Graduation from TOPGUN was one thing. It was great, no question, but it was just the warm-up.
You hadn't made it, really made it, until you got hitched.
That was what everybody called it, these days. It was supposed to happen pretty much right away. Graduation had ended, and they'd had awards presented and all that; and then, afterward, they'd have gotten their assignments.
But the crisis situation half of them had gotten called into had put that on hold.
Maverick couldn't help but wonder, later, whether it had changed anything. Whether flying that mission the way he had had moved the needle, gotten names scratched out and rearranged in some upstairs office—or whether he'd always have gotten Iceman, no matter what.
It kind of felt like it, that was all. Before they flew, he hadn't been sure. Not in his gut, not where it meant anything. But after—
After, standing on that wet tarmac looking Iceman in the eye, the air gone crisp and clear around them, everybody else feeling like they were about half a mile away—he knew, then. He knew they couldn't give him anybody else.
It made sense, after all. The way they'd flown, outnumbered, outgunned; the way they'd blown those fucking MiGs out of the sky. Of course the brass would want to get that nailed down, set in stone, and hitch them for real.
It was half just plain practical, with pilots, wingmen—making it official, recognized. RIOs were different: they were already in the same plane. It was pilots who needed the help. Needed to cultivate closeness, synchrony, because nothing gave you a better idea what a guy was thinking than living together, sleeping together, spending as much time as you could in each other's pockets. And it didn't hurt to know for sure that if you got shot down out there, there was somebody who'd been right next to you to deal with all your shit, to mourn you knowing exactly what you'd been doing and why, instead of leaving some poor fucking civilian out there getting some soulless form letter.
Besides, everybody knew you flew better together once you were hitched. Nobody wanted to run a real mission with solos if they could help it. It was bad luck.
Bad luck, except when it was good luck—except when it was TOPGUN graduates who weren't going to be solos much longer, up there proving to God and everybody that they were as good as hitched already.
Maverick had never done it before. He'd gotten close now and then. It could have been Cougar, maybe, if Cougar hadn't given up his wings—hadn't gone back to go marry a civilian instead, and ruled himself out for good.
And a year ago, Maverick hadn't known Tom fucking Kazansky from a hole in the ground. A month ago, he'd have laughed himself sick just imagining it. A week ago, he probably wouldn't have been able to feel a damn thing. But now—
Now, he knew what it was like to be up there flying like anything but a solo. Now he had the memory of the shimmer under his skin, the sudden perfect quiet in his head, when his eyes had met Iceman's; now he knew the sensation of Iceman's arms closing around him, their bodies pressed tight together without room for so much as a breath between them.
They told him it was going to be Kazansky. And it should have been fine. It should have been easy to hear. Just the next step in front of him before he could keep flying. But he heard Iceman's name and felt hot, raw, unsettled, and he didn't know why.
He kept it off his face. He'd always been good at that. But he couldn't stop feeling it.
That was the part he'd never really gotten the hang of.
The ceremony itself was quick, straightforward. All the assigned hitches in their graduating class, lined up in a row in their dress whites, listening to the same spiel.
Streamlined, compared to the civilian version. Bullshit-free. Their job was easy: all they had to do was stand there, listen, recite the Erast's Creed each in their turn. Iceman's voice was steady, level. It had felt longer, somehow, sitting there memorizing it beforehand—actually saying it took barely any time at all.
And then they were done.
Viper, Jester, both came by to congratulate them and shake their hands. And then, for a minute, it was just them, alone in the hallway after.
"Hey," Iceman said, low, and reached for Maverick's face.
Maverick almost flinched, heart pounding—caught himself, wrenched himself into place instead. And Iceman wasn't going for his face after all, but for his throat, his collar.
Maverick bit the inside of his cheek hard, and kept his face still. Tilted his chin up, just a little, just to make it easier for Iceman to catch the chain of his dogtags with one finger.
And then Iceman pulled, drew it up and out from inside Maverick's clean pressed uniform, and something about that seemed fucking obscene.
Maverick didn't let himself shiver.
He did the same: dipped two fingertips inside the starched curve of Iceman's collar, and came back with the stippled chain, the dogtags swinging and clacking against each other, warm against his hand like they were part of Iceman, alive.
"Come on," Iceman said.
The catch on the chain was easy enough to find. Maverick worked it open, slipped one of Iceman's tags off and left the other; held the ends apart and waited, the nape of his neck prickling as Iceman worked on his. It was just the way the chain was moving against his skin, his throat. That was all.
Iceman took one of Maverick's tags, closed it in his palm, and then took the ends of his own chain from Maverick: their fingertips brushed, were pressed together. And then he had the chain, secure, and pulled away a little, slipped Maverick's tag onto it and then closed the catch tight again.
They didn't have to. Nobody was going to check. But it was tradition, and there were some things even Maverick opted not to fuck with.
It wasn't any different. Iceman's dogtag felt the same, weighed the same; made the same flat metallic noise, flapping against Maverick's remaining tag, as he caught them up and pushed them back in under his collar again, let them settle against his chest.
It shouldn't have been any different. But he met Iceman's eyes after, and it was like all the air was gone from the hallway at once, like hitting Mach 2 with the whole deep blue shell of the sky opened up in front of you—
"Hey, come on, guys! Don't want to be late."
It was Chipper, with Jughead at his shoulder—they'd obviously finished up too, down at the other end of the hallway, about to head out.
"Gee, thanks, Mom," Iceman said, deadpan, perfect stonefaced Iceman all over.
Chipper grinned, and Iceman met Maverick's eyes again and then clapped him on the shoulder, and then they went to dinner.
Dinner was fine.
The whole base was celebrating—hitched, solo, didn't matter. The food was good and the mess was loud, everybody smiling, having a good time.
Maverick almost managed to forget about the whole thing. For ten minutes at a stretch, anyway.
But then something would happen. Maverick's dogtags, sliding against his chest under his uniform, abruptly unignorable. Iceman shifting in his seat next to him. Moving, breathing. Smiling that KO of a smile—who fucking decided to give a guy called Iceman a smile like that?
Jughead, across from them, looking lazy and smug, copping a feel under the table. Chipper laughing, flushed and smiling, letting him do it.
"Man, I can't believe we had to come to this thing," Chipper said. "Couldn't they give us ten fucking minutes?"
"Ten fucking minutes," Jughead repeated, deliberate, waggling his eyebrows.
"You think you'll last ten minutes?" Iceman said, with a level kind of look at Chipper that made it clear he was calling that a generous estimate.
"Yeah, yeah, we know, the Iceman can go all night long," Chipper said, with a grin. "Hey, you might not know this, but I hear Maverick flies planes for a living. You better make sure his ass is still fit to sit on in the morning."
Jesus, Maverick thought, and stuck a forkload of food in his mouth just so he wouldn't have to come up with anything to say to that. And if he didn't meet Iceman's eyes again for a while after that, well, it wasn't like he needed to. He already knew what color they were.
The point was, he barely thought about it at all, during dinner.
Iceman caught him by the arm when they left, right outside the doors. "We're this way now," he said.
And—right, Maverick thought. They were hitched. No more solo housing. Their shit had probably already been moved to the new suite while they were gone.
It was a ten-minute walk from the mess, tops. They were shoulder to shoulder the whole way. It didn't matter where Maverick was looking; he could fucking feel Iceman, the space he took up, the heat of him.
He kept his mouth shut and walked, and ignored the way his panting fucking heart wouldn't stop pounding.
The suite was nice. Clean. Maverick took a minute and looked around, and couldn't remember a damn thing he'd seen once his eyes moved off it.
And then he made himself turn around, and Iceman was just standing there, right inside the door, in those crisp fucking dress whites, watching him with those blue fucking eyes.
It didn't matter, Maverick told himself. So he hadn't done this before. So what? He'd heard more than enough. He knew how it worked. He wasn't going to fuck up. It wasn't a problem. It didn't have to be a problem.
He crossed the suite, caught Iceman by the shoulders—didn't give him time to move, to say anything. Just held him there and kissed him, hard, unhesitating. Kissed him like pulling Gs, accelerating into it, knowing you could take it.
Iceman made a sound, low in his throat, and curled his hand around the side of Maverick's throat, and let him. Let him, and kissed back; and for a second they were caught like that, bracing themselves and pinning each other, pressure meeting equal pressure, taut, immovable.
And then Iceman slid his thumb along the line of Maverick's jaw, held Maverick still and pulled away half an inch and breathed hot and slow against Maverick's cheek. "Yeah," he murmured, "I get it. You're dangerous."
He leaned in, and kissed Maverick again. Almost as hard, but not quite. And slower, a little.
Maverick closed his eyes, and stuck with him, helpless, newly reflexive: right on his wing, not leaving him alone, not rushing off without him.
And Iceman brought them down one gear at a time, until they were trading long luxurious presses, almost closemouthed, just a hint of tongue along the curve of a lip every now and then, panting quick quiet breaths against each other's cheeks.
He'd moved his hands, too. Undone Maverick's uniform tunic, slid it down his shoulders until it had caught on his elbows, because Maverick couldn't convince himself to pry his hands off Iceman's shoulder, the nape of his neck, long enough to let it fall. Rucked Maverick's undershirt up underneath, shoved it out of his way to reach skin.
And then Iceman broke away, leaned back, and Maverick blinked his eyes open just in time to realize Iceman was watching him like he was waiting for something. Except it was already too late: Iceman had dropped one hand straight down to Maverick's ass, was squeezing, and by the time Maverick had put that together, understood what was happening, his body had already reacted: he'd tensed up, tight as wire, like the nervous fucking virgin he was.
Iceman didn't look smug, didn't look like he'd called it. He didn't look like anything. He was doing that full-on Iceman face—which was almost worse. Like he thought he'd better, to spare Maverick's fucking feelings.
"You haven't done this before," he said.
"Fuck you," Maverick gritted out, because at least that way he hadn't said no, I haven't, even if Iceman was going to hear it anyway.
He hadn't. He'd never been hitched until now, and in the military only hitches fucked each other, at least as far as he knew. And fucking civilians would've felt like some kind of concession: like he was acknowledging the future Cougar had walked into as a possibility. Like hell was he putting that option on the table for himself, even if he'd never have taken it. As far as he was concerned, it didn't exist, and never would.
And then he stopped short, and turned things over in his head, and swallowed.
"You have," he said.
"Yeah," Iceman said, and didn't look away, didn't let go. "Temporary assignment a while back, that's all."
Maverick's face went hot. Stupid—it wasn't like he hadn't known already that this was the real deal, nothing temporary about it. You didn't make it out of TOPGUN and get stuck with temporary assignments.
It was just that there was something about hearing Iceman say it out loud. About having that kind of proof that this was as real for Iceman as it was for Maverick.
"But you haven't," Iceman added, lower, almost soft. He tilted his head, slanted those sharp steady eyes of his up and down Maverick's face—long, slow, lingering, stare going heavy, like he liked to look. Like he liked that it was his to look at now. "You haven't, because nobody could hang on long enough. Nobody could catch you. Nobody could keep you."
Maverick's throat ached. His skin was prickling in slow waves; he was, he realized distantly, hard already, uniform slacks tight and straining. He couldn't look away.
"Well," Iceman said, and reached up, and rubbed his thumb along the line of Maverick's mouth, the shape of it. It probably looked a lot like Iceman's did to Maverick right now: red, wet, a little sore. "You're mine now. And lucky for you, I like a challenge."
Maverick caught that thumb against his teeth, bit the pad of it, and kept his eyes steady on Iceman's, so at least Iceman would know he wasn't swooning or anything over here.
Even if he was, a little. Even if his heart wouldn't stop pounding, like it was trying to catch Iceman's attention.
The bite made Iceman smile at him, slow and cool. And then Iceman reached up with his other hand, and dug it into Maverick's hair—close, tight, because it was regulation-short—and pulled his head back; tilted it, at just the angle he wanted it, and kissed Maverick again.
This time he went deeper, harder. This time he went all-out. He was using his height, his strength, his hands, his tongue; Maverick felt crowded close, surrounded, and it should have pissed him off but instead it felt like a cockpit: like being strapped in right where he needed to be, about to go a thousand miles an hour.
His arms were still caught in his fucking uniform. All he could do was stand there and take it—but that didn't mean he was going to settle for anything. Fine, he was going to take it. He was going to take it better than anybody, better than Iceman's fucking temporary assignment ever had. He was going to take everything Iceman had to dish out, and then he was going to ask for more.
Iceman shoved a thigh between Maverick's, and Maverick squeezed his eyes shut and made a sharp sound into Iceman's mouth, because fuck, jesus, he hadn't even gotten his slacks undone and it was still so fucking good. He jerked against the pressure, clumsy, desperate, and the friction of his slacks, his underwear, against his cock was almost too much, a hot shivering shock just short of pain.
"Easy," Iceman murmured against his jaw. "Easy, okay?"
Maverick wanted to tell him to go fuck himself. But he couldn't get his mouth to cooperate. He was too busy gasping, shivering, pressing himself into Iceman's hands on him.
"Come on," Iceman said, and walked him back one uneven step at a time until they hit a wall.
That was good. That was fucking fantastic, because Iceman could shove him back into it, pin him there—reach down and rub the line of his dick assessingly, where it was trapped and straining, and he did it again, again, and Maverick threw back his head and caught a noise between his teeth that he didn't want to give up, not until Iceman had earned it. But fuck. Fuck—
"Yeah, all right, I can work with that," Iceman said, mouth slanting, smug and irresistible.
Maverick pushed forward against his hands, lunged and caught that smug fucking mouth and bit down, and was rewarded with a sharp inhale, a roll of Iceman's hips that made it clear he was at least as hard as Maverick. And god, that felt good: knowing that he'd heated up the Iceman himself, that maybe he was going to be able to pull this off after all.
Iceman caught at Maverick's uniform jacket, jerked it down his arms and then let it drop to the floor, and shoved his undershirt up all the way to the dangling dogtags; smoothed his hands over Maverick's waist and hips and the curve at the small of his back like he just wanted to fucking touch it all, like he couldn't get enough of it. And then he hooked two fingers in the waist of Maverick's slacks and popped the top button with his thumb, shoved the zipper down—his knuckles pressed against Maverick's dick through his briefs, and Maverick shuddered and reached out to grip Iceman's shoulders—
"No," Iceman said, soft, steady. "Hands against the wall."
Maverick gritted his teeth, and sucked in a breath, and did it. Pressed his arms back, flattened his hands, palms against the cool smooth paint.
"Keep them there," Iceman added, and fuck. Jesus.
"Fuck you," Maverick spat, shivering, but he didn't move an inch.
Fuck, he thought dimly. Iceman really had his fucking number.
Iceman shucked his own uniform tunic off and dropped it, and then reached for Maverick again, grasped the waist of his slacks and his briefs both at once, and dragged them down around his thighs; touched the underside of his cock, red and hard and curving up, with the backs of two fingers, and Maverick jerked and swore and kept his hands on the fucking wall.
"Good," Iceman said quietly, and leaned in and kissed him again, slick and wet, and Maverick squeezed his eyes shut and sucked Iceman's tongue into his mouth, and tried to stop fucking shaking.
Iceman didn't waste any more time. He went for it, cool, smooth, like he'd planned every move in advance. Maybe he had—maybe this was what he'd been thinking about, all the time he'd been sitting quietly next to Maverick at dinner in the mess hall.
Maverick was expecting him to have to move away for a minute, but he didn't: he had lube in his fucking pocket, because he really had been ready for this all goddamn day. He got his own slacks open and pushed them down just far enough to be out of his way, and slicked himself up, easy, two strokes with a palmful of it.
And then he went for Maverick again, his ass, bare against the wall with the waist of his slacks shoved down around his thighs. "Come on," he said, hoarse, and Maverick grinned a little just hearing a tone like that out of the Iceman's mouth. And then Iceman wrapped his hands around Maverick's thighs and pulled—trapped him against the wall, braced there on his arms, his shoulders, and lifted his feet off the floor, yanked his thighs up high around Iceman's waist.
"Shit," Maverick said, and screwed his eyes shut.
It was going to work, just barely. The seams of his slacks were tight around his thighs, the waist digging a line into the tops of them where they were forced apart around Iceman. But Iceman could reach his ass, was digging his fingers into it and panting against Maverick's mouth, and Maverick could feel the hot thick line of his cock, shoved up almost against Maverick's trapped balls.
Iceman didn't redirect it, though, didn't start pushing in. He kept his hands where they were; one of them splayed out, strong, supporting Maverick by one thigh, and the other at his ass, skimming along the crack of it, pressing with his thumb—
"No," Maverick gritted out.
"Maverick," Iceman said.
"Just do it," Maverick said. "Fuck you, come on. Just do it." He twisted his head, pressed his hot cheek against the wall and sucked in a breath. He wasn't going to fucking break. He could handle this. He could handle anything. "I want to feel it," he goaded. "Come on."
But Iceman didn't waver. "Oh, you will," he said. "Trust me."
He stretched Maverick out, lubed him up, slow and steady; kissed him the same way, long hot thrusts of his tongue, like he wanted to make sure there was going to be room for his dick in there sometime, too.
And by the time Iceman was finally fucking ready to go, had Maverick's ass in his hands and his dick all lined up, Maverick had his head tipped back against the wall, his eyes squeezed shut, his palms trembling and sliding against the paint. "Come on," he said.
"Fine," Iceman said, and started fucking him for real.
The first thrust hardly felt like anything; just the head of Iceman's dick, that was all. He went another couple inches the next time, and even with all the fucking lube, his fingers, that started up a slow deep burn, and Maverick couldn't help clenching up around him, feeling it, working through it. Which made Iceman suck in a breath through his teeth and swear, and Maverick found himself suddenly laughing, breathless, feeling lightheaded and wired and fucking giddy.
"Jesus," Iceman said against his temple, "you are so fucking tight," and it should have sounded stupid but it came out like it hurt him to say, like he loved it.
The next time, Maverick pressed back against Iceman's thrust, so hard his shoulders skidded against the wall—all the way down, faster than Iceman had meant to do it, and it was sharp and deep and too much, but fuck, he wanted it; he wanted all of it, he couldn't wait anymore.
"Fuck," Iceman said, and hooked him under a knee with one arm, gripped him tight at the nape of the neck with the other. "Jesus, fuck, you are going to kill me."
"Dangerous," Maverick said, and laughed again, and Iceman grinned, that brilliant fucking grin, and took him the fuck apart.
He was methodical, intent, filling Maverick up like nothing ever had—Maverick had never thought he was empty, before, but it turned out maybe that was because he hadn't known what it was like to be full. And fuck, did he like being full; the stretch of it, the heat, the burn, knowing that was Iceman's cock in him, that Iceman was getting from him what nobody else ever had or ever would. And Maverick wanted to touch himself so badly he almost sobbed with it once or twice, so badly his eyes were wet.
But he kept his hands on the fucking wall.
His cock was trapped between them, rubbing up against the straining fabric of his slacks every time Iceman fucked into him. And it wasn't enough to get him off, it couldn't possibly be enough to get him off—but it built up anyway, a bit at a time, until the edge was so close he could fucking taste it, each brush of cloth against his cock lighting him up, making his breath catch helplessly in his throat.
He realized dimly that he was making low punched-out noises every time Iceman pushed in, that Iceman was murmuring, "Yeah, come on—fuck, oh, fuck," over and over again. And then Iceman leaned close, curled into him, and said against his throat, "God, you're so fucking good, I'm going to do this five times a day; I'm going to fuck you in a cockpit, I'm going to fuck you on the tarmac—" and reached in to rub his thumb, feather-light, against the head of Maverick's dick.
And that was it: he was fucking gone, shuddering his way through the white-out of it in pulsing waves. Jesus.
When he was done, Iceman was breathing out harsh against the angle of his jaw, taut as wire—trying to hold on through it, as Maverick had squeezed and trembled around him, Maverick realized, and grinned. Maverick was shivering everywhere and his arms were aching, his fingertips tingling with how hard he'd been digging them into the wall; he felt fucking fantastic. "What the hell are you waiting for?" he gasped out. "Fucking give it to me already," and Iceman made a harsh sound through his teeth, shoved him harder into the wall and fucked into him once, twice, long sure strokes, and then came in him, shaking.
Yeah, Maverick thought, okay. He could get used to this.
Iceman didn't drop him. Just staggered a little, and then let them both slide down the wall, so he was kneeling with Maverick spread out over his thighs. Maverick didn't even realize he still hadn't taken his hands off the wall until Iceman touched them—smoothed his palms over the backs of them and slid his fingers between Maverick's, and said, "So you can take orders after all."
"Depends on the orders," Maverick said between gulps of air, catching his breath.
Iceman laughed, and brought their joined hands up, set Maverick's on his shoulders and left them there, and then reached out to smooth a thumb along Maverick's cheek.
"Mine," he said, low, satisfied.
Maverick pulled him in close. "Bullshit," he said. "You can be mine," and Iceman was still grinning when Maverick kissed him.
It was so fucking good. It was everything he'd ever been looking for, this feeling: settled in his skin, brimming over with relief and gladness and something that might have been peace. Finally belonging exactly where he was—right here with Iceman's hands on him, pilot and wingman, wingman and pilot, and all the promise of a distant horizon stretching out in front of them.