The first time Chuck asks about Yancy, Raleigh turns silent. For a split second, his face seems lifeless and Chuck feels so sorry that he's angry at himself. But Raleigh quickly becomes Raleigh again, and he smiles his usual smile, so warm that it hurts Chuck just to look at it.
« It's okay. » Raleigh says, which only makes Chuck apologize some more.
That night, Chuck is determined to please Raleigh in any way he can. He wants to put the pieces of Raleigh back together and make him whole again.
But he can't.
Because Raleigh has been broken a long time ago, when a kaiju ripped his soul apart by taking his brother.
It's not Chuck's fault.
« I've got you. » He whispers before taking Raleigh's cock in his mouth.
When Raleigh sighs his name, his voice strangled with pleasure, Chuck doesn't feel so guilty anymore.
Chuck is curious.
He wishes he had known Yancy. Not the Jaeger pilot, but the man - Raleigh's brother - the only constant in Raleigh's life until the whole world crashed down.
Because when it comes to Raleigh, Chuck feels a strange sense of possessiveness.
Chuck wishes he could own Raleigh somehow.
It's almost frightening.
He yearns to replace the pain of Yancy's abscence, to crawl inside of Raleigh.
There is a void in Raleigh's mind which Chuck desperately wants to fill.
So one day, Chuck asks about Yancy again. Raleigh's face lightens up and he starts telling Chuck about a childhood memory.
Raleigh's laughter is the best thing Chuck has heard in ages.
That same day, they go to the park and eat ice cream until their stomachs ache.
Yancy, Raleigh says, absolutely loved ice cream.
It's a rainy day when Chuck starts his sentence with the words « my mother » ,
It immediately piques Raleigh's interest.
Chuck tells him everything he remembers about her.
When he's done, hours have passed, he has tears in his eyes and Raleigh hasn't said a word.
He simply smiles.
And when Raleigh smiles, Chuck feels alive.
He realizes that reciprocation is what a relationship is all about and that day, Chuck doesn't have to ask about Yancy; Raleigh talks and talks until he's drained. It's as though he is utterly empty in the end.
« I've got you. » Chuck whispers before pressing his lips against Raleigh's.
He never asks about Yancy again.
It's a Sunday morning when Raleigh tells Chuck « I hated you ». Chuck nods; he knows, and replies that he hated Raleigh as well. For some reason, beating the shit out of each other is a funny memory to them.
They can afford to have a lazy morning. Since they've saved the world, they deserve it.
They even have a house with rooms they don't need.
They're heroes now, and heroes have the right to enjoy that sort of luxury.
Max sleeps at their feet. That dog is spoiled rotten, Raleigh says. "Who knew Charles Hansen could be such a big softie." Chuck doesn't have the nerves to protest because Raleigh is happily giggling.
Afterwards, they spend a couple of hours in each other's arms.
With infinite precaution, Chuck worships Raleigh's body. He is rewarded with Raleigh's moans, his shallow breath, and his body going pliant under him.
It's everything Chuck could ever desire.
"I had a dream. You were meeting Yancy." There is restraint in Raleigh's voice and a somewhat nostalgic smile on his face.
"I would have hated your brother." Chuck says, and they both know what it means.
"Yeah. He would have loved you, too." Raleigh smiles widely.
So warm, Chuck thinks.
"Are you happy, Chuck?"
Of course he is.
He is happy because he has Raleigh, Max, and a house so big that there is even a room for his father to stay in.
"Shut up, Ray."
He is just scared, deep down, that Raleigh might not be happy with him.
"Are you happy too, Raleigh?” Chuck asks. “Because I figured...”
“- You figured what?”
“- I figured that you'd be married by now, with some girl; you two would have two or three kids."
Raleigh, with his smile as bright as the sun, is too good to stay with him, isn't he?
"Shut up, Charles."
Raleigh wraps his arms around Chuck's neck. "I'm happy as I could ever be, idiot." He says, his fingertips stroking the freckles on the back of his boyfriend's neck.
Max is diagnosed with arthritis.
Raleigh keeps saying that it's not that bad; it's manageable with treatment and Max doesn't have to suffer.
So Chuck spends hours and hours taking care of Max, making him walk outside, pressing ice packs against his painful joints and massaging him.
Max is getting old and Chuck isn't ready to accept it.
It's a peaceful summer day when Max passes away in his sleep and Raleigh is here to pick up a shattered Chuck.
They're not heroes, not anymore.
They are memories.
They are names in history textbooks.
They are old footages from the war.
"Are you still happy, Chuck?"
Chuck says yes.
His life began when he was 21 in Hong Kong, on the verge of dying, when Raleigh came in.
Since then, Raleigh has been the one thing that remained invariable in his life.
Since then, Chuck has never needed anything else.
Because since then, Chuck has never felt so alive.
They bury Hercules Hansen on a winter day.
Raleigh never let go of Chuck's hand. "I've got you,” he whispers, and Chuck wishes that it was true. But life is so very fragile and there will be a day, Chuck knows it, when Raleigh will not be there to hold his hand again.
Chuck's life stops on a Monday.
He closes his eyes and old memories are flooding through his mind.
They are young and beating the crap out of each other.