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the warm stillness of happiness and you

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Brad almost vibrated through the cab on his way home—just one thought coursing through his veins: NateNateNateNateNate. When he was an ocean away, the name was a soothing mantra, a beacon and light that no matter where Brad found himself, he could never be lost.

He absentmindedly paid the cab, and trudged up the walkway to the home he shared with Nate. It didn't have a white picket fence, but it had bushes and a small garden toward the back. Brad put down his one piece of luggage and searched his pockets for his key when he saw it: Ray’s car parked across the street. He wouldn't have seen it except it was parked right underneath the streetlamp, illuminating it in its eerie orange-yellow light. Something cold settled in the pit of Brad’s stomach. He hadn’t told anyone he was coming. It was supposed to be a surprise, but he couldn't shake the dread that maybe he was the one getting a surprise.

He unlocked the door with cold fingers, something urging him forward even though he wanted to turn right around and go back to base. The house was dark, and silent, and like a man walking to his execution instead of coming home, he walked up the carpeted stairs. He didn’t need any light, having walked up and down these same stairs a thousand times since Nate brought the house, and put both of their names on the mortgage.

The master bedroom was at the end of the hallway, and as Brad came nearer and nearer, skulking in the dark like a thief, the cold dread in his stomach seemed to grow larger. He took a steadying breath, and yep, he was totally not imagining the moans coming through, or the litany of "oh fuck yes, more, harder, c' mon."

Ray Person was a fucking loud person. He’d fucking recognize those moans anywhere.

He seemed frozen for a moment, just enough for feelings that he didn’t think he felt in fucking forever to come back and crush him. He turned on his heel, marching back from where he came from, no longer invested in being sneaky and quiet. Brad slammed the door with the exact amount of force that was called for and threw his bag at the bushes.

Fucking Nate Fick.

Fuck him to hell.


 

It was fucking November in Massachusetts and fucking cold in the evening. But Brad didn’t feel it when he walked to the nearest bar. He wanted to hurt someone or fuck someone so he was intent on getting piss-poor drunk and seeing whichever his drunken ass decided on first.

This was what he got for having feelings.

Of course they never said it was forever, but then again, Brad didn’t think they needed the words. Yet maybe they did or maybe Nate was tired of getting Brad the only way he could: in fits and breaks in-between the long-distance Skype calls and emails and text messages. Maybe he needed someone who could be around all the time, physically and emotionally.

But fucking Ray Person?

He honestly thought fucking Nate Fick had better taste than that.

And, oh dear god, Walt. He had just remembered Walt. How was he going to break the news to the poor kid? That his fiancé was cheating on him? He liked Walt enough, but it would be safe to assume that Brad’s opinion of him lowered to dangerous levels when he found out Ray and Walt were fucking, but he knew you couldn’t choose the person you fell in love with.

The anger on the way to the bar kept away the cold and it kept it away when he was on his first drink. And in the middle of his first drink, his phone rang and Ray fucking Person’s cheesy face showed up.

That fucking bastard.

Fucking hell, he was not drunk enough for this conversation. Yet his hands picked up and accepted the call of their own volition.

Brad didn’t say anything, just glared silently and dangerously as if Ray could see him.

“Oh thank god you picked up. Listen, whatever you’re thinking, that’s not it at all.”

Brad calmly took a sip of his beer. Why was he wasting time on this whiskey tango excuse of an inbred reject?

“Listen, listen, homes,” Ray started anxiously on the other end, “I was fucking in your home, true, but not fucking your precious LT, fucking my precious Walt, my husband-to-be precisely, and someday, someday very far into the future, you’re going to laugh about this. You’re going to laugh how I thought it’d be hysterical to fuck Walt in yours and Nate’s bed. You’re going to be fucking hysterical about it; I feel it in my bones. Just…maybe not right now.” Ray petered out, and Brad had suspected he hadn’t taken a breath during this long spiel.

He still stayed silent on his end.

“Brad? Are you listening to me? Brad, please. Just please call the LT,” Ray was begging.

He disconnected the call, his finger hovering over the first speed-dial, Nate’s spot. The fact that he hadn’t wanted the fucking he almost walked in earlier to be true made him press it.

Nate picked up on the first ring.

“Hi,” came Nate’s voice, soft and fond in Brad’s ears.

Something unclenched in Brad, and the cold dread slowly started dissipating away. “Hi, where are you?”

“Still at the office. Where are you?”

“Home.”

“Well, that’s a surprise—a very good one. Give me fifteen minutes and I will join you.”

Brad closed his eyes. He hadn’t lost his most precious thing. “Hurry home,” he said, throat tight with something he didn’t want to identify.

“Definitely. Oh, and I should warn you, Ray and Walt are staying over. They wanted to check out wedding venues, of all things, in Massachusetts and I felt bad about shooing them off to a hotel. I don’t want you to shoot them by mistake or anything.”

Brad laughed; he could do that now, amazingly. Or maybe it was just his relief pouring out of him. Or maybe it was just Nate. Or maybe it was both. Though his heart clenched when he thought back to how his evening had started. “I’m pretty sure that even accidentally shooting Ray, you could still find a valid reason for why he’d deserve it afterwards.”

“True,” Nate replied. “But then Walt would be pretty sad.”

“I have no idea why,” Brad said sardonically.

Nate laughed. “See you soon. Wait for me.”

“Always.”

Brad sped out of the bar, this time running with exhilaration. Funny that the cold didn’t touch him this time around either.


 

He bolted inside, wondering if he beat Nate, almost knocking into both Ray and Walt on the way, who he found pacing around the hallway.

“Brad!” Ray shouted.

“I’m so sorry,” Walt started, eyes creased with worry and apologies. “He is a really bad influence.”

“We? Will never speak of this again,” Brad said, in the most intimidating voice he could muster. He heard a car pulling into the garage and raced to the backdoor.

He got to the door before Nate, pulling the other man inside and into a soul-crushing hug. After a lengthy kissing session against the backdoor, Brad pulled away, but didn’t let go of Nate. “We have to burn the bed,” he said, cupping Nate’s jaw and drinking in his dazed look.

Nate splayed his hands against the door, looking a little weak in the knees. “Wait, what? Why?”

Brad assessed that it’d take too long to explain; he had more important things to attend to right then and there. He started kissing Nate again.

At some point they moved to the living room, slowly, and with a lot of bumping into things as walking while being attached at the lips was not all that convenient, not that they cared.

Nate ended up in Brad’s lap, and Brad lamented to himself the fate of their bed. He loved that bed—he and Nate had some very good memories attached to that bed, and now it had to be killed with fire because Ray Person fucked in it. Most importantly, it’d be forever tainted with the horrible thought that Ray fucked Nate in that bed, which was why it had to be burned forever in Brad’s mind.

It was okay though; it was just a bed. It could be replaced and new memories could be made in it. But Nate Fick was irreplaceable.

The fondling and petting was getting hotter when someone cleared their throat. Brad groaned, not wanting to deal with Ray again.

Nate wrenched his lips away from Brad, looking at Ray and Walt, apologetically. “Sorry, guys.” And then he saw that Ray and Walt were both dressed up in outdoor clothes and holding their suitcases. “Guys, you don’t have to go. I told you, you’re welcome here.”

Meanwhile, Brad closed his eyes and nuzzled Nate’s neck, ignoring the conversation happening around him. Nate always smelled so nice.

“I really think we should go and stay at a hotel. Really, it’s fine. It’ll be an adventure. Brad, really, really sorry again. I promise, we will totally pay for a new one.” Walt said, trying to carry his luggage and shoo Ray out the door at the same time. Ray looked absolutely dejected to Nate for some reason.

The door closed behind them and Brad turned his face into the crook of Nate’s shoulder, trying to bite it gently through the dress shirt.

“Will you please tell me what’s going on?” Nate asked, petting Brad’s shorn hair.

He shook his head no.

“I feel so lost right now, like I missed out on something big happening.” But Nate was basically talking to himself at this point as Brad decided to carry him up the stairs, bridal-style to the guest-room.

He dumped Nate on the bed, who was still very confused, and raced back out to get new sheets and pillowcases. Yes, he was acting like Ray Person was diseased when, as a Marine, he slept in much worse conditions. But just because Brad was a Marine who could make do didn’t mean he had to make do in the comfort of his own home.

“I seriously thought you were joking about burning the bed,” Nate said, incredulous when he saw Brad with the linen. Nate had really liked that bed too.

 


 

It wasn’t until the morning that a thoroughly and happily debauched Nathaniel Fick set about finding out what had happened last night. He had tried to get it out of Brad, but the other man would use his tongue and hands and pretty much his whole body to distract Nate from his mission. Nate might’ve been a lieutenant in the Marines once, but he was pretty powerless to stop Brad from his mission.

So it wasn’t until he called Walt and dragged it out of the man that he found out what had happened the night he forever dubbed “The Unfortunate Bed Incident That Got Ray Person Banned From Ever Sleeping Again in the Colbert-Fick Household.”

“He did what?” Nate squeaked.

As soon as he accepted Walt apologizing profusely again and offering to buy them a new bed, he raced up to the guest bedroom, sliding back into the crease his body made and molding his body against Brad’s.

“I would never—” Nate started, his hands on Brad’s warm and sleepy face, desperate for Brad to believe him even after the fact.

Brad blinked away the sleep, and Nate saw comprehension dawn in the dark blue eyes he loved so much.

Brad nodded. And Nate set about showing how very much he loved Brad.