Fandom: Generation Kill
Characters/Pairings: Nate/Brad (mentions of Brad/OFCs and Ray/Walt)
Full Disclaimer, Info and A/N at part one.
He calls Audrey on the fourth day.
He didn’t meant to. He meant to call Ray and bitch at him, or to call Poke and hear his take on the possible routes out of the Groundhog Clusterfuck, but he calls Audrey and she picks up right after the first ring, before he can rethink and disconnect.
There’s a familiar background noise; she’s listening to the news while she’s in the kitchen, something Brad’s used to hearing over the phone lines. Even when she’s reading or working or whatever, Audrey gravitates to the kitchen, to the wide windowsill and the window that overlooks the garden.
Finn moved into her house, they hadn’t bought a new one. Brad’s not sure what he would have done if it’s been him, but probably the same. Audrey loves that house, there’d be a place to park his bike and her car and there’s an old tree in the backyard, with low branches. Their first date, Audrey climbed that tree right after Brad and they sat there for hours, talking. It used to be damn easy to talk to Audrey.
“How are you?” Brad asks politely and she startles, laughs nervously.
“Getting huge as a house. And apparently the swollen ankles thing is not just an urban myth. And how are you, Brad?” she says, gentle and tentative.
He sighs. “I don’t know,” he says honestly. Tired. Angry. Possibly insane. Bored. Uncertain. All of the above and none of it, he doesn’t know. “I’ve been thinking,” he says and she makes a low noise in her throat, an echo of an old joke ‘that’s never a good thing’ they used to say but now she doesn’t. “I’ve been wondering why.”
“I don’t know. It sounds awful, but I don’t. You were gone and I was here and maybe I wasn’t strong enough or maybe I just loved that image of you, or-- I don’t know, Brad.”
It all sounds like something you’d hear in a movie, not real. Audrey’s probably right, she doesn’t know the real reason and she just makes up ones that sound right.
“But I know I screwed up with not telling you right when it started,” she’s saying and Brad snorts. There’s that. “But I was ashamed and then it got more difficult, and then it got impossible to just call you and tell you.”
Not impossible, no. Unpleasant. For most people the difficult and the painful and the uncomfortable was synonymous with impossible. Brad hangs up on her, there’s nothing much he has to say. It’s uncharitable and downright rude, but she won’t remember it tomorrow. That’s what the fucking Groundhog Day is for.
On the seventh day he rents a bike and drives for hours. Stops twice to take a piss and once for dinner and just drives till the sun sets and further still. Till dark turns to pale gray and he wakes up in the hotel room to the sound of the La Bamba song and only the memory of tiredness in his muscles.
“Okay,” Sandy says, absently swatting at a mosquito that seems interested in her knee. “Batman or Gandalf?”
It’s day eleven, and it’s the fourth time Brad attends her party. This time he remembered to save the cake. Strangely, it wasn’t as good as Nate’s ice-cream monstrosity, too sweet by half. Sandy has frosting in her hair. She seems just like Brad’s own nieces this way, everything she eats lands somewhere it’s not supposed to.
“You need to specify the ROE. Is magic allowed or is it strictly hand to hand combat?”
Sandy blinks at him. Brad sighs.
“Batman,” he says. “Providing there’s no magic.”
Nate’s helping Sarah with the clean-up, segregating the trash into separate boxes for recycling. Brad would mock him, but it’s clear that Sarah’s dead serious about recycling. Charles and Beth are trying to untangle the hose that has been connected to the sprinkler. Nate looks up and smiles, his nose pink with sunburn and his hair still wet. Sandy waves at him happily and, after a moment, so does Brad, smiling mockingly. Nate waves back completely unironically. Brad really blames that liberal school of his.
“Hey, kid,” Brad nudges Sandy with his elbow. “Batman or your Uncle Nate?”
“Batman wouldn’t fight Uncle Nate,” she says with conviction. Brad will give her that one.
He calls Ray a few times, talks robbing banks and the ice princess producer. Ray never really believes him, but he’s happy to talk shit every time. He calls Sue and talks to his nieces, and he calls Poke once and waits patiently when every three minutes he stops the conversation to answer Gina or one of his daughters.
He’s not exactly lonely, but some days it would be nice to have someone who knows what the fuck is going on.
On day twenty one he goes to the diner and has the same conversation with Lindsay he goes through every other day, but this time when she says her break is in half an hour, he takes her up on the offer.
She wears mismatched underwear, red panties and a blue bra, and the seahorse tattoo isn’t the only one. She spends good three minutes admiring the piece on his back, painted fingernails tracing the lines with butterfly touch before it turns intent and heated.
Next day she tells him her break is in half an hour and Brad smiles politely and declines the offer. He feels just that little bit uneasy when she shrugs with a smile that means ‘oh, well, maybe some other time.’
He’s beginning to hate the La Bamba song.
He reads Wright’s book over the days twenty seven and eight. He holes up in a coffee shop near Nate’s house and calls him up in the evening, goes to Sandy’s party and plays the increasingly more ridiculous game of who would beat whom in a fight. Batman remains Sandy’s champion.
Ray wasn’t kidding about Reporter building up the Iceman reputation. Brad wants to call him up, but the eyeroll won’t carry through the lines so he doesn’t. The book reminds him that there was a time before this day, that there was a war and a desert and that they really went through all of this in tin-plated shit humvees. He wonders sometimes if it’s not something he imagined. The day stretches out around him like molasses, everlasting.
He’s probably supposed to do something, achieve some fucking nirvana or figure out the true meaning of Christmas, but nothing will be solved by learning to play the piano or to appreciate French poetry. Right now, Brad’s tactic is to outlast this fucker.
On the day twenty nine he calls Nate from the coffee shop and just tells him to get there. Nate must have been halfway on his way to the class, Brad missed the timing a little, but he turns the car around without question. It’s a pattern Brad’s learning.
Nate walks up to his booth, doesn’t slide in like Brad expected him to but waits patiently until Brad stands up. Nate pulls him into a hug, three pats on the back. “It’s good to see you,” he says when he steps away. It takes Brad a moment to sit down, he’s not sure why.
“How long are you staying?”
Brad shakes his head. “Just today. Which means indefinitely,” he doesn’t wait a bit, he wants to get this part over with quick, just so he can plan the escape route in case Nate thinks he’s suffering from a psychotic break. “It’s going to sound insane, I know, but I’m going through the same day over and over. I don’t mean it in the stuck in routine way, I mean that today has happened to me twenty eight times already.”
“Alright,” Nate says.
“I’m not... listen, the timing is off, but in three minutes a readhead in a blue skirt will come in and trip over that woman’s bag. The barista, the tall one, will--”
“Brad. Alright,” Nate repeats more forcefully, leaning forward. “I assume this is the first time you’re telling me?”
“Yes,” Brad admits, still stuck on this, on the look on Nate’s face. Nate’s not humoring him, he’s not searching Brad’s face for a clue as to what sort of a game or a prank Brad’s pulling. “Just like that, you believe me?” he asks, incredulous.
Nate shrugs noncommittally. “Stranger things have happened,” he says and then rethinks, a wry smile tugging at his lips. “Actually, no, this is the strangest fucking thing I’ve heard, but I don’t think you’re insane and I don’t think you’re fucking with me either. And the tales of a day lasting forever for someone, well, they’re not exactly new and limited to Star Trek episodes, literature is full of them, from Greek mythology to medieval romances.”
“What is fucking strange is that I’m actually grateful for your Ivy League pussy education,” Brad mutters but he can’t hold back the smile, can’t help but breathe out in relief and elation. Of all the things he expected, he didn’t expect this, and it feels fucking amazing.
“Of course, there’s always the possibility that the insanity is catching,” Nate suggests pleasantly and reaches for the cup of coffee at his side of the table, one that Brad had bought a few minutes before Nate came in. He nods in acknowledgement after tasting it. “How well did you recon this whole thing?”
“You have a neighbour called Mel, short for Melody, and someone should really have a talk with her parents about what makes a proper name. She only cleans up after her retriever defecates on your lawn if someone is looking. Your niece has a half-birthday party today and you bought her a set of Batman legos. Your other niece will have clip-ons of blue hair. Your sister has serious issues with recycling. And you really should put on some fucking sunscreen.”
“Impressive,” Nate says and turns his head to watch the aftermath of the redhead tripping over the bag. “I assume you have even more where that came from?”
“Something like that. It’s been a long couple of days.”
“I can’t believe you went to my niece’s half-birthday party.”
“You invited me, I don’t know what you were thinking,” Brad points out and realises he’s smiling. Nate’s leaning back in his seat now, turning the coffee cup absently in his hand. Brad’s not sure if Nate had doubts before, despite his assurances, but he doesn’t seem to have any now, his gaze is open and earnest as he regards Brad.
“So, why are you telling me this today?”
“Needed a break from the routine,” he shrugs and that’s true, but it’s not all of it. Nate waits. “I’m not at the stage of kidnapping groundhogs and driving off a cliff, but actually going insane is a probable outcome.”
The amusement is gone from Nate’s face completely, replaced by concern and blossoming determination. “What do you want me to do?” he asks flatly, his voice rough like the desert, but Brad doesn’t really have a mission objective in mind.
“We could finish the coffees. And then you could invite me to your niece’s half-birthday party.”
“Aren’t you tired of that one? I could possibly--”
“No,” Brad says quickly. “Maybe this time tomorrow will stick, I won’t have you miss the party on my account.”
Nate looks at him for the longest moment, his eyes darker than usual. His expression is familiar but Brad can’t quite decipher it, it’s a bit like deja vu but not; Brad knows deja vu quite well now and he hates it, but this look makes something in his stomach twist, his fingers itch. Brad has no idea what the fuck it means.
“Alright,” Nate says finally.
It’s not all that different from all the other days, except that Nate searches him out much more often, looks at him expectantly and Brad shows off just that little bit, calling things seconds before they happen. He doesn’t save the cake, though.
When Nate asks him why, he just shrugs. “Yours was better,” he says and Nate smiles brightly, ducks his head, bites his lip when he works the icing out of the tube.
In the evening he sits with Sandy on the steps and nudges her with his elbow. “Hey, kid. Who would win, Batman or me?”
She looks at him, her lips set into a pout. “Why would you fight Batman?” she asks incredulously.
Brad laughs and ruffles her hair. Her laughter draws Nate’s attention and he looks up from over the recycling bins. Sandy waves at him cheerfully and he returns the gesture, but he’s looking at Brad with something like puzzlement.
At four in the morning, when they’re sitting in Nate’s living room, after they’ve watched Groundhog Day, after Nate suggested Brad picks up the ice sculpting and Brad told him to go fuck himself; Nate leans back in his seat, one leg folded underneath himself, his arm extended on the back of the couch. His fingers rest maybe an inch and a half away from Brad.
“If there is a tomorrow,” he says with a wry smile. “We could meet for lunch. If it’s still today,” he tells Brad, his voice surprisingly hesitant all of a sudden, “we could still do this again, if you’re not sick of it.”
“Yeah,” Brad says and they don’t talk much after that, just watch the tv with the sound turned low, until he wakes up to the La Bamba song.
They meet for lunch on day thirty three. It’s one of the days when Brad doesn’t fess up about the Groundhog clusterfuck, but he stopped watching his every word and from time to time earns himself a strange look from Nate when he comments on something he shouldn’t know.
He thinks it’s slightly funny. He’s finally living up to his Iceman reputation; he does see things before they happen. It’s not laugh-out-loud hilarious, but very few things are.
On the day thirty three they go to a Thai place Nate has mentioned maybe three days ago and he’s surprised to learn Brad has heard of. The waitress smiles at them, mostly at Nate, and mock-reproachfully says that they hadn’t seen him for a while.
Nate smiles politely and says something about work and studies and there’s only a trace of flush on his face, there only when you look for it. When the waitress comes back with their orders there’s a fresh coat of lipstick on her lips and the top button of her shirt has been popped open. Nate’s gaze doesn’t stray away from her eyes when he thanks her and says no, that would be all.
“I can see why you like this place. You can practically get a side order of blow-jobs,” Brad says crudely, and Nate’s eyebrows go up at the tone.
“Not what I come here for,” he says flatly.
Brad isn’t sure why he’s angry but he seems to be. There’s no mistaking the cold feeling in his stomach and the heat right under his skin, his knuckles whitening before he makes a conscious effort to unclench his fists.
He declines the invitation to Sandy’s party and walks to clear his head, walks until he runs and runs until he wakes up.
Brad calls Audrey on day thirty seven. They go through the same conversation except that he doesn’t feel angry anymore. Disappointed as all hell, but the fury is gone, and instead he feels tired and wistful. Audrey feels far away, like the picture he took to Iraq, faded and folded, like a moment in time that doesn’t exist anymore.
Maybe she did them both a favour but he isn’t going to be thanking her any time soon.
But he doesn’t hang up this time but politely says goodbye and disconnects once she mutters one back.
He’s standing under the sprinkler, Sandy perched on his shoulders, hands in the air. Brad thinks she’s pretending to be Batman but he’s not sure.
Nate has finished helping with the clean-up and is now talking quietly to Beth and she’s shaking her head vehemently, trying not to smile, her cheeks coloured over whatever Nate’s teasing her about. Finally she laughs out loud, and bows her head, her shoulders shaking. Her hair tied back and her ears sticking out, she looks uncannily like Nate for a moment.
Brad’s breath catches when he looks at them.
“Down,” Sandy commands.
“Finally, I’m soaked through,” Brad complains good-naturedly and she rolls her eyes at him. Some people have no respect for the Iceman, Brad blames Nate’s stories.
“Come on, I’ll drive you to your hotel,” Nate says after they say their goodbyes and Brad hesitates for a moment.
“I can walk. I’m soaked through and it’s not that far, not worth making a mess in your car.”
“Get the fuck in the car, Brad,” Nate says without even a moment of hesitation and Brad catches on to something that should have been clear from the beginning.
Nate just lets him in. Not just into his car, but into his life, his home, his family. Nate’s easy acceptance is constant throughout the variations on today. It should have been obvious, but for some reason it still surprises Brad.
“Are you waiting for a written invitation?” Nate asks, leaning across the passenger’s seat and opening the door on Brad’s side.
Brad gets in.
He walks to Nate’s house on day forty two, doesn’t even bother with the taxi. He skipped the diner, and so he’s just on time, Nate’s just opening the doors.
“Morning, Mel,” Brad says and the girl glances at him suspiciously, trying to place him, then just turns and walks away, the dog trotting behind her, nose close to the ground. “Nate,” he says and pulls him into a hug, waits for the three pats on his back and steps back. “It’s good to see you.”
“Good to see you too,” Nate says. “Come on in.”
Brad removes all the anchovies from the pizza they get and doesn’t even complain too much. He waits until the phonecall, until Nate disconnects.
“My niece has a half-birthday party,” Nate explains at his question. “It’s a long story. Do you want to tag along?”
“Your family won’t mind a stray Devil Dog? Not exactly a thing you’d invite strangers to.”
He’d miss the flash of exasperation if he wasn’t looking for it. “My family has already been treated to stories about you. Walt is a favourite of my nieces’, but I think they won’t mind you all that much.”
Nate’s fingers are on the back of the couch, some two and a half inches away from Brad’s shoulder. Brad’s skin itches at the closest spot. He leans in and is pretty sure Nate’s fingers twitch, but otherwise he doesn’t move, doesn’t even flinch when Brad’s mouth brush against his.
Brad kisses him softly, almost chastely, but when he starts moving back, half expecting Nate to say he’s flattered, but no; right then Nate’s hand moves to the back of Brad’s neck, holding him in place. There’s nothing chaste about the way the kiss turns, nothing soft about the press of Nate’s body to his. Brad licks at Nate’s lips, nudges them open and Nate, well, Nate lets him in.
“You have a party to get to,” Brad says after he pulls back reluctantly. He feels lightheaded, his fingers still tangled in Nate’s now untucked shirt.
“I could--” Nate starts and Brad stops him.
“You’re not missing this,” he says, and the double meaning is obvious. “And I want cake.”
Nate laughs, his breath warm against Brad’s skin. “Alright,” he says quietly.
Nate drives with the windows down and tells Brad the story beyond the half-birthday thing. Brad has heard it eight times so far, but he’s watching Nate’s lips and he doesn’t mind the repetition. He catches Nate’s wrist when he unfastens his seatbelt and pulls him into another kiss. It’s hard to stop when you start.
Sarah tells them to leave the gift on the table inside, but her tone is slightly faint. Her gaze is on the angrily red mark on Nate’s neck, mark that Nate doesn’t seem to mind.
“My sister Sarah,” Nate says. “Sarah, this is Brad.”
“Of course,” she mutters. “Nice to meet you, Brad.”
She doesn’t seem surprised at all. Should have told him a good few todays ago, saved him a few loops. But he supposes he needed those.
He’s standing under the sprinkler in the evening, Sandy perched on his shoulders, hands up in the air, when he realises that if this day goes on forever, he won’t mind that much. He’ll miss home and the ocean and surfing, but the trade-off isn’t half bad.
“Down,” Sandy commands.
“Finally,” Brad says and settles her down and she rolls her eyes.
“Come on, I’ll drive you home,” Nate says.
“I’m soaked through,” Brad points out. “I’ll make a mess in your car.”
Nate steps forward, into the spray of water. It’s a matter of seconds until he’s as soaked through as Brad is. “I don’t think I mind,” he says, his eyes dark and droplets of water clinging to his eyelashes.
Something unclenches in Brad’s gut and he nods, kisses Nate’s forehead before Nate tilts his head and kisses him properly, slow and lazy.
It’s not exactly ice-sculpting levels of gay but it’s still early in the evening, Brad thinks idly.
“Mom says that if you catch pneumonia and die, she’s going to kick your ass,” Sandy yells from the porch.
“Recon Marines,” Nate yells back in the general direction of the house.
Brad laughs and pulls him away from the water.
He shoots down Nate’s tentative suggestion that he can drive Brad back to the hotel. He doesn’t want to waste another day, doesn’t want to wake up without having this memory. He hasn’t realised how much he wanted it until it was within his reach, it’s like a dam breaking and water rushing in, filing his lungs and bubbling through his veins, new and fresh.
The moment Nate’s doors close behind them, Brad’s clawing at his clothes, his mouth busy with tracing Nate’s collarbone. Nate’s head smacks against the wall, next to the coat rack, and he arches into Brad’s touch impatiently.
When he looks at Brad his eyes are dark and clouded, but one emotion is clear.
“How long?” Brad asks. He’s wasted too much time, maybe more than he realises.
Nate makes a noise somewhere in his throat, his hips aligning with Brad’s and when he arches, he brings their cocks together and Brad groans, bites his lip hard enough to hurt.
“How long?” he repeats.
“I don’t know,” Nate mutters, his tone a cross between turned on and annoyed at the delay. “A long while. Could we get the fucking move on now?”
“You’re going to be trouble,” Brad tells him. “You’re hot when you’re pissed.”
“Brad,” Nate says with exasperation and then moves closer, his teeth grazing Brad’s already swollen lip, and the sensation goes straight to Brad’s cock. “Oscar Mike,” he adds and pushes Brad towards the bedroom, impatiently starting to deal with both Brad’s clothes and his own. Trouble, Brad can tell.
He also can’t let Nate do this on his own, he needs to be the one to undo Nate’s pants, take his cock out, heavy and hard in his hand. They won’t last long, neither of them, but Brad needs to taste him. It’s been a long while since he tried this, since military school and the time before Audrey.
But it’s Nate, and when Brad gets on his knees Nate looks at him like he’s the best thing that has ever happened to him. It’s almost too much and it’s not nearly enough and he needs more, and the next best thing is to take Nate’s cock into his mouth, Nate’s hand fisting his hair as his whole body shivers.
He swallows every drop and when Nate pulls him up, he’s licking at Brad’s mouth like he’s trying to taste himself on Brad’s lips. He doesn’t stop kissing Brad when they stumble onto the bed and his hand is on Brad’s dick, stroking in the same rhythm Nate’s tongue is practically fucking his mouth.
When Nate moves like he’s trying to pull away, slightly down Brad’s body, Brad makes a noise of protest, holds him close, covers Nate’s hand on his cock with his own.
He’s apparently choosing kissing Nate over a blowjob, he’s a disgrace to Marines. He doesn’t give a flying fuck.
He thrusts shamelessly into Nate’s fist and lets Nate swallow all the sounds. When he comes, he bites at Nate’s lip, too hard, but Nate just moans and licks over it. As he rolls over to his back, his lips look swollen and used and Brad groans at the sight. He did that.
Nate’s hand still rests on the inside of Brad’s thigh, his knuckles brushing against Brad’s dick when he shifts. It’s too soon, but Brad feels the resonance in his bones.
He fights against the weariness, tries to stop his eyes from closing. Nate mouths against his neck, mutters something soothing that Brad can’t quite make out. He’s not ready to fall asleep, he’s even less ready to wake up.
“Stay,” he tells Nate and Nate says something back, but Brad is already asleep.
It’s been so long since he wasn’t woken up by the fucking La Bamba song that it’s disorienting and strange. Almost like he’s still dreaming.
Nate’s still asleep, laying on his stomach, head turned to the side, one arm thrown over Brad’s stomach, right above where the sheet ends. His hair is a right mess and his skin is flushed and warm.
“What the hell are you still doing here?” Brad mutters in amazement.
“My house. Not fucking going anywhere,” Nate says sleepily, eyes still closed. He shifts closer to Brad and buries his nose in Brad’s neck. “Not going anywhere for the whole day, in fact,” he continues, his voice still groggy from sleep but perfectly conscious now. His breath resonates against Brad’s skin, right against the pulse point on his neck, heating up his blood. “Staying in. Fuck everything else.”
This Nate, relaxed and liquid and pressed against his side, might just be the best thing ever. Rivalling even the fact that it’s tomorrow. And right now, Brad gets to have both.
“I think I like the sound of that,” he mutters against Nate’s lips.