disclaimer: not mine or this would be canon.

max/jude. yeah, that's slash. rated R for naughtiness, by which i mean semi-graphic smut and bad language.

Coming back's a bitch. Max kind of thinks it's going to be, and it is, and when he's home, it's not like it was. They've changed. Grown up, he wants to say, but it doesn't feel like anyone's grown up so much as they've sobered, and he kind of hates that. Like he missed all the good highs being off at war, and it's not like he had a choice, so sobriety can fuck right off, he's owed him some orgy.

Honest to fuck, he's been in a goddamn jungle for years, they can't swing him some pussy when he comes home? God given right of the American soldier, respect and beer and tail by turns.

And someone to fucking share it with.

He comes home to Lucy, who's petulant like only she can be. He's apparently missed some high fucking Jude drama, and Max likes his sister well enough, but he suspects there's more to it than she's said.

Which, to be clear, hasn't been a whole lot. "Deported," mostly, and there's a hell of a story there, only he can't get her drunk enough to spill it.

So he writes to Jude. A lot. Sometimes, he even sends it. Not like he knows where he's sending it to, really, and Lucy's been a bitch about passing on a forwarding address, and about the time he thinks he might just have to give up on a buddy to swap a good night with, Prudence—dear Prudence—finds him in the living room and says, "Come this way, our kind goes out here."

Then he's in the stairs with Prudence, who's still small and pert and dimpled, who's happily shacking up with some Amazon redhead screamer and clearly never had a thing for him. She looks at him with too much grace, a wisdom he's not expecting, and says, "You never told him, did you?"

Max hasn't spoken in three days beyond, "Pass the grass," which he doesn't think refers to anyone in specific except maybe the selfish fucker holding out, but Prudence says it like he'll know. He thinks maybe he does.

"What?" he says, because he can't ask who, he's kind of freaked she'll tell him.

The way she looks at him kind of does. "It goes away, you know. It gets better. You just have to let it."

She looks like moonbeams and horse-girls and Captain Kite's show, peaceful and trippy and out of this world. Very, very right.

"Pass the grass," he says, because he can't say more, he's not sure what the fuck he'd say that she doesn't already know, and even though there's no grass in sight, it's New fucking York, it's the fucking Village, she kisses both cheeks and nods like a priestess and slips back inside.

She pauses in the window to look over her shoulder. Her dimples are very big, but they go with her smile. "You should tell him," she says, and then she's gone.

Last call is last ditch is last chance and he knows that, he fucking knows already, so he allows himself an afternoon at a bar near Princeton, because he can't say this in Lucy-tainted territory, with a pen and a page and a never-ending pint.

It goes better than he's thought, and he thinks it's kind of honest.

So sometimes life sucks and the shit you want is the shit you can't have. Like maybe it's fucking your sister and it's really, really happy fucking your sister, like it's wanted her since Thanksgiving, and you're not really "thankful" per se about that but at least you get to keep it around. Sometimes the sister, metaphoric or otherwise, drops in on your life like a fucking strawberry, with one eye on your it and a letter to get you out of the way.

So sometimes your it sticks around and sometimes your it takes his whiny, sappy, confused fucking ass back to Liverpool, because what the fuck's ever come from Liverpool, anyway, but pretty, pretty it boys, and all you can do is sit in a bar near fucking Princeton and hope at some point, it comes to its senses.

Yeah, maybe this won't be easy and maybe it should have been and maybe once it was but you're not frat boys anymore, not skipping out of higher learning for beer and bongs and blows in the Maintenance building hoping his dad doesn't need the fucking boilers before morning.

Yeah, maybe it feels like the world weighs tons, and maybe there's that whole thing about its not being boys and stepping off when its like sisters—even if they are the whiny kind with perfect teeth and dead soldier exes and that inane thing for lost causes—and, you know, giving its fucking choices of their own to make because they're human, too, the its.

Your it, he's human. Flawed as fuck, a right horrible bastard when he wants, and stupid besides.

Turning off the world like that'll turn off himself, that's fucking stupid.

And, yeah, could maybe, if the world's not going to throw you chicks like it's supposed to, your fucking it get its fucking head out of its fine fucking limey ass and get the hell back onto the right goddamned continent like he's supposed to?

Because, you know, you're starting to think the world's sick sense of humor's at play and you're getting your fucking it and your fucking pussy all in one, and if that's the fucking case, maybe it really is on the right side of the ocean.

But, you know, you really hope not.

Jude's dad tells him where it goes.

So life goes on, and there's his cab to worry about, and his friends in their way. Prudence spends a day smiling at him, those tiny, secret, foreigner's smiles, like they speak a language no one else knows, and JoJo roughs him up with an elbow and drags him down to a gig and even fucking Lucy looks all right, like Sadie on stage with the right guy beside her, like Prudence's Amazonian redhead when she's done screaming. They talk and they laugh and they drink and they smoke, they fight and they fuck and they do that dipshit, crazy life thing, and sometimes Max drives down to stare at Walter Reed and tell it what it's missing. He doesn't go in because Walter Reed is fucking depressing and Max has enough on his mind as it is, but it's like his civic duty as a used-to-be soldier to tell the building what he knows.

And what he knows is that he's fucking out and he's fucking home, no fucking jungles here, damn it, even if there's also apparently no orgies, and the jungle didn't get him, he's still a-fucking-live and he's doing all right.

Like it's all better.

Maybe that's just how he feels?

Then the phone rings. Sadie says hey, listens like she does, and hands it to him.

Hands it to him.

It's…no one. Just quiet.

"Who is this?" he asks, but he kind of thinks he knows. Or hopes. He probably can't hear an ocean being crossed on the line, but he wants to. Jesus, hewants to, fuck.

And he hears, "It's it," in that limey thick, and Jesus, Max needs to sit down.

Chair optional.

Waiting's a bitch. He wonders if this is how it's been, sticking home while he was off in his jungle, and if it was, he kind of can't blame them for the getting high, because it's fucking boring. Like worse than Princeton, because at least there, he could escape it for a while.

No orgies are missed, but there's a fuckload of high, and by the time he's pulling up to the dock, his cab feels like home.

Max ribs about being fucking Judy and Jude ribs back about being too messed up and that grip at the dock said a lot but it didn't say everything, so Max says, "Yeah, well, everything below the neck works just fine."

And he's kind of nervous about that, because it's awkward, this position. This conversation they've already kind of had, only he doesn't know how Jude's side went because Max had it with a piece of paper and Jude had it with God only knows.

"I don't suppose you're up for proving that," Jude says with his cocky bitch grin, and it's all like Princeton, Max thinks maybe he'll have to send him back to limey town regularly when he starts to get sappy because something about the U.K. brings back the it he misses.

"Any time you are, pal, any time."

Jude gives him the dark-eyed once-over, and smushes his hat with one big hand over Max's head. "Ten says you can't."

"Fifteen says I make you eat those words."

"Twenty says you don't even try." And the way Jude's looking at him calls up a dozen better uses for that mouth.

Jude's all over him. Big hands and hard mouth and hot eyes, and Max forgets the fuck about cabs and fares and waits.

"Missed you, you bugger," Jude says into his neck, and Max is getting kind of crushed because Jude's fucking bigger than he is, bigger than Max remembers him being, but Max isn't fucking moving for anything.

"I'm not the one who fucking left." Max hooks his fingers in dark cropped hair, pulls Jude up for another chance at that mouth.

"Army," Jude says. Sucks the rest of Max's argument and works those talented artist's hands on Max's pants.

It's fucking hard, kicking off his pants, and there's really not that much room in this fucking cab, Max needs to ask for a bigger one, they're going to throw a shoulder or kick out a window or something doing this again.

Jude doesn't seem to care.

"Stay with me," Jude says into his hair and Max nods, knocks Jude's mouth with his forehead and feels the dig of accidental teeth. Jude swears and laughs, and Max laughs, too, and Jude's hands peel at his shirt and Max arches up. Hisses. "Jesus."

Max wants to say something, maybe something about Jesus and staying, but the more Jude touches, the less Max can think, so he just makes noises that sound a lot like they might be words in his own language.

He may need an interpreter. Possibly Prudence.

"Tell me, Max, I need to…" Jude gets violent with his shirt, bites at him like frustration lighting up, and there's swift brushes of skin-on-skin in a muddle of still-dressed, pants and shirts and rubbing andnot-rubbing. Max's head spins, a trip all its own.

"World on, Judy, it's here," Max says, and because that sounds right, like his half of the conversation, he drags Jude's hand where he wants it, grinds up into it, and says, "It's here, it's here, it'shere it'shereit'shereit's—" until Jude cuts him off with a grip.

Christ, that's good.

Max's eyes roll back when Jude squeezes.

Max thinks Jude should taste like strawberries, but he doesn't. He tastes like sweat and soap and pretty, like Jude, and it's so much easier to pull that shirt over his head than it was to get Max's off, and maybe that's the world's sense of humor, then.

Max kinds of hates the world, mostly, but it's remarkably easier to take under a blanket of bastard Brit.

"Good?" Jude asks, hand working those long, even strokes over Max's dick, and Max clutches at Jude's back, digs in and pulls down. He's been twitchy since, happiness is a warm gun and he's been fucking cold too long, but Jude's warmer than the fucking jungle and he's staying just so long as Max keeps hold. Max knows how to hold things now, he's learned that much, the Army's been good for some things after all.

"Don't stop," he says even though he doesn't need to, and Jude's hand gets faster, grips tighter, and Max bites his lip hard, watches those dark, pretty eyes while Jude says, "I won't, I won't, tell me when you're close, mate…"

Max promises he will and he does it without speaking and the Army's good for that, too, he's learned to keep some promises.

Jude pulls his trigger while Max has hands full of hair and he pulls down with his fists as he pushes up with his shot and it feels fucking insane, like better than fucking morphine, better than any blue any nurse ever tapped into his fucking IV, and when he tries to say that, all he hears is, "Blue, Jude, blue, blue," which sounds almost right, only Jude's nodding and breathing and watching, fuck.

Then there's sweet limey kissing, like Jude's just got to taste his forehead right now, and Max hears, "Jesus, Max, you're quite the it, yeah?" and Max can't stop smiling.

"My it," he tells Jude's neck, which tastes like ship and smells like sex. "My it." He looks at Jude's eyes to see if they understand like Jude's hands do, because he's got a whole Jude to convince and he's kind of getting antsy about how he'll explain to Jude's dick.

Jude's mouth quirks like maybe it knows about its and Jude's hands rub Max's neck into Max's hair, like he's petting in reverse, and it feels great. Right.

"Your it," Jude murmurs, words soft and thick and earnest. "All the way from Liverpool, you bloody bastard, so you'd best appreciate me or I'll have to find myself some other bloody Yank bugger who will do."

That's a little sisters and strawberries for Max, and he says so. He's trying to be mad about it, strawberries almost killed him and the sister just fucking hurt, but he doesn't need to say that part, because Jude says, "I know, I know," and Max thinks maybe he does. Then Jude rubs up into him, hard and full against Max's leg, and Max remembers he hasn't pulled Jude's trigger yet. He's pretty sure there's a flaw in that plan, like just this once, he really wants to return fire, and he can't find his fistful of Jude fast enough.

Max works choppy, pulling like Jude did, like Max does to himself, and Jude whimpers a bit like he's hurting and whimpers like he wants more.

Max can do more. Max lives for more.

Jude looks incredible when he gets off. Tenses, scowls, like having Max touch him takes all the concentration he's got, like he needs to focus on every. single. second.

Like maybe it won't happen again, which is fucking insane, man, there's been oceans and jungles and buses and golf clubs and sisters for this, why the fuck give it up so fast?

Jude's saying something, voice too thickly limey to make out, and Max kisses him to shut him up until he's got a mouth of Jude tongue and a fistful of Jude fuck and a trail of Jude come. He keeps pulling, needs to hear Jude tell him "stop" because he doesn't think he can on his own, he's waited too fucking long for this, Christ.

Jude shivers, which turn into shudders, which turn into sounds like, "too" and "ngh" and "can't". Jude's all soft in his hand, all soft in the face, and Max feels soft in the fucking head until Jude finds a sloppy grin that sounds like, "brilliant", so Max does the only thing he can.

Steals another kiss, tastes the "brilliant" and agrees.

He's got hands full of Jude's hair and Jude's got hands full of Max's face and God knows where their pants are, but the cab's not that fucking big.

"Warmer in America," Jude says. Nuzzles it into Max's face, lips over stubble, nose against nose. "Think I like it."

Okay, so now Max is home.