Noelia (noelia_g) wrote,
Noelia
noelia_g

Fic: Hold your breath and count to ten (Brad/Nate)

Title: Hold your breath and count to ten
Fandom: Generation Kill
Characters/Pairings: Nate/Brad
Wordcount: 4940
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Based on fictionalised portrayals as seen on the HBO miniseries.
A/N: A very loosely interpreted Skyfall AU, with Brad as 007 and Nate as Q. Inspired by the combat_jack Good Cookies post prompt here. Definitely more fluffy than I thought it'd turn out. Also, it's been far too long since my last GK fic and I wanted to finish the year on a happy note. This goes to kubis in lieu of her Christmas present fic, which is still unfinished. Sorry and love me anyway?


The headquarters are still a mess of debris, everything covered with a thick layer of plaster. Brad expected a construction crew to be in already, but the place is more or less deserted. They probably hadn’t yet decided if it’s even worth rebuilding.

Brad’s vote goes to abandoning it to fucking rats, but no one really asked him.

The whole operation is currently running on skeleton crew, partly because no one had time to replace all the dead agents, and partly because even those who survived found it rather difficult to work after their workstations and equipment has been blown to pieces.

Ferrando is there, holding down fort and fielding phonecalls in M’s office. Well, his office now, Brad supposes.

Brad nods at him and gets a nod in return, but otherwise he gives Ferrando a wide berth. It’s a policy he intends to continue for the next few days, maybe weeks, considering he is singlehandedly responsible for at least two of those heaps of paperwork on the man’s desk.

Paperless office his ass.

He’s not needed here, to be honest; if he’s ever involved in a clean-up, it’s a clean-up of a different kind, but for one, he still doesn’t have an apartment, as his old one was sold after his death.

And for the other, he’s still restless, waiting for the other shoe to drop. He’s too much of a paranoid fucker for that, but it served him well so far, so he’s not quite willing to give it up.

“You know, I think you looked better when you were dead,” Q says, looking up from the keyboard. He’s standing at the heart of a make-shift tech centre; there’s no tables yet, but the screens are up and the servers are running, in the only spot of activity in the otherwise deserted hq.

“How would you even know?” he asks and Q shrugs.

“They’ve circulated your photo and epitaph. Dress blues and high praises, very maudlin,” he adds flatly and Brad finds himself smiling, unable to stop the upward pull at the corner of his mouth.

This, he realises, is why he chose to come to the hq. Truth be told, he should be sleeping it off, in a hotel room for lack of an apartment, or if he’s to be realistic, in a hospital bed. Instead he’s dragged himself into this wreck of a place, because he’s met this guy for five minutes and he listened to his voice for five hours and that probably was the only thing that kept him sane, and then got him where he needed to go, and saved him at least twice, maybe more and maybe in a couple of ways.

“Seriously though, you look like shit, go home.”

“You were much nicer when I was dying,” Brad tells him and gets a shrug in return. Fair enough. “I wanted to say thanks,” he says, and fuck, he’s not used to this, to being beholden in some way, any way. This is why he works alone. “For everything, you know.”

“All in the day’s work,” he gets in response, though he’s pretty sure he sees the beginnings of a smile. “Just fuck, try not to do this again anytime soon,” Q adds.

“None of this was actually my fault,” Brad complains. “Well, maybe the thing in Beijing,” he allows. “But Spain, DC, and Montana, that’s all on them.”

“Yes, I’ve been assured of this,” he says, and it’s clear he thinks Brad is full of shit. Fine, maybe some of the Spanish clusterfuck was initiated by Brad, but that part has actually worked out in their favour, doesn’t he get some credit for that?

He’s not sure why he needs Q to know that, why he needs some sort of acknowledgement from this man he doesn’t even know at all. He never needed assurances, not from M, not from Ferrando. But after that disastrous first impression, and was that really only two days ago? After that he spent hours listening to Q’s voice in his head and yeah, here he is, wanting... something.

Anything.

Something on the screen pings and Q looks down, typing in a string of commands and that’s probably Brad’s cue to turn and leave. While he’s still clinging to some sanity and dignity.

“Q,” he says and starts turning, but the sighs stops him, quiet and almost inaudible, but there.

“Nate,” Q says, and Brad knows he’s looked up from the keyboard again before he even turns to look at him again, he can feel the gaze tickling the back of his head.

It takes him a second or two before he speaks. “That’s what I get? Holding off the siege for five hours, near death experience, not to mention saving this whole organisation, and I get your name?”

“You already have my number,” Nate shrugs.

“Office extension doesn’t count,” he points out flatly. Nate looks at him for a long moment and yeah, that’s definitely a smile he’s holding back, his mouth twitching.

“Fine,” he says finally and picks up his jacket. “Mike, you alright with holding down fort for the rest of the evening?” he asks the guy two computers away and gets a nod in return, the man not even looking up.

“Should go faster without you both distracting me,” he says and Nate rolls his eyes but holds his tongue, clearly thinking better of whatever he was going to say. Mike’s remark has been pointed and long-suffering, and it doesn’t have the cadence of an inside joke, but is clearly referring to something, like it’s been discussed before.

Frankly, Brad is offended. He just got here.

Which reminds him. “Where are we going?” he asks, doing a fairly good job of pretending it matters, even though he’s already falling into step with Nate.

“You’re buying me coffee.”

“When did that turn into me buying you coffee?”

“Around the time I saved your life twice and you contributed to the explosion that took out the only decent coffee machine in this place,” Nate says flatly, dryly, and Brad can’t believe he went through those five minutes hating the guy and thinking he was full of shit.

Well, he is, and a bit of an asshole too, but Brad thinks he’ll enjoy that.

“Fair enough,” he mutters as they walk out and into the busy street.

*

Nate is still tearing him a new one over the comms when Brad reaches the headquarters. The bitching has been going on for the past twenty minutes or so, getting more elaborate and creative as the time passed and it became rather certain that Brad was in the clear.

He’s half-tuned it out after the first seven minutes, but hadn’t switched the comm off because... well, it’s kind of comforting, to be honest.

And occasionally hilarious.

“I’ll put in a request for a new brain for you,” Nate is saying now, his tone perfectly pleasant, like they’re discussing weather. Brad hears typing in the background, fast and steady, and that level of multitasking is actually impressive. “I’m pretty sure the one you have is defective, probably an unfortunate effect of being hit in the head a lot.”

“Not that much. I mean, I had more bullet wounds than concussions,” Brad says absently and has the satisfaction of a full five seconds of heavy silence from the other end.

“Your tone indicates you think this is somehow better,” Nate tells him flatly. “I’d like to inform you, Brad, that it is really not.”

“Agree to disagree?” he tries and smiles at Nate’s unamused huff. “Alright, I’m in,” he says, reaching the tech department. Nate meets his gaze through the glass wall and rolls his eyes.

“Yeah, I knew as much.”

“Have you been looking at my GPS data? Stalking is unattractive, Nathaniel.”

“It’s not stalking if it’s part of my job description.”

“We all tell ourselves things to sleep better at night,” Brad agrees, walking in. Mike gives him a dark look from over his desk and leans back, crossing his arms. “Don’t say I’m a distraction, you’re obviously fucking around online,” Brad tells him.

“And now I’m taking a coffee break,” Mike says, gesturing at the girl two desks over. “Alishia, you look like you need a break as well.”

“Please, God, yes,” she says, standing up so fast her chair swivels and almost topples over. Mike gives them a pointed look as they walk out.

“Bad day?” Brad asks and Nate just looks at him for a long moment. “In my defence, it all turned out alright,” he adds, his tone taking on a defensive note he didn’t intend. The mission, if he can say so himself, has been a solid success. He went off grid for only twelve minutes, got all the data back, the bullet only grazed his neck, and while the damage to the car was irreversible and unfortunate, the thing was a rental, so who gives a fuck.

Well, their insurance carrier, maybe, but fuck that.

“Ferra... M, wants to see you,” Nate says, correcting faster than most people do. No one is quite used to that one yet.

“Tell him I’m not home. I’m out. Washing my hair.”

“I’m pretty sure he’s well aware where you are. Just go and try not to start with the “it turned out alright” conversational gambit when the mission created an international incident with two countries we weren’t on good terms to begin with.”

“You’re just pissed because you liked the car,” Brad guesses. If Nate’s look is any indication, he missed the ballpark and ended up three states over. “Fine, I’m going. I suppose I owe you a coffee later?”

Nate’s mouth works around the words he doesn’t let out, before he settles on the right response. “You have no idea how much you owe me for that stunt. But I’ll settle for dinner,” he says before glancing at his watch. It’s well into the small hours of the night, Brad knows, even though he doesn’t quite feel that, his body still in a different timezone. “Or breakfast, I guess.”

Brad holds the immediate remark, and then dismisses the next two he comes up with. “The cafe on the corner, half an hour.”

“If you think M is going to let you out within half an hour, you’re more insane than they say,” Nate mutters but nods. “I’m starting on the pancakes without you, if you don’t show up.”

“I’ve figured.”

*

“It’s my day off, go the fuck away.” Brad is used to Nate’s voice sounding crisp and clear over the expensive comms, and not the obscured by static sound of the door phone he’s getting now.

Despite his words and sullen tone, Nate buzzes him in, even before Brad starts saying “Let me in, or I’m standing here with my boombox for the whole night.”

“Don’t, my neighbours hate me as it is,” Nate mutters and disconnects. Brad heads up, shaking his head at the blatant lie; Nate’s next door neighbour is a charming old lady who swears more than Ray and bakes Nate cake for all major holidays, the girls right under his apartment are clearly a couple and yet still flirt with Nate like there’s no tomorrow, and the guy on the groundfloor hates everyone, so it’s nothing personal.

“Took you long enough, fuck,” Nate says, standing in the doors with his arms crossed before he steps aside to let Brad in. He’s clearly just woken up, Harvard sweatshirt over his pajamas, but he already started the coffee machine and goes on to rummage in the cupboard for Mrs. Hadley’s leftover cheesecake.

“The limey bastards didn’t want to let me go,” Brad shrugs.

“Because they liked you so much or because they wanted to arrest you?” Nate asks, his tone clearly indicating which option he considers more likely. It’s a little insulting.

If not entirely untrue. It’s been something of a joint operation but more by necessity than design, after he run into two of their agents in the field and apparently they had overlapping objectives and the Brits were trigger happy fuckers with propensity for violent property destruction... which was actually the good part about the whole thing. They actually got along like house on fire, or, in this case, three city blocks on fire, but the brass was less than amused, so everyone was hauled in for formal debriefing.

You could tell it was a debriefing and not an interrogation because Brad got tea and scones on fancy-ass china.

He caught the first available flight out and then got pulled into another round of let’s-talk-about-what-went-wrong-hint-everything with M, and wasn’t that fun. He needs sleep, he desperately needs a shower, and he needs something more substantial to eat then coffee and cheesecake, and all of those things (save for food, but he can order in) are to be found at his own place, closer to the hq than Nate’s.

And yet, here he is. And the thing is, few months back Nate would have called him on it, told him to go home and sleep it the fuck off, but now he just watches Brad inhale the cake and sighs before reaching for his phone. “Chinese alright with you?”

It’s not the best food the area has to offer, but it’s one that delivers quickly at this time of night, which Brad appreciates, because he’s actually fighting against falling asleep when they make their way to the couch in the living room. Nate must have put the tv on when Brad called, a background noise of a news channel that still circulates the grainy London footage of the chase caught on cellphones.

Brad can’t help glancing at it from time to time, when he’s not watching Nate to make sure he doesn’t steal all the eggrolls, as he is wont to do.

He keeps looking at the screen, and even though he’s been through countless debriefings to overanalyze everything about the mission, his brain keeps running over what he might have done differently. It’s a tough habit to break.

“Alright,” Nate says, switching the tv abruptly. “You clearly need rest, you look like shit.”

“You always say that, I could get a complex,” Brad says, then, when Nate doesn’t rise to the bait with anything else than a mild eyeroll, he shakes his head. “Where are your host manners, Nathaniel, you’re going to kick me out in the middle of the night? Rude?”

Nate doesn’t miss a beat. “Bedroom. Go, I’ll find you some clothes,” he adds, eyeing Brad’s crumpled suit.

Brad almost, almost says something about being easy, or not being easy... Or about Nate’s bed being big enough. Or about Nate making up for his insults by... he doesn’t say any of that. He doesn’t say any of that because it’s all too true and he’s too tired and too raw and too open right now to contemplate this.

He doesn’t say this, because this is an excellent moment to joke and he doesn’t at all want to joke about this.

“Wow, you’re really out of it,” Nate mutters when Brad doesn’t say anything, and places his hand on Brad’s back, pushing him lightly towards the bedroom. “Just go get some rest.”

Brad goes.

*

“Hey. Hey, Nate,” he says the moment Nate opens his eyes. He’s been drifting in and out of consciousness for the past few hours, he’s still on the good drugs, but getting more coherent every time he wakes up.

“Yeah?” Nate mutters, scrunching his face and closing his eyes against the hospital lights. Brad hates those too, and God knows he’s opened his eyes straight into them a few times too many.

“Next time people are shooting at you, duck,” he says brightly.

Nate doesn’t open his eyes, just puffs out a breath that could be a sigh or a snort. “Hey, Brad.”

“Yeah?”

“Fuck off,” he says pleasantly and shifts, sitting up a little, rubbing at his eyes before he risks opening them again.

“You know, I was pretty sure hospital visits were only a matter of time,” Brad muses, “but frankly, I thought the roles would be reversed.” And he’s not at all damn smug about it, except he fucking is. For all the times Nate told him off for being a careless moron who clearly enjoys jumping off cliffs and getting shot at, sometimes at the same time.

Often at the same time. I mean, there’s only a limited number of reasons to jump off a cliff, and being shot at is one of them.

It's kind of fun to be on the other end of this discussion for once, and he's gonna take out of it as much as he can get. Sure, he knows of Nate's Marine past, but the man leads the tech department now, for fuck's sake, he shouldn't be running around getting into gun fights.

"As much as your assumption is incredibly logical, I am actually a bit concerned you predicted and factored in hospital visits. Plural," Nate mutters.

"You talk too much for someone allegedly on heavy drugs," Brad says flatly. "I'll get the nurse in to adjust your dose," he adds, even though he has no intention of actually doing so. He leans back in his chair a little, stretching his legs, and doesn't expect Nate's hand closing around his wrist.

"No. Stay," Nate protests, the words clearly out before he can think better of them. Yeah, Brad takes back what he said about the drugs, Nate is clearly high on good ones.

"Wasn't going anywhere," he shrugs, his tone light and easy, before Nate has a chance to make light of his words himself. "I'm pretty sure M is waiting to debrief me, so I'm pretty good with hiding here for ever."

It sounds just about right.

*

"Jesus fuck, you are an idiot," Nate tells him. Brad's back hits the wall hard enough to hurt and then Nate's tongue is in his mouth, insistent and thorough.

As greetings go, this doesn't suck.

Well, yet, but Brad remains ever hopeful.

He thinks of sharing this particular insight with Nate, who usually appreciates the awful puns Brad comes up with, but that would mean having to stop kissing him, and he's not quite ready to do so.

Maybe not never and definitely not for a very long time yet.

Nate, however, clearly isn't in his right mind, because he pulls away. Brad is about to protest, the whole thing has been going on splendidly, since the moment Nate appeared on his doorstep, already taking his thick coat off, through the part where he unceremoniously invited himself in, to the point where he pushed Brad against the hallway wall and kissed him.

The insults in the middle were fine with Brad, if that was what he was getting with them. Or, at the very second, not getting, which is a problem.

So, he's about to protest but realizes Nate pulling away was just so he could drop his hands to Brad's belt and start working it open, which, yes, please, let's.

"Out of curiosity," Brad mutters, groaning when Nate's hand cups his dick. "Which got you here, the presumed death or the part where I made out with that Mossad agent?"

Nate chooses to ignore him, but not without a quiet snort, before kissing Brad again, letting Brad trace the line of Nate's jaw with his mouth, drop kisses down the side of his neck. Nate's fingers tangle in the front of Brad's shirt and Brad considers pinching himself because he's not quite sure this is real, that this is happening.

Ten minutes ago he was looking forward to a frozen pizza and a marathon of Stargate on SyFy, and now this is happening. He could be still drifting in that frozen lake in Ukraine, losing it completely.

Not a bad dream to clock out on, sure, but he'd rather it was reality.

"You're thinking too much, Brad," Nate mutters, and hey, pots and kettles, Brad doesn't say. "Except when you're not thinking at all, what the fuck was that shit in Poland? Damnit, you know better," he bitches, and the thing is, Brad is getting mixed signals, because as Nate's saying that, he's also tugging Brad's jeans down. Way to reinforce undesired behavior, really.

"The dying thing, then," Brad concludes. At Nate's look, he shrugs. "I'm just gathering data that'd get me more angry sex, seems to be working fine for me."

Nate sighs and pulls away a little again. Brad makes a noise of protest, because hey, this is the opposite of what he wanted.

He really should internalize when it is good to shut the fuck up.

"Do I look angry?" Nate asks, his tone insistent, forceful, like he needs Brad to understand something and Brad is being deliberately obtuse.

Brad is on the edge of apologizing and asking to get back to the task at hand, pun intended, thank you very much, but then he does look at Nate, really looks at him, and no, Nate doesn't look angry at all.

Instead, he looks almost eerily calm, as much as he can anyway considering his lips are pink and swollen and his skin is flushed, his hair a right mess. Brad pushes down on the immediate feeling of pleasure and smugness and forces himself to look further, take everything in. Nate's tired, exhausted even, the usual kind at the end of a long week, even by the standard of their line of work, defined by long days and weeks.

But yeah, he's calm alright. Peaceful, even. Right, somehow, like he figured something out, like he's where he needs to be and knows this will work out. Brad knows this feeling, gets it somehow on a mission, when he knows suddenly and with overwhelming clarity that he's going to win and the other fuckers are going to lose.

He never quite knew this kind of peace outside of a life and death situation, except there it is now, in Nate's face, in the close space between them, in their shared breaths and rushing pulse.

"I'm in love with you," he finds himself saying, and he hears his own voice from a distance, echoing in his ears with a tone of surprise, like the feeling caught him off guard and he can't quite figure out what to make of it.

Nate laughs then, a startled sound that manages to be warm and fond anyway. Brad smiles instinctively in response, but then rolls his eyes and glares when Nate doesn't stop laughing for a very long moment. He's mollified only because the laughter is followed by a soft, gentle kiss Nate places on his jaw, then in the corner of his mouth, before Brad groans and pulls him in for an actual kiss.

“Just let me--” Nate starts and Brad stops him, shaking his head. He can see it in Nate’s face anyway, feel it in the tightening of Nate’s fingers in his hair.

“No, you missed your moment,” Brad informs him. “It was a nice one, and you ruined it.”

“I’m sorry,” Nate nods, not sounding at all contrite. “How will I ever--” he mutters and Brad doesn’t give him a chance to finish but instead drags him towards the bedroom. It’s a good start

*

"So, what do you have for me? And please, please can it finally be an exploding pen?" Brad asks, sliding in to sit on Nate's desk, kicking Nate's ankle to get his attention.

"What is it with your obsession with phallic gadgets?" Nate asks flatly. It's really uncalled for. "You know what, don't tell me."

"Yes, please, don't tell us," Mike chimes in, not looking up from what looks to be weapon specs. "Jesus, I thought it would get better when you two started fucking, but it's so much worse."

Nate mutters something that sounds like an apology but which he clearly doesn't mean, judging by the smug look on his face. Brad just ignores Mike. He has it on a good authority their starting to fuck made Mike a fortune in the underground betting pool.

Nate clears his throat and switches to his 'reasonable and responsible' expression. Brad sighs and gives Mike a look for being a spoilsport. The conversation about phallic objects had such a potential. "So, what do I get?"

Nate goes over the equipment, which isn't really anything special, though the gun features could be useful. Then he glances at Mike and clears his throat again, suddenly nervous about something.

That in turn worries Brad, because Nate simply doesn't fucking do nervous. "And a moment of your time?" he adds, tilt of his head indicating the corner office he never even uses, except for storage of half cooked tech.

Mike is studiously pretending not to hear them, which is a pity, because Brad wanted someone to share his "I hope it's soundproofed" joke. He follows Nate in silence and tries not to panic when Nate carefully shuts the door.

“This is rather counterproductive, if you wanted me to cut down on the phallic objects jokes,” Brad offers, pushing some of the boxes to the side of the desk, enough so he can sit down on the edge of it. Nate gives him a look.

“I know a losing battle when I see one,” he nods and reaches into his pocket, fishing out a box. Brad blinks at him, panic in full swing now.

“Did I forget an anniversary of something?”

Nate shrugs. “Yes, but that was last month and I forgot as well, what with Bangkok.”

“Right, Bangkok. We’re both excused, then. Good talk,” Brad nods decisively. It doesn’t quite work. There’s something happening and his stomach turns, in that way that isn’t quite bad but still strange, and his palms are sweaty. And as he’s looking at Nate’s smile, he doesn’t quite want the moment to be over, except he does, because he’s flushing and uncomfortable.

Things like these didn’t used to happen to him, he’s sure.

“Here,” Nate says and tosses him the box. Brad welcomes the distraction, and the opportunity to look away and down as he flicks it open, revealing a pair of cufflinks.

“Do they shoot lasers, at least?” he asks, and Nate rolls his eyes, stepping closer, close enough to kick Brad’s ankle pointedly. Brad spreads his legs obligingly, allowing Nate to step in much closer. “You should have reminded me,” he says flatly, ashamed to have forgotten.

“This is not an anniversary present,” Nate mutters. “I figured you can get away with those in the field, the way you probably couldn’t with a ring.”

The way Brad’s stomach was twisting before was nothing, in hindsight. He feels like he’s been punched now.

In a good way.

Yes, it’s a thing, shut the fuck up.

“Nate,” he starts, hand on Nate’s cheek. Nate leans into the touch even though he’s shaking his head slightly already.

“They are cheap and store-bought so don’t do anything fucking stupid like going back for them if you lose them somewhere,” Nate says and Brad shrugs.

“Hey, once, and it was a fucking awesome jacket.” It had wires in the lining that could copy files from six inches away and it fitted like a glove, it was a motherfucking amazing jacket. These, however... “Nate.”

“Brad,” Nate nods pleasantly, biting his lip to hold back a smile.

“I’m not hearing a question,” Brad ventures. He knows he didn’t misinterpret this, and he’s a bit miffed to be upstaged because he had an excellent plan in place for a couple months from now, but fine, Nate can have this one. Though it’s not going as Brad would have expected it to, what with Nate being a huge sap and a bit old-fashioned for someone who’s supposedly dragging the whole organisation kicking and screaming into the digital age.

Nate nods again, like he’s glad Brad noticed. “And you won’t, until you get back. In one piece,” he adds.

“That was one time, and they reattached it nicely,” he says and then points his finger at Nate. At such a close distance, it brushes against Nate’s lips. Which, added benefit, really. “And if we’re scoring on hospital visits, you're almost right there with me.”

“And if we’re scoring on the severity of injuries...”

“Those are really nice,” Brad says, talking over him, and fishing the cufflinks out of the box. “Help me put them on?”

“Distraction noted.”

“It would have been yes,” Brad informs him and Nate nods, eyes fixed on the cuffs he’s working efficiently, but he’s smiling now.

“I’m kind of hoping it will still be yes when I actually ask.”

“You are an extremely weird person,” Brad tells him. He means it in a best way, really. He’s pretty sure Nate gets it, because he’s still smiling when he leans in to kiss Brad.

*

“I told you not to fucking go back for them.”

Brad shrugs. “You also told me they were cheap and store-bought. I think I’m doing quite well not listening for you, since you are a confirmed liar and I can fucking recognise the Fick family crest, thank you very much.”

“See if you get a ring. A hint: no, you do not.”

“I’m still not hearing the question, Nathaniel.”

“You went back for the fucking cufflinks, I’m pretty sure the answer is still yes.”

Somehow, Brad can’t bring himself to deny it. Or, to keep himself from smiling. Could be the morphine though.
Tags: au, brad/nate, fanfic, generation kill
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