The Government's Soldiers were out in full force, marching through the streets and reminding everyone that they were there to enforce Order. Nick snorted. As if anyone could forget. As if every second of their lives wasn't under the oppressive rule of the Government.
Nick stood with Vince in the shadows between two buildings, attempting to simultaneously hide and look nonchalant.
"They're doing random sweeps again," Vince said after a moment.
"Shit." Nick murmured the swear, wishing instead that he could shout it from the rooftops. "Are our people safe?"
"As safe as they can be. But we really shouldn't linger here. Imagine how pleased the Government would be if they just happened to stumble into you."
"Don't flatter me." Nick was just a junior member, too junior to even know what the plans for rebellion where. The only things he could give up were Vince's name and the fact that there were plans.
"Nonetheless, I for one would rather not be picked up by the Government, tortured and killed. It wasn't on my agenda for today."
Nick shot the Soldiers another glance, then turned to go.
Vince hadn't moved yet. "Do you fancy yourself a Tory?"
Nick squashed the outrage that rose so easily and instead nodded, smirking. "I think I'll take that one."
Vince followed his gaze, stopping to stare at the man Nick had picked. Same-sex relationships were just as forbidden as long-term monogamous ones, but Nick was hardly worried about Vince judging him. They shared far too many secrets. Though there was an idea. "Bad idea," Vince said, like he knew what Nick was thinking.
"Yeah, I know." It was probably, honestly, less of a bad idea than some of the others Nick had gone through, so Nick filed the name and serial number printed on the Soldier's jacket away. If nothing else, if he ever got caught he might be able to buy himself a couple extra hours by being able to name a Soldier.
Nick had pretty much forgotten the incident, if not the name and number, the next time he ran into David Cameron, 37990167. "Excuse me," Nick said, hoping he could get off this roof before the Soldier asked what he was doing here.
He had no such luck; the Soldier moved to block the staircase down. "Can I help you?" the Soldier asked.
Nick was thrown, but not so thrown that he couldn't recover. He let his eyes briefly linger over the Soldier's form. "I'm sure you can. I'm Nick." Nothing wrong with flirting, not if the Soldier wouldn't feel comfortable with reporting him for it. And Nick had the sneaking suspicion that David wasn't comfortable with a lot of things.
"David," the Soldier said, and this was really weird. Nick was pretty sure that Soldiers were supposed to be mind-wiped, practically automatons, not human in the way that David undeniably was.
Nick felt the sudden urge to push David, just to see how far he would go. It was a shockingly dangerous thought, but at the same time it was an exhilarating one. He didn't say anything, instead letting his eyes linger a little longer. "Perhaps I can help you." David was still standing between Nick and the staircase door, but he seemed to have forgotten entirely about it.
"I can't," David said. Funny, he didn't seem nearly as ignorant as Nick would have expected him to be. Which meant that Nick should probably be more careful, but he could never resist a challenge.
"I know. That is, I can't either."
"Of course." Another pause. "I really can't."
Nick considered, feeling somewhat bold. It was obvious from David's face how much he wanted Nick. "Does that mean I can?" He dropped to his knees and started to fumble at the trousers to David's uniform, only to be pulled up into a kiss.
"If we're going to do this, I'm going to do it right," David growled. "And not in full view of the world." He tugged Nick towards the stairway.
For all that their encounter had been brief, it had been intense, and if gambling weren't completely forbidden Nick would have been willing to place a bet that David had found it even more unforgettable.
That wasn't what had him sneaking into the Soldier's complex now, though. Vince had handed a Nick a USB drive and instructed him to, "Stick it in a Government computer, any computer will do."
Nick had no idea what the drive was supposed to do, but he'd known better than to ask Vince. Now he stood in front of the Soldier guarding the gate, hoping that this worked and that he could get in and out of the complex without seeing David again. Nick knew he would lose sight of his mission if that happened.
"I'm here to see Cameron." Nick remembered at the last second that the Government discouraged people to refer to each other by their first names, and that Soldiers weren't even supposed to be people at all.
Nick tried to remember which relationships were sanctioned by the Government. "School friend," he said.
Nick had a terrifying moment where he thought the Soldier was going to run a check on school records, until he realized that his name was just going to go in some kind of security log. Nick dug his ID out of his pocket and handed it to the Soldier. Although theoretically the Government should be able to track him everywhere with it, Vince had done something to the Government records to make that not work.
"You may proceed, Clegg. The fifth hallway that branches off to the right." The Soldier was watching him, but there was a computer in the hallway that Nick would have to walk by to get to David's room. This could be his only chance. Nick faked a stumble when he reached the computer, slipping down to insert the drive in the slot that seemed to fit it best.
He had no idea what he was going to say to David, how to keep himself from just jumping David, but as it turned out he didn't need to worry about that. David wasn't in his room, instead there was a woman Nick had only ever seen on Government propaganda broadcasts - and even then not often - flanked by two unfamiliar Soldiers.
"Clegg, Clegg, Clegg," Margaret Thatcher said. "And I had such hopes that you'd actually grow up to be a rival worth squashing. You really should know better than to trust Soldiers. They tend to have unwavering loyalty to the Government, and even when it wavers they always come back to us."
Nick was wondering if Vince had known that this would be a suicide mission when he sent Nick on it when Thatcher's words sunk in. Nick was a little shocked that David had betrayed him, but this way he could hope that Thatcher didn't know what he'd done, or that he was a member of a cell designed to topple her Government. His mind stuttered around what he'd felt from David, and what he'd thought David had felt for him.
At least Nick had the chance to hope for a swift death.
David had been kept busy with additional patrols the whole week, but he told himself that it didn't matter that he hadn't seen Nick. It was bad enough to be sleeping with the man, it would be even worse if he actually fell for Nick. Even if a tiny voice in David's head said it might be too late to prevent that.
He'd certainly fallen enough to have given into the urge to give Nick his emergency contact info. It had been a stupid whim, but it made David feel infinitely better to know that Nick could call if he ran into trouble. A civilian's life was so much more dangerous than a Soldier's.
David was wrapping up his third shift in forty-eight hours when the chime came. Text only, but David doubted Nick had access to the kind of technology that would let him do voice or video.
"They're doing a roundup of everyone on this block and taking us all in for questioning. Great Ormond and Millman corner. God." For all that it was written, David could hear Nick's voice breaking on the last word.
He waited impatiently to store his Government-issued gun in the locker, then he took off running towards Nick, who needed him.
David stared at the street corners. He was sure there was no other intersection between the roads, but a Government roundup was decidedly not happening here. David was still turning around, looking for Nick when two Soldiers managed to approach unseen and grab his arms. They dragged him into a building, and left him standing in the entrance, staring at Margaret Thatcher.
Thatcher laughed, a cold, heartless sound. "You should have known better than to trust a whore," she said.
David's fists clenched in anger. "He's not a whore."
"No, I suppose not. Whoring is strictly illegal, after all, and your Nick has been quite helpful to the Government."
"I don't believe you."
"And I don't care. I thought you might want to know that Clegg did say that you seemed experienced, like you'd slept with other men before. He said you weren't as good as you thought you were, though."
David didn't know how to answer that. If the Government had known about his past experimentation, then he should have been hauled in for questioning long before now. And if they hadn't, he had to ask himself how they knew now.
Thatcher gave an amused shrug. "Shoot him," she told the Soldiers.
David could taste the bitterness of betrayal, but he couldn't fall out of love that easily. "Just tell me, is Nick all right?"
The last thing he heard was Thatcher's laughter.