The year is 1952 and Adamska does not sleep.
He is instead lying awake in a small, army-issue cot in a room without any windows somewhere in Russia, listening to the half-static crackle of the radio that he stole from the soldiers, stole piece by piece and rebuilt so that he could listen to something at night. He has to stretch his hearing to hear the words through the static of Soviet Radiowires, trying to stop transmission, but he can hear it, the rereouted-through broadcast of the American radio drama How The West Was Won. Stories of heroic cowboys and their six-shooters, their exploits against brigands and bandits and the Red Men of the empty range states. Gold and crimes unforgivable and guns and the click of spurs and the neigh of horses—the firing of shots that sound so distant through the crackle. Not like the ones he hears sometimes outside the room, and sees sometimes when they let him go outside. Those are up close and personal and almost scare him.
He has never known anything but this place he is in, somewhere in Russia, waiting for something to happen that will release him from whatever it is. And every night, long past honest sleeping time, when the radio drama finally ends or a guard comes past and he has to hide the radio, only then does he toss and turn in what is truly only a half-sleep, a catnap, wanting desperately to be out there with the cowboys on their horses. Fighting for The Law. Sheriff Adamska, King of the Wild West, how he will win it and every duel. That is the fodder of his fever dreams, but they make it bearable.
The year is 1964 and Adamska does not sleep.
Well, to be more accurate he does (barely, half-awake and restless) but only at awful times of the night. At all other hours he is making use of his officer's quarters bedroom, military-issue badly made spring cot, about as comfortable as the ground but it is in a room with four walls and a door and none of his comrades there to hear him, one hand gloved, balled against his mouth, leather tasting like powder and blood and gunmetal, the other wrapped around his length and bare. He imagines different callouses there. Callouses from knives and an M1911, rough skin, dried out from so much time spent shoved into the dirt. They would be covered in caked animal blood and face paint.
After they capture Naked Snake and Volgin lets him have the man's bags to go through (he steals all his food vindictively) there is only one other thing that Ocelot takes—a pair of boxers that have been shoved haphazardly down into the backpack, and after the waterfall, he crouches even deeper in the sheets, face pressed into the cotton, breathing deep the smell of the older man and imagining what he looked like, tied up in the chamber, beautiful and terrified and perfect. He smells dirt. The earth, ingrained in the cloth. Blood of those dead and dying, animals, the scent of urine (slightly, not the most pleasant but he doesn't care) and strongest the scent of the man himself. It's such a musk that he cannot breathe around it. He doesn't sleep. He's too busy sobbing into the cotton, screaming his release, desperate to be touched by the hands that he imagines. He wants them holding a gun at his jaw, barrel pressed into the soft skin under his chin, unzipping a fly, telling him in that rough, American voice to suck and he wants it so bad it hurts.
The year is 1970 and Adamska does not sleep.
He is up all night by choice, even if he is tired. Worn out by pleasurable exertions, his body tingling, certain parts sore, others still sparking with the aftershocks. He does not sleep because he is listening to John breathe. Quiet, slow deep breaths, almost-snores, his head pillowed on the older man's chest, fingers curled against the man's chesthair, a few sparse grey singularities visible in the dark curls, his broad, muscled chest rising and falling under Adam's head, one palm pressed against the small of the blond's back, broad, strong fingers against Ocelot's much paler skin. He mumbles in his sleep. EVA has mentioned it offhand before, but Adam knows it better. It's never anything clear—just half-described words that aren't meant to really be anything, sometimes names. Occasionally he whispers 'kitten' and the blond feels a flush on his cheeks and turns his face more into John's shoulder. They shift. They breathe.
He lays awake all night, held safe and warm in strong arms, their legs mixed together in a muddled knot in the sheets, and he's never felt this safe anywhere else in his life.
It's those times that he whispers three words that he never feels comfortable whispering anywhere else.
Я тебя люблю.
The year is 1999 and Adamska does not sleep.
He is too broken to sleep when he hits the doorbell with shaking fingers and the door opens and EVA is standing there. For a long moment they stare at each other. He wanted her dead once. He still hates her, but he can't hate her right now because she's the only other person who remembers him right. Her mascara is running down her cheeks, her nose and eyelids are swollen and red with tears, and she looks a little bit drunk.
It's been eight years since he's seen her.
Her hair is greyer now, steely streaks in the pale blonde (John, always a gentleman, preferred blondes, but one of his has white hair now and the other will probably be dyeing hers soon) and the lines by her eyes and lips are fine and worn. She stares at him for a long moment and then they're hugging and she's crying against his shoulder, more than he's ever seen her do before.
If this is shellshock, Ocelot has never felt it before. Not in all of his years of war. Nothing like this. He feels empty inside, like someone punched in his sternum and scooped into him and hollowed him out like an American Jack O'Lantern and left him that way. EVA smells like vodka, and when they close the door to her apartment, doors locked and windowblinds drawn (always watched) and they sit on the couch and drink until EVA is asleep against his shoulder, her face swollen, unconscious, and Adam is laying there, his feet up on her coffeetable, watching the muted news about the uprising in Zanzibarland, empty inside, and doesn't cry. He just watches the pictures of the slaughter, John flashed across the screen, wanting it to be the next day and for him to already be there and EVA holds his hand tight in her sleep, her nails digging into the worn red leather of his gloves.
He hates her, he still wants her dead, but he thinks that maybe together they have enough memories to try to piece together what being held by him feels like, and that for now is enough.
The year is 2005 and Adamska does not sleep.
Not because of Liquid, no. It's only one night that he's stuck there—and besides, Liquid isn't much like his father. He walks like him, stands like him, like John did when he was off duty, shoulders thrown back with a comfortable, awful ease, his hands in his pockets, chin held high, cool blue eyes surveying everything that he sees and fearing nothing, and talks like him too, the same hand motions. Everything else is different though. The head on the shoulders is different. The voice is painfully different.
No, it's probably because of Solid. He really does look like his father. That was what made him slip up—not his age, never his age—but there Solid Snake was, standing just in front of him, and it took him back forty years to that day in Rassvet and an American who handed him his ass, scruffy, long brown hair, strong jaw, two clear blue eyes. He saw it a second time that moment with Solid, and he slipped. Just enough that he didn't react when he heard the Ninja ricocheting toward him, didn't dodge fast enough, and then—he lost his hand. John would have been furious with him, probably.
He does not sleep that night, because the two of them together are almost their father, and he wants nothing more than to have their father back.
The year is 2009 and Adamska does not sleep.
It's certainly not Solidus. He is nothing like his father—aside from appearances. He looks like John did at the end of his life, but he's not even thirty-seven yet, too young, too rash. He doesn't have his father's voice, not like Solid does, or his father's mannerisms, like Liquid did. Whenever the words just like your father pass his lips Ocelot tastes the lie, and he hates it.
Until he loses his eye, that is. When that happens, Ocelot sees Solidus mirrored in a one-way window and turns around, the half-formed John— on his lips and then he's staring at Solidus instead. Everything and nothing like his father.
"When are we continuing—" Solidus begins, and Ocelot pushes past, growling about his arm and is down the hallway of Arsenal and in a bathroom, locks the door behind him and stumbles to the sinks, his hands braced on either side of one of the porcelain bowls, panting for breath, his skin clammy. That's the first time he's slipped. The only time. He looks up at himself in the mirror, his blue eyes still bright, his hair white, not blond anymore, his moustache rippling with every breath, chest heaving.
Adam can see the very edge of a metal chain peeking around the inside of the white pressed linen of his collar, and he reaches up with his left hand, his hand, his good hand, and shaking, pulls it loose. An old bullet lays there. It's a shell, that's all it is anymore. It was a blank. He keeps it anyway. He always has. He holds it tight between his fingers, the leather of his gloves blunting the cold edge of the metal, and he lets it go, lets it hang over the top of his vest, and puts his left hand over his eyes, fingers pressed into his temples.
He heaves, once.
He's not sure if he's throwing up or crying, but that night he does not sleep, and instead sits up, staring at his hands, folded in his lap. One his, one not. He'd have thought having part of Liquid, who was part of John, on his body would make him feel closer.
All he feels is emptier.
The year is 2012 and Adamska does not sleep.
He and EVA are meeting, hiding from the watchers, in a run-down bar in Hanoi. He met her here once before, so many years ago. Over forty. Hard to believe. She looks older. He can see the roots of her hair where the dye hasn't stuck, the emptiness in her eyes, the sagging line of her shoulders. She doesn't unzip her top. Not for him. Her gun hangs at her hip, as his do as well, and she holds a single shot of whiskey but never drinks.
He spins his revolver, as he is wont to do, and watches the world from behind sunglasses. He's here because this is probably the last time he will ever be able to see her on his own, before he's too far gone. Soon he won't even be able to follow his own thoughts anymore.
"So that's it then," she says, her voice still smoky after all these years, never shot from tobacco or shouting or gunfire like his is. "We're almost there." EVA laughs, but it's humourless, empty. "I should be happy, but..." She spins the shotglass listlessly around her finger, and then vindictively, knocks it over. Now it smells like whiskey. "God, I just want this to be done."
"Hmm." He doesn't have anything to say. Ocelot doesn't want it to be over. He just wants John back.
"Ocelot…" EVA begins, and looks up at him. Her eyes are tired and old, in lined sockets. "ADAM." He turns slightly to her. She always says it like his codename. Always. "Are you really—will you really do this?"
He reaches into the pocket of his vest and pulls out the pocketwatch there. He flips open the cover. It says John. 6/6/1974. It was carved there years before, when the man gave it to him as a gift. His thirtieth birthday—the only useful present John ever got him. He was shit at presents. When he got them. Which was never. The hour was going to strike soon. He closed it with a click.
"EVA, you should know better than anyone," He stops spinning the revolver and flips it back into his holster. Remembers the feel of the metal on his fingers while he can, because soon, he won't be able to use them anymore. Liquid never liked fighting his own battles. Never with a gun. Ocelot stands, slips a bill or two onto the table. "I would do anything for him." Their eyes meet. The last time. "I already have." He leaves, his coat fluttering behind him.
He does not look back, because everything that needed to be said is long since said. Now all that's left is to do.
The year is 2014 and Adamska does not sleep.
He is locked inside his own mind, forever awake. Even when his body sleeps, he's awake, tucked away in a back corner, where the consciousness he built for Liquid once sat, lazily spinning a revolver within the twilight world of his own mind. He never comments. Never says anything—just watches, blue eyes silently judging.
Honestly, he probably got the flare for the dramatic that Liquid had down best. John had it too, a little bit. To a sane, normal extent. Adam feels ridiculous and uncomfortable on the Volta, but it's worst when EVA reaches for him. When she calls his name. It's like a punch. It hurts him in ways he doesn't want to admit.
But, when he's laying there on the top of Outer Haven, his body broken and bruised and bleeding and not anything anywhere near dead yet, and he feels that carefully-constructed consciousness slipping away and it's just him, alone in his head again, even as he falls to lay at Snake's—no, not Snake, he's David, he's always been David, he can remember picking that name, standing there with Dr. Clark while EVA screamed through Liquid, David, created to kill the biblical Goliath—to lay at David's feet.
"Just like your father," Ocelot whispers. His throat hurts. It burns. It's been so long since he spoke on his own. David looks at him in confusion as he raises his hands. He hates the black gloves, wishes for his own back, fifty years of wearing making them completely useless for anything but nostalgia. He laughs. It hurts.
Adam raises his hands.
"You're pretty good," he rasps. He can taste the blood on his lips and the FOXDIE in his blood, and then it's like being jerked free. He can see John there in his son, for a moment. In the end, David ended up the most like him. Fitting.
Adam always did like him the best.
The year is 2014. Adamska sleeps.
He dreams of John.