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When they went out, Brad didn’t give it much thought. They went out all the time, getting shitfaced for no reason and having fun. They never needed much to celebrate. Sometime not being in a tin-plated Humvee was reason enough.

There was a comforting routine to their drinking. Ray usually decided they needed to get drunk and dragged Brad to the nearest bar. Sometimes others would join them, but Brad didn’t mind it being only Ray. Some people found comfort in food. For Brad it was the mix of Ray and alcohol. Loud stories, insults thrown at each other and wondering whether or not the waitress would suck one of them off in the back alley. And even though more often than not the waitress didn’t agree to any sexual favors, Brad always felt better after a night out with Ray.

So when they went out, Brad didn’t give it much thought. That particular night it was just him and Ray, because Nate was pretending to be one of those tree-hugging bisexuals with a hard on for future economic prosperity of some shithole Brad didn’t care about. But apparently that’s what it took to get into the Senate. As if guys from Bravo couldn’t just hold all those pussies at a gun point and hand Nate the fucking nomination on a fucking silver platter.

So Nate wasn’t there. Poke was man enough to admit Gina wouldn’t let him go because the spawns were down with flu. And Walt was on a motherfucking date. Which was the entire reason for them to go out drinking and not stop after they had emptied the first bottle of Jack.

“I don’t get it homes. I’m so much better looking than Hasser! I’m, like, the most awesome motherfucker on this planet! A moment shouldn’t go by when I don’t have my dick sucked!”

Or, at least, that’s what Brad thought Ray was mumbling. They were slowly reaching the end of the second bottle, everything was getting a bit fuzzy. But since Brad was watching Ray’s lips, he was pretty sure his interpretation of the slurred speech was pretty fucking accurate.

“But instead I’m here with you, with no chance of getting my dick into any hot, wet hole. And it would be so fucking awesome...”

There was something in Ray’s tone of voice that Brad found insulting, for some reason. He couldn’t really explain it, his higher brain functions suffering from the amazing alcohol poisoning, but just in case Ray really was insulting Brad’s company, he slapped the back of Ray’s head.

And, of course, because Ray was truly fucking wasted, the sheer force of Brad’s love pat sent him stumbling, and Brad had to catch him before Ray kissed the floor.

He put his arms around Ray to make sure his friend was standing relatively straight. Ray took it as an invitation to cling to him, rubbing his cheek against Brad’s shirt.

“I really wanna have sex,” Ray mumbled, and Brad rolled his eyes. They definitely had enough.

“Yeah, okay. Let’s call it a night. It’s almost bedtime for sex-craved, whiskey tango perverts like you.”

There was a thought concerning a bed and an idea of getting there. But it was too blurry for Brad to be able to wrap his mind around it.

***

He woke up and he was in his bed. With a hangover that made him wish he could call up Doc Bryan and ask for a mercy kill.

Then the rest of his surroundings caught up with him.

There he was, in his bed, smelling of sex, with arms full of unconscious Ray. And even though it felt fucking great, despite the part where his head was trying to explode, he made use of his Marine training and slipped out of the bed to escape to the bathroom.

He wasn’t really freaking out. It’s not like his best friend since the clusterfuck that was Iraq was lying in his bed, truly and completely fucked. By Brad. And if Brad closed his eyes, he wouldn’t be able to recall the way Ray moaned when Brad thrust into him. Or the way Ray seemed to know exactly where to touch Brad to send him over the edge...

And this wasn’t the denial talking. Brad really couldn’t recall anything that happened after they left the bar. So he was incapable of freaking out about it.

The fact that he wanted to remember all that... Yeah, that freaked him out a little.

He fought the urge to call Nate, because the last thing he wanted to hear was how that fucker saw this coming and just waited for Brad to fucking catch up. Besides, Brad could imagine how that conversation would go.

“Ray.” Nate would definitely start with a deadpan.

Brad wouldn’t even respond to that obvious attempt at mockery. And Nate would no doubt continue, having a fucking time of his life.

“Well that certainly makes sense. He did sing praises to, what was the phrase, ah, yes, your enormous Iceman dick for the entire OIF.” Because Brad just knew Ray hopped up on Ripped Fuel spouting random shit would someday come back and bite him in the ass.

Brad would respond with a firm, “Fuck. You.”

“Well, apparently Ray got there first. I will have to comfort my broken heart. Somehow.”

And because Brad was distressed, he would not have the usual tolerance toward amused Nate and would probably tell him to go fuck himself.

“That’s certainly an option...”

Yeah, Brad didn’t have to call Nate to know how the conversation would go. He also knew that once Nate mocked him enough, he would get serious, and Brad would hear the shift in Nate’s mood through miles and miles of phone lines.

***

Brad looked in the mirror. He could do this. Though in his current state of distress he wasn’t entirely sure what “this” was.

He was about to make some kind of decision when the banging on the door startled the fuck out of him. Because deep inside Brad was a motherfucking teenage girl whose love life problems overrode the entire Marine training.

“Fuck, homes, did you slit your wrists in there? I swear to God, I’m going to kill you if you make me clean up the blood before I even have a piss!”

Brad couldn’t help himself and a small grin appeared on his face. Trust Ray to have his priorities straight. He walked to the door and opened it, feeling calmer by the second.

“Your cheerful personality amazes me every day,” Brad kept his tone light and it wasn’t difficult. Banter with Ray was always easy. And he would say more, but he got distracted by the fact that Ray didn’t even bother with dressing before he barged into the bathroom and started to piss. Leaving Brad to admire the bruises on Ray’s hips and back.

Brad’s fucking handprints right there.

He couldn’t leave the bathroom faster.

***

Brad wasn’t avoiding Ray. He was the Iceman and he could handle anything.

He was just… busier than usual. He had shit to do.

***

“Alright Brad, I don’t know what the fuck your problem is, but seriously. You’re acting worse than when you thought your bromance with Fick was over, after he left the Corps. Fuck, it’s worse than when Trombley fucked up those shepherd kids. Come on, talk to your dear pal Ray-Ray…”

Brad couldn’t help but notice the actual concern in Ray’s voice. It made him hesitate for a second before he went back to fixing the imaginary problem under the hood of his car.

The silence stretched and finally Brad heard Ray sigh. There was some movement and quick glance to the side told Brad that Ray had settled on the floor.

“Fine, I can do it myself,” Ray said and cleared his throat.

“Ray,” he started in a falsetto voice. “I really appreciate that you worry. I know that someone as awesome as you doesn’t have a lot of time for my pussy attempts at being a drama queen. Words cannot describe how grateful I am.”

“You see, Brad,” Ray switched to his normal voice. “That’s what friends do, and I am, after all, your bestest friend.”

“Yes, I know.” The falsetto returned. “Nobody can compare. Not even my mancrush Nate.”

“Awww, homes, you make me all warm and fuzzy on the inside.”

“Does it mean you’ll finally agree for us to wear matching bracelets to show everybody we’re BFFs?”

“Only if you tell your best friend Ray what the fuck got your panties in a twist.”

“You like Walt more than me. I’m green with envy, because Hasser’s so much prettier than I am.”

“Oh Brad, Brad, Brad… I could never like Walt more than you. We’re epic! Our friendship will outlast everything. Even the fucking cockroaches. We’ll wear those bracelets and show the world how epic we are…”

There was a pause and Brad heard something metallic hit the floor several times before landing right next to him. He looked down and picked up the most disgusting pink lucky charms bracelet he’d ever seen. There was a glittery “BFF” charm attached to it and the entire thing looked like unicorns puked all over it.

“What the fuck is this?” The words left his mouth before he could stop himself.

“It’s my genius way of getting you to talk, because fuck, Brad, this mute hermit shit gotta go.”

“Believe me Ray, you do not want me to talk,” Brad warned him.

“The fuck I don’t. I’m over letting you cope with this shit, you clearly don’t know how to cope with it, or we’d be back to getting drunk on a regular basis.”

Brad wiped his hands and got out from under the hood. He moved quickly and yanked Ray back into the standing position.

“Which part of ‘leave me the fuck alone’ and ‘you don’t want me to talk about it’ didn’t you understand?”

Ray ignored the sudden change in Brad’s behavior.

“It was all pretty clear. I just ignored it, like all the other stupid shit you say. I’m your friend, if you missed that, and it’s my fucking job to put up with your retardation.”

“Maybe I don’t fucking want you to be my friend,” Brad whispered and immediately let go of Ray, trying to get as far away from him as possible. It didn’t take him long to realize he should’ve kept his mouth shut.

Ray wasn’t a fucking idiot, he connected the dots before Brad could make it to the other side of the garage.

“Fuck. It’s about that night, isn’t it? You’re freaking out because we fucked.”

Brad looked at Ray. He tried to keep his Iceman mask in place, but with little success.

“You remember what happened?”

“Shit, homes, I could barely sit the next day. It doesn’t take a genius to add that up.”

Ray didn’t seem any more distressed than usual. In fact, he seemed pretty fucking alright with everything.

“And you don’t have a problem with any of this?”

“I didn’t before. But apparently it was so bad that you no longer wanted to associate with me! Which, you know, hurts my feelings. Because I’m a fucking sex god and you should acknowledge it!”

He cracked. Brad finally cracked, all the stress finally getting to him. He cracked and this wasn’t even happening. His friends have probably committed him and this entire conversation was an aftereffect of some really strong meds he was on.

***

Brad was hiding at Nate’s, which had its pros and cons. Of all the places Brad was known to frequent, Nate’s was the only place where Ray wouldn’t call or visit. Nate had established boundaries pretty early on, and Nate’s place was to never be visited without prior notice. Which was a huge plus, since Brad really couldn’t face Ray right now.

The flaw in his hiding plan was the fact that hiding at Nate’s meant Nate would actually be there. To talk to Brad. To be reasonable when all Brad wanted was to shoot himself and get the entire thing over with. Or shoot Nate, at least.

“I know it’s none of my business, Brad,” Nate started, and Brad knew that he was in for yet another lecture. “But maybe you’re looking at it wrong.”

“Why can’t we just get drunk in silence?” Brad asked before taking a swig of his beer.

“We tried that yesterday. Did it help?”

Brad didn’t say anything.

“Exactly. So,” Nate took a sip of his beer, “maybe you’re looking at it wrong.”

“And how do you figure that?”

“Unlike some people... Ray didn’t seem freaked out about... anything,” Brad could almost hear all the carefully omitted words. He didn’t say anything though. “Maybe he wouldn’t mind... giving up his place as your, ah, BFF. Especially if it meant becoming...”

Brad forcefully put his beer down and hid his face in his hands.

“Fucking hell, you’re not telling me what I think you’re telling me.”

“I don’t see why not. I’m no longer in the Corps. I can tell whatever I want.”

Fucking Nate and his fucking word games.

“It’s going to work out, Brad. I’m assured of this,” he said patting Brad’s shoulder, and Brad wanted to hurt him only a little.

***

When Brad knocked on Ray’s door, he tried not to look too pathetic. For a brief moment he hoped that Ray went out with Walt, but then the door opened.

Ray looked at him suspiciously but didn’t say anything.

“There’s a possibility that I freaked out,” Brad tried and winced at the way the words sounded.

“No shit.”

“It’s been... pointed out to me that I overreacted.”

“You mean Nate pointed out how much of a fucking idiot you were?”

He wasn’t going to admit to that. He was still Brad and Ray wouldn’t let it go, if he, even indirectly, admitted to being an idiot. Which he wasn’t. He was weighting pros and cons and exactly how much he liked waking up next to Ray. And how much he wanted to get into Ray’s pants and remember it afterwards.

But he didn’t say anything, just shrugged and waited for Ray to let him in. Which he did. He rolled his eyes and stepped aside, allowing Brad to get into the apartment.

“Apart from pointing out your retardation, what else did our fearless leader say?”

“That it might be worth it. This...” Brad made a vague gesture and looked at Ray. “Fucking hell, Ray, you know what I mean.”

Ray rolled his eyes again.

“Of course I know what you mean, you fucker, I’m your fucking best friend! What you mean is that Nate saw the awesomeness that is Ray-Ray and kicked your sorry ass until you saw it too. Because, clearly, a night of spectacular, if somewhat blurry sex didn’t manage to open your eyes to the ultimate fucking truth. Which is that I’m like that motherfucking shampoo for liberal tree-hugging pussies they show on TV all the time. Fuck yeah, I’m fucking worth it!”

It looked as if Ray was just taking a breather before continuing with his tirade, so Brad used that opportunity to walk up to him and shut him the fuck up.

And if he knew that kissing Ray worked so well, he’d have considered doing it much sooner. Especially... Fuck, especially when instead of talking, Ray was making those whimpers.