Fandom: Generation Kill
Summary: Sort of an FBI AU. This is the seventh case since Nate took the job with the DC office that involves Brad Colbert in one capacity or another. Can't be a coincidence, no one's that unlucky.
Disclaimer: Based on fictionalised portrayals as seen on the HBO miniseries.
Things Nate Fick hates include, but are not limited to, people who commit crimes on Sundays, people who commit crimes at all, malfunctioning coffee makers, interns, Special Agent Griego, and, quite possibly, Brad fucking Colbert.
The jury is still out on that last one.
An actual jury, if Nate ever manages to actually gather up enough evidence.
"Listen, it's not like I want to spend a lovely Sunday afternoon talking to you," Colbert says, leaning back in his chair. His legs are braced against the table, like he's trying to flip the chair back, but both the chair and the table are nailed to the floor, so no luck.
"And yet here we are. Again."
This is the seventh case since Nate took the job with the DC office that involves Brad Colbert in one capacity or another. Can't be a coincidence, no one's that unlucky.
Well, except for Nate, apparently, but he digresses.
"What were you doing in the park at six a.m.?"
"Went for a run. I take my workout routine very seriously."
"That park is nowhere near where you live."
"I run ten miles before breakfast. It's on my daily route."
Nate raises his eyebrows. "So, I have your word placing you on the scene pretty much every day? The same place we found four bodies in various state of decay?"
Colbert's mouth twitches. Not like he finds it funny, no, but like he appreciates the adversary in the discussion, as if Nate made a good move in a game of chess. "Seems like you cracked the case wide open. Except I have no motive, no connection to the victims, and I was out of town for two of those girls' disappearances."
Well, there's that. "Do I have to remind you not to leave town?"
"I know the drill. Always a pleasure, agent Fick," he nods and stands up, hesitating briefly like he wants to add something else but thinks better of it. "Be careful today, alright? Look both ways and all that shit."
The words could be taken as a threat, Nate heard things like that from suspects before. I know where you live, you better watch your back, tough talk, rarely substantiated. But it's not the case here, Brad Colbert looks fucking concerned, like he's dispensing advice.
Like he wants Nate to heed it.
"I'll try. And you stay away from crime scenes. Or places that could become crime scenes."
"I could try," Colbert agrees and steps out of the interrogation room, saluting Mike on his way.
"I hate that guy," Nate tells Mike and gets a kind look in return.
"You say it every time. I believe you less every time."
First time Colbert got involved in a case it was because the victim had an appointment with him the day she was murdered. Her appointment book was thicker than all the files on Nate's desk put together, so it wasn't a big deal, but they were being thorough.
Nate still remembers the meeting, because it was the only time he had ever seen Brad Colbert look even remotely disconcerted, surprised by anything.
"I'm Nate Fick, thank you for taking the time to come down here," he said and Colbert blinked at him, his eyes blue and clear and wide open, his mouth working for a moment before he formed the words.
"It's you," he said and it didn't make any sense at all.
It took him less than a second to school his expression down, take on the impassive and unimpressed look Nate came to know so well and resent the hell out of.
"Anything to help the FBI," he said smoothly, fake and with a sarcastic curl to his mouth. Nate was ready to write him off as one of those assholes who just made his life and work all that more difficult, except that Colbert hesitated before leaving, hovering in the doorway for just a second too long.
"Your card," he said. "In case I remember something, isn't that how it goes?"
"Something useful," Nate specified.
"Wouldn't dare to bother you otherwise," Colbert said, index finger skimming over the lettering on the card. Nate's eyes were drawn to the movement for some strange reason. "Nathan?"
Nate shrugged. "Nathaniel."
"Of course it is," Colbert said, wondering and almost soft. Somehow, the tone stayed with Nate.
He kept dreaming of Colbert that week. It was fucking inconvenient and really odd. Sure, the case was getting to him, but Colbert wasn't even that much involved, he was never on their list of suspects and Nate's subconscious should just let the fuck go.
And he could understand if they were erotic dreams, he wasn't blind or stupid, there was something to appreciate in the strong, lean lines of Colbert's body and in the clear blue of his eyes, but it wasn't that either. He kept dreaming of his grandmother's old house, a place he hadn't visited for years. He dreamt of Colbert on the front porch, sprawled on the stairs, head tilted back, looking at the night sky. Nate stood in between Colbert's legs, waiting until he looked at him, and then he reached out.
Same fucking dream for over a week, his subconscious clearly had it in for him.
Nate's having a bad day.
To be fair, all days were pretty damn awful since the beginning of this clusterfuck of a case - no breaks, dead ends, Ferrando breathing down his neck because one of the victims was a niece of a senator... like the others were less important because one was a kindergarten teacher, one was a barista, and one was a junkie.
No connections either, the profile of the killer was at best incomplete and at worst completely fucking wrong, and there was Brad Colbert to deal with, or try and avoid thinking about.
And then Nate almost got run over by a car.
He was coming back from a witness interview, distracted by his phone. The woman behind the wheel lost control when a kid almost run out into the road, and she swerved to avoid hitting him. Frying pans and fire.
"What the hell was that 'look both ways' shit about?" Nate asks the moment Colbert picks up. It comes out more angry than he really feels, because mostly he feels confused as fuck.
He's not sure what he expects. Probably not an explanation, he's learned to know better with Colbert, but maybe a sarcastic comment or an immediate deflection.
"You okay?" Colbert asks instead, like he cares about the answer.
"I'm fine. Other than, you know, the almost being run over thing."
"Good. It would be damn embarrassing for a guy with your solve rate and all the enemies you made while in the Organised Crime to die in a fucking car accident."
"How did you know?"
"Know what?" he shoots back, too fast. Nate knows when people are lying and he knows when they're avoiding the direct lies. Colbert is usually much better than this. "Female intuition?" he deadpans.
"Of course it was," Nate mutters, rubbing his left temple. He can feel the incomming headache, the low thrum that will undoubtedly turn into splitting pain some time soon.
"How's your case going?"
"You know I can't discuss it with you," he offers, surprising himself with the tint of regret in his voice. Not like he owes Colbert anything, after all.
There's a moment of silence on the line, filled only with Colbert's steady breathing. Nate finds himself unwilling to break the moment, it's the only brief reprieve he had for the entire day. The rise and fall is comforting, almost hypnotic.
"How about I discuss the case with you instead? That's allowed, isn't it?"
"You want to give a statement?"
"Not in the fucking least. Call it good advice as dictated by my gut feeling."
"I'm inclined to believe hard evidence before gut feeling."
"I've had a gut feeling you should fucking look both ways. And I don't think you've listened."
It is a valid point. Nate still isn't sure it's not some parlour trick or a strange coincidence, but it can't hurt to wait and see what Colbert has to say. "Alright. Amaze me."
"You're looking in the wrong fucking place. You have all the pieces and you can't find him, and he's going to fucking kill again and soon."
Nate can feel the cold sweat on the back of his neck, a painfully slow shiver slide down his spine. "It sounds like a confession."
"Fuck you, Fick, you know better," Colbert says quietly. Not a plea or a question or a reproach, just a low conviction whispered into Nate's ear through the slightly crackling line.
And he does know better, he knows Brad. It sounds insane and impossible and a thousand other things but Nate feels it under his ribs, warm and sure. Unmistakable and there.
The fifth time their paths crossed on a case, Nate had asked flat out. In the lines of "what the fucking fuck" or similar.
Colbert looked at him for a long moment, head tilted in consideration. "We could go with the quirky private investigator helping the long-suffering fed? Sounds like a material for a nauseating buddy cop movie, don't you think?"
"Is this the buddy cop movie in which the long-suffering fed shoots the smartass who's been annoying him?"
"You really have the long-suffering part down."
"Good, because no one in their right mind could describe you as 'quirky'," Nate muttered, holding back a sigh.
The dreams changed lately, strenghtened by every meeting with Colbert. He dreamt of desert sometimes, sand under his fingernails and a weight of a weapon, not his service piece but a heavier one. Dreamt of static on the radio and of Colbert's steady hand on his shoulder, brief but comforting, like a memory of something that never happened.
"Let me guess, agent Fick, you have a few other choice words to say about me."
"I have a whole list."
"Is the first one 'asshole'?"
Nate shrugged. "No, but the second one is," he offered and listened to Brad's chuckle. "Do you even have a private investigator license?"
"Let's not get boggled down by the details."
It was the same case that had Nate getting into the crime scene just to see Brad fucking Colbert holding a gun, a warm and bloodied body on the floor.
"It's not what it looks like," Colbert offered, sounding too amused fo Nate's liking.
"Just shut up."
"That your version of the miranda? Catchy."
"Drop your weapon," Nate said, to be instantly and easily obeyed, Colbert placing the gun on the floor and kicking it in Nate's direction. "Okay. On your knees, hands behind your head." Even without the gun Colbert was dangerous, Nate wasn't an idiot, chances were a former Recon Marine would have a few tricks up his sleeve.
"You know, if you wanted me on my knees you just had to ask. Not the way I intended our first date to start but I'll make do."
Mike snorted somewhere in the doorway and Nate didn't bother to shoot him a look. Besides, that would mean taking his eyes off Colbert. "Make yourself useful and check the perimeter, will you?"
"You could just say you want privacy," Colbert offered.
Nate rolled his eyes and made the final steps towards him, lowering his weapon. "You have the right to remain silent," he started, pulling Colbert's arms back, tugging lightly and helping him stand up before he snaps the handcuffs shut.
"Just so you know, I'm keeping the handcuffs."
Nate sighs and rubs his left temple again, runs his fingers down his face and presses at his eye socket. "There's a cafe opposite my office, it's..."
"I know where it is."
"Be there in half an hour. That is, if you're ready to stop jerking me around and fucking tell me what you know."
There's silence on the other end, stretching for an uncomfortably long time.
He dreamt of the desert last night again, of near complete darkness, just stars in the sky, clear like Nate had never seen them, far away from the lights of cities. He dreamt of Brad again.
He's not sure what the fuck it means. Maybe he should take a leave, maybe he is working too much, as some people keep on telling him.
"You wouldn't believe me." It doesn't sound quite like the Colbert Nate knows, not at all cocky and too uncertain by half.
Maybe that's why Nate's tone is off as well. "Try me," he says, and it's meant to be a challenge but comes off like a plea instead.
He dreamt of a night in the desert and of Brad telling him he had absolute confidence in Nate. It never happened. It feels like it had.
"I'll be right there," Brad says and disconnects.
It takes him less than twenty minutes, quicker than Nate expected. It still is enough time for Nate to get the phonecall he was afraid of.
He hates himself the most for the passing thought of maybe having some new evidence.
"They found a fifth body," he tells Brad when he slides into the booth opposite Nate. "I should be getting to the crime scene," he adds and runs his hand over his face.
"Wynn has been doing this for a long time, he can deal and you know it," Brad shrugs, but there's a tension in his shoulders, an uncompromising twist to his mouth. "A young brunette. Long hair, red sweater," he offers flatly and Nate freezes.
"How do you know?"
Brad closes his eyes. "I always know."
The fourth case, Nate was a little late to the scene, caught in awful fucking traffic, everyone frantic and driving to the shops to do their last Christmas shopping. The cheerful lights decorating the house were striking when contrasted with the yellow tape and the flashing lights of the parked squad cars.
"Agent Fick. Merry Christmas, or whatever meaningless seasonal celebration you choose," Colbert said, smiling wryly from where he was standing. On the wrong fucking side of the tape, Nate could add.
"Out of my crime scene."
"Come on, Nathaniel, I have just figured that you boys could use some coffee," he offered, maniacally cheerfull and utterly fake. "My parents live across the street," he added in explanation, waving his hand.
Nate glanced to the side, catching the sight of a mailbox with the 1st Recon Battalion logo proudly displayed. "Isn't that convenient."
"Come on, boss, free coffee," Stafford said, his voice on the edge of a whine. It was fucking cold, after all.
"Out of my crime scene, Colbert. Leave the coffee," Nate added and his lips twisted in a smile at Colbert's slight grin.
Colbert bent down to pass under the tape and came to stand right next to Nate. Nate felt cold just looking at him, the man must have come out of the house grabbing the first thing of the coat rack, which was just a light jacket.
His breath was coming out in puffs, the rise and fall almost hypnotic.
"Tall guy, red hair, limps slightly," he told Nate. At the look, he shrugged. "Mom says she saw them arguing or something, according to her he was an 'odd one' and that's a direct quote."
"Thank you. I will come by tomorrow to take her statement, if that's alright?"
"On the fucking Christmas Day?"
"Aren't you Jewish?"
"Aren't you Catholic?" Brad shot back then shrugged. "Sure, come around, if you don't mind my mother countering your inquisition with one of her own. It's gonna be on the subject of you and your family and your love life, and then she'll fucking force feed you. She does that to all the strays in the neighbourhood."
Nate grimaced. "Tall guy, red hair, limps," he repeated. "Call me if she remembers anything else."
In retrospect, he sees where he made a strategic mistake in not pushing.
"You think it's time to finally tell me what the fuck is going on?" he asks and Brad sighs, shifts closer, elbows on the table as he looks at Nate.
"I thought I made you up," he says.
It's so out of the left field Nate blinks a few times, his mouth moving as he finds his voice back. "You what?"
"In Iraq. Lots of weird shit kept happening then, and I don't know, the dreams didn't even register on the radar. Random bullshit, a guy I maybe saw somewhere and my subconscious latched on to."
Nate can't quite understand what he means, but it resonates somewhere in his skull. Somewhere in his chest, dangerously close to his heart. It sounds too familiar.
"Weird shit?" he prompts, going for the easier questions first.
"I kept seeing things."
"You talked to someone about this?"
Brad rolls his eyes at him. "Fuck you, Fick. Not what I meant," he hesitates briefly, almost unnoticeably. "The guys used to talk shit and say I could see things before they happened. One day I started to."
Nate wants to call bullshit. He really fucking wants to call bullshit, except that he knows that look on Brad's face, had seen it a hundred times over and never in reality.
"Tell me about Al Kut," he says. Not what he intended to say, but it's what comes out. Brad startles, shakes his head.
"Brad," he presses and Brad closes his eyes again. The hand he has on the table clenches, his whole body tense like a wire. Nate gives in and reaches out, covers Brad's hand with his own and pries the fingers open. His fingertip runs across Brad's palm, now open for him, rubs a slow circle into it. "Tell me."
When Brad's eyes open again they are a much clearer shade of blue.
"There were men in the trees," he starts, and it's all Nate needs. He doesn't have time to bother with explanations, to question the whole thing and his own sanity.
"Tell me what you know about the killer," he says and holds Brad's hand tight when he tries to move it back, holds Brad's gaze unflinchingly.
Brad starts talking.
The sixth case... The sixth case Nate almost missed Colbert's involvement.
They had their breakthrough after Mike holed up with a guy in the conference room, the one they used to talk to people they didn't actually suspect. The guy was wiry and manic, and from what Nate could see through the glass wall, Mike was going to need strong coffee after this.
Or to go and lie down for a while.
But when Mike did come out of the room, shaking the manic guy's hand, he had an address that would take them one step closer to solving the case.
"Your CI is pretty good," Nate told him later and Mike shrugged.
"Not my CI. That was Colbert's friend," he said, looking at Nate as if he was supposed to know what the fuck. Because Mike had a seriously fucking wrong idea of whatever he imagined there to be between Nate and Brad fucking Colbert.
"Why don't we just put Colbert on retainer one of these days? What is this, tenth case he gets involved in?" He knew pretty damn well which case it was, but he wasn't about to admit it under Mike's watchful gaze.
He'd never hear the end of it, from him or from Claire Wynn and that would be even worse.
"I don't know. Why don't we?"
Nate hated days like that.
He shows up at Brad's place after they make the arrest. It's late, or early if you are that kind of a person, a little after four am.
Brad's fully awake though, opens the door after the first knock. "You got him," he says. It's not a question.
Nate nods, stuffs his hands in his pockets. He tells himself it's because the night is cold. "Yeah."
"You could have called to tell me that much," Brad says slowly.
"Are we pretending the conversation earlier didn't happen? That you didn't already know I'd show up?"
"You're probably the only person on the fucking planet I wouldn't dare to make presumptions about," Brad says, stepping to the side to let Nate in.
Nate's stomach clenches painfully.
"We should look into getting you the PI licence. Much easier for you to consult on the cases and for me to write it up later," Nate says, the words a little rushed, a little too rehearsed, he knows.
"You came to tell me this at four in the fucking morning?"
"I'll see about the licence tomorrow," Brad nods and takes a step forward, crowding into Nate's space. "Happy?"
"I have some leave owed to me," he says, a non sequitur, he does realise. Brad doesn't seem disconcerted, he just looks down at him and waits. "There's a place I used to go when I was a kid, my grandmother's old house. It's far away from the city that you can actually see the stars."
"It has a porch. Wooden stairs," Brad supplies, his eyes wide and a little wild. "It's not..."
It isn't a lot of things, starting with actually possible.
"I don't care," Nate says and leans in, closes the distance between them. His hand is on Brad's neck, angling him better for the kiss, and he can feel the steady beat of pulse under his fingers.
It feels like something he has known before.