Nate’s cell phone vibrated and he glanced down to where it rested beside him on the sofa.
“Hey, Brad,” he answered, pleasure and curiosity warring in his voice. “Where’ve you been?”
“I didn’t take you for the needy, clingy type, Nate.” Brad’s voice was filled with humor, but also something else that had Nate on alert.
“Well, you deviated from your own pattern,” Nate pointed out. “I usually get at least a text message from you by mid-afternoon, your time. You also don’t usually take this long to return voicemails.” He was sure Brad had a valid excuse for his radio silence, but Nate couldn’t resist needling him.
There was a pause that increased Nate’s anxiety. He heard Brad draw a deep breath. “I have something to tell you, but before I do, you need to know that everything is fine.”
“If that’s meant to be reassuring, it’s not,” Nate said, dread slowly starting to grip his gut.
“Obviously, I’m fine because I’m talking to you on my cell phone,” Brad quipped, but Nate saw through it.
“Brad, what happened?” he demanded.
Nate heard Brad sigh heavily. “I laid my bike over.”
For several long seconds, Nate didn’t comprehend Brad’s meaning. His mind raced over the particular vernacular Brad used in conjunction with his motorcycle and related activities.
“Fuck, Brad. What the hell did you do?” Nate knew his voice was stern but his concern made it difficult to control his tone. “You’re sure you’re all right?”
“I didn’t do anything,” Brad said in mock outrage. “I swerved to evade a distracted soccer mom with a cell phone surgically attached to her ear. It was too close for me to avoid hitting her and keep the bike upright.” He sounded almost apologetic.
“You’re talking to me, so you obviously survived. What aren’t you telling me?” Nate had long ago learned to be wary of Brad’s casual tone.
“I wasn’t wearing my leathers,” Brad confessed, sounding like a child caught being naughty.
“Oh, god, Brad,” Nate stood from the couch, heading for his bedroom with the intention of packing a bag. “How bad is it?”
“I had my helmet and my jacket on,” Brad sounded as though he were trying to reassure Nate. “But my jeans got torn up. The road rash is pretty sexy, in a masculine sort of way.”
“Jesus. How bad is it really?” Nate tossed the bag onto the bed and began to assess what he would need that wasn’t already in California, or couldn’t be purchased once he was there.
“My entire left thigh and hip. Took two hours to debride in the ER.” Brad’s tone was so blasé, Nate knew the other shoe was about to drop.
“What else?” he goaded.
“I wasn’t wearing boots, so now I have one of those new, high-tech boot thingys they give you instead of a cast.”
Nate’s throat constricted at the implication of the close call. “Where are you now?”
“I’m at home. Ray dropped me off. The vicodin is just starting to kick in.”
“I’m catching the first flight I can get.”
“That’s not necessary, Nate,” Brad said.
“The fuck it isn’t, Brad.” Nate knew Brad was going to resist. It was his SOP. “This is what we do, we look out for one another. I have a man down and I will provide support by fire.”
“I can get around on my own, I’m not helpless.”
“You have a broken bone that limits your mobility and has you on pain meds. You have severe road rash and you’ll need assistance with wound care. I am coming out there to take care of you.”
“Yessir.” Brad’s words were slightly slurred and Nate knew fatigue and narcotics had kicked in.
“I’m going to hang up now, call my assistant to adjust my schedule, and find a flight. I’ll call you with an update.”
It wasn’t until Nate had hung up that he realized he’d forgotten to ask a very important question. He grabbed up his cell phone again and quickly tapped out a message.
How’s the bike?
Seconds later, Brad’s reply was received: Unk. Tow co droppin her off 2morrw. What I rmembr b4 ambulnce ride not gud.
Whether it was lazy text speak, or the drugs, Nate wasn’t sure. What he focused on was that Brad had been injured enough to warrant a trip in an ambulance and his chest tightened. He was even more convinced he needed to be in California yesterday.
Not letting Brad in on the turn of his thoughts, Nate tapped out a final message: She’ll be in my thoughts.
A long but commanding phone call to Amex netted Nate a direct flight to LAX. He used all his charm and persuasion, followed by his tone of voice that made the most hardened Marine snap-to, to keep them from gouging him too much. His miles got him an upgrade and a rental car.
Nate’s next call was to his Assistant, Muriel, to rearrange his schedule so that all business he was needed for could be take care of via laptop and cell phone. Anything that required his face-to-face attention would have to be delayed a month.
Muriel told Nate to give Brad her best wishes and assured him she’d take care of everything.
He was just packing his laptop in its travel bag when his CNAS on-call town car arrived. Nate was oscar-mike less than an hour after Brad had called.
They had immediately developed a two-day cycle. Their routine took up the better part of the second day in the cycle. Wound-care day was a bitch.
Brad wasn’t a difficult patient, as one might imagine. He required minimal assistance from Nate each morning to haul himself out of bed and take care of necessities. He did what he could to assist with meal preparation, but his poor mobility had him more in Nate’s way, than anything else. Brad spent the better part of his days on the sofa or in bed, surrounded by his laptop, Gameboy, cell phone, assorted books and magazines, and a television remote.
Nate was happy to change DVD’s when Brad asked. He brought out drinks and snacks at regular intervals and demanded that Brad stay put where he was. As each day wore on, Brad’s attempts to be self-sufficient or to help Nate grew more and more token. Nate watched Brad closely, saw the bags beneath his eyes grow heavier, and the lines around his mouth grow deeper, with each passing hour. The pain took its toll, and not even the Iceman was immune.
He suspected that Brad gave in to the perceived weakness as easily as he did, only because it was Nate looking out for him. As much as he hated being the reason Nate had had to completely up-end his life, Brad was finding ways to let Nate know he liked having him around. Brad was a bad-ass-motherfucker, and Nate knew this. Brad had nothing left to prove to him, and had long ago stopped trying.
Every other afternoon, Nate removed Brad’s stabilizing boot and helped him into the bathtub to begin their ritual of wound cleaning. He would grit his teeth against the telltale tensing of Brad’s muscles, the sharp intakes of breath and the groans barely disguised by witty quips. Nate knew it hurt but damned if Brad’s leg was going to become infected on his watch.
After he’d cleaned away the dead flesh and was sure the healing had begun, Nate would bathe Brad. Afterward, he’d re-bandage the wound, fasten Brad’s boot to his leg, give him his Vicodin, and help him into bed for one of his frequent naps.
One week in, Nate loaded Brad into the car and drove him to the base for a follow up appointment with a Navy surgeon. It was necessary to confirm Brad’s bone was healing correctly and his road rash wasn’t infected.
The doctor and nurses let Nate into the room as they examined the still open, but healing, wound. They praised Nate’s care of Brad as they pointed out the pink, healing flesh and lack of discolored and necrotic areas. Nate absorbed the changes to the dressing routine they recommended, then went to take a seat in the waiting room.
For safety reasons, Nate couldn’t be in the room while they X-rayed Brad’s broken bone, but he knew what it would involve. The injured leg would be handled, manipulated and positioned so pictures could be taken to show it was healing correctly. It was going to hurt like a motherfucker. Brad would endure silently, Nate was sure, but he was going to be an angry bear when it was over.
Sure enough, when Brad emerged, he was sporting the usual bags beneath his eyes and the tightness around his mouth. In addition, his limp was more pronounced and his complexion was ashen. He held himself erect but pain radiated off of his stiff form. He tried to lift a corner of his mouth to smile when he saw Nate, but he failed. Nate’s heart clenched at the sight of Brad’s obvious suffering, but he knew it was better not to comment.
“Ready to go, Gunny?” Nate asked, heart aching.
Brad’s only answer was a sharp nod. Nate held the door open, trying not to make it appear as though it was necessary. He held the car door for Brad and looked away as he slowly struggled to stuff himself inside. Nate’s need to help Brad warred with his respect for Brad’s pride.
“What’s the sit rep?” Nate asked, when they were oscar-mike.
“I am healing appropriately, thanks to your tender and effective ministrations,” Brand answered. “And they refilled my prescription for drugs.”
Nate inclined his head to indicate he’d heard, but didn’t reply. Prescription refills meant more pain was anticipated in the coming days.
“Need anything while we’re out?” he asked, when it seemed Brad was settling in to sleep on the drive home.
Brad rattled off a list of things he wanted to make sure they had and Nate recognized a few he would have to stop and pick up. When he emerged from the store, Brad was asleep in the car. Nate sat for a moment, taking in the sight of Brad momentarily free of pain. He resisted the urge to run the back of a finger down Brad’s cheek, even as he was engulfed by a strong wave of affection.
Nate woke Brad when they arrived back at the house. He stayed close as Brad slowly made his way inside, aching to reach out and help Brad support his own weight. Nate knew the gesture would be unwelcome.
He did his best to get Brad settled comfortably in bed. Leaning back on the stack of pillows, Brad released a heavy sigh and murmured, “Thanks, Nate.”
Brad’s relief was so palpable, it made Nate hurt on his behalf.
Washing their dishes from lunch, Nate wracked is brain for a way to help Brad feel more comfortable. He wanted to ease Brad’s pain just a little. He took stock of the situation. Brad was tense from the pain and could use a distraction from whatever morose thoughts were circling inside his head because of his perceived helplessness.
Nate suddenly knew precisely how to handle Brad. He walked back into the bedroom and took off his shoes and socks. Brad watched him with open curiosity when Nate stripped off his shirt and gently climbed up onto the bed.
“Wassup?” Brad asked laconically.
“Just want to hang out with you,” Nate replied, taking one of Brad’s hands in both of his own.
“This has got to be boring for you,” Brad drawled, looking up at Nate with hooded eyes. It was a look that Nate felt in his gut, even though he knew it was caused, this time, by the narcotics.
“What? Getting to be in your constant company? Not a bit.” Nate smiled and made sure Brad saw it. “I get to have my way with you, and you can’t run away.” He started to smooth the thick muscles of Brad’s hand with his thumbs.
Brad snorted. “Like that’s ever happened.”
Nate massaged his way up Brad’s wrist and his forearm, with its corded muscle.
Brad moaned. “That’s feels good.”
“It’s supposed to.” Nate moved his fingers over Brad’s bicep and felt the muscles relax beneath the skin. “Other hand,” Nate said, softly, taking Brad’s other hand when he offered it across his body.
“You have nice hands,” Brad suspired. “Have I ever told you that?”
Nate suppressed a smile. Brad had to be royally stoned to have said something like that. “Thank you.”
“Long, elegant fingers. I love to watch them when they’re wrapped around my dick.”
Yeah, Brad was fucked up, to have said something like that, but his words shot straight to Nate’s cock. He just held his smile and massaged his way up Brad’s second arm.
Shifting, Nate placed a pillow in his lap and encouraged Brad to shift slightly until he could lay on it. Nate dug his fingers into the muscles of Brad’s shoulders, kneading and pressing and loosening the tension. He slid his fingertips to Brad’s neck, pressing and pushing until he was rewarded with a low groan from Brad.
“Amazing how you haven’t even touched my leg but it hurts so much less,” Brad said without opening his eyes.
“That’s just what I was going for,” Nate said in a low voice, skimming his palms over Brad’s scalp, feeling the soft bristles of his close cropped hair. He focused there for several moments, noting that Brad’s cheeks had pinked up, the tension around his eyes and mouth had eased, and his breathing was slow and steady.
Nate was about to shift Brad’s head and leave him to sleep, when he noticed Brad’s hardon tenting his sleep pants. Instead of moving away, Nate twisted until he could place a kiss on Brad’s slack lips. He’d successfully executed the first phase of his plan; getting Brad to relax. Now was time for phase two; distraction.
“Hello, there,” Brad said, smiling into Nate’s kiss.
“Hey there, Marine,” Nate quipped. “Come here often?”
“As a matter of fact, I do.” Nate pulled back to look into Brad’s eyes and saw amusement there. “There’s this really hot, green-eyed Executive who hangs out here and I’m hoping to get lucky.”
Nate ran his hand admiringly down Brad’s naked chest. “I’m sure you will. I have it on good authority, green-eyed Executives have a weakness for blue-eyed Gunnery Sergeants.”
“Even damaged ones?” Nate knew Brad’s humor masked his frustration and self-doubt.
“No damaged Marines here,” Nate replied, dragging his tongue along Brad’s lower lip and swallowing the answering shudder. “Just a little banged up.” He willed Brad to understand he wasn’t a lesser man in Nate’s eyes because of his injury.
Easing from beneath Brad’s head, Nate knelt beside him, hands on either side of him, and lowered his head. He pressed his tongue resolutely into Brad’s mouth, licking past his lips and deep into the moist heat. Nate opened his mouth wide and Brad followed, pushing up against and along him. It was messy and wet, and not a little rough. Just the way Nate liked it.
Nate felt Brad lift his calloused hands and run them along Nate’s naked sides. He shivered slightly in response. Brad answered by gripping his hips. Nate tore his mouth away and sucked in a deep gasp of air. He turned his face and buried it against Brad’s neck. Nate took Brad’s hammering pulse into his mouth and bit down gently. Brad grunted.
Moving down Brad’s throat, Nate sucked gently at the soft skin, bristly with a day’s growth of beard. Brad arched his neck, baring himself to Nate. He eased down Brad’s body and nipped at his Adam’s apple.
When Nate reached Brad’s chest, he pulled back slightly, admiring the flush that covered his collarbones and ghosted up his throat. The color on Brad’s cheeks was high and his eyes were glassy with arousal. Nate determined he was sufficiently distracted from his pain and his plight.
Brad’s hands flew to the back of Nate’s head when Nate dragged his tongue along his chest to swipe at one of Brad’s nipples. Brad moaned and held Nate close to him. His uninjured leg moved restlessly on the bed. Nate licked Brad’s nipple, dragged his teeth along it, then moved on.
He paved his own path down Brad’s belly with his lips and tongue, until he reached Brad’s navel. Nate delved with his tongue and Brad tensed, his stomach clenching at the sensation. Nate chuckled at his predictable response.
“Fucker,” Brad growled without menace, smiling down at Nate.
Brad’s flannel sleep pants were low on his hips. They rode just above his intimate hairline, exposing the sharp cut of Brad’s lean muscles and hard jut of his hipbones. Nate caressed the naked skin, mindful of Brad’s injured leg and the bandage that stopped just below the edge of the fabric.
He tugged at the drawstring of the pants until it pulled loose. Nate carefully, gently, eased the pants down over Brad’s hips, completely avoiding the heavy bandages on his hip and thigh. Brad’s dick was full and hard. It rested against his belly, thick and red with the blood that engorged it.
Nate glanced up to ensure Brad was watching him. When he was sure he had Brad’s full attention, Nate made a show of wrapping his hand around Brad’s cock. He fanned his fingers closed over the wide width one at a time, until he had Brad fully in his grip.
“Christ, I fucking love that,” Brad breathed.
Nate smiled to himself and shifted to get the right angle. He lowered his head and swallowed Brad’s dick. He pulled up slowly, dragging his tongue along the underside and letting his spit collect. Nate wet Brad’s cock thoroughly, going for loud and sloppy and distracting. He sucked hard and went back down on Brad, taking him deep and inhaling the musky scent of his hair where it tickled Nate’s nose.
Brad’s hands were in his hair, gripping hard but not trying to control. Nate glanced up and watched Brad’s chest heave as he breathed, his body tense with a new and better tension. Nate circled his tongue and swirled his spit before going down deep once more. Brad groaned and tightened his grip.
Nate’s knee was nudged by Brad’s uninjured one as it shifted restlessly on the bed. His hips were thrusting slightly, more of a pulse than anything else. Nate knew Brad’s injury precluded any sharp or vigorous movements. He took Brad’s hips in his hands and gripped them tightly, pressing them hard into the mattress. Nate’s intent was to prevent Brad from reflexively moving in a way that caused mood-killing pain, but he also knew the restraint would arouse Brad, bring him to the edge a little faster.
“Nate,” Brad warned, his voice low and rough.
Nate’s answer was to grunt into the dick in his mouth.
Brad stilled and came with a loud cry. His hands in Nate’s hair gripped painfully and his upper body lifted from the bed. Nate swallowed him, hot and salty, still holding Brad’s hips immobile. Brad’s cock pulsed between Nate’s lips, pumping his come onto the back of Nate’s tongue and down his throat. With one final twitch, Brad fell back onto the bed and his dick began to soften.
Nate sat back triumphantly.
“That is fucking spectacular after months of hand jobs, solo and otherwise.” Brad seemed giddy with adrenaline and drugs.
Nate shrugged with feigned nonchalance. “The doctor said you were healing nicely so I thought our sex life could stand some more, shall we say, vigor.” Since Brad’s injury, they’d kept things limited to frottage or Nate’s hand on them both.
Brad’s eyes followed him as Nate slid off the bed to remove his jeans. His own erection bounced free, full and aching. Brad’s eyes immediately dropped down and he grinned.
“Need some help with that?”
Settling back onto the bed, Nate took himself in hand and gave a few strokes, eyes never leaving Brad’s. “You might be healing satisfactorily, but we still need to be very careful of your leg and hip.” Brad was in no condition to assume any position that would allow him to fuck Nate, and there was no way he was ready for Nate to straddle him.
“You’re aware my chest remains uninjured?” Brad asked, lying back stroking his fingers over his own, bare skin.
“I am aware of this,” Nate said, not understanding Brad’s hint.
“Come sit up here, like a good boy.” Brad grinned and motioned with his fingers for Nate to straddle his chest.
Finally understanding Brad’s intent, Nate slowly, carefully, knelt onto Brad’s chest. His skin was warm against Nate’s ass and ball sac.
“Com’ere,” Brad said, pulling Nate’s hips forward roughly.
Nate tumbled onto his hands and felt himself swallowed down Brad’s throat. Brad was right, this was exquisite after months of jacking off. Still, he was embarrassed at how quickly he was close to coming. Then, Nate realized his senses weren’t dulled by drugs and pain, like Brad’s.
Fuck, but it felt good to be back in Brad’s mouth. The hot, wet suction shot straight up Nate’s spine and fried his brain. He felt Brad’s hands on his hips, moving him in opposition to Brad’s own head as he sucked. Nate looked down and watched his cock slide wetly between Brad’s lips. It was a lewd and dirty sight. It was a sight Nate never tired of seeing. His orgasm rose up once again.
He let it go, this time. They’d probably taxed Brad’s still healing body more than they should. Nate gripped the bedcovers tight in his fists and felt himself flood Brad’s mouth.
Growling through grit teeth, Nate came hard. His hips flexed slightly, pressing downward into Brad’s mouth, only to pull out again a second later. His entire body flexed and arched, as Brad continued to suck at drink at his pulsing cock. Nate saw stars.
When it all became too much, Nate eased a hand to Brad’s head. He felt his softening dick slip from Brad’s mouth. He looked down and saw Brad’s dazed expression, his lips red and swollen from sucking Nate off.
Again, moving slowly, Nate eased himself from atop Brad’s body, and slid down onto the bed beside him.
“How you feelin’, Brad?” Nate asked, just above a whisper.
“Mmmmm,” Brad sighed. “Blessedly pain free for the first time in a week.”
Brad’s answer flooded Nate with pleasure and relief. “Good,” he murmured, settling down further into the bed. He ran a hand lightly over Brad’s damp chest. “That was the idea.”
Brad caught Nate’s hand and brought it to his lips. “Sorry to put you out like I have.”
“Shut the fuck up, Brad,” Nate scolded, not bothering to open his eyes. “You’d do the same for me.”
“Anything you need, Nate. Anytime.”