Fandom: Generation Kill
Summary: Sequel to A hundred different things, a Notting Hill AU.
Disclaimer: Based on fictionalised portrayals as seen on the HBO miniseries.
A/N: For alasse's prompt (prompt fest still going on, fyi): TMZ and every tabloid under the sun seem to think Brad and Nate got married. They didn't, but it gets Nate to thinking...
It starts, like regrettably many things in Nate's life, with a phonecall from Sandra.
"Is there something you're not telling me?"
Nate shrugs and flips through the newspaper. Someone has already stolen certain sections of it and the list of suspects is rather short and currently taking his usual ten miles morning run. "There's a great many things I don't tell you. It's why we have such a good relationship."
"This certain something pertains to knots. And the possible tying of them."
Maybe if Nate wasn't having a great morning, due to Brad's arrival last night and also because he's just had a particularly wonderful cup of coffee, maybe then he'd hold the comment back. But, as it is, he says: "I thought we had an agreement on never discussing my sex life if it doesn't involve being arrested or injured. But if you want to talk knots, I'll let you know that Brad..."
"Okay," Sandra interrupts, rather loudly. "Thanks," she adds, softer, her voice just that little bit strained "for the visual. I'm going to keep that mental image for days."
"You're welcome. Now, what is this really about?"
"So, you have no idea."
"Sandra. It's seven a.m. Have mercy and just come out and tell me whatever you wish to tell me."
"TMZ has announced you proposed to Colbert."
He doesn't spit the coffee all over the newspaper, but it's a close thing. "Why would they think that?"
"You'd know if you checked your fucking e-mail and google alerts first thing in the morning like my every other client."
"Don't you always say all your other clients are narcissistic douchebags with a penchant for getting injured while humping their own reflections?"
"Once. I said it once, and I was very drunk. I blame Person, and you promised never to repeat it."
"No, I promised to never tell anyone you said it. Annoying you by quoting it is different."
"Check your mail, asshole."
He does. And she's right, the google alerts are all announcing the same thing, in the blue underlined font he has come to know and hate. His name is bolded throughout, Brad's never far away.
"Click through, there's a picture."
It's grainy and the light is off, clearly taken with a cellphone. The restaurant from last night, where they stopped on their way from the airport. Brad's sitting down, head bowed, smiling. His face is a little blurry, but the smile is there, warm and familiar. Nate's kneeling down and looking up, and the focus of the picture is on his face.
It looks like a fucking proposal scene alright. Faced with such compelling evidence Nate is prepared to accept it and not come forth with his story of, you know, what actually happened, which would be dropping his keys and then picking them up.
"Seriously, that's all they have to go on? It's pretty weak," he says and Sandra snorts.
"You want strong, make a sex tape. Or, you know, save my sanity and don't. So, what are we doing about this?"
He sighs and clicks through the links quickly. They all have the same picture, together with a few lines of mostly the same shit: proposal, 'source close to the actor' saying it was just a matter of time, news yet to be officially confirmed or denied (not that they bothered to ask) and details to follow.
"If someone bothers to call you to confirm, tell them it's bogus. I don't think we need to deny anything, it's mild. Also, the angle of the photo means whoever took it had to stand behind the bar."
"You want me to call the restaurant?"
"Yeah. I'd hate to have to stop coming there, they have a good policy of not letting the paps in, and Brad loves their steak. But Sandra, be gentle. I don't want anyone losing their jobs over it."
"You know why you're my favourite client?"
"Because all the others are narcissistic douchebags?"
"No, because I never know whether to coo at you or tell you you're being a fucking idiot. But okay."
"Thanks. I'll see you tomorrow," he says and disconnects, surveys the damage on the newspaper and trashes it. All the good stuff has been taken out anyway, Brad left him only with the entertainment section, the fucker.
"You look prissy and passive agressive," Brad tells him, leaning against the doorframe. He's already taken off his shirt after the run, and Nate has to say he heartily approves of the routine. "Did Sandra call?"
"My morning wouldn't be complete otherwise. Speaking of, shower?" he says hopefully and Brad smiles, turns to walk upstairs knowing Nate will follow.
Nate expects the whole thing to blow over in a matter of days. The ONTD picks up the story and turns it into a gif party and an entire thread devoted to what should be their wedding song. (Wind Beneath My Wings wins the poll. Nate would love to see Brad's face if that ever happened. No, seriously, he'd pay.) A few blogs continue the discussion. One sad tabloid is having a hard time finding more interesting stories and the photo gets printed on page seventeen.
And then there's the rings thing.
Nate's fault, alright, he'll admit. Should have known better, the timing is fucked and all, but honestly, it gets blown out of proportion.
Brad's sister has a birthday coming up and they go for the joint present for the first time. It could be a big thing in a relationship, except they don't care, and it's easier to come up with one gift than try and figure out two.
Besides, Brad has some fucked ideas on what constitutes a good birthday gift for a young woman.
"You have no room to talk, there are young women all over the world eager to get a used napkin from you," he tells Nate. "Not to mention used something else."
"You kiss your mother with that mouth? And it was just one time, and I'm never coming back there, it was a weird country."
"Fuck, whatever, be it your way. But you're picking out the fucking necklace, I've figured I was done with that shit when I decided to embrace the big gay life. Speaking of, and on the subject of what I can do with that mouth. I was going to suck your dick some time ago, and the whole gifts debacle distracted me."
"Then by all means," Nate says and brushes his thumb across Brad's lip before leaning back against the headboard.
So, that very afternoon, he gets a call from Sandra, who seems both amused and annoyed, a somehow familiar mixture. "Want to tell me what the fuck were you thinking?"
"We just went to buy Meg a necklace," he says defensively. "I have no idea how..."
"How someone could see your picture at the fucking jeweller's and figure out you're getting rings? No, I have no idea either. People are crazy, what can you do?" she says, aiming for levity, the anger just simmering underneath.
Nate sighs. "I'm going to have to grovel a lot after you unravel it, aren't I?"
"Yes on groveling. No on the unraveling. It will probably blow over, to be honest. Just, Nate, fucking remember that sometimes people hide in your trashcans to get a good picture, so watch out?"
"One time, and I'm not quite sure the guy wasn't just looking for a nice trashcan, and not a good picture."
"Takes all sorts, I suppose. Tell Meg happy birthday from me," she adds.
Nate looks at the picture on his screen for a long while. Brad's holding something in his palm, showing it to Nate, whose fingers are wrapped around Brad's wrist. To steady it, maybe, or just because he likes to feel Brad's pulse under his fingers.
Something tightens in Nate's chest and he can't quite say why.
"Wanna tell me why Person wrote to me saying he's fucking disappointed he didn't get to be the maid of honour?"
Nate considers pretending he has no fucking idea. He has it on a good authority (authorities, actually, including the Academy) that he's a decent actor, he could probably pull it off.
For a grand four seconds or so, because he can't lie to Brad. Not face to face, at least, he can maybe fool him for a while over the phone, but that's that.
"A few tabloids mistakenly believe that we got married over the weekend. Don't worry, I'm assured it will blow over."
Brad gives him a look. "I'm not worried," he says, with a rather curious inflection. "And according to the rather impressive selection of links and attachments Ray has included, I believe you're grossly understating it by saying it's only a few tabloids."
"Ray has way too much free time," Nate says darkly.
"That's what I was saying when he went through the livejournal phase," Brad agrees. "I believe you said it can't get worse than fan fiction."
"He could go to the comic con."
"There's that," Brad admits and nudges Nate's knee, insinuating himself in between Nate's legs and looking down, his face inscrutable. Unlike Nate, Brad can pull it off. It's downright unfair. "So, wanna tell me why the entire country thinks we got hitched?"
"Entire world. Apparently you're trending on twitter in Hungary."
"I hate twitter," Brad says with conviction. "And I have made peace with the fact that people pretty much everywhere fancy your ass, don't get me wrong, I can understand the sentiment, being quite interested in it myself, but why the fuck am I trending on the fucking twitter?"
"Something something Nordic sex god. I don't pay much attention," Nate shrugs and gets another look, but Brad's hand is gentle on the side of his face. Ringless hand, he'd like to add, no matter what the world seems to think.
The pang of regret takes him by surprise, but not as much now as it had at the beginning of the whole thing. The slow-burning feeling of want has been a near constant presence, under the surface of his conscious thought. It's beginning to peek through, though, take shape, and Nate isn't sure he likes what it means.
"Well, if it's for the right reasons," Brad allows magnanimously, the corner of his mouth twitching. "So, we didn't get married over the weekend?"
"Not that I remember."
"You sure you would remember? We got pretty damn drunk."
"I blame Poke. Vegas was his fucking idea."
And that was the problem, in a nutshell. He did the damn interview on Monday and mentioned Vegas, and somehow it spun out of control. Again. He should have known better, really.
Nate sighs. "Look, I'm sorry."
"Are you? What for?" Brad's expression is still perfectly impassive, not betraying anything. Polite, maybe mildly curious, but nothing more.
Nate isn't sure what to say. Mostly, he's sorry that it's yet another occasion on which Brad is dragged down into the whole media circus thing, but that's not all. If he's honest with himself, that's not it at all.
He's sorry because he wants the whole thing to be real. And it's not that he's uncertain of Brad, or of their relationship, he knows better. It was never going to be temporary, Brad has already rearranged most of his life to fit into Nate's. This is it, for both of them.
But Brad has already went through one engagement, a failed one to boot, and his opinion on marriage and people who needed a piece of paper to keep them together was pretty well known. And it wasn't favorable, as you can imagine.
"You are very unattractive when you frown," Brad tells him wryly when the silence stretches and Nate still hasn't found an answer.
Nate rolls his eyes and shakes his head theatrically. "I'm not frowning, I'm brooding. I can show you the picspam of my emotional expressions, if you'd like."
"I thought you set your gmail account to send Ray's e-mails straight to spam."
"He used Hasser's account."
Brad nods. "Nate," he says, lacing his fingers with Nate's. "It will blow over soon. As press shit storms go, it doesn't even register. Why the fuck is this getting to you?"
Because, Nate wants to say. Because he wants the fucking ring on Brad's finger, he wants to feel the comforting weight of one on his own. He wants the whole fucking world to know that they have this, will have this, forever.
He doesn't realise he's stroking Brad's ring finger until Brad stills his movements, holds their hands close to his chest, the steady beat of his heart under Nate's hand now.
"You know, if we do this now we can avoid another three ring circus."
"Do what?" Nate asks, whispers, not trusting his voice with more. It can't be what he thinks it is.
"Oh, no. I'm not proposing to you, asshole. It will go down in the records that you did the one-knee thing in a fucking hippy restaurant like the giant dork you are."
"It isn't what you want," Nate finds himself saying.
Brad shrugs. "Funny. That's what I thought, and then the fucking tabloids showed me what I could have."
Nate shifts closer, disentangles his hand from Brad's grip and places it on the side of Brad's face, along with the other one. He brings their foreheads together, their noses brushing. He breathes in Brad's breath and nods slowly. "No Vegas," he says, because otherwise he'd say something that would cause Brad to mock him forever.
Brad kisses him lightly, a chaste brush of his lips over Nate's. "I was thinking Massachusetts, actually. I called your parents and your sister promised to make Ray a pretty bridesmaid dress."
"You..." Nate starts and shakes his head. He planned to finish it with 'fucker' but what comes out is: "have no fucking idea how much I love you."
Brad shrugs. "I might have some."