I'm so sorry for not updating in ages; it just wouldn't happen. Please accept my most humble apologies.
All the drabbles in this chapter are set in the same 'verse, where Nick has joined the army for some reason that he didn't think to tell me about. I hate it when they get uncooperative like that.
Anyways, I hope you like it even so :)
I know nothing about the British Armed Forces, so I'm spectacularly ignorant about the American Armed Forces. As such, I apologise for any mistakes or inaccuracies.
Nick always looked forward to the care packages that Jeff sent him;they were the only things that got him through each deployment. And this was going to be a particularly special delivery: it was the first one since the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell; the first time he could say, "Oh, yeah, it's from my boyfriend", rather than having to pretend it was from "a friend". The first person who asked him who it was from was treated to a smile so wide it looked like it hurt.
Rummaging through it, Nick found all the things that Jeff usually sent him: Starbursts, the pile of things he always forgot to pack, letter from his mom and brothers...everything was comfortable and predictable; it was part of a routine. But at the bottom of the package, Nick found a little note, the torn paper covered in Jeff's scrawled handwriting. All it said was, "I love you".
Nick pinned it to the wall above his bunk.
In the darkness, the nightmares found him, crawling along his pillow and into his brain like spiders. Receiving that letter, oh-so-beautifully printed on thick, creamy paper, but with only one word staring blankly up at him from the page.
Oh, they'd never phrase it like that. They'd say "mortally wounded" or "killed in action". But he's still just see that one word.
The nightmares were always worse as Nick's next period of leave approached. What if, this time, he didn't come back?
"Jeff, what is this thing sitting in my lap and licking my face?"
"It's a puppy."
"Since when do we have a puppy?"
"Since you got posted for a year this time instead of six months and I got lonely."
"Well, can you please tell it that I've already had a shower today?"
"Of course not, Nick. Don't be ridiculous. It's a puppy, it doesn't know what a shower is."
The food wasn't really that bad - certainly better than the horror stories he'd heard when he'd first joined up had made out - but every time he sat down to a meal, Nick couldn't help missing Jeff's cooking, if only to stop himself missing Jeff even more.
The first night of Nick's leave was always spent the same way. They didn't kiss, they didn't make love. They did nothing but lay together, Nick wrapped up in Jeff's strong, caring embrace, re-learning each other through the comfortable silence that said more than a thousand words.
I think that last drabble is one of the best things I've ever written. I am spectacularly proud of that.