Chapter 4 - Nighttime encounter
Again morning came around, again the strobe lights caused him to roll over and bury his face into the pillow. He really was not a morning person. He’d barely slept – he had no idea how Captain Luca could be so alert on so few hours sleep.
Just like yesterday, Ezra found himself upturned out of his bed, "How would you like to donate a pint of blood through your nose, Jackhurst?" Captain Luca asked sounding menacing, as he towered over him.
Ezra really did not want to test the theory, that Captain Luca, would follow through on his threat and punch him in the nose, causing him to suffer a nose bleed. He quickly stood.
"Why the fuck was you still in bed?" Captain Luca asked.
Ezra had no answer; that was not entirely true, he did have an answer, but not one that Captain Luca would approve of.
Fuck, if Ezra did not find the bastard a turn on right now. There was something about his voice that caused Ezra to go weak-kneed. It was a strong, powerful voice. He did not need to yell to be heard, as people would stop and listen even if he was whispering - his voice was authoritative and low. It had resonance -it being deep, full, and reverberating and all.
He was eternally grateful that he had not been waking up with morning glory - being thrown out of his bed in front of everyone, with a hard-on would be mortifying. In fact, he really could not risk it happening eventually, he vowed to make sure he was up out of his bed as soon as the lights came on tomorrow.
"Has your brain gone on vacation, Jackhurst? Why the fuck was you still in bed!" He calmly asked, yet his voice hard.
Ezra ran a hand through his hair, lost for words, "I-I have no excuse, sir." He intoned.
Luca's intense eyes bored into him, "Everyone has the right to be stupid, but you are abusing the privilege," he mocked Ezra, adding, "If you continue to remain in bed during wake up call, you will be sporting more than a bloody nose." Once again threatening violence.
"You cannot do that? I won't let you." Justin piped up out of nowhere. This surprised Ezra, the fact Justin was defending him.
Luca turned to glower at him, "The question isn't who is going to let me; it is who is going to stop me?" He watched Justin carefully, "You won't stop me." He announced. Confident that he was speaking the truth.
Justin appeared to be struggling with what to do next. Ezra suspected he was choosing between keeping his mouth shut, or, speaking out again. He clearly was biting his tongue, holding back on speaking his mind - or giving Captain Luca a piece of his mind.
Captain Luca waited for a few moments, once it was obvious Justin was staying silent, he returned to the front of the room facing all of them.
"Once you've fed your faces, meet me here. I will be showing you, cretins, how to wash your own clothes." He sounded as if that was the last thing he wanted to be doing.
He walked away and through a connecting door.
Ezra stood next to his upturned bed contemplating everything. Justin walked by, holding his toiletries ready to wash up, Ezra slung out a hand to stop him, "Thank you, for stepping in like that."
Ezra did not think he needed help. He could handle Luca, or at least he thought he could, but the fact remained that everyone was scared of Luca, and yet, Justin still spoke up. Even if it did not change anything, it served the purpose of distracting Luca, giving Ezra a break from his verbal tirade and insults.
Justin merely grunted at him, yanking his arm free of Ezra's grip continuing on his way.
Ezra acknowledged that Luca would not likely change how he behaved or acted around him, just because of what happened last night - because really nothing happened. Besides, last night Luca was still obnoxious and scary - he just appeared more relaxed. Last night he was just himself, during the day he was working - he had a job to do. To intimidate and bully his squad into line. If he was seen slacking with Ezra, the others would push their luck.
Ezra swore when he saw Justin walk passed him again, on his way back from the washroom - he had not moved during the whole time Justin was gone. Too busy deep in thought.
Fuck, he had to hurry if he wanted to get dressed, wash, eat breakfast, sort his bed, and be back here in time to not cause Luca to threaten bodily harm.
Ezra did all those things bar one; when the group returned to their quarters as instructed, it was to find Captain Luca stood at the foot of Ezra's still upturned bed.
Curtis patted him on the back and whispered, "It was nice knowing you buddy," before walking to stand to attention at the foot of his own bed.
All other nine men were doing just that - standing at the foot of their beds. All trying to keep their faces blank as they watched.
Ezra approached his bed, not daring to speak as he had not been granted permission to do so. An apology was on the tip of his tongue waiting to be uttered.
"Explain yourself," Captain Luca's voice was deep and disapproving.
Ezra stared at him, unable to think of anything, "I forgot, sir." He simply answered.
"Wipe your mouth. There's still a tiny bit of bullshit around your lips." He remarked dryly.
Ezra bit his bottom lip; laughing right now would not go over too well, but damn Luca was funny.
"Sort your fucking bed out, Jackhurst." He ordered.
"Morons with me," He called out, indicating with his hand for the others to follow him.
Ezra could not afford to miss the lesson on how to do laundry - not when future inspections would include how well they looked after their kit; uniform included.
He acknowledged that being here in this place could actually be beatifical to him, if he was willing to sit down and shut up - he could learn valuable life skills. If he wanted to be independent and move out of home one day, then laundry and other basic skills would be vital.
Except, he had been ordered to fix his bed. Sighing he bent to pick up the frame and placed the mattress back on. He located the pillows and the blanket, putting them on the bed and smoothing out the creases.
Satisfied that he had done what was asked of him, he headed to the room that the others occupied.
He had barely opened the door when he heard, Captain Luca, call out, "Get the fuck back in the other room. Did I say you could come in?"
Ezra was starting to get pissed off, he felt somewhat victimised - as if Captain Luca, was using him as an example to the others to keep them in line. He was not cutting him any slack.
Feeling his temper flare he replied hotly, "No you did not, but you did not tell me to stay in the other room either!"
He could deal with rules and expected courtesies - this, however, he would not stand for.
Captain Luca, ordered Ezra out of the room following behind him.
"I am fed up with you speaking out of turn, Jackhurst," he growled at him, "wait here, and do not, so much as scratch your nose."
He watched as Luca marched out of the room. As much as he fancied the arrogant ass, Ezra still found him irritating. On one hand, he wanted to punch him - he'd probably only get one good punch in, though. On the other hand, he wanted to shove him up against a wall and kiss him.
He rather liked being ordered around by Luca, being dominated - but when he was angry he could see himself doing some shoving too. And he was angry - why the fuck was, Captain Luca, giving him such a hard time?
Moments later Captain Luca returned with a small potted plant, he handed it to Ezra.
"You will keep this tree alive. You will carry this with you wherever you go in uniform. You will take it to training, you will take it to dinner, you will take it to the fucking bathroom with you. If anyone asks you why you’re carrying this fucking tree around, you will tell them, ‘It’s to replace the oxygen I stole from everyone else.’ " He explained.
Ezra held the tree, rendered speechless - he was sure once he looked back on this memory he would laugh, but right now at this moment, he was furious, humiliated and embarrassed.
"Now you can come with me into the other room," He coolly instructed.
If the other nine squad members were wondering why Ezra was carrying a plant, it did not show. They all remained quiet, working diligently at doing laundry.
Ezra had to endure doing laundry, bathroom breaks, physical training, and lunch with the godforsaken plant.
They were now being ordered to do push-ups. Ezra's arms ached from carrying the stupid plant everywhere, he was not allowed to put it down. Considering his arms were already hurting before he started his push-ups, he thought he performed quite well.
After they reached the required amount of push-ups set, Captain Anderson ordered them to shower; as according to him they smelt revolting, and then he ordered them to go to dinner.
Ezra reluctantly took the plant into the communal showers, and then with him to dinner.
Most of the barracks had stared at him at some point today. Commander Sayers had even said that he needed no explanation, as he knew Ezra was in Captain Anderson's squad, and that was explanation enough for him. His reaction to Captain Luca's actions showed that this was normal behaviour for him; that the other staff members had come to expect it and had even become accustomed to it.
There were fifty people at this camp, he was the only one carrying around a fucking plant! Ezra held it under one arm as he pushed his tray along with his free hand.
When he reached Mark, he looked at him sympathetically - which was a nice change, everyone else seemed highly amused.
Mark asked why he was carrying the plant, and Ezra recited the speech Captain Luca had told him to say whenever someone asked about it.
Surprisingly, Mark did not laugh, this pleased Ezra, he muttered, "Thanks,"
Mark gave him a slightly bigger portion of rice and casserole than he did anyone else. Which Justin noticed immediately, "Hey, How come you have more than me?" He did not sound mad, just puzzled.
Ezra shrugged, "I know one of the cooks."
"Huh, is that so." He glanced over to the serving station, "Maybe I should become better acquainted with your friend." He spoke his thoughts out loud.
Ezra put the plant on the table grateful for the respite. He had no idea why Justin had stopped being so hostile toward him, but he was not going to question it.
Halfway through the meal, his reasoning behind his change in attitude became apparent, "Oi, Jackhurst!" He called.
Ezra looked up, "What?"
"I don't think I said thanks for earning us our reward." Meaning the photos, "Having them, it makes a big diffEzrace. We would not have won if it was not for you."
Momentarily stunned he inclined his head, "You're welcome."
They continued to eat in silence. However, something had changed between them. Sure they were still hot-headed hormone filled teens, but they had called a silent truce.
After dinner the others headed for the activities room, Ezra turned down the invite, not wanting to take the plant with him and have others outside of their squad ridicule him.
He returned to his quarters, wanting nothing more than to collapse on his bed, but deciding to get a head start; he polished his boots, put away his newly cleaned uniform and watered his plant - which he had set on his bedside table.
"You know talking to plants is supposedly good for them," Ezra informed the limp leafed thing.
He must have nodded off, as the sound of the others returning startled him awake. Great, now that he had had a power nap, he definitely would not sleep later. Fucking Luca! Ezra was exhausted what with all the chores, training and exercises.
Curtis eyed him, "You look rough," he pointed out.
Justin unhelpfully added, "Yeah, like shit." His voice playful and not mocking.
"Go swivel." Ezra returned childishly,
Laying out on his bed chatting as the others polished their boots, Ezra was pleased he had done his earlier.
They had all started to learn the routine and schedule now. They brushed their teeth and changed for bed. Knowing it would soon be lights out. An early night was no longer a cause for complaint, for most of them, after a hard day and knowing an early morning was around the corner, they could not wait for lights out.
The first night here, the others talked amongst themselves after lights out, then yesterday they cut back on the talking, and tonight they were so tired that falling asleep this early at night was not an issue.
Ezra dreaded it. He was even more awake since his nap. He debated going for another nighttime wander but was not entirely sure he wanted to run into Luca tonight; not after his hellish day.
Two hours later and he was going out of his mind, someone was snoring loudly and Justin was talking in his sleep. Giving in and grabbing his uninformed long-sleeved shirt, he slid it on as he snuck out. He was still in a vest, pyjama trousers and his socks, but this time, he had put on a shirt, leaving it undone at the front, it was more so to cover his bare arms.
He considered taking his plant just in case he ran into anyone but knew he would feel idiotic taking a stroll with a plant, so he left it behind.
His feet took him to the same bench. He was not sure if he was pleased or disappointed to see that it was vacant.
He supposed it was still early-ish, as lights out are at 9 pm, and he had endured two hours of boredom and snoring. That made it 11 pm.
Ezra did not plan on staying out too late, as the wake-up call was around 5 am, and he needed to be rested for the day ahead. Ezra reflected on the whole set up, it was very much like military basic training, with Luca acting out as the drill sergeant.
There was no other role, that Ezra could think of, that better suited Luca. He made the perfect drill sergeant. Ezra winced at the thought of how many poor teenage lads he had probably made cry.
Ezra had no concept of time, as his watch was taken on arrival and there was no clock out here. He just stretched out on the bench and watched the stars, thought of home and his loved ones. Thought about applying for university - or not applying, he was still undecided about what he wanted to do with his life.
He must have fallen asleep - again! As the next thing, he was aware of, was Luca calling his name; well not his name - his nickname for him.
"Hey, brat," he called, shaking Ezra's arm, "wake up."
Ezra groaned, he sat up and swung his legs around so now he was sat on the bench and not lying on it. He rubbed his neck and arched his back, the hard wooden bench making his already aching body sore.
"Fuck, I fell asleep." He groused.
Luca said nothing, taking his place on the bench in silence, hoping Ezra did not arch his body like that again, or groan like he did when he woke - because it was delicious.
"What time is it?" He sleepily asked.
"Just after 1 am," came the reply, as he stared straight ahead.
"Fuck," Ezra cussed, "my body clock is all out of sync and I'm just making things worse." He complained.
Luca said nothing to that.
Ezra rolled his shoulders, tilted his head to one side as he stretched his neck - releasing a small grunt at the pain he felt from sleeping at an awkward angle.
"Must you grunt like a pig all the time," Luca rebuked.
Ezra ignored him, he was clearly in a bad mood.
Luca could just about manage to remain in the role of Captain, to deliver punishment and reprimand Ezra, but the fucker was making it difficult. Every moment spent around him, Luca knew he took a step closer to crossing the line.
Since he woke him up he'd been omitting all kinds of moans and groans - they sounded quite sexual. His rampant moans and groans had him wanting to make Ezra moan and groan in a sex-related way.
Not sure how to deal with the situation, he had done what he does best, responding by saying something scathing.
"Sorry," Ezra grumbled.
"Where's your plant?" Luca asked.
Ezra turned to glower at him, "You're such a dick, and no one likes a dick."
"I'd like a dick," Luca remarked off handily - his face emotionless. Clearly meaning it as an insinuation.
Ezra's mouth hung open comically, "Did you just..." the question unfinished, the shock causing him to leave his question incomplete.
Luca turned his head fractionally, regarding Ezra, "I did." He confirmed eyeing him sideways.
Ezra turned to look forward, then turned to face Luca, and then facing out again once more, unsure where to look, "Well I'll be damned." He finally declared.
Ezra knew Luca seemed the type to not hold back. To just speak whatever was on his mind, no matter how vulgar, insulting or offensive. But, he never thought Luca would be so casual and frank talking about his sexuality.
After a long silence. A silence that was not as comfortable as their previous silences, Luca spoke once more, asking as he moved to lean back on the bench, crossing his legs, "Does that make you uncomfortable?"
He usually could not give a single fuck what people thought of him, or what they thought of his prefEzraces. Ezra's opinion mattered for some reason.
Ezra was leaning forwards, elbows resting on his knees and head in his hands. Upon hearing Luca's question he straightened up and swivelled around to face Luca, "No! Of course not." He cried indignantly.
Luca remained silent.
"Why would I be uncomfortable?" He asked riled up at the suggestion that Luca thought he was the type of person to be homophobic. It would be hypocritical of him after all.
"Calm down," Luca's deep voice ordered, "I simply meant that seeing as I am your Captain, you may feel uncomfortable with me sharing that with you."
Ezra brows unfurrowed, "Hmmm, not really. It's as if, during the day we take the roles of Captain and wayward teen at a boot camp, and during these...these random encounters, we...we just drop the bullshit." Ezra tried to explain, not sure how to express what he was thinking.
"Anything that transpires during our time out here, alone together is separate. Fuck, I don't know." Ezra huffed in annoyance.
Luca's brain had fixated on the part where Ezra had said 'anything' - his imagination running wild, thinking about all the possibilities. What he could say, or do, to Ezra during the free for all time - to have it separate from his daily job - to not mix work and pleasure, even though, Luca was certain Ezra was not referring to pleasure. He could not help but jump to such extremes.
"The next time your mind goes blank, do me a favour - turn off the sound." Luca quipped.
Ezra moved his leg, so his knee knocked into Luca's, "Such a jerk." However, he was smiling, apparently amused.
Ezra continued on to say, "You should do some soul searching, maybe you'd find one."
Luca laughed before he could stop himself. A quick burst of laughter - but a laugh none the less.
Ezra was grinning like a fool now, "Shit...I actually made you laugh." He blurted excitedly.
Luca's face was back to being impassive, "A fluke I assure you."
"Who knew a soulless person was capable of laughing?" Ezra taunted playfully.
"Don't push your luck, brat." He warned, in his usual tone but less of a bite to it.
When Luca first called him 'brat' it was clearly meant as an insult. He obviously thought Ezra was an ill-mannered and badly behaved idiot. Now, whenever he called him a brat, it had almost lost its original intention to ridicule, was said more as a term of endearment - not like either would admit to that.
Ezra yawned, "I better go get some sleep, in an actual bed. I have to make sure I drag my arse out of bed tomorrow - I wouldn't want to push my luck." He joked, knowing if he failed to get up during wake up call, he'd enrage Luca.
Ezra bode him goodnight.