The shots laid out in yesterday's Bild tell the story. A team of
coppers in riot gear, automatic weapons poised for action. A knock at
the door. A forced entry. An empty flat. A solemn-looking police
chief vowing to track the young terrorists down and bring them to
Peter takes a drag on his cigarette and folds the paper against his
chest. Fooling the police is the only thing that's gone right in this
whole half-arsed scheme of theirs. It'll have to be good enough for
He pushes the bedsheet down to his waist. It's not even ten in the
morning, but the Barcelona sun is already heating the hotel room well
beyond a bearable level. Of course, it doesn't help that there are
three of them squeezed into a double bed.
Next to him, Jule wriggles beneath the sticky sheet and makes a
halfhearted attempt at pushing it off her. Peter traces the outline of
her leg with his eyes, up to the curve of her arse. It's that arse that
first caught his eye back in the bar where they first met. She'd come
in with a couple of blokes from her anti-sweatshop group, and she'd only
given Peter the finger in response to his cheeky one-liners. But she
was back the following weekend, and Peter got to cup his hand around
that very arse while she moaned into his neck.
He reaches across to her hip, tracing circles around it. Her skin is
soft through the cotton sheet. She purrs lightly under his
Except Jan's awake now, too, and his eyes are glued to the motion of
Peter's hand. Peter's eyes narrow as they collide with Jan's. Peter's
hand jerks back, balling into a fist at his chest.
Jan's face flushes. His head dips, his shoulders hunched. It's not an
apology, but it echoes the one he's already made a dozen times. I'm
sorry. It just happened. I'm so sorry.
Peter lets out a slow breath through pinched lips. It happened—Jan
and Jule slept together. Peter's already had his night of running off
and acting like a drunken cunt. If the three of them can't get past
this now, they never will.
Peter picks up the paper again, and the sweat of his hand sucks up the
grey ink of the newsprint like a sponge. He rubs at it with a thumb.
"We're gonna have to pick up today's paper, see what the coppers are up
to back home. Now that they know we're gone, we've got to make sure we
stay one step ahead of 'em."
Jule opens one eye. "What are you doing with a Bild, anyway?" she
says in a voice still thick with sleep. She shoots Peter a teasing
smile. "Bourgeois pig."
"Piss off," Peter says automatically, but he slides in closer next to
her under the covers.
Jule spreads out flat on the bed, her arms stretched long like a cat's.
"Would you rather read the FAZ, Mr Fat Cat, sir?" she teases. "I
think you can pick up a copy at that newsagent's over in El
Peter leans in and plants a kiss at the edge of her mouth, his eyes
still on Jan. Jan's watching them both, his eyes intent, almost
questioning. And then Peter sees it: Jan's hand, beneath the covers, on
It's less weird than it should be. Probably because he's already seen
each of them a dozen times with an arm slung across the other's waist.
But no, this is different. Not possessive, exactly, but a little too
comfortable. When Jule looks up at him, her eyes are glinting with a
familiar mischievous look. Peter swallows. There's a burning in the
base of his stomach.
Jan's jaw is set in a line, and there's a little mole on the edge of it
that Peter's never noticed. He's waiting for Peter to react. He's
staring. Peter's not sure whether it's a challenge or an
Fuck it. What the hell.
Peter takes one last drag on his cigarette, extinguishes it against the
newspaper, and sets the paper down on the nightstand. With one eye
still on Jan, he leans in again toward Jule. When their mouths meet,
she kisses Peter back, and it's long and intense. A fire catches in
him. She's always had trouble letting go, but when she does, there's no
stopping her. Her tongue reaches for his as the rest of her body slides
toward him under the sheet. Her skin is slick and inviting, and his
pulse leaps in response.
There's a drumming in his stomach, and he moves a hand down along Jule's
thigh. Jan's watching them, his eyes dark and beads of sweat forming on
his forehead. And then suddenly he's no longer just watching. His
hands reach around to Jule's stomach, travel up to her chest. A breath
catches in her throat, one that Peter can feel in his own mouth as he's
kissing her. A shiver shoots straight down to his cock. He's already
full-on hard. Harder than he's been since he can remember.
Jan tugs Jule's T-shirt up over her head. He's got his fingers on one
of her nipples, and Peter takes the other one into his mouth. Jule
gasps, her back arching, her head pressed against on the pillow. Jan's
face is flushed red, and he's shaking. And then he's moving his head
down between her legs, and he's peeling back her knickers, tasting her.
Jule's eyes roll back, and Peter kisses her, long and deep. She moans
into his mouth, clinging to him. She's responding to both of them, both
of them at once. Peter's toes curl.
When she finally comes, Peter's got his fingers on her nipples and his
lips on her stomach. Her muscles tighten beneath his mouth as she cries
out, and then they release. Jan pulls back from her, panting.
Peter can feel Jan's breath against his cheek, their gasps coming in
unison. He's right there. He's right—
Their eyes lock.
And then Jan leans in toward him, and he's kissing Peter like it's the
most normal thing in the world.
The rest is a tangle of limbs and tongues and fingers. Peter's leaning
against Jule when Jan's fist wraps around Peter's cock. Peter tries to
pull back, but it's so—with the rough texture of Jan's hand and
Jule's tongue tracing a path from his earlobe to his nipple and the
pulling in his balls—and he can't even think about stopping.
Jan's head tucks into Peter's armpit, and it's—but Peter can't
help but tense beneath him. He gives himself over to the cascade of
sensations. And now Jan's face is pressed against Peter's chest, his
hand tightening around Peter's—God.
Peter grabs hold of Jule's shoulder. It's soft and sweaty, and he
buries his face in it. His breath is coming in gasps, faster and faster
against her skin. He comes fiercely, with a loud moan he can't hold
It's quiet. Peter's brain is a haze of dull-edged sensations, and for a
moment he almost lets sleep take him. Then he hears Jan suck in a
breath, and Peter opens his eyes.
The sheet is pulled back, and Jan's lying there, his boxers gathered at
his waist and his eyes pressed shut. Jule's got her fingers around his
cock, but it's pointing straight at Peter. It's big and red
Jule kisses Jan's neck. He groans. A nerve pricks in Peter's chest,
and his jaw clenches.
He can't do this.
Peter jerks back, away from them. He sits up. He reaches across to the
chair for his jeans.
"What's the matter?" Jule.
Peter's hands curl into fists, one around the edge of his bed, one
around his jeans. The tightness in his jaw shoots straight down his
neck, and he holds his hands up in front of him. "Okay, no. We're
"Hey," Jule says, her voice gentle. Her hand is on Peter's back. Or
maybe it's not her hand.
He stands, sucking in a breath. He pulls his jeans on, fastens his
belt, reaches for yesterday's T-shirt. "Yeah, this—" He looks down
at them. They're both staring up at him, like he's the one who's being
unreasonable. "This is too fucked up."
"It's okay," Jule says. She reaches for him again, tucking a finger
around his belt.
Peter pulls away, stumbling a step backward. "Just—you know what?
Whatever this was, just count me out." He pulls the T-shirt over his
head and steps into his sandals.
Jan's sitting up now, and he's got that kicked-puppy look on his face.
Peter sucks hollows into his cheeks and takes a step toward him, and Jan
shrinks back. He looks just like he did that day in the cabin, when
Peter found out about the two of them.
Peter wanted to hit him then, and he feels the same way now.
"Tell me one thing, man." Peter's eyes bore into Jan's, and Jan's gaze
drops to the bedsheets. "Why the fuck is it that whenever we've
finally got a good thing going, you have to go and make
everything a thousand times more complicated?"
And then the doorknob is in Peter's hand, and he's running. He tears
down the hall, down the stairs, and out the front door of the hotel and
into the busy street. The sun beats down on his neck with the force of
a hundred summers, but he keeps running, past kids skating down the
promenade, past tourists kissing at the edge of La
He stops to catch a breath in front of a beach café, stooped and
panting, his hands on his knees. He stumbles down the steps to the
concrete and stops at the bar. More than anything, he needs a drink.
He needs a couple dozen. He reaches for his wallet.
It's not in his jeans.
Peter swears under his breath and turns away from the bar, grabbing a
chair from one of the unoccupied tables. He parks it by the metal
railing overlooking the beach. The bartender shoots him a suspicious
look, but leaves him alone. For six cigarettes, Peter stares out at the
waves, trying not to think about what happens next. After he's smoked
the last one, he just keeps staring.
It's Jan that Peter sees first. His hair is even messier than usual,
but Peter would recognize those hunched shoulders anywhere. He's
walking along the water's edge, a hand curved over his eyes to shield
them from the sun as he scans the crowd. When he spots Peter, he stops,
and for a long moment, just watches him. Then he calls out to Jule, and
then they're both walking up the steps from the beach.
Peter sucks in his cheeks. He grabs his chair and turns it around, his
back to the ocean. He's thirsty, and so goddamned tired.
Their footsteps shuffle as they approach. Peter tries not to look up,
but then he can't stand it anymore. Jule's face is blank as she brushes
the hair out of her eyes. Jan files in next to her and lights a
cigarette. The kicked-puppy look is gone from his face now, and he just
looks calm. They're watching him. A united front.
Well, screw them both.
Anger flares in Peter's chest again. He stands, wrapping tight fists
around the railing. Jan slides in next to him, digs in his pocket, and
holds out a cigarette.
Peter wants to take it. He shrugs.
Jan lights it on the end of his own and holds it out to Peter. Peter
glares at him, but he takes it. What are they doing here, anyway?
"Can't make it without me, eh?"
It's meant to sound flippant, but really, that's just it. They're so
sure that no matter what they do, Peter will always be right there.
Peter hunches over the railing. There's nobody who could say he hasn't
been there for them, way the fuck beyond the call of duty. They haven't
exactly paid him back.
"I guess you still need me to pull your arses out of the fire," he
growls. "Well fuck you. Fuck you both very much."
Jule's forehead creases, and she looks up at Jan. But he's just
standing there, watching Peter. Like Peter's a pot that just needs to
blow off some steam and then everything will be back to normal.
Peter leans in toward Jan. "You know where you two'd have been without
me? You'd be fucking locked up!"
Jan's eyes are level. He doesn't flinch.
"On the run from the coppers? Just call Peter. Need somebody to drive
into the village and do the shopping? Come up with a story for the
forest ranger? Chop the wood for the stove? Peter's your man!"
They're still staring, and it's enough to send Peter over the edge. He
turns away from them and lets out a roar that echoes over the water. "I
even did your fucking cooking!" he yells.
A kid looks up at him from the beach with wide eyes, and he drops his
shovel against the sand. A hairy bloke wraps a towel around the kid's
shoulders and pulls him away, glaring at Peter.
There's a muffled giggle, and Peter looks back at Jan and Jule. Jan's
mouth is curled into a smile, and Jule looks like she's trying to
suppress a laugh.
"The cooking?" Jan's voice is incredulous.
Jule shakes her head. "That's what you've got yourself all worked up
about? That we made you cook?"
A smirk darts across Jan's mouth. "And here I was assuming it had
something to do with the sex." Jule snorts and covers up her mouth with
Peter pushes out an angry sigh and pulls away from them. But then Jan's
mouth straightens again, and his eyes are wide and serious. He puts out
his cigarette, his eyes fixed on Peter's.
He slides closer to Peter. "Thanks, man."
It catches Peter off-guard. He starts.
"Because you're right." Jan shrugs. His tone is level, like he's
telling Peter the earth is round. "If you hadn't shown up, the police
would've been there five minutes later, found Hardenberg tied up, and
the game would have been up right there. I panicked. I mean, I
hit him, for God's sake. But you thought fast, and you got us
out of there. Jule and me, we'd have been fucking nowhere without
The words hang in the air between them. Peter's heart speeds up.
Jan slides a hand toward him. His eyes are boring straight into
Peter's. "Thank you."
Peter's eyes flick down to Jan's hand, but he doesn't touch it. And
then Jule's arm is looped through his, through both of theirs. She
gives Peter a shy little half-smile. "Thank you," she repeats.
A tall, muscled bloke down on the beach shoots them a look. He smirks,
and gives them a thumbs-up. There's a flutter in Peter's stomach, and
he wriggles loose from Jule's arm.
"You're wrong about one thing, you know." Jan shakes his head. "There's
nothing complicated about this."
Peter's nostrils flare. "Fuck, no, it's not complicated. It's totally
fucking simple. We're wanted for kidnapping. We can't ever go back to
Berlin. The money we've got is enough to live on for another couple of
months at this rate, tops, so we're gonna have to get jobs, and you two
don't even speak any fucking Spanish and—"
"Okay, that's—that's a—" Jan holds up a hand. "Okay, that
part's a little complicated. But this?" His finger traces a circle in
the air between the three of them. He shakes his head, slowly.
Peter's mind flashes back to their hotel room, Jan nestled in Jule's
arms but turned toward Peter, his face red and breathless with arousal.
A pulse of rage surges again in Peter's stomach. "There is no
this. Because I'm not doing this." He turns back toward
the water. He puts his cigarette out against the railing and flicks it
off the edge.
"Don't you think that's just what the people like Hardenberg would
want—to split us up?"
Peter wraps a fist around the railing. A memory flashes across his
mind. Jan's innocent question about how long it would take to disable
an alarm system. The plan they worked out together. The look of
excitement on Jan's face when he talked about how they would whittle
away at the other half's tower of security and give them a taste of
fear. For the first time, Peter felt like a part of something bigger
than his lousy little life.
A wave crashes onto the sand and then slowly retreats into the ocean.
Peter looks down at his fists on the railing. They're white. Slowly,
he loosens his grip.
"Because we can do that, man," Jan continues. "It's totally up to us.
We can still pull back, give in to the fear of the unknown and go our
separate ways. We can still do that."
Jan's voice is low, mesmerizing. Peter presses his eyes shut. Another
wave hits the sand. From somewhere far away, a child shrieks with
delight and lets out a peal of laughter.
"Or, right now, we can look each other straight in the eyes and say:
enough. We're not going to let them break us this time. This time
we're going to take this—this energy between us and we're not
going to waste it on a couple of rich bastards in Zehlendorf and
their gaudy villas. We're going to aim it at the capitalist
dictatorship that's fuelling the whole fucking system. At the
exploiters, at the brainwashers, at the polluters. We're going to go
straight for the core of all the things that are rotting western society
from within, and we're going to shock them all to kingdom come."
Peter's heart jumps. He looks at Jan. His eyes are dark and wide, like
you could fall into them. Peter looks back at the sea.
"Between the three of us, Peter? We can do anything. Anything."
"Every human heart is a revolutionary cell." Jule's voice is full of
hope, and it melts Peter just a little. He draws in a breath of salt
air and lets it trickle back out.
Jule reaches over and wraps her hand around Peter's, drawing it to her
chest. Her skin is moist with sweat, but the pressure is strong and
steady. She reaches for Jan with her other hand, and their fingers
intertwine like two pieces of a puzzle.
There's a twinge in Peter's chest, and he tries to pull back, but Jule
hangs on to him. Shaking, Jan pushes their two hands over to Peter,
sandwiching Peter's hand against Jule's chest. Through his fingertips,
Peter can feel her heart thumping in time with Peter's own. His gaze
slides around Jan's face as if trying to catch hold of an anchor. Then
he finds Jan's eyes.
And then they're leaning in toward each other, their foreheads pressed
together. Jule's breath is gentle against Peter's neck, and the stubble
of Jan's face feels strange, but it still belongs there, somehow.
They're three points of a triangle, three legs of a tripod. Peter
squeezes his eyes shut and for a long moment, he just lets them hold him
When they pull back, Jule is crying, and Peter wipes at one of her tears
with his thumb. Jan fishes in his pocket for another cigarette with one
hand, but the other is still resting firmly on Peter's.
"I was just thinking about what Hardenberg was saying," Jule says, her
voice light and clear as the ocean breeze. "You know, about free
Hardenberg. Police with automatic weapons, aimed straight at their
flat. Peter's cheeks hollow. "Hardenberg can go fuck himself."
Jule shakes her head. "He's a cunt. But maybe he was right about that
"Nah." Peter grabs Jan's cigarette and takes a drag on it. "Love isn't
free. People just think that 'cause it's something you can't buy."
"Hey." Jan's hand tightens around Peter's fingers. "When I said we
could do anything as long as we did it together—do you believe
that? I need to know you believe that."
That's the funny thing—Peter actually does. He's known Jan for
fifteen years. Long enough to know that when Jan's this sure about
something, there's no sense in denying its power.
Peter chews on the inside of his cheek. He swallows. He nods.
"Because I've got a plan. It's the biggest one I've ever had. And
we're the only ones who can do it."
There's a fire in his eyes. It's contagious, and Peter leans closer,
With a start, Peter realizes that it's always been like that. Jan's
always been able to pull Peter in. Maybe this—whatever it
is—has always been there between them, buried underneath a
mountain of bravado and teenage insecurities. Maybe it just took Jule to
Maybe it doesn't even matter. Peter looks from Jan to Jule. She's
Jan steps back. He pulls something out of the back pocket of his shorts
and unfolds it against the surface of the closest table. He sits down,
his shoulders tight with determination. Peter exchanges a glance with
Jule, and then they follow.
It's a map—a nautical map. Paper-clipped in the corner is the
picture of the Astra satellites that Jan showed them back in Austria.
The satellites that supply all of Europe with a television signal. Cut
the lines, and every TV set on the continent goes dark.
"Remember this?" Jan asks, pointing at the picture.
Peter remembers. He's seen the map once, too, back in their flat in
Berlin, spread out across the desk in Jan's room. There's a trembling
all over Peter's body, and suddenly he knows just what Jan's going to
suggest. He sits down next to him. Jule joins them.
"Well." Jan's voice is breathless. He points out at the sea. "It's
twenty kilometres off that coast."