Disclaimer: The characters in this story aren't mine.
Author's note: Actually I wanted to write gratuitous Aldo/Hugo-smut, but it ended up being a very harmless cuddle scene with some UST. Apparently the boys decided they wanted to get better acquainted first. ;) This is unfortunately not beta-read.
France, an abandoned barn, winter 1941/42
Silence fell over the barn, occasionally disrupted by the rustling of blankets and covers. It was the first winter the Basterds spent in France, and it was freezing. Whatever covers they had brought with them, or taken from the last Nazi soldiers they killed, were hardly enough to keep them warm. They were huddling close to share body heat, tired bodies pressed against each other, gladly putting up with their comrades' snoring and fidgeting if it meant being less cold.
They had been fairly lucky to find this barn. It had been unused for a while, and a local farmer, who also supported the French resistance, had allowed them to stay there. He had been sure that the place was safe - neither the Gestapo nor the SS bothered to search this abandoned region regularly, especially considering that no unusual events ever disturbed the peace here. Once the Basterds had promised that all of their attacks would be carried out at least a few hours' march away from the village, the barn had been theirs.
Only one of the Basterds rested at a small distance from the others, at the far end of the barn. He hadn't asked to join them, they hadn't offered. Somehow both parties assumed that this was best for everyone.
Less than two weeks had passed since they had picked up Hugo Stiglitz in a prison near Dijon. And while they all admired his little killing spree among Gestapo officers - not to mention the enthusiasm he had shown during the past two weeks - they were also quite wary about him. Not all of them had been happy about Lt. Raine's decision to enlist him in their team.
It wasn't that they expected him to be a Nazi spy - a Nazi, or even a normal German soldier, wouldn't take so much obvious pleasure in killing his compatriots. But he was a German, a man who was still wearing his - admittedly very neglected - SS-uniform, a man whose accent reminded them of their enemies, and finally the only non-Jew of the Basterds. And while none of them was particularly religious, they still shared a bond, a common motivation that Stiglitz lacked. They couldn't help but wonder what drove this man to hate his own country - or at least its army - so much.
They never bothered to ask, though, and Stiglitz wasn't the loquacious type. His piercing blue eyes, his tense posture, the bundled-up rage that reminded of a caged beast about to break through the bars - it all didn't exactly help him make friends. Not that he tried very hard. He laughed with the others when they killed Nazis, he taunted their enemies the most, and in those moments he felt just like any other of the Basterds. But as soon as the killing was over, he retreated back into himself. And none of the Basterds really wanted to know what it looked like in Stiglitz's head.
None, except their leader.
Lt. Aldo Raine hesitated when he saw Hugo settle down alone. He wanted, he needed to know his men, to trust them, to form a bond with them. And although Hugo had never been any trouble during their ambushes, but always taken his place without questioning, Aldo wasn't sure if he should let things continue like this. Not with somebody as volatile and inscrutable as Hugo Stiglitz.
He picked up his bedroll and walked over to the resting German. Even in the half-dark he could see Hugo shift a little, his fingers probably curling around the SS-dagger he had taken from one of his first victims and kept ever since. The man was as tense as a cornered predator who smells blood.
"Move over," Aldo said and unceremoniously threw down his bedroll next to Hugo's. He was met by a very suspicious look. Aldo sat, or rather flopped down, yawning before he bothered to explain.
"I didn't get you outta that prison to let you freeze to death. Now my men don't trust you, but I know you're just about sane enough to know what they gonna do to you if you kill me."
"I'm not cold," Hugo replied, but his growl lacked its usual effectiveness due to his clattering teeth.
"No need to play the tough Aryan, I don't buy it anyway." Aldo grinned at him, lay down, and wiggled his way under Hugo's blanket, pulling a second one over the both of them. As if to make a point he turned his back to Hugo. And waited.
They were hardly touching for the moment, but he could feel the body behind him tense up even more. Hugo's breathing was forcefully slow, as if he needed all his self-control to keep lying still. Minutes passed, snoring came from the other side of the barn, occasional steps on the outside confirmed that their watch was in place, and Aldo was beginning to doubt the wisdom of his decision. Hugo seemed to be stubborn enough to freeze, and let Aldo freeze, rather than come closer.
And then, just as Aldo wondered if he should give up and return to the others, the strong body behind him stirred a little. Hugo moved closer, until his chest touched Aldo's back. He was careful to keep their lower bodies apart, but Aldo, tired of waiting, just pressed back against him. A muscular arm moved, rather awkwardly, around Aldo's body. It took them almost another minute of shifting until they found a remotely comfortable position.
"See? Lot warmer like this," Aldo mumbled, and for once the answering growl sounded affirmative. Sleep comes much easier when you're not afraid that you'll freeze and never wake up again.
Aldo woke up in the middle of the night. Hugo had hardly moved, but months behind enemy lines had taught all of them to sleep lightly. Aldo turned his head, blinking sleepily at Hugo, who answered with an awkward grin. It was the first time Aldo saw anything but grim determination, rage, or morbid amusement on his face. He pulled his arm back, the one Aldo had used as a pillow and which had apparently gone numb. He shrugged apologetically. Aldo only nodded. Upon consideration, he turned around to face Hugo, who had apparently given up arguing. No matter how much he valued his privacy, he valued being warm more. He avoided eye contact, though, when they simply wrapped their arms around the other. Their jackets were open, with only thin shirts between them - too much cloth would only have been in the way and absorbed their body heat.
Aldo rested his head against Hugo's shoulder, while the German rearranged the covers. The air was freezing, and Aldo gladly pressed his face against Hugo's neck to warm his nose and cheeks. His brain noticed, sleepily, that he didn't mind the smell. Sure, they were all sweaty and hardly smelt pleasant, but there was something comforting about Hugo's. It shouldn't have been possible, but here he lay in the arms of a German, pressed against a Nazi uniform, and he felt perfectly safe.
Aldo's hands sneaked under Hugo's shirt, cold fingers desperate for more warmth. Hugo tensed up, and Aldo's brain jolted awake when he noticed why - the skin on Hugo's back was a labyrinth of scars, some of them so fresh they could hardly be called scars at all. He looked up at Hugo, who at first evaded his gaze, and then gave him that disconcerting, intense stare that made most of the Basterds - not to mention the Nazis they fought - more than a bit uncomfortable around him.
"You see, I have much more personal reasons to hate them," he snarled, his voice so hushed that even Aldo barely heard him.
"You got some of them recently, after they arrested you," Aldo stated, still not withdrawing his hands. "What about the older ones?"
"Insubordination," Hugo replied, his lips twitching in disdain. "I'm bad at taking orders."
"You take mine."
"I don't need orders to kill Nazis."
Hugo grinned his special killing-Nazis grin. The one that made him look like a psycho, even compared to the other Basterds. Aldo rather liked it. He made himself comfortable again. His lips moved against the stubble on Hugo's jaw when he spoke. Hugo shivered a little, probably because of the cold.
"My men ain't happy about having you around," Aldo said. "They say you're a ticking bomb that could go off at the wrong time, a gun that could backfire. Some of 'em think you'd readily kill one of us just as well as a Nazi."
"You obviously disagree." A calm statement, warm breath brushing Aldo's hair.
"I told you - I don't think you're that insane." Aldo sounded sleepy. The warmth and the comfortable embrace of another body lulled him back to sleep, and he easily managed to ignore Hugo's tenseness. He'd better get used to this if he wanted to survive. The last thing Aldo noticed before he fell asleep again were arms pulling him closer against a gradually relaxing body.