Title: Rainy Day Man

Rating: hard R

Pairing: Max/Jude

Summary: After the war, thunderstorms bring back too many memories. So Max calls Jude.

Warnings: angst, comfort, and shower sex

Author's Notes: This is my first Across the Universe fic. I watched the movie (not even the whole movie, actually, but enough of it) and thought about how so many returning soldiers dealt with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and I started wondering if maybe Max did. And then this plot bunny wouldn't leave me alone. Feel free to flame if it is awful, but go easy. I'm new. Song lyrics used are from "I'm So Tired", because what's an Across the Universe fic without some Beatles lyrics?


It's two a.m. when Jude gets the call, hours after he and Lucy have finished and she's sleeping contentedly in his bed.

Max is crying and Jude can hear him trembling through the phone. "It's the dreams, man," he says brokenly, and Jude feels his heart shatter. "I can't sleep and it's so damn loud out with the thunder and--"

"I'll be right there," Jude promises, and spends another few minutes whispering "shh, shh, it's alright" before Max lets him hang up.

Lucy's still asleep, unaware of the storm and her brother's anguish, curled around one of Jude's pillows, face as peaceful as a baby's. Jude writes her a note, tucks the blanket around her shoulders, and leaves as silently as he can, triple-locking the door and stepping out into the pouring rain.

Normally he'd walk, but for Max's sake he catches a cab instead, gasping the address through a mouthful of rainwater. It's not a long drive and he shoves a handful of crumpled bills at the driver, telling him to keep the change. The cabbie shoots him a look and says "boy, you crazy going out in this weather" and Jude can't be bothered to argue as he shuts the door behind him.

Max is waiting for him on the stoop, soaked to the bone and shivering in a t-shirt and jeans, probably from more than cold. He looks up and gives Jude a weak, broken smile, saying a million words in that single, helpless gesture. Jude doesn't say anything, only kneels in front of him and pulls him into his arms, feeling (rather than hearing) Max's faint sob, his arms coming hard around Jude's neck, fingers clenching hard. And God, he's thin, almost as thin as Lucy, yet somehow so much frailer, broken in a way Lucy will never be. Max's skin is stubble-rough against Jude's cheek and there's something warm and wet and definitely not rainwater there. Jude doesn't even think to tell him not to cry, just holds him, rocking gently, wanting to say a thousand things but not knowing how.

He'd stay like that forever, but it's freezing and he makes himself pull away, cupping Max's face in his hands and brushing his sopping hair back. "Hey," he says.

Max musters a weak smile. "Hey."

It's the smile that does it, such a shadow of the once-effortless grin that Jude can't even bear to look at it. He clears his throat to get rid of the lump. "Let's get inside, yeah? It's fucking freezing out here." Max nods and Jude stands, pulling Max to his feet and slinging an arm around his shoulders, both to comfort and support, guiding him inside.

It's not that much warmer inside the building,but it's dry and that's good enough. They climb the stairs to Max's apartment and Jude closes the door behind him, pulling his jacket off and hanging it on the peg by the door. "Alright," he says, decisively, because he knows Max won't. "Hot shower, and we'll go from there." Max nods but doesn't move, and Jude has never seen him so vulnerable, never. With a faint sigh, Jude crosses the room, curling his fingers into the hem of Max's shirt. "Lift up," he instructs, and fairly peels the drenched fabric off Max's skin. "You should've been wearing more than this."

"Wasn't really thinking," Max says, thin shoulders moving in a shrug.

"Stupid little bugger, aren't you?" Max grins faintly and Jude takes him by the shoulders and steers him over to the bathroom. "Pants and trousers off, too, mate," he says, reaching for his own belt.

"What're you doing?"

Jude snorts. "Getting in there with you. Think I'm any warmer than you are?" He lets his clothes fall and leans over to turn the shower on, unabashedly naked, turning the knob to hot and sticking a hand under the spray to test the temperature.

It takes a bit of wheedling and good-natured insults, but a few moments later they're both naked under the spray, and Jude is sure Max flashes a real grin when he nods at Jude's groin and says "oh, so that's why Lucy likes you". But he falls silent after that, trembling under the spray, not meeting Jude's eyes as he turns to face the wall, the line of his shoulders tense and trembling. Sighing, Jude grabs a washcloth and soaps it up, running it over the smaller man's neck and shoulders. Max stiffens, then relaxes into the touch, glancing at him over his shoulder. "What are you doing?"

"Calming you down." He squeezes the cloth, sudsy water running in rivulets over Max's back. Max shudders slightly--not, Jude thinks, in discomfort--and tilts his head slightly to give Jude a better angle.

"Is this how you calm Lucy down?"

"No." He sets the washcloth aside and turns Max to face him. "This is how I calm Lucy down."

He's not really sure why he kisses Max, only that he does, and it's soft at first, but then Max gives a faint groan and there's a hard body pressed against Jude's own, utterly unyielding, and the kiss is deeper all of a sudden, harder, firmer.

They pull away at the same time, squinting at each other through the spray. Jude thinks 'Lucy' and he knows Max is thinking the same thing, but the damage is done and they're both half-hard already, so Jude mutters "fuck it" and kisses him again.

Max is expecting it this time, mouth already open, and Jude brings their bodies together, grinding his groin against Max's, cock against cock. It's not like kissing a girl--obviously, as Max curls an experienced hand around bother their dicks--but it's not awkward or weird, either. It shouldn't be, not at this point, after the dozens of intoxicated kisses they've shared over the years. But this is different somehow. The drunk clumsiness is conspicuously absent, replaced by a tender sort of desperation. Jude can feel Max's hands trembling and wraps his own around them, pulling them away from their groins and lacing their fingers together.

"Slow," he murmurs, lips against Max's neck, he can feel Max's pulse jumping, "slow."

The next kiss is slower, slower and softer, Jude's tongue slipping gently into Max's mouth. Just because it's softer doesn't make it less good, and Jude feels himself getting harder, feels Max's answering erection. There are hands in his hair, on his shoulders, over his chest, and where there aren't hands there's water, hot and pounding, the differing sensations blending together, hot and soft and hard and sweet all at once. He wraps his arms around Max's waist, pulling him closer, not sure where he was planning on going from here. There aren't nearly as many uncertain thoughts going through his head as he expected, though, and everything is just falling into place. It's as easy as being with Lucy, but different in a different way; he feels comfortable, safe, wanted, needed.

Sliding into Max is an entirely different feeling, one that makes him gasp and groan and whimper all at once. Pressed against the shower wall, legs around Jude's waist, Max digs his hands into Jude's shoulders and chokes out a word of pained encouragement, head tipped back, eyes closed in pleasure as Jude moves inside him, agonizingly slowly. Everything's hot and slick and wonderful and Jude lets his head fall forward onto Max's shoulder, kissing his neck.

It doesn't take long, despite the slow pace, and Max arches, coming with a sharp cry, spilling hot over Jude's fingers. Jude groans just watching him before sensation overpowers everything else and he gasps Max's name as he shoots, stars exploding behind his eyes like fireworks.

Like bombs.

They stay like that for a few more minutes, catching their breath, clinging to each other. Jude is reluctant to move, but his legs are starting to ache from holding both of them up. "C'mon," he mutters against Max's neck, kissing his pulse. "The water'll get cold."

They rinse off and Jude turns off the water, wrapping them both in the same towel and maneuvers them into the bedroom. Max is far calmer than before, a soft, sated grin on his face, but it vanishes at the first clap of thunder and he goes pale and rigid in Jude's arms.

"Shh." Jude tightens his grip around him and steers him over to the bed. "Relax."

"Easy for you to say," Max retorts, a hint of his old spark in his eyes as he lets Jude rub the towel over his hair.

"Maybe," Jude allows, climbing into bed and pulling Max in with him. "C'mere."

Obediently Max rolls into his arms, and Jude wraps him in a loose embrace. There's another crack of thunder and Jude is ready for it, pressing Max's head into his shoulder and covering his ears. Max's hands find his shoulders and squeeze, not painful, just desperate, and Jude kisses him, gently, gently, feeling some of the tension leave Max's muscles.

"I'm so tired," Max whispers, half-singing. "I haven't slept a wink. I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink. I wonder, should I get up, and fix myself a drink?"

"No, no, no," Jude murmurs into his hair.

Max gives a bitter laugh, fingers tightening on Jude's back. "I'm so tired, I don't know what to do. I'm so, so tired my mind is set on you..."

"Shh," Jude murmurs, half-fearful of what he'll hear. "Max..."

"I wonder, should I call you? But I know what you would do--"

Jude sits up, frowning in frustration. "You say I'm puttin' you on, but it's no joke. It's doin' me harm--"

Max props himself up as well, anger mixed with broken pride written all over his face. "You know I can't sleep, I can't stop my brain. You know it's three weeks, I'm going insane--"

"You know I'd give you everything I've got," Jude cups his face in his hands, smoothing Max's tears away with his thumbs. "For your peace of mind."

Max deflates slightly, head drooping down. The faint spark in his eyes seems to die, the music going with it. "I know," he whispers, giving Jude a broken smile and melting back into his embrace, trembling. "I'm just...I'm so tired."

Jude tightens his arms and presses a kiss to Max's hair. "I'll stay here until the rain stops," he promises. "Or at least until you fall asleep."

Max shifts in his arms so Jude can see his face. "Does it seem like it's stopping?"

Glancing at the water pounding against the window, Jude shakes his head. "No."

"Oh." Max closes his eyes, shifting again to wrap his arms around Jude's waist. "Good."

They stay like that, holding each other, eventually curling up on the pillows, under the blankets, both for warmth and for comfort. Jude thinks about the smile on Max's face when he said "everything below the neck works fine" and how it didn't light up his eyes like it used to, he thinks about the way Max jumps at every clap of thunder, muffling a whimper in Jude's shoulder. He strokes Max's hair and doesn't think about Lucy and wonders if he should say "I love you" or just let his arms around Max's body say it for him.

He listens to the rain, and to Max's even breathing, and kisses Max's hair over and over again before he finally falls asleep.


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