Just a small Brad/OC fic. Hope you enjoy!
As much as I wish I did, I don't own the characters of Generation Kill.
"Not long now," Kate exclaimed, bouncing from one foot to the other as she glanced at the Arrival/Departure board for the hundredth time.
Renee grinned and shook her head. "Calm down, Katie," she said, grabbing her friend's arm, "you're making me seasick!"
Kate laughed, the sound lost in the racket that surrounded them. Airports were busy enough at the best of times, but today, you could barely move three inches without bumping into someone. Families gathered around them. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, children. They all packed the corridor at Gate 9, waiting to see "their boys" return. Some held signs, some, like Kate, fidgeted non stop, while others simply watched the closed doors before them, anxiously waiting to see their beloved's face again.
You would never have known from her outward appearance, but Renee was a bundle of nerves. She was practically vibrating, she was so nervous. The only man she had ever loved was coming home. Of course, she couldn't express her true feelings. To the outside world, he was the older brother she'd never had. Kate had been her best friend since grade school, and her family had just accepted Renee as one of their own. They often joked that she should hyphenate her name. No one knew the truth, not even Kate.
"Here they come!" Kate squealed, and in unison, the mass of people turned towards the open doors.
Shouts of "Dave! Mikey! Daddy! Jonathan-over here!" rang out as people recognised their loved ones. Tears flowed, as people rushed forward to greet their soldier. Renee watched as a toddler ran past her, racing into he outstretched arms of her daddy. She felt her eyes mist over, uncontrollably, as the soldier scooped up his daughter, burying his face in her neck, her little arms straining to reach around his shoulders. A second later, the soldier's wife appeared at his side and he pulled her to him, his lips meeting hers in a desperate kiss.
"Brad!" Kate shouted from beside her, and Renee's head snapped to the front, searching for him, her heart racing.
She had loved him since she was thirteen. All of her friends had swooned over cute actors, pop stars and athletes, but for Renee, it had always been Brad Colbert.
It was he who had taught her how to throw a baseball and shoot the basketball properly. At thirteen, it was he who had dared her to climb the highest tree at his family's summer house, only to rescue her when she was too scared to climb down. At fifteen, it was Brad who gave her her first can of beer, and at sixteen, it was he who took the alcohol away and marched her, drunk, home to her parents. To him, she was just another little sister and he soothed her fears and encouraged her dreams. He scrutinised her boyfriends and moped up her tears when it didn't last, each time, telling her that she was an amazing girl and one day, she would find the guy that deserved her. Every time he said it, she loved him a little more.
At twenty-three, the tables turned and it was she who had to nurse Brad's broken heart. His high school sweetheart had left him for his best friend, making a mockery of the ring he had given her. She remembered the nights they had sat on the hood of his car, and he would try to convince himself of the positives in the break-up, but she could always see through his calm facade. It seemed that she was the only one who knew he was hurting. So she held his hand, told him that he was an amazing guy and that one day, he would find the girl that deserved him.
The day he left for Afghanistan was one of the worst days of her life. He was excited, eager to put his Recon training to use, to prove himself. She was terrified. She had held him in her heart for so long, always kept her feelings to herself, and the very real possibility that he may not return rocked her to her foundations. So, as he hugged his family goodbye, she made the decision that would change her life forever.
"See ya, Ren," he had grinned, grabbing her around the waist and lifting her off the ground in a hug, much like he had done to Kate. She wrapped her arms around his neck, her cheek pressed against his.
This was it.
"I love you," she whispered, and she felt him still for a second or two before he tightened his embrace a fraction. His blue eyes bore into hers as he lowered her to the ground and released her. She gave a small shrug and smiled. "Be careful," she said, louder this time, as she wrapped her arm around Kate's waist, as tears rolled down her best friend's face. He picked his bag up from the ground and slung it over his shoulder, gave them a small salute, then disappeared through the gate.
What followed had been the longest eight months of Renee's life. Every so often, Kate's mom would receive a letter from him. Always short and to the point, Brad just wanted to let them all know he was fine. She lay awake so many nights, praying that he would be safe. She often wondered if she had made a mistake in telling him that he loved him. Did he feel the same? If he didn't, would things now be awkward? She worried about this, right up until the day the soldiers came home.
She had crowded into the airport along with the Colberts and all of the other families, and as he walked through the door, her heart had almost burst. She was elated, relieved and anxious all at the same time. He had lost weight and looked exhausted, but he still managed to flash his brilliant smile as he hugged each of them. Kate and her mother kept a steady stream of chatter on the drive home, and Brad had done his best to keep up. The Colbert household was teeming with people when they'd arrived, all of them eager to welcome their hero home.
It wasn't until later that night that they finally had a chance to talk to each other. Renee was sitting on the front steps, relishing a few minutes of silence when she heard the door open behind her. A moment later, Brad was sitting beside her, his gaze on the trees in the distance.
"Well, if it isn't the man of the hour," she chuckled, nudging him with her shoulder. "Having fun in there?" she asked, nodding her head back toward the house.
He shrugged and plucked a long strand of grass from the garden, twisting it in his long fingers. "Still trying to adjust, I guess. Everyone keeps asking so many questions. I don't know if I really want to talk about it, y'know?"
"They're just proud of you," she reasoned. "You're a hero to them, Brad."
He frowned, and gave his head a small shake. "I'm not a hero, Ren. I was just doing my job, doing what I was trained to do." He plucked another blade of grass from the ground. "It's weird, y'know. You don't really think about all of that when you're over there, the heroic bullshit. All you're concerned about is doing your job, keeping your men safe and getting home alive."
"I'm glad you did," she said softly. "Whether you care about it or not, I'm proud of you, too, Brad."
He studied her for a moment and was about to reply when the door opened behind them. "There you are, sweetheart! Come on, your Uncle Martin is looking for you!" Mrs Colbert exclaimed before closing the door again.
"Once again into the great good night," Renee laughed.
"Yep," he sighed, and rose to his impressive height, standing a few steps below where she sat. "Oh, hey Ren?" he asked, and she looked up at him in question. "I love you too," he said softly. He leaned down, one hand on her bent knee and the other cradling the back of her head, and kissed her lightly, lingering. It was a kiss that held so much promise and her heart soared. Then he straightened, gave her a grin that made her knees tremble and disappeared back into the party.
That had been a year and a half ago. They had kept their evolving relationship quiet, relishing the time they were alone. Brad was a private person, and he was hesitant about being in another relationship, having been hurt so badly by his ex. Renee understood that. She accepted Brad the way he was. She had longed for his heart since she was twelve and she wasn't prepared to ruin it by pushing the issue.
She spotted his face amongst the crowd, a head or two taller than almost everyone and she couldn't stop herself from grabbing Kate's hand, while her heart almost beat right out of chest.
"Here! Brad!" Kate cried, jumping up and down, and he fought through the throng of people to sweep her into his arms.
"Hey, Katie," he grinned, as she smothered his face with kisses. "I've missed you, squirt!"
"Shut up!" she laughed, punching his shoulder as he set her back on the ground, before wiping her tears from her face.
He smiled before turning to Renee. "Ren," he lifted her into his embrace, holding her tightly to him. "I've missed you, too," he whispered, and she felt a few tears of her own roll down her cheeks.
She loved him with all of her being. She didn't need a public proclamation of their relationship. She didn't need a ring on her finger, didn't need the fairytale wedding. She had his heart.
And it was enough.