|04:22 pm - Fic: Chicken Soup for the Soul|
Title: Chicken Soup for the Soul
Fandom: Generation Kill
Word Count: ~2,500
Rating: M (language)
Summary: Prompt!Fic, written for the RUNNING HOT Multifandom Fever Fic CommentFic Meme. This started as Comment!Fic and, um, exploded. Possibly too canon-based and not slashy enough, with epically cheesy ending. Anyway, hope you like! :)
Prompt: Generation Kill, any rating, Brad/Nate. Nate loses appetite when he gets fever. He rarely tries to eat (even refuses to eat) and Brad starts to worry about it. (bonus point: Brad cooking for Nate!)
Disclaimer: Not mine, please don't sue me. Based on the HBO series and the portrayals by the actors there. If the real Iceman is reading this, please don't kill me. <_<
The sudden shots got Nate awake and moving in an instant. He got his eyes open and was halfway out of the bed before his body caught up with him and vetoed everything. His muscles seized, his head throbbed, and he started coughing, collapsing back on the bed, shivering with chill.
Bam! Bam! Belatedly, Nate realised that they weren't shots. They were someone banging on his front door. "'M coming," he called out hoarsely, and folded into another coughing fit.
Once recovered, he dragged the duvet off his bed, wrapped himself up and dragged himself out of bed and down the corridor to where whoever-it-was was bashing on the door - again. His head throbbed. It took two tries to work the chain, and then he had the door open.
"Hello, sir -" came a familiar voice as soon as the door swung open. The suntanned features of one Sgt. Brad Colbert met his gaze, and Nate belatedly realised that today must have been that day that Brad was in Washington, and was going to visit. "Christ, you look like hammered shit."
"Yeah," croaked Nate. "Flu. I forgot you were coming today, sorry, fever put me a couple of days out." He coughed again, standing back, "Fuck, sorry, come in, I'll try not to breathe on you."
The familiar smirk twitched the corner of Brad's mouth, and he replied, "Haven't been taking very good care of yourself, sir, getting flu." He slid past Nate, into the corridor, and sauntered down towards the kitchen. Nate watched him for a moment - the same fluid warrior's grace, as ever - before turning back to fiddle with the door, getting the chain on the first attempt this time. He followed.
By the time he reached the kitchen, Brad had dropped his backpack and had ensconced himself on one of the bar stools at the counter, and had grabbed the latest paper - three days ago. "Would you like something to drink? Or eat?" Nate asked as he entered, managing to suppress a cough.
"I can take care of myself - you should go back to bed," replied Brad, one eyebrow arching as Nate had to support himself on the doorframe.
"I'm fine, really, Brad," Nate replied - and a full-body shiver passed over him, giving the reassurance the lie.
"You aren't." Bard's tone was flat, and his expression had morphed into the implacable facade of the Iceman - except for his eyes, which held worry. "You should go to bed."
Nate shook his head, "You made the effort to visit me, I should really try, I mean we haven't seen each other in - how long? I can't remember the last time I saw you, Brad, and I don't want to waste that time." He really didn't. He missed that smirk, the smart-ass remarks, the casual grace and deadliness and sheer sexiness that Brad exuded without even realising. After he'd left the platoon, it'd taken him a short time to realise - and a long time to admit - that he was attracted to his lead TL. He didn't want to waste what little time he had with Brad being sick, of all things.
"Just fuckin’ go to bed, Nate," says Brad, his tone almost snappy, and he's up and hustling Nate towards the bedroom before the former officer can react.
Brad, too, didn't want to waste time. He'd come expecting the usual firm, sometimes-michievous, totally-in-control Nate, with the winning smile and laughing green eyes - and had been greeted by this pale wraith wracked by coughs and shaking with chill. After Nate had left the unit, he'd felt antsy, agitated, constantly wondering and worrying after his former LT. He was quite self-aware, and in Iraq he'd realised that been attracted to the LT. 'The Rules', DADT, and his duty to his country had held him back. Only now, when it was actually possible with the repeal of DADT, had he gathered the courage up and asked to visit. He was somewhat bewildered by this unexpected turn of events, and quite uncertain - totally out-of-character for the Iceman.
Nate protested weakly against his strong-arming, but followed his lead and stumbled down the corridor. Brad had to catch him a couple of times, and when he slumped down on the bed, he looked totally exhausted. One side of the duvet slid off completely as Nate lay back, revealing a long strip of waist and torso; interest stirred as Brad noted that he'd not lost any of the muscles that the Marine Corps had given him. He quashed it - now was not the time, with Nate as sick as he obviously was.
"Right," he said, taking charge of the officer. "How long's this been going on? Have you seen a doctor? How's your hydration? Have you eaten lately?"
Nate lifted his hands in surrender, replying hoarsely, "Been actually sick three days now – and saw the doctor the yesterday, said that I just needed rest and some antivirals. Gave me some," he gestures weakly to the side table, where a bottle of pills and an empty carafe of water sit.
"When did you last fill that?" Brad asks, worried. If Nate hadn’t been drinking, then the flu would be taking that much more of a toll – dehydration was the last thing he needed.
"Can’t remember – this morning, I think?" Nate looks to be trying to think, and failing. "Um… I haven’t eaten – nausea."
"Since the first day?" Brad frowns, and receiving a nod in reply, glares at Nate, saying without heat, "Dumbass. Get into bed." He grabs the carafe and stalks off to the kitchen, feeling worried and irrationally angry. Nate had done perfectly well before, surely, but got sick now, of all times? And then didn’t look after himself at all? But he hadn’t needed Brad to hold his dick for him in the years since he’d left the Corps, he sure as fuck didn’t need him to now – right?
He headed back, plunking the carafe back on the side table and watching Nate struggle with the covers for a moment before sighing in disgust, bodily lifting him off the bed and dropping him on his feet. The smaller man only had time to gasp, his reactions shot to hell, before a shocked "What?!" as Brad yanked the duvet out of his grasp, throwing it over the bed and turning back -
- and suddenly realizing that Nate had been naked under the covers. He shivered, that full-body motion again.
"Shit!" Brad swore, and then pulled back the covers. Nate took the invitation and stumbled over, into bed, where Brad pulled up the covers, tucking him in. "Shit, sorry sir, didn’t realise –"
Nate submitted to his ministrations for a moment, before smiling weakly. "I haven’t been tucked in since I was ten, Brad. And please, stop calling me ‘sir’, I’m not an officer anymore."
Brad sighed, sitting down on the side of the bed and putting a hand to Nate's forehead. It was burning hot, belying the shivers that Nate had. "Okay, I won’t. If you fuckin’ eat something and remember to hydrate." He received a mumbled reply that might have been either positive or negative, but was certainly mutinous. He looked down, into a green-eyed glare, arching an eyebrow. "What was that… sir?"
"Alright. Al-fucking-right, Colbert," was the snappy reply.
"Good," replied Brad, with an evil grin and malicious cheer, "Because I’m going to make sure you do. Where’s the nearest Wal-Mart?"
After Brad had left ‘for supplies’, a phrase which was suitably ambiguous enough to slightly worry Nate (taking the spare key and joking about cutting another to stalk Nate), he lay awake, trying to figure out how he felt about this turn of events. He’d been looking forward to Brad’s visit since he’d received that first email. Now, he was sick, and between being high on painkillers and sacked out on the antivirals, had managed to completely forget about everything for the last two days – even this. He shook his head, and then grinned wryly. Just his luck – just when he’d been planning on… well, feeling out how Brad felt about things… he wasn’t any fit state for anything.
Eventually he drifted off.
Brad grinned down at the stove, gratified that his cooking skills had evidently survived his last tour. Sure, they weren’t Michelin-star stuff, but they were pretty shit-hot for a Recon Marine who ate MREs 60% of the time, barracks food 30%, and takeout the other 10%. Chicken soup simmered in a pot, vegetables steamed over another, and rice sat steaming in a bowl. He dished up some small portions for Nate, and bigger ones for himself, setting his on the counter and heading down the corridor with the others.
Nate was curled up in a ball beneath the covers, snuffling in his sleep. He looked even more absurdly young than he had in Iraq, his face relaxed. But his skin is pale, brightened only by the hectic colour on those perfect cheekbones, his breath rasping as he snores, and Brad found himself wanting to wrap himself around Nate and hold him until he got better.
Sternly, he reminded himself that he didn’t know how Nate felt, and that this was no time to be dwelling on that. He couldn’t help but remember back to Nate’s naked form, suddenly disrobed – by him. Nate had kept in shape well, and again, there is the flicker of interest. If Nate wanted -
Now was not the time.
He set the food down, and gently shook Nate’s shoulder. Nate came awake slowly, and God, it was beautiful – slow stretch, those bright (fever-bright) green eyes blinking open, a slight sigh and yawn. Brad thought, for an insane moment, that he shouldn’t have woken Nate, and then Nate focussed on him, and the slow, unguarded, warm smile that he gave Brad blew everything away. All of Brad’s objections melted in that one instant, in the light of that perfect smile that he’d never seen before.
He reached out, touching Nate’s cheek gently. "Hey."
"Mmm. Brad?" Nate sounded confused for a second, then smiled again, more guarded this time, and Brad snatched his hand away, pretending that he was just waking him up. No more.
"Uh, yeah. I… I brought you food. You should eat," he says, trying to distract himself from other thoughts. "There’s chicken soup, and veges, and rice. Have some – and there’s water, gotta keep hydrated…" He shuts his mouth. He was babbling like Ray on Ripped Fuel. Why in the name of Christ, Buddha, and Mohammed did Nate Fick have to have this effect on him now, of all times? He’d managed to keep his cool in Iraq…
"Mmmkay, I’ll eat," said Nate, still sleepy, and Brad nodded, pleased.
"Well, I’ll leave it there for you," he added, "I’ve got a couple of things to do, then I’ll be back to check on you. I’ll take the key again."
There was a mumbled assent from under the covers, and Brad laughed.
When Brad got back in the evening, the food was untouched. Nate seemed to have moved somewhat – the covers disturbed – but he hadn’t eaten or drank. Fuming, Brad took it back to the kitchen, reheated the soup, and poured a glass of juice, hoping it would tempt Nate. It wasn’t that he was upset that Nate had turned his nose up at the food Brad had made for him, it was that he’d thought that Nate knew better. Nobody could get well with no fuel for their body, and if Nate wasn’t eating, he wasn’t going to get better anytime soon.
He plunked down the soup and juice, and sat heavily on the side of the bed, jolting it enough that Nate came awake when he touched his shoulder. "Nate, you need to eat." He knew he sounded like a mother hen, but he was worried.
Nate shook his head sleepily, which was the final straw. "Do I have to force-feed you, you dumbfuck?! Nate, you have to eat, or you won’t get better! You know that as well as I do!"
"Godsake, Brad," Nate moaned, turning over, "I’ll eat when I have to, I don’t feel well now, leave it…"
"So I have to force-feed you?" said Brad, and there was something dangerous in his eyes. "Because, Nate, I’m perfectly willing to do it." He brushed back the covers, grasped Nate’s shoulders, and lifted him up to a sitting position, reaching over to the side table.
"Would you stop picking me up and moving me around?" snapped Nate. "I’m perfectly capable of moving myself!"
"I am assured of this," snarked Brad. He handed the soup bowl to Nate. "Just eat, Nate. Please?" He hadn’t intended it to come out pleading, but it did.
Nate looked over at Brad, grumpiness fading as he took in the worried look on Brad’s face. Brad was serious – actually seriously worried about Nate’s condition – and something clicked. "You’re… worried about me?" he asks, ducking his head and looking into the bowl as though it contained tea leaves to read a fortune in. Why did Brad care so much? And why had he come now, only now? The pieces were starting to fall together, and he wasn’t sure if he was looking at the right picture. He hoped he was.
"Yes, you dumbshit. Of course I am!" Brad huffed, and then frowned over at Nate, who had picked up the spoon and was starting to eat. He only got about halfway through, with his tender stomach, but that was further than Brad had expected.
Nate set the bowl aside, and smiled. "Thanks… you’re looking after me better than I am, I guess." The smile turned rueful. "Guess I need more looking after than I expected. Useless officer and all."
Brad grinned at the weak joke, patting Nate’s shoulder. "No big problem. I don’t mind looking after you." They stayed there for a second, and then Nate leaned his cheek against Brad’s hand, looking up at him quietly and smiling.
It was always that unguarded smile and those brilliant green eyes that undid Brad – that he dreamed of, combat-jacked to, felt watching him. Now was no different, as he moved his hand to cup Nate’s cheek. Nate leaned forward, winding his arms around Brad, resting his head against Brad’s shoulder in a simple hug which Brad can’t help but return. They stayed there a long time – just holding each other – and both felt better than they had in a long time.
"Need to go back to sleep now," Nate mumbled into Brad’s shoulder. "'M tired."
"Okay," Brad replied, and watched as Nate settled himself under the covers again. He walked out to the kitchen to retrieve his laptop, and then settled beside Nate on the bed. The startup sound woke Nate out of his doze, and he looked up at Brad with those sleepy green eyes that Brad could really get used to (and God, that was so gay, but he'd given up on caring about that fuckin' ages ago). He smiles down at Nate, feeling warmer inside.
This kind of stuff was chicken soup for the soul.