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Jake Pentecost wears his heart on his sleeve at almost every situation. He is emotional and stubborn and has never let duty - or anyone - tell him who he should be. He thinks that being honest to himself is one of his main values, and he has been this way since a kid -- when his biggest concern was the logistics of matching his favorite light up Jaeger shoes with his look. That’s not to say he hadn’t been following the PPDC rules (compromise wasn’t betrayal of self, he had learned) but his leadership was stripped of stuck-up military culture. Jake would still take some time to realize that that, in reality, was all because he was an idealist who loved people too much in a way that distancing himself via ranking simply couldn’t work. He had to be available in body and soul, and make sure that everyone knew he could be trusted not like a superior, but like a mentor.

That blossoming happened in less than a month. His old façade of indifference fell off quickly in the face of threat against the people he loved, and it’s not like that built up uncaring personality ever worked in the first place. The thing is, he had a fucked up phase that lasted for years. The story is cliché, really. In sum, there were lots of things left unsaid from both parts, and then, his father fucking died. Hopelessness engulfed him like a patient hunter and so he gave in, finding comfort drifting along the sea. Jake had done what he had to do to survive out there, but he was transparent as hell-- specially to the people closest to him.

These past days, however, have been too busy for him to pay any attention to himself. The bureaucracy of saving the world is truly gruesome: there’s problems to be fixed, meetings to be arranged, people to talk and reports to fill. Jake does all that with the naturality of a grey haired working in the industry for decades, and nowadays he isn’t so sure if he’s grown to like the paperwork and diplomatic talks or if he is just grateful for the distraction. Being busy seemed like a nice excuse to not deal with his own issues.

(He couldn’t just block the pain, though. It’s there much like a growth spurt; always in the back of his head aching for some attention).

 

Late at night is where he gets little free time, and so he visits Nate in med bay-- for the first time. He’s relaxed now, dressed in sweats and a glass of water in hands. There’s darkish bags under his eyes but he’s still not tired yet, not tired enough to sleep, at least.

He waits for the anxiety to come, but it doesn’t arrive.

Nate has recovered much of his natural skin color and there’s no longer a patch of blood soaking through his hospital gown. He looks ready to be discharged--in fact, med bay looks like the last place he needs to be. Nate looks absolutely bored, and Jake knows it by the twitching in his hands. He can’t stop it.

“Tell me why you haven’t been released yet.” He asks when he’s close enough. Nate doesn’t jump, but his hands freezes and he catches Jake’s figure with almost wide eyes. Jake, unfazed, doesn’t bother to find a chair, and sits in Nate’s bed like he owns it, placing the glass atop the stand next to the bed. Nate, for his part, doesn’t bat an eyelash.

He answers in a quiet tone, “Can’t move yet. Wound’s too deep.”

Jake nods and rubs his hands on his own thighs, looking down. None of them move for a while -- Nate stares at the back of his head, not really sure why. He guesses he has a lot of things he wants to tell him, about them both but specially about Jake himself; some things that have been with him for years and others that just popped up in his brain after Jake came back.

He thinks it isn’t the time. (One thing that both have in common is the talent for avoidance). He is sure of it, though, when Jake finally takes a look at him and he sees the restrain in his face. Jake seems overworked and tired as fuck. He’s never seen him like this and it breaks his heart a little.

When they were younger and feelings were softer, Nate would be the one to take care of him, tell him to slow down and pay attention to what he was doing because Jake always thinks ahead and forgets that steps exist for a reason. He still has tricks up his sleeves on how to manage him, and his fingers were eager to touch him again. He still remembers the texture of Jake’s hair under his hands and how his eyes dropped immediately when he carded his fingers through it.

“Come here-- don’t look at me like this, just…” he opens his arms wide, “just trust me. Like in the old days.”

The last sentence seemed to make an effect on Jake. A thousand unnamed feelings transpasses in his glossy eyes. He licks his lips hesitantly and yea, now he feels his heart beating faster and his hands sweaty.  Jake drags himself closer to where the other man is and Nate cradles his face with his hand, thumb running through his cheekbones quickly just before guiding Jake to his lap.

“You need to relax,” Nate whispers.

“Can’t sleep without you yet-” Impressions of him are still reverberating strongly in his head. He still feels entwined with Nate and maybe it’s because they have not been together for years, he doesn’t really know. It’s not a really common side effect, he’s sure of that, but he also knows it’s nothing to be alarmed. He couldn’t sleep right all those days away from Nate-- he couldn’t find peace laying his head on the pillow, unease that he was without him.

Nate hums, understanding. “It’s been hell for me as well.” He agrees, and Jake looks up at him, whispering a quick apology, because of course he’s been feeling the same. It’s a two way street. Nate shakes his head knowingly, “It’s fine, I know you’ve been busy. You’re here with me now, though. I won’t leave.”

“You don’t really have much of an option, do you?” His voice sounds muffled with the fabric of Nate’s shirt over his mouth. Nate tries not to twitch with Jake’s hot breath on his stomach. He slides his hand through Jake’s hair easily, travels a little to the side, feather touch on the shell of his visible ear. He thinks his heart will explode at any moment --God, how he missed it. He thinks Jake misses it too as he clutches Nate’s his hips at his first touch.

“You smartass.”

They bask in each other’s presence for half an hour, just existing, lightly and ignoring the existence of life behind those four white walls. Then Nate finds a pattern that unsettles him, - Jake’s breath is even but his left foot seems to be twitching too much - and he has to stop for a bit.

Nate still doesn’t think that right now would be a good hour but ah, for fuck’s sake. When would it ever be a good hour.

He breathes slowly, “You know you… can do whatever you feel like doing.” he babbles, helplessly. After the sentence comes out of his mouth Nate feels an incredible urge of slapping himself.

“What are you even talking about, man.”  Jake mumbles, not willing to take a better posture to face him.

Nate closes his eyes and shakes his head. He likes to think that he’s not bad at emotions. In fact, he thinks he’s pretty emotionally intelligent. Then Jake comes to his life  - again - out of nowhere, which is exhilarating because he’s back but unfair as fuck, since he’s completely unarmed -- he hates feeling this weak and unprepared. Nate was raised by the military, with strict lifestyle and always ready for battle, he really can’t help it.

“You’ve been through a lot is what I’m saying. You had to come back to the thing you hated, almost lost your sister--God, you almost died. All in a span of a week.”

“Yea, I’m well aware of that-”

“You can open yourself to me-” He cuts him off. “I know it’s been only a week since we reunited, but.” He takes a deep breath, stills his hand. That gets Jake’s attention and so he leans on his elbows to take a look at Nate’s face.

Nate exhales, “you’re so fucking thick-headed.”

“Nate-”

“We’ve been inside each others’ head countless times and you still won’t let me in the way we’re supposed to-- I just want you to feel well.  I don’t know if you… befriended someone while you were out, someone to take care of you… that doesn’t really seem to be the case with you, honestly.”

Jake snorts at the jab.

“I’m sorry I left, Nathan.” He blurts. It’s the first drop of confession in the night.

“I know.”

He resumes playing with Jake's hair.

“Uh, anyway. You did great out there.” He says, tentatively. “Actually, more than great. It was terrific and I’m really proud of you.” Jake stills for a second and grasps Nate’s hands, not forcefully, but making sure it would cease his motion as well.

“Stop.” He murmurs, moving himself to a seating position. He touches Nate’s lips with his thumb for a second, and just after that, Jake kisses him.

It’s chaste and delicate. Not to incite fireworks within but to seal something that should have been sealed long ago. It’s also very, very good -- when he got an independent life for himself, there was no one to restrict his diet and he found an universe of garbage food. The first time he shoved Reese’s in his mouth he realized he really loved sugar.

It’s almost like that when he kisses Nate, except he had the love for the tasty sweetness coming.

Nate's eyes widens and that’s a rare sight -- he had never seen it actually. Nate doesn’t get surprised easily, which pissed off Jake (when they were younger, he had to get creative if he wanted attention-- little did he know Nate’s always had his eyes on him) no Kaiju has ever brought such shock to him. Besides feeling smug as hell, Jake thinks the reaction is very amusing, and laughs lightheartedly.

“You can’t be surprised about this,” He pokes Nate in the chest, “Sooner or later it was bound to happen and you know it.” Jake finishes with mock indignation.

Nate laughs back and it fills Jake with the most delicious warmth.  “I’m just shocked that it took us a decade.” He squeezes Jake’s hands.

“Well, yea. The world almost ended--again. And you were right. About everything.” They still had a lot to talk about. Jake knows that whatever this is, it needs work and dialogue. And this time he’s willing to cross whatever obstacle to keep him; he’d learned his lesson.

Nate feigns professionalism, “thank you, ranger.”

“Sod off, mate.” Jake kisses the back of Nate’s hand. “Let’s go to sleep.”

They rearrange themselves, limbs thrown over each other, and Jake closes his eyes with the certainty that tomorrow is gonna be another day full of stress and briefings, but it’s just fine. He’s finally back to his family.