Fandom: Generation Kill
Disclaimer: Based on fictionalised portrayals as seen on the HBO miniseries.
A/N: College AU. Written to get over my writer's block, basically fluff.
In theory, moving in with Nate seems like a great idea.
In theory, going to Tijuana with Ray Person during their first spring break seemed like a good idea. Or taking anthropology after Poke reported it was the best course to meet hot co-eds. Or playing beer pong the night before his Russian lit midterm.
Brad can’t even remember why he thought it was a good idea to take Russian lit in the first place. He supposes Nate is to blame, Nate and his enthusiasm for every single class he’s taking.
There’s a special place in hell for that kind of people. And an even deeper circle for those who not only clearly hate happiness or having free time, but also drag their friends into their suffering.
So, in theory, many things seemed like good ideas. As it was, all Brad got was arrested, bored to death in a class with no hot chicks whatsoever save for Gina, and she was off limits after the first week, and a killer headache and a B-, dragging down his average.
“No, seriously, what can go wrong?” Ray asks, opening a vast array of possibilities Brad doesn’t even dare to think about. “You can’t afford the rent on your own unless you invent time travel to find a few hours to squeeze in a second job, and you already like Nate. Wait, I know, wrong choice of words, homes, I got you covered. Dear Nathaniel is one of the very few individuals on this campus or, indeed, in the whole state, whose presence you don’t find unbearable. How was that?”
Surprisingly adequate. “Very few individuals, Person. Keep in mind you don’t qualify and cease your yapping, my headache is getting worse.”
“You know you love me. I admit though, not as much as you love Nate, so just admit it and move in together like the heterosexual life partners you clearly are.”
Got something in there right.
Brad meets Nate during their second week on campus when Nate unceremoniously sits down at his cafeteria table and gently moves Brad’s tray to make space for his own.
“The others are running late?” he asks and Brad blinks at him slowly, because he doesn’t think he actually knows this guy. It’s true, he doesn’t remember everyone he has classes with, but he’s pretty damn sure he’d know if he made lunch arrangements.
And while some people simply have no sense of decorum (Ray) or refuse to acknowledge all the hard work Brad puts into seeming as unapproachable as humanly possible (Ray) to save himself from idiots (also Ray), this one looks like he attends Sunday school and says all the thank yous and pleases in the right places.
What he doesn’t look is confused, at least not until Brad stares at him.
“And you have no idea who I am,” he says.
That gets him a smirk and the guy extends his hand, careful not to dip his sleeve in the garlic sauce on Brad’s tray. “Nate Fick.”
“That had cleared up absolutely nothing,” Brad tells him mournfully. “Do you have the right table?”
“My presence has been requested for what I’ve been assured will be a legendary beer pong tournament.” Brad grimaces at that, he’s heard the very same thing this morning and he’s not at all convinced it’s even a remotely good idea. Nate takes it in and nods. “My sentiments exactly, but I’ve turned down four other invitations this week and has been told I need to remove the stick I have lodged up in an uncomfortable place and have some fun.”
“So, you know Ray,” Brad concludes, mystery solved. Nate tilts his head and regards him quizzically.
“As much as you can know someone after one meeting and four long, unrelated and unprompted but somehow hilarious, rants. I know Walt. We went to high school together.”
“No, Disney,” Nate says dryly and Brad fights back a grin, covering it with an attempt to steal some of Nate’s fries. It goes well and Nate doesn’t even remark on it, which reinforces Brad’s decision to let him stay for a trial run.
Now that he thinks of it, Hasser might have mentioned his roommate a few times and nothing he said was terribly off-putting. All the slots for pain-in-the-asses in Brad’s life has been filled by Person already, so Nate better not turn out to be an idiot. So far, so good, and Hasser is alright, even if he seems to have a blind spot when it comes to Ray. It’s mutual, two hours after they met at the first college party they attended Ray declared he’s adopting Hasser and that he’s going to suck Walt’s dick before the end of the night. The creepiness just went up from there.
“So, you’re Nathaniel,” Brad says after a moment of freely watching Nate as he picks up Brad’s book and glances at the title before becoming engrossed in the back cover, eyes scanning the blurbs. He looks up when Brad speaks and Brad notes idly that his eyes are really green.
And really bright, especially when he smiles. “If that’s how you want it, Bradley,” he says and Brad concedes with a slow nod.
It’s probably right there and then that he starts losing his head over Nate, but of course he doesn’t notice. Of course he doesn’t.
Nate takes to hanging out at Brad’s room more often than not.
It’s logical, because more often than not Ray and Walt end up at Walt and Nate’s apartment, as Nate is polite and makes himself scarce, unlike Brad who not only threatens to throw a bucket of cold water over them but also has no problem with following his threats with actions.
(And it’s not even that they fuck like bunnies, though they do, sometimes. The worst part is when Person ropes Hasser into baking and then makes obscene noises over the cupcakes. Brad really, really didn’t need to listen to Person’s love confessions and dirty talk to baked goods.)
But then there’s the week when Hasser’s back home for his sister’s wedding and Nate still comes by every evening, bringing over his notes and take-out or beer, depending whose turn it is.
Brad’s never been really against having people around, growing up with two sisters made sure he actually has a pretty good tolerance for noise and chaos, but most of the time he likes the peace and quiet. That’s why he started riding his bike out of the city areas, just to be on his own and in his head for a while, tune other people out.
He doesn’t need that with Nate, who gets lost in his notes and his books and emerges only once in a while, to read a passage out loud that he particularly liked, or to kick Brad’s ankle and ask if it’s time to eat already.
After three days of this Ray gives in and makes himself scarce, muttering something under his breath that could be ‘I can suck dick like a man but this is threatening my heterosexuality.’
“So, he’s not a fan of Chinese food?” Nate asks, his delivery perfectly guileless as he reaches for the containers. “Great, more for us.”
Thing is, despite occasional evidence to the contrary (like the Tijuana trip, or the time at the prom, after Jenna dumped him for Rick), Brad isn’t an idiot.
Well, fine, sometimes. Like when he lets Nate rope him into taking class after class of humanities, from the fucking Russian lit to the classics course that would probably suit Ray, as it seems to be all about dick sucking.
It’s partly because Nate always shares his notes, so there’s half of the work done for Brad already, but also because he finds it increasingly more difficult to say no to Nate. And it wasn’t easy to begin with.
And of course it also brings us back to the point of Brad not being an idiot. It takes him a few months to realise he’s head over heels, wonderfully, stupidly, terribly in love with Nate Fick but he gets there on his own, figures out what the hollow feeling in his chest means and why his fingers itch when Nate is close enough to touch.
It really hits him during the Spring Break, when they get arrested on their way back. All Ray’s fault. Or Trombley’s, really, for riling Ray up, and who thought it was a good idea to go on a road trip with Person, Hasser, and Trombley? And, well, Wright, but he kept to himself and kept on working on an overdue assignment most of the time, so it was almost as if he wasn’t there.
Right, not the point.
Point is, they get arrested, they’re almost back home but not quite, and there’s really no one else to call and drive their drunk asses home, and that has been an unfortunate phrasing, Brad realises, especially when Nate is the one he calls. Because, who else.
“I’m not even asking,” is the first thing Nate says, arms crossed and lips twitching. He repeats it a few times more on the way home, as Ray tries to explain, the rant growing more and more outrageous every time he attempts to tell the story. “I wasn’t asking, Ray,” he mutters when he drops Ray and Walt off at the apartment and then drives onwards to Wright’s and Trombley’s places.
Brad stares out of the window as they drive and tries to make sense of both the fear and excitement at the fact that Nate seems to somehow be saving him for the last, taking the long and not so scenic route and dropping everyone else off first.
“Had fun?” Nate asks as they’re pulling over and Brad rolls his head to the side to look at him.
“I thought you weren’t asking.”
Nate nods solemnly. “I’m not. But I’m saying one thing, you owe me big for this,” he says. “This isn’t exactly how I planned to spend my evening.”
Brad had sort of figured that one out, from the crisp white shirt and Nate’s best jacket, but employed the clearly fashionable policy of not asking. He could really hate the answer. “Sorry,” he says and means. Nate looks at him for a long moment, his eyes dark in the muted light of the empty parking lot, and nods.
“It’s fine,” he says matter-of-factly and clearly means it, like Brad interrupting his date and ruining his night is not a big deal, like he’s happy to drop everything and play chauffeur. “Brad, I mean it,” he offers, smiling. “Come on, out with you, you obviously need a shower and then we can order a pizza and salvage some of the night.”
That’s how they end up on the floor of Brad’s room, watching a movie on the small screen of Brad’s laptop and sharing a large pizza with everything and a joint Nate inexplicably produced from somewhere around his person.
“You walked into a police station with a joint in your pocket? I have a newfound respect for you, Fick.”
“Of course I didn’t, it was locked in the glove compartment,” Nate says, giving up on trying to make sense of the movie and leaning back against the side of the bed, staring at the ceiling. Brad’s eyes are drawn to the line of Nate’s neck, peeking out of the white collar of his shirt. The shirt is a little wrinkled now, the sleeves rolled up and top buttons popped open, and Nate’s skin seems flushed, warm.
Brad stares at him and circles around the same thought over and over again, how easy it would be to lean in and find out if Nate’s lips are as soft as they look. He’s stoned enough to laugh it off later.
He’s not stoned enough to be that brave, to risk having to laugh it off later.
“Okay, fuck, I’m asking,” Nate says, turning his head a little to look at Brad. “How the hell did you end up locked up for the night?”
“Wasn’t my fault,” Brad says automatically, defensively, and is absurdly pleased when Nate laughs. He launches into the story with more enthusiasm than he feels, because it feels the silence and pushes down his errant thoughts a little bit, makes sure he doesn’t do anything he’d regret.
He pushes down even harder on the disappointment of not doing anything.
He could deal if it was just an attraction, a slow burn under his skin, a dizzying feeling whenever Nate is near, but it’s far more than that.
In the summer Nate goes on a trip to Europe, one he had planned with his high school friend for last year but which didn’t pan out due to some family stuff of said friend. Brad isn’t widely jealous or at least tells himself he isn’t, but then he actually meets Mike, with his firm handshake and soft voice, Mike who is terribly in love with his girlfriend, and laughs inwardly at himself.
“At least you’ll be able to keep Nathaniel out of trouble,” he says and meets Nate’s bemused glare straight on.
Mike just nods solemnly. He seems to already know what Brad slowly found out during the year, that for someone who looks like a choir boy and acts all polite towards everyone, Nate can actually stir some serious shit up, with his tendency to stick up for people and to speak his mind to professors you really shouldn't talk back to. And it’s true that something like two thirds of the campus is almost as stupidly in love with Nate as Brad is (almost), but there are people who hate his guts too.
“Take care, alright?” Nate tells him quietly, as if Brad was the one travelling overseas and not going back home. He lets Nate pull him into a hug anyway and holds on for a few good seconds.
And so he goes home, rides his bike and surfs and plays a reluctant baby sitter to his sister’s newest spawn, who is tiny and drools a lot and has the bluest eyes Brad has ever seen.
Nate sends postcards, panoramas of cities at night that would be pretty indistinguishable from one another of not for a single identifying landmark smack in the middle of each one, from the Eiffel Tower to the Big Ben. Nate covers the clean side of the cards with his neat handwriting, sharp lines and decisive dots, somehow making all the touristy crap sound fun and inviting. He draws, badly, on the pictures, planes on the night sky or a giant lizard that’s probably meant to be Godzilla but looks like a lizard-ish Spongebob crawling onto Big Ben.
Brad gets strange looks from his mother and sisters when he puts the postcards up on his desk, as he never bothered to display stuff in there, using every available space for something actually useful, but he doesn’t really give a fuck.
“Aww, you made a friend,” Karen says and Brad is tempted to flip her off, but she’s holding Aly. Who is probably too young to even make sense which finger he’s showing, but he doesn’t take his chances.
“I’ll ask Person over for Thanksgiving. Introduce him to your kids,” he threatens.
“Please do. I’m sure he’ll have stories to tell about your boyfriend.”
Brad shakes his head mournfully. They get crafty when they get married and Karen was super sneaky even when she was in high school. He almost forgot that. Good times.
And then he gets home after a pleasant day of excellent waves to find Karen crooning into the phone, saying “Nate, you absolutely must visit,” and freezes in his steps, all but petrified.
“Give me that,” he barks and ignores Karen’s winning smile. “Whatever she said, she lies.”
“So, you won’t be happy to see me?” comes Nate’s warm tone, teasing and clear as if he was inches away. “Don’t worry, I wasn’t going to...”
“Yeah, you should come,” Brad interrupts him. “If you have nothing better to do,” he adds with a shrug that is fooling no one, if the look Karen sends him is any indication. Nate, however, doesn’t seem to notice anything amiss and readily agrees, making arrangements.
Brad expects it to be difficult, expects to have a hard time with Nate constantly around, but Nate fits in a surprising-but-not-really way. He turns out to be bad at surfing and excellent at baby sitting and Brad’s mother absolutely adores him and feeds him cake.
He’s both sorry and relieved when the summer ends before he gives in and does something stupid, before he goes and ruins a good thing.
Except, maybe, he dares to think.
Ray rolls out his brilliant idea a week before the classes are supposed to start. Brad isn’t sure whether he’s more surprised by the lack of forethought (okay, it’s Ray, he’s not surprised by that at all) or by the fact that it seems that even after a summerlong road trip Hasser still doesn’t have enough of Person.
“Fuck you, I’m delightful.”
“Yes, in the way that venereal diseases are delightful, an annoying itch that ruins one’s social life.”
“Your charming personality takes care of that, Iceman,” Ray shoots back easily and fishes out another beer from the portable fridge by his feet. Brad isn’t sure how he gets roped into these things, but somehow he agreed to a beach outing and is suffering for it now. Ray’s been on the sun for too long and now thinks he can solve all of their logistical problems by suggesting Brad moves in with Nate.
Find ten things wrong about this picture.
“Nate already agreed,” Walt says quietly and with a nice smile that doesn’t hide the fact that Walt is a sneaky motherfucker and Brad should have watched his six.
“I said that I don’t mind if you don’t mind,” Nate shrugs from over what looks like a textbook. Because he would bring a textbook to the last beach party of the summer, come on. “You don’t have any particularly annoying habits that I know of, and I could use a break from the crash course in what Ray Person considers dirty talk.”
“Please, homes, you’re taking notes. The walls are thin, I can hear your pen scribbling.”
Brad gives Nate a pointed look. “I really hope that’s not a euphemism,” he says, eliciting a snort and a salute with a beer bottle from Nate. “And I don’t think ‘the walls are thin’ is a good selling point.”
“True. But the shower is pretty great and the building has a garage, you could bring out your bike here,” Nate says matter-of-factly but there’s some insistence under the seemingly calm tone, like he really wants Brad to agree.
And let’s face it, Brad knew he would agree from the very first moment it was brought up, but this is something else, this is something hopeful.
Two days later they’re carrying boxes in, after a day of carrying all of Ray’s stuff out.
“I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to move,” Ray moans after he unceremoniously damps a box labelled ‘careful, fragile shit’ on the couch. The sound it makes as it lands is not boding well for Ray’s continuous survival. “How is it that your room looked all spartan and shit and then it turns out it’s like trying to move all the things out of the Louvre?”
Nate raises his eyebrow and opens the fridge, taking out cold bottles of beer and handing them out. “Louvre, Ray?”
“Well, fine, Louvre doesn’t probably have boxes of sex toys,” Ray allows.
“Whose stuff are we talking about now?” Nate asks, looking for all the world like he’s trying not to laugh.
“That’s what Ray calls my laptops,” Brad explains with a sigh. “And on that happy note, Ray is leaving.”
Ray nods. “That’s right. Me and Walt have a lot of new surfaces to christen. Starting with Brad’s bed.”
“Former bed, and knock yourself out. On second thought, don’t, that would be awfully awkward to explain to paramedics.”
“You could find out, you’re my emergency contact,” Ray informs him on his way out, causing Brad to groan and Nate to laugh, the fucker.
And then it’s just the two of them, and a too empty apartment, and it’s different than all the other times they’ve been on their own. Not uncomfortable, not quite, Brad isn’t sure he could be uncomfortable with Nate.
Could probably go all the way to trainwreck and heartbreak, but not uncomfortable.
So what things are now is just... tense. Brad’s hands are a little clammy and he sticks them in his pockets as a temporary measure, tries not to let his nervousness show.
Nate, it seems, doesn’t have such problems. He puts his now empty beer bottle on the table, taking a moment to make a temporary coaster out of a piece of cardboard. “I thought we could get some unpacking done today, but fuck, I’m too tired,” he offers and confirms it by yawning.
Which Brad doesn’t find, god help him, adorable. At all.
The universe hates him. Nate yawns again, and then, of course, so does Brad, because this thing is fucking contagious.
“So, not just me, then,” Nate smiles. “We’re leaving the rest for tomorrow?”
“Sure, as soon as I figure out which box has the sheets and where is my underwear.”
“This would sound much better out of context,” Nate muses and Brad is half tempted to flip him off but abandons the thought in favor of kicking one of the boxes a little to the left to read the words on the side. Kitchen, so no luck. Nate looks at his half-hearted attempts to check two other boxes and sighs. “Spare sheets in the cupboard. I’ll lend you a shirt and some sweatpants,” he offers.
“Yeah, thanks,” Brad mutters.
It’s probably a bad thing that he’s already considering not giving the shirt back.
On the whole, it’s much easier to live with Nate than it was to room with Person. That should come as a surprise to absolutely no one.
It doesn’t mean that Nate doesn’t have a few habits that drive Brad absolutely fucking insane. In various ways, but still insane.
There’s the fact that he is a morning person who hates being a morning person. He wakes up two minutes before his alarm clock and then lies in bed for good ten minutes before getting up. He blinks owlishly at the coffee maker and announces his hatred for the machine whenever it refuses to cooperate. He complains about the weather being unsuitable for running and then goes on a morning run anyway. Five days into the routine Brad isn’t sure whether he wants to strangle him or use any means necessary to keep him from getting out of bed in the first place.
On the other end of the spectrum is the fact that he always remembers other people need the hot water too, buys Brad’s favourite beer whenever he’s doing grocery shopping, and remembers to TiVo all the right shows. Along with everything Discovery channel shows, but as it is often dinozaurs, Nazis, or Romans, Brad doesn’t mind.
The new living arrangement could be counted as a success, not that Brad will admit to that in Ray’s presence. It could be counted a success if not for the number one threat to Brad’s sanity, which would be the way Nate usually forgets to bring a change of clothes into the shower and just walks out clad only in a towel.
You can probably imagine it can get a little frustrating.
And then, well.
Maybe there should have been more fuss, the day more significant than it had turned out to be, but firstly, Brad hates fuss of all kinds, and secondly, it was pretty fucking significant anyway.
They’re watching Star Wars, because something someone said in class today reminded Brad of AT-ATs, and well, any excuse is fine for an ESB rewatch and Nate seems to agree. There’s pizza, and they argue amicably about what the worse Imperial design was, and then somehow segue into what’s the best order of showing the saga to someone who hadn’t seen it before.
“All I’m saying is, there’s a difference between the focus points for small children who are seeing it for the first time, or adults who were just living under a rock for a few decades.”
Brad nods slowly. “But let me ask you this. What should the adults see first?”
“And what about the kids?”
Nate pauses, frowning, because he realises he did walk into this one himself. “Originals, but...”
“I rest my case.”
“There are good things in the prequels, you know,” Nate says flatly, but his lips are twitching with a smile he’s holding back. “But fine, I give up. You start with the originals or it’s bad parenting,” he salutes Brad with his glass before taking a sip.
“This is actually part of the test for any potential spouse,” Brad mutters and gets a long look from Nate, half-amused and half...something.
“Good to know I’d pass, but you should really ask me out first, Colbert,” he says and somehow it falls flat, not funny at all and not flippant enough. It sounds as if Nate’s actually serious, and there’s really no way he can be, right?
He doesn’t stop himself in time, the words leaving his mouth on their own volition. “Hey, Fick, what are you doing Friday?” he says, his tone matching Nate’s, attempt at a joke but never arriving at humour, coming off earnest and open and real.
“Are you...” Nate starts and stops, bites his lip for a few seconds as he studies Brad’s face, trying to work it out. Brad’s gut twists with nervousness, his heart working up to pounding its way out of his chest. Nate nods a few times, like he’s figured it out. “Okay,” he says, more mouthing the word than saying it out loud. “Okay,” he repeats, louder, shifting a little closer and turning to face Brad. “I don’t think I want to wait until Friday.”
It takes Brad a regrettably long time to get it, something like a second or two, which is a second or two wasted on not kissing Nate.
He gets there, though. He’s slow sometimes, but not an idiot.
Ray gloats for the whole eternity and threatens to make a toast at their wedding all about how he brought them together by making Brad move in with Nate.
Brad explains that at the most he just sped up the inevitable, but Ray doesn’t really listen.
Nate’s not being helpful at all, he just laughs whenever the argument is started anew, and distracts Brad by lacing their fingers together. Not helpful at all and Brad can’t find it in himself to complain.