Fandom: Generation Kill
Summary: Sequel to Set out on a narrow way, kidfic.
Disclaimer: Based on fictionalised portrayals as seen on the HBO miniseries.
A/N: Written for kubis prompt at my prompt post, still open btw ;), who wanted to know if Brad and Nate had children in the 'Set out...' verse. The prompt responses were supposed to be short ficlets. See how well I'm doing with that? ;)
"That's not how you do it," Katie says pointedly.
Brad raises his eyebrows at her. It's not rocket science, they're making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He's not sure there can be a wrong way to make PB&J sandwiches.
"How should I do it?"
"The way Dad does it. I'll show you," she reaches over the counter, lying half on top of it in the process, and gets the jar with the jelly, then proceeds to show Brad how it's done.
There's a lot of jelly on her sandwiches, but you'd be hard pressed to detect a trace of peanut butter.
"Well, if that's how Dad does it," Brad allows.
She only started to call Nate that two months ago. She's been quiet for a few days, quiet even for Katie, which meant she barely said two words together, quiet enough they've started to worry. Well, Brad started to worry, Nate started to panic and call Jamie frantically.
On Saturday Katie finally worked up the courage to ask, her eyes downcast and her cheeks flushed, if it would be okay, if Nate didn't mind, if she called him Dad.
Suffice to say, Nate has been walking around dazed ever since then, enough that Brad was pretty much forced to make fun of him.
She still calls Brad 'Brad' but he doesn't mind. It's better and less complicated than the whole 'two Dads' cliche, and besides, it could be worse. How? Well.
"Would it make Brad Mom?" Nate asked the next day, after he stopped smiling like an idiot. He was still smiling, sure, but softer and less manic, and he gave up on ruffling Katie's hair any chance he got. Thankfully.
"Brad can't be Mom, he's Brad," Katie explained from over her cereal. The healthy kind, the one Nate picked, because he was a stick in the mud who didn't understand that the frosted sugary ones were vastly superior. That was what Brad was for. Otherwise all Katie would get from her cereal would be fiber and no toys.
Nate dealt with the PB&J sandwiches, though. They had a pretty good system with Katie, and she was pretty adamant about the distribution of duties. Nate, for example, was never allowed to brush or braid her hair, that was Brad's job and he'll let you know he was fucking excellent at that, even the French braid.
Yeah, okay, don't even try the Mom jokes, he's heard them all, from Nate and Ray, and the rest of the assholes who fancy themselves comedians.
"Now you," she says now and pushes the sandwiches his way. He's meant to cut the crust away, and he obediently does just that, then places them in her Transformers lunchbox, along with a milk box, an apple, and raisins. There are always raisins in there.
"Does it meet with your approval?"
"It's fine," she allows.
"Ah, the highest praise," Brad smiles and wipes his hands with the paper towel, then reaches out to wipe hers too. There's jelly on her chin and he dabs at it with the towel's corner. "All set?"
Nate's usually in charge of this part, but he's been called in at the five fucking a.m. because the defense came up with a new witness, and the case Nate has already been working himself up over for weeks suddenly got even more fucked.
Nate also already called three times to make sure everything was alright. Brad was tempted to offer a few choice words on what he thought about Nate's obsessive-compulsive tendencies, but Katie had a great aptitude for picking up new vocabulary, and 'dick-sucking paranoid asshole' wasn't something Brad particularly wanted her to repeat.
In half an hour she'll be at school, though, and Brad is going to make a rather interesting phonecall to one ADA Nathaniel Fick.
"Aunt Rachel is going to pick you up, alright?" he tells Katie. "You will have dinner at her place, and either me or Dad will pick you up, the moment one of us can get off work. It's not going to be later than five."
"Okay," she says quietly, nodding. They've learned quickly, or rather, had Jamie help them learn, that Katie needed to know exactly what was going on any time they left her with someone else, when something happened that deviated from their routine. She got petrified they would leave her, never come back.
Despite their assurances, she still got worried that they would give her back if she misbehaved.
"Megan is going to be there," Brad adds, and predictably, this makes Katie smile. She likes Megan the best out of all her new cousins, wants to be exactly like Megan when she's older.
"Okay," she repeats, her voice stronger. "We can go," she adds and Brad nodds, gathers her things, the backpack and the lunchbox, helps her put on the jacket and the hat and makes sure she has the seatbelt on once they get inside the car.
The safe, reliable car Nate made him buy when they started working on bringing Katie home.
There were other changes, too. The civil partnership, because none of them needed the fucking paperwork but it was going to score them some points, and the house, with a lawn and a nice backyard and the fucking swing set.
Yeah, okay, Brad liked the swing set, it was actually kind of cool.
"Dad's calling," Katie says suddenly. Brad glances at his cellphone, in the fucking holder he has now, with the loudspeaker and shit, because driving while talking on the phone is 'irresponsible and dangerous and you're not fucking doing it, Brad'. Nate's caller id is indeed flashing over the display in bright blue, and the phone is vibrating quietly, since Brad turned off the sound after the third call.
"You can pick up," Brad tells her and she leans forward and presses at the touch screen.
"Hey, Dad," she says, beaming.
"Hey, sweetheart. You on your way to school?"
"Yeah. Brad made me breakfast and I have a hat. And I'm wearing a seatbelt," she volunteers quickly, rattles out the things Nate always checks for, like she's worried he'd be angry if they forgot about something.
Nate doesn't sigh, but Brad can read it into the pause, can almost see the frown and the tight line of his mouth, the one he polices carefully when around Katie. "I wasn't worried," he says instead, warmly.
"Tell Brad I heard that," Nate says. "I'm going to try and leave early and pick you up from your Aunt's, okay?"
"And Brad, I'll try to pick up dinner, too, any requests?"
"Nate," he shoots back and waits for the soft snort from Nate's side. "It's Friday."
"Fine," Nate allows. "Have fun at school, Katie. I love you," he adds, and Brad knows it's meant for them both.
"Nothing healthy," Brad reminds him, and means 'love you too'. Not that he can't say it, he has said it, but he has never learned to be casual with the words, to tackle them on freely to a goodbye like Nate can.
"Bye, Dad," Katie says softly, and she means 'love you too'. She's even more careful than Brad, and he's been told by quite a few people that it's an achievement. She's yet to say it, to either of them, but sometimes she holds on after a hug, her little hands tangled in Brad's or Nate's shirt so tightly it seems like she might never let go.
Brad sometimes thinks he'd like for her fucking asshole of a father to be released earlier, so Brad could find him... Won't happen, the prosecutor on the case was fucking good, in Brad's biased opinion the best in the fucking state.
"Backpack, lunchbox," he checks with Katie in front of her class. Lisa smiles at him and nods over the head of two children asking her rapid fire questions. Brad nods back and offers a small smile in return; he has already decided he likes Lisa, for her no-bullshit attitude and the fact that she spent an entire afternoon once talking to Nate about Katie and patiently explaining to Nate why his paranoia was a bit too much.
Well, no, she didn't really say that. She just kept answering the questions and assuring Nate that Katie would be just fine in her classroom. And she was.
Nate was a fucking mother hen, and it wasn't at all attractive, except for those few occasions on which Brad had just wanted to drag him to their bedroom, lock the doors, and strip Nate naked before dropping to his knees...
Yeah, okay. Maybe just a little attractive.
"Morning, Katie," Lisa says, coming to greet them. "Brad, how are things?"
"Everything's fine. Nate's probably going to be stuck at the office until April, so my sister Rachel is going to pick Katie up." She's on the approved list already, but Lisa should get a heads-up too.
"Of course. You're looking forward to seeing your aunt and cousins, Katie?"
"Yeah. Megan has a cat and she had kittens last week," Katie voluntters.
"That's great. Have you seen them already?"
"No. I might see them today," she says, looking up at Brad, who nods.
He's pretty sure he knows where this is going, but Katie's yet to ask. They've talked about it with Nate when Megan called Katie to tell her about the kittens and then she carried her laptop to where the kittens were, so Katie could see them on Nate's computer.
"She never asks for anything," Nate said quietly and Brad looked at him.
"Are you complaining because your daughter isn't spoiled?"
Nate shrugged. "I'd like to spoil her a little sometimes."
Brad could make fun of that, except he really couldn't. No fucking ground to stand on. He kept stopping himself from buying her every toy in the shop, whenever he went grocery fucking shopping. There were three boxes in the garage he did buy and had yet to own up to. Thankfully, her birthday wasn't that far away.
"Megan said you can help her name them," he tells Katie. She smiles happily and squeezes his hand a little harder. "Now, go have fun and learn stuff so you can get as scarily smart as your Dad is."
"Okay," she nods solemnly. "I'll see you later, Brad?"
"You got it, kid," he says and crouches next to her, kisses her forehead before she turns to join her friends. Lisa is grinning at him when he rises back up. He rolls his eyes at her.
"Wasn't saying anything. Have a nice day," she says cheerfully. She's always damn cheerful all the time, it's slightly worrying, but the smiling thing is probably the job requirement so she can be excused.
He calls Nate when he gets to the car. "The eagle has landed."
"Didn't you revise the codes lately? Also, still not funny, Colbert," Nate tells him over the sound of rustling paper.
"I'll spell it out for you, Fick. I got Katie to school safely and in one piece, so stop fretting."
"You sound like you don't think I trust you with her." He sounds worried and Brad's sadly not there to hit him over the head for being an idiot.
"I know you do. It's the majority of the universe you don't trust with her."
It was Nate's third case at the DA's office. They were overworked that month and Nate got to be first chair. His boss didn't think it looked good, they were pretty much setting up for a deal with the defense.
That was before Nate took over, and before he met the five-year old scrawny girl with big blue eyes and light brown hair unevenly cut and braided messily, like no one cared.
"Do you?" Nate asks and Brad leaves it, it's meant to be rhetorical anyway. "Have fun at work. Try not to kill Ray."
"It's a constant struggle," Brad agrees and disconnects.
Brad got the job straight out of college, they've been circling him the entire final year. Ray had simply decided Brad couldn't survive without him and talked his way first into an interview and then into a job.
What idiot thought Ray should be allowed to work on anything classified was beyond Brad, but there you were.
"How's your girl?" Ray asks now, not even looking up from the keyboard he's taking his frustration with whatever on.
"At school already. She's fine, I don't know why everyone keeps worrying when I'm driving her anywhere."
"Actually, homes, I was asking about Nate," Ray says cheerfully. "But to answer your question, it's because we had seen you drive. Or rather, we had seen the blurr and assumed it was you driving because the fucking Flash doesn't actually exist."
Nate calls ten past four, when Brad's already on his way to pick up Katie. "I've just left, on my way to Rachel's."
"So am I, but I can turn around."
"No, I'll just meet you there," Nate offers. He sounds tired. The work kind of tired, when he's getting frustrated by the case and exponentially bitchy. Brad's about to tell him to just forget it and go straight home, leave the pick-up duties to Brad, but that probably wouldn't work.
"Okay," he says instead and steps on the gas.
He pulls into Rachel's driveway just as Nate's making the turn into the street. "First," he declares proudly and Nate rolls his eyes at the theatricality of Brad's announcement.
"Not a fucking race, Colbert," he says and steps closer, leans into Brad with his whole body, slowly relaxing. Brad runs his hands over Nate's back and feels the tension slowly bleed out, as if the closeness was enough. "I'm gonna quit tomorrow," he says against Brad's neck then nuzzles into it, his breath warm on Brad's skin.
"You can technically work from anywhere with a good internet connection. We could move somewhere they don't have courts. Start raising llamas."
"They're bound to be more intelligent and generate less shit than my fucking boss."
"There's that," Brad agrees and steps back, but not before placing a brief kiss on Nate's temple. At least, he aims for the temple but Nate shifts and it lands over his left eyelid. "Better?"
"Yes. And how was your day, honey?"
"Entertaining. Rita finally gave in and told Ray to shut the fuck up. I feel so proud, she's almost grown up and shit."
The light on the porch is turned on and two silhuettes appear in the door. The smaller of them runs down the steps. "You're here," Katie says, elated. Brad's heart skips a rather impressive number of beats at the wonder in her voice. She's never sure, never lets herself.
"Of course we are," Nate says, crouching down and pulling her into a hug. She melts into him, but her left hand reaches for Brad, including him in this, tugging him closer. "Did you have fun with Megan?"
"Yes. Come on, you'll see the kittens," she bounces, tugging at both of their hands now.
They go and see the kittens. Nate sits on the floor and lets three of them crawl all over him, little tiny things leaving traces of white and gray fur all over his jacket. He doesn't seem to mind it at all.
"This is Ironhide. I picked out her name," Katie says, showing Brad a tiny silver-gray kitten with blue eyes. He runs his thumb over her head, between her ears, petting her lightly.
"She's very pretty."
"You know, Brad liked Ironhide the best," Nate offers. "I can't remember which one I liked," he adds thoughtfully. There's a kitten climbing his shoulder.
"Mirage," Brad tells him absently, watching Katie. "So, did you ask Megan if you can take Ironhide home?" he asks.
Nate gives him a look, the one that says 'didn't we talk about this?' They're set on a kitten, of course, but they were to wait and see if Katie asked.
Brad's going to have to suffer through another one of the talks. Oh, well, what the fuck ever.
"I didn't..." Katie starts and Megan shrugs.
"She can take four if she wants. But I don't think you guys would manage."
"Let's start with one," Brad says. "Katie, which one?"
"Ironhide," she decides quickly, holding the cat tightly.
"Ironhide it is."
Rachel lends them a travelling basket for the kitten but it ends up in the trunk of Brad's car, while Katie holds on to the kitten the entire way back. Nate's already ahead, for once driving faster than Brad, but Brad has Katie and there are rules.
Once they pull over, Katie hovers by the car. "The basket, Dad. Her food is there," she says and it takes Brad a moment, in which he takes out the basket and shuts the trunk and only then blinks.
His first instinct is to look for Nate, but Katie's looking straight at him, her eyes huge and worried. She's biting her lip nervously and holding Ironhide really close to her chest.
It makes Brad think of the first time they got to have her over, the first time she's been allowed to stay the night. They went through the supervised visits and they have been allowed to take her out to the park and the zoo, but this was the first time they weren't on the clock and no one was watching over their shoulders and making careful notes.
They watched an animated flick about talking animals, one from which Brad would later learn all the songs by heart. Katie was watching Nate's every move with huge eyes, like she thought he might disappear if she blinked.
Smart kid, Brad thought then. It took him years to figure out that Nate made everything in his life make sense, and that girl already knew that.
At some point he stood up to go somewhere, bathroom or kitchen, he doesn't remember, and when he came back, Katie was asleep, her head pillowed on Nate's chest, and Nate had been whispering something inaudible into her hair, eyes half-closed and his arms around her like he never wanted to let go.
He remembers his stomach clenching almost painfully, something rising in his throat. It made him think of a long time ago, of when Nate kissed him, finally, and then called him a fucking idiot. The heady, perfect feeling of knowing exactly what he wants.
"She stays," he said, sticking to easy words, because he didn't trust himself with anything more. "I don't care what... She stays."
Nate looked up, eyes shining, and nodded, once, before gently easing his hand from under Katie and reaching for him.
Now, Brad kneels in front of her and pokes at her chin with his thumb, gently. "Could get complicated, kid. If you stick to the same one for both of us."
She gives him a look like she doesn't see the problem. "Is it okay..." she starts and hides her face in Ironhide's fur. The kitten mewls softly and tries to catch a strand of Katie's hair.
Brad's not good at this, he's not Nate, he doesn't know what's the right thing to say. Instead, he just pulls her closer, hugs her gingerly, making sure he doesn't squash the kitten moving against his chest now. "Sure it is. You know I love you, don't you, kid?"
She nods slowly, almost imperceptibly, and holds on tighter.
"Are we having a party in the driveway now?" Nate asks, the wide smile evident in his voice. "Because it's getting really cold, and you two could maybe move it inside? Plenty of hugging that can go around there, and I made hot chocolate."
Katie beams at him. "Can Ironhide have some?"
"That's what we need," Nate tells Brad. "A kitten on a sugar high."
Brad laughs and gets to his feet, ruffling Katie's hair. "Go on inside," he tells her. Nate reaches out and catches his wrist before Brad can follow, and he turns to look at Nate.
"You're doing fine," Nate says softly, the green of his eyes warm and familiar.
Brad shakes his head, his hand on Nate's hip, his thumb hooked into the belt loop. "I'm doing much better than that," he says honestly.