daisysusan: (gk: absolute confidence)
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Title: if you're wondering
Fandom: Generation Kill
Genre: Romance
Paring: Brad/Nate
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 3,364
Summary: Brad discovers a cat in Nate's window.
Notes: Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ellot for looking this over.


if you're wondering

It’s three in the morning, Brad’s bone-tired, and he really fucking wants a glass of water, which is why he’s standing the LT’s kitchen—Nate’s kitchen, now—and opening cabinets in search of a cup. He figured they’d be over the sink, because that’s where any normal person would keep them, but apparently his goddamn hippie CO is too good for that, so Brad’s having to open every cabinet in the goddamn kitchen.

Fucking officers.

Just as he—finally—finds a cup and opens the fridge to fill it up from the pitcher there (fucking hippie officers) Brad hears an unexpected noise from the backyard. He glances toward the window and there, sitting in the windowsill looking totally comfortable, is a kitten.

Fucking officers.

(Okay, he’s not entirely sure how to blame the presence of the kitten on the fact that the LT’s an officer, but it’s three o’clock in the fucking morning.)

“LT,” Brad starts to yell, but he catches himself. “Nate! There’s a fucking cat in your fucking window!” he calls instead.

There’s a noise from his room, a kind of strangled “buh,” and then Brad hears footsteps.

“What the fuck, Brad,” he hears from behind him, the words entirely too flat to really be question.

Brad turns around and squints at Nate a bit—it’s hard to think of him as the LT when he’s only wearing pajama pants and is rubbing his eyes and looks, well, like that. He’s turned on the kitchen light, which is making it difficult for Brad to see.

“There’s a goddamn cat in your goddamn window, sir,” he says. It’s a sign of how late it is that Nate doesn’t bother to correct him, remind him that it’s not sir anymore, just Nate.

“There’s a what in my what?” Nate asks, clearly not entirely awake yet.

“There is a juvenile feline in your window,” Brad says. “Sir.”

Nate just stares at him, his mouth gaping a little bit.

(If anyone ever tries to get Brad to confess to finding it adorable, he’ll have them killed instantly.

But that wouldn’t make it any less true.)

Brad points to the windowsill behind him, where the outline of the kitten is clearly visible against the darkness outside.

“Well,” Nate says.

The kitten mewls, loud enough that they can both hear it clearly, and Nate presses his hand across his eyes, squeezing his temples.

And then it starts to rain.

Brad watches Nate watch the kitten, who mews pathetically a few times.

“Are you allergic?” he asks suddenly.

“Huh?” Brad replies, articulate as always. After a moment, though, he processes the question. “Oh, no. Are you?”

Nate shakes his head. “I’m going to let it in for the night. I can take it to the shelter tomorrow.” Brad nods curtly as Nate brushes past him towards the door. Through the window, he can see Nate pick the kitten up; it mews again.

When he gets back inside, he hands the cat to Brad—like Brad knows what the fuck to do with a dripping wet kitten—and walks out of the kitchen.

“Uh, sir,” Brad asks, “Where are you going? Because I’m not going to stand here all night holding a wet cat.”

But within moments—which, granted, are moments that Brad spends holding the cat at arm’s length because he’d rather not sleep in wet clothes, since wearing clothes at all is enough of a change from his usual sleepwear—Nate is back in the kitchen, holding a towel and gesturing for Brad to hand him the kitten.

He’s pretty sure that Nathaniel fucking Fick is the only goddamn Marine who rescues fucking kittens.

Nate towels the cat off and holds it close to his chest; it’s clearly frightened and uncomfortable, and he seems to be trying to comfort it—what kind of hippie fuck cares about a kitten’s emotions, Brad wonders to himself. The answer, of course, is that hippie fucks like his former commanding officer care about them. He probably shouldn’t even be surprised. Hell, there probably classes about stray-animal rehabilitation at Dartmouth, between the classes on how to act like a pussy and the ones on dick-sucking.

Brad has a very sudden, very graphic mental image, and is distinctly uncomfortable.

Of course, Nate doesn’t seem to notice anything out of the ordinary, except for the goddamn cat, which he’s now petting and cooing at a little bit.

“I’m going back to bed,” Brad says, because he’s just not going to watch this any more.

He stumbles back to the guest bedroom, letting himself flop facedown onto the bed and trying to will himself not to think about anything that just happened in the kitchen. This is made considerably more difficult when, about two minutes after he lies down, the kitten jumps up onto his bed and starts pacing across his back.

Brad opens one eye, a thoroughly useless maneuver because his face is buried in the pillow. The cat keeps pacing, occasionally stopping to knead his shoulder blades with its claws.

If he weren’t too fucking tired to move, he would throw the stupid thing across the room.

(Actually, he wouldn’t, because Nate would probably get fucking pissed with him, and Nathaniel Fick pissed off is something he’d rather not experience.)

Eventually, the cat settles down on his lower back and curls up. It’s not the most comfortable thing, but it’s a hell of a lot better than sleeping in a grave in Iraq in a goddamn MOPP suit, so he manages pretty well.

Morning comes entirely too soon, and it comes with the sound of a mewing kitten and Nate smacking his hand against the doorframe.

“Get your lazy ass up,” he says. “And don’t think I didn’t see you cuddling with a kitten, because I did.”

Brad rolls over and squints at him, never able to wake up as quickly from a bed as from a grave.

“And there are pictures to prove it,” Nate continues. “So unless you’re up and ready to go for a run with me in fifteen mikes, I’ll send them to Ray.”

The idea of Ray getting his hands on any pictures of him, much less pictures containing a sleeping housecat, is deeply motivating, and Brad’s out of bed and dressed just about as quickly as he’s ever been. Before they leave, Nate drains a can of tuna and dumps it into a bowl for the kitten, who winds around their legs in a way that should probably be a lot more obnoxious and a lot less cute than it is.

Nate, it turns out, is a crazy motherfucker who’s in terrifyingly good shape; Brad can barely keep up with him, and by the time they’re back at Nate’s house, his legs are ready to give out. He lets himself collapse onto the couch the minute Nate unlocks the door. Even lying with his head tipped back, he can almost feel Nate smirking at him from the kitchen.

“You’re a crazy son-of-a-bitch, sir,” Brad says.

“I try, Brad,” Nate answers. “Do you want some water?”

Brad makes a noncommittal grunting sort of noise but gets a glass of water for his troubles nonetheless. “Thank you, sir,” he says, but not before he’s chugged about half of it. He closes his eyes, enjoying the air conditioning and the comfortable sofa, but after a few moments of listening to Nate rustle in the kitchen, he hears something akin to a squawk.

“Is everything alright, LT?” he asks, concerned enough to speak but really not worried enough (yet) to actually move.

“Fucking cat tripped me up,” Nate grumbles.

“Obviously civilian life is making you soft, sir,” Brad replies, grinning despite himself. “A true devil dog could have done better recon on a dumbass cat.”

Nate laughs softly in the other room and, for reasons he’d rather not examine too closely, Brad really wants to hear it again.

“Though,” he continues, “Officers are pretty good at fucking simple shit up.”

The laugh this time is drier, and Brad regrets the words a little bit; the sheer idiocy of Nate’s superiors is something of a sore point with him—and understandably so, really.

After a moment, Nate appears in the doorway, his face serious. “You know I did everything in my power—”

“I know,” he answers, biting down on the “sir” that tries to force its way out of his mouth. Nate quirks an eyebrow at him, though, and takes a couple of steps into the living room.

“If it’s that difficult for you to stop calling me sir,” he begins, “I suppose it’s not that—”

Nate stops speaking just as Brad feels something hit his lap. He glances down and sees the kitten, about which he’d temporarily forgotten, standing on his leg and looking up at him expectantly.

“What do you want?” he asks it, scowling a little.

There’s a lingering silence, during which the cat stares up at him, its tiny eyes wide and its tail twitching slightly. Nate keeps looking down at him, and Brad’s not sure what he’s supposed to be saying.

Of course, as he doesn’t say anything, the silence just thickens, neither of them making eye contact or speaking. Brad keeps his eyes fixed on the cat and resists the temptation to glance up at Nate to check where his eyes are trained. Even the cat is quiet, not whining the way it usually does.

Desperate for a way to break the silence, he glances at his watch. “I need to shower and get going,” he says. “I don’t want to be late for this talk.”

“Do you need a ride?” Nate asks him, visibly relieved.

“No,” Brad answers quickly. “I’ll take the metro with the plebians.”

He can see Nate biting back a smile. So maybe it’s not so bad.

When he gets back from the talk—which was entirely too long and filled with entirely too many pussies who wouldn’t know the business end of an M-16 if you shoved it up their asses—Nate’s tapping away at his laptop on the sofa, the kitten curled up next to him and purring softly. As Brad watches, he absently reaches over to stroke it, scratching lightly behind its ears.

Brad lets the door fall shut behind him, grinning when Nate jumps a little at the crash. Before he can even open his mouth, Nate steals the words right out of his mouth. “Yes, I know, I’m a pussy civilian.”

“And it’s showing, sir,” Brad replies.

“How was your talk?” Nate asks, completely ignoring dig.

“About what I expected,” Brad says. “Lots of dick-sucking bureaucrats who know fuck-all about the military asking me questions meant to make me reevaluate my life.”

Nate raises one eyebrow. “Weren’t you talking to students?”

“Well then, bureaucrats in training,” he amends.

The burst of laughter from Nate just about makes having to give the whole fucking lecture worth it.

Over dinner that night, Nate grills him about what time his flight leaves Dulles, and then about why he had to fly out of Dulles anyway (apparently it’s just too fucking far away from everything), and then decides to throw a slight curveball at him by asking if it’s okay for them to leave half an hour early and drop the cat off at the shelter. Because apparently, it’s on the way.

Slightly taken aback—the kitten had half slipped his mind—Brad agrees before he remembers that it means getting up even earlier, which means not staying up half the night arguing politics with Nate. The cat chooses exactly that moment to appear out of nowhere, whining as it stands in doorway into the kitchen, and letting its beady little eyes rest on the chicken breasts still sitting in the middle of the table.

Nate looks over at it with an expression that Brad would, if forced, describe as fond.

“Come on over here,” he says, “I’ll give you a bit of chicken.”

Brad raises an eyebrow at him. “You know, if you feed it from the table, it’s going to beg at every table it sees for the rest of its life.”

Obnoxiously, Nate just kind of shrugs at him, like he doesn’t much care. He scratches the back of the cat’s neck, stroking its back when it arches up towards his hand, and then he grabs a piece of chicken off his plate and lets the kitten eat it off his fucking hand.

“It’s a good thing you’re not keeping the damn thing,” Brad says. “It would be spoiled rotten and fucking obese.”

Nate doesn’t meet his eyes.

“Sir,” Brad says slowly, “Are you planning to renege on your decision to get rid of this feline?”

“No,” Nate answers quickly, peeling his eyes off the cat, which is now winding its way around the legs of his chair. “We’ll drop it off first thing tomorrow morning.”

Tomorrow morning, though, Nate seems pretty reluctant to get out of the car at the shelter. He made Brad hold the cat in the car, saying that he wasn’t just going to let it crawl around or stuff it in a box. The cat, for its part, had not been pleased with the trip, spending most of it squirming and whining and clawing rather viciously at Brad’s pants.

“I thought you liked me,” he grumbles at it, but the kitten just twitches its tail and tries to escape into the backseat by climbing his shirt—and, ow, by climbing his chest. Turning towards Nate, who’s drumming his fingers against the steering wheel, he says, “Are you going to take this feral beast off my lap so that you can give it to people who can actually take care of it?”

Nate, instead of answering, reaches over the pet the cat. “Yes,” he says, but he doesn’t move to pick the cat up.

Brad can feel himself smirking and isn’t entirely sure he could stop if he wanted to. “You want to keep the cat, don’t you, sir?” Now that the car has stopped moving, the cat in question has calmed down and is kneading its claws happily in Brad’s leg. (Well, happily for it, anyway.)

“There’s a possibility that I’ve grown a little fond of it,” Nate says.

“A possibility?” Brad says, letting skepticism drip from his words.

“Well, it does have pretty good taste for a cat,” Nate answers, dry. “It seems to like you quite a bit.”

Glancing down, Brad doesn’t find much evidence to counter Nate’s assertion. The kitten seems quite happy to curl up in his lap and bat lazily at his baggy pants leg.

“And you think that shows good taste, sir?”

Nate nods once, slowly. Somehow, he manages to convey earnestness in the gesture. Brad meets his eyes, and there’s something unreadable behind them.

“Are you trying to tell me something?” he asks slowly, cautiously, biting back the sir that wants to fall from his tongue. He’s pretty sure this conversation shouldn’t happen on those terms.

Again, Nate nods. His hand slips from the kitten’s back to Brad’s leg and rests there, unmoving. The touch is firm and confident, despite Nate seeming to be at a loss for words. Brad’s a little unsure of what course of action he ought to pursue, choosing instead to let the moment linger between them.

He takes stock of the situation. Nate’s hand is on his thigh, heavy but not pushing for anything, just resting. The cat is still curled in his lap, purring now instead of batting at his pants. And Nate is watching him, gaze steady and open and almost—seeking?

Asking, maybe.

Brad looks into his eyes, tries to find an answer to a question he’s not quite sure of. But he thinks it’s safe to guess; there aren’t many things Nate wouldn’t ask him outright, and maybe this—it would be unbecoming, a bit, for Nate to be the one who made the first move, he understands. Even given everything—Nate not being an officer anymore, the fact that they’d always been more like equals anyway—Nate wasn’t going to push it because he used to be in a condition where Brad had to follow his orders.

Well then.

He reaches toward Nate and rests a hand against his neck. Nate’s eyes close and he leans almost imperceptibly into the touch.

Everyone has a breaking point, and apparently that—not military school or basic training or Ray’s babble or the clusterfuck that was OIF—apparently Brad’s is Nate Fick relaxing into his touch like it’s something he’s been waiting for forever.

Leaning forward, careful not to disrupt the cat, he presses his lips to Nate’s.

It’s—well, it’s been a while since Brad kissed anyone, really, since he licked lips that weren’t his and curled his tongue around someone else’s and felt someone else’s hand against the back of his head, pulling him closer.

It’s really fucking nice, that’s for damn sure.

He kisses Nate harder, sealing their mouths more firmly together and stroking at the tendon on the side of his neck. Nate shudders a little bit and lets his nails scrape lightly down the back of Brad’s head.

Brad can go without air for what his sister once called “a fucking disturbing amount of time” when he showed her how long he could hold is breath, but Nate apparently can’t. He pulls his mouth off Brad’s and looks at him, eyes blown and mouth shiny and red. He’s not quite gasping for breath, but it’s a near thing.

For his part, Brad takes the opportunity to press a line of kisses down his jaw and the side of his neck, deeply reluctant to cease all contact between his mouth and Nate’s body. As soon as he reaches Nate’s collarbone, he feels his head being dragged back up so that Nate can press their mouths together again.

He’s not sure how long they kiss for; the actual kissing makes things understandably a little fuzzy, but some time later, Nate pulls away and looks him in the eye.

“I’m going to keep the cat,” he says, a little out of breath.

Brad nods rather dumbly, not quite following Nate’s train of thought.

Nate, on the other hand, is, as usual, freakishly aware of the situation despite any distractions offered to him. “If we take the cat back to my house, you’ll probably miss your flight. We were cutting it pretty close to begin with.”

“I’m not so sure I mind,” Brad says.



Twenty minutes later, when Nate has him pinned against the wall, Brad’s really fucking sure he doesn’t mind missing his flight.

He is, however, vaguely concerned that the cat might be watching them.

He’d been forced to hold it on the way back from the shelter as well—the moment Nate started the car up again, it was awake and mewing pitifully, and as soon as they were moving, the damn thing started clawing at his legs again.

It was kind of cute, though. Not that he was planning on admitting that aloud any time soon.

Besides, it’s probably curled up on the guest bed right where Brad would be sleeping if it weren’t for his overwhelming certainty that he’ll be elsewhere tonight.

He has a few more days leave—the talk had been a favor, half an excuse to see Nate—and spending them in DC suddenly seems a lot more palatable than it did a few hours earlier. Nate’s always been good company, but now he’s good company kissing Brad like it’s everything he wants out of life.

There’s a distinct possibility he should be a lot more concerned with what’s going to happen in a couple days, when he has to go back to California, but with Nate pressed up against him and with his fingers wound in Nate’s slightly longer than regulation hair, Brad’s not sure he cares all that much. They’ve certainly dealt with more fucked-up situations.

Optimism feels a little strange, but he supposes he can always blame it on Nate.

Besides, it means he doesn’t need to dwell too much on other things when he could be thinking about what they’re going to be doing for the next several hours, at least.
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