Fandom: Generation Kill
Characters/Pairings: Nate/Brad, also Ray/Walt
Wordcount: 2389 for this part
Disclaimer: Based on fictionalised portrayals as seen on the HBO miniseries.
A/N: Sorry for the delay, school and work were kicking my ass this past month. There will be one more part of this, I'm aiming to have it done before the end of the year ;). Previous parts: hell, heaven, crossroads, earth
It starts with death.
More things do than people would think. At their core, stories are about death, human lives are about death. There's no life without it, after all. People seek death and find it, defy it, try to escape it, cheat it and desire it. Give it and take it into themselves.
Some will spend their entire lives living in its shadow, finding new ways to try and postpone the inevitable. Some will welcome it like a long awaited friend. Some will desire it like you would a lover.
Demons... see, demons are different. They had known death, those who used to be humans. Even if they don't remember it, they have tasted it and it holds no sway over them now. Demons born in hell don't understand death at all, they couldn't. They exist in a limbo, in a slow forever. Death doesn't bother with them.
Then there are the angels and the fallen.
They don't know death, they couldn't. Some would tell you that angels are jealous of humans. It's not quite true, jealousy is not the right word to use, jealousy burns hot and if angels feel anything it's cold, cool under their skin.
If angels are envious at all, then they're envious of the three things only humans have: God's love, free will, and death.
You have to live to die and angels don't live at all, they exist, no beginning and no end, frozen in the moment and frozen in the eternity.
(Ray sometimes calls Brad the Iceman. It's a private joke, one Nate isn't quite privy to; it has been explained to him once or twice but like with most private jokes, you'd have to be there.
Ray sometimes calls Brad the Iceman and Nate thinks nothing could be farther from the truth. Nate touches Brad and feels like he's melting.)
It starts with death. Things do, more often than you'd think. Without death there couldn't be life.
It starts with death. Brad's, and in a way it's a beginning for Nate. Ray's, and in a way it sets them all on the road to this. Amy's, and the promise made then. Walt's, and that hasn't happened yet but it's a part of this story, an important part.
Throughout it all, Nate is. Just exists.
It doesn't feel quite fair, except that sometimes he looks at Brad and feels like he's dying, and dying feels like a beginning.
Ray thinks he probably likes humans more than when he was one of them. Likes the whole world much better, thank you very much.
When he was alive, there wasn't much porn, for example. A few nude paintings here and there, nothing to write home about. And sure, when you saw tits on a painting, they were tits and not plastic bags plasted on a size-zero slip of a girl, but the whole thing was tasteful and shit, and probably had little cherubs in the corner.
Cherubs were perverts.
(The actual cherubim are creepy. Then again, most angels are, maybe not counting dear Nathaniel, but he's got brains and he got out of that bullshit that is all hippie kumbayah love-thy-enemy crap until someone brings out locusts.)
Anyway, Ray loves porn they have now. One click away from all the sights and sounds you might want (and not want, in some cases, because Ray is a demon and therefore not a stranger to the darker sides of the human nature, but really, why would you, girls? And the cup?). There's 3D porn now, he kids you not.
A long way away from La Maja Desnuda.
So, porn. Also, Skittles and M&Ms, the ones with the nuts inside. Good beer and tequila. Peanuts in bars. Bars in general, the ones with jukeboxes and wooden tables and waitresses in short skirts. Cable tv and late night talk shows. Sports, especially the ones you don't know what the fuck is going on but you watch anyway, because well, the screen is big and it's sports. So yeah, Ray is all for saving the world.
And some humans aren't bad either and he isn't only talking about the porn stars and the waitresses in the short skirts.
"This is the bar you choose to meet with your ex-girlfriend who also happens to be the anthropomorphic personification of War? Really?" Walt asks incredulously. Incredulous looks good on him, his brow furrowing a little.
"Did I say anything about an ex-girlfriend?"
Walt gives him a look, all condescension and 'bitch, please'. "If you were looking for a virginal farmboy Luke Skywalker type of your Chosen fucking One you might have to look elsewhere. I know how it is with ex-girlfriends."
Kid's got a point. He also has a bit of a mouth on him and a really nice ass, and the whole talk of virginity is giving Ray ideas and setting up questions he shouldn't want to ask. At least not now when the world is in peril and shit.
"Back so fast?" War asks, sliding into the booth right next to Walt, her hair a lot shorter than the last time Ray saw her.
"Nice hair," he says, because you have to notice this shit, he's been told. Not only notice but also compliment and all. Trims. Even when they're anthropomorphic personifications.
She shrugs. "Easier to wash the blood out of, and there's gonna be blood and a lot of it, soon. Hasser," she adds pleasantly, nodding. "I see the boys have figured out whose fight is it."
"Yes, thank you for the cryptic shit," Ray nods. "How do you even know Walt?"
She smiles, fond and sweet. She never smiled like that at Ray, to be honest, but he did get the other kind of smiles, the smirky and mischievous ones before she pulled him down or dragged him somewhere secluded, so there was that.
"He's a warrior," she explains, reaching out, palm flat on Walt's chest, a little over his heart and closer to his shoulder. "Of course I know him, intimately," she adds and Walt breathes in, eyes closing.
"Well, isn't that fucking nice. I guess you won't mind helping us out a little then?" Ray asks irritably, shifting in his seat. "We need to know where Death is gonna pop out of his hole in the ground and whack him on the head so he goes right back in, sort of like the fucking whack-a-mole except less fun and with no toy prizes."
"All business and no fun? Are you sure it's you, Joshua Ray?" War smiles and shakes her head. "I expected at least a suggestion of a threesome with your boy here."
"He's not..." Ray catches her smile and sticks his tongue out at her. "You're such a bitch."
"I've been told. But I suppose it takes one to know one," she nods magnanimously.
"Not that this isn't fascinating," Walt interjects. "But we'd be really grateful for any intel you might have for us. I think we're a little bit in a hurry here."
"Time is relative, sweetheart," War tells him kindly. "You'll figure it out soon enough," she adds thoughtfully. And fucking cryptically. Ray remembers why they broke up, really.
"Location?" he prompts.
"Death is everywhere," she tells him. At his look she shrugs. "You demons think like humans too often, so literal and narrow. It's not the place that matters. You'll find him anywhere someone dies, anywhere something dies. You just can't see him."
"Not unless you're dying yourself," Walt guesses. "When I was shot I thought I saw Brad. Well, right before I was shot," he shrugs. "Okay, I suppose I really saw him, but at the time I thought I was hallucinating. I remember thinking that maybe he came to get me, that maybe I was dying."
"You weren't," War shakes her head. "But you're right."
Ray doesn't fucking like the sound of it, not one bit.
"Whatever, homes, I'm not doing this shit," Ray crosses his arms and calls up an expression of resolve and decisiveness.
"Don't do that, you look constipated," Walt tells him pleasantly. "You have a better idea. Let's hear it."
"Fuck yeah, let's get back to Nate and have him figure it out. Motherfucker is supposed to be the brains of the operation."
"I don't see what the big deal is, you said you could revive me before I really died."
"Oh, right, before you really died," Ray drawled. To be honest, sure, he said that, but that was before Walt divulged his moronic self-sacrificing plan and all Ray had to go on were innocent questions to the nature and powers of demons. And Walt fucking Hasser was way too good at innocent fucking questions for Ray's comfort.
That could prove to be a problem in the future. Provided, of course, they survived the fucking Apocalypse.
"Were you just showing off and can't do it?"
Ray gives up. Walt Hasser is fucking dangerous, with the blue eyes and earnest expression. Fuck.
"Okay. Fuck. But if you die for real, I'm going to kill you," he offers and yeah, he realizes he deserves the pitying look he gets, but whatever. "So, how would you like to almost-die?" he asks.
Next time he's not signing up for the saving-the-world business. It only leads to stress and giving a shit.
Death reminds Walt a little of Nate. He looks impossibly young and older than the world at the same time, and he smiles at Walt serenely.
He also reminds Walt of someone he used to know but can't quite recall.
"You're not quite what I expected," Walt says after a moment.
Death looks down at himself and shrugs. "It's not unsurprising. But it's just a temporary form, I am different to everyone. A bitter enemy, a monster in the dark, a long-awaited relief."
"And old friend," Walt agrees. He's made peace with death a long time ago, the first time his platoon was under direct fire. It was what he signed up for and there could be no regrets.
Angels and demons showed up on his doorstep talking of Apocalypse and he... can't quite say he didn't care, because he wanted to help saving this world, it wasn't that. But he's waited to feel a pang of dread, a trace of fear, and there was none. Maybe this was why.
"However, I can't help but notice it isn't your time yet, Walter. Care to explain?" Death says, sitting down on the floor, head tilted back against the wall. Walt joins him down, shoulder to shoulder, and shrugs.
"The world is ending," he says.
Death tilts his head. "The world is ending all the time, one minute after another."
Great, more cryptic talk. "You know what I mean."
"I am aware," Death agrees. "You can't stop it, Walter. Everyone has to follow rules, even me. The armies of heaven and hell are preparing for the battle, and I am preparing for the great harvest."
"Aren't rules made to be broken?"
"That's a very human approach," Death says, and he sounds wistful, his tone not reproachful but more like fond. "No, rules are there to be followed. If they're not, they aren't rules, they are guidelines or hints. Rules are constant, sacred. Made once and for everyone."
He looks at Walt as if to make him understand, but Walt can't accept this. There has to be some way out of this.
"Of course there is," Death tells him. "There's always a way and there's always a price. And now, it's time for you to get back."
There's a flash of light and then Ray is looking at him with concern. "Did you play chess? Because I've seen the movies and the fucker always cheats."
"It's taking them longer than I thought," Brad says, joining Nate on the terrace of their contemporary headquarters. They have a great view of the ocean from here, and Brad is pretty damn sure it's not coincidental, that Nate has chosen the place because he knew Brad would love it.
And he does, but the impending Apocalypse takes a little out of the enjoyment.
"Time is relative," Nate tells him, but the tense set of his shoulders proves that he thinks the same thing. "Ray will look after him."
"That's exactly what worries me," Brad jokes.
The sun is setting slowly over the ocean. There's something about the view that never fails to calm Brad down. Well, almost never. He tried to spend some time in California in the eighties, right after he and Nate... right after he learned what happened at his crossroads, but all the ocean did was remind him of Nate, calm and beautiful and impossible to know wholly.
The first time they've come to California together was sometime in the nineteenth century, probably close to the end than not. Time was relative back then even more than it is now, when the human obsession with measuring everything to a nanosecond started to shape the reality of angels and demons alike.
In the nineteenth century time still stretched out easily, nowhere as liquid and irrelevant as in California, with vast open spaces and the bluest ocean in the world, meeting the open and blue sky on the horizon.
"I could stay here forever," Brad had said and Nate nodded, not quite in agreement but in acknowledgment.
"Forever is a long time. Let's try for a few decades and see how it goes."
They didn't last that long, Nate got his new orders a few years later and those took him all over the world. They've come back to California a few times after that, though, and if there was a place to call home, it might have been that.
Now Brad knows why it could be, now he remembers his human life, in pieces and from a distance, but he knows where his village used to be, he knows where his bones rest.
"I could stay here forever," he says and Nate reaches out, hand on the side of Brad's face.
"Until the end of the world at least," he says, and the trace of bitterness in his voice is almost lost in the way he looks at Brad. "We don't have much time," he adds.
"Time is relative," Brad tells him. And in that moment, it's more than true.