Notes that this is a purely self-indulgent exercise in artsy, descriptive nonsense. Though I won't complain if you enjoy it. The title is more coincidental than anything else, but the story behind Beethoven's 28th piano sonata is surprisingly relevant to our boys (if you're interested in that sort of thing).
Warnings for the sex, though despite all appearances, that's not really the focus here.
Disclaimer in that this is based on the actor portrayals in the TV mini-series "Band of Brothers" and is in no way meant to disrespect or besmirch the names of those who served their country so admirably.


o0o

Nixon fucks like a Beethoven concerto.

Dramatic sweeps, no pauses, barreling into the rapture and then - holding. Trembling at the measures of concentrated rest. A breath. The ageless wait and its own dizzy ecstasy -

He takes a moment to fall forward and nibble at his lover's chin. Finding her lips again on an inhale, her hot, heavy breath shudders into his open mouth and sighs past the wet slide of his tongue behind her teeth. It's slippery like the way her cunt is slippery around his cock, and when she squeezes down the effect is the same - he moans, a low jesus fuck trailing into low laughter, and draws himself up onto his elbows, just enough to slip that little bit deeper.

And he rocks in crescendic builds, the squealing bedspring brass and her own reedy woodwind rising in tandem. Maestro, conductor, goddamn musical discovery - her body is an instrument and his hands are those of the master. He skates the dusk-pink flush of her nipple with an artist's touch; that rough-gentle touch that shakes with the passion, focus, sole-minded singularity of one who has entirely devoted himself to his art and whose art has devoted itself entirely to him.

Nixon is an artist.

Starving artist, perhaps. Drunk, drugged, but half-mad with what this art has done to him. Enraptured by it, consumed. In these moments awakening, the cold genius - no, no, that's Purcell, and there's nothing cold in the way he tongues the lobe of her ear into his mouth.

But Beethoven, though - Nixon's all slow-burn, all amalgamated emotion written out in the intricacy of melody until it's lost inside it. Some bare and naked thing in the restraint. A loss among the monotones of hollow apathy, where he is deaf to the ecstasy because it's the only thing he remembers to hear. And the only thing felt is the constancy of rhythm, sweating out the tempo as it swells faster, faster, faster -

Nixon is an artist, and he fucks like the best of them.

Opening his eyes, he'll take in the sight of the creaky apartment and the mold that creeps up along its yellow walls. Huff a breath that's whiskey stale. Looking down, then, he'll see his own fist on his leaky cock and bite his lip as he speeds to the pounding of the headache that's chasing his hangover, the hangover that's chasing the high, the high that was chasing some fucking crazy idea of a Nixon that isn't him. Maybe that Nixon fired a damn good shot, maybe that Nixon made love to a woman, a woman who was his wife; maybe that Nixon was an artist.

Crazy.

They all go there, in the end. Artists and washouts alike, even Beethoven. Might as well pretend while they've still got time - crazy bastard was deaf and dying and he went on writing music he couldn't even comprehend till the sorry day he died. The decomposition. The thought makes him smile.

Nixon's sure as hell just as lost. Not all the maps of war could bring him home.

Pity, pity - too late.

He shuts his eyes.

There, he twists his fingers in the splayed hair of a woman who hasn't left him yet and loses himself in the strings.

o0o

Dick makes love like he makes war.

He's nervous when he tugs at her zip and it gives; nervous at the open expanse of her shoulders and spine, pale and hillocked as the cliffs of Dover, unfolding before his eyes. She is foreign territory and the odd rise and fall of her fluted scapulae beckons for exploration.

Yes, he is nervous, but it is what must be done and so he does. And more - he feels called to press himself to the arc of her vertebrae, to find the hidden places between her ribs, to settle into the pendulum sway of her hips. She, a propaganda that incites the signing of his name along her belly. She moans - low, sweet - and he feels called.

Where they land soft along her clavicle, his fingers are certain and strong. They skim her thighs, dip into her shaking navel - he charts the topography of undressed stretch. He assesses with his mouth, his hands, with his eyes. Every move is a concerted strike that leaves her shaking in the aftermath, and every move is part of one sure, collected strategy. He decimates with a well-timed word or the organized kiss, and when she screams it is the lovely cry of a survivor.

"Harder," she commands, and - the soldier - Winters obeys.

He belongs here, in the thudding of her heart against her breast where it rails against his own, untimid and loud. If he were to press his ear to the swinging flesh, it would sound like the spray of artillery fire over the smoke-laden meadows and polluted streams of England. He tongues the uncertain terrain to her throat, where her pulse is louder and growing fast. The skin flushes clean, silky with blood that scatters to the surface like he drew it out. And in awe, in love, he watches her surrender before the white pulse of his own obliterates anything beyond the surge of victory.

Is there passion? Is there adulation? To do what must be done - is that the same as to love it, this messy conglomeration of two graceless bodies? From a call to gather her in his arms to the mission it becomes, chasing a goal predestined of which he himself was never made aware until it was thrust upon him, to the explosions and sticky, tense aftermath - is it love?

Must it be? Or -

They claim it isn't. One by one, drawing further toward the cold corners of the sheets until they slip away entirely. They say he is the one who makes it so cold - he has no fire. He's the kind of person who wants to please, and the kind of person other people want to please, but somehow those interests never quite intersect for long. One cannot always be giving, they say - there must be a taking, or all that's given will be gone. And oh, yes, he's sweet, but his sweetness is too quiet, his love-making too lost.

The quiet and lost Dick Winters. When they leave he is all those things, because he doesn't have the words to ask.

- do some things go more deeply?

If one could see, really see, how deftly he excels - yes.

This sex, this war, they are each unknown and the reasons for that are the same, entombed upon their private beds and battlefields for only the dark and night to understand. Inexpressible but for the reverence he pays to swollen lips. A shared sigh that echoes like the reveille at dawn - this is how he fights, and how he loves.

o0o

The third movement:

The conductor raises his head; raises his glacial eyes. A breathless wait. Anticipation is the flavor on his lips; it is swallowed when he finally leans in - swallowed whole - and it begins. Every second of dissonance resolves into the moment of relief. The etude become rubato, in the way that thin mouth softens and a sharp nose grazes so gently past his own; in the shaking way his hand comes up and revels in days old stubble along the side of a neck and the staccato of the beat beneath. Skin quivers in the urgent sound of drums, feverish hands conduct him down, the piece ignites.

The drop:

They are paratroopers. He feels the floor give way under his feet and the sickening, gorgeous sensation of release. Boundless, unfettered, the sky reaches for him and he reaches back feet first. They are paratroopers and they know what it is to fall. To fly. In taking the plunge his shaking hands come up and scratch at stubble-rough skin, feeling the adrenaline rush of a surging heart at war. It echoes inside him, inside them both, and he has no choice but to lean in and answer the call. As a leader, he finds it easy to direct them down, down, down again. And when they finally hit the ground, the battle has already been won.

o0o

Lew teaches him the art of war. To feel the pain of watching a grown man cry as much as to feel the joy of hearing his weapon click smoothly into place; ruthless satisfaction in seeing the enemy fall and fail to ascend. There's a majesty to the careful arrangement of an assault. There's a beauty in map canvasses unfurling across a table with etchings that divine the way to victory. There is a subtlety in the burning way he touches, a simple and incessant whisper of I am alive and so are you. His dry laughter, his enthusiasm, his struggle, something in the way Nix sees him that doesn't feel exposed or protected - it just is. Dick knows how to feel, and Lew knows it, too - Lew just makes him unafraid to do so.

And so in turn, Dick teaches him the war of art, because it's never easy. Haunted eyes at watching those same grown men die will glimmer up at him in the dark and Dick will have no choice but to tell him to hang tough. When the alcohol is gone, when the boys are spilling red guts all over the white snow; yes, then, he teaches. Even when they make love, the heavy pain of secrecy stuffed into dark alleys and far-off foxholes is a burden they shoulder like any of their rifles or packs. In the quiet aftermath, precious minutes, Dick draws out his pain with steady fingertips - pain at the terrifying beauty of a world being ripped to shreds, pain at lost souls and bullet holes that somehow belong and are right.

Above all, they teach what it means to be at the heart of war:

He feels the shaking of an earth under fire in the moments before he comes.

He feels the music of their sex in the vibration of his bones.