“Where you going?” he asked sleepily.
“I need to go pee and I want to start getting packed up. The sooner we get moving the quicker we will get there.”
“I’ll wake up Trystum.” Yawning again Joshua crawled out of his sleeping bag and stretched. Justin wrapped his arms around his waist and pulled him into his body. “Did I ever tell you that you look beautiful when you are naked and in my arms.”
Joshua gave a little pout. “Is that the only time?”
Justin laughed at the slender boy digging for complements. “No you look beautiful all the time, it’s just that I prefer you naked and in my arms.” His laugh changed into a groan as Joshua nuzzled into his neck, sucking softly on his skin. “Baby stop. We have to get moving soon. If we play now we won’t have the energy to go anywhere.”
Joshua gave a long reluctant sigh and wriggled out of Justin’s grip, a pout prominent on his lips. “I guess you are right.”
“You know I am,” Justin said equally reluctant to break the embrace. “Go wake up your daddy and I’ll sort us out some breakfast.”
Joshua screwed his nose up and chewed on the tough dried meat that was the sum of their meal.
“When you said breakfast I rather had something more palatable in mind,” Trystum said, voicing what his son was thinking. “This is really horrible.” He tossed the brownish red strip down onto the cloth that Joshua had laid out in honour of their meal.
“Trystum eat it,” Justin said. Reaching down he picked it back up, holding it out to the pregnant man. “It’s nourishing and it will sustain you till we can break again.”
A brief standoff took place as soldier and breeder stared at each other, neither wanting to give in. Joshua pulled his knees up to his chest and continued to chew on his meat, watching meekly as the two older men locked wills.
With a deep sigh Trystum gave in and took the dried meat, chewing on it again with renewed vigour. Justin smiled. “Thank you. Joshua how are your feet?”
“Fine, I should be okay. The dressings are padding them from the leather for now,” Joshua said finishing his breakfast. “I’ll finish rolling the beds.”
Justin smiled gratefully. “Good, I want to leave in the next five minutes. Trystum you can finish your breakfast while we walk.”
The older man huffed and waited until Justin turned his back before burying the tough strip in the dirt.
“Won’t they be looking for us by now?” Joshua asked as Justin helped him up a rocky slope. Trystum already sat at the top, breathing deeply and rubbing his belly.
“Well we missed our checkpoint time so the chances are that they know we are in trouble.”
“But they won’t be looking for us will they?” Joshua said, stopping to catch his breath before giving one final effort to reach the top.
“Probably not,” Justin answered. It wasn’t the answer Joshua wanted to hear but it was the truth.
The sun was riding high in the sky and exhaustion was beginning to claim its first victim. Joshua’s legs and arms felt like lead, his stomach growled with hunger and he had run out of water over an hour ago and was now beginning to dehydrate in the fierce midday sun. He reached the top of the rise and collapsed, gasping for breath.
Justin stood over him, concerned. The soldier rooted through Joshua’s rucksack looking for his canteen. Shaking it, he threw it aside in disgust. “When did you run out of water Josh?”
“A couple of hours ago.” Joshua admitted.
Justin grunted and went to where he had left his own pack and retrieved his canteen. He threw it at his husband. “Here take a drink. You have to start trusting me Josh. You can’t go without water.”
Justin sighed and dropped down next to his young husband. “I’m a trained soldier my love. I know how to pace myself, how to manage on short rations. There’s no way you can possibly go without water in this heat.”
A pained groan captured both men’s attention. “Daddy!” Joshua jumped to his feet and dashed over to where his father was reclined against a rock. Justin reached him first, placing his hand on his forehead and lifting his right hand so he could take his pulse. The older man groaned again and clutched his belly.
“When did the pains start Trystum?” Justin asked patiently.
“About twenty minutes ago,” the pregnant man replied as soon as his breathing had returned to normal.
“How far apart?” Justin asked. This couldn’t be happening. There was no way that he was going to be able to make Trystum walk another step.
“It’s about my third.”
Joshua hovered worriedly behind his husband. “What we going to do Justin. He can’t have the baby here!”
“No, he can’t.” Justin stood up and raked his fingers through his hair. “Okay here’s what we do. You stay here with Trystum and I will go and find us some help or at least some transport. There should be some troops nearby. We can’t be far from the checkpoint.” Justin dug into his pack and pulled out a revolver. “Baby, if the Rebs discover you, just point and pull. I’ll be as quick as I can.” Justin pulled Joshua into a passionate kiss, licking the inside of his mouth.
As they parted Joshua breathed, “what if the baby comes? I don’t know what to do.”
“Trystum knows.” Justin crouched by the pregnant man’s side. “I need to get help. Will you be alright with Josh?”
The older man nodded, then screwed up his face as another pain took hold. “Just hurry, please.”