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It's All That I Can Do

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Downtime in the midst of a war, even if just for a few minutes is a gift. It doesn’t happen frequently, but when it does, it finds soldiers slipping into comfortable habits even though they know it’ll be short lived. During downtime, most of them can be found outside smoking or huddled in a tent playing poker, chatting and reminiscing, telling funny stories or weaving tales from back home. Tonight in particular is no different, and that’s how the question comes up, uttered by one of the fresh-faced privates who arrived just a couple of months after Klaus:

“What are you going to do when you get home?”

At first, nobody answers, and the question hangs heavy in the air because honestly, all of them have seen too much in the past few weeks and months to even think about such a question. They all know that their chances of returning home without any life altering scars (physically or mentally), let alone returning home at all are slim to fucking none. So for a split second, it’s silent among the men in the tent, all of them too afraid to say anything, afraid to hold on to the hope that they’ll make it out of here alive and afraid to tell the new guy that he probably won’t, either.

That is, until Klaus Hargreeves speaks up.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m planning on getting so fucked up that I can’t walk straight.”

And just like that, the tension breaks. A few soldiers chuckle while another one - Anderson, who is always quick to give Klaus shit - teases, “How is that any different than now, Hargreeves?”

“Touché,” Klaus calls, pointing at Anderson from across the circle with his cards, uncaring if anyone sees his hand, “But I’ll have you know, that I can walk just fine right now, thankyouverymuch.”

“You know what I mean,” Anderson taunts back, which earns a chuckle from Klaus.

“Oh Mike, you think you’ve seen me fucked up, but you’ve got no idea, darling,” Klaus teases in response. Although the pet names didn’t sit well with the other soldiers for the first month or so - they were in the 60’s, after all - Klaus uses them so much and with everyone, that they really don’t phase anyone anymore.

“Come on,” Klaus pushes then, “What about the rest of you? Don’t lie and tell me that you’re not daydreaming of going home, eating a nice home-cooked meal from your momma and settling down with your high school sweetheart to have three-point-five kids and a golden retriever.”

“I just really want to finish college,” Romero, another one of the younger privates pipes up at last, offering a shrug when all eyes dart to him instead of Klaus. “I wanted to be a teacher.”

“The home-cooked meal sounds nice,” Carmichael adds with a smile. His comment in particular earns a few teasing remarks from the men sitting around the circle - even Dave gets a couple of jabs in - but eventually, they all end up agreeing that yeah, even shitty diner food sounds pretty damn good right now.

Across the room, even Corporal Barnett chimes in at one point, muttering out, “The first thing I’m going to do when I get home is marry my girl,” which earns a few nods of agreement from his fellow soldiers. And that’s how, within just a few minutes, the poker game quickly goes forgotten in favor of soldiers sitting around in the tent, telling stories of back home and sharing their hopes and dreams for when they finally make it out of this hellhole.

And Klaus knows deep down, than most of them probably won’t make it back, but it doesn’t hurt to hold on to a little bit of hope, right? He almost nudges Dave with his elbow at that thought to ask him what his plans are, but as he turns to his right, Klaus notices, with a pang in his chest, that Dave is no longer sitting next to him. In fact, he isn’t even in the tent anymore.

It takes a little bit of searching, once Klaus manages to find a way to slip out unnoticed as well, but eventually, he finds Dave sitting alone on the edge of camp, barely illuminated by dim lights and accented by the cherry of his cigarette and a thin swirl of smoke that curls up over his head and disappears into the night. In a weird way, this has kind of become a routine for them, sneaking away from the others like this to have just a few moments alone. So when Klaus plops down next to Dave in the dirt, an unlit joint in one hand and a flask in the other, he knows that the other man is expecting him.

“So what’s your plan?” Klaus asks in lieu of a greeting, fishing a lighter out from the breast pocket of his jacket.

Dave turns to glance at Klaus in the dim light, offering him a small, albeit confused smile. He was definitely expecting Klaus, but judging by his reaction, he wasn’t anticipating his question. “What do you mean?”

Klaus uses his lighter to motion back to camp. “In there, everyone was talking about their plan once they get out of here,” he mutters around the joint, waving the lighter in the air as he talks, “You didn’t say what yours  is. So, indulge me, mi amor.”

Dave can’t help but chuckle at Klaus’ mannerisms and his fond pet name. “You noticed that…”

“I did.” Klaus pauses to light the joint, taking a long hit and holding the smoke in his lungs just long enough for it to begin to burn slightly before exhaling. Then, he leans in a little, enough to bump his shoulder against Dave’s. “So…”

“So...” Dave echoes, and Klaus can tell that he’s stalling, that he’s trying to figure out what to say, so he gives him a little leeway. He offers Dave the joint, which Dave accepts without question, taking a hit himself before finally speaking.

“I’m not sure, actually,” Dave admits at last. “I mean… as you know, I had just moved back in with my parents before I was drafted, so I - well, I would like to do some traveling, but -”

“No buts,” Klaus interrupts. He reaches for the joint, which Dave hands over, before continuing, “In a perfect world, would would you want to do, when you get home?”

Klaus is careful to say when. Not if. No, Dave will be going home. There is no if.

“In a perfect world?” Dave repeats, and Klaus simply nods in response. And Dave actually seems to think about it for a few quiet moments before answering, giving Klaus a chance to take another drag, exhaling upwards into the night sky, relishing in the feeling of his body relaxing with each hit.

“I want to move somewhere new,” Dave says at last, his voice soft and wistful. Far away. He gazes off into the night as he speaks, “Somewhere I’ve never been… far away from my hometown. Maybe, somewhere secluded with some land where we could just be.”

We.

The implication of the word isn’t lost on Klaus. In fact, he latches onto the word almost as soon as it leaves Dave’s lips, but before he can interject, Dave is continuing, as if he didn’t just drop a fucking bomb into the conversation.

“I mean, I suppose in a perfect world, it wouldn’t matter where we are, but I think somewhere quiet would be nice,” he muses, “Somewhere away from the city, but close enough if you wanted to have a night on the town, you know?”

Dave turns to look at Klaus then, and Klaus’ voice catches in his throat at the sight. He can’t find the words to say, and even if he could, he’s pretty sure he couldn’t speak right now if he wanted to. Instead, he just holds his joint tightly between his index finger and his thumb, staring at Dave with wide eyes.

When Dave just looks at him expectantly, though, as if anticipating a response, Klaus croaks out, “We?”

Dave smiles in response, and fuck, his smile is enough to bring Klaus to his knees, to light up a room, to melt his heart. It’s such a simple little thing, but it brings Klaus’ world crashing down around him and also makes him feel fucking invincible.

“Yeah, we,” Dave murmurs. “I mean… you said in a perfect world and well, in a perfect world, I’d want to build a home and start a life with the person I love.”

And god, Klaus is usually so good at masking his emotions, at appearing flippant and blasé about everything and hiding behind humor and crassness, but Dave’s words are so unexpected and disarming that they catch him off guard. Klaus has no control of his mouth when he simply just repeats, numb, “The person you love.”

Unfortunately, Klaus’ shock seems to give Dave the wrong idea and almost immediately, he begins to backpedal, his face falling. “Well, I mean, shit, Klaus. We haven’t really talked about it - what this is but, I mean… I thought it was obvious.”

I thought it was obvious. The words hit Klaus like a truck.

“That you love me,” Klaus mutters, his own voice sounding very far away in his own ears.

Klaus is no stranger to those words, but, well… he isn’t really used to people meaning them. Not like Dave appears to mean them right now. Sure, others have uttered those words to Klaus before, but never in the way that Dave says them.  They were gasped in moments of passion, or exclaimed when Klaus decided to be generous and share whatever he managed to score with an acquaintance at a party, or even muttered when he did a favor for one of his siblings when they were kids… but never like this.

Now, sitting here next to Dave, Klaus knows that this is different.

Dave clears his throat. “I do,” he says very matter-of-factly, but is quick to add, “But if you don’t feel the same way, it’s okay. I know it was forward of me to assume, and we haven’t even properly discussed what this is and -”

“I would like that,” Klaus says at last, his voice quiet when he interrupts Dave, before he can finish his thought. He really doesn’t know what else to say, and it’s shitty and awkward, but it’s a start.

Klaus takes a long drag of his joint to mask his nerves and give himself a moment to think while Dave struggles to catch up.

“You… you would?” Dave asks after a beat of silence, as if he can’t believe it.

“Yeah,” Klaus mutters, shrugging. “You know… a little house in the woods, maybe a couple of pets. A quiet life. It would be a nice change of pace.”

Dave swallows then, shifting to face Klaus a little better. Somehow, the conversation has turned into something much more than just daydreams, and it requires much more attention than they were previously giving it. “Well, if we make it out of here, I’ll make good on that, then,” he says at last, “If that’s what you want.”

And Klaus, never one to avoid humor in serious situations, mock gasps at Dave, a hand on his chest. “Davey, are you trying to make an honest man out of me?”

Apparently, it’s just what the doctor ordered. Dave laughs at that, the tension bleeding out of him. “Yeah, I think I am,” he mutters, and then, he’s reaching forward, his hand finding its place at the back of Klaus’ neck before they’re kissing. It’s nothing over-indulgent, just a brief press of lips in the dark, hyper aware of their peers not far from them, but it’s much needed.

When they part, Klaus grins up at Dave, his eyes glinting, even in the dim light. “I hope you know that when we get married, it’s going to be the wedding of the century.”


 

51 years, 7 months and 13 days later

 

Eventually, Dave makes good on his promise to Klaus. Although it happens about fifty years after he initially planned it - after he is catapulted into the future and forced to save the world alongside Klaus and his superpowered siblings - he makes good on his plan to move somewhere far away and secluded and start a life with the person he loves. He makes good on that promise to make an honest man out of Klaus Hargreeves, even though just the idea of it sounds like taming a wild animal.

It isn’t necessarily a small little house in the woods like they had initially discussed, but it is a secluded, modest place just a few hours outside of the city, their closest neighbor about a mile down the road. They find the place and move in almost a year after they save the world - a year after Klaus brings him to the future - and it’s everything that Dave wanted and then some. Granted, he never knew that he wanted to travel into to future to be with the man he loves, but he’s not surprised. There was always something special about Klaus, something that Dave knew that he’d follow him to the ends of the earth for.

Although, there was another part to that promise that Dave hasn’t addressed. It was unspoken, really, but he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since Klaus mentioned it only six months into knowing one another, six months into their time in Vietnam together.

When we get married, it’s going to be the wedding of the century.

Dave was certain that it was just a pipe dream back then, just wishful thinking, in a perfect world , but then suddenly, it’s 2020 and he’s buying a little house upstate with Klaus, and that little dream, that comment that Klaus made just a couple of years ago - or over 50 years ago, depending on how you look at it - seems a lot more realistic. It’s 2020, and Dave still has a hard time believing that gay marriage is legal. In fact, it takes Klaus dragging him to pride that first summer to truly convince him and show him just how much has changed.

Honestly, Dave has been planning on asking Klaus to marry him for a while, but it’s a lot easier said than done. Sure, he could just get down on one knee after a romantic night out, or maybe on their anniversary (Klaus loves the strange looks that he gets when he brags that they’ve been together for over fifty years) but that doesn’t seem good enough. No, Dave knows that Klaus is a man of grand gestures and has a flair for the dramatic, so he wants to do something big, something really nice for him, but he just doesn’t know what. And that’s why he’s in his current predicament.

He’d ask Ben, but Klaus can only manifest him when he’s nearby, and he can’t really have a conversation with Ben about how to ask Klaus to marry him  when Klaus is present. So he buys the rings fifty-one years, five months and two days after he makes that promise to Klaus in Vietnam, but he sits on them for over two months, unsure of how to bring it up, what to do or how to say it.

And then, one morning, it just hits him.

Klaus is a hard man to predict. Some mornings, he’s up at the crack of dawn, banging pots and pans around in the kitchen, making breakfast without being prompted and bringing it to Dave where he lays in bed, crawling over him and kissing him sweetly until he finally wakes. And others, he’s impossible to wake and honestly rather grouchy when he finally drags himself out from under the covers. Dave thinks that those days, he wouldn’t even get up if the house was on fire.

And then some mornings, Klaus opts to lounge in bed, pulling Dave close so he can’t get up, insisting sweetly, “just five more minutes,” which turns into another hour of drifting in and out of sleep, cuddling and eventually, sleepy kisses that devolve into sighs of pleasure, tangled limbs and Klaus proclaiming that morning sex just might be his favorite kind of sex.

This morning in particular is shaping up to be one of those mornings.

It’s a lazy Sunday and Dave wakes at around ten in the morning, but Klaus is quick to pull him close before he can even think about climbing out of bed, sleepily whining something about wanting to spend all day in bed along with, “just stay for a few more minutes.” But of course, a few minutes quickly turns into half an hour, which turns into Klaus peppering sleepy kisses on Dave’s lips, fingers running gently through his hair, and honestly, who would Dave be to stop him?

However eventually, soft kisses eventually turn into more solid presses of lips, which turn into teeth and tongue and Klaus sighing softly into Dave’s mouth, body rocking gently against his in bed. And that eventually turns into Klaus shifting to straddle Dave’s hips, Dave’s hands sturdy on his thighs, palms sliding up and down exposed skin, fingers hooking  under the waistband of his ridiculously bright underwear. And god, Klaus is going to be the death of him, but Dave is never one to deny him, especially when he’s got Klaus’ lithe body pressed up against his own, the sweet little noises working their way out of his throat and -

And suddenly, Dave’s thoughts are cut short when Klaus sits up abruptly, a small smirk playing on his lips. “Fuck, I wanna ride you,” Klaus mutters in a form of explanation as he shifts, moving to pull his underwear off, but surprisingly, Dave’s thoughts aren’t focused on the dirty words leaving Klaus’ lips, nor the way his body moves beneath his hands or even the arousal pooling in his own stomach.

No, instead, he can’t focus on anything but the way that the sheets drape around Klaus’ strong shoulders and the way late morning light paints stripes across his fair skin through the blinds. He can’t focus on anything but the way that Klaus’ green eyes shine when he looks down at him, and the sleepy, easy smile that finds its way onto his face when he catches Dave staring. And suddenly, it just hits Dave.

Holy shit, he wants to marry this man.

Klaus moves to shimmy out of his underwear, but Dave stops him with a hand on his waist. “Klaus wait -”

Klaus pouts slightly at Dave’s gentle request, but to his defense, he doesn’t move. “Aww come on, this was just about to get good,” he begins to protest, but when he spies the serious, concentrated look on Dave’s face, he steels himself, asking, “What is it?”

And fuck . All words are lost on Dave. He doesn’t know how to ask or what to say, but he knows in his heart that he needs to do this right now. It isn’t a grand gesture, but it’s perfect.

So, after a deep breath and a quick internal pep-talk, Dave closes his eyes and says softly, “I want to marry you.”

When he opens his eyes again, it’s to find Klaus smiling down at him, his emerald eyes filled with love and - a little bit of surprise. He sits up a little straighter, the sheets slipping off of his shoulders and pooling around his waist, and Dave follows suit, propping himself up on his hands so that he’s almost eye-level with the man in his lap.

Klaus reaches forward then, placing his hand gently on Dave’s cheek. “Dave,” he murmurs sweetly, then, “Davey…”

But before Klaus can say anything else sweet or teasing or derail the conversation, Dave continues, “I’m serious, Klaus. I - you know that conversation we had, a few years ago about… you know, perfect worlds and what I’d want to do when I got home and -”

“Yeah,” Klaus cuts him off, his voice barely above a whisper.

“Well, that included spending the rest of my life with the person that I love. And that’s you,” Dave explains. “So, will you marry me?”

And, for the first time in his life, even if it’s just for a few seconds, Klaus is rendered speechless. He gapes for a moment, staring at Dave as if he can’t believe the words that just came out of his mouth before he seems to come back to himself, a small smile spreading across his face. “Aren’t you supposed to get down on one knee?” he asks softly.

“You’ve never been a conventional person,” Dave teases gently, “Why start now?”

“And rings,” Klaus continues, “Aren’t you supposed to have a ring?”

“Bedside table,” Dave offers with a smile, “There’s a little box in there, hiding under some papers. I’ve been waiting until the time was right and -”

“You decided that the time was right when we were just about to fuck?” Klaus asks incredulously, but his grin only widens as he speaks. He’s certainly not bothered by it, and only seconds later, he’s leaning over, knees still bracketing Dave’s hips as he pulls the drawer open and rummages around until his fingers find the small, velvet box. Dave can tell when he finds it by the way he pauses, eyes going unfocused for just a split second, and just like that, the mask drops.

Sure, he loves Klaus’ sense of humor and his ability to make light of any situation, but he also loves him like this: emotional and vulnerable and open.

Drawing the box out of the drawer, Klaus hesitates for only a moment, his eyes darting to Dave’s face as if for permission before he opens it, his jaw dropping slightly at the sight, as if he doesn’t quite believe it.

Dave smiles, and it’s this gentle, hesitant thing. Klaus certainly looks happy, but he also hasn’t said anything since he laid eyes on the rings, and Dave can’t stop himself before he’s saying, “I know it’s not some grand gesture, and I’m sure you wouldn’t mind a big musical number or a few wardrobe changes or -”

“It’s perfect,” Klaus mutters, his voice barely loud enough to hear. And when he looks up at Dave again, his eyes look wet, as if they’re brimming with tears. “You’re perfect. Shit, I love you Dave.”

“So, is that a yes?” Dave asks, a teasing hint to his voice, and just like that, the moment breaks. When Klaus laughs, a few tears escape his eyes, trickling down his cheeks and landing on Dave’s chest, but they’re happy tears. They’re yes tears.

“Yeah,” Klaus murmurs, nodding his head frantically, “Yes, yes. Jesus, Dave, of course.”

Before Dave can say anything else Klaus is leaning down, the velvet box set aside in the sheets, and taking Dave’s face in his hands, pressing a wet, passionate kiss to his lips. The kiss doesn’t last long, though, quickly evolving into gentle pecks, relieved laughter and words of adoration. Before long, Klaus is wrapping his arms around Dave’s shoulders, burying his face in his neck, and Dave can practically feel his smile, burned into his skin for all of eternity, like a tattoo on his heart.

Then, Klaus is laughing against him, and before Dave has the chance to ask what’s so funny, he’s muttering against his skin, “I don’t know what possessed you to propose in the middle of morning sex, but this is the best cockblock ever.”

And god, he loves the ridiculous man in his lap. He’s loved him since the moment he laid eyes on him. He has loved him for what feels like a lifetime and then some, and now, he’s going to marry him.

“I love you, Klaus,” he murmurs at last, pressing a gentle kiss to his temple, and Klaus only squeezes him tighter.

“I love you too,” he replies quickly, god, Dave thinks, they’ve come a long way since that night in Vietnam.