ever stop.

I'm hoping I might get an e-mail from you today.

I've put two love letters in the post to you already. They should arrive next week.

I love you with all my heart.

Nate

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

On July 28, 2008, at 3:28 AM "Edward Marks" <topofthefalls@niagara.com> wrote:

Subject:Getting Settled, MASCAL, and the Cool Canadian

From: Edward Marks <topofthefalls@niagara.com>

To: Nathan Coles <usafsbrat@niagara.com>

Hello Love,

I'm glad you enjoyed your postcards.

I loved the formatting of your Daily Bratting Report. I think that will be perfect for submitting all of your reports to me. So no worries about being thrown in the brig today.

I am a bit worried about you using exercise to work through your missing me. I think it is fine to use some of the time, but in the future instead of going out for a second workout, I'd rather you called one of our friends, wrote me a letter or e-mail telling me how you are feeling, or talked to Kenzie. I'm worried if you keeping going out for a run, hike, bike ride, or swim that you are going to use all of that solo time to work yourself into an overly anxious state. Okay, my love?

It was a lovely 102° at KAF today. I saw on the web that you had a much cooler day.

It is just 7:00 p.m. in Niagara Falls. It's strange to look up at the clock and see what time it is at home. Do you do that with the clock we put up in the bedroom with Kandahar time? It seems like it would make more sense that if they weren't going to follow daylight savings time they would just be off by an extra hour for half of the year than being off for an extra half hour all of the year.

I'm guessing you are sitting down to dinner with Mom, Dad, and Kenzie. It's been a long day, and I'm a bit amped. I would so love to talk with you, but I know I couldn't call the house now and not talk to everyone, so please forgive me for sending the e-mail.

There was a suicide bombing at a café in Kandahar causing mass casualties. Both the Red Cross hospital in Kandahar city and the Afghan Army hospitals were full and sending their casualty overflows to our hospital on the airfield.

I don't remember if I told you, but each unit is required to have at least one person assigned in the event of a MASCAL event. I figure my medic gets enough of it, and if we're on base I feel it keeps my skills intact.

It was shortly after dinner when the mass casualties alert rang out over the public address system. I quickly informed my commanding officer that I was on my way to the hospital.

Our hospital is run by a NATO Multinational Unit -- meaning that the medical staff are from all the NATO countries, although the Canadians have the main responsibility. I reported to the officer who seemed to be checking in the MASCAL team members.

"Captain Edward Marks, USAF reporting for MASCAL," I introduced myself.

"Which unit are you with Captain?" the man asked.

"I'm with the 11H3W."

"That's a helicopter unit isn't it?"

"Yes, search and rescue," I answered.

He looked at me suspiciously. "Are you the flight nurse?"

"No, our crew just has a flight medic."

"You're a medic with the rank of Captain?" He asked, his look getting a bit more suspicious.

"No, I'm the commanding officer," I answered with a bit of smile.

"You're a pilot," he said looking very disappointed. "How come your medic isn't your MASCAL rep? We could really use trained medical professionals."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm also an EMT," I offered.

"Ah," he said. "In the future it would help if you offered that information when you checked in. I'm Lt. Gabriel Fraser. I'm the Lead MASCAL Nurse. Can you go help in supply? We've been told we'll have a lot of spinal injuries coming in. Causalities will be arriving by ambulance. Grab everything we'll need for triage -- the supply nurse can help you. Then meet me out front. You've got about-" he looked down at his watch- "seven minutes."

I turned and smiled as I made my way towards supply. "Balls to the wall, Lieutenant, gottcha."

I saw him role his eyes, and I think I heard him swear under his breath about god damn cocky USAF pilots.

I was out in front of the hospital in six minutes, and the first ambulance rolled up sixty seconds later. It was an Afghan ambulance; the drivers jumped out of the front of the bus and quickly opened their back doors. Inside was a woman who was missing part of her arm, and a young boy clinging to her. A big chunk of the boy's leg was missing and his broken fibula and tibia were sticking out of the wound.

"Yo Canary, get your flyboy ass over here!" the Canadian pointed and signaled to me.

I crawled into the ambulance with him and started to assess the mother's condition. She was shocky and I had to get a line in her right away. I looked at the Canadian; he was talking softly and calmly to the child in Farsi. "I was telling him we would keep him with his mom as long as possible, and that we would take good care of both of them."

I smiled, I had been about ready to tell him if he ever called me 'canary' again I'd kick his ass, but in that moment of watching him with the mother and child I grew great respect for Lt. Gabriel Fraser.

We spent the next twelve hours working together as a team. At one point late in the day I noticed he was married and asked how his wife was holding up at home without him. He laughed and said his husband was managing.

When I noticed we were alone, I told him that he and I had a few things in common. Things that he could talk openly about and that I couldn't. He gave me a look of understanding. When the MASCAL was finally over, Gabriel said he wanted to buy me a coffee for all my help. As we left the hospital he told me he'd never thought an American Canary could be such a good medic.

I felt anger rising in my body, and then saw the smile on his face and heard him break out into a contagious laughter. "Come on Tim Hortons' is required after a long shift like that."

We made our way over to the Boardwalk, and got in the short line. We each ordered a large coffee and a couple of donuts. Gabriel asked if I wanted to catch the hockey game with him, and I agreed. The Canadian's built a field hockey rink just off the Boardwalk. There's a game going on at almost any point during the day. I thought of mentioning that I'd played hockey while at the Academy, but when I saw the caliber of players on the rink, I thought it better to keep my mouth shut -- since I promised you I'd come home uninjured. It was nice to make a new friend, and one that is family as well.

Well, darling, exhaustion is starting to kick in, so I think I'll go hit my bunk. I put five love letters to you in today's mail bag. I hope they get there soon.

Missing you, my beloved. Forever and always,

Edward

P.S. Have a look in my bedside table under the paddle.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

To:
Edward Marks, USAF
451 AEW
APO AE 09355

July 30, 2008

"For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart, it was not my lips you kissed, but my soul." ~Judy Garland

My Most Cherished Edward,

I found the love letter that you hid in the bedside drawer. You are the most wonderful man to have hidden me such a delicious letter, and you are a complete monstrosity for hiding it under the paddle! I'm behaving; I promise. I've put the postcards and letters in a shoe box that I keep under the bed, so that I can read them whenever I want. I feel like I'm in a wonderful romance movie, I never imagined I'd one day be the type to have a treasure box of love letters.

I love that you sprayed the letter with a touch of your cologne. It made me think of how much I adore watching you while you get ready to go out. You are so sexy as you slip into your crisply ironed slacks, starched shirt, and well-polished shoes. I grow weak looking into your twinkling green eyes, and crave to run my fingers through your beautiful auburn hair. I feel so lucky in those moments to be your man -- that I struggle to keep my hands off of you. When I do finally get to wrap my arms around your strong body and inhale the scent of your body lightly sprinkled with cologne, I know I must have done something pretty spectacular in a previous life to have been blessed with a man of honor, passion, and adventure wrapped so neatly in such a sexy and robust package.

I miss you dearly, my love. Please take care and bring yourself safely home to me. I need you.

Dream of me,

Nate

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

On August 8, 2008, at 8:56 PM "Edward Marks" <topofthefalls@niagara.com>wrote:

Subject: The Canary Rules the Skies

From: Edward Marks <topofthefalls@niagara.com>

To: Nathan Coles <usafsbrat@niagara.com>

Hello My Baby,

It's a cool 100° at Kandahar Airfield today.

I ran into Lt. Fraser again yesterday. I'm sure you've heard on the news about the large fight with the insurgency just outside of Spin Boldak. Well we finally took control this morning, after three straight days of fighting. I'd been up doing search and rescue flights for thirty-seven hours and my crew and I had just landed for our final flight. I was getting ready to hop out of the helicopter when I saw my medic updating Lt. Fraser on our patients. We had two casualties with some relatively minor shrapnel injuries. Lt. Frasier finished with his notes and looked up to me. "Hey there, Canary, after what I've seen today, I recommend you keep your day job."

My crew looked at him horrified by the extremely derogatory name he'd just called me, but also thinking that the Lieutenant had no idea what I did on my day job.

Fraser and I broke into loud laughter at the sight of their faces. "Captain Marks, my trauma crew have been raving about your team all day long. The casualties that have flown in with you have quickly transitioned to their next treatments. Their wounds, pain, and overall conditions having been as stabilized as humanly possible and few times in ways not humanly possible. We're all pleased to have you as part of the medical forces."

I tipped my head in thanks, as my crew blushed. "They are an amazing team; I wouldn't let them fly with me if they weren't."

"Oh, and Sergeant," Frasier said to one of my pararescue guys, "I've got a cute little red-haired nurse that begged me to ask if you're single. Said to tell you if you are, she'll meet you at the TGIF on the Boardwalk at 19:30."

"Lt. Fraser are you off soon? I've been dreaming of Tim Hortons since about 02:30 on Wednesday," I said.

He replied that he just needed to check the casualties in at the hospital and then he was free. We grabbed coffee and donuts and made our way to the hockey rink. On our walk over to watch the game he mentioned that his husband runs a support group for the spouses of deployed Canadian Forces. He said he was sure that his husband, Tad, would be up to exchanging e-mails with you. I thought it might be nice for you to have someone to talk with who is in a similar situation.

And before you start complaining it isn't the same situation because they are married; please think about how much you might really like corresponding with him. His name is Tad Fraser. He's a high school science teacher. His e-mail address is frasert@renfrow.edu.on.ca. His husband is Lt. Gabriel Fraser. Please Baby, think about e-mailing him.

Missing you like crazy,

Edward

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

On August 13, at 2:21 PM "Nathan Coles" <usafsbrat@niagara.com> wrote:

Subject: Hello

From: Nathan Coles <usafsbrat@niagara.com>

To: <frasert@renfrow.edu.on.ca>

Cc: Edward Marks <topofthefalls@niagara.com>

Hello,

My name is Nathan Coles. My partner Capt. Edward Marks is stationed at Kandahar Air Field with your husband. Edward mentioned that you facilitate a group for spouses of deployed Canadian Forces. I had hoped that there might be something like that here in the States that I could attend, but as Edward and I are a same-sex couple, my attendance at such a group would end his military career.

Your husband mentioned to Edward that you might be willing to exchange a few e-mails with me as needed. I would really appreciate that. Edward has been gone for just about three weeks now, and although I no longer think I'm going to find him sitting on the sofa when I get from work, I still haven't figured out how I'm supposed to get by during his deployment. Edward said your husband has been deployed for just about a year -- Edward is only scheduled to be gone for six months, and I don't think I can cope with his absence. Okay, I think I sound like enough of a basket case at this point and I don't want to scare you off.

I hope to hear from you soon,

Nate

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

On August 13, at 8:43 PM "Tad Fraser" <rnlover@yahooo.ca> wrote:

Subject: Re: Hello

From: Tad Fraser <rnlover@yahooo.ca>

To: Nathan Coles <usafsbrat@niagara.com>

Hello Nathan or do you prefer Nate,

My name is Tad Fraser, or if we are giving each other formal names, mine is Thaddeus -- and only my mother calls me that and only when I'm in trouble. I'm e-mailing you from my private e-mail. The one you used is my work e-mail.

I am Lieutenant Gabriel Fraser's husband. We just celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary -- we were one of the first couples to marry in Ontario when gay marriage became legal. Gabriel and I met our freshman year of college. So we had already been together for nine years when we got married.

Gabriel joined the army when he finished nursing school, and was stationed at home in Ontario until the Canadian Forces joined the war in Afghanistan in 2002. He did an eighteen month tour at that time, and was then home until his latest deployment. Gabriel has been able to serve openly as a gay man for his entire career. I can't imagine the stresses on your partner. Gabe mentioned that Edward has been in the Air Force since he was eighteen -- that is a long time to keep his sexuality a secret. I can imagine that you also feel a lot of stress and pressure to ensure that he is able to maintain his career, and it must be frustrating to not have the support system that the spouses of married couples in the U.S. get.

I started co-leading the spouses support group when Gabe left on this latest deployment. I would love to exchange e-mails with you, it would be nice for me as well. Gabriel and I live in Petawawa -- I'm sure you've never heard of it -- it's in the boonies of northern Ontario. There aren't many other gay couples up here. I would love the opportunity to speak with a man who has a spouse deployed in Afghanistan.

My group meets once a week. We usually do a potluck dinner, and the base provides child care and pizza for the kids during the two hours that we meet. Each week we usually have a topic -- some topics we've covered are juggling kids with just one parent, answering the kids questions and anxieties, how to manage a household on your own, taking care of legal issues while your spouse is away, dealing with sexual frustration, having fun, and taking care of yourself.

Do you use any type of instant messenger? It might be easier for us to communicate if we could chat in real time instead of exchanging e-mails. If this interests you, would you be available on Monday or Wednesday nights? Maybe you and I could meet once a week, I could share with you any information that came from the topic at my group, and then we could just chat about anything that's going on for us. What do you think?

I look forward to talking with you further,

Tad

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

To:
Edward Marks, USAF
451 AEW
APO AE 09355

September 13, 2008

"Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, but falling in love with you I had no control over." ~unknown

My Beloved Edward,

I dreamt of you last night. We were on Fire Island, and had woken early to sit along the shore and watch the sun rise. We kissed as the colors of the sky changed from blues and purples to reds and oranges. You and I were the only ones on the beach and when the sun finally rose to light the day, we stripped off our clothes and frolicked in the ocean.

The feel of your hands on my body brought all my senses alive. The world was more vivid as if all of its wonder and beauty existed only for us. Your voice speaking words of love and sex was all the more beautiful accompanied by the sounds of the sea birds. The waves striking our bodies heightened the pleasures my body feels only for you. The taste of salt on your neck, cheek, and lips was the most divine thing to ever enlighten my taste buds. The scent of the sea in the air was fresh and clean; it mixed with our musk, and my nose has never smelled anything finer. When we finally ran back to the beach you laid me down on our blanket and we began to make love.

When I awoke I could feel your body on top of mine, taste you my lips, smell you in our bed, and feel you inside of me. I so miss those sensations. I miss you lying here by my side, holding me, kissing me, whispering dirty things in my ear. I am counting the days until you are back here with me in our bed.

Longing for you,

Nathan

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Nathan Coles
1859 Oak Meadow Place
Niagara Falls, NY 14303

19 September 2008

My Handsome Nathan,

Happy 4th Anniversary my darling. I've been thinking of the moment I knew I loved you. We were sharing a bottle of Ontario Cabernet Franc and sharing the stories of who we are. I knew at that moment that our stories fit, that we were made to share our lives. My heart filled with glee as we laughed and shared stories of capturing fireflies at scout camp. We were leaning on the table intently listening to each other. I blushed along with you as you told me of your first crush and the lack of control you had over your body's reactions to him. Our hands brushed and our fingers intertwined. That was when I knew I was made for you.

Today as we are separated on our anniversary, I'm taking every free moment I have to close my eyes and picture you, my beautiful man. You are the person I tell my secrets to. You are the one who knows me like no one else does. Just the thought of your laughter, playfulness and naughtiness can make me blush because of how much my body craves and desires to be near you. I love you, my sweet Nathan.

I'm Yours Forever and Always,

Edward

P.S. My Darling, I have left you an envelope in the accordion file. You've probably seen it -- it had instructions not to open it until you were instructed by me. Please go get it, open it, and do exactly as it says.

I went out to the kitchen and removed the square manila envelope. Inside I found a CD with a post-it note reading, Play Me. I put the CD into my computer and soft music began to play, and then I heard Edward's voice giving me instructions. "Light the candles on our bedside tables. Turn off all the other lights in the bedroom. Remove a bottle of lube and your favorite dildo from the toy box and place them on the bed. Remove all your clothes."

I hadn't even realized I was following his instructions until I found myself naked listening to my lover's deep voice say, "I wish I could be there to make love to you on our anniversary, run my hands over your body, be inside of you, and listen to the sounds you make in the throes of ecstasy."

My cock began to grow hard just listening to his voice talk to me this way.

"Baby, I want you to attach the dildo to the wall between the iron slats of the headboard. Next I want you to lie down on the bed facing the dildo. Put your knees at a ninety degree angle and rest them on the wall."

"I hope you are ready to be thoroughly fucked."

God was I.

"I wish it was me fucking you...I wish I could be there to make you come. Are you rock hard yet? Is your cock weeping with pleasure at the sound of my voice?"

Yes! Now get on with it.

"Now coat your fingers with lube and slowly push them inside your tight hole. Spread them apart. Stretch that hole. My hole. Move your fingers in and out -- so that you're fucking yourself. If you're too close to coming you can get a cock ring out of the bedside table. I love the thought of you having to contain yourself because you are so turned on by the sound of my voice and the things I'm telling you to do."

I was, and I took out the leather cock ring with snaps and snapped it into place around my cock and balls.

"Once you have properly stretched yourself, do it some more. You're always way too eager to have something inside of you. When you are done, coat the dildo with a lot of lube -- so much so that you will easily slide on its length."

"Now spread your cheeks wide and slowly push yourself onto the dildo. I'm sure it is the big one...be careful my love. If it hurts a bit, go slow. Breathe. Move a small amount and breathe through the ache. Now you can move a little bit more. That's it. Breathe."

"Are you on it? Close your eyes and image my cock inside of you. I want you to keep your eyes closed. Feel my big thick cock taking you hard. Imagine your feet are over my shoulders. Now push with your feet and move yourself up the shaft and push yourself down it hard and fast."

"Mmmm, you are so good. I love the feel of you wrapped around me. When you squeeze your muscles around my cock I have to work hard not to come immediately. Keep rocking yourself on my cock. Ride it hard, like I know you love to."

"Are you ready to come? Unsnap the ring and touch yourself. Imagine it is my hand wrapping around your cock. Imagine it is me getting you off. God, I love the sound of you coming. I wish I was there lying beside you, panting to get my breath back. I love you so much, and I can't wait until the day I'll be home -- the day that I will be there to love you, kiss you, fuck you. I love you, my Brat -- my beautiful wonderful Brat."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

On October 10, 2008, at 4:14 AM "Nathan Coles" <usafsbrat@niagara.com> wrote:

Subject: The Election and The Daily Brat's Journal

From: Nathan Coles <usafsbrat@niagara.com>

To: Edward Marks <topofthefalls@niagara.com>

"Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it." ~Swedish Proverb

My Handsome Soldier Boy,

I couldn't sleep, so I decided to type you a note. It's just a few weeks until the election now. Do you think it's possible that Obama could win? He's said that he'll repeal DADT and end the war. Could it truly be possible? To have you home safe in my arms earlier than expected, and for you to continue to serve openly as a reservist would let all our dreams come true. I think you told me how they handle voting at Kandahar but I can't remember. What will you do? Your parents are worried about the electronic voting machines and are voting with absentee ballots. In fact, I think they said they had already sent them in when we had dinner this past Sunday.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

DAILY BRAT'S JOURNAL
1st Regiment of Honorable Brats
Niagara Falls, NY

00:01 09 Oct 08 to 23:59 09 Oct 08

00:01 to 07:30 -- -- -Sleep
07:30 to 07:53 -- -- -Masturbate
07:54 to 08:13 -- -- -Shower
08:14 to 08:35 -- -- -Dress
08:35 to 08:50 -- -- -Eat Breakfast - banana, yogurt, toast
08:50 to 08:59 -- -- -Drive to work
09:00 to 18:00 -- -- -Work
18:01 to 18:36 -- -- -Drive home
18:37 to 19:00 -- -- -Shower
19:01 to 19:35 -- -- -Dinner - salad and lasagna
19:36 to 21:00 -- -- -Watch TV
21:00 to 23:59 -- -- -Bed - Sleep

~*~

I sent Edward's e-mail and still couldn't sleep. I was checking my other e-mails when an instant message from Edward popped onto my screen:

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I'd fallen asleep around 2:00 p.m. I was sure I'd be up in time to meet Tad at 7:30 p.m. It was just before 8:00 p.m. when I woke up. I picked up my laptop and quickly sent an instant message.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

On October 12, 2008, at 8:14 AM "Edward Marks" <topofthefalls@niagara.com> wrote:

Re: Thank You and Follow-up

From: Edward Marks <topofthefalls@niagara.com>

To: Nathan Coles <usafsbrat@niagara.com>

Good Morning, Sweetheart,

It's chilly in Kandahar this morning, just 45°. Has it gotten that cold at home yet? Did you put the extra blanket on the bed? I can't remember what shape your slippers are in -- if you need a new pair I'm sure Kenzie would pick you up a pair. I don't want you wandering around the house in bare feet when you're fighting a sinus infection.

I'm hoping you're in bed and finding it easy to sleep. Thank you for sending me the receipts that I asked for.

I'm sorry it is such a bad infection. I know you hate being on antibiotics, but I also know that you hate having a sinus infection more. Thank you for sharing the Doctor's note with me -- you must be feeling truly awful if you were willing to share that the doctor wrote you off work for a week.

Are you feeling a bit guilty of your behavior my sweet Brat? This is the first time since I've been gone that we've faced a situation where you've done something that you'd have been spanked for if I were at home. We'll work something out my naughty Ranger. I want you to get a bit better first, and I need to do some thinking.

I heard Kenzie ratted you out to mom. No worries love; it should just mean she'll keep you in soup, popsicles, and anything else your heart desires. She loves you like crazy you know, and I'm sure she is quite happy to have someone to fuss over. You should let her fuss dear; it will make you both feel better. I'm sure she'd even be willing to rub your back. I wish it was me there to fuss over you.

I'll try and call this weekend.

Love you with all my heart,

Edward

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Edward called later that day. He usually has to talk through the beginning of our calls, because it takes me a while to get past the lump in my throat when he calls. Once he's chatted a bit and eventually worked me into full and complete sentences I'm okay and we can carry on normal discussions.

Today's discussion wasn't going to be all that normal, because I still wasn't feeling well and was worried about having broken a large percentage of our spankable rules. I couldn't possibly imagine any way Edward could deal with my punishment -- how does one punish for spankable offences when they can't spank?

I was also a bit pissed that he was on the other side of the world and intending to dole out some punishment that I was supposed to carry out on my own. My mood didn't improve any when Edward tried to break the tension with a joke about me committing a bit of self-flagellation. I spouted a list of obscene things I thought Edward could do with his self-flagellation idea. And then very unlike my big studly man, he just sat on the other line and listened. I'm not sure if he'd planned for his comment to be a way to get me talking, or if he'd realized that my rant was what I needed to get over my anxiety. When I was done and he didn't respond, we sat in silence for a minute or two until I softly apologized.

"It's alright, Baby, this is an awkward and stressful situation. My main goal here, as it is whenever I punish you, is to change your behavior. I'm worried you haven't been taking very good care of yourself and have gotten sick. Nathan, I'm going to be gone for another four months, I need to know that you will take care of yourself and be okay."

"I know, Edward, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I promise to take better care of myself."

"Shhh, my love, we'll make it okay. I think maybe we should go ahead and talk about your punishment -- there are three parts to it. First off you are to scan and e-mail me your receipts from your allergy shots every week, along with those from your therapy session. In addition to the activities with our friends and family that are already on your schedules, I want an additional dinner out with either Kenzie or another friend every week -- you can send me the dinner receipt when you send the receipts from your doctors. Nate, can you do those two things?"

I nodded.

I swear I could hear a smile in Edward's voice. "Nathan, love, I can't hear a nod."

I laughed softly. "How did you know?"

"Because, my beautiful Brat, I know you."

"I love you."

"I love you too, but you may want to hold your sweet comments, there is still a third part of your punishment. There will be lines, my boy, there will be lots and lots of lines," Edward said.

"I hate lines," I groaned.

"I know that's why I thought they'd be a good deterrent."

"You are an evil man, Edward Marks."

"Thank you love, I try. So we'll go with five hundred lines a week. Each week that you are healthy, and I deem you've accomplished all your duties, we'll decrease your lines by fifty."

"Edward! That's ten weeks!" I protested.

"Ten if you're good, more if you're not, and any weeks you don't pass muster we add fifty lines."

"Eddddward!" I whined.

"Yes, Baby?"

"Where are you that you can call me Baby?" I decided a change of subject was in order.

"I'm sitting on a box just off the runway."

"It's awfully quiet."

"Supply planes have already landed today. So, about the lines..."

"Yes?"

"I want them scanned and sent to me each Sunday."

"All right, is that it?"

"I want them dated at the top of each page, written in a different color ink each week, and after you scan them, you can rip them up and then scan the pieces. I'll send you what I want copied in an e-mail later today."

"Evil, have I mentioned that you're evil?"

"Once or twice before," Edward laughed. "Now tell me how you're feeling."

We proceeded to talk for another half hour. I complained about hating antibiotics and that if I wasn't sleeping most of the day away I was on the toilet. Edward was loving and kind and said all the sweet things I needed to hear. He then talked for the rest of our time about missions he'd flown. He sounded good. His friendship with Gabriel was great for him, but he was a bit sad that he had been invited to have Thanksgiving with the Canadian Troops, and then Gabriel ended up covering for an injured nurse at the Canadian Outpost in Ballpeen. So although he was sure he'd have fun at the dinner, he was feeling bad that Gabriel wouldn't be there.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Kenzie had gone out with friends for the evening, so I grabbed the bit of wine that was left over from the previous night's dinner, a large goblet and the letter from Edward that had arrived in the day's mail. I could tell it was a love letter as it was written on lovely parchment paper and had the wonderful musky smell of Edward's cologne. I went into our bedroom, and put on some soft and sultry music. I lit candles around the room, and stripped off my clothes before I climbed into bed to read and cherish my letter.

To:
Nathan Coles
1859 Oak Meadow Place
Niagara Falls, NY 14303

10 November 2008

Dearest Nathan,

I want to wrap my mouth around your cock...burry my nose in your crotch and smell your must. I want to taste you as I swirl my tongue around your girth. I want to see you arch your back in pleasure as you push yourself farther into my mouth. I want to feel you come in my mouth, and to swallow all of your salty seed. I miss being able to pleasure you this way. To take away the stress of your day as I bring you to orgasm. I want to see and feel you naked lying beside me in post sexual bliss.

I miss you so much, my darling. The longer I'm away, the more I realize how much I need you in my life. I never thought I'd find someone to spend the rest of my life with. I never imagined I could love someone so much that I'd want to grow old together. I never thought I'd look forward to being old with someone...that I'd look forward to making love to an old man. But I know that you, Nathan Coles, will be the sexiest eighty year old man this world has ever seen, and I can't wait until my eighty year old self is fucking the brains out of your eighty year old self.

I love you, you sexy thing,

Edward

~*~

I had just finished recovering from Edward's letter when I remembered I had a chat date with Tad. I dressed quickly and went over to the computer and signed into chat.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

For Thanksgiving, I packed a large care package for Edward. He'd told me that he would have a good meal, so I didn't send him any of the traditional Thanksgiving goodies. I did however send him some of the things that had become a special part of our Thanksgivings, which included several batches of my grandmother's persimmon cookies, decks of cards and poker chips, and a DVD copy of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The rest of the box was filled with a couple of new books, Reeses peanut butter cups, a fresh supply of his name brand toiletries, magazines, baby wipes, new underwear and socks, and several sets of fine stationary.

I'd saved and dried some leaves from the yard earlier in the year. I took my colored pencils and did leaf rubbings on the stationary for the letter I included with Edward's care package.

Edward Marks, USAF
451 AEW
APO AE 09355

November 27, 2008

"If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life." ~Oscar Wilde

Happy Thanksgiving, My Love,

Do you remember our first Thanksgiving together? It had been a warm and dry autumn and we still had a yard full of leaves. We were hosting the meal at our house and you and your dad were going to grill the turkey.

You and I woke up early to rake the yard. We were just about done when you tackled me and threw me into the large pile of leaves. You covered my mouth with your own and kissed me deeply and passionately. When we broke out of the kiss I complained about itchy leaves getting under my shirt. Your response was to remove my shirt. You then removed my shoes and socks and finally my pants. I was now fully naked and lying on a pile of leaves while you were still clothed, when I complained you turned me over and landed a playful swat to my ass.

"If you're going to fuck me in the leaves, can I at least look into your evil and wicked eyes?" I asked.

You answered with another swat, but returned me to my back. Our tussle in the leaves was quick and dirty. I believe it involved spit, awkward positioning, and me nearly freezing death. It was not our finest hour of lovemaking. But, it was sexy, adventurous, dirty, and great fun. I'll be thinking of you today, of all the ways that you spice up my life and have made it better than I ever could have imagined.

Yours until the end of time,

Nate

P.S. One of those bags of persimmon cookies is for Gabriel. Tad mentioned that Gabriel enjoyed them...so be nice and share.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Edward made my birthday as special as possible without him being home with me. He made me another seductive CD; this one came wrapped inside a box which also contained a shiny stainless steel wand that was half dildo and half anal beads. I think I spent a good portion of the day in bed listening to Edward's deep throaty voice telling me how he wanted me to get off.

To:
Nathan Coles
1859 Oak Meadow Place
Niagara Falls, NY 14303

1 December 2008

Happy Birthday, My Beautiful Man,

As has become our birthday ritual, here is the birthday homoscope for my Sagittarian Bottom:

The Sagittarian Boy celebrating his birthday today never hides his sexual orientation and always fights for sexual freedom, respect and equality in society. He is romantic and adventurous, and should observe what makes him happy and seek to make that a central part of his life. He is a generous and accepting lover who strives at becoming expert at satisfying his partner.

So, my baby have fun with your new toy, but know that when I get home the toys will need to go by the wayside for a while. I will be the only toy you need to satisfy.

My heart aches from missing you,

Edward

P.S. Don't think I've forgot about your birthday spanking...I look forward to giving you that when I get home.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I logged onto my computer to wait for Tad, it was our normal chat night. I was feeling particularly Scroogie and was thinking this would end up being a short chat.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

"I climbed across the mountaintops, traveled across the ocean blue. I crossed over lines and I broke all the rules, and baby I broke them all for you."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

January 11, 2009

When I noticed that the caller ID showed the call was from a satellite phone my heart rang with joy and fear. I'd already spoken to Edward this week, and I'd never talked to him more than once a week during his entire deployment.

"Hello. Edward?" I questioned.

"Nate," he paused and I heard him softly crying, "Gabriel's dead."

Edward was sobbing, and I was in shock. I'm not sure how long we sat on the phone like that, and finally I decide it was me who needed to take control. "Edward, love, slow down and take a breath, please..."

His sobs started to slow. I heard him take several slow and hiccupped breaths. "Gabriel's dead," he repeated.

"How? When?" I asked.

"Today, just now." He choked on his words, and I ached at his soft cries.

"Edward? Please tell me what happened. I need you to tell me; you need to get it out."

Edward told me how Gabriel and a doctor had gone out to the Canadian Outpost in the Panjwaii district just after New Year's to cover for the Outpost's medical staff who were on leave. The doctor and Gabriel were being driven back to Kandahar Airfield when their truck struck an improvised explosive device.

Edward's team was on duty and was dispatched to go and pick up the injured Canadian medics. He had no idea of who he was going to get. He got to the area and hovered the helicopter so his pararescue crew could carefully descend into the area. The medics reported back that there were three people in the vehicle, two were dead and one was alive and badly injured. Edward was worried about his men trying to retrieve the dead bodies in a known IED area. It was not uncommon for there to be snipers coming in after an IED explosion to shoot those that had survived or to take out the rescue crew. Edward's gunners were carefully covering the possible angles that insurgents could fire on the rescue squad, the injured or the helicopter. He gave the order to get the injured man out, and he'd radio for the IED squad to come in, search the area, remove any more of the explosives and then to recover the bodies. The pararescuers put Gabriel on the stretcher and waited while he was raised back into the helicopter. Once Gabriel was inside and being cared for, ropes were dropped and the medics were pulled back into the helicopter. With everyone on board, Edward steered the copter back to KAF. It was shortly thereafter that he became aware of who he was transporting. One of his medics came over the intercom and informed Edward that their injured soldier was a Canadian nurse who had asked that the Canary fly him safely back to the base.

Edward said he felt as if ice was running in his veins at the terror he felt for his injured friend. It was a short time later that the medic informed Edward that Gabriel had a spinal cord injury and a mortal abdominal wound which had destroyed most of his liver. The medic didn't feel that Gabriel would live for more than a few hours.

Edward flew as safely and quickly as possible back to KAD; he was having Gabriel unloaded by the trauma crew twenty minutes later. He hopped out of the helicopter and was by Gabriel's side, when he heard Gabe bravely inform the trauma nurse of his condition. The young Canadian believed that a piece of shrapnel had damaged his spinal cord somewhere around T6 and didn't have any feeling below his chest, which he was thankful for, because he suspected that otherwise his abdominal injury would be quite painful.

Edward asked his co-pilot to go update their commanding officer of the situation and to ask if Edward could go off duty for the rest of the day. As it was a slow troupe activity day, Edward was granted permission.

He waited until Gabriel was finished talking and took hold of his hand, "Gabriel, what do you want?"

"Can someone try to get ahold of Tad? What time is it at home?"

"It's a little after 0800," Edward answered.

"He's just started school; it can be hard to get a hold of him. The school secretary is a bitch." Gabriel winced thinking Tad wouldn't appreciate that description.

Edward walked into the hospital still holding Gabriel's hand. Gabriel's commanding officer met them in the trauma bay, and let Gabriel know they were going to do an assessment to verify his injuries. Things at the hospital were slow, and they could get him scanned quickly.

Edward said he heard Gabriel ask to speak to Tad again, as he was shooed out of the room, while the medical team worked on Gabriel. He said it was a short time later that he was informed that Gabriel was asking for him. When he entered the room, Gabriel had been cleaned up, but everything and everyone around was much more somber than before. Edward said he sat down beside Gabe, and once again took his hand. He looked into Gabriel's eyes, and Gabe said, "I'm dying. They've confirmed it. I've maybe got a few hours. The major has gone to try and get Tad on the phone."

He said at this point he felt Gabriel gently running his thumb over the top of his hand in a comforting motion. "Hey there, Canary, I'm okay. I was hoping you'd do me a favor, so you're going to save your water works until after I'm gone. Will you help me, please?"

"Anything," Edward answered.

"I want to write a letter to Tad. I have things I want to tell him, and I want to make sure that they get said, in case I forget when I get him on the phone -- because, that is when I'll be a basket case. Can I dictate to you?"

Edward agreed and grabbed some paper out of the printer at the nurses' station, pulled a pen from his pocket, and sat back down. "I'm ready whenever you are."

Gabriel began and Edward took down every word.

Dictated by Capt. Edward Marks, USAF for 1st Lt. Gabriel Fraser, CF

To:
Mr. Tad Fraser
1873 Bluebird Way
Petawawa, Ontario K8H 1X9
Canada

11 January 2009

My Darling Thaddeus,

I'm hoping that soon I will hear from Major Holgrade that you're on the phone, and I'll be able to hear your voice and share my last moments with you. But here in this letter I want to give you something to remember me by -- to have something to read when you miss me.

This is a letter I never wanted to write. Yes, we knew it was a possibility, but I never expected to be mortally injured. I'm not scared, my love. I'm sad to be leaving you. I'm terribly sorry for the pain my death will cause you. I will always love you. I look forward to being your guardian angel for a while and one day to see you again, after you have lived a long and happy life.

Tad, you are the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. You were the love of my life, you made me whole. And because of you I can die in peace knowing that I lived a good and complete life. You were my first and my only everything -- handholding, kiss, fuck, and true love. I know some people think I was crazy to not have adventured out more and experienced other men, but for me I knew it was perfect. I think I was the luckiest man alive to have found and only every experience love with you.

Do you remember the day we met? It was in freshman writing. I used to sit a few seats behind you and to the side. I would sit and stare at you throughout the lesson. Then one day before class you came and sat down next to me. You asked me out for a date and told me you thought I'd have a better chance of passing the class if we went for a date and then I might be able to actually pay attention in class. It didn't work -- I couldn't be near you in those early days of our love without falling under your spell. That was the worst grade of my university career, and the last class we ever took together.

Do you remember when we heard the news that same-sex marriage had been declared legal? We threw on our best suits, grabbed copies of our birth certificates and drove as fast and carefully as possible down to the municipal office to get our marriage license. The forms still had spaces for Bridegroom and Bride. I was worried when we paused at that point -- and then you, Thaddeus -- my love said, "I'm sick and tired of being Thaddeus Sukoff. It will be lovely to be Thaddeus Fraser, so I think that means I get to be the Bride to your Bridegroom." I was so honored that you wanted to take my name. We finished with the paperwork and quickly walked over to the County Court. We each stole a rose from the bushes in front of the Courthouse, and attached them to each other's lapel. We were shocked and thrilled to see that two retired judges had come in just to help with the marriages. After our short but lovely ceremony, we went home, packed a bag and set off to Montreal and two magnificent nights at Le St-James. My life with you has been filled with friendship, laughter, joy, adventure, passion, and much, much, much love. Thank you, my dear Thaddeus Fraser.

Okay, here's where we get to the good part of the letter -- well you may not think its good today, but you will one day. This is the part where I tell you what I want you to do for me. Please my love, try to get on your life. I need to know you will make it, that you will find peace. I hope that eventually you will be able to put this letter someplace special and move on. Darling, you found true love once, and I know you can be blessed with it again. Those who are able to open their heart once can surely do it again. I'm sure my death has pained you greatly, but if you allow yourself to heal your heart it can once again be filled with joy and love. Now, darling I'm serious about this...and if I see that you are not moving on with your life and looking for a new love, I will come and haunt you. And Thaddeus you do not want to be haunted by a cranky brat who isn't getting his way.

You were more than I ever could have asked for and it is your love that will allow me to die in happiness and peace.

Yours Always,

Gabriel

Shortly after Edward finished dictating the letter to Gabriel, a nurse came in and informed them that they had found Tad, and were transferring the call back to him.

Edward kissed the back of Gabriel's hand. "You are a great man Lt. Gabriel Frasier. Thank you for being my friend."

Edward watched as Gabriel was handed the phone. He said he sat outside in the hall until he was informed that Gabriel had died, and that he had stayed on the phone with Tad the whole time.

"That's when I came out here and called you," Edward said softly into the phone.

I was completely devastated. I'd never met Gabriel. I'd never spoken to him or exchanged an e-mail with him. I knew him through Edward and Tad. And I was completely devastated for the hole I knew he was leaving in their lives.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

January 13, 2009

I got up Tuesday morning and did an internet search to see if I could find any information about Gabriel's funeral. I found a short article in the Toronto Star.

Canadian Forces' Medics and their Driver Killed

Thousands of soldiers stood at attention under the bright winter sun at Kandahar Airfield to bid farewell to three Canadian Soldiers who were killed Sunday when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device while traveling back to Kandahar Airfield from the remote Canadian Outpost in the Panjwaii district in southern Afghanistan.

The bodies of the three Canadian soldiers were carried to the transport plane that would bring them home to their families, in caskets draped with the Canadian flag. Major tienne Le Blanc, Lieutenant Gabriel Fraser, and Corporal Kenneth Glass were all serving as part of NATO's Multinational Medical Unit.

Major Le Blanc, 47, of Saint-Jerome is survived by his wife Jacqueline, daughters Grace and Rose, and his parents Michel and Margot.

Lieutenant Fraser, 33, of Petawawa is survived by his husband Tad, sister Muriel, brother Sam, and parents Raphie and Charmeine.

Corporal Glass, 19, of Alberta is survived by his parents Joseph and Gladice.

The bodies of the soldiers are due to arrive at Canadian Forces Base Trenton at noon on Wednesday.

A statement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, "These three men were superb soldiers and medical professionals. They will be remembered with the utmost gratitude and respect of this nation."

"Our hearts go out to the families of these exceptional Canadians and courageous soldiers who died while bravely serving their country," Harper said in the statement.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I convinced Kenzie to drive to Toronto with me early Wednesday morning. When we got onto the 401 shortly outside of Trenton it was about 11:00 a.m. We continued on the highway towards Toronto, and could already see the crowds forming along the road and on the overpasses. People representing many ages, colors and socioeconomic statuses were waving Canadian flags. We passed a regiment of Royal Canadian Mounties on the side of the road getting ready to salute at the Hearses carrying Gabriel and the other two men. Fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances were parked along with their patrolmen waiting to honor Canada's war dead. There were groups of veterans, scouts, service families, and school children aligning the Highway of Heroes to pay their respects, as they did every time a fallen Canadian soldier returned home.

We finally exited the motorway, and parked on the overpass. It was a freezing cold Ontario morning, and we were bundled in our winter gear. Neither of us said much, but we silently leant on one another for needed support.

We spent the night in Toronto, and drove to Petawawa on Thursday so that we could attend the Visitation that evening. We spent the night at a hotel off base.

Gabriel's Funeral service was Friday morning and was immediately followed by a graveside military burial service. Tad asked us to come by the house following the services, and we did. I couldn't handle seeing all of the pain of Gabriel's friends and family without imagining what if it'd been Edward, so I gave Tad my condolences, said we would talk soon, and Kenzie and I left early.

Kenzie slept on the drive home, and my grief turned to anger. Edward didn't need to be risking his life; he could come out and come home at any time. I shouldn't have to worry about him like this. I shouldn't be grieving over Gabriel, or hurting for Tad. I never would have known them if Edward weren't in the Air Force.

We arrived home just a little before 2:00 a.m., and my anger had seemed to grow with each passing mile. By the time we got home, Kenzie dozily headed to bed and I to my computer to send Edward an e-mail letting him know exactly how I felt about this whole situation.

On January 17, 2009, at 2:11 AM "Nathan Coles" <usafsbrat@niagara.com>wrote:

Re: How Dare You!

From: Nathan Coles <usafsbrat@niagara.com>

To: Edward Marks <topofthefalls@niagara.com>

"When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one." ~Leonard P. Matlovich

How dare you make me become their friend!

Now I know so completely what I would lose if you were to be killed -- because I saw how different it would be if we could marry.

At least Tad was legally married to Gabriel. Tad had all the legal protections of marriage. Tad was the first to know Gabriel had died. Tad claimed Gabriel's body and rode with it home to Petawawa. Tad saw how his country supported him and his husband. He saw how Canada celebrated Gabriel as a hero, no matter his sexual orientation.

Did you know that asshole, Fred Phelps, has been protesting at the funerals of our fallen soldiers? He's claiming that God is punishing the United States for tolerating homosexuality.

I went to Toronto to honor Lt. Gabriel Fraser as the hero he was, and I was there with thousands of Canadians who saluted and cried for their fallen countryman.

Tad took his husband home to plan his funeral. I have no rights to do that if you were to be killed. Your body would be turned over to your parents. Your funeral and burial would be of their choosing.

Tad will be handed the Canadian Flag that draped Gabriel's coffin. I can stand behind your family as the flag of the country that you would die for -- the country that is unwilling to grant you equal rights -- is handed to your mother.

How dare you! How dare you go to war and leave me home with no legal protection and with no legal bond to you.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I'm not talking to you!! You'll turn this into me throwing a tantrum, and I think I have every right to be pissed at you!

Work that out for yourself, did you? It's not like I haven't told you that a thousand times before.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

On January 17, 2009, at 10:58 AM "Edward Marks" <topofthefalls@niagara.com> wrote:

Re: I'm sorry

From: Edward Marks <topofthefalls@niagara.com>

To: Nathan Coles <usafsbrat@niagara.com>

Hi Sweetheart,

I'm so sorry that Gabriel's services were so hard for you. I understand why they made you angry. I'm so sorry you're hurting, baby.

I really wish you were there so I could talk to you. I hate that things aren't resolved between us.

You're correct the laws in our country aren't fair. There are gay and lesbian soldiers here from quite a few others countries that are allowed to serve openly. I wish that I could too, but right now I can't -- and I think it is important for me to be here.

I know you think I chose this over you. I didn't; I'm coming home to you in just a few weeks.

Okay, my love, I'll try calling at a more normal hour.

I love you,

Edward.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Hmmm, is there anyone here that answers to that name? Nope. I didn't think so.

Hiding from you.

I always knew you were a smart man.

You could always come out and get shipped home.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I was sitting at my computer trying to ignore the several e-mails and instant messages from Edward when an IM popped up on the screen.

My heart skipped several beats. I'd so missed talking to him, but I wasn't sure if I'd have the right words to say.

The phone rang. I looked at the caller ID to see the call was coming from a satellite phone.

"What!" I rudely answered.

"Knock-it off, Nathan," Edward said in a tone that could make my skin crawl and my butt clench in fear of an incoming swat.

"Knock what off?" I sweetly replied.

"The attitude, the rudeness, and the ignoring my messages -- I want it to stop right now."

"So, now I'm not allowed to express my grief and anger?" I shot back sarcastically.

"No, not the way you are. I lost a friend too. I know it scared you. I know it pissed you off. I know it broke your heart. Did you ever think it did those same things to me? So knock it off, or so help me, I'll march right up to my commanding officer and come out for the sole purpose of being able to board a plane home to the States and deliver a spanking the likes of which you can't even fathom. Understood?"

I took a deep breath with the full intent of telling him to fuck off but instead I began to sob -- big loud gasping sobs. But somewhere in those sobs was my reply, "Understood."

His voice changed instantly to one of compassion, but underneath that I could hear his own grief. "I'll be home in three weeks. That's twenty-one days, baby. Okay?"

I nodded.

I heard a hint of a smile in his voice. "Are you nodding?"

"Yes." I couldn't help but to smile myself.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Edward assigned me a lot of lines. Did I say a lot of lines? Is there something more than a lot? He was not happy about my attitude in the days following Gabriel's funeral, and decided that I could spend the majority of my free time before his arrival home writing lines. Although, he promised that I would have a fully clean slate when he arrived home on February 6th.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

The families and friends of the 824th CSAR were allowed onto the air field's tarmac to await the arrival of the plane full of soldiers returning home from Afghanistan. A hush came over the crowd as people began to point out the plane out on the horizon. As the plane made its descent the excitement of the ground grew and the crowd began to cheer. Children jumped up and down awaiting the arrival of long missed parents, spouses and partners danced on the balls of their feet awaiting the touch and embrace of their beloved, parents were the quietest needing to see that their child was truly arriving home from war safe and alive. When the plane touched down the whole crowd began to bounce. It was a quick and short trip off the runway, and the plane pulled to a stop in front of the cheering mob. An Airman moved the stairway in front of the plane hatch, and I watched in anticipation as the door opened. Flags waved and the band began to play as the first Airman appeared in the doorway. The men moved slowly down the stairs their eyes scanning the crowd. Once they stood on the tarmac and spotted the wave of their family they would quickly move in that direction. An occasional child or woman would break from the crowd and run to meet their soldier. As the men deplaned they were all dressing in their ABUs or their flight suits, but then I saw Edward -- he was wearing his dress uniform. He was clean shaven and looked distinctly cleaner and more put together than the other men exiting the plane. Edward's mom and sister waved frantically at him as he stood at the bottom of the stairs. He saw us, smiled and waved back.

I had my hands in my suit pockets. I so wanted to be one of those people that broke away from the crowd and made a run for their man, but I listened to the voice in my head, which reminded me to be calm, to stay slightly detached so that I could shake his hand and welcome him home. I would have all night to physically welcome him home. And then he was there standing in front of me. I smiled nervously; I'd missed him so.

Edward returned the smile, but his was warm and full of love. He got down on one knee and pulled a small box from his trouser pocket. He flipped open the box to reveal a ring of two entwined gold bands. He lifted the ring from inside the box, and then returned the box to his pocket. Edward took hold of my left hand and began to slip the ring on my forth finger. "My beloved Nathan Daniel Coles, will you marry me?"

I felt tears well up in my eyes. My man had just ended his seventeen year highly decorated Air Force career. "Yes, yes. I'll marry you," I exclaimed. He stood up and pulled me into a firm embrace followed by a long, thorough, and very passionate kiss.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

~ Tarabeth

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