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He's annoyed because he never asked to be looking after her kid - didn't even know she had one until he’d had to kill her. He almost wondered how she'd managed to keep it secret for so long, or why she'd even kept it from him. He’d thought they'd lived and died together - bullshit, on both accounts. She may as well have lived and died on another planet.

Whatever it was, the resentment kept him silent about it. It wasn't his secret to tell, and he was already keeping plenty of secrets about The Boss to the point that one more barely mattered. But EVA surely knew, and Zero absolutely did - and it was becoming increasingly hard to look at The Boss’s face while speaking to a kid who had no idea he was even wearing it.

Zero confessed first, probably because he wanted to secure Ocelot's support for his new endeavour, but also because the man was an old nostalgic: of course he wanted to be flanked by The Boss’s sons on each side. The more immediate reason was that Ocelot had a good sense for lying, and when Zero confirmed his suspicions the brief flash of betrayal on his young face as he’d looked at Snake had stung.

He didn’t stop Ocelot from walking straight out of Zero’s office and onto the street though, figuring the kid could do with the personal space after having his life and reason for existence so casually dismantled over afternoon tea. Zero drank his Earl Grey like nothing happened at all, and when Ocelot didn’t return by sundown Snake went out in search of him. He found him a few hours later, taking shelter by a cafe a block away, soaking wet from the rain and stubbornly closed off.

“Can't I go for a walk?” he complained as Snake approached. Snake wanted to tell him sure, it wasn't his life to worry about, but a sense of duty kept him there and reaching for his shoulder.

“You'll catch a cold, kid.”

“You don't catch colds from being cold,” Ocelot replied, arms still crossed defensively. “Why are you out here anyway? You didn't even bring an umbrella. You need a light or something?”

“I was gonna ask if you wanted to stay at mine tonight,” Snake muttered, put off by the confrontational tone. “My flat is closer than your hotel.”

Ocelot seemed sceptical before letting out a short laugh. “You have a flat? You - live somewhere?”

“Not really. It's just for when I'm between deployment.”

“Right...you're more at home on the battlefield. I get that. Well, I've never been to a sleepover, so I guess this is a new experience for me.”

Snake almost confessed bringing people home wasn't a done thing in his world either, but felt that was revealing a little too much. Friends were comrades, and lovers were few and far between to the point of being negligible. He wasn't sure if Ocelot was a friend just yet, and he certainly wasn't a lover, so he supposed this was fine. Maybe he was a little closer to family after today’s revelations, and Snake hadn't known that since he was fifteen.

Ocelot quietly followed him to where his car was parked and sullenly occupied the passenger seat for the ride back to Snake's flat. It wasn't anything special: just an okay flat in an all right part of town. Indistinct and unimportant, just as Snake wanted it. Snake guided Ocelot to the couch - didn't bother pushing the cans on the coffee table aside - and went to fetch a towel and dry clothes for the kid to wear.

“Thought you’d live somewhere nicer,” Ocelot remarked from the lounge.

“What, you live in luxury?”

“Hardly. But I do tidy.”

“I figured you’d be a hoarder.”

“You thought about me?

Snake wasn’t sure how to respond to that. He emerged from the bathroom and threw the young man a clean(ish) towel before ducking into the bedroom to find something that didn't smell of years of disuse. He unearthed a t-shirt and pants multiple sizes too big for Ocelot, but it would have to do. Ocelot wasted no time in stripping, right there in the lounge, with all the shamelessness of someone raised from childhood in a military. Snake decided he’d make tea (he remembered Ocelot drank the stuff) but not before noticing how much Ocelot had shot upwards since they'd met. Still a twig by Snake’s reckoning, but the added inch or so was slightly disarming.

“Kinda big,” Ocelot commented, sniffing at the hem of his t-shirt. It should have been weird, but Snake was affectionate enough towards the other man to barely make note of it.

“All right, you can put your own clothes back on if it's that offensive,” he teased instead.

“No, these are mine now.”

“You steal everything you see?”

“Just whatever you give me,” Ocelot replied, perfectly sincere, and Snake almost admired the kid’s ability to do and say whatever he felt like without a trace of self-doubt. Ocelot settled onto the couch and took the tea when it was done, letting it warm his thighs. Snake eventually sat down beside him, comfortable enough to lean back and relax. In between puffs on his cigar he observed Ocelot for a while, like he was an animal tethered to the couch. There was an erratic nature to his movements, his way of thinking - Snake may have been cautious if he didn’t already sense Ocelot was more gum than teeth around him. Maybe it was that uncertainty that drew Snake to him, or maybe he wanted it to be so he wouldn’t have to think about how he was maybe trying to cling to one final piece of The Boss she’d left behind.

He was almost touching the damp hair resting on the back of Ocelot’s neck when the other blurted out:

“So, what counts for entertainment around here?”

Snake shrugged, pulling back discreetly. “Not here much. There’s the radio...magazines?”

“You ever go to the movies?”

“Nah. What’s the point, none of it’s real anyway.”

Ocelot frowned. “That’s the point. It’s not real, so you can just forget about reality for a while. Maybe you should go and get your mind off things.”

“Can’t imagine you getting your mind off of anything,” Snake contested.

“Where do you think I went before - “Ocelot cut off, the embarrassment palpable when he realised what he’d given away. He looked mildly pink as Snake snorted.

“You sure you're a spy, kid?”

“I'm just - I'm no good like this. Around - “ he aborted the sentence and motioned with his hands, a flurry of movement that explained nothing. “Anyway. You should get a plant for this room. Not a real one, obviously.”

Snake skipped being baffled about the subject change. “What’s a plant gonna do?”

“Nothing, it's a plant. But it'll make this place more homey.”

“Homey…?”

“Yeah, and you could get some books and put them right here so it doesn’t look so barren, and a rug under the table - but don’t go tacky and make it an animal print or something -”

“You're really making yourself at home,” Snake commented drily, less interested in what Ocelot was saying and more taken with how his gaze was darting around the room, enthusiastically trying to make Snake give a damn about his life.

“You wish you had someone with my eye for interior design living here.”

“You could stay here, when you’re visiting. Beats paying for hotels.”

Ocelot paused to look at Snake strangely, and for a second Snake wondered if he’d slapped him without realising it.

“Money isn't a problem for me,” Ocelot said quietly. His eyes rolled over some invisible thought before meeting Snake’s. “How long did you know?”

Snake shifted uncomfortably in his seat now. He’d been hoping he could small-talk Ocelot to sleep, but it seemed this had always been inevitable. “Operation Snake Eater.”

“When you met me? Is that why you -”

“No.”

Ocelot mouth tightened into a smile, vulnerable enough to be disarming. It soon hardened up again when another possibility crossed his mind.

“Is that why Zero…”

“Couldn't tell you what Zero’s thinking most of the time. You and him are the same on that.”

“And yet you let me into your home...”

Not my home, and I trust you.” Snake stared into Ocelot’s face, willing a truthful answer from him. “You trust me?”

“Of course. More than I trust Zero.”

“You don’t like him?”

“Sure I do, I just know better than to trust him. Like you said, we’re the same way.”

“Must be hard finding people to like if you can’t trust anybody.”

“What good is liking somebody untrustworthy?” Ocelot retorted, lips on the rim of his cup. “Plenty of people like me, and look where they end up.”

He took a final sip and set it down on the table, the sound of it uncomfortably loud in Snake's unused apartment.

“How do you feel about it?” Snake forced himself to ask after a long stretch of quiet.

“I don't know,” Ocelot replied. “What am I supposed to feel?”

“I wouldn’t know. I never cared about other people’s lives that much.”

“You cared enough to not pull the trigger.”

Snake grumbled. Ocelot stared down at his hands for a while, evidently gathering his thoughts. “Well, she never told me. And she never told you or anyone else either. So - keep it between us. I don’t want anyone else to know who doesn’t already.”

There was a tinge of shame in how Ocelot spoke, too young and open-hearted with a man he admired to hide it just yet. Snake thought, just briefly, that Zero might leverage that shame into making Ocelot play along. Or maybe Ocelot would do it for himself, working towards some lofty goal his mother had set for seemingly everyone but him. Or worse - he might do it for Snake. That kind of responsibility was mildly terrifying, and ignoring it seemed cowardly. 

You’re older than him, so do something.

“You can tell me whatever you need to,” Snake offered, the words coming out thick as cotton. “I’ll keep it a secret. You don’t have anyone...I don’t have anyone either, so we may as well stick together -”

A warmth enveloped him, damp hair brushing against his cheek - Ocelot was holding him? Snake froze up, unsure of how to position himself within the other man’s embrace. But it wasn't unpleasant. He relaxed the moment he realised Ocelot wasn't used to this either - he was turning his head like he wasn't sure where to tuck it in. Snake’s hand moved slowly to rest on Ocelot’s back, keeping him there for a long, fragile moment.

When Ocelot pulled away he looked beat up.

“I’m going to sleep now. I’ll take the couch.”

It was hard trying to keep up with Ocelot’s precarious state at the best of times, so Snake didn’t try. If we wanted to sleep now then Snake wouldn’t stop him. He found Ocelot a spare quilt and watched him settled down on the couch as he locked up. Ocelot stretched and settled into position like a cat, seemingly unbothered by going to sleep before a man who had briefly considered blowing his head clean off.

The memory nagged him. With his finger on the lightswitch, Snake let out: “Adam.”

The shape on the couch shifted. “Huh?”

“You asked me why I didn’t pull the trigger. I just couldn’t do it again, and I...couldn't say it then. That's all I’ve got.”

There was a pause. “I see,” Ocelot replied quietly. “Thanks again...John. For this and - that.”

Snake grunted some reply and then he was headed to his bedroom. When he couldn’t find sleep he ventured back out to the kitchen for some water, passing through the living room to watch Ocelot sleep for a moment. His pale hair had dried awkwardly and the quilt was sliding off his shoulder; Snake thought to leave him there for a moment before pulling the quilt back up over the younger man’s shoulder and returning to bed, barely sleeping himself until it was time to emerge from the bedroom to cajole Ocelot awake.

He bought the plant the next time he was out, if only to hear Ocelot's opinion on it the next time he visited.