"By the way, what you've been doing is a terrible idea, you know."
"I'm not exactly going to care when it's you saying that."
Ocelot looks over the brim of his whisky glass to give Zero an unimpressed look. This is still his first glass of whisky, but he's been nursing it through out the night, making it appear like he's drunk more than he actually has. It's not that he didn't enjoy whisky - John enthusiastically passing it over to him a few hours earlier - but he knows behind the facade of a casual evening together among 'fellow' officers, he needs to keep his wits about him. Mostly around Zero - mostly for the sake of John.
John had left half an hour ago, with Eva clinging to his side, and Ocelot would usually feel that pang of jealously he still sometimes gets like he's 19 all over again, but for once he's thankful. The tension between Zero and John today had set everyone around them on edge and Ocelot would be lying if he wasn't feeling it too.
"Well, I suppose I deserve that one in retrospect, but perhaps through my own mistakes I could offer some advice, Adam," and Ocelot hates it when Zero calls him that, but he's been avoiding the CIA circles more often than not and he forgets he's known as ADAM there these days. But he knows Zero means to use his real name, not a code name, feels some sort of right has been earned to use it from just the fact he stood by his mothers side in the past. To Ocelot, he never earned that right, but in the end it's merely Zero pushing a narrative, creating a link between them.
Ocelot wonders sometimes if Zero is even aware of what he's doing sometimes; clinging to a dead woman as desperately as John. It's stupid really, they both deny it, both deal with hiding it differently, but Ocelot would find it amusing the way they both dance around it -argue about it even - if it wasn't all so damn depressing.
It's not really as amusing when he knows he's playing into it too.
"Honestly," Zero continues, taking a sip from his own mostly full glass, "I'm almost disgusted with what you've been doing. Playing him like this - it's only going to end it tears."
"You? Disgusted over playing him?" Ocelot rolls his eyes a little, gives a little huff, "don't make me laugh - trying to take some kind of moral high ground? It's not like I don't know what I'm doing is," he pauses, "questionable, but it's a small sin against your bullshit."
"Using his memories of The Boss to get into his trousers isn't exactly a small sin."
"Using his memories of my mother to get him to help your own mad endeavors is still worse, Zero."
There's silence between the two then, heavy and uncomfortable and Ocelot reaches into his suit blazer jacket that's hanging over the back of his chair for his bright red leather cigarette holder, lights one up with the plain zippo he's been carrying around ever since John lost his.
Zero is right, and Ocelot knows this, that it's disgusting of him to even do this to John but lately he's been at a loss for how to get John to pay attention to him with Eva around.
But, if anything, John had only himself to blame.
As he'd leaned in over a year ago, slightly drunk, breath smelling of cigars and a gaze so tired, Ocelot shivered as a small suggestion was spoken into his ear: 'You should grow your hair out.'
Then, there was the trip to Zero's mansion out in the country side, and one morning John suggested a trail on horseback. Had woken Ocelot up early, to ride into the frosty, crisp fields of Kent as the sun rises into the day and when Ocelot arrived at the stable John stood with two horses ready to go.
He offered Adam a white horse and Adam had felt a tightness in his gut as he mounted.
The tightness only got worse when he caught John's gaze watching him like the beautiful, spring visages of the country side where absolutely nothing. It made the skin under his clothes tingle, made his neck feel hot and his stomach churned as his minded provided the real reason John was looking at him like that.
As they came back to the mansion, still mounted on horseback, he saw Zero look at him like that too.
Ocelot had ignored Zero's offered hand to help him dismount.
There were other things too.
John had earlier this year confided in him what he saw that day - a field of white flowers turning into a bright, bloody red. Of course, Ocelot knew it's only in John's mind but the image was imprinted on Snake's brain and his eyelashes flutter when John moves in closely to help straighten out his red scarf one evening, the silk fabric having fallen askew. The touch is delicate and John's hands rest on the silk for longer than needed and Ocelot holds his breath in the moment - he doesn't need to ask what John is thinking about, he can already guess.
It would be easy to change his choice of wardrobe after that - buy another colour of gloves, a different scarf - but he doesn't. (It's not like he doesn't own other scarves either; just recently Zero had gifted him an elegant white cashmere number, but after the initial moment of David wrapping it over his shoulders, he hasn't taken it out of the gift box since.) He knows if he does, John won't look at him the same way he does when he spots that bright red in the corner of his vision.
He was once told his father could see ghosts but Adam is beginning to understand most people don't need ESP to see what haunts them.
It wasn't just John either - Eva too. John had a couple of weeks a go honest to god bought Eva flowers to make up for an argument and Ocelot laughed at how ridiculous the situation was. He laughed until he noticed the bouquet was nothing but stars of Bethlehem and he says nothing. Of course, Eva took the flowers, but laughed at him just the same - really, John? - but there was a small smile on her face that didn't reach her eyes.
She came back to the table Ocelot was watching from and put the flowers down between them: ' Can you believe him? He got me flowers - who does he think I am?' She complained but it was light, teasing and Ocelot could only shrug. Then, she took one of the flowers and reached over, secured it in the pin holes of his blazer lapel.
It's bright white colour stood out against his dark black suit and the look Eva gave him in that moment made him feel that similar sickness to before. His mind tells him to run away from all this then, go out and hot-wire Eva's bike and never come back, never deal with all these people ever again.
But he stayed, reached over to grab a flower himself and places it behind her ear, secured by her hair. He felt the single eyed gaze of John on them from another table and bitterly he knew she looked beautiful like that and John probably thought so too.
Except, later that evening as Ocelot was about to head into his hotel room, John had stopped him in the dim corridor. He'd reached up between them - callused hands that looks so naked without his combat gloves - and gently touched the flower still in his lapel. 'I didn't know you liked them, too,' John had murmured, and Adam can tell he's slightly drunk, can smell the whisky on his breath but it's more intoxicating than off putting. Ocelot thinks over what John is trying to say but he decides to go for a mask of nonchalance, 'wouldn't exactly say I like them John, but they smell nice.'
'They do, don't they,' and it wasn't a question. John had leaned in close then, huffing a deep breath against the small amount of skin exposed above the starched shirt collar. Ocelot could feel the facial hair tickle against his skin and it sends goosebumps up his arm and oh the brush of lips sent his mind haywire.
Adam wonders if John pulled away that night because in the end it smelt too much like death.
Then a couple of days after that, John was giving him a bouquet of flowers and Eva laughed just as he had. He laughed too, if only to hide the hollowness he felt as John stared at him framed by petals of white.
He had felt Zero watch them from a distance and that tightness in his stomach was slightly different to before - it almost felt like a thrill.
Ocelot observes the major now, through the veil of smoke between them and wonders if he could ever be the downfall of a man such as Zero. Perhaps, not Zero, but David who wears his one weakness so blatant to those who know where to look, maybe.
Then, Zero meets his gaze again, piercing and sharp and completely sobering.
"You're going to get old eventually, Adam, and he's not going to look at you anymore. I can already tell, you're going to look more like your father, you'll probably be grey at 35, I hope you're looking forward to that," he pauses, there's a small smirk on his face and Ocelot feels like crushing his cigarette. "Right now, you're a novelty, and a link to your mother he's going to cling to until he realizes he doesn't need to anymore. Frankly, isn't that what you've just been your whole life? The son of The Boss, yet that's not your position in the history books, is it--"
Ocelot raises his free hand then, cutting Zero off, a man too wrapped up in manners to not take the signal. He takes his time to put out his cigarette in the ashtray between them and smirks, gets up from the chair and grabs his blazer in one elegant move. It's all mostly an act, but he'll be damned if he wasn't a good actor, would probably be dead at least several times over.
"As riveting as your story is, Major, I think it could use some work. Some self reflection, if I may suggest."
"Pretending like I'm not right is only going to make this hole you're digging deeper-"
Ocelot reaches over then, leans over the table, closing the gap until only a few inches of space are left between them. He touches the others hand holding a too warm glass with leather gloves, uses it as an anchoring point, thumb stroking ever so slightly.
"Jealously is unsightly on someone your age, David."