Chapter 1: All We Ever Look For
"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."
Chapter 2: Running Up That Hill
Ocelot is left the task to learn about the years of MSF to help build memories for the phantom. Unfortunately, he starts to find the man named Miller almost endearing.
I thought about how Ocelot probably had to learn about Peace Walker to help fuck around in Venom's head but then I also wanted to take an ocelhira angle to it. Severely not edited or checked by anyone, probably weird and I'm posting this when I know I should be asleep for work tomorrow morning. Thanks for the comments on the previous fic also!! I hope ya'll enjoy this one too. Feel free to message me/follow me @ocelothot on twitter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
We're not mercenaries. We're not a foreign legion. MSF's a business. A new kind of business.
Hey, let's give it a shot!
That bandanna you're always wearing - that thing's a real antique, ever think about getting a new one?
One people have power, they stop caring about equality.
I'd never be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with my father who was in the U.S army.
C'mon, stop it, you're making me blush.
Boss, hey, now's not the time-
Boss... Snake, I-
Ocelot clicks the stop button on the tape player and opens his eyes. The hospital room in Dhekelia had been washed in the red, golden tones of sunset when he clicked play and now it was night, a small slither of moonlight coming through the slightly opened window. It was summer - it was warm and Ocelot felt sweat from the earlier heat cooling underneath his scarf.
He looks down at the man beside him and he wonders if he'll ever be forgiven. Probably not, but as he gets up to stand by the window, lights up a cigarette that doesn't really do much for him anymore beyond keep his hands busy in a place he's not brandishing his revolvers, he hopes.
It had been a few days after initially walking into the hospital room at Dheklia before Ocelot even paid attention to the very large elephant in the room.
He'd been busy. At least that's what he'd told himself but he wouldn't exactly call waking up hunched over John's bedside - wet patches in the bed linen still so fresh, a hand in his so unresponsive - productive. The first night he arrived he had a sick fantasy, a desire and hope that the next day John would just wake up like it had been nothing. Then, that evening, he wished for the same. Then again. It was only really until one of the nurses that had been silently watching him gave him a look of pity did Adam even consider what a sad picture he must be making. He wishes Eva was there all the sudden, to shout at him the way the nurses won't, to tell him how much of a mess he looks. He feels the scratchy friction of his unshaven face as he runs a hand over it, over his eyes that are crusty with salt, smooths his unwashed, greasy hair back and grimaces.
Unwillingly, he leaves John's side then.
When he comes back, freshened up as much as he can, he stops in front of the bed next to John's and stares. The partition between the two beds causes shadows to fall onto the medics scarred, stitched together face and Ocelot could laugh at how macabre this whole situation was. He thinks back to Zero's last conversation with him and while his words had been cryptic then, he understood now, and he wonders if he should be offended that Zero thought he'd like it.
Zero's plan was cruel if Ocelot still had much of a conscience about his actions when it came to John.
On the side table, there's a small box and inside are tapes upon tapes, plus a player and some folders. Ocelot realizes then that what Zero started, he was intended to finish and he touches over the tapes lightly before picking up one of the folders. He flicks through, pages of typed up notes in Russian joined in with various photos and surveillance shots of a certain base in the Caribbean and then he comes to some dossiers, littered with photos.
A picture stares back at him of a man with blonde hair and sunglasses - young, handsome, confident. Adam knows he doesn't even have to look down at the information in the dossier to assume that he's staring at a man close to John and a sick feeling hits his gut when he understands where Zero had left off.
A punishment he supposes. David had always been one for a more inventive type of cruelty.
Snake... The sunsets are so pretty here...
Just the two of us?
I've been waiting for you
There's one thing... I never told you...
Boss- fuck, Boss--
He'd always been desperate to learn about what he'd always felt resentment towards - that period in the '70s he was never a part of, now laid across endless wheels of flimsy black tape. Hours upon hours of conversations, both on base and on missions, some clear codec recordings and others sounding hushed and muffled, like from planted bugs.
He knew when John left he was never going to actually get to live as freely as he hoped, but all these tapes are just a sad reminder of the reality that was actually going on. It feels voyeuristic, or well, it is voyeuristic but he's never had an issue listening into things he shouldn't have before, so why does he feel a niggling guilt now? Ocelot knows why, but it's not like he has a choice in the one time he would've probably let some secrets stay secrets. It's the same reason why these more private conversations have been left in the recordings in the first place - these tapes aren't really for him in the end, he merely has to learn them for the sake of the phantom.
As much as he tells himself that though, it's harder than expected. Perhaps the raw feelings of seeing John like this are getting to him more than he's letting himself believe, but he feels anger at the hushed conversations, the whispered flirting in a hidden corner, at the interest John takes in this Miller's conversations and knowledge. It's a feeling of jealously, deep and disgusting in his gut, that he swore he'd gotten over in the early '70s but he tries to tell himself he's just hurting, possibly hungry, tired. He can imagine John waking up and telling him to look after himself more, but that's just an indulgent fantasy in more ways than one.
He clicks the play button.
Moans, John's familiar grunting, the sound of furniture squeaking and something crashing onto the floor. Whispered words that Ocelot doesn't quite catch, the name 'Kaz' repeated like a mantra.
Ocelot pauses the tape again and heads to the window, takes out a cigarette. As he blows the menthol laced smoke into the night air of Cyprus, Ocelot feels heat in his cheeks and he hangs his head into his hand in shame.
Snake, it's good to hear your voice again
I'll take real good care of the staff there
It means "peace" in Japanese
You mean they sent you into the jungle without even a pair of pants?!
Hey, hey, why am I the bad guy? Come on, Cecile, wait! Cecile!
Me? Steam locomotives, no question.
Don't you think those fulton balloons look tasty? Like big, juicy, floating pigs
He's beginning to wonder if he's loosing it a little - he's been listening to the tapes nearly non-stop for the past couple of days and the small suggestion from his mind that he's actually finding Kazuhira Miller interesting makes him mildly panic. He knows he's been not eating as well as he should - never been a fan of hospital food - and the few stimulants he's coming off from last week may also be playing a part of it but the more he thinks about Miller the worse it gets.
It's annoying actually. He was content to just consider Miller a figure to take his resentment out on (John wouldn't be in a coma if it wasn't for Miller's grand ideas, wouldn't have left him alone with the patriots, wouldn't have left him) but somehow the man was charming. Endearing even - cute, yet smart and the spark that John must've seen in him comes through in the more private conversations. There's a more pathetic side to Miller too - the attempts at flirting with some French woman leaving Ocelot oddly laughing ever so quietly to himself in the dark hospital room at 3am.
That's not to say there isn't an edge to Miller of something more complex though. A desperation for attention, a cut throat attitude to business, a thirst for something bigger in life. Ocelot feels like he picks up that edge underneath the surface of the fool Miller plays and he wonders if John did too.
The jealously hasn't magically disappeared however, but hearing John happy is maybe doing wonders for his patience all the sudden. To hear John laugh, to joke around, to talk about things not related to war or fighting - it brings Adam back to the quiet times he had with John himself. Except, it makes him remember the fact that he never knew John before those missions in 64 and he wonders if this is the real John all along - a John his mother knew. In a way, as much as he wishes that it was him there instead of Miller, Ocelot feels a warmth inside him just listening to it, imagining himself in that room on that off shore base with them. If he shuts his eyes he wonders if he can feel the warm breeze or the heat off the tarmac, the bird calls up in the air and the sounds of a place that seemed so full of life.
He knows he's a masochist, but even this is going too far. The peaceful images of his head gets replaced with the feeling he's felt since '72 - the deep regret of not following John and the anger towards a world that wasn't going to let him follow in the first place. Adam sits in the uncomfortable hospital chair then, hands held together between his knees and imagines if things may have been different if he'd been there on Mother Base. What if he wasn't stuck as John's inside man to The Patriots but instead, knowing their plots well, figures out everything anyway. From the tapes he recognizes the names Zadornov and he feels like a young teen again, frustrated at a western film and the actions the protagonist is making, wishing he could shout the obvious answers to save the day.
He also imagines what it would be like to talk to Miller - would the man open up in a similar way to him as he would to Snake? Been welcoming or distant? Maybe, even flirtatious? Would John say anything? He indulges in a moment of imagining John being jealous over him for once and it's childish but it's amusing in it's novelty. He wants to lean over, murmur his fantasies into John's ear but he knows these whispers should be spoken to the phantom instead.
He gets called away the next day by the KGB.
When he returns, he carries in a bouquet of white flowers and places them by John's bed.
No, Big Boss doesn't know the truth
Better to make... use of them
It seems it's time for a change in approach
Two already... really...
I wonder how Big Boss will respond
I'm neither an enemy or an ally, I'm merely a business partner
... My dear Zero
Ocelot pauses the tape and lets out a deep sigh. Of course, John has such terrible luck with blondes, Adam doesn't even know why he pretended like this was going to end any different.
He's surprised however. Ocelot hadn't personally seen much about Kaz in relation to The Patriots but then he thinks back to '73, '72, and off-hand remarks by Zero don't seem to off-hand anymore. He'd just assumed that Zero had known about the MSF operations in Colombia through intel resources, through surveillance - the prospect that Zero was actually siphoning money into the project through someone hadn't even occurred to him and Ocelot feels irked.
He listens to that tape again. He'd hate Miller more if he hadn't been in that position himself - Zero cuts a sweet deal once he knows what you're after, what your weakness is and Adam wonders if Miller had agreed for the sake of John. Did he think accepting the deal would protect John in a way? Agree to be the sheepdog to defend against the real wolves? These questions are speculation - he knows he's never going to find out the answers, except for if he pretends him and Miller are more alike than originally thought.
Ocelot listens to it one more time. The third time, he briefly thinks about how Kaz sounds kind of sexy when betraying John's trust just for a bit of money.
There's nostalgia, too. Reminds him of himself 11 years back.
Now and then he's called out for something or another by one faction or another and he returns each time with a new bouquet of flowers.
Weeks turn to months. It feels like the only time he can sleep anymore is when he sits by John's side, face resting in his arms on the bed next to him, unresponsive hand in his, headphones in his ear as he continues to live a life he never had in Costa Rica.
He clicks stop on the player and rubs at his eyes, the bridge of his nose. Finally, Ocelot has reached the end of the types, everything that was offered to him now sits in his memory, ready to used as a tool to shape a mind. It had been a few near-sleepless days, so engrossed in these last few moments that lead up to the mess he dealing with now and he's sure he's going to pass out any moment. He looks at the space on the bed next to John and considers.
Then a nurse comes in, tells him he has a phone call.
"Who's asking?" But he already knows. He knows that voice.
"Miller," it's terse, angry, but whispered into the phone, "but don't you cipher bastards already know that? Where is he? Where the fuck is Snake?"
"Lovely to make your acquaintance, Miller," Ocelot pauses, "finally."
Swear to god the next thing will just be ocelhira fucking on a train.
Chapter 3: Watching You Without Me
Ocelot gives John a gift. And Miller too.
I decided to make a train related fic more involved and longer (hopefully) so in the meantime I wrote something small after thinking about the cologne item in peace walker and essentially Ocelot scent marking without uh, pissing (very anti metal gear moment). The cologne I decided to have in mind for this as Aramis.
"What the hell is this?"
"A present," Ocelot gives a pointed look, tilts his head slightly to indicate at the gift bag, "someone told me it's your birthday soon. I'll be out of the country, so, I'm giving it to you early."
There's a grumble, Ocelot picks up a 'damn' and 'Zero' within the noise and it makes him smile ever so slightly. John looks so uncomfortable; Adam wishes he had something to record this moment, that the great Big Boss was defeated by just the fact someone remembered his birthday and dared to buy him something. It was cute - amusing also, but only Eva would appreciate that line of thinking.
He shakes the gift bag ever so slightly and John reaches over to take it out of his hands with a sigh. There's another grumble that it 'better not be expensive' and it 'better not be something weird'.
John pulls out a small box and opens it - takes out the glass bottle and gives Ocelot a look.
"It's cologne," he corrects, taking the bottle from John, then grabbing his wrist to rub at the flesh between where his hand starts and his shirtsleeve begins. "You can't smell like swamp water all the time, you know. As charming as I found it at first."
"You picked this?" It's a bit quieter, less annoyed and more intrigued - Ocelot can tell when he's being humoured slightly but he'll take it.
"When I was last in London - David took me to Harrods, I tried a few out, but," he pauses to spritz some of the cologne on John's wrist, "I found I like this one the best. It reminded me of you."
There's an awkward moment as John lets the liquid dry down but Ocelot can already smell it, John probably can too unless he's fucked up his sense of smell between the last time Adam saw him and now. John eventually lifts his wrist up, gives it a sniff.
"It's... Pretty good."
"And this is?"
"A present, Miller, what do you think? You're getting old, congratulations."
"I'm still younger than you," Kaz gives him an unimpressed look behind his aviators, "and I still look younger than you."
"Funny, I'll take the gift back then--"
"Hey, let's not get hasty. I know you like buying expensive shit, no way am I passing that up."
"I see the frugal lifestyle of late is making you desperate," but Miller just ignores him as he opens up the gift bag, pulls out a small box, then takes out a glass bottle. Ocelot watches as the other man studies it, rubbing his chin slightly as he stares at the object - possibly trying to find a price tag Ocelot could have accidentally left.
"This looks expensive."
"It's not that expensive," at least to Ocelot it isn't, "but it's one I like."
"You trying to tell me I stink or something?"
"Maybe - it wouldn't hurt for you to put something on for when we have to actually go somewhere nice. Fake owning a financially successful paramilitary organization until you make it, Miller."
Miller again ignores him to focus on spritzing his wrist, brings it up to smell. There's a moment where Kaz is unusually silent and Ocelot wouldn't say he's concerned as such but he's definitely uneasy.
"It smells," a pause, a large exhale of breath, "good. It smells good but--"
"Is this funny to you?" There's a quiet anger in the voice all the sudden and Ocelot knows he's still trying to work out Kazuhira Miller but this is more unexpected than usual.
"Oh, pray tell, what have I done now?"
"This-," Kaz swallows thickly, looks away from the bottle, away from Ocelot, "this smells like him. If you're trying to get a reaction out of me for some sick, twisted reason--"
"I'm not," Ocelot cuts in, holds up a hand, "honestly, I'm not. I-"
"Then why? This is just fucking cruel," and there's a shakiness to his voice and Ocelot can tell he's fucked up in more ways than once, "what were you going to say, huh? Tell me to spray it on my pillow or something? Cry myself to sleep with it? Fuck you, Ocelot."
"Should I wait for you to finish your tantrum? You're reading too much into this as usual, Miller."
"Oh? Then why? And don't start telling me you didn't know."
"I bought that for him in the first place, of course I fucking know, Miller."
"You did?" Kaz's voice is hurt, hushed, and it's more emotion than Miller has shown in ages but Adam could tell the feelings he was locking up was starting to reach max capacity. "All this time-- I, I used to rub my face into his neck and breath in and it's just been your fucking scent all over him?"
"Disregarding popular belief, I'm not actually a cat," he tries a little sarcasm to lighten the mood but he can't help but notice how wet Kaz's eyes look behind the tinted glass. "I didn't even know he was still using it - I thought he would've thrown it in the trash the minute he left."
There's awkward silence for a few moments. Ocelot shifts his weight onto the other leg and the sound of his boots and spurs clinking seem too loud.
"Answer me," the tone is almost dangerous now, "why did you give me this?"
Ocelot bites his lip ever so slightly. The look Miller is giving him makes him feel like he's in a spotlight, makes him feel like every movement and breath is being watched and it's both annoying yet oddly thrilling. In this moment, Kazuhira Miller only sees him, no matter that the tears that are falling under that gaze are for another man.
"I like the smell," he eventually answers, the truth for once, "I thought it would suit you."
He helps an injured Venom out from the helicopter and he catches a whiff of something familiar underneath the smells of sweat, sand and blood.
Later, when Venom is all cleared from the medical bay, Ocelot is waiting for him in the corridor, leaning up against the wall, arms crossed. He doesn't quite exactly know why he's feeling warmth in his stomach at the smell, neither does he quite understand his minds desperation for answers to questions he doesn't think are all that important.
"That cologne you're using - do you remember what it's called?"
"Hm? You like it? You'll have to ask Kaz - I saw it in his cabinet a while back, thought to try it out. He told me I should use it and, well," Venom looks a bit sheepish and Ocelot has a sudden nostalgia for a moment where he dangled a gift bag in front of Snake, but he can't remember what exactly was in the bag, "it smells pretty good."
Ocelot feels something in his heart ache then and he doesn't know why.
"It does, doesn't it."