AN: Set during OIF. A little hurt/comfort for Ray/Walt with a sideline of Brad/Nate. I do not own these characters nor are they based in any way on the real people.
Brad stopped next to the Humvee, against which Hasser was sitting, staring into space. It had been a few hours since Walt had lit that civilian at the checkpoint up like a Christmas tree and he had hardly said a word since. Despite his earlier words, Brad knew that something like this could take even the most battle ready Marines and render them useless. Although all he wanted was to re-check the maps and catch a few moments of shuteye, he knew he had to make sure that Walt was OK. Losing him would be far worse for the team than Brad was willing to contemplate. Without Walt he wasn't sure that Ray would get through the next few weeks. And Brad needed Ray. He knew that Person didn't think that Brad had noticed how much Hasser meant to him but Brad missed nothing. Especially something which could fuck with the dynamic of his team. Although Ray's pathetic attempts to get Walt to respond after what happened earlier were hilarious – Brad needed some more laughter during this tour – he couldn't watch Ray pining after Walt for the next few weeks while he got himself back on track. Action needed to be taken.
"Walt?" he tried again. "You eaten?" No response.
Brad knelt next to Walt in the sand and clamped one hand to his shoulder. Walt still made no move to acknowledge Brad at all. He continued to stare straight ahead.
"Jesus, Walt, you're freezing," Brad felt the temperature of Hasser's skin under his hand and knew this was something he wasn't going to be able to fix. Not without some discussion. And that was one thing Brad didn't really handle well.
"What the hell happened to your jacket?"
Walt shivered but still made no attempt to answer or to move. Realising that the lack of response probably didn't bode well, Brad decided to act immediately. He hauled Walt to his feet and manoeuvred him to the other side of the Humvee where the rest of Two-One Bravo had bedded in for the night. Brad became more worried when Hasser let himself be manhandled and moved with no resistance. This was getting more serious by the minute.
"Ray, get the hell up and help me." Ray was sleeping in the grave he had dug directly behind the Humvee. Trombley was zonked out in a hole to his left and Reporter was nowhere to be seen.
"Ray, get your whiskey tango donkey raping shit eater ass out of that grave right now and gimme a hand." Brad knew that the quickest way to get Person to respond was to taunt him into a comeback.
"Jesus, Brad. I've been asleep for like, fifteen minutes, so not even you quoting South Park to insult me is going to get me out of this hole without the lure of a naked chick. Or an actual meal. Or a naked chick with an actual meal."
Despite his reluctance, Ray was already pushing himself into a sitting position and rubbing blearily at his eyes as he took in the sight of Brad standing in front of him, still supporting Hasser.
Ray took in the situation with all the speed of his training and turned his concerned gaze to Brad. "What do you need?"
"You need to look after him until I can get Doc. Try to get him to warm up a bit. Just DON'T make it any worse."
Ray rolled his eyes in Brad's direction as he took Walt's still silent and inert form from Brad and lowered him gently to a sitting position next to him in his grave. Ray quickly put an arm around Walt's shoulders and started whispering into his ear.
"Walt baby, you're not looking too good. Ray-Ray is here to make it all better now, we'll just get you warmed up a bit and then…"
Ray's voice trailed off into quiet mutterings as Brad turned and ran to fetch Doc.
"Doc! I need you over at my Humvee," Brad caught his breath as he reached Bravo Two's medic. "It's Hasser."
"Post traumatic stress?" As usual Doc was at least one step ahead of everyone else.
"Looks like," Brad answered. "He hasn't said much all day and I found him freezing his balls off, staring into space." While Brad detailed Walt's condition, Doc was already moving around his tent, picking out things he might need to treat Walt.
" We'd better make it quick Doc, I left him with Person."
"You did what?!" Doc looked at him incredulously.
"It was him or Trombley – who would you choose?"
Doc thought about it for a second. "Good call. Let's go."
The sight that greeted Brad and Doc once they rounded the corner of the Humvee would be one to stay with them for a long time. Brad certainly didn't think that he would EVER be able to scourge it from his brain.
Walt was lying in the grave on top of Ray. His face was buried in the crook of Ray's neck and his arm was tucked into Ray's chest. Ray was resting his head on Walt's and had both of his arms wrapped around him, like he had no intention of ever letting go.
Brad could not compute what was happening. He had been gone five minutes at the most.
"Doesn't look like he needs much help there, Iceman." Doc was very obviously trying to stifle a laugh behind his hand.
"I don't get it…." Brad was confused and he didn't like being confused. "Ray", he called softly. "Ray!"
"Dude, will you let a man sleep?" Ray didn't open his eyes as he responded, merely moving closer to Walt as he spoke. "You two are gonna wake Walt and I just got comfy."
"We can see that." Doc was still trying not to laugh.
" Walt! Walt, wake up so I can make sure he didn't brainwash you with some sort of whiskey tango magic!" Brad was not becoming any less confused as the minutes passed.
"'m fine, Brad," Walt snuggled further into Ray's embrace as he answered sleepily. "Just needed someone. 'm fine now."
"And you chose Ray?!"
"Would you rather I get up now and get into Trombley's grave? Cause I know I had a pretty crappy day, but I don't have a death wish. I just want to sleep for a bit." Walt nestled his head further into Ray's shoulder.
"Are you casting aspersions on my ability to be helpful, Brad? Because I think I succeeded where the Iceman failed. All little Walter needed was his Ray-Ray. Do you have a problem with that?" Ray opened his eyes and looked straight at Brad, as if daring him to reply in the negative.
"Of course I don't. But.." Brad trailed off as Doc tugged him around the Humvee where they were out of earshot of Ray and Walt. Brad watched as Ray settled back down into sleep, somehow easier and freer than Brad had seen him since the war began.
"Walt seems fine now. He's making sense and has obviously warmed up a bit." Doc stifled another laugh as he continued. "Get him to come and see me tomorrow."
"And in the meantime?" Brad asked.
"Let them sleep. Walt certainly needs it and if the only way he can do that is with someone he trusts, and Ray is willing to give him that comfort, then…." Doc trailed off.
"Have you seen Reporter?" Brad wasn't concerned about what Ray and Walt had going on, whatever that was, but other people were less tolerant.
"Don't worry Brad. I saw him talking to the LT on our way here. I'll tell him he has to bunk with us tonight. Unless you want to go tell him? Have a little chat with the LT to ease your troubled mind?"
Brad knew that a little chat with his LT was the last thing he needed right now. With normal rules seemingly suspended for the evening, he might do something he would regret the next day. He had certainly thought about it often enough.
"Didn't think so," Doc chuckled to himself. "You watch over the Insanity twins back there and I'll keep everyone out of your radius for a bit." At that Doc turned to head over to the command vehicle and Brad turned back to Walt and Ray, who were in the exact same position as the last time he had looked. They were breathing evenly and in tandem in the way that only came with practice.
He settled down in the front seat of the Humvee to watch over them for the evening. Even if Brad couldn't get what he wanted immediately, he was glad the Walt had Ray tonight. After all, his Mom always told him the good things came to those who wait. His glance lifted without conscious thought towards where Doc was filling the LT in on the situation. Brad licked his lips. He was good at waiting.