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American Beauty/American Psycho

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"Revolver Ocelot", as Kaz sizes him the second he swings in his rickety office in bumfuck nowhere, Puerto Rico, is dressed like a complete idiot, is as Texan as Kaz is Icelandic, and clearly thinks he’s an idiot.

He’s also hot as fuck, and Kaz has had enough of a dry spell since...the accident...that he finds himself flirting before he catches himself.

Ocelot responds in kind, his pale eyes lingering on his bare arms, on his neck when he pulls off his scarf.

Well, he might be a superspy or whatever, but Kaz has his own ways to manipulate people.

The mission he’s offering his invaluable expertise for is definitely something Kaz could have handled himself. Just a deal for some firearms that aren’t held together with duct tape and prayers. He knows what he really wants; keep a tab on him now that Snake is back under his control. Keep him leashed up, offer tiny crumbs of updates and intel as their relationship goes along so he’ll soon be dependent on him.

Kaz accepts his help, but refuses to be collared up like Snake’s faithful Hachiko. He’s the one running this ball now.

He’s always been the running the ball. He might not have Snake’s magnetic personality, but he also can keep a book and knows what taxes even are. You don’t run a business on magnetic personality.

Nor on being a sexy spy, which gives Kaz the upper hand anyway in his situation, aside from the upper hand he already has in his grasp and figuratively inching to his crotch when he gets up from behind the desk and stretches, and Ocelot’s eyes are glued to the tiny strip of tanned stomach showing between the waistband of his fatigues and his rising t-shirt.

Luckily, Kaz has the same upper hand with the arms dealer, and the added exoticism of his sharp blonde companion gets them a sizeable discount and a foot in the door of the local mercenary scene. In less than three hours they’re parking a van full of machine and hand guns built in this century in the crummy abandoned factory basement that serves as the new MSF’s -Kaz has been weighing new names but nothing has struck yet - base of operations.

Kaz fully believes in positive reinforcement. So he unbuckles the seatbelt and leans languidly against Ocelot, bringing out all the charm he can muster.

"It’s nice when a mission goes well," he purrs.

"That was hardly a mission and more grocery shopping," says Ocelot, who is pretending he isn’t absolutely smelling his hair.

"We get what we can in these turbulent times. Can’t be all shooting giant robots."

"Hmm."

Ocelot doesn’t seem to tip his hand just yet, so Kaz leans closer. Ocelot's breath smells fresh, a long shot from undergrowth fauna and swamp beard.

Not that he’s comparing, or anything. This isn’t anything like that. This is strictly business.

"I’d like you to help us on a more regular basis," he says quietly, knowing just how much his breath is washing over Ocelot's lips.

"Really. And what would there be in it for me."

Kaz leans closer, close enough their knees are pressed together between the seats, close enough he can smell the spike of arousal on Ocelot's skin. "I can definitely make it worth your while," he says, dropping his voice an extra half octave. An old trick...he hasn't had to use this since college.

"I suppose it can’t be helped," breathes Ocelot. He’s looking at Kaz’s lips. Kaz runs his tongue over them slowly, watches him visibly swallow. “With...our common friend indisposed, we should at least try to look out for each other.”

Kaz smiles, finally pulling back sharply and leaving Ocelot sweating and flushed. "Good. Because there’s more a few of our new recruits that couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn and I’ve heard stories about your shooting."

"Miller, I’m not here to..."

Kaz's smile widens slowly. "I’m sure while you train them it’ll be no problem for you to get a feeling on whether they’re Cipher or XOF spies or not. And dispose of them discreetly if they are."

Ocelot blinks. "Of course. I don’t really need the excuse of training, though."

"But I do need a good shot to train my recruits."

Ocelot stares at him for a long second before he breaks in a cold, predatory smile. "You’re a little opportunist, aren’t you?"

Kaz presses a finger to his own lips. "Takes one to recognize one, doesn't it?"

"Alright," says Ocelot, finally ripping his eyes from Kaz's mouth. “Let’s get those guns out and tested then.”

Kaz is sure he’s going to regret this, but he doesn’t have much of a choice, does he? This is how he’s always handled things. It’s the only way he knows to stay afloat in a world bigger and more ruthless than he is.

At least Ocelot is pretty.


Kaz genuinely admires Ocelot's restraint. it's been six weeks since their first meeting, and they have been working together several times - always on Ocelot's time, Kaz doesn't get to call the shots, not yet - and Ocelot still hasn't cracked.

Snake was balls deep into him within a day of Kaz turning his charm all the way to "up". That's the kinda thing that makes a man think he's lost his touch.

Only kaz knows he hasn't, because Ocelot's eyes never leave him. He stares at the exposed skin when Kaz stretches, brushes against his ass when walking past him. His eyes are hungry and tired, and Kaz is determined to milk that hunger to the last drop.

Even without fucking him, Ocelot is an invaluable asset. He apparently has encyclopedic knowledge of classified intel, can tell whose side of the game a person is twenty seconds after they've entered a room, and is a better shot than Snake, even. The annoying attitude and the fact he's still not spilling the beans on Snake's location are entirely worth the literal billions of GMP Kaz is going to be making with him at his side.

Their sexual tension game of chicken comes to a head on a hot night in Guatemala, and not entirely like Kaz imagined.

On paper, the mission is a cakewalk: Arrigo Savarez, a rich co-op owner, needs protection from the death squads. In exchange, on top of the money, he will let Kaz's Diamond Dogs stay at the Villa. For better protection, of course. For an organization that can fit in a single van, it's an incredible deal. For the most part, all Ocelot has to do is a couple of phone calls and train the Diamond Dogs in plain sight, just in case anybody gets revolutionary ideas.

And then, the earthquake happens.

Kaz wakes screaming, already halfway out of his bed, and by the time his brain catches up with the fact that he's not in a flaming helicopter hurtling towards the sea the villa is crumbling. They are on the lower floor. Kaz jumps out of the closest window and into the yard just in time to see Hidden Wallaby get crushed soundlessly under the collapsing ceiling. He looks around. The ground has stopped shaking and the night is bright with the fields burning. The Spanish cries for help are as deafening as the roar of flames.

Kaz would panic, he's ready to, when a strong hand grips his forearm and pulls.

"Come on!" yells Ocelot over the cacophony of the villa crumpling into flames like a piece of paper. Kaz follows for a second before stopping dead in his tracks

"Wait, what happened to Savarez?"

"Either dead or running like you should be doing, Miller!"

Kaz almost says, "but we didn't get paid" but the fire is getting closer and hotter and soon there will be no Diamond Dogs left to pay if they don't run. So he runs.

The housing in which the workers live is entirely destroyed, the fragile adobe walls turned to dust over their heads. Ocelot keeps pulling, but Kaz shrugs his hand off and darts towards the still settling cloud of smoke.

A woman of undetermined age is crying for help. Kaz pushes inside the demolished building, finds a little girl trapped under an overturned chest of drawers. Her little hands cling to him and he's trying to pull her out when the chest is lifted. Kaz looks up and sees Angry Armadillo's half toothless grin in the darkness.

More people are calling for help when they make it out and drop the kid with her mother. Ocelot is looking around nervously.

"We need to go, Miller," he says.

"Go where? The roads are going to be a mess. We stay. We help."

"Miller."

Kaz gets in his face. there's a thin trail of blood down his forehead. "We stay," he says. "And we help."

Ocelot visibly recalculates in his head and finally nods. "Fine."

So they stay. They find the rest of the Diamond Dogs, which aside from Swan's broken arm are banged up but alive. Out of the maybe three dozen people they dig out of rubble, at least half is dead - crushed, suffocated, burned. Sleeping Dingo is not the world class surgeon they used to have in MSF but he works through the night to sew wounds, bandage broken arms, free airwaves. Kaz wipes exhausted tears off his face when Dingo somehow manages to get the baby in their arms breathing again. He doesn't speak to Ocelot but to his credit, he is just as unstoppable as they are. Carries old ladies to the shelter Swan and Armadillo have built out of tarps, drags bodies out to the still burning fields to get rid of before they start attracting flies, helps Killer Whale carry buckets of water to boil, breaks the locks on the food reserves and distributes it like the good little communist he is.

In the end, by a stroke of luck, they even find their employer, passed out in a ditch from a concussion. He's very grateful for the help, but Kaz can't exactly buy return tickets with gratefulness.

The sun is breaking over the horizon when they're finally done. Nobody is missing, most people have a handful of their belongings, food in their stomaches and hay to sleep on. The fires are dying out, although they can see them still glowing high in the distance where the city is - or used to be. They're not sure anymore.

Kaz collapses, exhausted, against a still standing chunk of wall, hands shaking as he tries to light one of the cigarettes the locals have given him. His lighter is full of dust and only clicks ineffectively. He's about to give up when the sure flame of a zippo dances in front of his eyes.

How long has Ocelot been there, anyway?

He takes a long drag from the cigarette, grateful. His head hurts. His aviators are long lost under the rubble, and Kaz is not looking forward to having to deal with the sun tomorrow.

Ocelot sits next to him. Kaz wordlessly passes him the cigarette, accepts it back when Ocelot takes a hit and passes it to him.

"You okay?" he says, and Ocelot glances at him owlishly before nodding. "Thanks, by the way."

"For what?"

"Helping."

Ocelot shrugs, like he's not sure what to do with being thanked genuinely. His face is stained with soot and dirt, and his dumb cowboy clothes are soaked with sweat.

He looks nice, like this.

Kaz decides he is entirely too tired for games. Snuffs the cigarette against the wall, grabs Ocelot by the face - his big ears are quite useful for that - and sticks his tongue in his mouth. Ocelot does not hesitate a single second before climbing on him, straddling his waist, and responding in kind.

Kaz almost tells him to take off his gloves before he takes his cock in a firm grip but honestly? the leather feels kinda nice. And his hands must feel pretty nice on Ocelot's cock as well by the choked little moans he makes in Kaz's mouth.

Who knew Ocelot was so easy to make whimper.

They're rough and quick, kissing only to keep quiet, biting each other's lips. Ocelot comes first with the cutest little surprised groan. Kaz is not nearly as close so he grips his ass, drags him forward, and finishes by rubbing up to Ocelot's softening cock. Nice.

They finally pass out next to each other and most definitely do not spoon for warmth, no matter what Dingo says afterwards.

It takes them three days to finally make it to a working airport, where Ocelot unblinkingly pulls out the three inch thick stash of money he swiped from Savarez's villa and buys tickets back home for all of them, Diamond Dogs and the handful of co-op workers that have decided to stick around.

Ocelot slips the rest of the money in Kaz's pocket. Kaz blows him in the bathroom. All in all, a job well done.


Ocelot disappears almost the second they touch down back in Puerto Rico. But that's all right. Kaz has his hands full with the new handful of recruits to train, spending the money they got in Guatemala. It's over a month later when he gets a call through at least three untraceable proxies.

"Miss me?" he purrs into the receiver just to hear Ocelot's frustrated hiss.

"Like a migraine."

"Do you have something for me or did you just want to hear my melodious voice?"

Ocelot sighs. "I'd start moving operations to Ethiopia. Ogaden. Lots of opportunities coming up soon."

"Are you going to grace is with your presence?"

"Not unless I'm really in the mood to get court-martialed by the GRU."

"Kinky. Stop by when we've set down base. I'm sure you'll find us."

"Will just have to follow the smell of starvation and cheap cologne," he chuckles, and closes the conversation.

Kaz doesn't really have a reason to trust Ocelot's tip, but at the same time he doesn't have a reason not to. He assumes it's in Ocelot's best interest to keep him alive so that Snake doesn't rip his head off when he's finally back.

So he gathers the men and starts making preparations. Some of their weapons and equipment is easier to sell than to attempt to smuggle. He pulls the strings to get first row seats at a banquet most people haven't still realized is about to start. It's not hard to find a place to house a dozen people and an office, start hitting up weapon dealers and military supply smugglers.

Within a month, they're settled. And when the Ethio-Somali War breaks out, the Diamond Dogs are ready to offer their services to the highest bidder. For the most part, they help rich people escape the country they've sucked dry, and use that leverage to haggle on the price. The borders can get pretty tense, but many on both sides still flinch at the mention of Big Boss, and the Red Army, well....

At first they try to give them trouble, they really do. Then one cold morning after they've spent the entire night in line at border control with crates of coffee that hide weapons and a white gentleman with blood stained diamond rings on every finger, they start hearing hushed voices that someone higher up has arrived. Kaz doesn't speak Russian, but you don't need to speak it to pick up "spetsnaz".

Nor "ocelot".

He quickly tells the rest of the Diamond Dogs not to show that they know him, just in time for Ocelot to saunter into the guardpost with a cheerful jangle of spurs.

It sure is new to see Ocelot in uniform rather than the flowy, comfortable attire he usually wears with them. His boots are so shiny, his bright red beret has the crispest edge Kaz has ever seen, and he looks and carries himself in a completely different manner.

He speaks to the soldiers in a comfortable but sure tone of voice. He sounds a lot different, which adds to Kaz's theory that the Southern accent is 100% just to get on his nerves. The soldiers snap to attention but have brightened up considerably. They like him here.

Kaz doesn't know what they're saying (he should really learn Russian) but within a few minutes they are being waved past as have to scramble to get back into the truck. As they drive into Somalia, Swan - who is Serbian - says, "he told them to let us through at any time. That we are a covert force actually working for the Soviets."

Kaz chuckles. he's made stranger bedfellows in his time, but none quite as dangerous as Ocelot apparently is. That's exciting.

He wonders if he can get him to wear his fancy black uniform next time.


Things were going well. They were going fantastic. Diamond Dogs was up to a couple dozen recruits, and some of them weren’t even ex-convicts. Moved operations to Cambodia, gained the support of the resistance pockets, flirted with the Khmer Rouge, facilitated the connection with Vietnam. It was hard, it was dangerous, and it felt good. Almost like they were making a difference in a desperate place. Almost like working with Amanda and the Sandinistas back in the day. Money wasn’t great, but it was rewarding. Kaz had even learned to enjoy the sheer terror of having Killer Whale ride him like a stolen bike in the back of her jeep whenever she got her huge hands on him. For a six-foot-four Angolan grenadier built like a double door fridge, she was very cute, when she came.

And then. Fucking Swan.

Kaz trusted him. He trusted that motherfucker, the only one of the old MSF survivors Kaz had found, that wanted to come back.

And when he betrays them, Kaz realizes just how he’d survived - by jumping right onto XOF’s chopper and selling them out. He can’t even blame Ocelot, because Kaz had insisted, over and over, that Swan would never betray them.

As the warehouse they made their home in burns down to a crisp and Kaz watches the only people he’s had left for the past two years die, he hates himself more than ever. He does what he can. Pulls out a couple of people out of the fire, tries to save some ammo from blowing up. It’s Whale that pushes him then, hard.

"Get out, commander," she grunts, and it’s the last time they speak.

Shame. She really was cute when she came.

Kaz is alone. No contacts, no money, only his sidearm and the half singed clothes on his back, on the run from Khmer Rouge gangs with flamethrowers. He washes off the soot and blood with the water from a well in the countryside. No matter how thirsty he is, he can’t risk drinking it - it smells like rot and poison. He lets down his hair, throws his shirt into the well, uses his belt to strap his handgun to his thigh, under his rolled up pants.

Even if it’s technically illegal, it’s not hard to find somebody to give him a ride on their rickshaw in exchange for a sloppy blowjob. He may not have anything left, but he still has his body and he’s always his mother’s son. One blowjob to Krong Kampong Cham, a gas station handjob to the outer districts of Phnom Penh, and then a very nice man takes him in for the night provided that Kaz fucks his wife while he watches. The rest is a blur of hiding in prostitutes’ little rooms from the police and sucking off foul-smelling truckers. Kinda nostalgic, really.

And that’s how Ocelot finds him a week later and rents him for a whole night.


Kaz doesn’t let the fact he’s recognized the man in the rented car show on his face. He ambles easily for the open window, leaning inside languidly.

"Business, honey?" he says, mimicking the broken English most people would expect from him.

"Get in."

"It cost you," he smiles, letting his hair flop over one eye.

"I’ve got the money for a whole night. Get in."

Kaz waves at the couple of friends he’s made in the past three weeks before getting into the car, knowing full well he’s not going to see them again.

Maybe when he has some funds he’ll come back to recruit them. Nobody slits throats quite like a prostitute.

They’re both quiet as Ocelot drives away. Kaz expects him to berate him for being careless, but he does not. Eventually, he can’t wait anymore.

"What happened to the men?"

"Whoever survived is done with Diamond Dogs, I can tell you that."

Kaz sighs, looking at his black-listed nails. "I assumed. Do we have a body count?"

"There is no we, Miller. I am not part of the Diamond Dogs and it is not my role to be your babysitter."

"Funny. I thought it was exactly that."

Ocelot grunts, turning into an underground parking lot. "At least a dozen, by what intel I’ve managed to scrounge up. For a while I thought you were between them, to be honest."

"Aww, were you worried for me?"

"I have better things to do with my time than cruising the seedy underbelly of Phnom Penh," he sighs, turning the engine off. “Come on.”

Kaz follows him meekly to his hotel room, in the only place that will take foreigners and the rich dignitaries that come to kiss Pol Pot’s ass. A western slap of luxury in the face of the children dying of malaria in the dark streets around it.

"Please shower," he says, crinkling his nose. “You smell terrible.”

Kaz leans over the doorframe, knowing full well how nice his legs look in his cutoffs and how cut his torso looks in the mesh shirt Nhean lent him on his first day on the street. "Want to share?"

Kaz could swear he sees the hesitation in Ocelot’s eyes, but it only lasts a split second. "No offense Miller, but I’d rather not catch any Cambodian venereal disease."

So would have Kaz, but beggars can’t be choosers, now can they. "Your loss."

He takes his sweet time in the ostentatious white marble bathroom. He bathed when he could during the past few days, but running water is still kind of a luxury for the kind of customer and friend he’s had. Showers, soaks himself into the tub, washes his hair at least three times. He does not need to shave - having a stubble would have gotten in the way of his chiseled jaw and hurt business.

Ocelot has ordered food when Kaz returns to the room wrapped in a blindingly white bathrobe. Kaz’s stomach growls, and Ocelot almost smiles as he waves at the table full of sandwiches and eggs and juice. "Help yourself. You must be hungry."

Kaz is starving. He doesn’t stop eating until he’s gasping for breath and most of the room service is gone. Ocelot doesn’t eat, just sips a glass of whiskey like the sophisticated asshole he is. Kaz finishes up his piece of cake and absolutely innocently runs his bare foot up the leather of Ocelot’s boot.

"Miller."

"I don’t have much else to show my....gratitude with, at the moment."

"You don’t have to..."

"I don’t like having debts," he cuts him off.

Ocelot stands. Kaz hooks his fingers into his belt, looking up at him under his wet bangs, pulls him closer.

"On your knees," says Ocelot quietly.

Kaz slides onto the floor. His bathrobe opens loosely. Ocelot pulls his head up with a gloved finger.

"You’re really talented at this, aren’t you."

Kaz doesn’t answer, just sucks the thumb that’s being pushed into his mouth. It tastes like leather and gunpowder.

"Maybe the mercenary business isn’t really for you," smiles Ocelot, thrusting his thumb in and out of Kaz’s mouth, pressing hard on his tongue. “Maybe you should give up. Pick up the other...family business.”

Kaz bites down on the leather, fists balled in the terrycloth of the bathrobe.

Ocelot’s smile goes cold. "Or maybe not. Whores with tempers don’t last very long."

Kaz spits his thumb. "Like you’d know anything about it."

"Maybe I do," says Ocelot, stepping back and sitting back down. “Somehow I don’t think Snake told you nearly as much about me that he told me about you.”

Kaz grits his teeth, because the asshole is right and they both know this.

"Get some sleep," says Ocelot and nods at the only bed. “Tomorrow I’ll take you to the airport and pay you a ticket for wherever you want to go.”

"I don’t need..."

"You do, though." Ocelot’s eyes are cold and tired. He must have really been cruising for him for a while. “I don’t care for your sense of honor and to be honest, I don’t care what you do after you leave Cambodia. Stay out of trouble for once in your life, and we’ll be even.”

Kaz lowers his eyes. "Fine."

Ocelot stands again. "Now go to bed."

"Where...where are you going to sleep?"

Ocelot wipes his still shiny thumb in his scarf. "I’m going out. I have a contact to meet in an hour. I hope you didn’t think I came all the way here just for you, Miller?"

"Of course not," he mutters, getting to his feet.

"Glad we could come to an agreement."

The bed is incredibly soft and cleaner than anything Kaz has slept in for ages. Despite his better judgment, he’s asleep before Ocelot has closed the door.


Kaz doesn’t see Ocelot for a while after Cambodia, and maybe that’s for the best. He ends back in Colombia because that’s where he still has people that know him and won’t shut their doors in his face, couch surfing and quite honestly starving as he tries to find a way to get his operation back into shape.

He’s not expecting the phonecall he receives while nursing a warm beer in the bar he takes small odd jobs in; but he’s not surprised, per se, that Ocelot knew exactly where to find him.

"Haven’t heard about the Diamond Dogs in a while," he says through god knows how many proxies, his voice mocking. “Did you really pick up the other family business?”

"Very funny," he grunts. “The operation is on hiatus while I raise funds.”

"So I’m right."

Kaz grinds his teeth. "What do you want."

"Why, can’t a man check on an old friend?"

Kaz has to laugh. "We’re not friends, Ocelot. I don’t think you have any. You’d need a heart for that."

"How cutting."

"You know what, if you got the free time to bother me, I could use your assistance on a little project. You speak Russian, right?"

"It’s considered good form to, in the Red Army."

Kaz rolls his eyes. "There’s this guy a lot of people want to make deals with. They say he’s an USSR reject, and he does not speak anything but Russian. He usually has an interpreter but I think that having a native speaker..."

"Would get you an advantage."

"Exactly. You in?"

"Spending a weekend in Colombia catching up with the Russian mafia? Be still my beating heart."

"Aw, come on. If I can get this deal going, I can start operations again, I’m sure of it."

"Why do you even want to. Haven’t you gotten your base burned to the ground enough times?"

"Come over and I’ll tell you."

"Tempting, but not tempting enough."

Kaz makes his voice as husky as he can possibly manage. "I can make it worth your while, this time around."

He’s fairly confident he hears Ocelot swallow on the other side of the line.

"So?"

"Fine. I’ll find you in about two days. Don’t get killed in the meantime."

"It’s a date," he says sweetly, just to hear Ocelot swallow again before closing the call.

Things are starting to look up. Third time’s the charm, he’s sure of it.


Ocelot is true to his word and turns up two days later at the bar, looking as if he doesn’t want to touch anything out of fear of catching cooties. Kaz waves him at his usual table, well secluded from the rest of the bar, and orders a whiskey for him.

"What a charming place," he snorts, sitting down gingerly.

"Beggars can’t be choosers. A lot goes on in this bar."

"I’m sure all of it incredibly edifying. So what is this deal you absolutely needed me for?"

Kaz draws lines in the sticky condensation rings on the table. "It’s....um. Well. Drugs, to be honest."

"I see."

"Now, I know what you’re going to say, Snake never approved but...."

"I have no qualms against drug trafficking," cuts him off Ocelot, and smiles tightly at the barmaid bringing him a cloudy looking whiskey in a fingerprint-laden glass. “I’m not Snake, Miller, and I do not share his....moral quandaries.”

Kaz lets himself smile. "That’s great! That’s awesome, actually. Because you see, I’ve gotten the attention of one of the traffickers in the city, and he’s been trying to cut a deal with the Russian for months now. Apparently getting this deal would open up the market with the gangs in North America, but that’s not important. What’s important is: he’s going to pay me a lot of money for it."

Kaz is expecting Ocelot to ask how much money, or show something more than boredom, but he does neither. "I see."

"So far nobody has managed to get through the Russian and I think it’s because of the language barrier. If I show him that I’ve gone a long way to procure myself a native speaker..."

"I already agreed, Miller. Just point me at him."

Kaz smiles. "Well, as a matter of fact - he’s just entered the bar, just in time for our appointment."


Kaz had lied, but only a little bit. The deal he needed to seal was real, as was the fact nobody had managed to get through the Russian or his stonefaced interpreter. But he could have gotten somebody else.

No, he wanted Ocelot for this because he wanted to study him. See how much he changed when he needed to act Russian himself, more than the glimpse he’d seen back in Ethiopia.

It’s fascinating, really. Within a few minutes he and the Russian are reminiscing about the motherland or whatever the fuck Russians do, and the Russian is laughing and pouring vodka to both of them. But most importantly, Ocelot is laughing, too, and it looks genuine. He looks like a completely different person, his voice is different and so is his posture.

Kaz wonders, not for the first time, who the hell is the real Ocelot.

The deal goes smoothly. It’s a cakewalk. There’s a lot of vodka and really heavy back pats that nearly knock Kaz over but seem to barely register on Ocelot.

Kaz has almost lost track, distracted by the language he doesn’t understand, when Ocelot nudges him with his elbow. "Yeah?"

"Our guest wants to know if you have...samples."

"Samples! Yes, of course!" He fishes the little baggie from his jacket pocket, holding it up with two fingers. “The best of the best Colombia has to offer.”

Ocelot and the Russian exchange a few words, and then the Russian pulls out a flat golden case that at first looks like a cigarette case but upon opening reveals a mirror, a razorblade, and a shiny snorting straw.

"He assumes we don’t have a problem sampling the product first. For safety’s sake."

Kaz smiles easily, reaching for the case across the table. "Of course not. I trust my contact."

"That’s good."

Kaz cuts two neat lines of cocaine on the mirror, plugs a nostril and snorts one. It goes up smooth as butter - his contact really has some high quality stuff. He pushes the case to Ocelot and watches him take a clean hit, knock his head back when he’s done, long pale lashes fluttering.

There is a long moment of wait, before Ocelot nods. Kaz cuts two more lines, already feeling the heat rising along his nerve ends. He passes the case to the Russian with a flourish, and their guest gracefully accepts both lines.

"This is good," says Ocelot quietly. His pupils are already blown, his pulse visible in the open collar of his shirt, thumping against his scarf.

Kaz might be staring. A little bit.

"Good!" laughs the Russian. “Very good!”

Kaz laughs along. He likes this guy, and the expensive vodka that he’s pouring in their glasses again. "Another round?"

Everybody nods, and Kaz cuts three lines, one for each. His brain is already sparkling like champagne. He feels on top of the fucking universe. He’s gonna get this deal, he’s gonna be rich, he’s gonna drag Ocelot back to his hotel room and fuck him through the floor.

There’s two more rounds in the baggie, and after that it’s more vodka and Kaz is on fire. He even tries to speak some Russian himself, and their new best friend Misha is impressed.

"Tomorrow, tomorrow," they say as they part, shaking hands and patting backs. The deal is sealed, all they have to do is make Misha meet Kaz’s dealer. Smooth. Easy. Perfect.

Kaz is so fucking good at this. He catches Ocelot looking absently to where Misha and his interpreter disappeared to, and can’t stop grinning. He plants a hand on his ass.

It’s kinda flat but Kaz knows it’ll feel just great when he’s be buried in it.

Ocelot’s eyes are huge and dark, his lips spit-slick.

"Take me back to your room for a good time," growls Kaz in his ear.

Ocelot hails a taxi so fast he nearly knocks Kaz over. Kaz can’t keep his hands off him in the car. His skin is so hot, how is anybody this hot, how does anybody smell this fucking good in this tropical shithole of a country. The trip back to the hotel and Ocelot’s stupidly expensive room seems to take forever, Kaz is shaking with anticipation and frustration, he’s been hard and leaking for what seems like hours. And finally he’s got Ocelot pinned under him against the closed door, his cock hard against his thigh, his throbbing throat in Kaz’s palm....

Kaz squeezes.

Ocelot blinks.

"So," hisses Kaz, vibrating with the power of having him at his mercy. “Where is Snake?”

Ocelot blinks again.

Kaz squeezes harder, feeling his pulse thunder under his fingers, the sweat soaking his palm.

"You better tell me before I choke it out of you."

Ocelot laughs.

Kaz hesitates. He was not expecting that. And as he’s catching up with what’s going on, Ocelot kicks his legs from under him and the world goes tumbling.

Ocelot is thinner than him but he’s tall and so fucking strong? Fuck, he is spetsnaz, thinks Kaz disjointedly as his head hits the floor, both his wrists get pinned under incredibly pointy knees, and a forearm is pressed to his throat.

"Very cute, Miller. Did you think that little trick in the taxi?"

"It’s been three years," he snarls, trying to kick him off, his brain on fire. “You have to tell me! He’s my...”

"You being his little blonde midlife crisis does not give you a right to know his location. He is safe, and he won’t be if somebody like you knew."

"I wouldn’t tell!"

"You can’t even keep your fucking bases from going down in flames," hisses Ocelot.

Kaz tries to bite him.

Ocelot presses him down harder.

Kaz has never been angrier, or harder. And Ocelot can tell.

"You like this, don’t you?" he purrs, grinding on his hard cock. “Reminds you of how he used to throw you around?”

Kaz spits in his eye. "At least he threw me around. Bet you’re jealous of that."

"Oh, am I."

Ocelot leans down and bites his bottom lip, hard, almost all the way through. Blood fills Kaz’s mouth. His mind goes white.

Something smashes to the floor as they roll, trading blows and kissing violently. Clothes rip. There’s blood on their faces and hair, Kaz doesn’t know who it belongs to and it doesn’t matter.

It’s not him, but it’s almost, almost as good. Ocelot doesn’t completely bodily overpower him, but he also takes nearly a full minute to finger him before shoving his long cock deep into him and honestly? Fucking finally. About fucking time he has that annoying asshole between his legs fucking him fast and hard, biting his throat and his shoulders and everything feels so much right now, Kaz’s prostate is throbbing and his cock is dripping, trapped between them, and he doesn’t want to give him the satisfaction, but he ends up coming first anyway with a breathless sob.

Ocelot takes his sweet time finishing, pulls out to come on Kaz’s chest and face. Asshole. By the time he’s done, Kaz is hard again.

Right. Cocaine. He makes to jerk himself off but Ocelot knocks his hand away, kneels between his legs and sucks him into his bloodstained mouth.

Oh man.

He’s good.

Kaz is pawing at his short hair, arching off the carpet with three fingers up his still sensitive ass, and coming down Ocelot’s throat in no time.

"Where the fuck," he pants, “did you learn that.”

"Who knows," smiles Ocelot, wobbling to his feet and towards the bathroom, turning to smile at him smugly. “Maybe the same place you learned it from.”

Kaz lies on the floor for a while, feeling spent and carpet-burned and incredibly well fucked. Ocelot comes back from the bathroom and drops a damp towel on Kaz’s stomach.

"Clean up."

"Fuck you."

"Maybe next time." He sits on the bed, stretching his long bare legs. “And as a reference for the future: I’ve had drug resistance training. I can’t possibly, at any time, be higher or drunker than you.”

Kaz laughs. "Fucking figures. And I thought I was so smart."

Ocelot seems to smile at him in a strange way, and then he pats the bed. "Come on up. We have a big business meeting tomorrow, don’t we?"

Kaz briefly considers sleeping on the floor just to spite him, but honestly. He’s going to be sore as hell already tomorrow, and the bed looks comfortable.

"You better not snore," he grunts, dropping on the other side of the ornate king size bed.

He falls asleep looking at Ocelot’s weirdly scarred hands on the white sheets. No wonder he always wears gloves.

He may not have found out where Snake is, but he has certainly learned a lot about his bizarre partner in crime tonight.

Chapter Text

"Do solo work in Syria, he said," hisses Kaz, struggling to keep the jeep straight on the rocky offroad, “It’ll be better for business, he said.”

"Oh shut up," grunts Ocelot, folding the map again, glancing over his shoulder. “You knew the risks. At least this time you didn’t get anybody else killed.”

"If you don’t shut the fuck up I’m gonna kill you, how does that sound?" Kaz is feeling a little hysterical, but considering they’re being chased by at least three heavily armed Brotherhood vehicles, he thinks it’s justified.

"Just keep the car from flipping and we’ll be fine." Ocelot turns to kneel on the passenger seat and shoots behind them. Kaz screams at the loud gunshots an inch from his ear. “One car down.”

"Warn me before doing that!"

"And lose my shot?" He sits back, reloading quickly and handling the map at the same time. “Keep going, we’re almost at the end of the buffer zone!”

Bullets whizz past them. Ocelot turns again, shoots again, empties both his revolvers into their rude suitors. Kaz can see the bridge in the distance, they are so close, already speeding through the buffer zone in the Golan Heights and almost to the Israeli border....

And Kaz loses control of the car. A stray bullet or a sharp rock made the front tire explode, and Kaz has to put all his strength into the steering wheel. Ocelot loses balance, crashes into him with a yelp. More bullets hit the jeep, crack the windshield, one clips Kaz’s shoulder. He tries to steer as the bridge hurtles closer, but they are going to miss it by a wide margin. He tries to brake, but the pedal just goes down with no resistance.

"Hold on," he grits through his teeth, and cranks the parking brake.

The car whips around roughly, drifts at full speed as Kaz tries his best to steer it back on course. They are so close...

They hit the bridge’s pylon with the side. The jeep folds onto it. Kaz feels his left arm snap in the crunch of steel. He still tries, desperately, to drift onto the bridge.

It doesn’t work. The car spins out of control, back down the ravine, and suddenly their organs are in their mouths and they’re falling, tumbling.

Kaz barely registers Ocelot’s grip on the back of his head, pushing him down, the press of his body over him. Then white-hot pain spears through him, and his brain is knocked all around his skull, and he passes out.


His eyes snap open, breath catching in his chest from the agony.

Ocelot clamps a hand over his mouth. They’re on the muddy ground, water is soaking his clothes, or maybe that’s blood. Kaz isn’t sure. The jeep is overturned on top of them. His aviators are cracked, and through them all Kaz can see is the way Ocelot’s elbow is bent all wrong.

That must hurt.

He hears, distantly, the sound of engines speeding away from them.

"All right," hisses Ocelot, pulling back. “I think they took us for dead.”

Kaz wets his lips. "Aren’t we?"

"Not yet."

He crawls out from under the jeep, the quietest sounds of pain escaping him as he pulls himself with the badly bent arm. A minute later, there’s the sound of a punch against a tire and panting. When Ocelot kneels on Kaz’s side, his elbow is back in place.

"Can you move?"

Kaz slowly turns his head. His vision is grayish and fuzzy. "N-not sure," he croaks, and his voice sounds so weird and hoarse.

"Let me try to open the door."

The door is crushed, Kaz knows because his arm is still trapped in it. Ocelot has to smash the lock with a rock and use a piece of the bumper to force it open. Kaz whimpers like a shot dog as the bite of metal releases his arm and all the pain floods into it. He’s got bits of bone showing, fuck, this is bad. Ocelot cuts the safety belt with a knife - thank god he had that on, he would have been shot right into the river and drowned if not died immediately on impact - and tries to pull him out.

Kaz screams. It hurts. It hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts.

"Oh," mutters Ocelot, crawling over to see why he can’t get him out.

"What?" he breathes, tears streaming down his face and into his ears.

"The gear stick is stuck in you."

Kaz touches his side with the hand he can still feel, and shit, there’s blood everywhere, warm and sticky, and the stick disappears through his flesh. It hurts like a motherfucker. "Get it out!"

"You’ll bleed out like a pig if I do that. Let me..." he crawls out, and then crawls in from the other side, knife in his mouth. He hacks the gearbox open, starts sawing wires and unscrewing the stick. Every movement sends a stab of pain in Kaz’s gut, and he’s so afraid that if he closes his eyes he’ll never open them again. He focuses on the sweat rolling down Ocelot’s brow and into his eyes as he laboriously works him free.

"Alright. It should be loose. Let me get you out."

Kaz pushes himself with his good arm and whatever he can feel of his legs as Ocelot drags him, finally, out from under the jeep and into the sun beating down on them. Kaz squeezes his eyes closed, but Ocelot slaps him gently.

"Hey. Stay with me." He waves his finger across Kaz’s nose, and Kaz follows it. “Did you hit your head?”

Kaz swallows. He passed out, so he’s not sure, but.... "Don’t think so."

Kaz notices Ocelot’s canteen and purses his lips.

"No. You probably have damage to your stomach anyway, water might actually kill you. This is for cleaning wounds."

And cleaning he does. Somehow the first-aid kit in the back of the jeep made it down the ravine with them. Ocelot bends Kaz’s legs up, cuts off his shirt and puts it behind his head. He wipes dirt and blood, dabs antiseptic onto the wound and it burns like hellfire. Kaz turns his head to bury it against Ocelot’s folded knee. Ocelot puts a hand on the back of his neck, warm, reassuring.

"Just keep breathing. It’s bad but you’re safe. We’ll be okay. You’ll be fine." His voice is a slow drone, almost hypnotizing. It still hurts, but Ocelot manages to cover a clean wound with gauze, taping down the remains of the gear stick so that it doesn't move around, and Kaz hasn’t bitten through his lips yet. Ocelot disinfects and wraps his mangled arm too, but by that point Kaz is not feeling much anymore aside from a slight chill.

"’s cold," he breathes.

"It’s not. You’re just going into shock."

"Oh." Kaz tries to remember what it means. It can’t be good, but he feels so heavy....he kinda doesn’t care.

Ocelot presses his thumb into Kaz’s broken forearm. Kaz’s eyes snap open as he yells.

"Stay awake. I won’t have you die on me like this."

"Ocelot..." god, he’s so cold? why is he so cold, “how do we get out of here? I can’t...climb....”

"And I can’t carry your heavy ass up the ravine, no. But I have an idea."

The idea apparently involves wrapping Kaz in a tarp and dragging him into the river.

"Don’t drown me," mumbles Kaz as he feels the current run under him.

Ocelot wades into the water and slips his arms under him, moving him around with a lot more ease than on dry land. "I’ll try not to," he says, and starts to ford the river.

He has to start swimming almost immediately, the water deep and the fast currents pushing Kaz’s tarp cocoon around and downstream. He hopes they’re far away enough from the Sea of Galilee. He can’t quite remember now.

"Just keep breathing," tells him Ocelot, wet and flushed and starting to pant a little. “I’ll do the rest.”

Kaz breathes. Ocelot turns on his back to push himself with his legs, still not letting go of Kaz.

He doesn’t want to die, not here, not now, not like this.

"Of course you don’t want to die. It’s pretty normal."

"Y-you know why I want to....do the Diamond Dogs thing?"

"Can’t give up when you’re ahead?"

Kaz laughs, and it hurts so much, it feels so hollow. "I want....to be ready....when Snake comes back...he’ll have an army again....like MSF never ended. We’ll...take it all back."

"Noble," says Ocelot. “If a bit ambitious.”

"Never...had problems with...ambition."

Ocelot chuckles, and it feels like a shiver. "You seem the type that has all the problems with ambition."

"No, see. It’s the world that has...a problem with my ambition."

Ocelot swims, and laughs again.

"Help me?"

"I am helping you, in case you missed it."

"No, I mean. With Diamond Dogs. I’ll....pay you. But you’re..."

"I wouldn’t know what to do with money, Miller. Soviet, remember?"

"...right...."

"I will help you, though," he says, almost drowned by the rushing of water.

"Really?"

"I’ve been helping you since ‘75, haven’t I?"

Kaz supposes he’s right. He wishes it wasn’t always on Ocelot’s time, only when Kaz is in danger. He wishes he could....not control him, not quite, just... "thanks," he whispers.

"Wait to make it out alive before thanking me," he grunts. “Okay, hold tight. It might get a bit shaky now.”

Kaz looks out of his tarp wrap and realizes they’re almost on the other side of the river, Ocelot back to holding him with both arms close to his chest. He manages to carry him out of the water and to a shaded area away from the riverbank, even though he’s almost purple when he lays Kaz down in the grass.

"We made it," says Kaz, smiling. Or maybe not smiling. He thinks he’s smiling but he’s not really sure.

"Almost. Now...stay put and don’t try to move. There must be a guard post not too far from here. I’m going to go get help."

Kaz bites his tongue, his heart hammering in his chest. He doesn’t want Ocelot to leave. He’ll die if he’s not here. He’s sure of it.

Ocelot runs wet leather fingers through his hair. "I’ll be back. Just keep breathing. Never stop breathing."

Kaz breathes, concentrates on his breathing, in, out, ignore the piece of metal stuck in you that grinds against your hipbone with every breath. The fast jangle of spurs fades. Kaz panics, but continues breathing regularly, even though he’s so scared Ocelot is never coming back. He just keeps breathing, breathing, in, out, in, out.

He hears voices and footsteps, the jangle of spurs is back. Somebody opens his tarp, two pairs concerned brown eyes appear. Ocelot is speaking in a language Kaz does not understand. But he understands he’s going to be fine, and finally lets himself pass out.


Kaz lives, although the first couple of weeks he’s not entirely sure of it, lying in an Israeli camp hospital in a haze of morphine and pain. Apparently, according to what Ocelot tells him in one of his rare lucid moment, the gear stick got tangled into his intestines and ripped them to shreds in several spots. That’s why all his waste is going into this bag, says Ocelot cheerfully, and Kaz groans. The surgeon they get from the closest hospital does a good job, however, and Kaz gets to keep most of his guts and not have to shit in a colostomy bag for the rest of his days. Also not die of sepsis, which he guesses is nice.

As soon as he’s able to sit up Ocelot pushes him into a wheelchair and onto a plane. The trip back to Kaz’s shitty one room-office apartment in Southern Spain takes them almost a whole day and by the time they’re back, Kaz is delirious with pain and exhaustion enough to convince Ocelot to give him a handjob to put him to sleep.

It’s the worst orgasm of Kaz’s life, but it’s not really Ocelot’s fault.

It takes Kaz the better part of a week to start coming off meds and be somewhat lucid sometimes. Sadly they didn’t really watch his morphine intake back when they were trying to save his life, so his lucid times are spent sweating and gritting out increasingly creative insults to Ocelot for withholding the drugs. He’s so busy suffering through withdrawals he doesn’t even notice his wounds healing fairly well despite all odds. His arm is still bandaged, but he can move all his fingers again, and only the little finger is a little numb (and probably will be forever).

One morning when he wakes, feeling slightly less like warmed up garbage than usual, he opens his eyes to see Ocelot sitting next to his bed, very blatantly shooting up with one of the syringes he uses for Kaz.

Kaz closes his eyes immediately, pretends to be still asleep until he hears the syringe be dropped into the wastebasket, then "wakes up" slowly so Ocelot has time to act normal.

Now that he thinks about it, when is the last time Ocelot has slept? Every time Kaz has woken up Ocelot has been awake, tending to him or writing in his notebook or talking on the phone in Russian. Where does he even sleep? There’s only one bed in the apartment; it’s the couchbed and Kaz is in it.

Ocelot’s pupils are a little wide and he’s a tiny bit twitchy when he asks Kaz how he’s feeling.

"Been worse," he croaks.

"Not going to call me, what was it? “A shit-eating communist pity fuck" today?”

Kaz grunts. "Sorry."

Ocelot shrugs. "I’ve been called worse."

"Ocelot..."

"Are you hungry? It’s baby food like always. You have the exciting choices between applesauce and cottage cheese today."

Kaz would murder for a burger. "I’m not hungry. Hey, listen. Where do you sleep?"

Ocelot tilts his head a fraction in that way Kaz has started to recognize as surprise somebody is concerned for him. He points at the office chair next to the bed.

Kaz sighs, and scoots a little to the side. His gut twinges, but it doesn’t hurt. "C’mere. Lie down for a minute."

"I’m fine. I don’t need to sleep."

"Everybody needs to sleep. Lie the fuck down."

Ocelot sighs, sitting on the side of the bed to kick off his boots. "I’m just going to lie here awake when I could be doing something productive, Miller."

"Then lie here awake. Fucking humor me."

Ocelot lies down next to him, arms loosely crossed over his stomach. There’s a slight tremor in his fingers, Kaz notices. He slides his good arm under Ocelot’s neck and rolls him to the side to rest on his shoulder.

"You aren’t as comfortable as you think you are, you know," grumbles Ocelot. “Especially after a week of marinating in your own sweat.”

"What do you even know about marinating. I bet you’ve never cooked in your life."

"What makes you so sure?"

"You look like you got fed since the day you were born. A lot of military guys never learn."

Ocelot chuckles. He’s stopped shaking. "Do I look that martial?"

"I don’t know what you look like," says Kaz quietly. Ocelot’s hair smells nice, he must have showered this morning. Up close you can really see how much of it is gray rather than platinum blonde. Shame, he’s not that much older than him, is he...? “You look like a cowboy stripper some days but then you put on your uniform and you look completely different. I’m still figuring you out.”

"Good luck with that. Better men have tried." Ocelot’s voice is slowing down, getting heavier. Kaz can feel his lashes flutter sleepily against his bare shoulder.

"I don’t even know your name." It’s never been a problem, per se. He called Snake Snake the whole time he knew him. And yet....

"Neither do I," he says quietly.

"What?"

A sleepy chuckle. "Just call me Ocelot. It’s easier."

"Hmm." He wonders if that was a joke, or...?

Ocelot gets heavier against him, eyes closed and breath regular.

"You should call me Kaz once in a while," says Kaz, but Ocelot is asleep and doesn’t respond.

Maybe next time.


The Soviet-Afghan war picking up wind while Kaz was still avoiding solid foods made for a good change of pace once he was better. It wasn’t hard, once he was back on his feet, to shove his foot in the door and start operations south of Kandahar, in a small village in the mountains that had been stripped down to bare walls by the Soviets.

The Mujahideen love Kaz. He’s tall and blonde and cutthroat, everything they idealize of their American allies, but also respects them and their culture in ways the US troopers don’t. He picks up basic Pashto, learns to schedule meetings and training around salah times, spends hours drinking sweet chai before even starting to talk business. And most importantly, he will sell them the weapons the US stole from Israel at crazy prices. Mostly because they’re not coming from the US stockpile, but straight from his special friend in the GRU, just a few hundred kilometers away.

In less than six months, Diamond Dogs is back in business stronger than ever, a hundred men strong, and Kaz is on first name basis with more than a few tribe leaders. Money is coming in steadily, and so are volunteers. The Diamond Dogs train the Mujhaideen, and those that want to join are welcomed with open arms, of course.

Ocelot, on his part, gets himself posted in Kabul. A great location to be in close contact with the Diamond Dogs to slip them a few crates of rifles and missiles, and tell them all the Soviets are planning. Or at least all he decides to share with Kaz. Let him feel powerful with his secrets, Kaz doesn’t care.

Whenever he’s over, it’s for training. He’s a really good instructor, even though the Mujahideen come out of his lessons hollow-eyed and whispering that silly new nickname of his. Between that and intel-swapping, they usually don’t have time for much else. Maybe a quick blowjob here and there. From the marks he sees on Ocelot sometimes, he assumes he must be busy with whoever he’s got waiting for him in his other travels. He always comes back slightly dazed from those.

Kaz suspects he’s seeing Snake.

But he’s learned his lesson about trying to trick it out of him. If it isn’t yet safe for Snake to come out in the open, Kaz will make it safe for him. And then Ocelot will have no choice but to bring him back to Kaz.

Until then, Kaz keeps working. Keeps building their force, making connections, making money. He rarely needs to be on the field, and he’s more than happy that way. The way Snake used to run MSF was not reasonable. A good leader must learn to delegate.

Of course, he can’t really do much when despite all the intel and the armed Diamond Dogs escorting him, their small convoy gets ambushed on their way to Kabul, just past the looming faceless figures of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. At least, at first Kaz figures it’s an ambush when he hears the first bullets whizzing past. His driver, Skull Beaver, is skilled on the rough terrain and has them safe behind jutting rocks before the wheels can burst. Kaz sees Rancid Buzzard take a bullet right in the head and go flying in a crimson spray across the dust road. Shit. He was such a good shot.

"Fall back!" he yells, unholstering his sidearm. “Don’t engage until we can see them!”

They can see them soon. Three jeeps, chock full of soviet special forces, coming down the crest across the road from them.

Kaz signals Rampant Rooster, who’s already clambered on top of their dead truck and set down his sniper rifle. Take out the commander. Passenger seat of the second jeep, as always. Rampant Rooster nods, looks into the sights....

"Rooster, what the fuck is the problem?" he hisses when the shot doesn’t come.

"Sir, do you really want me to take out the commander?"

"Of course I do, why shouldn’t I?"

"It’s Shalashaska, sir."

Well, fuck.

He hasn’t seen Ocelot in over a month. He didn’t even know he was back from his special leave. Their truck is not marked and this trip was planned only two days in advance. This isn’t an ambush - it’s just rotten damn luck.

Kaz has to think quickly.

A minute later, when the jeeps are so close they can smell the kerosene, Dagger Wolf comes out from behind their hideout, hands up and in his civilian clothes, yelling in broken Russian not to shoot.

The jeeps screech to a halt. Nobody shoots.

Through his binoculars, Kaz sees Ocelot gesture at his men. He can’t possibly not have recognized Wolf, who trained with him not even six months ago. Nothing shows on his face, but Kaz sees the way his hand slips down to his revolver. The men dismount, angrily questioning Wolf while he tries to explain that he’s just a simple farmer, going to see family.

It happens so fast Kaz almost misses it. Ocelot draws, and a blink later three of his own men are falling to the ground with a brand new head ventilation system.

"Now!" yells Kaz, and the men are already halfway out of hiding when the Soviet soldiers start shooting. Two more die before Kaz’s men start shooting, and then it’s over quickly.

When he comes out, he expects Ocelot to yell at him. He just had to kill a dozen of his men, after all, and it’s all Kaz’s fault for not telling him.

Ocelot just looks at him over his nose, and kicks a discarded rifle. "This was completely unnecessary."

"I wasn’t expecting you of all people to be here."

"Neither were we. Maybe if you planned your routes better and checked the maps I take a lot of time making for you..."

Kaz pinches his nose under his aviators. "Look, I’m sorry, alright? This deal came up fast and...."

"You guys take two of the jeeps," says Ocelot in Pashto to the men, completely ignoring Kaz. “I’ll take one and escort the Commander.”

The men salute and start transferring their stuff into the support jeeps.

"Come on. Get in. You’re driving, by the way," drawls Ocelot, lounging back into the passenger seat.

Kaz swallows.

He sure hopes he’s not going to get executed a day before getting his new base.


Kaz drives in tense silence for about half an hour. In the meantime Ocelot takes off his scarf, loosens his hair from their slicked back pomade prison.

"Stop there by the side of the road," he says finally.

They’re in the middle of nowhere, only dust and mountains all around, not a car in sight.

Kaz is certain now. He’s going to kill him. He considers his options. He could shoot him before...

"Give me your gun," say Ocelot.

Kaz swallows. He offers Ocelot his sidearm. "Look, I’m sorry. I really am."

"I honestly have no use for apologies," says Ocelot, and gets out of the car, walking around to Kaz’s side.

Kaz grips his knife under his shirt. He wonders if he can stick it in Ocelot’s eye before he gets a bullet in his brain.

"Please, I’ll make it worth your while. I promise."

Ocelot sighs, and cocks the gun.

"Please, Ocelot..."

Ocelot presses the barrel of the gun to his own wrist, and shoots.

Kaz screams.

"Aх, ебать," hisses Ocelot, blood cascading down into his glove and down into the dust.

"Are you completely insane? What the fuck did you do that for?" Kaz is out of the car, his jacket is off, he’s wrapping it around Ocelot’s wrist before he can even finish screaming.

"The only reason I’d let an entire squad of my men get slaughtered is if I was incapacitated and taken hostage," says Ocelot, his voice even and matter of fact despite the fact he’s just shot himself in the arm

He goes into the back of the jeep, tosses a first aid kit at Kaz before shrugging off his jacket. "Bandage me."

Kaz’s hands shake as he pours disinfectant on the burned, crisped edges of the entry and exit wounds. "We need to get you to a hospital..."

"The shot went clean through and didn’t hit any arteries or tendons. I’ll be fine."

"How do you know that."

Ocelot wiggles his finger with a hiss of pain. "I know where my tendons are, Miller. Don’t you?"

"No, they didn’t teach us where to shoot ourselves in Brown, what the fuck."

"It’s a good knowledge to have." He pinches two painkillers from the first aid box with his left hand. Swallows them dry as Kaz carefully wraps his wrist in sterile bandages. Then he bites off his glove, pours the blood out in the sand, and throws it in the back. 

"You are completely crazy."

Ocelot sits down into the passenger seat with a sigh, magically producing a clean red glove from the glove compartment. "Yeah, yeah. Now drive."

Kaz wipes blood off his hands, gets back in the car, and drives.

"Couldn’t you have faked it any other way?"

"Oh, possibly. It was just the easier way."

"How is getting shot the easier way?"

"Have you ever been stabbed, Miller?"

Yeah. More than once. By highschoolers when he was a scrappy haafu in Yokosuka. In the JSDF, more than once. Snake stabbed him a couple of times during training. "Yeah." It always hurts like a bastard, but it’s better than getting shot.

"Stabbing yourself is harder than pulling a trigger. Even the cleanest blade carries the risk of infection. Jagged edges, hematomas, it needs stitches...it’s messy. A bullet at point blank range that goes clean through is a lot cleaner and safer."

"Yeah, if you’re insane."

Ocelot drowsily closes his eyes. "Never claimed to be sane, have I Miller?"

He didn’t, but Kaz had no idea until now just how not sane he is.

"So, what am I escorting you to? Since you didn’t bother to keep me informed."

Kaz sighs. "I’m meeting a Saudi oil magnate. He’s looking to move some of his operations from Africa to Iran since they dried up. And I happen to be good friends with a few Mujahideen leaders that operate there as well and won’t mind him setting up shop on their turf."

"How nice of you. And what are you getting for this? Oil trafficking isn’t usually the Diamond Dogs’ fare."

"I get a dry oil rig in the Seychelles, if it all goes according to plan."

Ocelot crosses his legs. "I thought the last oil rig didn’t end well."

"Well, it will this time," he grunts. “It’s a good deal. I have no interest in the Iran clusterfuck, and as much as Afghanistan has been good to us, we’ve just seen it’s a bit too dangerous.”

"It wouldn’t have been if you looked at my maps," grumbles Ocelot. “But that’s alright. This lovely situation you’ve just put me into will definitely get me posted somewhere else. If not demoted.”

Kaz rolls his eyes. "I’m sure you’ve sucked enough GRU dick to get away with anything by this point."

"Excuse me, Miller, but I am an outstanding member of the worker’s republic and as well you know, there are no homosexuals in the USSR. Let alone in our glorious Red Army." Ocelot’s offended tone is so over the top even he is smiling through it.

Kaz laughs, despite himself. "Okay, you’ve covertly sucked enough GRU dick."

"Enough to probably retain my status, yes, but no more than that. It would be greedy and unsocialist."

Kaz had planned to stay at a smaller hotel with the rest of his escort, but the fact it’s just the two of them and Ocelot’s other unsocialist attitudes gave them the chance to stay in the same hotel as their future business partner, the downright swanky Serena hotel with its huge gardens and marble floors. Their suite is almost decadent, red macrame hanging over their large beds and lion feet on the immense porcelain tub.

"When is the meeting?" asks Ocelot as he bounces gingerly on the edge of one of the beds.

"Tomorrow in the afternoon. At the restaurant here, so you won’t need to go out and risk being seen."

"Alright," says Ocelot, and takes off his boots, unbuttons his shirt and strips down to scarf and sleeveless telnyashka. Kaz doesn’t really stare nor really hope he’s about to get laid, but maybe a little bit. “You should beat me up now, then.”

"I’m sorry?"

"Your bloodthirsty gang of desert-dwellers took me hostage, remember? It won’t look realistic if I don’t get roughed up at least a bit. Possibly a lot."

"We have a business meeting tomorrow. What are you going to do, come along with a black eye?"

"Sure. Tell him I’m your bodyguard and have fended off a KGB assassin tonight or whatever you like. It will make you look dangerous."

Kaz’s fist slowly clenches, but he doesn’t move.

"Come on," leers Ocelot. “It’s not the first time you punch me. And it’s the only time I won’t fight back.” He runs his bare foot up Kaz’s leg. “Don’t tell me you haven’t dreamed of it.”

"I’m not like you," grunts Kaz, but he’s not really feeling it.

"Aren’t you? Here I am, at your mercy.....you really don’t want to do anything about that?"

Kaz steps up. Ocelot doesn’t flinch, but his eyes close. Kaz doesn’t punch him. He runs the back of his fingers down Ocelot’s jaw. "Let’s make a deal."

Ocelot’s eyes flutter open.

His lashes are really long.

"I rough you up like you want me to. But you tell me something about Snake."

"An interesting bargaining chip, Miller. But I’m still not going to tell you where he is."

"And I won’t ask you that. Or anything that can put him in danger." He pushes his chin up. “I don’t care if we have to play toothless twenty questions. You will answer at least one of them.”

Ocelot stares into Kaz’s eyes, a slow smile stretching his lips. "Deal."

Kaz punches him right in his smug face. It’s a good, clean hit.

He stomps on his bare foot. He’s still wearing combat boots, and can straight up hear the toes shattering. Ocelot hisses another Russian curse, curling into himself.

Kaz knees him in the chest. It knocks the air out of him, makes him fold over. He grabs him by the belt, throws him on the ground. He kicks him in the side, the ribs, the back of the head.

At first he was holding back. Still worried this was one of Ocelot’s mind games, that he was going to get a revolver in his mouth. But Ocelot isn’t resisting. His fists are balled tight, sweat is blossoming on his tanktop and his arms are straining with the instinct of fighting back. He doesn’t, though.

And this feels good. He flips him over with his foot, stomps on his stomach. He straddles him, and starts punching him in the face. He breaks a tooth for sure, he can feel a shard of it embedded in his knuckle. With every punch Ocelot sprays more blood over the fancy Afghan rug, red on red. His nose is bleeding too, his eye already puffed up closed.

Ocelot’s hands grasp Kaz’s thighs, trembling, digging deep through his fatigues.

He’s smiling. "So you just don’t like getting knocked around," he chuckles through the blood bubbling up on his lips.

Kaz pauses, his fists throbbing. He hadn’t quite realized how into it he’d gotten. Ocelot can probably feel his hard-on against him.

Just like Kaz can feel Ocelot’s. "And it looks like you enjoy getting knocked around," he growls, and punches him again for good measure.

"What can I say," coughs Ocelot, spitting a tooth at him. “To be a true sadist you’ve gotta enjoy pain.”

Kaz grabs his scarf, and pulls. Ocelot’s words croak into a strangled moan. "You like this, huh?"

Ocelot only rasps, his hands pawing at Kaz’s thighs.

"Yeah, you do. How long have you wanted this?"

Quite a bit, if the hard cock pressed against his ass is any indication.

"Mr. Super Spy, gagging to get beaten up by an accountant. Sad, really." He lets go of the scarf a little, lets Ocelot suck in a desperate, gurgling breath, and then pulls it tight again. His throat is already starting to bruise, Ocelot’s eyes glassy and bloody foam dripping down his chin.

And he’s still hard as a rock.

"I guess I could fuck you," purrs Kaz, pulling him up by the scarf until his bloody lips are almost touching his own. “What’s more realistic after an hostage situation than a stretched asshole?”

Ocelot grips his thighs so hard his bandaged arm starts bleeding again, a weak hiss coming out of him.

"You want it, don’t you?"

Ocelot’s lips are starting to go purple.

Kaz loosens his grip a tiny bit. "Call my name."

"M-Mi-"

He tightens the scarf all the way. It won’t be long until either Ocelot passes out or the silk tears. "No."

"Kaz," exhales Ocelot, his eyes rolling back into his head.

Kaz releases the scarf, and Ocelot falls back limply, blood bubbling as he struggles to breathe and coughs on it. "Good."

He flips him over, struggles to rip his pants off, Ocelot wantonly lifting his hips to reach him. Kaz grinds his bloody face into the carpet, rubs his hard cock against his bare ass, kicks his legs apart. Spits on his hand and sticks two fingers up Ocelot without so much as a warning.

He loves it. Opens up for him, moans, spreads his legs. Whispers his name again into the blood smeared carpet, and it sounds so good from his mouth, in that raspy voice. It was worth waiting all these years to hear it.

He unzips one handed, shoves himself in. Ocelot resists, tightens up around his push. Crazy motherfucker really does want it to look realistic. Well, Kaz can play along. He buries himself with one thrust, rough, the friction almost burning him too before it starts getting slick with blood. Ocelot’s bare feet dig into the carpet for purchase, he moans and sighs and makes the cutest little pained noises as he squeezes him hard. Kaz is so hard and pulsing he’s going crazy, covering Ocelot with his weight, pinning him down to thrust faster, burying his face into his hair to bite his ear, kiss his bloody lips. Ocelot’s cock is hot and leaking in his hand when he reaches under him. He almost screams, slack and trembling, and Kaz knows he’s found the right angle to push against, fuck him until he’s whimpering and dripping and choking on his own blood.

He looks really good like this. He feels even better. Kaz feels his orgasm thunder through him before white mixes with red on the carpet. He pushes him down to just thrust recklessly into his quivering body, comes deep inside him.

He pulls out to lie on the floor next to him. Ocelot is still twitching, blood splattered messily all over his bruised face. "I think that will be enough for your superiors."

Ocelot chuckles, pushing himself up with a wince. He has rug burn all over his arms and thighs, and green-purple bruises already mottling his pale skin. "You did a good job, for a pencil pusher."

"You were begging for pencil pusher cock literally ten minutes ago."

"I never said a word, did I." His teeth are all red, and one is missing. When he gets to his feet to kick off his pants, come trickles down his thigh, one little droplet of blood along with it.

"You’re such a dick."

Ocelot just hums in agreement on his way to the bathroom. Kaz listens to the water run for a while, and when it’s clear he’s not going for a quick shower he gets up and joins him.

Ocelot is soaking in the tub, and the flush to his skin makes the darkening bruises look ever worse. The water is all pink. He looks tired. Kaz sits on the closed toilet, crossing his feet at the ankles. "Did I break anything?"

"Not to deliver an unbearable blow to your masculinity or anything, but you aren’t that strong." He gingerly touches his nose, that’s all purple. “You might have cracked my nose a little. Wouldn’t be the first time.”

He sinks under the water and reemerges with a pleased sigh, wet hair drooping almost down to his eyes.

"So," says Kaz. “You’re still not going to tell me where he is, right?”

"No." He pushes his hair back. He’s unwrapped his wounded arm and it looks terrible, all blackened and raw.

"Then can you tell me why he’s not...." he pauses, licks his lips. “It’s just, nothing, you know? In five years, not a message, not even relayed through you.”

Ocelot looks up from the water, his good eye wide. "Oh."

"What?"

"I guess I never told you, after all."

"Told me what."

"He’s not awake. He’s been in a coma since the accident."

Kaz feels as if the ground has been suddenly pulled right from under him, his stomach sinking like a stone. He thought many things, but not...this.

"I thought he was...alive."

"He is. His neural activity is still there. He just hasn’t woken up yet."

Kaz feels a prickle behind his eyelids. He closes his eyes, presses a hand to them. "How can you be sure he will?"

"I just know. I know him better than anybody."

Kaz sighs. "I’ve been doing all this work for him. What if he doesn’t..."

"He will. And when he does, he will need his army back, because the world won’t let him just be. He will need his base and his men around him. His XO, still in one piece."

Kaz smiles, but it’s tight and unsure. "Guess there’s not much we can do otherwise."

"There really isn’t."

Kaz gets up and makes to leave him alone. He needs a smoke, to clear his head a little. Maybe a drink. He stops on the door. "Can I ask you one more thing?"

"We agreed on one question, Miller."

Oh, so we’re back to Miller, now. "It’s not about him. Well. Kind of."

Ocelot raises a bruised eyebrow.

"What are you for him, really? If you’re his lover, why the hell are you helping me instead of slitting my throat in ‘75?"

Ocelot laughs, making bubbles in the pink water. "He’s not my lover."

"Sure."

"He’s my best friend. My only friend, for a long time. He’s like a brother to me."

Kaz does remember Snake calling his "friend" Ocelot kid a couple of times, the few times he mentioned him back in MSF.

"By his or your choice?"

"Does it matter?"

Kaz shakes his head. "I guess not."

"Don’t worry, Miller. When he comes back, it’s you he’ll come back to."

"If he comes back," mutters Kaz, closing the door behind him and making a beeline for the minibar.

Two tiny bottles of gin and a cigarette later, Ocelot finally comes out of the bathroom, naked and looking like a modern painting of bruises, his arm bandaged again. He doesn’t even say a word before lying down next to Kaz on his bed.

"There’s two beds," grunts Kaz.

"I am aware," says Ocelot, closing his eyes and resting his forehead against Kaz’s shoulder. He’s asleep in minutes.

Kaz absently runs his fingers through his hair as he smokes almost a whole pack through the night, thinking about Snake, and the completely crazy man sleeping at his side, the only contact he has with him.

Chapter Text

Ocelot is groggy and lethargic when Kaz wakes him the next morning, his face swollen and mostly black and blue. After whatever he does in the bathroom with the shower conspicuously running for over half an hour, he seems to be back to his usual annoying self, what little is visible of his eyes bright again.

Kaz doesn’t ask, and doesn’t want to know. All he needs is that he’s able to take a shot if things go south.

"I’m ambidextrous," says Ocelot as if it’s perfectly normal while Kaz helps him bandage his wounded arm. “Ever wonder why I have two revolvers?”

"I just assumed it was to look like an extra at a gay rodeo."

Turns out Ocelot’s suggestion to mention that his surly bodyguard has fended off a KGB agent dead-set on assassinating the Commander of the Diamond Dogs makes their business partner quite ready to sign off the ownership of his oil rig - and throw in a helicopter for the added value of being escorted into Iran by Kaz’s trusted Mujahideen when Kaz wonders innocently just how is he going to get his men on their new base.

It’s not the blackhawk they used in MSF, but it’ll do the job.

Kaz is already three charts deep into planning transfers, suppliers, repairs and about fifteen hundred different kinds of costs when he notices that Ocelot hasn’t quite moved from the bed since they came back to the room.

"Are you alright?"

Ocelot looks dazed. "Yes. I’m fine."

"You want to come back to base with me or...?"

"You should probably drop me on the way out of Kabul. I’ll think of some heroic feat of how I’ve walked my way back after murdering my captors. Or something."

His speech is just the smallest bit slurred, but Kaz has no idea if it’s just because his mouth is swollen and bruised or something else. He doesn’t look great. He hopes he didn’t give him a concussion, last night.

Ocelot changes back into his bloodstained uniform, wincing at every move he has to do, especially pulling long sleeves over his bandaged arm. He’s uncharacteristically quiet on the way back, and Kaz makes sure to drop him close enough to an outpost that he won’t have to walk too much.

"Call me whenever you need a ride to the new Mother Base," he says as Ocelot steps out. “I’m sure you won’t have too much trouble finding out how.”

Ocelot only gives him tired fingerguns before limping away. Kaz worries, for a little bit, but then there’s work to do. A lot of work. He assumes he won’t see Ocelot for a while.

That’s why he’s surprised to see him swing into his office only a week later, while he’s still busy transferring supplies and weapons with their limited travel capabilities.

"Need help?" His face is still sort of bruised, his arm in a sling hung from his neck.

"Did you finally get thrown out of the GRU?"

"Of course not, Miller." He gracefully sits on the desk, long legs propped on the armrest of Kaz’s chair. “In fact everybody thought my daring escape from a roving gang that shot, battered and raped me was quite heroic.”

"So why the hell are you here?"

"I’m on leave. For a while."

"For your daring escape?"

Ocelot looks away. "I might have gotten a slight bit of sepsis from the gunshot."

"You’re fucking kidding me."

"On the plus side, being in septic shock when they found me definitely helped the verisimilitude of the story."

"Oh my god," laughs Kaz, leaning against his sharp knees. “You’re such an idiot. I can’t believe you, are you even real. I know where my tendons are, Miller,” he says in a mocking drawl. “Don’t you?”

"Very funny. May I remind you that the whole thing happened because of your sloppiness?"

"Maybe, but you’re the one who shot himself in the arm and then rolled around the carpet getting punched."

"Do you want my help or not? I can always go spend my leave on a tropical beach."

"I feel you should avoid cabaña boys for a while." Kaz puts his hands under his chin, looking up at him over his aviators. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

"Lethal organ failure seems to have been avoided for the time being. As long as I take my antibiotics, I will be fine."

He absently tucks a lock of Kaz’s hair behind his ear, and that, more than anything, is what sways Kaz.

And besides, he needs all the help he can get.

The oil rig is a lot more run down than Kaz was hoping. It’s not much more than a pockmarked concrete platform on stilts in the middle of the ocean. Thankfully the R&D team he’s been assembling is strong and not scared of massive infrastructure failures and a few thousand rats.

He’s glad to send most of the combat units out as much as possible. Not only they need the money more than ever, but the less people to fall into the ocean because of a rusted railing, the better. They build temporary barracks on the platform while the quarters are being sanitized and checked for faults, of which there are many. It needs new plumbing, new doors, a helipad that actually allows their only helicopter to land. Wiring, railings, bedding. Food. A radio tower. Whenever he’s not on the phone or off-base dealing with suppliers and industrial engineers, Kaz is running around the base marking off things on his checklist, adding new things, helping sort the supplies, even rolling his sleeves up to help paint the walls.

It’s good. It feels good, wholesome, even if they’re discount warmongers in the middle of the ocean.

Even Ocelot helps, once he stops being feverish and vomiting off the side whenever he exerts himself. And he seems....happy? He jokes with the men. Dabs orange on Kaz’s nose while they’re painting. Slides in Kaz’s temporary quarters late at night, warm and languid with the sun of the tropics.

His technical skills are abysmal (seriously, has this guy even even held a screwdriver in his entire life?), but he’s a good coordinator, and he manages to have communications up and running in a week. It’s impressive enough Kaz takes a couple of hours out of his day to draft him a budget.

"Intel division?"

"You’ve already got your rookie spies and your comms people, don’t you? Might as well have an actual division for it."

Ocelot flips the papers in the folder. "I’m running it?"

Kaz shrugs, pulling off his sweaty shirt and lying down on his camp cot. "You can delegate when you’re not around. But the truth is that we’re much better off when you are around."

"Aw, I’m touched."

"Don’t get weird ideas." Kaz takes off his aviators, folding his arms behind his head. “But the men like you. And you are a spy. It would be stupid of us not to use your full potential.”

Ocelot puts down the budget on the milk crate desk Kaz has been working on for the past two weeks. "It’s cute you think you know my true potential."

Kaz smiles, stretching out a little, not missing the way Ocelot’s eyes are glued to his body. "It’s cute you continue to think I’m completely stupid."

"You haven’t exactly shown me otherwise this far."

"C’mere, asshole."

Ocelot kicks off his boots with a jangle of spurs and climbs onto the cot and onto Kaz’s lap. He smells like clean sweat and the collected rainwater they use to wash themselves while without plumbing. Kaz slides his hands under his paint-spattered t-shirt, tracing the Lichtenberg figure scars that crawl up the small of his back and wrap around his hip. Ocelot runs gloved fingers up Kaz’s bare chest, stopping to thumb the depression in his hip from his close encounter with that gear stick.

"So, how many Soviet charm agents can say they have an intel division at their fingertips?"

Ocelot tenses up only a tiny bit. "Not many. It’s not that much to write home about yet, though." He leans back, propping himself on Kaz’s legs. “Color me marginally impressed. Then again, I guess your latent whore powers gave you an advantage on figuring that one out.”

Kaz traces slow spirals up Ocelot’s folded legs. "Takes one to recognize one, after all."

Ocelot takes off his shirt, dropping it off to the side.

To be honest, with a body like this, not many could resist, Kaz included.

He jiggles his oversized belt buckle open, sides his belt out slowly, loop by loop. Ocelot’s flat stomach hitches softly, his eyes following his every move. "I thought you guys weren’t supposed to be attracted to your marks," croons Kaz, sliding his hands down to his ass.

"Marks, no. There are no rules concerning..." He leans forward, his pants sliding down his narrow hips, his lips on Kaz’s. “...recreational objectives.”

"Wow, that must be the most romantic thing I’ve ever been called."

Ocelot shimmies out of his pants, kneads Kaz’s hardening cock with the ball of his hand. Kaz sighs, arching into his touch.

"Is this what they teach you guys in the KGB?"

"I’m not KGB," says Ocelot sweetly, thumbing the tip of Kaz’s cock through his fatigues.

"Sure thing."

"They think I am, though." He undoes Kaz’s pants, pulls his cock out to grind against his own, the leather of his glove sticky and hot.

Kaz cups his own hand around Ocelot’s, the other teasing his crack. Ocelot’s breath hitches.

They haven’t fucked since Kabul - the last thing they need is more blood borne diseases a hundred kilometers from the closest hospital - but he can tell how badly Ocelot wants it, pushing against his fingers and leaking in his hand.

"How many different parties think you’re on their side?"

Ocelot licks his lips, his breath heavy and wet. "Irrelevant."

Kaz presses his knuckles to Ocelot’s perineum, squeezing their cocks together. "And what side are you on? Snake’s? Mine?"

"Mine," groans Ocelot, chest to heaving chest, the pointy tip of his tongue lapping the curve of Kaz’s lips. “And no one else’s.”

"I can work with that." Kaz kisses him, deep and sloppy, their joined hands bringing each other to orgasm almost at the same time.

They keep kissing for a while, lazy and tired, but eventually the cot is just too small for the both of them. Kaz can’t wait to have quarters again and an actual bed.

"Go get some sleep," he says, slapping Ocelot’s ass. “You have a unit to train tomorrow.”

Ocelot smiles at him as he leaves, still pulling on his pants.

He's almost cute when he smiles like that.


"I swear to god this shit always happens when you’re with me," grunts Kaz, wading through waist deep floodwater, trying not to look at the floating shapes in the darkness. This was supposed to be a simple mission, in and out and come back with two helicopters, and then everything started flooding, they got separated...“It’s like you’re my bad luck charm.”

"You always make it out alive, though. Maybe I’m your good luck charm."

"Oh my god, shut up."

"I can’t see anything," says Ocelot, and there's the slightest hint of genuine alarm in his voice.

"Just stay where you are. I’m coming over."

"I’m sinking."

Kaz pushes away what he’s certain is a corpse. The water is up to his chest. "Get out of there then."

"I’m...trying. It’s harder than it seems. It’s sucking me in."

"Drop your shoes."

"Uh?"

"You’re wearing boots with spurs, they’re probably caked with mud and pulling you down. Kick them off."

The sound of Ocelot struggling is almost entirely swallowed by the howling of the wind. The convulsive coughing makes Kaz startle. "Are you okay?"

"Swallowed some mud," he croaks.

"Great. Nothing like going into septic shock twice in a year. Are you out at least?"

"A little. I can hold up the flare now."

Kaz sees the flash of red through the curtain of rain and heads towards it. Debris grazes his arms as he paddles for a while, stabs his hands when he climbs up the mudslide to where Ocelot is, wet to the bone and clinging to a tree that hasn’t been swept off yet. He’s barefoot, and his pants have been claimed by the mud as well, his pale legs flickering red in the darkness. He seems unhurt.

"Come on, let’s try to find high ground." He pulls him out, noticing how hard he’s shaking, and the dark trail of blood down his temple. Not so unhurt, then.

He comes along though, clambering as best as he can over fallen trees and piles of debris. They find a concrete building that looks relatively spared just outside of the thick of the woods. Water and mud have flooded the entire first floor, but it’s not hard to swim up to a stairwell inside and get to dry ground. They drop onto the dusty floor in one of the large rooms upstairs, exhausted.

"Are you okay?"

Ocelot nods, looking nauseous. "I think i have a concussion. Nothing major."

"Yeah. Sure. Whatever." Kaz peels off his drenched clothes, looking for something, anything to cover up. There isn’t anything, but there are some empty crates, so he breaks them and starts a fire as Ocelot stares, entranced.

"How did you do that?"

"You make kindling and set it on fire with a spark. What, you’ve never started a field fire?"

Ocelot shakes his head. He’s still shivering even if the fire is crackling happily on the tiled floor.

"Take off your shirt, it’s keeping you cold."

They hang their clothes over the fire and huddle together by the flickering flames. Ocelot is uncharacteristically quiet and subdued.

"Don’t fall asleep on me," says Kaz. “You have a concussion.”

"Mm. I’m just. Tired," he slurs. He turns around, clambers clumsily on Kaz’s lap. “Warm me up...”

"You know that “cuddle naked to stave off hypothermia" is actually a myth, right?” He takes his hands off his shoulders, holds them to his mouth to blow on them. His fingers are so cold, they must be numb. “You need to warm up extremities first, so your body can go back to warming your insides.”

"Thank you, survival instructor," grunts Ocelot, shivering against him, nipples so hard they stab Kaz in the chest.

"Old habits die hard," he says, sucking gently on Ocelot’s weird scarred fingers. He never asked him how he got those scars. It’s not his business.

Ocelot tucks his cold, cold feet against Kaz’s back. Kaz rubs his thighs and his arms, until he’s not shivering anymore.

"Talk to me."

Ocelot makes a quiet sleepy noise.

"Ok, tell me: why the cowboy thing."

Ocelot rests his face in the curve of his shoulder. "Radio dramas were a good way to accustom me to American voices, speech patterns, customs. I liked the western ones best."

"Which one was your favorite?"

"Gunsmoke. It was very gruesome. Scalpings and murders and bad endings."

Kaz chuckles. "Of course. Did you want to be a cowboy or an outlaw?"

"Both. The outlaws seemed to have more fun, though. But both were so free, just their horse and their gun and the desert."

Kaz wraps his arms around Ocelot’s waist. "How old were you?"

Ocelot is silent for a while. "Young. I’m not sure," he finally says.

"Tell me your favorite story from Gunsmoke."

He’s not surprised, per se, that Ocelot can’t remember how old he was when he heard this but he can recite basically an entire episode by heart, with voices and background noises, even some music.

"Did they teach you that in spy school?" he asks when he’s done and the outlaws are riding into the sunset with the spoils of their heist.

Ocelot shakes his head. "Always been able to do that."

"I bet that has come in handy more than a few times."

"You could say that."

"Have you ever impersonated me?"

Ocelot chuckles, and then, with a voice and tone that sound so weird to hear outside of his own body, he says "I might, or I might not have. What’s in it for me?"

"Ok, never do that again, ever."

Ocelot rests his head back against his shoulder. He’s finally warming up. He starts with another episode of Gunsmoke. Eventually they lie in a pile of their dry clothes, and Kaz listens to cowboy adventures the whole night, until the rain lets up enough for them to leave.


Mother Base always feels a little empty when Ocelot isn’t around, and Kaz hates himself for it. On the other hand, it’s filling with volunteers and recruits, and he only gets to feel weirdly lonely when he crashes at night (or morning, or afternoon) and there isn’t somebody being extremely annoying and horny in his bed.

One of the new pilots is really cute, though, and that fills what little free time Kaz has between budgeting, training, and organizing deployments.

Ocelot doesn’t come over for a few months, but something else does in his place: old MSF people, five men and one woman, suddenly join Diamond Dogs. Kaz is almost in tears when they step off the helicopter, nostalgia hitting him in the stomach like a sucker punch. Cobra, Deer, Ibex, Hornet, Yak and Dolphin all salute before rushing to him, patting his back and shaking his hands.

Kaz thought they were all dead, or that they didn’t want anything to do with him. He knows now, after they tell him how they were contacted and given instructions, that Ocelot had been keeping tabs on them, waiting for when it was safe for them to join.

He takes it as a sign Diamond Dogs is finally up to his standards, and doesn’t that feel good, especially when having beers with people who remember before. People he might even have called friends, before the word became too dangerous to throw around.

He’s still so happy and grateful when Ocelot finally shows up midway through 1984, it takes him a couple of days to realize there’s something not quite right with him.

And by then, it's too late to do anything about it.


"Ocelot?"

There is an extra beat in his reaction, like there has been since he came over. "Yes?" he finally says, his eyes not really focusing on him.

Kaz almost asks if he's alright, but he knows what his answer would be.

And besides, he thinks he knows why he looks off.

"I got a call this morning."

"Oh?"

"Untraceable, like the calls you make when you're out. Somebody just said, "V has come to" and hung up."

Ocelot blinks.

If Kaz didn't know him, he would never notice the tense shift in his posture.

"I assume I wasn't supposed to get that call."

Ocelot shakes his head slowly, then reaches over and turns on the radio. It's a new thing they put up. The men were getting restless because of the lack of music, so they spent a few hours wiring up a small FM radio in the Intel Division offices. Biting Dove, one of Ocelot's favorite comms people, feeds it the tapes they scrounged up from the men according to his tastes - which right now means the droning synths of New Order's Blue Monday flood the room, almost deafening.

"He's awake, isn't he," he says, only loud enough for Ocelot to hear him.

Ocelot just nods, staring blankly at the papers on the desk.

"I remember those words. Zero told me I'd hear them. Back in '75. Before meeting you."

Ocelot swallows. "I need to go."

"Do you need support?"

"Absolutely not. The last thing we need is to attract more attention. It already won't be easy."

He looks genuinely upset. Kaz reaches for his hand, gives it a squeeze. "What if I run distraction?"

Ocelot's head snaps up. "No."

"There's more work in Afghanistan, I got asked by Aarash for arms and training."

"It's too dangerous."

"I should be the one saying that. I'll bring the best people with me, we'll be fine."

"Miller. Kaz. You can't play games with these people."

Kaz squeezes his hand again. "And you've been doing it alone for almost a decade. Let me help."

Ocelot's pale eyebrows knit together. "I don't agree with this."

"That's all right. Just bring him back. Don't worry about me."

"Just don't be a reckless asshole for once in your life," grunts Ocelot.

Kaz hears those last words they shared echo in his head as the mist rises around their overturned jeep, and his men start dying around him.

"Miller! Get the hell out of there! Kaz!" crackles his radio. Kaz takes off his aviators, folds them neatly, lays them on the ground before standing up in the suffocating gray fog.

Just bring him back, he thinks disjointedly as his breath is kicked out by something faster than human eyes can see, and everything goes black.

Chapter Text

Kaz breathes slowly, the air hot and musty under the heavy hood on his head. He was too overconfident. Ocelot warned him...

No, no. That's not right. Ocelot should have left by now, busy getting Snake out. Kaz is exactly where he needs to be. Distracting XOF and Cipher and whoever the fuck from them.

He wishes he hadn't brought his best people, now. They didn't deserve to get involved, didn't deserve to die so close to seeing Snake back.

Kaz swallows. His throat is so dry, and his eyes sting. What the hell was in that mist?

Heavy hands push him to sit up, rip the hood off his head. The sun hurts so bad. He hopes the intel team found his aviators when they came looking for him. So that Ocelot knows that he's alive.

"Where is he," grunts a tall man with features even sharper than Ocelot's, his Russian accent thick like a bad guy from a 007 movie. "Where is Big Boss."

"I don't know," grins Kaz. He's not lying, see? He really doesn't. He's still grinning when they kick him in the face. He tastes blood and sand under his teeth.

They can't get anything out of him because he doesn't know anything they might want. And they can't kill him because they know Snake will eventually come for him.

Kaz doesn't speak Russian, still, but he's been around Russians enough to recognize words like whore and faggot. He's not surprised when his hair is pulled to stretch his head back, when cocks shoved in his face.

He breathes through his nose and dutifully blows them all.

It's all right.

It's not the first time a bunch of soldiers have their fun with him. He's not sixteen anymore.

He spits rancid spunk in the inside of the hood when they're done, and hopes Ocelot and Snake will come soon.


He thrashed and kicked the first time they started pulling off his pants, and they choked him out. Kaz woke voiceless and leaking blood and come into the dusty floorboards. He doesn't struggle anymore. He doesn't spit anymore when they come in his mouth - that's how he gets most of his fluids, these days.

They don't seem to care that he's been pissing himself and vomiting acid and semen down his front. They just hose him down with jets of water strong enough to flay his skin and drop him back into his room, chained to floor and naked. They don't even have to undress him now to have their turn, just kick him to the floor.

It's been five days. Kaz has been keeping track of the sun, even through the hood. His light sensitivity is an advantage of sorts, even if the migraines and vertigo are nearly as bad as the gang rapes. At least those stop, every once in a while.

Today there's somebody new in the small hut they've been keeping him. The heavy tread on the floorboard does not sound like any of his captors. The voices are not speaking Russian, though Kaz can't make out what is being said.

"Surprise, шлюха," laughs the tall lanky dude who likes to kick him in the face the most. "You still don't talk, so we bring our friends. Hope you don't die!"

Kaz strains to look through the tears and his puffing up left eye. His heart stops seeing the three men standing over him. Tall and imposing, wearing pale body armor and black respirators, their skin deathly gray, their eyes glowing a sickly blue.

He's heard of them. Their Mujahideen contacts call them the Coprhay, the Skulls. They come in the mist like ghosts, and nobody survives the encounter. They are indestructible, inhuman, monsters.

And three of them are standing over him as he's chained, naked and trembling, to the floor. He can see the way those glowing eyes look at him. Monster or human, they all look at him the same way - like a spoiled child looks at a toy they plan to break.

Kaz screams as they rip him straight from the chains, their fingers clawed and sinking into the flesh of his arms and legs.

He screams himself hoarse as they take their sweet time torturing him, but nobody comes.

Even if Ocelot hasn't left him behind to be ripped to shreds, he might not survive till he deigns to rescue him.


Kaz isn't sure what time it is anymore. He passed out a few times only to wake up in more pain. It's dusk now, and his hood is off, but he's not sure what does it mean anymore.

He definitely has a fever. He's shivering even if it's hot, hallucinating voices, shadows in the room, the sound of spurs, the smell of cigar.

But nobody is coming for him.

"You better be alive, you bastard fuck," he croaks into the dust. But he doesn't believe it fully anymore.

He pushes himself to sit up, even if it hurts. He has deep gouges in his arm from the Skull's grip, and his injured ankle is throbbing under the shackle, warm and sore. Infection. Fuck. He's not going to survive much longer if they don't get him some medicine. There's bloody scratches all over him, and what looks like chemical burns on his stomach, his thighs, his face. Inside him.

Whatever the Skulls ejaculate, it's not human come.

He's so thirsty.

"Help?" he croaks. "Help, please?"

After a while of calling one of the normal captors comes in. Kaz recognizes him. He's heard his comrades call him Tolya. He's jacked but with a baby face, and he's usually a lot gentler than the others when handling him.

Kaz is still going to kill him when he gets out of there.

"What," he grunts.

Kaz points at his ankle and his arm. "Infection. I need medicine. Antibiotics."

Tolya snorts.

"I will die if this gets septic. You don't want me to die."

Tolya leaves without a word.

Kaz's brain feels like it's on fire.

The man Tolya brings back does not look like a doctor. He's holding a machete.

Oh no. Oh no no no no no.

"Please no," he whimpers. "пожалуйста, нет"

The man with the machete grins with so many missing and rotting teeth. He's seen that grin before. He never wanted to be on the receiving side of that grin.

He opens his mouth, ready to scream. He's gonna tell them to contact Major Ocelot of the GRU. He has to be back by now, he'll get him transferred, he'll save him...

His mouth snaps shut. He can't do that. If he does, both their covers are blown. And they'll kill him and Ocelot, and Snake if he's still with him.

He can't.

They're not going to kill him.

He braces for the swish of the machete, but nothing can prepare him for the pain that comes. He passes out foaming into the dust, looking at his foot separated from his leg, when they grab his arm and stretch it out.

He hopes they kill him.


They did not kill him, but Ocelot never came, either.

Snake came instead, three weeks after Kaz was captured. When they'd stopped even raping him, because he just had no energy to tighten up around them. When he'd lost all hope.

They escaped by boat, told him Snake. He needed to be back in shape to come rescue you, to show everybody Big Boss is back, said Ocelot, his pale eyes unfeeling.

I lost two limbs, screamed Kaz when he left, throwing his dinner tray at the wall.

But crying and throwing fits does not run a PMC, and now that Snake is back, Diamond Dogs needs Commander Miller more than ever. Even if it's too early for him to sit up and sign reports and budgets. Even if he shouldn't be out of bed. Even if he should rest, recuperate.

Kaz doesn't have the fucking time for R&R. XOF is breathing down their neck and the only way of saving what they have is strike first. He sends Snake out on so many missions he barely sees him. It's better for the both of them. Kaz can slowly ruin himself on no sleep and uppers and pilfered codeine, and Snake can do his job without worrying for him.

Mother Base grows so fast it feels like it bloomed overnight. Hundreds of recruits and volunteers, their faces and names a blur he struggles to remember. A hydroponic farm that needs expanding every three weeks. Animals spilling into the way until Kaz gives up and allows the conservation platform. A fucking dog that stares at them whining when they're fucking and runs between Kaz's feet when he's in a hurry and makes him fall.

He and Ocelot do nothing but fight and bicker, and it doesn't feel like their usual banter. It feels hollow, raw.

Kaz isn't sure when he'll be able to forgive Ocelot for leaving him behind. Or if he wants to.

And yet sometimes the Ocelot shaped emptiness at his side hurts as much as his missing arm.

At least he has Snake, right? Snake that holds him when Kaz screams at night, that massages his legs when Kaz's nerve pain is unbearable. Snake that accepts all missions. Snake that brings him rough diamonds and wilted desert flowers while covered in blood. Snake that rides his cock, slow and languid, and pretends to love it, pretends he doesn't mind that Kaz's body is broken.

Whether it's pity, or the chunk of fuselage melded to his brain, Kaz doesn't care. He's all he's got right now aside from his pain, and victories that taste like dust and blood.

And then, Snake brings that monster back to their home.


Kaz is drunk. All of his secret stash of cheap gin is burning in his belly. He's hot, even without the coat and his jacket. He's drunk, angry, and kinda horny when he overrides the lock of Ocelot's quarters and walks in.

"Put that fucking thing away," he slurs, nodding at the gun Ocelot is already gripping. He waits until it's back on the nightstand before knocking it to the floor with his crutch.

Then, he climbs onto Ocelot on the bed, straddles him clumsily, presses his ungloved hand to his throat.

"Miller, what are you doing."

"Taking what's mine," he grunts. "Didn't you tell Snake you'd deal with me? That you'd pacify me?"

"I did not mean this."

"Well too bad. Better to ask for forgiveness than for permission, isn't that what you said?"

Ocelot tenses under him. Good.

He moves slowly, carefully, covering Kaz's hand with his, searching for his eyes in the darkness. "Kaz," he says slowly. "Please calm down."

Kaz punches him. He may be crippled, but he can still throw a punch. "Don't you fucking dare," he snarls. "You're not doing to me what you do to Snake."

Ocelot goes quiet.

"You think I'm stupid? That I don't see the way you talk to him? You're using your fucking tricks on him because he's easier to influence. You're hypnotizing him."

"There is no record of hypnosis being a viable method of..."

"When are you going to stop bullshitting me!" yells Kaz, spitting all over his face. "You left me to get mutilated, you string Snake around like a puppet, you undermine my motherfucking authority in front of the whole base, you let that thing on base...what more do you want? Why didn't you leave me to die if you wanted it all?"

Ocelot touches his hand again. It's still around his throat, but Kaz is running out of energy to squeeze.

A disgusting fat sob shakes his ribcage. "Why didn't you just let me die," he slurs, snot and tears choking him up. "I'm useless, I'm crippled, why couldn't you just leave me to die?"

"I don't want you to die," says Ocelot, and it doesn't sound like he's trying to control him. "I had no idea they were going to mutilate you."

"You have control over everything, and you didn't have control over the butchers that raped me for three weeks?"

"I wish I had the level of control you think I have. If I did, Snake would have never gone on that mission in the first place. You would still have all your limbs. Even I make mistakes, Kaz."

Kaz lets go of his throat, a braying bitter laughter escaping through the sobs. "Is that an apology?"

"If that's what you need, yes."

"I don't know what I need," sniffs Kaz, his throat full of phlegm. "I'm just so fucking tired. It feels like everything is slipping from my fingers."

Ocelot's arms slowly loop around his shoulders, pulling him down. He's warm. He smells good. He hates him so much, but he missed him. So fucking much.

"Are you trying to comfort me?"

"Is it working?"

Kaz snorts up and swallows a mouthful of mucus. "Kinda."

"Do you remember when you got hurt on the Jordan?" asks Ocelot, his hands warm in Kaz's scalp.

"Do I."

"When we were back at your place you asked me if I'd slept. And I hadn't. And you made me sleep with you."

"I remember."

"Would that help you?"

Kaz tiredly drops to the side, back to the wall and his only arm draped over Ocelot's chest. "Yeah, actually."

Ocelot shuffles them around until Kaz's chin is resting on his shoulder, his arm under his neck and his hand still buried in his hair.

"Get some sleep, Commander."

"I'm still mad at you," grunts Kaz, but he's so warm, and the bed is comfortable. And he's so, so tired.

"Wouldn't have it any other way," says Ocelot with a hint of a smile in his voice.

Kaz listens to his breath, so familiar even after all that happened, until he drifts off for the first full night of sleep he's had in a long while.


And so it goes. Kaz can't forgive Ocelot, not quite, but at least he doesn't miss him anymore.

Ocelot helps him with his physiotherapy when Snake is away. Teaches him a few ambidextrous tricks. Lets him sleep with him when it's been three days since Snake left and Kaz is seeing double from lack of sleep. Kaz comes around to room 101 sometimes, especially when Huey is in the chair. He feels no pity for that greasy piece of shit, and by the way Ocelot enthusiastically sucks him off afterwards, pitiless is a good look on him.

Oh, of course they're fucking again. Kaz hates to admit it but seeing Ocelot look at him like he's still the hottest piece of ass he's ever had, feeling him shiver and moan under him makes him feel a little whole again. Like he's a little less of a useless cripple.

He hasn't told Snake.

But then again, Snake hasn't told him anything either, and Kaz has tasted pussy on his tongue more than once after a mission.

He guesses the "it's women, or us" times are long behind them. It's not a problem. Kaz never was one for monogamy.

He still doesn't trust that bitch, though. He can see her sometimes, when nobody else can. Immaterial and hanging onto railings like a swarm of flies to a corpse, slithering in the vents, listening to things she shouldn't. When he mentioned it to Ocelot, he told him to let her be. She can't report back, anyway. He was more interested in the fact Kaz can see her and her parasite trail. Kaz has no explanation and he doesn't want to get his eyes checked to find out if Skull spunk gave him superpowers. 

They have a much bigger problem soon. Skull-faced motherfucker isn't happy with a giant robot, no, he has to eat them from the inside out, killing their men by the dozen in the safety of their beds.

It takes long before Snake can bring the old man in, and they lose so many. So many bodies burning against the night sky they don't have time for funerals anymore.

Ocelot works around the clock with the medical team to get the rest stabilized...or at least tell them they've done a good job as they choke on their own blood.

Kaz is compiling piles of paperwork on Ocelot's bed when he finally stumbles back, well past 4am. Quarter rearranging, families to send personal effects and money to. Medical resupplying. Safe remain disposal. His eyes hurt. He's been crying, a bit.

"You look like shit," he says.

"I look like I feel then," mutters Ocelot, sitting on the bed to kick off his boots. His hands are shaking really hard, his eyes bloodshot.

Kaz reaches for him, tilting his chin towards him. "Christ, how much coke are you on?"

"Haven't slept in...uh...three days," he says tiredly, squeezing his eyes shut. "You do the math."

Kaz puts a pillow against the wall and lets Ocelot lie against it. "Let me get you some water. And some benzos."

"Thanks," he breathes.

He finally stops twitching when the pills kick in, his pinpoint pupils expanding slowly like that of a cat's that's seen a fly.

"Is everything done?"

"All wrapped up," he sighs, absently kneading Kaz's thigh. "Cobra somehow made it, but they had to remove his vocal cords entirely."

"Better mute than dead," shrugs Kaz. "What about...?"

Ocelot shakes his head. "Mastiff died a few hours ago. His lungs were already torn to pieces."

"Shit, what a way to go. And he was only nineteen."

"Damn promising kid, too. Shame."

Kaz rests his forehead in the crook of Ocelot's neck. He smells like disinfectant and blood and coke sweats. "I hope it's over."

Ocelot runs his fingers in Kaz's hair. "It should. Did you get inoculated, by the way? Just to be safe."

Kaz frowns. "I tried. Code Talker says I don't need it."

Ocelot's fingers trace the deep bags under Kaz's eyes as a silent question.

"Yeah, apparently." He turns his head to kiss the inside of Ocelot's wrist. "Something something exposure, something something antibodies."

"Well that's good." He chuckles. "If Quiet does end up trying to kill us, you'll be there to give her hell."

"Don't even joke about that."

"Mm." He pushes Kaz's head a little bit. "Since your throat is healthy, how about a blowjob?"

Kaz laughs despite himself. "That was the worst segue."

"I'm tired, sue me."

Kaz helps Ocelot wriggle out of his sweat soaked pants and blows him without finesse, slobbering down his shaft, three fingers buried in Ocelot's ass. His come tastes sour when he finishes in his mouth. Kaz makes a mental note to make him eat a lot of fruit.

Well, once he wakes up. He's out like a light almost instantly after coming, his fingers still petting Kaz's hair as he starts snoring.

Kaz clumsily pushes him around so they both fit on the bed, and gets some well deserved rest as well.


Kaz finds himself drawn to the R&D platform almost every day now that Sahelanthropus is on it. Stands against the railing, staring at the monster they allowed into their home.

Snake said it was supposed to be a mark. A sign they existed, they accomplished something good for humanity.

Kaz is still waiting to feel any sense of accomplishment. All he can see in the archaea-stained mechanisms of the beast are the faces of all who died when MSF went down in flames. Hidden Wallaby crushed under the Villa. The men that burned in Cambodia. Rancid Buzzard with his head split open. Dolphin's green eyes gone glassy as her top half rolled off her bottom half in the mist. Mastiff coughing blood in the mess hall.

Himself and Snake, emptying a shotgun into a dying man.

This is what you wanted, Commander, they all seem to say.

Kaz isn't so sure it is, anymore. If it ever was.

Snake is still deciding on the nukes. Kaz wants to scream at him not to do it, to stop them for repeating their same mistakes. But the last time he made the decision for him, it didn't end well.

Kaz startles as a shadow enters his peripheral vision, or what's left of it. When he glances over he realizes why he didn't hear the soldier coming. Silent Basilisk isn't the only mute Diamond Dog these days after the outbreak, but he certainly was the first. He salutes silently before walking past. Kaz nods and turns away from the lumbering monstrosity. He should get back to the command platform.

He's hobbling towards the area where the jeeps are parked when he's slammed at full force into the wall. His crutch is knocked to the floor, his face crushed to the metal surface, a body impossibly heavy pinning him so tight he can't breathe.

"Hello, Kaz," growls the man behind him, Silent Basilisk who isn't so silent after all, a hand like a bear trap around Kaz's throat. "Miss me?"

All the pieces of a puzzle Kaz didn't know he was supposed to solve suddenly fit together, because he knows this voice. This smell. This weight.

"Snake," he croaks.

"Kept you waiting, huh?" he hisses in his ear, and Kaz's insides go cold as ice. He tries to kick back, to stomp on Snake's foot, but he just laughs. "Still feisty as ever. Good."

Kaz tries to scream, but the hand around his throat is unforgiving, and only a strangled croak can make it out of him.

"Shhh," rumbles Snake. "Is that how you treat an old friend?"

Kaz goes limp. Submissive. A neat little trick his three weeks as a hostage taught him. The grip on his throat loosens enough for his breath to pass through. He can slip his hand a little lower, feel for the iDroid in his pocket, digging painfully into his hipbone.

And send a distress signal.

"Why are you here?" he asks quietly, pressing on the call button as hard as he can.

"Just checking in on the kids, you know how it is." His breath is warm on Kaz's ear and Kaz feels like vomiting. The stench of cigar is unbearable. "Now that you and the medic have taken care of things, I figured it was safe to say hi."

The medic.

Oh, of course. That's who he is.

Kaz's blood thunders in his ears, panic making him loose, boneless. He barely hears the screech of tires behind them.

"Stand down, soldier," shouts Ocelot, and Kaz has never been happier to hear his voice.

Snake lets him go, and Kaz crumples to the ground, shaking and panting.

"Now, Adam," laughs Snake, turning around with his hands up. "Put the gun away. Wouldn't want anybody to get hurt, right?"

Kaz glances over his skewed aviators to see Ocelot's weapon lower a fraction, his stance weird, as if he's about to be sick.

Which happens a few moments later when Snake says some numbers and Ocelot drops the gun, goes white, stumbles back against the jeep.

Snake cradles him in his arms, crooning softly as Ocelot shakes harder than that time he came down from a heroin high in the middle of the desert.

"What the fuck is going on," snarls Kaz, pushing himself back up.

Ocelot looks at him over Snake's shoulder, his blown eyes so weirdly sad. "I will explain. Let's get back to the command platform."


But he doesn't get to explain. As soon as the quick, incredibly tense drive to the command platform is over, Snake all but drags Ocelot away, too fast for Kaz to catch up. By the time he does, they're barricaded in his fucking office. Kaz could easily override the lock, but instead he stomps to the signals room next door, switches the radio on and tunes in to the frequency of the bugs in his office.

Snake might assume his office has been bugged by Ocelot. He would not suspect that Kaz knows the frequency.

He runs this damn ship, after all.

"Come on, Adam. Don't be like that."

"I cannot believe you'd do something like that. I should have shot you for that stunt."

"But you didn't." Kaz can imagine the smile in Snake's voice and it makes him nauseous.

"Of all the stupid reckless ideas you've had, this is definitely the worst. How long have you been on base? And with that disguise?"

"Relax. I'm always "out on deployment." As for the disguise, well..." there's a sickening ripping sound. "Fox hooked me up with a technician friend of his. He makes fake noses and ears for him. It wasn't hard to make some prostheses and a glass eye."

Ocelot snorts.

"I just wanted to check in. See if everything was going smoothly."

"The whole reason for the body double is that you would be in a different place. You can't mess with my plans like this." He sighs. "And undoing my hypnosis in front of Miller! Are you mad?"

The sound of a lighter clicking. "Drug him up and make him forget. You're the mind control expert."

Hypnosis. Of course. That piece of shit. He even said that hypnosis was not a viable method.

Kaz is going to kill him. Kill them both.

"I'm sure it's not the first time you make Kaz forget some shit you did. Can't be that hard. It's not like he can run away."

Kaz punches the table so hard the mug of cold coffee on it topples over, dripping onto his lap as his fist stings.

"You absolutely need to be off base before Venom comes back. I am not dealing with a full blown dissociative episode in front of the whole base."

"Fine, fine. I thought you'd be happy to see me."

There's a moment of tense silence before Ocelot sighs. "Of course I'm happy to see you, John. But you did something very dangerous."

"Isn't that why you like me?"

"That's neither here nor there. Put your disguise back on. I'm going to arrange you a helicopter."

Kaz drops the headset onto the desk, still trembling with anger. He doesn't need to listen to more of this. He doesn't want to hear his voice anymore.

It was too good to be true. And he fell for it like a lovesick idiot. He needed to fall for it, because he had nothing left.

And now he's left with nothing all over again.

Less than what he started with. They didn't even leave him his body.

He rests his head on the table, dizzy with exertion and rage, and cries impotently for a while.

He doesn't know how long it takes before Ocelot comes looking for him, but when he does Kaz is holding his sidearm under his coat.

Just in case.

"Ah. Miller."

"Come to erase my memories, huh?"

Ocelot lets the door swoosh closed behind him. "Not unless I have to."

"You'll have to take me alive for that."

Ocelot leans against the closed door.

"So, you were the Cipher spy after all."

"Of course. You've known from the very beginning, Kaz."

"Do not. It's Miller for you."

Ocelot sighs.

"You know, when we started working together, I didn't trust you as far as I could throw you," says Kaz, leaning back in his chair, the sidearm dangling loosely between his legs. "I kept waiting for you to turn on me. And I kept waiting. And waiting." He laughs humorlessly. "I should have known you'd stab me in the back after I started trusting you."

"Trusting me is historically a bad idea."

Kaz smiles, and it hurts. "Not many other options, you know? You got me crippled and trapped in my own base, chained to your mind-controlled puppet's dick."

Ocelot hesitates, and then, "It was not my choice to keep you in the dark."

"Sure. You still did, though," he snarls. "He doesn't know, does he?"

Ocelot shakes his head.

Kaz tosses the gun on the table. "Great! Wonderful! I've been raping and exploiting a mentally handicapped man for six months! Lovely!"

"He is not disabled. His memories have been tampered with, it's true, but his personality hasn't changed much. Don't tell me you didn't notice."

Kaz throws the mug at Ocelot's face. It shatters on his forehead, a trickle of blood running down his nose.

"You're going to tell me what the fuck is this all about, right here, right now, and no mind games."

"And if I don't?"

Kaz reaches for the terminal, taps a few keys. The light above the door goes red. "I have time. I can wait." He smiles. "But can you? When's the last time you took your last dose? I hear cold turkey is a bitch."

Ocelot smiles, and it's the first time in a long time Kaz has seen him smile for real. He had not even noticed.

He walks up to the console, slides his hand behind it, and turns it off entirely. So that's where the bugs are in this room. "I always thought both John and Zero had gravely underestimated you. Good to see I'm right."

Kaz snorts.

Ocelot flicks on the small coffee machine they keep in the signals room. "We're going to be here a while," he says with a shrug at Kaz's scowl. He sits in his own chair, facing Kaz, his hands visible on his knees.

"After the end of World War II," he begins as the water starts boiling.

They are going to be there for a while, indeed.


They talked for hours. Coffee ran out, and they switched to gin.

Eventually the stuffiness of the signals room was too much, and both needed a smoke. There's a couple of plastic chairs, grayed by the weather, on one of the small platforms only officers can access. Ocelot loaded Kaz's kiseru for him, lit one of those thin cigarettes that smell awful.

The sun is setting, and the air is crisp. Kaz is still struggling to grasp everything he now knows.

"So what are you going to do with me now?" Smoke lifts slowly out of his lips. "Throw me over the side and let me drown?"

Ocelot chuckles. "Attractive idea, I must say. Would solve a lot of my problems."

"You could have left me to die in Afghanistan and solved all of them."

"True." Ocelot takes a long hit from his cigarette, and lets it out slowly. "But then you'd be dead. And I don't want you to be dead. It was the whole point of crippling you."

"Thanks," he says, dripping sarcasm. "I appreciate the sentiment but maybe next time let me in on it before they saw off my arm."

Ocelot hums quietly, eyes lost over the pink glow sinking under the horizon.

"What the hell were you planning to do with me originally?"

Ocelot glaces at him. He motions at the kiseru, that Kaz taps out and hands over to be refilled and relit. "I'm going to ask you something I never asked anybody."

Kaz takes an interested hit of smoke. "And that is?"

"Will you help me?"

Kaz chokes on smoke.

Ocelot waits for him to stop coughing.

"Are you serious?"

"Your involvement in the plan would work immensely better if you are on board with it." His brows knit together. "And maybe if I'm not alone, I won't get outplayed this time."

"I think you may be overestimating me."

"Perhaps. As you said, we don't have many options." He smiles, and it's so bitter and sad. "We're both trapped, in a way."

Kaz smokes in silence for a while. There is one thing that still hurts among the rage and the exhaustion.

"I have one request." Ocelot glances at him. "Wake him up."

Ocelot shakes his head. "There is nothing to wake. What you see is what he is. He's not going to remember his old life."

Kaz swallows acid. "God. You're a monster."

"You've always known I was."

"I had no idea just how much." He sighs. "Alright, then at least make him aware. He deserves to know who he is. What he is. He deserves a choice. You didn't give him one. I'm going to give it to him."

Ocelot lights another cigarette. "Alright. I will do it."

"Good. Now tell me the plan."


Ocelot takes Kaz to his quarters, leftovers from the mess hall under his arm since they both skipped dinner.

As Kaz stuffs his face with lukewarm pasta, Ocelot fishes out a tape. From The Man Who Sold The World, it says, in a scrawly handwriting Kaz would recognize between a million.

"That's not mine," confirms Ocelot. "I'm to give it to the Boss...to Venom, when the time is ready. So that he can become Big Boss, at least in his head."

"Christ."

"There are no copies. It's yours, now."

Kaz looks up from the tape.

"If you want to give it to Venom, if you want to destroy it, if you want to use it - it's your choice now."

Kaz puts down his plate, picks up the tape. If he had two hands, it would already be snapped in half, but he hesitates now. It's not Kaz's choice to make. It's his. "Thank you," he breathes.

"Do you want to listen to it? It won't influence you in any way."

Kaz nods.

Ocelot slips it into his tape player, and Snake's voice comes through loud and clear, his speech the most ridiculous bullshit Kaz has heard yet today.

Kaz can’t smash the player, so he smashes the bedside lamp with his crutch, hitting the table over and over until it’s all dented.

Ocelot says nothing and does not move a muscle, knowing very well he’s a wrong breath away from being hit in the face with it.

“God, what a pretentious piece of shit,” snarls Kaz, finally flopping back on the bed.

“You know him as well as I do. He truly believes this.”

Kaz groans, arm over his eyes. "Of course he does. A paradise for soldiers who can't do anything but fight and are too damaged for society. Endless war because it's all he knows. Outer fucking heaven." He peeks out from under his arm. "Do you believe this shit, too?"

Ocelot dutifully rewinds the tape, ejects it and slips it back in its case. "Never been one for dreams and utopias. There isn't much I believe in."

Kaz wants to ask what he does believe in, but now is not the time. Ocelot looks exhausted, worse than strung out. "Are you going to be alright?"

"I haven't been out of hypnosis for this long in months. I just need to adjust to it."

"I still can't believe you hypnotized yourself. I can sort of understand that you wouldn't trust me with the plan when you couldn't even trust yourself."

"And you have a big mouth and a terrible temper. Not the greatest assets for a spy."

"I guess I'll learn eventually."

Ocelot squeezes his good knee, the first physical contact he's made since the...incident earlier today. Kaz lets him. "You keep being yourself. That will be enough."

"If you say so. Snake...the boss...Venom," he finally settles for. It'll take a while to get used to this. "He comes back tomorrow, right?"

"Yeah."

"Are you going to..."

"Yeah."

"Should I be here?"

Ocelot tucks a strand of hair behind his ear, a little nervous gesture he usually avoids. "I'd prefer it. If you're here, he might not kill me."

"He has every right to kill you, as far as I'm concerned."

"Fair enough. But if you're here, he might let us explain the plan before he does."

"Right." He sighs. "God, I'm tired. Can I sleep over?"

"I thought you hated me now."

"I feel like I should," he grunts, lifting his bad leg at Ocelot, who reaches under his pant leg and undoes his prosthetic mechanically. "But there isn't much I could do to you that's worse than what you've done to yourself. We're almost even now, in a way."

Ocelot kicks off his boots, and Kaz runs his fingers down his back. His shirt is soaked in sweat, clammy and cold.

"And if we're going to work together to bring down Cipher once and for all, there's no point in holding a grudge."

"What happened to your thirst for revenge?" He shrugs off his shirt, then helps Kaz unbutton his, fingers trembling.

"Our common friend is currently hogging it all."

Ocelot snorts.

"Take something for those shakes," says Kaz absently.

"Right."

Kaz has shuffled out of his pants and is already drowsily curling up into the blanket when Ocelot pads back from the bathroom and sits on the edge of the bed. Kaz feels his bare fingers brush his hair.

"Hmm?"

"Thank you," says Ocelot quietly.

Kaz can't remember if Ocelot has ever thanked him. If he did, it never sounded like this.

"Get some sleep."

Tomorrow will be a long day.

Chapter Text

Snake - the Boss, Venom - comes by in the morning, and hesitates politely at the threshold of Ocelot’s quarters until he’s invited in.

“I have something you should listen to,” says Ocelot.

It’s terrifying to see him talk to Venom like that. It’s obvious how many vocal and gesture triggers he’s put in him. Venom’s gaze goes glassy, his movements slowed down, following Ocelot to the bathroom. Does not question what is going on for a second.

“It will be all right, boss. Miller and I will be right outside when you’re done.”

“Right.”

He locks the door, and sits back on the bed. “And now we wait.”

For a while there’s no sound coming from the bathroom, then they both jump at the loud explosion of glass.

“That’d be my mirror,” sighs Ocelot.

More crashes follow, the shower stall, the sink, porcelain and glass raining onto the tiles. When it’s over, Ocelot stands and unlocks the door. It slams open, hitting him in the face. He staggers, and before Kaz can even grip his crutch to stand, Venom’s metal hand is clasped hard around Ocelot's throat.

“Boss!”

Ocelot’s outstretched hand stops him, even as his eyes are rolling back into his head.

“You did this,” growls Venom.

Ocelot does not reply. Not that he could. He’s as red as his scarf, and yet he puts up no resistance.

Finally, Venom’s shoulders drop, and his metal fingers snap open. Ocelot crumples to the floor, coughing around a rasping breath.

Venom turns to face Kaz, and Kaz swallows.

“Did you know?”

Kaz shakes his head. “I...I’ve been suspecting lately. I knew the truth just yesterday.” He takes off his sunglasses, letting Venom look him in the eyes, see he’s not lying. “I’m sorry. I thought...”

Venom steps closer and Kaz recoils instinctively. But his flesh hand is soft and warm against his cheek. “I understand.”

He sits down onto the bed. Ocelot is still on the floor - conscious but very, very cautious.

Venom stares at his hands, his brows knitted together. "Do you remember? Who I was?"

Kaz swallows. "Kind of. It's been...a long time." He tired to remember his face for hours as he laid awake in Ocelot's bed, but nothing came up. Nor a name. All of MSF personnel records are buried at the bottom of the Caribbean sea, besides. "I remember you that night. I remember you in the infirmary. You were a good doctor."

"I guess that explains a lot."

Kaz reaches for Venom's flesh hand. "In retrospect I should have realized sooner. I'm...I'm sorry. I didn't..."

Venom shakes his head. "We were both tricked."

“Will you still lead us?”

“Even if I’m not the Snake you thought I was?”

Because you’re not him.”

Venom hesitates, and then smiles gently. "Alright."

"V," he says, and somehow it feels natural, to call him this way. "I know it's...a lot to take in right now. But we have a plan. Will you listen to us?"

V glances at Ocelot, and Kaz nods.

"Can we really trust him?"

"I think we can, despite all odds."

V gets up, and offers his red hand to Ocelot. Ocelot looks at it for a long moment before grasping it and being hauled back to his feet.

"Talk," says V, large and imposing but still calm.

Ocelot takes a deep breath, and starts explaining.


It's Kaz that notices first. V's eye his getting unfocused, his reactions slow.

"We should stop," he says, reaching mechanically for his face before realizing he might not have that privilege anymore. "How are you feeling?"

"Tired," admits V. "But I'm not going back under."

"I was not even going to suggest it," says Ocelot. "At this point it would do more harm than help."

"Then how do we help?"

Ocelot crosses his legs. He looks tired, too. "Same way you handle me when I'm dissociating, really."

V raises an eyebrow. "And how do you handle him when he dissociates, huh?"

Kaz snaps his mouth shut, heat crawling up his neck. Right. He hasn't told him about him and Ocelot yet.

Ocelot has no such qualms. "Thorazine and blowjobs, mostly."

V's smile is slow, languid. "That sounds nice, actually."

Kaz opens the drawer in the nightstand like he owns the place. Benzos, smack, stimulants, why does Ocelot even have LSD in here, antipsychotics. "I agree on the Thorazine but maybe we should wait on the sex. I mean, it's only been a couple hours..."

"Not attracted to me when I'm consenting?"

Kaz damn near throws the bottle in his face. Ocelot just whistles low.

"Sorry. Bad joke."

Kaz pops the bottle and takes two pills. Hands one to V, slips the other in Ocelot's waiting open mouth. "It's all right. You have a point."

A big warm hand lazily palms his thigh. Well then. His attraction to him doesn't seem to be all hypnosis after all.

Ocelot makes to get up. "Well, I should leave you two to it."

He does not get to move. V's bionic is closed around his wrist. Not pulling, but not letting go either.

Kaz watches as Ocelot's stance shifts, his shoulders drop, his eyes darken. "I see."

"On your knees," says V quietly.

"Of course." He folds smoothly to the floor, hands fanned out on V's parted thighs.

V turns his head to kiss Kaz, and it's one of those kisses that makes him melt; slow, warm, V's tongue sliding wetly against his.

That other asshole never kissed him like this.

He unzips V's fatigues, reaches inside while Ocelot breathes slowly against his wrist. He's not hard yet, but thickening in his calloused hand.

He guides him to Ocelot's mouth.

"You two work well together," rumbles V, mechanical fingers tugging Ocelot's hair as he slowly laps the first bead of precum off the tip of his cock, smears it wetly down his shaft. "I should have known, with all the bickering."

"Ten years is a long time," says Kaz awkwardly.

"Yeah...yeah, it is."

Ocelot slides V's hard cock past his lips.

"Even if I managed to track down who I really was, everybody I knew will have moved on by now," says V quietly, and presses down on the back of Ocelot's head, pushing his cock up his throat until Ocelot's nose is pressed in his wiry pubes, a quiet wet rattle the only sound coming from him. He pulls him off slowly by the hair, and Ocelot coughs a little.

Kaz can't move, frozen by the intensity of V's calm anger. Can only sit and watch as he impales Ocelot's throat on his cock again, holding him down. Ocelot wheezes loudly, drool dripping onto the floor.

"Not that you ever cared. I was just a body you could use. Did you ever even see my real face?"

Ocelot makes a gurgling sound as he's pulled off again.

"Doesn't matter, anyway." He drops Ocelot's hair, leaving him to pant and drool down his chin. "Take off your clothes."

"V..."

"I'm not going to hurt him," he says as Ocelot stands and begins stripping. "I could. Perhaps I should. He deserves it, for sure."

He does. He took a good man and destroyed him to protect somebody that burns everything he touches. Left him to get cut to pieces to make his plan work. Played with their minds, their bodies, their hearts.

And V deserves his revenge, like Kaz deserves his.

And yet...

"Never been much for revenge. Was that part of your programming?" He runs his flesh fingertips down Ocelot's flat stomach. "Was I that way before?"

"Does it matter?" says Ocelot quietly.

"I guess it does not." He puts both hands on Ocelot's narrow hips. "I've wanted you since the ship. But I am not like you. I am going to ask you, if you want this."

Kaz can tell he does. 

"Of..."

"Not him. Not the fake Ocelot." He gives his hips a shake, searching for his eyes. "You."

Ocelot's eyes are dark. "Yes," he breathes, sounding like the man Kaz used to know more than he has in ages.

V bodily pulls him onto the bed, mouth on his neck, heavy hands on his body. The drugs are kicking in, making them slower, more focused.

It's incredibly hot. Kaz is reaching out before he knows it, running his hand down Ocelot's slender back, squeezing his ass.

"Kaz," says V on Ocelot's jaw. "Prepare him for me?"

Kaz swallows.

He could get used to this V. He's met him a few times, but never at this level.

He snatches the bottle of lube off Ocelot's nightstand, drips it down the small of his back, bites his shoulder as he sticks two finger in him. Ocelot is just shivering, his breath shallow, sucking him in hungrily.

"All yours," he says when he's got him wet and slick, kissing V's lips over Ocelot's shoulder.

V flips Ocelot around, and Kaz gets to look into his blown feverish eyes as he's lowered slowly onto V's cock.

"Looks like you're not the only one who's been wanting this," he chuckles, tilting Ocelot's head back to lick the soft fuzz under his chin.

"Good," rumbles V, fucking his cock with Ocelot as if he weights nothing. "I'm not punishing you, Ocelot."

"I'm...not feeling very punished, Boss," he breathes.

"I just think if we're going to do this, we need to be closer, you know?"

Ocelot arches in V's lap, bottom lip between his teeth.

"Just the three of us. As it should have been from the start. Don't you agree?"

Ocelot looks into Kaz's eyes. "Yeah."

V pushes Ocelot on all fours, getting on his knees and pushing inside him again. Ocelot grasps at Kaz's sweatpants, pulls out his cock, stuffs it in his mouth like he'll suffocate if he doesn't.

"Well," laughs Kaz. "I think this is the start of a very successful partnership."

He slides down Ocelot's throat, gasping when he feels V's hand squeeze him from the outside. Ocelot chokes, his eyes rolling back, but he doesn't stop or pull back. Just takes all they have to give, dripping spit and precum in Kaz's lowered pants.

"I can feel you in his throat, growls V, giving his throat another healthy squeeze, the space Kaz is shallowly thrusting into getting tighter and tighter. "Is he always like this?"

"Even nastier, sometimes."

"God." V finally lets go of Ocelot's throat, grabs Kaz by the shirt, pulls him up enough to catch his mouth with his own. They finish like this, kissing over Ocelot's twisted up body, filling him to the brim.

Both V and Ocelot fall asleep not long after, drowsy with anti-psychotics and even better chemicals. Ocelot's bed is more than a little tight for three large men, but Kaz is so tired, and V's hand cupping the back of his neck is making his eyes heavy.

He slips into sleep too, sandwiched between the only two people he can trust, and it's a good sleep.


Peace doesn't last. Peace never lasts. Sometimes Kaz wonder if his mother chose his name ironically.

When the communications from the quarantine platform go silent, Kaz feels his stomach drop.

And V is away. With Quiet. If she'd been around, she would have been ideal to melt into the vents and take a peek but...

He calls V back.

"What is he going to do?"

"Do you have any better ideas?"

"No, but sending the most disposable of us three in there is more something I'd do."

Kaz clenches his fist. "I'm not going to send him in."

"Aren't you? Because he's going to go in there. You know that."

Kaz does know that. Yet he tries to resist anyway, even when V insists. But there are only three people on base who didn't need inoculation thanks to their parasite exposure. And V is the only one who isn't a cripple.

And he is the most disposable of them. Who are they going to send, Another handful of S-rank soldiers? Quiet, who could very well get even more infected by whatever is in there?  Or the mascot-stroke-symbol of their organization, who will be hailed as a hero if he dies?

Kaz hates it when Ocelot is right.

He knows before V has ever made it to the roof that nobody is coming out alive. He's crying, fat uncontrolled tears rolling down his face, by the third Diamond Dog getting his head blown out by the man he trusted the most.

Ocelot is quiet, and doesn't comment when Kaz grips his arm hard enough to draw blood with his nails. He continues crossing out the members of the rescue team off the list as the gunshots come in through the comms.

"Just let him get out," he whimpers in Ocelot's shoulder, "just him, please."

He has already enough blood on his hands, he's allowed to be selfish.

V comes out.

Covered in the blood and brain matter of their best people, of their doctors, of their nurses. Of Blind Nightingale who'd nursed Kaz back to health after Afghanistan, of Twilight Armadillo that Ocelot had suggested promoting to S-rank for his sharpshooting just the week before. People who saluted and accepted their boss' bullet in their head, people who hummed their song.

Their family.

They stand to the side as they hose V down, burn his clothes right on the platform. Ocelot keeps a steadying hand on the small of Kaz's back, because he hasn't stopped shaking since they left the command platform.

When they finally clear V to join them he all but falls on them, and it's only because of Ocelot's reflexes they don't end in a wet puddle on the tarmac.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," whispers Kaz in his damp, loose hair while they sit in the jeep on their way back.

"We had no choice," says V quietly. "We had no choice."

The second they are back to their shared quarters Kaz is pinned to the bed and he welcomes V's shuddering weight, Ocelot's scarred fingers slipping two pills under his tongue. Anything to stop thinking for ten minutes. Even just a minute in which he isn't listing off the names of those they lost, over and over, like a dirge.

When he wakes, V draped over him and clinging to him with his flesh hand, Ocelot is at the desk, bare legs crossed tight under him, scribbling away with one hand and typing with the other.

"What're you doing?"

"Rearranging units. You and the boss might be too emotional to do so right away."

Kaz shakes his head. "Thank you."

"Just doing my job when you can't, Miller. Isn't that why you pay me?"

"I don't pay you."

"Good. Wouldn't want to corrupt my esteemed communist morals."

"Come to bed, asshole."

Ocelot keeps scribbling and typing, bathed in the bluish light of Kaz's terminal, and eventually Kaz falls asleep again.


The next night, when V kisses them, three small diamonds Kaz does not deserve tight in his fist, his lips taste like ash.


V isn't the same after the outbreak. He's out of commission after leaving Eli behind, and it just gets worse after they exile Huey. Kaz tries to tell himself it was just the trauma, that one seizure, his programming and his real self pulling him apart as he tries to stick to their charade. That he'll feel better when his brain settles, but it's not so easy.

After Quiet leaves, V is in a fugue almost constantly, and it seems nothing they do can stop it.

He finds him often staring into the mirror in the small hours of the night. Touching his horn. Pressing viciously into the small divot of caved in skull.

"You're going to hurt yourself," he says finally.

"I failed them, Kaz."

"Who?"

"Eli. Quiet. The men on the Quarantine Platform."

"V." He pulls his hand away from his forehead. "You did all you could."

"I didn't. I was overconfident." He leans into Kaz's touch. There's blood in the inside of his nostrils. "I should have been better than him. It's what I was made for."

"You were made to be approximately him Not to be better."

"Then it's what I should be doing."

"V." He wishes he had two hands, to cup his face, force him to look at him. "You need to rest. You've been out too much. We overworked you..."

"No." He sounds harried. Scared. "I need...you need Big Boss. Diamond Dogs needs Big Boss."

"You're over fifty, V. You have a piece of metal in your brain. You can..."

"Would Big Boss settle for a desk job?"

"He wouldn't. But you're supposed to be better than him, remember?" He sighs. "Please. You need to rest."

"Just a little bit longer," he breathes.

Kaz has to swallow the thorns of his jealousy to push his voice through, and it hurts like hell. "I know you've been looking for her."

"I'm sorry." His voice is barely a whisper, his eye closed.

"Go back to Afghanistan. Tomorrow. Take some extra supplies."

V's eye opens slowly.

"Your only mission is to get her back, alright? And after that, you will take a break."

"Ocelot says we don't know..."

"Do you think she's still alive?"

"...yeah. Yeah, I do."

"Then go get her back."

V squeezes his hand. "Thank you."

"Now get some sleep," says Kaz, kissing his cheek.

He doesn't join him. Ocelot finds him on their balcony off the command platform, absently smoking cigarette after cigarette.

"Conscience pangs?"

He looks up at him, acid in his throat. "How do you handle it?"

"Don't have one. The people that raised me didn't consider it an asset I needed to have."

"I envy you sometimes," he sighs. "We're doing horrible things."

Ocelot snatches the cigarette out of his lips, sits down in his own chair and plants his boots in Kaz's lap. "War profiteering. Child labor exploitation. Kidnapping. Drug and arm trafficking. I hear those things are considered horrible, too."

"Oh fuck off."

"Am I wrong?"

Kaz sighs. "You're not. I just don't like admitting it."

"Being on the winning team is not too different from what I've learned from you about business. All that matters is the endgame."

"Does it really?"

Ocelot stares out, to where the looming profile of Sahelanthropus used to be. "We'll find out when that time comes, I suppose."

They spend the night in Ocelot's mostly empty quarters. They don't come to send V off, but when he calls a few hours later, they are both at their station, like they should be.

Playing along is all they can do, right now.


Of course V was right. Quiet was alive, although when they bring her in she seems to have...disaggregated a little.

Troubles of parasites, Kaz guesses.

He's the first to visit her in the medbay, before V has even woken up. She's stained the sheet she's lying on with black and sand, and the edges of her body look slightly fuzzy, but she can still glare at him.

"Do you know morse code?"

Quiet very slowly taps out fuck you on the bars of her bed.

"Good. Because you know, so does Pequod."

She glares again.

"You could also have spoken Navajo. I hear Code Talker knows you're fluent." He grins, pointing at his own throat. "Might have saved you the combat knife tracheotomy."

She flips him the bird, and he laughs.

"Well, now that you're not a ticking timebomb anymore, I have a proposition for you." He grimaces. "And believe me I'd rather ask anybody else, including the dog."

She raises an eyebrow.

"Thing is, he needs you. You've seen it yourself. And a time will come when I...when we can't help him anymore." He looks down. He can't stand to look into her eyes. "It's probably already come, to be honest."

When he looks up she taps her wrist.

"Oh, fuck off. Fine. Lieutenant Commander Quiet, how does that sound?"

Oh, now that wipes the smug off her face. She points at herself, mouth hanging open stupidly.

"Yeah, you. You're one hell of a field agent and you know how he works - how this army works - better than anybody. He's going to need that as he transitions to being more of a staff officer. And you've got the whole..." he waves his hand. "You know. Regenerating monstrosity thing. So you can protect him if things go south. Besides, we have more than a few recruits that have been infected, and it would make them feel welcome."

She nods.

"You in?"

She gives a slow thumb up.

"Good." He drags himself to his feet. "Now get back in shape, because it's time you stop pretending you can't write and start filling your own damn paperwork. Also, you're learning a minimum of three sign languages."

She groans silently, and Kaz finally smiles as he stomps out.

So that's a loose end tied up.


The breakneck growth of Diamond Dogs grinds down to a steady linear crawl. Their primary objective slowly shifts from mercenary to nuclear disarmament - Venom's, no, Big Boss' orders. Making real changes. Righting at least some wrongs. Balancing out a fraction of the blood they've shed. 

V himself is a lot less in the field than he used to. He seems content to train recruits, to spend entire afternoons in the conservation platform helping the renovations to turn it into a more productive farm.

That's where Kaz finds him this evening after a painstaking afternoon of getting fitted for a new prosthetic leg, sitting in the grass among the goats, sharing a joint with Ocelot that's lying with his head pillowed on his thigh.

He has to admit it does smell better than the wormwood. He laboriously lets himself down next to him, accepts the joint with a nod.

"Any news?"

"Hippo has been working with R&D for some kind of...bladed prosthetic foot? It looks weird."

"Blade as in, a weapon?" asks Ocelot, tilting his head back to look at him.

"No...I don't think? More like-" He gestures with his hand, "a flat spring. It'd allow me to run, apparently."

"That'd be cool," smiles V. "You could come jogging with me."

"I don't jog," grunts Kaz. "It's a waste of time."

"You should get it sharpened anyway," mumbles Ocelot. "It would be a good advantage...a hidden blade..."

"I am not getting a knife foot, Ocelot."

"Spoilsport."

The light is getting low, so Kaz takes off his aviators. Lets his eyes acclimate to the dusk with his head resting on V's shoulder.

"You don't have to hide just because I'm here, you know," he says with a snort.

A few seconds later, Quiet materializes in front of them, legs crossed and sheepish expression on her face.

Kaz passes her the joint. An olive branch, of sorts; she's been Lieutenant Commander for two months now and doing well, outstanding even, despite her temper. But she still gives Kaz a wide berth when he's around. He can't really blame her.

She takes it and Kaz watches with a twinge of wonder as her body absorbs the smoke straight from her fingers, lets it out from her pores like a fog.

"How is the farm construction going?" he asks V.

"Good. The support team is working on getting the goats to breed. We'll be self-sufficient in milk and cheese in weeks."

Kaz waves his hand at the four goats peacefully chewing around them. "And these?"

"Two are too young," says V, pointing at a black and a spotted one. "One is still recovering from the fulton." He points at one that is lying down, one of its legs bandaged. "And Marshmallow is already pregnant." He points at a white one that does look, in fact, rather fat.

"Marshmallow."

Quiet giggles silently.

"She's very soft," says V without a hint of shame.

Kaz finds himself laughing. Marshmallow. Sure. How has he ever been fooled into thinking this man was Snake?

Perhaps he wasn't really, he thinks, resting his hand on V's thigh. And that's why he ended up caring for him so much.

V links his fingers with Kaz's.

"This is nice," says Kaz, and he means it. "Just us senior staff, getting high between the goats."

"We should do this more often," says V, nuzzling the top of his head like an overgrown cat. "It's good for bonding. Morale."

Oh yeah, weed makes V extremely touch-hungry. And horny.

"Bonding, huh," manages to say Kaz before V kisses him, sticky sweet with marijuana.

Kaz knows what he's doing. V can be crafty, but subtle he is not.

Quiet isn't subtle at all either, what with her hand rubbing up his knee.

"So how long have you two been planning this?" he chuckles on V's lips.

"A while," rats them out Ocelot, looking up with a devious smile.

"You don't have to stick around if you're not into..." V glances at Quiet's bare breasts. They haven't really managed to make her wear a bra since she came back. Nobody really minds anymore. Funny how that works. "You know."

"Oh please," snorts Kaz. "He can make do. This one time in Taiwan..."

"We don't talk about Taiwan, Kaz."

"Anyway I have it on good authority he's one hell of a pussy eater."

Quiet raises an eyebrow.

"I'm still better, though."

"In your dreams, maybe," grumbles Ocelot.

"You really have to tell me more about those nine years I was asleep, one day."

Ocelot rolls onto his stomach to crawl up in V's lap, shotgunning the last of the joint into his mouth. "It might take a few weeks," he chuckles.

"We got time," rumbles V before kissing him.

Kaz looks at Quiet. "Well, are you in or what?"

For once Kaz is almost happy for his "parasite exposure" because he has an extra fraction of a second to brace himself when he sees her phase straight through her bikini bottoms and onto his face, toppling him into the grass.

"God, you're such a freak," he snorts, almost entirely muffled into her thick pubes.

She tastes sweet and tangy, like weed and grass and dirt, almost like the chrysanthemum greens he used to eat as a kid. She isn't acidic like the Skulls, though her parasites fizz on his tongue like pop rocks as he buries his face between her lips, sucks on her clit until she's making a breathy clicking sound with her tongue.

Guess that's how she moans, smiles Kaz, slipping his thumb inside her.

V is suddenly leaning inside of his very limited vision, kissing her as she rides his chin, squeezing her breasts with both hands, making her shiver.

Oh, she does love being queen bitch of officer mountain, alright. But so does Kaz, and the second he feels Ocelot's hands on his legs he's got him trapped with his knees.

But Ocelot seems to be busy. He's rolled another joint, and Kaz sees him blow smoke directly inside Quiet's side, through her ribs, into her neck, in the nipple he's sucking gently. Her juices become stickier, smoky.

He's getting high through her pussy. They're all getting high through her.

Kaz feels the slow mellow feeling take over and he slows down, sucking and nipping, nudging at her g-spot. Ocelot is finally done using her as a giant bong with tits and slides back between Kaz's legs, starts slobbering all over his cock like he should have ten minutes ago. V has one of her nipples pinched hard between his bionic fingers and Kaz has the time to wonder if that doesn't hurt before she shudders with a strangled howl and squirts all over his face, down his chin, into his throat. He damn near drowns in it.

Looks like eating pussy is like riding a bike - you never really lose the skill for it.

As night falls, they melt into a stoned, naked pile between the unimpressed goats, and soon they have no idea where one body starts and another begins. And with Quiet, there's really no telling sometimes.

V was right, as he often is on these matters. It is great for bonding and morale. So good, in fact, that they end up having their senior officer special meeting on the conservation platform every week. Catch up on what everybody's been up to, trade gossip, get high, pet a goat, have a staff orgy. You know. The usual.

It seems things settled down, at last. Diamond Dogs runs smoothly and the money influx is steady, V is mostly present and happy, the men love their crass, shirtless new lieutenant, and Kaz's prototype blade leg is so amazing he actually lets V convince him to go jogging. He ends up breathless and dripping with sweat, but it's so liberating to be free of the crutch he finally agrees to get fitted for a new arm. He celebrates having all four limbs again by pinning Ocelot to the wall of the signal room and fucking him without ever dropping him. He missed it, and by the way he came undone, so did Ocelot.

It almost feels as if he can start relaxing, let out the breath he's been holding since 1972.

And then the call inviting him to join Foxhound comes, and Kaz remembers their play pretend peace was never supposed to last.

Chapter Text

His first reaction is to smash the phone against the wall, so he does.

Ocelot freezes, waiting to see if he's gonna get something thrown at his head too.

"I think I can imagine who was on the line."

Kaz's bionic fist clenches, but he doesn't give in to the rage.

"So that's a no, then."

"Has he ever cared about what no means?" he snarls.

"Not really, no." He places the papers he was holding on the desk. "But we knew this was going to happen."

Kaz forces himself to breathe steadily. The last time he and Snake were together...he doesn't like remembering it. He doesn't want to think about giving him daily chances to slam him against a wall like he still owns him.

Ocelot's hand on the back of his head is surprisingly gentle. "We can still change the plan if you aren't ready."

It means the world. The plan doesn't change for anybody, and yet...he knows he'd come up with something.

"No. No changes. You're right. We knew this was going to happen. Let him savor the reward for sitting balls deep in a camel carcass while somebody else did all the work."

Ocelot chuckles. "Honestly, he's going to hate having a desk job so much it might be worth it. What position did they offer you?"

"Instructor, survival." He smiles grimly. "God forbid I run anything or forget what my place is."

Ocelot slides to sit on the desk, framing Kaz with his legs. "To be fair, the intel we gave them was geared towards this." He runs slender fingers down the brushed metal curves of his arm. "And you are an expert at surviving."

Kaz runs his hands up Ocelot's thighs. He's right. They didn't even have to alter his stats - the jump from E rank to A+ was real. Surprising how crawling on two limbs for a year makes you stronger in ways one doesn't expect.

"Who's gonna keep an eye on you when I'm not around?"

"I'm sure V and Quiet will be enough."

"Hmm. You three are just going to get high and fuck all day, I just know it." He pulls Ocelot to sit on his lap. "And you're not going to miss me at all?"

"Absolutely not. I will be very busy, Miller. It will be nice to go back to my actual job instead of being your babysitter all the time, not to mention-"

Kaz pulls him down by the scarf to kiss him. "I'll miss you too, old fuck."

"As long as we have an understanding," murmurs Ocelot on his lips, arms looping around his neck.

This next part of the plan will not be easy. But Kaz lost it all and came back to the top so many times, it feels almost trivial now that he has Ocelot's hand in his, pulling him up.

 


 

Leaving V behind is not as easy.

They both know it's the last few days they get to spend together, and they attempt to make the most of it. It's not enough, though.

They spend the last night alone together in Kaz's empty quarters. Kaz clings to him almost as desperately as he did when he'd just come back from Afghanistan. They make love like horny teenagers until everything is aching and they're so soaked in each other's sweat they have become slippery. They talk, and laugh, and cry a little, too.

"Thank you," says V as dawn is starting to filter through the blinds.

"For what?" Kaz is getting drowsy, but he doesn't want to let him go.

"For everything. You were there to lead me when I had no idea what I was doing. You chose my freedom over your comfort. You stayed by me through everything."

Kaz brings his hand to his lips, kissing his rough knuckles.

"I died that day on that helicopter, but you gave me a second life."

"Oh my god V," hisses Kaz. "That was so corny."

V laughs on Kaz's lips. "Isn't that why you love me?"

"Yeah. Yeah, it is."

"Don't forget me," he breathes, his eye intense.

"No amount of hypnosis could make me forget you." He kisses his blind eye softy. "Please, be careful."

"I'll do my best."

V's hand lingers in Kaz's until the helicopter lifts off, and its warmth lingers in his palm until he's a speck on the far away platform.

And then Kaz closes the bulk door and retreats in Ocelot's awkward embrace, and leaves Diamond Dogs forever.

 


 

"Here we are, Benedict...your new apartment."

Kaz flops onto the simple couch, kicking off his shoe with his blade. "I still can't believe you used that name."

"There are existing records of us booking hotels and flights with that name. Miller is not a very striking name - Kazuhira, on the other hand, is basically a death sentence."

Kaz grimaces. "Guess I'll be going by Ben from now on. Kinda lame."

"I did what I could," says Ocelot disinterestedly, buzzing around the two room apartment. It's not huge but it's spacious, way more spacious than Kaz is used to with their Mother Base quarters. Not much furniture, but all of Kaz's books are piled up on the brand new desk. He doesn't have to check the bathroom to know Ocelot made sure it has bars and seats and enough anti-slip material for an army.

"Hm-mm. It's fine."

Ocelot pokes his head out of the kitchen. "Did I forget something?"

"No, it's fine. I'm just..." It's kinda embarrassing to admit. "I haven't been among civilians since Afghanistan. They really stare, don't they."

Ocelot ambles over with a soft chime of spurs on carpet. "You are quite striking."

"I know. It's just...I'll get used to it."

"If you'd rather live on FOXHOUND grounds I can get it arranged, even if you’re a civilian contractor. I assumed that you'd be more comfortable off base."

Kaz grips his shirt to pull him to the couch with him. Burying his face in the crook of his neck makes the low-key panic attack he's had since landing in Cairo for a commercial flight to DC dissipate. In this alien, too big room, Ocelot's spicy smell is still the same. "You're right. I don't want to live on base. I...should try to have a life outside of work."

Ocelot snorts. "Like you know what that's like."

Kaz pinches his side with his metal fingers. "And you do? Fuck off."

"I don't need a life, I've got enough to do as it is." He shifts to straddle Kaz's legs. "Anyway, you still haven't checked out the bedroom."

"Horny bastard," grumbles Kaz, gripping Ocelot's ass as he pushes himself off the couch to make sure he doesn't fall. "Which one is it?"

Ocelot points at one of the two doors, and Kaz carries him into the room.

It's nothing special. Big bed, though. Ocelot bounces pleasantly when he's thrown on it.

"Very nice," he whispers, climbing up between his legs. "You better not have spent too much for this mattress."

"You will never, ever know how much I spent. In fact, I've forgotten." His boots fall off the edge with a dissonant jangle.

"God, I can't believe I'm leaving my company to you." He slowly undoes Ocelot's rumpled white shirt, slides his metal fingers inside and laughs when he shivers. "Cold?"

"A little. It is January."

"I almost forgot cold seasons existed," he says on his lips. "It's gonna be interesting."

Ocelot shimmies out of his pants before flipping Kaz onto his back easily. "Wish it was snowing. I miss the snow."

"Maybe when you get some leave I'll take you to a nice sky resort."

"Mmm," hums Ocelot, grinding slowly on Kaz's hardening cock. "It's a date. I'll teach you to ski."

They both know it's never going to happen, but what's one more lie on top of the billion lies they're living?

The bedside table is well stocked, several kinds of lube and even condoms, which they haven't used in forever. Right. Get yourself a girlfriend or two. He gets the hint.

Ocelot rides him slowly and languorously, his open shirt tickling Kaz's chest when he leans in to twine his fingers with Kaz's flesh ones.

Kaz wants to say something, but no words come out. He just kisses Ocelot until they're both breathless, over and over.

"Can you stay the night?" he mumbles as Ocelot rolls down the sleeve of his leg to pop it off.

"I have a red eye back to Africa in a few hours," he says, dropping Kaz's leg over the edge of the bed and crawling under the blanket with him. "But I can stay a little."

Kaz wishes he could stay awake but he's so tired, it's been such a long day, and Ocelot is so warm, and he's asleep before he knows it.

Ocelot is gone by the time he wakes up, even if it's still dark outside. He didn't leave a message or anything of his, but Kaz's kiseru is loaded and sitting next to his aviators on the nightstand. Kaz can't fall asleep again, and lies in a too large bed, smoking alone, until morning.

 


 

 

Turns out he can leave Diamond Dogs, but he can't quite leave for good, because Big Boss' precious Outer Heaven was designed by an idiot.

Just as Kaz is busy adjusting to being alone, and going through the agonizing early meetings of the newly founded FOXHOUND, and trying to make friends with people who worship Big Boss without punching them, Ocelot blows their private email server with schematics that make no sense and increasingly harried messages about nothing working, lead in the pipes, lack of food.

Kaz finally has an evening off to go through the three proxies to Ocelot's private line.

"Help," croaks Ocelot in his ear, and Kaz laughs.

"Serves you right. If you'd paid any attention to what I was doing in the eighties instead of just trying to suck my dick, you wouldn't be in this situation."

"I'm a communist, I'm not supposed to know how to do this."

Kaz sighs, spreading out the printouts he made of the fortress plans and the budget, already covered in red marks. "Alright. I'm going to help you but just because I don't want all of our men to die of dysentery."

"I'm going to blow you for an hour next time we meet."

"First off: why the fuck are you drinking bottled water? You're basically built on an underground saline lake. Get R&D on a desalinization plant ASAP and start drilling. You can sell the salt you're not using in the mess hall, it will make a killing. I imagine Quiet is pretty grumpy about the lack of real water."

"Super pissed."

"Get her to blow off steam by ordering around the support staff to dig a proper fucking sewage system, holy shit it must smell terrible in there."

"That's one way of putting it."

"I'll send you the modifications I made. I assume the fax machine you put in here is set up to go through the proxies?"

"Yes, it's safe."

"Ok, let me just..."

They're quiet as the machine noisily eats Kaz's heavily annotated printouts.

"How are you doing over there?"

"Aw, worried for me, Ocelot?"

"I am not. Just curious."

He sits onto the desktop, resisting the temptation to twist the phone cord around his finger like a teenager. "Still weird to be among civilians. I'm considering getting a less...obvious prosthetic. They stare a lot."

"And FOXHOUND?"

"I already gave you my reports, did you miss them?" Ocelot snorts. "Fine, fine. I'm doing okay. It's pretty Gucci. Really swanky equipment. Been making friends with a few people. Campbell seems like a chill guy."

"Dumb as a post, but sometimes that helps." A pause. "Have you...met him?"

"Once or twice in the halls. He looked like he couldn't believe how hot I'd gotten. Hasn't dared talking to me yet."

"Good. Keep your guard up."

"I'm sure I'll be fine."

"By the way, I'm sending Fox over."

Kaz groans. "God, no, please."

"He won't get in your way. He's just not suited for working with V. Also, I think he and Quiet have history, but she won't spill the beans."

"Ten bucks says they fucked and it was terrible," he grunts. "Great. Let's just fill this base with his exes, what could possibly go wrong?"

"If nothing else, he'll keep him busy."

Kaz feeds the last paper into the fax machine with a smile. "Ocelot. I'm fine. You don't need to protect me."

"I'm not protecting you. Just doing my job, Miller."

"Huh huh. Anyway, I'm done here. Let me know if you need more help. And keep V away from those fucking scorpions, you know how he is."

"I will."

Kaz almost says I miss you, but he doesn't. He can hear Ocelot hesitate in the same way on the other side.

"See you soon. Stay alive," he finally says.

"Don't get into trouble, Kaz."

The line goes dead, but Kaz holds the receiver against his ear for a while.

 


 

 

He hasn’t lied to Ocelot. He really hasn’t ran into Big Boss almost at all, their worlds separated enough that the most contact he’s had with him was feeling his relentless, hungry eye on him from the grounds, looking up at the third floor to see his looming figure in the window.

Kaz’s office is small and windowless, in the underground level. He always locks the door.

No, Kaz’s problems with Big Boss are entirely on his side. He’s had to teach himself, and it was pure violence, to say that name and make it sound natural. Not call him Snake. Not call him John through a sneer of disgust like he sometimes does with Ocelot. Not let their off the records history color his voice when he says that stupid fucking name everybody whispers with reverence. Not let the edge of knowing what it feels like to be smashed face first into a sauna bench seep through when he mentions him.

The first time he ran into him wandering the grounds, showing his face to get the kids pumped, Kaz almost punched him.

They stared at each other for a long time through Kaz’s aviators. Kaz held his gaze until the great Big Boss shook his head and left.

He could feel that gaze slither all over his body even if he was turned. It made him feel powerful, smug. That’s right asshole. I’m still hot as hell and you’re an old, useless posterboy to untreated ptsd.

After he’d sent his recruits to the showers he’d made a beeline for the parking lot, and vomited his lunch under his car, sat in his rickety Saab shaking for an hour, wishing he could just call Ocelot, call Outer Heaven, hear V’s soothing voice in his ear. But he could not. It was about goddamn time he started upholding his end of the plan so he calmed down, took a swig from the flask he kept in the glove compartment, and went back to wiping the floor with newbies.

The second time he met Big Boss, Kaz’s panic attack only lasted half an hour. Nowadays, almost a year after joining FOXHOUND, he could sit in the same room as him and not come apart at the seams.

“Big Boss is just a name,” he snarls at his recruits after catching them trading ridiculous rumors while sparring. “He’s just a man, like you and I. Nothing more, nothing less. Legends and charisma mean shit if you’re not willing to bleed for your victories. Never forget it. None of you want to be a legend.” Nor to be the pretty face a legend sets his fancy on, he doesn’t add.

Gray Fox, squatting in the dirt with a cigarette dangling from his lips and smoke trailing out the holes where his nose should be, just smiles.

Kaz thought he was going to hate him, but he doesn’t. They both know the price of legends, the very real weight of them on their backs, rutting away. It’s just Kaz had a choice, and Frank did not. They’ll never be on the same side, but they can pretend, for a little bit.

 


 

 

There's a bar Kaz has been going to after work. It's close to his apartment, so it's not a military dive. It's not fancy, but they have half-decent rum.

He's seen her more than a few times now. She has curly red hair and a lot of freckles. She often scribbles in a notebook but she's too well put together to be a writer.

Journalist, then.

Kinda scary to be making eyes at somebody who could ostensibly find out everything about him is a lie.

No matter how much sleeping alone has been the hardest part of his move.

But when she comes over to his table and sets down her martini, he can't ignore her, can he?

"Hi. I'm Nadine," she says. Her voice is deep and smoky. When Kaz offers his bionic to shake, she does not hesitate. The sensor register a solid, sure shake.

"I'm Ben. Can I get you a drink?"

Five drinks later he's pinned to the wall of his apartment building, tasting vodka and rose-flavored lipstick.

"Just gonna go ahead and warn you," he croaks when they part. "I haven't dated in literally forever."

She laughs and god. That's a cute laugh. Her nose scrunches up. "That's good because I'm terrible at dating. Now, are you gonna let me up or what."

He lets her up. She's a firecracker in bed, and so damn funny too. Kaz finally sleeps a whole night, his flesh hand happily pillowed on her lovely freckled breasts.

She moves in a month later. She never asks why Kaz - or rather, Ben - wakes up screaming or crying almost every night. She never asks what happened to his limbs, and when Kaz finally tells her - omitting some details- she just holds him. He really, really likes her. They have fun together. He can be himself even if she doesn't know who he really is.

"She sounds nice. You should marry her," says Ocelot absently on one of their secret phonecalls.

"I'm not going to get married. I don't care what tactical advantages that might have."

"I'm just saying that anybody who puts up with you that much is a keeper. Also, considerable tactical advantages for your cover."

"What does that make you then?"

"What's the male version of a mistress?"

"Nothing, because I'm not getting married!"

So of course a month later, he's getting on one knee and asking her to marry him, because he's an idiot.

She says yes, by the way.

 


 

 

Surprising absolutely nobody, Nadine has a huge ginger Irish family, and Kaz can’t make it two steps through the reception without some uncle or aunt congratulating him on achieving what they thought was impossible and make “Nadie” a honest woman.

“It’s her that made me a honest man, really,” he replies to them all.

Her relatives are rowdy and drink like it’s going out of fashion, but it balances out for Kaz’s side of the party being literally just Roy Campbell, who also was his best man.

Kaz hasn’t seen his wife since they got to the reception hall, and he’s already tipsy from just toasting with what feels like a hundred red haired uncles when he spots something, someone, that looks familiar. A different shade of red. He blinks, and it’s gone.

Are his parasites acting up? Is it the champagne?

“Ben?”

“Oh, there you are,” he chuckles, slinging his arms around his beautiful wife. “Thought you’d had second thoughts and bailed.”

“You wish, Miller,” she laughs, standing on the tiptoes of her six inch Fluevogs to kiss him. She didn’t take his name. He’s okay with it. “By the way, do you know that guy? He’s been making the rounds of my uncles but he wasn’t at the wedding.”

Kaz looks over and he almost drops Nadine because, of course, of course it’s Ocelot.

Decked out in a charcoal suit and cream shirt ensemble Kaz distinctly remembers sucking him off in at least once, long hair tied back, the shock of red of his scarf and his gloves as he toasts at him with a wink incredibly similar to some of Kaz’s most colorful nightmares.

“That’s. Uh. Well.” My ex. My lover. The man I built a war empire with that you will never, ever know about. The only person in the world I trust, and the only one who truly knows me. “An old comrade.”

“I thought you said none of them were coming?”

“Well I thought he wasn’t coming. I’ll take care of it.”

He lets her go and makes his way through the sea of drunk relatives. Ocelot’s pale eyes never leave his as he approaches, and he doesn’t spill a drop of champagne when Kaz grabs his elbow in his bionic and forcefully pushes him around and away from Nadine’s aunts.

“What the fuck are you doing here, are you insane.”

“Well sorry if I wanted to be at the wedding of my best friend, Miller.”

“We’re not friends, Ocelot,” he grunts, shoving him out of the dining room, behind the reception desk, into the cloakroom. “You are nothing to Benedict Miller.”

Ocelot knocks back his champagne and loops his arms around Kaz’s neck, suddenly all up in his personal space. “Aren’t I.”

“Jesus Christ I can’t believe you,” he growls, ashamed by how much his body is already reacting to the nostalgic, natural feeling of Ocelot’s slender body pressed against him. “You let my wife see you.”

“What, am I not allowed to be even a little jealous, now?” his voice is a rumble, his lips tracing a feathery trail up Kaz’s jaw.

You told me to marry her!”

“So I did,” his breath is hot and warm in Kaz’s ear. “And maybe I just wanted to give you away. Properly.”

Kaz’s hands clamp on Ocelot’s ass, still flat as always, and he slams him against the wall before shoving his tongue into his mouth. Distantly, a champagne glass crunches under his shoes. “Shut up you complete batshit insane piece of shit, just shut up, shut up….”

He’s already got Ocelot’s legs wrapped around his waist and his shirt undone when he realizes there’s somebody watching them.

And that it’s his wife.

“Nadine,” he croaks. Ocelot sucks on his throat, entirely uncaring.

“You know, when you told me you’ve had experiences with men I wasn’t exactly expecting one of them to show up at our wedding.”

“Nadine, I’m…”

She steps inside the cloakroom.

And locks the door behind her.

“Well, nice to meet you I guess, mister….?”

Cold sweat blossoms under Kaz’s expensive suit as Ocelot kicks off his hips and offers Nadine a red gloved hand. “Wayne,” he drawls in the thickest southern accent Kaz has heard him do since the seventies. “Wayne Adams. I’m Benedict’s….”

“Old comrade. He told me,” she says, shaking Ocelot’s hand cordially but firmly. “More like war boyfriend, by the looks of it.”

“I had no intentions of disrupting your wedding, Miss Nadine. But well. You know how it is, sometimes.” He looks up at him. “Your husband is quite irresistible.”

Kaz wishes he could die, and the ground would swallow him.

“Yes. He is,” says Nadine stepping closer. “I can’t really blame you.”

Wait, what?

“I’m glad we are on the same page,” says Ocelot with that ridiculous drawl that shouldn’t make Kaz hard but totally, absolutely still does. Fucking honeypot conditioning motherfucker.

Nadine puts a perfectly manicured hand on Kaz’s forearm. And one on Ocelot’s. “I’m sure we can all come to an agreement,” she says sultrily.

“God, I love you,” says Kaz weakly, and he isn’t entirely sure which of the two he means anymore.

It doesn’t matter anyway, he decides as Nadine cups his face to kiss him, deep and hungry, just as Ocelot resumes sucking on the soft skin of his throat, as their hands slide under his silk shirt, long nails and writer callouses dragging on his skin with the same fevered intensity as smooth, clammy leather.

The raucous party continues without them, muffled through the walls and the thick coats surrounding them as they all shed their fancy clothes (Ocelot keeps the gloves, of course; only Kaz is allowed to see his hands), trade breathless sloppy kisses, tangle in every possible combination they can think of. Nadine hisses, flushed red and her hair frizzy with humidity, as she watches her husband fit all of Ocelot’s - Wayne’s - cock down his throat in one smooth move. It could be Ocelot’s hand that’s buried between her legs, though. He knows what hand is capable of.

“I think…” she stammers, riding Ocelot’s tongue with Kaz inside of her, “I c-can see an overlapping of techniques h-ere.”

“The eighties were a wild time,” growls Kaz in her ear, snapping his hips, Ocelot’s warm, slippery leather knuckles teasing his perineum.

“I’m glad,” she whimpers, dripping down Ocelot’s chin and clenching convulsively around Kaz. “I’m so glad.”

 


 

 

Neither of them mentions The Thing We Did in the Cloakroom when three weeks later Nadine mentions her period is late. Nor when the pregnancy test shows two blue lines.

“Should we…?” says Nadine, her hand protectively curled around her still flat stomach.

Kaz swallows, knowing how dangerous it is, and knowing he can’t tell her.

“I want it,” she says. “I’m thirty-nine, Ben. I’m not going to have another chance. But if you’re….”

“We’re keeping it,” he blurts, pregnancy test shaking in his hand.

Nadine cries. It’s the first time he’s seen her cry.

Kaz spends the night awake, thinking of everything that could go wrong. Of all the all-seeing, all-reaching shadows that could rip that small creature right out of her womb just to hurt him. Of the fact that one day, he may have to abandon it for its safety, and become his own father. Of everything that could go wrong. Nadine is close to forty, and who even knows what the parasites have done to him. And also of how much he doesn’t care. He wants this child, wants this chance at being normal, of undoing the mistakes his father made, that he made, with one tiny life.

He doesn’t deserve it, but he still wants it.

The following nine months are agonizing. He doesn’t tell anybody at work. He can’t risk him knowing about it. He will never know about it, about her - it’s a girl, they found out pretty early. Healthy, strong. All her limbs where they should be.

All he dreams about are formless black babies crawling with parasites, eyes glowing like a Skull’s. Snake hurting his child, his daughter, those rough careless hands breaking her. The Patriots ripping his newborn daughter from Nadine’s arms like the Philosophers did with that child of the battlefield he shares a heart with, warp her into a heartless monster. He sees his daughter, hollow-eyed and gaunt like the child soldiers on Mother Base, holding a rifle in her tiny hands before shooting him.

Some days he’s so tired even barking at recruits is an effort.

Nadine however is a trooper, and manages her risky pregnancy like she does everything else, head on, with a steady mind and the help of approximately a platoon of aunts. As always her understanding of Kaz’s ptsd is like a balm to the soul, and Kaz can even manage to feel joy under the dread when their daughter starts kicking around. The little thumps against his side as he lies awake in the middle of the night feel like a reassurance. Don’t worry dad. I’ll be okay.

Mysterious packages of baby clothes, toys and necessities periodically show up at their doorstep without a note. Nadine rolls her eyes but they all find their place in the studio they’ve been turning into a nursery.

Kaz nearly breaks down when one of the packages contains a stuffed white goat, the fleece of its wool almost as soft as the late Marshmallow’s.

Thankfully, Nadine’s waters break during the night, so he doesn’t have to rush to the hospital from FOXHOUND.

The birth is long and bloody and Kaz is almost sick with worry when they finally let him in the room to see Nadine, smug and exhausted, and the tiny bundle in her arms.

“Hello little Catherine,” he whispers, kissing Nadine’s sweaty curls as a tiny hand grips his flesh finger, so small, so strong, so real. “Welcome home.”

It was worth it. It was all worth it.

He knows, at last, how his mother felt when she chose to have him.