Disclaimer: Based on the eye fucking of the fictionalized characters portrayed by Alexander Skarsgard & Stark Sands in the HBO miniseries, and not intended as any reflection on the real people bearing these names.
Notes: Title comes from Dashboard Confessional. Written for help_haiti at the request of the lovely idrilfinial. Special thanks goes to lunasky who is the best beta a girl could ask for.

Reviews are lovely and make my day.

Brad Colbert loves exactly three things: his Yamaha R1, the United States Marine Corps and Nathaniel Fick.

As far as partners go, you can't get better than Nate. He's gorgeous, intelligent, and full of so much idealism you don't know whether to kiss him or clock him. These are things everybody knows.

After two years of living together, Brad's learned that Nate breaks number two pencils in frustration when he can't get his words to flow just right. That he loves an In-N-Out burger when he's having a bad day and you can wake him at any time of the night for sex and he'll never get annoyed.

Brad's taken him up on it enough times to know.

On a grey November day, Brad receives a piece of paper that changes his life forever.

Nate is taking a shower; he wants to try some new Indian place around the corner. It's been ages since they've gone out and Brad's craving samosas.

Brad is stricken, scanning the letter with his eyes over and over for some sort of mistake. There's no way this can be happening, they've been so careful and Brad's military conduct has been nothing short of impeccable.

He's only just gotten back. They've only just settled into the comfortable rhythm of couples who are separated by months and continents.

"I half expected you to join me." Nate says all big smile and damp hair as he enters the bedroom. He starts digging through the closet for a button up, but glances back over his shoulder at Brad, one hand on the sleeve of his favorite dress shirt.

"Brad?" Nate questions, letting the sleeve fall from his fingers as he comes to stand in front of where Brad is perched at the foot of the bed, crumpled letter in his hand.

"What's that?" Nate asks motioning to the paper in Brad's grip. Brad makes no movement to stop him, so Nate gently plucks it from his grasp. Brad can see Nate's eyes narrow as he scans the contents, his mouth opening in disbelief.

"I don't understand," he says, voice slightly off. His eyes dart back and forth between Brad and the letter. After a long time he asks, "How did this happen?" The hand with the letter falls to his side, defeated.

Brad feels something warm trickle slowly across his cheek.

"I don't know."

The day before Brad is set to deploy, it feels like there are moths flittering around inside his stomach. It's the same feeling he got when he realized there were men in the trees during the ambush in Muwaffiqiyah. His abdomen goes tight with adrenaline, the slight ebb of fear around the edges.

Brad used to love his job more than anything else in the world.

The 'anything else' is currently asleep next to him, one arm draped across Brad's chest.

Before Nate, there was only excitement. The worry sinks in more with each deployment. He may be the Iceman, but he's not invincible and his thoughts of death aren't as cavalier as they used to be. They've spent years moving around and lately Brad doesn't mind the thought of growing roots and staying in one place for awhile. Part of him yearns for stability where he once craved the excitement of being in constant motion.

Brad's parents take them out for stuffed lobster on the coast. Sometimes Brad jokes that his parents prefer Nate's company to his own. Nate tells him he's being ridiculous, but Brad can't recall any lobster dinners before Nate.

They sit outside with the sun setting warm on their skin, bright colors bleeding across the sky. Brad keeps his hand on Nate's thigh under the table. He tethers himself to Nate, as if he might float away when Brad stops looking.

In the parking lot, Brad backs Nate against his Volvo. His green eyes are bright and heavily-lidded with three glasses of Chardonnay.

With one hand bracing himself on the roof, and the other pinning Nate to the car, Brad descends on Nate's mouth. He wants to savor everything, fill his memory with images of Nate that he can use when he's surrounded by sand; hard and aching and utterly alone.

Nate's lips are wet; perfect and pink and when Brad grazes them with his teeth, Nate moans into his mouth. Brad slides his hands down to Nate's waist and whispers warm and low in his ear.

"When we get home I'm going to fuck you until you scream."

Brad feels a shiver of want go through Nate before he takes a nip at Brad's jaw.

"Promise?" Nate asks.

Brad kisses him once more, hard on the mouth before muttering "Drive."

Five minutes later, Nate is driving down North Coast highway at a relatively mild speed. Brad puts his hand back on Nate's thigh for motivation and Nate shoots him a warning look.

"It'll be hard to keep your promise if I careen across four lanes while you give me road head."

Brad cocks an eyebrow and grins, teeth white. Smartass.

"Who said I was giving you road head?" He slides his hand further up Nate's thigh, and Nate's foot pushes the accelerator harder.

When they get in the house, Nate doesn't waste any time before shoving Brad against the nearest available surface. He goes to work unbuttoning Brad's shirt.

"Do you know how fucking difficult it is to drive with a hard on in your jeans?"

Brad palms Nate's crotch over the denim, verifying Nate's plight, and Nate groans into the juncture of his neck.

"I'll try and make it worth your while," Brad says, stepping away and gesturing with his arm towards the bedroom. "After you."

Nate pulls his sweater over his head before unceremoniously depositing it on the hallway floor.

Letting his eyes slide appreciatively over lean torso and a flat belly, Brad's gaze ultimately rests on Nate's fingers, deftly popping open the top button of his jeans.

His cock responds immediately and Brad stares transfixed as Nate pops another button, jeans dangerously low on his hips.

Nate is very good at this.

He watches Nate's ass, unashamedly, as he saunters to the bedroom door. He stops to undo the last button of his jeans and ask "Coming?" before Brad unfucks himself, swallows and follows him in.

It's their last night together and Brad decides to give Nate what he likes best; a nice hard fuck, slow and deep.

Nate is gorgeous underneath him, skin flushed pink and sensitive to every drag of Brad's fingertips. Brad cups Nate's jaw in his hands and kisses the freckles high on his cheekbones, memories of long mornings teaching him to surf at Breakwater.

Nate tips his mouth up for a kiss and Brad indulges him, sliding into him slowly until Nate breathes "Ohhh, yes," against his lips when he settles deep. He grips Nate's hips firmly beneath his fingertips and sets a rhythm, slow and deep until Nate is crying out and Brad's arms are shaking with effort.

It's too much, too good, and Brad wants to stay here on the edge, electricity shooting through his belly with every thrust until he can't help himself and snaps his hips forward firmly, eliciting a sharp "Fuck!" beneath him.

He can feel Nate's nails digging into his back; hear the slap of their hipbones meeting at each thrust. It's all sensory overload except for the feeling of Nate tight around him, thrusting to meet him with each stroke.

Nate is looking up at him expectantly and Brad dips his head forward to press their foreheads together.

"I want to watch you come for me," he demands, moving one hand to pump the head of Nate's cock roughly.

Nate cries out and comes, hips lifting up off the mattress and Brad can feel wetness on his stomach.

He holds Nate's hips down, fucking him through his orgasm. Nate tries to writhe underneath him, hypersensitive, mumbling a litany of curses and it's enough to push Brad over the edge, coming hard before letting his arms give out.

Brad enjoys the trail of soft fingertips across his back for a few moments, until finally, blinking a few times, he realizes his face is somewhere to the left of Nate's nose.

"Hey," Nate says.

"Hey, yourself." It doesn't come out as lascivious as he intends.

"You're fucking heavy."

Brad pulls out and ties off the condom, depositing it in what he thinks is the direction of the wastepaper basket before rolling over onto his back.

"Well, I'm certainly not going to miss that," Nate says after a beat. It lacks the zeal of his usual sarcasm.

Uneasiness passes through Brad's stomach. He's tired of creating memories that are an affront to the reality. He doesn't want this to be the last time they share a bed together. He can't make any promises that it won't be.

Seeming to sense his unease, Nate touches his wrist gently, "Come here, Brad."

Brad settles behind Nate, wrapping an arm around his waist. He feels Nate link their fingers together.

Nate's breath comes even and shallow within minutes while Brad fights against sleep for as long as he can.

He never lets go of Nate's hand.

This time, when he goes to Iraq, Brad is surrounded by unfamiliar faces. Most of the Recon Marines he's served with have gotten tired of the Marine Corps' "infinite retardation" as Ray Person so eloquently put it in a Ripped Fuel-induced rant, and returned to civilian life.

Brad would rather voluntary scoop his eyeballs out with an oyster fork.

All except Gunny Wynn who is still content to harbor competent officers from the idiocies of command, another deep line sketched permanently into his forehead with each tour.

Brad is blessed with two promising members of his team who seem to know their assholes from their ears. His RTO Sergeant Reid is not up to Ray Person's bucktoothed-backwoods standards by far, but he can get the radios up efficiently in a jam and he's a likeable guy who hates country music even more than Brad.

Corporal Pearce reminds Brad of a far less psycho baby-killer version of Trombley, his eyes wide and eager and he hangs on Brad's every word, clearly raised in the Marine community by tales of the coldblooded Iceman warrior. Brad can tell he would give his left nut to fit in.

Still, Brad longs for Poke's militantly racist remarks, Pappy's indiscernible down home sayings, and even Ray's arbitrary road trip sing-alongs. Sometimes he even misses Nate's boyish idealism.

Brad takes a somewhat paternal liking to Pearce, showing him how to keep his SAW well oiled and clean, which MRE's to trade to FNG's, and how to square his ranger grave so his arms don't feel like lead after forty minutes of digging.

They're camped out in a wadi by the water, biding their time before they receive orders for a night mission. Brad strolls up to the knitting circle, gossiping about something with Gunny Wynn standing off a ways, trying to suppress a grin.

"This guy back at Pendleton said it was like a total bromance in Operation Iraqi Freedom."

"A Marine will fuck anything."

"Even their commanding officer?"

"If he's got lips like Fick's."

That gets Brad's attention.

"Trust me. I've been out with the Iceman back in Oceanside. He needs pliers to pull the girls off his dick."

"I heard he doesn't even bother. Just orders himself up a whore when he's in the mood, like fucking take out."

"That's fucking awesome." One of the younger Marines says.

"Still, it wouldn't be that gay if you let the Iceman fuck you. I mean that's like the most alpha-male you can get, bro. That might actually make you more masculine."

"Better start bending over, Pearce. I bet you're first on his list the way you're trying to climb up his ass. Stroking his big hard Marine ego."

"Hey, shut the fuck up!" Pearce says, jumping to his feet and shoving the Marine who made the offending remark.

"Do you guys realize how much we talk about gay sex?" Another starts up.

Brad decides to break up their little tea party. "Gentlemen. If you'd like to take your aprons off and join the war, the team leaders are gathering around the Command Vehicle."

"Roger that, Staff Staff Sgt. Colbert." Gunny Wynn says. "You heard him boys."

Brad sees Lance Corporal Mendoza making a combat jack hand motion at Pearce and snickers before he walks off.

The next day Brad leads a mission through an abandoned enemy encampment. He decides to bring some of the more inexperienced recruits with him, per Gunny Wynn's suggestion. Brad's shadow casts over Pearce, who is slumped against the Humvee squeezing peanut butter out of his MRE packet.

"Pearce, get your gear on. We're going on a foot patrol." Pearce's smile doesn't quite reach his eyes.

The mission is a cakewalk. The Iraqi fighters are long gone and the men bitch about the grueling heat.

When they get back to camp, Brad removes his flak jacket and brown tee, digging in his knapsack for mouthwash before burrowing his ass into the sand. He can feel Pearce's eyes on the colorful expanse of his back. He gargles and spits in the sand.

"I'm gonna take a shit," Brad says standing and brushing sand off of his ass. "Pearce, you're on the hook. Reid's out cold." Staff Sgt. Reid is laying across the back seat of the Humvee with his boots out the window. Brad wanders off a ways to take care of business.

A few minutes later he can hear Pearce calling him, "Brad, we're Oscar Mike in five mikes."

"Roger that," Brad calls, pulling up his pants and grabbing his E-tool before striding back towards the Humvee. He scoops up his flak jacket and tee on the way, a piece of paper fluttering back to the sand.

Pearce sees the white square wedged precariously in the sand and bends down to pick it up. It's a photograph, the corners are bent and it must have fallen out from where it was tucked in Brad's flak jacket. He flips it over in his hands.

It's a photo of Brad and another man, both in MOPP suits. The other man is shorter, boyish and handsome. There is a rare smile on both their faces despite the photo obviously having been taken in theatre. Pearce feels something in his stomach clench and he flips it back over.

"Brad," he calls again. "You dropped this?" Pearce holds it out towards the taller man, his thumb partially obscuring neat block lettering written on the back.

Brad walks over and plucks it from his grasp with a "Thanks, Pearce" before tucking it back into his flak jacket and strapping on his Kevlar.

When Pearce gets situated in the seat behind Staff Sgt. Colbert his brain fills in the missing gaps. The writing on the back of the photograph says 'Lt. Nate Fick and Staff Sgt. Brad Colbert. 2003.'

They're on seventy-five percent watch, Brad is flanked by Reid and Pearce on either side, NVG's covering most of their faces.

"What do you miss most?" Reid asks. They've been on their bellies for over an hour and have already covered the acceptable topics of tastiest MRE's (Jalapeno & Cheese,) most boot-fucked officers (it's a tie between Encino Man & Captain America,) and craziest Quantico tales (waking up next to a naked recruit who pissed himself during the Crucible.)

Pearce sighs deeply before answering. "My girlfriend Sarah. My mother's pork chops."

"What about you Iceman? You got anything worth a damn back in California?"

Brad finishes counting the green tinted huts in the distance. "My bike."

"You ain't got a girl?" Pearce presses.

"Nope. And neither should you. Women are nothing but an expense. You give and give and give and they still kick the shit out of you."

"Only the whores melt your cold heart," Reid jokes.

"They're more economical in the long run," Brad says sagely before peering back in his scope.

It's blazing hot and the men are all milling around, trading jack off magazines and smoking Iraqi cigarettes. Pearce hears someone by the motor pool shout "Mail Call!" and heads over. He should be receiving another letter from Sarah. A couple of guys have gathered where they are handing the letters out in bundles by team.

"Team One." Flores tosses a small bundle in his direction. The top letter is in Sarah's loopy script. He smiles and flicks through the pile. There is one letter addressed to Brad and he brings it to the top of the stack, curiously. It's the first time Brad has received any mail since they've deployed.

He scans the face of the letter, before settling on the return address.

Written in clear block lettering is:




He recognizes the handwriting immediately; it's the identical to the one on the back of the photograph.

Brad saves Nate's letters.

He waits until the homesickness melts into his bones. During the day, he pushes it as far back as he can in his mind, but he can't stop himself from dreaming.

Brad dreams of perfect gray-blue waves, long showers that scald his skin pink, and bottles of Landshark, sweating in his hand.

He dreams of Nate's skin. Smooth alabaster unmarred but for a few sporadic freckles on the path Brad licks up along his spine.

These dog days of the invasion, Brad feels like he leaves a chunk of himself behind every couple of klicks. He's seen terrible things, death, destruction and hopelessness in all directions.

With the cover of night, twenty-five percent watch and familiar block handwriting, he pieces some of the fragments back together.

Nate writes about California, about the weather and Brad's mother bringing over tuna noodle casserole because Nate is "too god-damned skinny." Nate writes the way he talks. Sometimes Brad closes his eyes and pictures him, eyes bright and hands animated as he relays a story. Nate never says very much, he can't, but it's enough to get him through.

Brad drags the pad of his thumb across the "N" at the bottom of the letter.

When they make their triumphant return to Camp Pendleton, Brad sees every familiar face but the one he needs most.

He shakes hands with Sergeant Reid, who he, not surprisingly, will be losing to command. As for Corporal Pearce, he will become a full fledged member of the Recon community per Colbert's tutelage.

When Colbert shakes his hand and offers his congratulations, Pearce looks somewhere past Brad's face with a reply of "Thank you, sir." Brad smirks, after all this time Pearce is still afraid to look him in the eye.

After the homecoming celebration, Brad heads back to the deserted barracks to wash off seven months of caked sand and filth. The water pools gray at his feet, so he waits it out while he lathers his hair. When the water eventually runs clear he sets out on removing the black staining his fingernails and toes.

The voicemail indicator light is flashing on his cell phone when he gets back to his locker. He doesn't have to check the missed call log to know who it's from.

Still towel-clad, Brad pushes the speakerphone button to play the message. He reaches for a clean brown tee before smiling as Nate's familiar voice fills the room.

"Hey, it's me. I'm heading down to Pendleton now, I should be there in about twenty minutes. So, I guess I'll see you soon. India Lima Yankee. Bye."

Brad grabs his watch to check the time, there is sand lodged in the edges around the face that is going to be a bitch to clean out. Nate should be arriving in about ten minutes. He quickly scoops his remaining toiletries into his rucksack before shutting his locker.

Brad doesn't see Pearce in the row of lockers behind him when he exits.

Pearce's curiosity gets the best of him and he follows Brad out to the parking lot. He lingers in the shadow of the barracks and watches as Brad raises his arm in greeting to an approaching car.

Brad taps the trunk of the forest green Volvo and the driver pops the trunk. Brad throws open the passenger door before griping "Jesus, Nate. I thought my Humvee was a sardine can, but this Swedish abomination takes the cake."


Nate, the driver, is smiling as he leans towards the passenger side window. "Just get in my fucking car."

"Roger that, sir."

Brad slides in easily, head dangerously close to the roof, but he's shifted his attention to the radio as Nate shakes his head amused. Nate slips the car into gear and Pearce glimpses Brad's hand coming to rest on the back of Nate's neck. Pearce gets an unobstructed view of Nate's face for the first time as he looks across the car at Brad and everything clicks as they pull away.

Nate is the same Nate from the photograph that Brad carries on his person. Nate is the same Lieutenant Nathaniel Fick who commanded Bravo Two and was Brad's superior in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nate is the writer of countless letters from Brad's address, all in precise block handwriting. He's the same person who just said "India Lima Yankee," I-L-Y in military alphabet; I love you on Brad's voicemail.

Pearce can feel his stomach churning with betrayal and humiliation. How naïve and foolish he was to idolize a cocksucking faggot who fucked his commanding officers to move up the ranks. God knows what kind of depravity he used at his disposal to sway cherry jarheads and enhance his impeccable reputation.

Brad is an anathema who threatens the very sanctity of the Corps and Pearce is determined to set things right.

Brad Colbert's days in the United States Marine Corps are numbered.

When they arrive at 515 Breakwater, Brad chucks his olive drab sack in the corner of the garage, a puff of grey dust billowing out as it settles against the concrete, before following Nate inside. He will leave that mess for another day.

At the landing he is met with a cold puff of air that prickles his skin. After months of skull numbing heat, central air is a Godsend from heaven. As soon as he steps into the condo, he can smell the scent of home cooking wafting towards him. Brad's mouth waters immediately; he's suddenly famished.

There is a decompression that needs to happen when you return from a long deployment and Brad is left to his own devices to reacclimatize himself. Brad will come to Nate when he's ready.

Brad strides into the bedroom in search of civvies, the rough fabric of his desert camo has been making his skin itch since he touched down in California. He peels his uniform off layer by layer, folding it on a chair in the corner before grabbing a pair of well-worn sweatpants. He decides to forego a shirt; it's been too long since he's been at liberty to walk around half naked without being considered a target.

When he stalks back into the kitchen, Nate's back is to him at the stove. Brad eyes him appreciatively. He's leaning just slightly to the left of the burner, one bare foot on top of the other for balance, jeans hugging the swell of his ass. He's stirring something in a small saucepan. At Brad's approach he swivels and extends the wooden spoon towards Brad.

"Try this."

Reaching to steady Nate's hands, Brad's fingers close around the frayed fabric of too-long sleeves, well beyond Nate's wrist. His eyes flicker down to where 'Colbert' is imprinted across Nate's chest. The 'T' has almost completely faded away and Brad idly wonders how many nights Nate's worn this shirt since he's been gone.

His chest aches with the absence of months and the fear that something between them has changed. Brad's first mission now that he is back stateside is to make sure Nate smells the same, to see if his eyes match the clover green of his memory and if his lips are just as soft.

Brad steers Nate until he is backed up against the marble counter top. The wooden spoon clatters to the floor when Nate's hand drops it in surprise.

Equalizing their heights by bracing his hands on either side of Nate's on the counter, Brad dips his head to taste Nate's mouth tentatively, pressing against his tongue and sucking softly before sliding over the fullness of Nate's bottom lip.

His body relaxes into the familiarity of the embrace when Nate's hands wind themselves around Brad's neck, the worn fabric of Nate's sleeves bunched against his skin. Brad remembers a tender spot on Nate's neck grazing his teeth across it, cock throbbing hard at Nate's answering moan.

Brad pulls back and Nate drops his hands behind him on the marble.

"This is why God invented ovens," Brad smirks.

Nate smiles slowly; he has an anticipatory look on his face, as if he just knows he's about to be completely debauched.

He's not wrong.

Brad fists the front of Nate's shirt, rucking the fabric with fingers splayed wide to reveal flat abs, the product of Nate's affinity for running and resolute discipline. The muscles look more defined than Brad remembers; Nate must have been running like a fiend while he was deployed.

Brad lowers his head to place wet, open-mouthed kisses down the flat plane of Nate's stomach till he reaches the waistband of his jeans.

Nate leans back on his arms and arches his hips forward as Brad sinks to his knees, weight back on his heels.

"As much as the coveter in me enjoys my name stamped across your chest, I could do with a bit more skin, Fick. Lose the shirt."

It takes Nate less than thirty seconds to tug the tee over his head and toss it across the room.

"And they say officers are inefficient," Brad teases.

This part never changes, the familiar rhythm they settle into. Comfortable banter and attraction that burned slow and blistering in Iraq and gets Brad hotter than anything else ever could.

He slides his fingers through Nate's belt loops, dragging his tongue from one side of Nate's body to the other under the band of his jeans, holding Nate to the counter when he whimpers and tries to thrust forward.

Brad places one last kiss over Nate's belly button, as he palms Nate's ass over his jeans. Nate's hands come down to the fly of his jeans, but Brad bats at them before sliding away from him.

Nate groans disapprovingly and slams his palms on the countertop, the sound echoing through the kitchen.

Brad clucks his tongue in disapproval of Nate's impatience and gets to his feet. There are indentations in Nate's lip where he has been worrying it with his teeth. Brad leans into him so that his thigh is pressing against Nate's dick, already half hard in his jeans, his mouth up against the shell of Nate's ear.

"Did you think about my mouth on you, while I was gone? Think about me licking and sucking you until you're thrashing beneath my hands?"

"Yes," Nate says without pause.

"I'm going to fucking devour you, Nate," Brad says, low and vicious and that motherfucker mewls beneath him. If Brad hadn't been hard as hell already, that sound would have done the job instantly.

Nate stills his hips from dry humping Brad's thigh and finds his voice.


Brad quirks an eyebrow in response.

"Suck me off."

"With pleasure." Brad quickly assists Nate in kicking off his jeans and divests him of his boxer briefs before he sinks to his knees. He wants to savor this, relearn how Nate tastes, the feel of him in Brad's hands. He wants to remap the touches and licks that make Nate white-knuckle the counter top and buck his hips.

Brad nudges his nose against Nate's balls, and Nate spreads his legs invitingly. Brad laves the flat of his tongue across the sharp angle of Nate's right hipbone, receiving an encouraging sound before he settles his hands over the grooves of Nate's hips. He licks the point of his tongue up Nate's cock from base to tip, Nate throbbing at the contact.

The sides of Nate's cock garner the attention of his tongue, Nate arching his hips forward each time Brad's lips slide dangerously close to the head. Brad brushes them against the sweet spot under the head, but doesn't take Nate into his mouth.

Nate lets out a groan of frustration before muttering under his breath. "Cocktease."

"What was that?" Brad says, in between blowing moist air on the head of Nate's cock. He can see wetness leaking from the tip.

"You're being a fucking cocktease."

Brad sits back on his heels; he gives Nate a smile that is all teeth.

"Do you really think it's a wise move to provoke the person who's sucking your dick?"

Nate raises his eyebrows. "Quite frankly, I'm not seeing much sucking."

"Perhaps if you asked nicely?" Brad says before wetting one of his long fingers with his mouth.

"Can't you just suck me off already?" Nate says irritated.

Brad applies his wet finger to the sensitive bit of skin between Nate's legs, just behind his balls. Nate's head thunks softly against the cabinet.

"Fuck," Nate grits out. Brad continues until Nate goes up on his toes.

"Please. Fuck Brad, please. Fucking touch me."

"Better," Brad says pleased. Nate Fick begging is a thing of beauty.

Brad licks across the slit of Nate's cock, lapping up the pre-come there, the saltiness on his tongue sending a direct jolt to his own cock already leaking into his briefs.

He slides his lips over the head of Nate's cock, slow and wet, before pulling off with a pop. He sucks at the head, before taking Nate deeper in his mouth and starting a slow insistent rhythm that has Brad stilling Nate's hips against the counter.

Nate may be the one with the cocksucker lips, but Brad's been doing this since boarding school. He can hold his own.

Brad can taste more of Nate on his tongue and he pulls off to remove his sweatpants. He gives his cock an exploratory squeeze through his black briefs and can feel dampness against his fingertips.

Nate is watching him, mouth slack, pink high on his cheekbones, and cock jutting glossy and thick from Brad's ministrations. Brad's briefs are starting to get constraining, he needs to start fucking Nate or he's going to come in his pants like a sixteen year old watching soft-core on Cinemax.

Brad grabs Nate's calf to maneuver Nate's foot onto his shoulder. Nate eyes him curiously and Brad raises a cupped palm towards his face.

"Spit." Nate obliges him and Brad slicks his fingers before tracing Nate's opening. He resumes sucking Nate down, the pad of his fingertip just breaching Nate on the downward slide of his lips. Brad pulls back to lap at the sweet spot on the underside of Nate's cock before sliding his finger home.

"Shit!" Nate barks. His eyes are scrunched shut and his grip white-knuckled on the countertop. Brad takes his own dick in hand, teasing Nate's entrance with another long finger and occasionally lapping at the head of Nate's cock. When he's got two fingers pumping inside Nate, he angles them just inside and Nate's cock pulses hard against his tongue.

"My cock's a lot bigger than two fingers, Nate. Imagine how good it's going to feel inside you," Brad says, driving his fingers into Nate once more before sliding them out slowly. Nate looks positively mutinous at the loss.

Brad grabs Nate's wrist to tug him in the direction of the dining room, plucking a foil packet off the island on the way. He backs Nate against the dining room table.

Brad drops his briefs unceremoniously, using his palm on Nate's chest to push him so that he's flat on his back on the dining room table, before climbing on top of him. Brad dips his head to kiss Nate's lips, Nate's leg hooking itself around his waist. He makes quick work of the condom and lines himself up at Nate's entrance. Nate's fingers are gripping the other end of the table and Brad moves his hands to grasp Nate's wrists.

Brad slides his hips forward fractionally, just to get a bit of Nate's tight heat, and Nate's mouth falls open in pleasure. He relaxes his hips, kissing down the side of Nate's neck before pressing his hips forward again, weight behind the head at Nate's entrance.

Nate's squirming beneath him, Brad's palms keeping his wrists still. Brad slides home on the next thrust and Nate's whole body arches against him. Brad holds himself still for a moment to revel in Nate's tight heat.

It's the first time since he's been back in Oceanside that he's truly felt home.

Nate is below him, eyes so very green and a Mona Lisa smile on his lips like he knows Brad's secret. Brad brushes Nate's nose with his own before setting a rhythm that has Nate digging his nails into the cherry wood and letting lose a string of obscenities that would make the USMC proud.

Brad's climax sneaks up on him, one minute he's jarring the table hard with each thrust, the next Nate's heel is digging into his back drawing him closer, deeper, until his stomach goes taut and flutters like he's freefalling. Nate's name leaves his lips as he tumbles over.

He finishes Nate off with rough tugs, and Nate comes in his hand with a gratefully exclaimed "Fucking Christ, Brad!" Brad licks a stray droplet that lands on Nate's chest.

Brad dangles his legs over the edge of the table to survey the damage. The pepper shaker has rolled into the living room and he doesn't remember if he shut the oven off. Nate is leaning back on his arms with a huge smile on his face.

"If I attempt to cook you dessert can we desecrate some more furniture?"

Brad leans over and kisses his temple.

The letter arrives a week later.

Brad is summoned for a hearing with the USMJ. He will come face to face with his accuser and have the opportunity to address the accusations. He will have the chance to denounce his relationship with Nate.

He glances over at the younger man who is gnawing at the eraser of his pencil, working at an LA Times crossword. His stomach turns at the thought.

He and Nate talk about it briefly during the days leading up to the hearing.

"It's your career, Brad. I've already gotten out, I don't care."

"You're a good officer Nate, one of the few; I won't help them tarnish your reputation to save my ass. That's a no-go."

"Brad, they can't change what I did."

"No, but they can taint it."

"I don't care," Nate says, eyes imploring.

Brad leaves no room for discussion. "I do."

Brad shows up for his hearing on Monday, dress blues pristine and brass polished. He's not sure what to expect.

Nate insists on attending despite Brad's protests and ducks into the back row. He's wearing a charcoal suit and a green tie, blending with the other civilians, but to Brad he might as well be sitting under a flashing neon sign. When Brad turns back to look a few minutes later, Mike Wynn has slid in next to him.

As the judge enters and settles himself, Brad sees Cpl. Pearce make his way to the front of the courtroom.

Part of him feels betrayed.

Most of him fully expected this.

Brad doesn't let the surprise of his accuser's identity manipulate his expression. He keeps his gaze forward, as if Pearce is too insignificant of a nuisance to even spare a glance.

He's given the opportunity to address the allegations and clarify his relationship with Captain Fick. He can declare the whole thing a big misunderstanding. He can say that Fick sublets his place while he's out of the country. He can dispatch the very notion as completely laughable and have an entire reconnaissance community to back him up.

Brad won't insult their intelligence, he chooses to say nothing.

The judge speaks at length of an impeccable service record, of his successful tours. He talks about Brad's "Iceman" reputation, the notion of heroism and his legacy in the Marine Corps.

In his closing statements he offers Brad an ultimatum.

Brad can leave the Corps of his own free volition, or he will be subject to an investigation and risk dishonorable discharge and the degradation of an exemplary career.

He glances over his shoulder at Nate when the verdict is announced, watching his lips press together to form a tight line, an expression of defeat Brad saw countless times in Iraq.

It all comes down to this.

Brad has to choose between the two most important things in his life. He has forty-eight hours to decide.

Later, in their kitchen, Nate wordlessly puts an arm around Brad, placing his lips to Brad's temple.

When push comes to shove, Brad's always known what he would choose.

Some of the members of Bravo Two come forward to speak on Brad's behalf when they get wind of the judicial proceedings. Doc Bryan writes a strongly worded letter from Afghanistan. Ray shows up in person and verbally accosts the USMJ secretarial staff before being granted access to speak on Brad's behalf.

Poke shows up on their doorstep with a twelve-pack of Keystone and one of Gina's enchilada pies.

Brad eats half the pie in one go while listening to Poke expound on the inherit need of the white man to self-oppress.

"They'll let in every camel shooting sociopath and Ripped Fueled Whiskey Tango goat fucker, shit even ESL minorities with no brains and retard strength, but they'll discharge a fine Aryan looking American Military poster boy like yourself. It hurts me to see the state of oppression for the white man," Poke says clutching his heart dramatically.

"Touching, Poke," Brad says draining the last of his beer.

"Listen, this goes for you too LT, I don't give a fuck where you stick your dick, dawg, as long as it's not while you're watching my six."

"Roger, that." Brad laughs. Nate turns three shades of red beside him.

On Wednesday morning the phone rings just after oh-dark-hundred. Brad's arm ghosts after Nate, who gets out of bed and stumbles over to the dresser where the portable is seated in its cradle.

Nate has an odd expression on his face and his hair is mussed. He's holding the phone out to Brad.

"It's for you."

Brad sits up ramrod straight. It can't be good, not at this hour. After a moment of listening, he realizes with some relief that it's Judge Whitmer, who wants to meet with Brad ASAP before he makes his announcement.

Brad splashes water on his face and dresses with steady hands. He's known exactly what he's going to say for two days.

When he enters the kitchen, Nate's hands are cupped around a mug of coffee and there is a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. He looks painfully young.

"Do you want me to drive you?" Nate asks.


Nate gives him a small smile. "I didn't think so. You'll be alright?"

Brad knows that he's not talking about driving on such little sleep.

"You'll be here when I get back?"

"Yeah." Nate tilts his head curiously.

"Then I'll be just fine."

Nate nods once before kissing Brad's lips softly. He pulls the blanket tighter across his shoulder before heading back in the direction of their bedroom.

"Come back to bed when you get back," Nate calls over his shoulder.

Brad tucks his cover under his arm before heading briskly down the deserted hallway. He can see dim light coming from an office at the end.

He knocks twice on the frosted glass.

"C'mon in, Brad."

"You asked to see me, sir?"

"I did. I wanted the opportunity to talk to you before you made your announcement regarding your future with the Corps. I presume you've come to a decision."

"I have."

"And I assume that decision is resignation."

Brad swallows thickly. "It is."

Judge Whitmer steeples his fingers in front of his face before nodding. "I see. While I'm not pleased to hear that, I can't say that I'm surprised."

"I respect the UCMJ and am resigned to take appropriate action if I am found in violation of its rules and unable to continue my service to this country. I do however request that Captain Fick's name be spared from this court marshal and that his military record remain unblemished."

"I had the good fortune of speaking with some of the Marines you served with in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan."

"Sir, you'll pardon my hesitation at the veracity of your statement by your use of the phrase good fortune."

Judge Whitmer smiles wryly. "Well, perhaps it's a good thing they aren't the ones being court marshaled, they had far more favorable comments to make about you. As well as Captain Fick, I might add. While I'm not able to drop the charges raised by Cpl. Pearce, in light of the many testimonials as to your bravery, fraternity, and proficiency and a service record that speaks for itself, I am prepared to offer you an honorable discharge from the Corps."

Brad is shocked into silence.

"Staff Sergeant Colbert?"

"Thank you, sir. And Captain Fick?"

"Captain Fick's record shall remain untarnished."

Brad gets to his feet and salutes Judge Whitmer to show his respect.

"Semper fi, sir."

Judge Whitmer salutes him back. "Semper fi, Brad."

When everything has settled and Brad's immediate future has been decided, he slips into bed beside Nate who is watching CNN and going over some paperwork.

"Everything okay now?" Nate asks casually.

"Yeah. Everything's fine."

Brad stares vacantly as the news ticker scrolls across the bottom of the screen.

Everything is not fine.

In the weeks that follow, Brad is aimless and agitated. Computer parts are strewn all over the condo untouched. Brad's long board is collecting dust in the garage.

His sexual appetite ratchets up considerably; Brad's desperate to feel alive, to complete an action to its desired outcome. He fucks Nate from behind for a week after the discharge. Nate's boyish face is too much of a distraction, a reminder, staring up at him of all he's lost.

Nate doesn't s say anything about the half-moon bruises Brad's fingers leave on his hips. Or the purple marks that linger for days when Brad sucks hard at the base of his neck. He doesn't even flinch when Brad bites his shoulder, an indentation of Brad's perfect row of teeth, before shuddering with his release.

Brad's been on edge for two hours.

Nate's gone out for a run and he doesn't know what to do with himself. He paces the living room, lining up the remotes with the edge of the coffee table before moving on to the DVD rack. He's working on organizing Apocalypse Now through Black Hawk Down when he hears the front door slam and the familiar sound of Nate toeing off his sneakers.

"Hey," Nate says, breezing by the living room, stripping off his sweat damp t-shirt.

When Brad hears the shower running, he shoves the DVDs at his feet back on the shelf and heads for the bathroom, stripping off his own clothes on the way.

Nate's head is tipped back, spray hitting his face when Brad steps in behind him. Brad places a predatory hand on Nate's waist and Nate leans back against him.

"Didn't get enough this morning?" Nate asks over his shoulder before nipping at Brad's jaw. Brad smirks and shakes his head. He turns Nate, so that his hands are braced against the wall, foot balanced precariously on the granite soap tray.

"Brad, this isn't going to work," Nate gripes, unable to get a proper hold on the wet tile.

"Don't turn into a pussy bitch on me now, Fick," Brad says grinding against Nate's ass. He thrusts his hips forward to press Nate against the tile, but Nate's foot slips, his ankle rolling with a crack. Brad grabs Nate's arm to keep him from cracking his skull open.

"Fuck!" Nate sucks in a harsh breath. "Christ, that hurt."

"Nate?" Brad's voice is full of concern. Nate shrugs off Brad's arm. He gingerly attempts to stand, but Brad can see he's having a hard time putting any weight down on his injured foot.

"Here, let me..." Brad makes a motion for Nate to rest some of his weight on him, but Nate stubbornly refuses his assistance.

"Fuck off, Brad." Nate stands and steps out of the shower. He's grimacing and it has to hurt like a motherfucker. "Is it enough, now? Would you like to break one of my ribs, too? At least save me the extra trip to the hospital."

Brad feels sick, the bitter tinge of bile at the back of his throat. He can't look at Nate, at his eyes huge and hurt, so he looks at his feet instead. Nate limps out of the bathroom.

For the first time in his life, Brad wishes he could just fade into the background.

Later, he finds Nate on the couch, passed out with a bottled of Motrin next to him. He lies in their California king staring at the ceiling for hours until sometime close to dawn his body overcomes his mind's unwillingness to sleep.

Brad squints at the bright light streaming in through the blinds. The sun has good effect on the target of his left eye. He could have sworn he closed them before settling in for the night.

Brad rolls his head in the other direction, but that just puts the beam of warm light directly on his ear. After about a minute the tickling warmth is just pissing him off. He blindly reaches for one of Nate's pillows but nothing happens. He tries again to no avail.

Brad's eyelids flutter slowly; his body is starting to wake up. He blinks a couple of times before he realizes that there is a shadow at the foot of the bed. The beam of sunlight is directly in his eyes and obscuring his view. Brad squints in an effort to get a clearer picture.

Nate is at the foot of the bed thumbing through a copy of Krakauer's Where Men Win Glory. Judging by his position in the book Brad can tell Nate's been there awhile.

Brad moves to stretch his arms and is met with a sharp pinch against his wrist. His arms don't move. Brad tilts his head up curiously and can see the white plastic of a zip tie binding his wrist to the headboard. He smirks.

"Nice, Nate." He turns his gaze to the foot of the bed. Nate finishes the page he's on before dog-earing the corner and tossing it onto the floor.

Nate's eyes are sharp and clear. He's not smiling. He's also fully dressed. Brad tests his restraints subtlety.

"So, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that this is punishment?"

"Punishment? I just thought you might have needed a reminder that I'm also a bad ass Recon Marine and you might want to sleep with one eye open for awhile, Iceman."

Nate looks extremely pleased with himself. This is not good.

"The zip ties were a nice touch, sir."

"Thanks. I thought you'd like that."

Nate moves to straddle one of Brad's thighs. Brad can feel his warmth through the thin sheet.

"So," Nate starts in a sing-song voice, "I think we should have a little chat."

Brad's eyebrows shoot up. "You tied me up for a chat? Is that some kind of new acronym for sex that I should be aware of?"

Nate eyes him warily.

"You honestly didn't think you were getting sex, did you?"

Brad bites his lip thoughtfully.

"No, not really."

"I'm not going to watch you do this to yourself. There's life outside the Corps."

Brad opens his mouth to speak but is silenced by a sharp look from Nate.

"You don't surf. You don't take your bike up the coast. You haven't called up Ray or Poke. You've isolated yourself from everything and everyone. At first, I was content to let you alphabetize everything in this house and fuck my brains out, but it's been weeks Brad. The DVDs are in order and you're starting to break your toys."

Nate pauses. Brad doesn't look pleased, but he is listening.

"I'm your partner, not your babysitter. So, here's the deal. I have a client coming at the end of this week and you're going to take him jet-skiing or BASE jumping or whatever mental thing he wants to do. And you're going to do whatever batshit crazy thing you need to do to feel alive and then you're going to come back here smiling."

"Can I try and make your client shit his Armani briefs like the billion dollar pussy civilian fuck he obviously is?"

"Sure. Do we have a deal?"


Nate nods and makes a motion to get off the bed, before turning back.

"Oh, one more thing."

Brad raises an eyebrow in curiosity.

"You owe me like ten blowjobs for the sprained ankle."

"Still pissed about that?"

Nate shuffles his knees until he's straddling Brad's waist.

"You can start immediately." Nate says completely ignoring the question.

"Are you going to untie my hands?"

Nate hooks his thumbs in the waistband of his sweatpants before tugging them down.


Nate's client has so much fun wave jumping and skydiving with Brad that he spends their entire next video conference call talking about it.

"Excuse my French, Nate," Steve says in front of about fifteen board members, "But your friend is a badass motherfucker. The dude's fucking fearless."

"I'll pass that on," Nate says trying not to smile too wide.

"He said he's going to take me BASE jumping next time." Steve announces.

"What's BASE jumping?" A couple people ask.

By noon Nate has five emails and two voicemails from clients who want some face time with Brad on their next trip in to San Diego.

It's made for a very lucrative side job for Brad. Plus, with Brad getting his kicks every couple of weeks it means Nate only has to jump out of a plane for recreation about once a year.

Nate doesn't really mind, he even lets Brad push him out of the plane. He gets him back later by playing a game of nervous with Brad mid air to see who's going to pull their chute first. Nate never gets the opportunity to pull his own chute. When it comes to Nate, Brad gets really nervous.

After every jump Brad vows he's going to make Nate tandem dive with him from now on. Nate can't really take the threat very seriously when Brad has goggle marks on his face. He just kisses Brad, laughing against his mouth until Brad smiles back.

After a couple of months of scaring the crap out of Nate's clients, Brad gets a call from Walt Hasser.

Walt has been working as a civilian contractor for the Marines, he says they could really use a contractor with Brad's expertise.

He takes the job.

Brad's practically a walking encyclopedia of artillery and his fluency in boot fuck Marine doesn't hurt. He also gets to extort a fat paycheck from the government.

Between the contracting and the extreme sports, Brad finds all his needs met. Well, except the sex but Nate pretty much takes care of that.

Brad still owes him two blowjobs.

In August some of the guys from Bravo meet down at the beach for a barbecue.

Nate mans the grill in flip flops and an apron that says "Grill Sergeant" while Brad makes sure the cooler never runs out of beer.

Rudy brings a box of Gardenburgers and tries to get Pappy to eat one.

"Rudy, them burgers are about as useless as tits on a boar hog," Pappy says shaking his head.

Rudy clasps a hand on Pappy's shoulder. "Brother, I'm just trying to keep you healthy. I want you around for a long time."

"Do you realize how fuckin' gay you guys are?" Ray asks. The guys all break out in laughter.

Rudy just shrugs smiling.

"Seriously, Rudy. The two of you are gayer than we will ever be and I suck the LT's cock on a regular basis."

"Brad!" Nate says affronted. There is pink flushing his skin from his cheeks to the tips of his ears.

Brad just shrugs and takes another pull on his beer. Brad would never say it aloud, but it's actually pretty nice not having to police himself in front of the guys.

Poke just shakes his head.

"Whitefolk. Y'all have a couple beers and it turns into up in here."

Brad comes up behind Nate, placing a hand on his hip. "You want a beer?"

Nate nods.

"Wait till LT starts serving up those hot dogs. That's when it gets purple Tellytubby with a handbag gay." Ray gripes.


"Yes, Brad?"

"Go get Nate a beer."

Ray smirks, but hands off his beer to Walt to hold.

"You guys are so fuckin' cute. Like I know that we're married and everything and Nate's your mistress and whatever…"


"LT, sorry, LT's your slutty mistress. But, like, look at the two of you. You're practically the God-damned poster children for DADT. You guys should like march in the San Fran Pride parade. Maybe if they realize how hot kinky gay Marine sex is the fuckin' red states won't be so uppity about it."

"Ray. A Newcastle," Brad says in a bored tone.

"You can't even get your boyfriend a beer? You have to delegate someone to do it for you? That's some straight up officer shit the LT's been teaching you."

"For the record, handing Walt a beer does not constitute as getting your boyfriend a beer, Ray."

Ray gives Brad the finger before stalking purposely to the cooler.

These days Brad watches Nate break his ass with work, flying back and forth to the East Coast for countless meetings where nothing ever gets resolved. There are dark shadows under his eyes and his lips are forever chapped.

Brad drags him out of bed the day following his return from Boston. Nate bitches about time zones and jetlag. Brad just tugs him harder.

"I'm taking you to the beach. No self-respecting Californian is that fucking pale."

He knows that Nate secretly loves the beach. With Brad you'd sort of have to.

Brad paddles out a ways, arms settling into a comfortable rhythm until he can feel the water get colder against the soles of his feet. The waves are mostly ankle busters today, but he doesn't mind. It's worth it just to get Nate out of his study for awhile. Also, it doesn't hurt to have Nate Fick half-naked and in his sightline.

Brad straddles the board to take in the view, running a hand through his wet hair.

Nate's lying on his belly reading the Times or the Wall Street Journal or whatever liberal dicksuck East Coast paper he reads. There are black plastic Ray Bans perched on his nose. Brad had insisted he get Oakley's, but Nate refused. Brad thinks he got the trendy abominations just to piss him off.

He smiles and starts paddling back in, wedging his board in the sand a couple of yards from Nate and peeling down his wetsuit. His shadow casts over Nate when he comes to stand in front of him.

"So, I got an offer to go back and work with the Royal Marines."

Nate lets the paper flop forward in his hands.


Droplets of water fall from Brad's skin below, speckling the newsprint.

"I turned them down. " Brad pauses. "But, there's another opening coming up at the end of this year. Some hotshot instructor is retiring and they're feeling out candidates."

Brad drops down in the sand next to Nate.

"You know, I hear the Royal Marines are a bit more lax on the subject of asking and telling."

"You'd consider it? Going back into the service?" Nate asks evenly.

"Depends. "


"How do you feel about London?"

Nate's brow furrows in confusion. "I don't follow."

"Everyone is dreary and pale in England. You'll fit right in, Casper."

Nate's look is incredulous. "You want me to go with you?"

"That was the implication, yes. While they may lack a basic knowledge of oral hygiene, they do have video conferencing across the pond."

Nate's eyeing him like he's waiting for the punchline.

"It's just an idea. With both of us out of the Corps there's nothing really tying us to Oceanside. Thought it might be nice to have a change of scenery." Brad gestures vaguely with his hands.

"You've got like nine months to mull it over in that overworked brain of yours. It would only be for a couple of years. Then maybe you could try to persuade me to move to that liberal homosexual free-for-all of New England, that you love so dearly. "

Nate's head tips forward with amusement.

"You know gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts."

Brad shoots him a warning look.

"Just making conversation," Nate teases.

"I would rather castrate myself with my Leatherman," Brad barks out before lying back, crossing his long legs at the ankle.

"Well, we wouldn't want that," Nate says. He resumes reading the business section.

When the wind starts whipping up the sand, they start packing up the few items they've brought before trudging in the direction of Brad's bike.

Brad hands off Nate's helmet but doesn't release it from his grasp.

"Any country, any city, Nate. Your choice."

Nate nods, the corner of his mouth tilted up in a smile.

When Nate settles behind him on the bike, Brad can feel his fingers marking heat above his ribs, thin t-shirt kicking up from the speed. Brad tries to keep his speed under a hundred miles an hour when Nate is his cargo. It's really more for Brad's benefit than anything else, Nate's grip never changes throughout the duration of the ride no matter how fast he's going or how many times he weaves through the traffic.

Brad doesn't know what the future holds. England. New England. Oceanside. It doesn't so much matter what the address looks like on the envelope, just that he's got long stretches of highway to ride when he's feeling stir crazy and Nate to keep him warm at night.

The Royal Marines and civilian contracting will scratch the itch for now but with a Democrat in the White House and a push for a repeal of bad policies, returning to the Corps isn't such a distant possibility.

For right now, Brad's got two out of three things he loves and that really isn't so bad.