The thing sat in the Rangers lounge, taking up half the couch, and it’d been there for almost a month now. The novelty had worn off fairly quickly; even Yancy had stopped making jokes about it, and he’d been known to beat a poor, innocent joke to death like no one else. On a Friday night after work, they’d pile in around it, occasionally leaning up against it while they drank and argued over movies. It became part of the new normal for them.
That didn’t really change the fact that there was a gigantic teddy bear in there with them, sprawled out on the couch, but it was Mako’s, so it wasn’t like anyone was going to get rid of it without her say-so.
Or, rather, it was for Mako, and her baby, which didn't actually exist. The rumor of her pregnancy had been going around for a few months by then, and there was some celebrity family in New York which embraced the story on a talk show of some kind, and the media had gone fucking insane with it. Raleigh, Herc, and some Taiwanese actor had been voted the most likely fathers, and the rest of the dome had teased all three Rangers until Mako Had Had Enough.
She’d left for Zurich, taking her first vacation in actual years, and it was crystal fucking clear that no one should even dream of contacting her unless the world was ending again. When the bear arrived a few days later, no one knew what to do with it, and no one had the balls to call and ask her.
So it sat and it took up room, and they learned to talk around it. They’d make do with it until Mako got back, and absolutely none of them planned to be in the room when she first saw it. It was about 8 feet tall and the offensively pink bow it had come with was about half that, but they were all stubborn bastards, and, really, what else were they supposed to do with it?
The bow mysteriously disappeared one night, but the bear went otherwise undisturbed. Sasha might or might not have fallen asleep on it right after it arrived, in the middle of one of Raleigh’s WW2 movies. No one but Yancy had the guts to tease her about it, and since Alexis physically threw Yancy over his shoulder and walked off with him before she could murder him, Raleigh was still suspicious the whole episode had been more foreplay than anything else.
Chuck had been uncharacteristically silent about the whole thing, but then he was quieter altogether these days. Pitfall had left him with severe injuries, and although he’d fought his way back with characteristic Hansen stubbornness, the whole thing had cost him. Despite his reluctance, he’d been forced to take painkillers regularly for the pain he was still in, and on some days he was back on crutches. He didn’t sleep well or often, and it showed.
Raleigh had been surprised when Chuck started turning up for movie nights, sitting quietly in back at first and disappearing before the movie ended. With an unspoken agreement between them, the other pilots coaxed him into the group, and even if he still didn’t say much, he did occasionally join in the banter. When he did, he had a quick wit that the rest of the group appreciated, and they plotted ways to draw him out a little more.
The darkness under his eyes didn’t go away, though.
Raleigh, who’d kinda, sorta had a thing going with Chuck before Pitfall, began to fret. Unfortunately, Chuck caught him doing it, and he became even more withdrawn, although he still came to movie nights, quietly sitting through them, smiling reflexively when people tried to draw him into the conversation.
“He’s still not sleeping,” Herc told Raleigh one night. “He stopped taking the drugs Medical was pushing on him because they make the nightmares worse.”
Raleigh nodded sympathetically, but then he caught the expectant look in Herc’s eyes. If there was anyone in the PPDC who didn’t actually need an over-protective father, it was Chuck, but Herc had patched together his version of fatherhood during the worst war humanity had ever known; combining that with the closeness of drift-partners had made the two of them fairly inseparable. Herc respected Raleigh as a Ranger, but as his son’s would-be boyfriend, the one with the trail of broken hearts behind him all the way back to Anchorage, the younger Becket was apparently rated as dodgy at best. If Raleigh wanted to prove himself more suitable, he’d have to work for it.
Raleigh, however, had no answers for him. He’d spent the last several years as a machine-made telepath, and words weren’t really his strong suit. The fact that he and Chuck had managed to forge the beginnings of a relationship at all was close to miraculous, and now Chuck had cut him off. Other than Yancy, Chuck had been his closest relationship, but that didn’t mean he knew what the fuck to do to help him.
Herc seemed not to appreciate his situation.
The situation struggled along.
Until one night, when Raleigh couldn’t sleep either.
After some small eternity of tossing and turning, Yancy, compassionate motherfucker that he was, told him to go walk it off, for Christ’s sake. They still shared quarters because it was impossible for them to sleep otherwise, but at least they rated proper beds now. Grumbling, he’d been louder than really necessary about getting dressed and leaving, but he hadn’t meant to pick a fight, and Yance knew it.
That left him wandering the corridors of the dome, looking for something to do until his brain shut down again and let him rest. He’d shot the shit with some of the J-techs on night shift, searched the kitchen for snacks, and worked out just long enough to know he wasn’t into it. Then it occurred to him that the giant tv in the Ranger lounge would be all his this time of night. Perfect. It wasn’t his fault that no one else shared his taste for war movies and historical romances.
The room was dark, of course, and silent. He flipped the lights on, and then flipped them off again just as quickly. Then he used the light on his phone to check if he was hallucinating, or if he’d really just seen that.
It was true.
Chuck Hansen, bad ass jaeger pilot, one of the saviors of the world, was fast asleep on top of the giant teddy bear, snuggled in as if his life depended on it. A little disturbed by the light, he rubbed his cheek against the soft plush and fell asleep again, smiling. He looked like the happiest boy in the world, and it was fucking adorable.
Seriously, flat-out adorable. Probably toxic levels of adorable. Jesus.
Raleigh’s first instinct, honed razor sharp from years of living with Yancy, was to get a picture, and he actually lifted his phone to take it… but no. Chuck would never forgive him, and even if he did, it was the kind of violation of privacy that Rangers suffered all too much of. Raleigh couldn’t do it.
Besides, Chuck was honestly asleep for once, and happy, and those were rare things these days, for him more than most.
Also, Raleigh still kind of liked him too much to do that to the guy. Damnit.
He turned to go, but as his hand touched the door, he realized it didn’t have a lock. Anybody could just walk right in and see famous asshole Chuck Hansen happy and comfortable and snuggling a fucking teddy bear. The pics would be viral in seconds.
Shit, he couldn’t just leave him like that.
He thought about waking him up, and about calling Herc to come get him, but he needed sleep so badly. Raleigh was reluctant to wake him.
With a sigh, Raleigh grabbed a chair and took it out in the corridor as quietly as he could, shutting the door behind him. He planted the chair in front of the door and sat down, prepared to act as Chuck’s guardian against prying eyes until the man himself woke up.
It’d only be another, what, three hours or so? He could stay awake that long. No problem.
Raleigh woke up to Herc Hansen staring at him from three inches away, and, fuck, that was better than a handful of go-pills to get the adrenaline pumping, wasn’t it?
He didn’t salute, because Rangers didn’t salute each other, even when one was the Marshal, and he didn’t jump out of the chair, because Herc was leaning over him where he sat. It was close, though.
Herc hushed him with a hand over his mouth. “Shhhh. He’s asleep?”
His normally deep voice was little more than a rumble.
“Yeah,” Raleigh told him, muffled behind the hand, his eyes still wide and his fight-or-flight response still struggling to keep up with current events.
“Is it the bear?” Herc whispered solemnly.
Raleigh could only nod.
The corners of Herc’s eyes crinkled, but he didn’t actually smile. Or remove his hand.
“He got one as a kid, the last birthday before Scissure. Scott gave it to him, took up half his room.” He looked Raleigh up and down. “You out here guarding his privacy?”
The hand left his mouth, and Herc scrutinized him intensely, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, before nodding minutely. “Good lad.”
And then the Marshal of the fucking PPDC ruffled his fucking hair and walked away.
What. The. Fuck.
He might have assumed that it was a subtle way of telling him to cut his hair, except he wasn’t sure Hansens were capable of subtlety. Maybe it was some kind of Australian-level threat that he didn’t get. He ran his fingers through his hair and glared at the opposing wall, unwilling to give it much more thought.
Stupid Chuck and his stupid dimples. Nuzzling into the stupid soft fur and smiling…
About an hour later, the door opened, and a man with a severe case of bedhead peered out into the corridor. He stepped carefully around the man in the chair and stood back, contemplating the situation.
Becket was slouched down in his chair, his head tipped back at an awkward angle now that the door had moved back. He wasn’t snoring, but his mouth was open, and he looked like he’d be too uncomfortable to sleep in that position for much longer.
Chuck was still sleepy, and it took him a good few to figure things out.
Raleigh’d been watching out for him, clearly, while he slept.
On that plush embarrassment.
Christ, he hadn’t meant to – he’d just come down to see if maybe someone else was up, or if there was a movie he could watch somewhere else, anywhere else but in his own damned bed – but that fucking thing had been there, of course, and he remembered leaning back against it, and… And Raleigh must have seen him, and then come out here to make sure no one else would.
Blue eyes fluttered open suddenly and focused on him, and Chuck Hansen blushed down to his toes.
“Uh, morning,” he managed, because he needed to say something. Didn’t he?
Yawning, Raleigh lifted a hand in greeting.
“You, uh, spending your nights out here now?” Shit, he hoped that came out alright. It was hard turning his normally weaponized sarcasm off.
“Just the one,” Raleigh yawned again.
If he was a normal person, with normal person social skills, he’d know what to say, how to say thanks, but Chuck felt lacking in that department. What would his dad say?
Christ, no, that was a bad idea. Herc had even less tact than he did, though he managed somehow to come off as the normal Hansen.
Raleigh looked like he was prepared to be patient, but that didn’t actually help, because he shouldn’t have to be, and—
“So, you wanna get some breakfast? Mess hall should be open by now,” Raleigh asked, his tone… cautious?
Fuck, he didn’t want Raleigh to have to worry about setting him off, or anything, and—
Raleigh seemed to read him this time, and he stood up, stretching, before dropping an arm around Chuck’s shoulders. He grinned as Chuck lifted an eyebrow at him and crossed his arms.
“Are you going to keep standing between me and my waffles, or are you gonna get moving?” The tall blond he’d almost been fairly sure he really liked before Pitfall gave him a little push down the hall.
“Look,” he said stubbornly, stepping forward and turning around to look him in the eye. “About last night… I mean, uh…”
“Hey, man, its okay. Sometimes you gotta rack out on a giant teddy bear. It happens,” Raleigh told him seriously. It was true. They weren’t ordinary people anymore, and Rangers had to look out for each other.
Chuck was shaking his head, though. “I mean thanks for looking out for me. Keeping everyone away. Yeah?”
His expression was soft and earnest, and it made Raleigh ache a little inside, thinking about how close they’d all come to losing Chuck. Raleigh had felt like they’d barely gotten to really know each other before Pitfall, and Chuck was still struggling back. He decided a little risk might be in order this morning, just to make sure he knew Raleigh still missed him.
The kiss was soft and sudden, and Check stepped back from it with his eyes wide. Between the sudden blush and the bedhead, Raleigh briefly thought his heart might stop from the adorableness. Goddamnit.
The smile that followed was even worse.
Herc was late to the next Friday movie night, due to an unplanned conference call with the morons in Brussels, but he made it to the lounge before the movie was half over. He grabbed a beer and settled into a chair they’d saved him up front, content to see what was going on before joining in on the commentary.
The film was something about Nazis accidently summoning supernatural monsters they couldn’t control, and it wasn’t half bad from what he could tell. It was just goofy enough to counterbalance the genuine horror, and he didn’t have much difficulty catching up with the plot.
By the time it was winding up to the final boss, though, Herc’s attention was firmly elsewhere, just like everybody else’s. He was just marginally less obvious about it.
The giant bear was still with them, but it had been crammed into a corner of the room. The couch had been taken over by the Rangers Becket and Chuck, who’d managed to take up the whole space. Chuck was asleep again, but this time he was comfortably tucked into Raleigh’s chest, with Raleigh’s arm around his shoulders. Raleigh, in turn, was leaning against Yancy, who didn’t seem to mind much.
Pilot pairs needed a lot of physical contact, but Chuck… Chuck was snuggling. He’d slowly tipped over as the movie progressed and he got sleepier and more relaxed. They’d watched in suspense to see if he was actually going to touch down on Raleigh’s chest, but Raleigh himself had just smiled and let him settle in.
Well, if the boy was happy – and if he concentrated, Herc could feel the contentedness warming Chuck’s heart right now – Herc would be happy for him too. Becket wasn’t a bad bloke, after all.
Not that he wouldn’t break Becket’s legs if he hurt Chuck.
Herc Hansen knew he wasn’t the best father, but he’d tried his best, and he wasn’t going to stop now.
Not even though Yancy had turned around to give him the overprotective brother stare-down.
Becket Senior could just bring it on.
And then the seppo bastard smiled slowly and winked at him, and the Hansen blush may have claimed another victim.
Damn his genetics, Herc grumbled silently.
If Chuck smirked in his sleep, he was too cuddled up to Raleigh for anyone to see it.
It turned out to be the best movie night in ages.