Fandom: Generation Kill
Characters/Pairings: Nate/Brad and Ray/Walt
Summary: CIA AU. In the tv-land type of CIA. First week into this job Ray has heard the same thing over and over, for just about a couple hundred times: "New communications guy on Fick's team? I am so sorry."
Disclaimer: Based on fictionalised portrayals as seen on the HBO miniseries.
A/N: Yes, okay, third fic in six days. I know you guys are probably sick of me...
First week into this job Ray has heard the same thing over and over, for just about a couple hundred times: "New communications guy on Fick's team? I am so sorry."
Fuckers don't know shit, his job is awesome. And it's not just communications, he takes care of all the tech that's not guns or the stuff that explodes, that's Walt. There are good jokes about big guns and hot stuff and sex bombs, but Walt looks at him funny whenever Ray goes for the easy ones, and he doesn't want to waste the good puns on anyone else but Walt.
Last week Ray's car was shot at in fucking Paris, and Brad crashed a car that cost more than a blood diamond, but he walked away unscathed and their got their agent out, so all in all it was a fucking fantastic day and totally not worth of losing your shit. Like Nate has.
But, he digresses. Except not really, because all of this shit is connected like the Area 51 and Coca Cola are connected. You look like you don't believe Ray but he swears, that shit is real. He knows, homes, he works for the motherfucking CIA.
The story truly starts with Ray in Iraq. Except no, it starts a long while before, with his training, or with that fucking dragon commercial that made him think for the first time that hey, fuck, Marines seem like some scary awesome motherfuckers, how do I go about becoming one? (It's not quite true, but whatever.)
Ray went to Iraq and didn't get much fun, and then he did that stint at the fucking FBI and didn't have much fun at all. The FBI guys were fuckers with no sense of humor whatsoever. And then there was the case that started in the white collar division, crossed over to the organised crime, involved some dudes from the missing persons, and then shit went down and suddenly the Interpol and the CIA got involved and what a dicksuck homoerotic party that was, and then everything went sort of pear-shaped and then things were hush-hushed and classified in a hurry and Ray's not able to talk about it at all because otherwise he would be locked up in some dark and scary place. He doesn't mind dark and scary all that much, but those places don't have Skittles. Or Walt. Or cable tv. Or Walt.
There was that CIA dude, though, yay tall, motherfucking scary and looking like your every day Viking playgirl spread, and during the whole thing he told Ray to shut the fuck up seventeen times, threatened him with severe body harm once and with a gag twice and who had no fucking appreciation for country music at all, which was the worst thing of all.
And then he offered Ray a job. At the motherfucking CIA. And sure, they were assholes, but they weren't humorless assholes. And they had better cars.
During his first day at Langley Ray had spent half an hour sitting outside Fick's office, waiting for Mommy and Daddy to stop fighting. They weren't really discreet about it.
"You spend three days at Quantico and manage to pick up a stray? We talked about souvenirs, Brad, nothing that's alive. You are never home for long enough to even water your plants."
Ray would have taken offence at that, to be honest, but Fick didn't seem to mean it in any personal way. Just as Ray didn't mean it as a personal insult when he assessed that Fick had a fucking stick up his ass and probably slept in his immaculate suits.
"Aww, but he followed me home, can't I keep him?" Brad drawled, this side of mocking, his head tilted and his mouth twitching.
Fick sighed and leaned against his desk, arms crossed. "I've seen his file," he said and hesitated, then nodded. "Alright. For a trial run. Send him in," he added, as if his office didn't have glass for the walls and Ray wasn't sitting just outside, lip-reading whatever he didn't pick up from the muted conversation.
"What is it with the fucking fishbowl?" he asked the blond guy at the cubicle right behind him. "What's the point of having a fucking corner office if you can't fuck in it without giving everyone a show?"
"It's the CIA," the guy said without missing a beat. "Gathering intelligence is just another word for voyeurism."
Ray fucking loved the guy. "At last I have found my home amongst fellow perverted souls," he announced, his hands clutching at his pearls, or at the collar of his shirt where his pearls would be if he had them. "I'm Ray," he added, more seriously.
"Yes, I know," the guy sighed. Ray recognised the sound; people who read his file but didn't yet have the pleasure of meeting the charming man behind it sighed like this. "I'm Walt Hasser. So, looks like you're our new tech guy. I'm very sorry for you."
Ray didn't have much time to ask why before Brad was there, poking him in the arm. "Person, go inside and don't make me look like an idiot."
"Never do anything that's already done," Ray told him seriously and rushed inside before Brad had a chance to respond, possibly by shooting him. Ray had heard stories about the CIA guys. Trigger happy fuckers.
Which was half of the appeal of joining them, to be honest.
"Close the door, please," Fick said and honestly, it would maybe mean anything if not for the fact that the doors were made of glass, just like two of the walls. Ray couldn't believe this fuckery, he had thought shit like that was only done on the CBS crime shows. The FBI building he worked at had at least solid fucking walls and people didn't suffer from sudden crash landings into what looked like empty space.
"Okay, homes," Ray said, standing behind the visitor's chair. "I can see the scary looking file on my desk that probably told you the size of my dick and what books I have checked out of the library in 1998. And I meant to return that Anne Rice shit but I left it at an ex-girlfriend's place, and well. Besides, I should probably be commended for it, this was some bad shit. So, you have my file and you know I'm awesome, and that some idiots don't appreciate me and consider me a disruptive force in the workplace. I think that the Very Special in every meaning of the word Agent Fries had some choice words to put in my performance review last month and I'd like you to know every one was a vicious lie. He's just jealous because he has a tiny dick."
Fick looked at him for a very long moment, the side of his mouth twitching. Ray wondered if he was going to be yelled at the first day but shit, that was the point of the introduction, if the fuckers had a problem with his sunshine personality and valuable insight then it was good to know right from the start and behave accordingly. Sometimes by quitting before they had a chance to throw him out, but hey, luck of the draw.
"I was going to say, welcome to the team," Fick said finally and Ray frowned at him.
"No, you weren't."
"No, I wasn't, but I don't think I can really follow your speech with anything that would leave a lasting impression. Hasser will show you around and help you settle in," he said matter-of-factly. At least it wasn't some oh-happy-day moto bullshit, Ray had been through worse orientation days. "Brad was impressed by the way you reprogrammed their security on the go, and I have to say, so am I. But I need to know you'll be able to work with my team. In other words, don't fuck up."
"Copy that," Ray nodded seriously and then grinned. "What is the deparmental policy on actual fucking? Because honestly, I appreciate the aesthetic policy you guys must have implemented, there are some seriously hot people in those cubicles."
"That would be all, Person." Fick obviously loved him already.
"I spy, with my little eye," Ray says and Walt sighs, heavily. At least it's not two truths and a lie anymore, because Nate had stepped in when it went dangerously too close to truths that were actually classified. And at least it's not never have I ever. It's not fun without booze and besides, Walt has a feeling Ray cheats.
Not that he's not cheating at every other game, but he's not as blatantly obvious at those.
"How long till we decide the guy is a no-show and fucking go home?" Brad says against the rim of his glass, his voice still absolutely clear over their comms. He's probably pissed about the tux he's wearing, and through all of the fussing he did with his bowtie and shit Walt didn't even point out that for someone who dislikes evening wear with a burning passion Brad has sure went into the wrong business.
Ray pointed it out for him. Sometimes it worked well that way.
"Give it a few more minutes," Nate says, his voice just this side of strained. The MI6 guy should have been here half an hour ago and the switch should have been made. Nate is a man of great patience in many areas but none of them include the time when Brad is in the field and something isn't going according to the plan. Which basically covers 80% of their missions, but still.
Ray clicks the comms on mute from their side and cranes his head to look at Walt. "Whose brilliant idea was it to bring ol' Fick as back-up? Both of them in the field is worse than Nate here."
"No, it's not," Walt points out reasonably.
"Fuck, okay, it's not. I really like my work when Fick isn't breathing down my neck. Some people who shall not be named could maybe fucking enjoy it, but not me. Speaking of breathing and enjoyment, how about I leave them on mute and we find a better way to pass the time?" he wiggles his eyebrows in a way he keeps on thinking is attractive and enticing but makes him look just like a cartoon character and Walt shakes his head.
"Time for work and time for play, you hick," Walt tells him automatically and checks the feed they get from the security cameras. "Brad, on your three. I can only see him from the back but looks like our guy."
"Fucking MI6," Ray mutters, typing furiously as he turns the hacked cameras to get a better look. "Fancy watches that can shoot poison or that you can use as anal sex toys, but they clearly can't tell the time. Have you ever met a fucking limey bastard from there who was on time? Just once?"
Nate's voice is ice-cold when he speaks, signalling the clear turn to the business part of the evening. "Does anyone have a clear visual on him and can ascertain it's our contact?"
"He's going your way, Nate. Halfway up the stairs," Brad offers. "I'm on my way, stall if necessary."
It's not necessary. Walt can't say who fires the shot, they'll determine that later in the post-mission briefing, after they're done with the initial round of the blame game. Now the important thing is that one of the chandelliers shatters and people scatter in panic.
Nate calls out Brad's name, sharp and worried, and Brad's reply is curt and cut off when he takes off running after someome, their guy or the guy who fired, Walt can't tell in the ensuing chaos. His hands itch, but they're too far away to do anything but look at the footage and try to find something helpful. "There," he says, straightening up, pointing at one of the screens. Ray types and makes the camera in question turn and focus on their MI6 contact, his hand clutching his side, blood seeping through his shirt.
"East corner, right under the ass-fugly civil war painting. Our James Bond is bleeding out," Ray says into the receiver.
"I got it," Nate tosses back. "Brad, the shooter?"
"Ray, try and keep his eyes on them. Brad, don't fucking get shot or we're going to have words."
Ray throws Walt a disbelieving look, muttering something about dirty talk and not doing it right, but he's already switching between the traffic cameras, trying to catch both Brad and the guy he's after. Walt saves the response for later and joins him.
They had four tech specialists who lasted more than a week before Ray. Nielsen requested a transfer after a few months, Skarski had a mental breakdown after that mission in Vienna, Carver was fucking lucky that Nate only fired him and didn't shoot his ass, and Rowen left them when she married some idiot from California and decided she'd like a job with less bullets involved.
Most people think that they have a rotation like that because Brad Colbert is fucking insane and doesn't understand safety protocols, but that's not quite true. Brad takes care of every single member of his team, it's only when it comes to himself that he is a reckless idiot.
Walt has been assured it's the case with all the best operatives. Walt holds an opinion that some people watch too many fucking Bond movies and don't know jack shit they're talking about.
Fortunately, Brad has Nate to take care of him. Which is a whole other can of worms, one that is the root of their constant vacancy when it comes to the tech, and most importantly, the communications personnel.
"I'm going to miss all the sex talk," Rowen had said at her farewell party, her grin growing impossibly wide when Nate gave her a look of complete and utter confusion.
"I don't know what is worse," Ray says after his first week, when Walt finally gives in and takes him out to the nearest decent bar and orders scotch and tells Charlie to leave the bottle with them, "the thinly veiled sex talk or the fucking mushiness, all the be carefuls and watch outs and take cares and shit. It's threatening my heterosexuality."
Walt gives him a look. "On Monday, you invited me to a party in your pants. Yesterday, you accosted me in the restroom and offered to blow me if I gave you my lunch money which, I'd let you know, is an unbelieveably bad marketing strategy because whores in DC usually charge much, much more just for taking off their jackets."
"Okay, it's threatening what's left of my heterosexuality. And how would you know the price of a good whore?'
"Research," Walt says and downs his scotch, aware of the way Ray keeps his eyes glued to his throat as the liquid goes down.
The thing about the CIA no one really tells you about when they're offering you the job is that for every hour of a mission you spend roughly three hours filling out appropriate paperwork. That definitely wasn't in any brochure Brad got.
Not that he got brochures to begin with...
Every fucking time they release a new Bond movie Brad keeps waiting for the DVD to have a seven-hours deleted scene that has Brosnan or Craig sit behind his too-small desk and deal with forms and reports and detailed explanations for all the damaged and destroyed property but that never happens, of course.
"Shouldn't you be home, getting some sleep?" Nate asks, hip against the side of Brad's desk. His suit is unwrinkled, the only concession to the late hour is the fact that he discarded his tie and for once managed to work the top buttons of his shirt open.
"I still have about a dozen forms to fill out in triplicate, and then I need to go and explain to Poke why one of his cars is being turned into scrap metal in some backass country in Europe."
"They have names now."
"Poke's cars? They always had names, I think Gina should worry."
"The countries," Nate supplies. "Brad, I'm serious, go fucking home. The car is gone anyway, I'm more worried about your ribs."
"I've had worse."
"That's part of what worries me," Nate says softly, in the tone of voice that Brad hears only that late in the night, when the office is almost empty, or when they're in a hotel room in a backass country somewhere, or when Brad is almost out of his mind due to another round robin of being shot or drugged or crawling out of a crashed car.
There's many things he wants to say but he doesn't, because they don't do this. They skirt close to the topic and then rush away so hard people's heads spin. Or maybe Brad does, he never quite figured out if what he sees in Nate's face at times like this isn't just wishful thinking on his part.
"Your sage advice would be more convincing if you actually went home yourself. I'm pretty sure some of the new hires think you live in your office."
"Feels like I do, sometimes," Nate admits, and fuck, he must really be tired if he says that much. "But I'm not the one who signed himself out of the hospital despite the doctor's disapproval," he points out and reaches out, places his hand on Brad's lower back, pressing lightly, encouraging Brad to stand up. "Move it, Colbert. Go home, get some rest. Paperwork will still be here tomorrow, believe me."
Brad stands up, hesitates briefly. There's an invitation forming on his tongue, the words already tasting disturbingly sweet. "Fine," he says instead. That one tastes bitter.
Nate's not sure when it started.
At some level, he doesn't remember the time when he would look at Brad and didn't feel the cold settle in his stomach, the warmth spread through his chest, at odds and yet so mixed and perfect and awful.
On the other hand, he knows that when they met for the first time he called Brad a fucking moronic asshole and meant it, three months of careful mission prep and intel gathering literally blown up into pieces because Brad couldn't stay in the fucking car.
Two days later Brad was in his office, calmly explaining why bringing the arms dealer in right then and there would have been a fucking bad idea, and how Brad's idea was so much better.
It was. Ferrando had almost killed them because of it, but chose to promote them instead.
Brad has no sense of preservation and is the main cause for the few gray hair Nate has been finding lately. He also has the most reliable gut feeling in the business, a dry wit that draws Nate out even when he's at his worst, and a smile that leaves Nate breathless.
"You know the entire agency thinks you and Colbert are fucking?" Rowen asked him, the night of her farewell party, her eyelids heavy and her cheeks flushed from the tequila she's been imbibing.
"The idiocy of our coworkers is, clearly, exceptional. I am rather worried that most of those people have a concealed weapon permit," he told her flatly and ignored the way his stomach turned.
He's learned to ignore quite a lot.
It starts with Paris, and that's almost romantic, Ray supposes, if you're a dicksuck idiot with a tendency to cry on Meg Ryan movies and hold your dicksuck boyfriend's hand under the table, and not even try to give him a handjob, in pretentious French restaurants.
So, fucking Paris. It goes fine, until their asset has a change of heart, again, and decides she loves her assassin girlfriend more than she likes her country. Somewhere out there, a supposedly edgy, faggoty Hollywood director is having a wet dream and doesn't even know why.
They extract the agent who's been supposed to bring her in, but Brad has a little car crash, if by little you mean the fact that it turns seven times before it lands on the rooftop, tyres still spinning. Just a few cracked ribs, a serious concussion, and an impressive bruise on his arm that shines with all the colours of the rainbow even after a few days.
Nate almost has a fucking stroke. Ray's typing so fast he's surprised the smoke isn't coming from the keyboard, and he listens absently as Nate repeats Brad's name over and over again as Ray shifts the traffic cameras to follow the car's movement. It's up to Walt to hold on to Fick so he doesn't fucking run out of their temporary office, and he has bruises to show for it, on his forearm, where Nate's fingers dug in.
"You think they'll finally get over whatever retarded issues they have and proceed neatly to skipping through the daisies?" Ray asks Walt as they stand outside the hospital room and watch Brad argue with his doctor while Nate stands few steps to the side, fists clenched painfully.
"Sure," Walt tells him. "And then they will live happily ever after and never take unecessary risks," he adds. Ray nods.
"Thought so, homes. Endless retardation. Hey, ever fucked in a hospital closet?" he asks, neatly changing the topic, if he says so himself. But hey, it makes Walt smile, so mission accomplished.
There's something comfortably annoying about Nate's inability to rest and relax the night before any scheduled operation. Even something as mundane as a simple switch with one of their friends from the MI6 has him restless and on the edge, staying up late holed in his hotel room, going through the papers for the hundredth time.
"I always appreciate the hypocrisy of you telling everyone to get a good night's rest," Brad informs him flatly. He doesn't wait for an invitation, just sits down in the armchair by the window, a good vantage point where he can still remain unseen from the outside. Old habits and all.
"Couldn't sleep even if I wanted to," Nate shrugs and places the folder on the table, leaning back in his chair, head tilted back and his throat exposed. Brad's mouth waters just a bit.
"Yeah, me neither," he says, running his hand through his hair. It probably sticks up in a right mess but Nate has seen him at pretty much his worst. "You know, it's a walk in a park of a mission. I appreciate the sentiment behind choosing something like this for my first week back in, but there's no fucking need for it. And it definitely doesn't require two operatives in the field, less alone the likes of you."
"Admit it, you're just worried I forgot how to work in the field, after all that time riding a desk," Nate says, smiling, but there's something hidden underneath the humor, something that has been there at least since Paris and probably for much longer before that. Brad can't quite decipher it and it bothers him.
"Yes, that's precisely it," he says. "You'll just slow me down," he adds dryly, rolling his eyes at Nate. His chest clenches almost painfully at the answering smile. That didn't use to happen all the fucking time, but now it seems he can't be around Nate for longer than few minutes without his heart deciding it likes fucking skipping beats and trying to pound its way out of his chest.
"I don't think anything could slow you down," Nate says, his gaze turned away, absent and unfocused. Maybe he's just tired, but his voice has that soft quality again and for a moment, Brad can't breathe.
He shakes it off and stands up, telling Nate to get some fucking sleep or he'd be dead weight tomorrow. Nate just flips him off, and for a brief moment, things are easy again.
"So, that was a fucking fiasco, we lost our contact and our only solid lead, the shooter is in the wind, and we have a few days before the bad guys get their hands on more fucking weapons than there are guns in Texas. Did I miss anything?" Ray asks and lays his head on the desk, wondering briefly if maybe FBI still hasn't found anyone for his old job.
"I think you're off with your math. There's a lot of guns in Texas," Walt tells him, ever the ray of fucking sunshine. "Also, the coffee machine is broken again."
"Fan-fucking-tastic. I'm moving to Prague."
"Brad hates it. He'll never go there to find me," Ray says, in a tone that he things conveys the implied 'duh' pretty fucking well.
Speaking of the Ice Princess himself, he opens the glass door of Fick's office and points at Ray and Walt, then flips his hand and beckons them inside.
"If Mommy and Daddy are fighting, do we pick up sides, or do we play them both and get Christmas presents twice?"
"Just shut up and try not to make things worse. We all suffer if they go through the divorce," Walt whispers back, because he is awesome and plays along with Ray. That's one flaw in the Prague plan, unless Walt could be persuaded to relocate with Ray.
"We have a new lead," Fick says, and he sounds so happy about it he might as well be slitting his wrists. Brad, on his end, looks impassive as always, but Nate is doing that quivering lip thing that usually means that either someone stole his teddy bear or someone is fucking with Brad and Nate is soon going to end them.
Ray thinks his workplace is either the most awesome thing ever, or a front for a mental institution. Not that he minds. Also, Walt, and therefore he doesn't care.
"And what is it?" Walt asks finally, when Nate doesn't seem to be going anywhere with it.
"Herrera is set to meet with a couple of his contacts. From our intel it looks like he's never seen them before."
That sounds like a good thing, Ray can't even. "So, where's the catch?" he asks, because he has worked here for a while already and also, the quivering lip. He's not an idiot, this is going to be tragic.
And so they're back to Nate staying behind while Brad does the field work. Walt doesn't mind, most of the time, except when it's a dangerous mission and Nate's worry is palpable from a few metres away and it fucks with Walt's zen.
If he had zen, because usually his zen is distracted by Ray, in one way or the other.
Just like now. Which, after some consideration, could be a good thing, because maybe Ray's chosen topic is guaranteed to rile Nate up some more, it at least stops him from watching the screens intently and gritting his teeth.
Walt doesn't mind quiet seething or muffled curses, but the teeth thing is too much.
"All I'm saying, homes, is that when you like someone you just put surveillance on them and find out if they like dick."
On the screen, Lizbeth laughs as she and Brad stumble into the elevator, kissing. They part in the elevator, where they are out of anyone's eyes but their own camera, and Nate breathes out slowly, but the ride isn't long enough for comfort.
"That's... very unprofessional, Ray," Nate says absently, turning away from the screen for a moment. "I hope you're not using agency resources in that manner."
"Of course not," Ray says, a bit too fast. Walt snorts.
"Well, not anymore, I hope," he says pointedly and Ray shrugs.
"It was just a tiny camera in Walt's bedroom and I destroyed most of the footage."
"Most of the footage?" Nate repeats, sounding morbidly fascinated, and at least he's not looking at the screen where Brad and Lizbeth tumble out of the elevator. She's already making a quick work of Brad's shirt.
Nate's going to be insufferable throughout the weekend, Walt can tell, and everyone's sex life is going to suffer. Well, by everyone he means the two people in this room who actually have a sex life to begin with.
Nate is revising his opinion on hell and the matter of its actual existence. Because, well.
It's not that he dislikes Lizbeth, quite the opposite, she's competent and smart and everything that he appreciates in an operative, but this time even her voice on the phone is annoying the hell out of him. And he's going to lose it next time she calls Brad 'sweetheart', pretending to be married or not.
"I wonder if they're pretending all the way," Ray says from over his box of Chinese take-out. Walt wordlessly hands him a napkin, not even looking up from his screen. "I mean, they're making all those sex noises for the bugs and you just know that when you take a look at the Iceman dick you won't pass on a ride on that."
"Is there anything you want to tell me, honey?" Walt asks pointedly and Ray shrugs.
"You'd fuck him too."
Nate is pretty sure Ray is joking just to draw his attention away from what's going on in the room directly above theirs, but it's not working in quite the intended way. His fingernails leave crescent-shaped red marks in his palm and he wills himself to unclench his fists.
"Yeah, no," Walt mutters. "Apart from the rather obvious reasons," he continues with a pointed look at Ray, "I don't want my boss here have a fucking stroke any more than he's having right now."
Nate's head snaps up and he meets Walt's gaze. It's serious and not unkind and Nate knows he's pretty damn transparent at this point, probably, and he should know better. But then again, it's Walt and Ray and they have been through enough together to warrant their concern and his trust.
"I'd have a few words of advice, homes, but you'll ignore it like the idiot martyr you are," Ray tells him flatly.
"I don't," Nate starts and doesn't finish. He knows better than to finish.
"Yeah. But maybe you should," Ray finishes and stands up, walks up to the fridge to pick up a coke, waving a can at Walt in a silent question.
The after-mission briefing is, surprisingly as briefings go, actually brief. Despite the success of the entire thing Nate seems to be in a grave mood, his eyes unusually dark and his lips permanently set into a tight line.
Even Ray seems to pick up on it and doesn't mouth off much, limiting himself to quietly muttered remarks into Walt's ear, to low for Brad to pick up.
Lizbeth smiles at the end of the meeting and pecks Brad on a cheek, her fingers skimming across his jaw as she teasingly says that "it was fun, sweetheart, let's do this again sometime." Brad rolls his eyes at her but he smiles back and she gathers her files and leaves, with a quick nod at Nate.
Who looks like someone not only pissed in his cornflakes, but also rearranged his entire filing system and switched his coffee to decaf.
"You know what, Walt," Ray says, bouncing to his feet, his movements frantic as he gathers his stuff. "I have a newfound desire to file something. How about you show me where the archives are?"
"Same place they were for the last two years," Walt bitches but he follows suit, closing the door behind them.
Brad sighs. "What is it?"
Nate gives him a look that he probably thinks is innocent but which is not fooling anyone at all. Well, not fooling Brad, and that's the important thing here. Other people could maybe be swayed by those green eyes but Brad has a longstanding practice in ignoring the way something unfurls in his chest when Nate looks at him.
"What do you mean?" he asks, looking away.
"Nate. Ray Person is doing his best to politely give us space to talk about something. I don't have the faintest fucking idea why, and it's you who spent the last three days sharing a room with both of the chucklehead twins, so clearly you have something to tell me. Out with it, or I'm going to have to get you drunk, and we both know you're a cheap date and it could end badly for everyone involved."
Something in Nate's face shifts halfway through Brad's little speech, but Brad can't tell what the hell it is and he goes on, semiautomatically.
"I think we should make some changes to the team," Nate says slowly, a strange quality to his voice. It worries Brad.
"Come on, Person and Hasser couldn't have annoyed you that much."
"I don't mean them." Nate's voice is quiet, his head bowed, Brad has to strain to make out the words, and when he does, he still can't quite understand what the fuck they mean.
The cold feeling doesn't let go, and he almost dreads to ask. "Nate, what the fuck is going on?"
"I think we've arrived at the point where we shouldn't be working together. I can't..." he stops and tries again. "It's entirely my fault, I'll talk to Ferrando and ask for a new assignment."
"Like hell you will," Brad says, stepping forward, close enough to Nate he could reach out and touch him. His fingers itch, his left hand shaking, but he's afraid to startle Nate, afraid to make the wrong move. He doesn't think he's ever been this afraid in his life. "I'm not letting you do this."
"Brad, please," Nate says and finally looks up at him.
He looks... different, Brad thinks, and then he realises why. Nate's not hiding anything from him, for the first time in a long while he lets Brad see. And Brad had never before realised that there was any kind of barrier between them, but there must have been, because now it's all there.
"Oh, fuck," he says and reaches out then, his fingers closing on Nate's wrist. "Come on," he mutters and tugs.
Brad shakes his head. "I'm not kissing you here. You have fucking glass for the fucking walls, there's no way I'm giving the entire office a free show. I'm fucking taking you home. Unless you can't wait, then I'm chasing Ray and Walt out of the archives, they need to find a new making out spot."
And Brad hadn't seen that look on Nate's face ever before either, but he looks forward to seeing it all the fucking time, the disbelief melting into sheer joy and love that is absolutely breathtaking.
This was, quite probably, the best briefing in the history of ever.