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The Fifth of July

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When my granny was-a ninety-one!” The platoon ran in formation down the road, feet slapping the pavement in time with the cadence. Gabriel rolled his eyes because this was the fifth time this run that they sang this one. “She did PT just for fun!”

“For fuck’s sake, Singh, don’t you know anything else?” Nguyen shouted from the front. Gabriel laughed heartily, but called back the verse when it was his turn. Can’t complain about the cadence if he hadn’t taken his turn calling one.

When my granny was ninety-two!” Singh yelled a little louder, glaring at Nguyen.

“Seriously, man, what about El Camino? Blood on the Risers? Shit, I’d take C-130.” Nguyen had turned around mid-stride, running backwards as he shouted at Singh.

She got laid more than you, Nguyen!” The Soldiers oooh’d, and Nguyen stumbled, facing front again as he regained his footing.

“Hey, keep it clean!” Gabriel turned his head to see Morrison frowning tightly. Ugh, fucking try hard. “Dress it up!” Shit, he’s worked with some officers with sticks up their asses, but Morrison took the fucking cake.

“Lighten up, Morrison,” Gabriel called back to him. “It’s a morale run! Fourth of July weekend!” Morrison glowered back.

When my granny was ninety-four!”

Nguyen perked up at that, “Yeah, anybody got some patriotic shit?”

She bust down commie doors!” The platoon wooped and hollered, and Gabriel found himself lengthening his stride to keep pace. If they weren’t in the last mile of the run, he might have reigned in the pace setters, but he was sure no one in the SEP platoon was going to fall out.

When my granny was ninety-five!”

“Hey, slow it down!” Gabriel rolled his eyes and glanced back at Morrison. He didn’t look like he was suffering at this pace. Well, his shirt was soaked with sweat, but this guy complained about heat any time it hit over sixty. White as a god damn snowflake and just as heat resistant.

She did PT just to stay alive!”

“There’s more to life than doctrine and standards, you know,” Gabriel said, only half-serious.

Morrison refused to look at him. “Not in TRADOC there isn’t.”

When my granny was ninety-six!”

How far were they from the finish? He craned his head above the platoon, skipping a step to get extra height. Damn super soldier serum giving everyone ridiculous growth spurts.

She did PT just for kicks!”

Looked like, what, four hundred meters? He turned back at Morrison, grinning viciously. “That’s because you don’t have any imagination. AIR RAID!” The platoon splintered apart as the Soldiers jockeyed for running space, sprinting full out. Morrison drew up beside him, matching him stride for stride. Gabriel pumped his arms harder, pushing himself further, not willing to surrender the race to the book-bound asshat. Inch by inch, Gabriel edged out Morrison until the other huffed in defeat and fell back. Gabriel soared the last hundred meters, flying on the feeling of victory. He wasn’t the first past the post, but he finished before Morrison and that was all that fucking mattered.

Nguyen jogged through the finish, panting lightly but still smiling. “Keep strutting like that and someone might mistake you for a peacock.”

Morrison finally crossed the finish line, encouraging Petska—the dude was massive and a great lifter, but cardio was his mortal enemy. He nudged Nguyen and nodded at the pair. “Hey Morrison! Get a nice view of this ass when I left you in the dust?” Gabriel watched with absolute glee as the muscle in Morrison’s jaw jumped and his face flushed an intense, angry red. Morrison flipped him off before stalking off in the other direction.

After they had a good laugh at Morrison’s expense, Nguyen wiped at his eyes and moved into the first cool down stretch. “Maybe we should lay off him a bit.”

Gabriel mimicked Nguyen’s posture, stretching out his arms as they talked. “Are you fucking serious? That guy’s a grade A asshole.”

“I meant until the weekend’s over. Petska invited him to the party, and I don’t want Morrison to be even more of a wet blanket than he normally is.”

“Petska did what? Why would he do that? Does he know how much beer it takes to get one of us drunk? Fuck, we’re gonna go broke.” Then an even worse notion than insufficient alcohol occurred to him. “Dear god, what if he doesn’t even drink? Could you imagine a sober Morrison at a party? He’d probably spend the whole time reciting AR 670-1.”

“Calm down Reyes, he drinks! I mean,” They switched to a rear lunge. “I saw him drink a beer at the dining out. Actually, I think he just nursed the same one for the whole thing…”

“The dining out was three hours.”

“Yeaaaaaaaah.” Nguyen winced. “Oh, hey! What if you got him drunk?”

“The fuck are you on about?”

“Just babysit him long enough to get him a bit tipsy and he should loosen up.”

“And how do you expect me to do that?”

“I dunno.” Nguyen and Gabriel dropped to the leaning rest before smoothly transitioning into a back streatch. “You’re the one with all the tactical leadership experience. Plan something out, use the unresolved sexual tension to your advantage or something.”

Sexual tension? Are we talking about the same guy here? We hate each other.”

“Aren’t you supposed to have a gaydar built in or something? It’s definitely UST.”

“Yeah, the gaydar is part of the basic “I like dick” package,” he said sarcastically. “Which is exactly why I know you’re full of shit. Morrison is as straight as his laces.”

“There is no way! I think you’re in denial. You sure you’re not crushing on him?”

“Fuck off, Nguyen.”

“Hey, you’re the one who’s always going on about how much he enjoys having sticks up his ass. I’m just saying he’d probably enjoy a little more.”

“Well, now I’m thoroughly disgusted. Thank you for that wonderful mental image.”

“Anything for you, cupcake.” Nguyen winked, brushing his hands off on his shorts as he stood. “I’m gonna go shower. Don’t forget to bring the liquor for tonight!”

“I’m not sharing!” Gabriel called after him, still working through his leg stretches.

“Yeah you will!” Nguyen shouted back over his shoulder.


“Your hair doesn’t look like it’s in regs.”

Gabriel looked up from the kitchen island-turned-bar to find Morrison watching him with a dubious expression. “Jesus fucking Christ you’re actually reciting AR 670-1. Here, do me a favor and don’t talk to me until you drink three of these.” He grabbed a shot glass from the cabinet and filled it with cheap vodka.

Morrison sneered at it. “I don’t really like drinking.”

Incredulous, Gabriel swept his hand over the many bottles of alcohol in the kitchen. “Then why the hell are you in here?” Morrison frowned before downing the first of the shots, shuddering as the sharp taste burnt its way down his throat. “Good boy, two more.” He slid the other glasses in front of Morrison. “And by the way, my hair is definitely in regs. I know it curls at the top but it’s not three inches.”

Morrsion downed the second shot, grimacing. “No, I meant that it’s faddish.”

“How the fuck is this faddish?” Gabriel reached up to swipe a hand over his hair, brushing over the closely shaved sides and the long locks on top. “People have worn their hair like this since the New 10s!” Morrison just grunted, downing the third shot. “Just because I know how to make the regs look good doesn’t mean it’s faddish. Maybe you should try it out sometime.” He squinted at Morrison’s blonde hair critically. “Actually, on second thought, maybe you should just let it grow out a bit all over.”

“What’s wrong with a high and tight?”

“That you even have to ask is a sign of how irredeemable you are.” The conversation stalled, which Gabriel would have been fine with—great with, even—but instead of taking it as a sign to leave him the hell alone, Morrison was still standing there.

“Kind of a sausage party in here,” Morrison commented, and god the man breathed awkward.

Gabriel surveyed the room and what he could see of the guests on the dancefloor. It was mostly their platoon, although some women had showed up since he first arrived—how did they even know about this party? Did someone send out flyers? Wanted: Hot, single chicks DTF for Fourth of July Party. Free food! Not that it mattered much to him, he thought, watching a broad chested man dance with one of the women, the tight shirt showing every twist and turn of muscle. “Yes. It. Is.” He muttered appreciatively.

A clink on the counter as Morrison set his last shot down, coughing and spluttering. “You’re—you’re gay? That…explains a lot.”

Gabriel narrowed his eyes. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“No—I just meant—you just seemed like one of those macho dudes—“ Watching Morrison flounder was a lot more enjoyable than Gabriel would have thought, and he would’ve put it in the top five of Shit He’d Love to See.

Somehow, he managed to keep a straight face as he egged Morrison on. “Careful, that hole you’re digging is getting pretty deep.”

“Fuck, Reyes, I just meant that I didn’t understand why you never talked about a girlfriend or wife and I didn’t know why a guy like you was on the market.” Oh, too easy.

“A guy like me?” He knew Morrison didn’t mean anything by it—probably—but that he could frame that flustered face. And sell it to the platoon for five bucks apiece.

Morrison leaned his elbows on the counter and buried his face in his hands. “…Can I have another drink?”


The morning sun was way too bright. Gabriel frowned in his half-sleep and dug his face further into the warm body beside him. Warm body? Did he get laid last night? Score one, Gabriel! He tried to think past the haze of alcohol—he must not have slept long enough to burn it all off yet—and remember what exactly happened last night. He vaguely recalled showing up with the booze, Nguyen was there, ugh he did dump Morrison on him. Traitor. He must’ve found his bedmate after he managed to shake Morrison off. Wait, didn’t they go out for fireworks? Whatever. He wrapped his arm around the body in front of him, running his hands over the well-muscled chest, and sighed happily. God, his back was killing him though. He shifted some more, trying to get comfortable on the hard bed. When it didn’t work, he cracked an accusatory eye at the ground.

The… ground?

Gabriel sat up, world spinning slightly, and stared at the bright blue sky above him. What the fuck. They were on the top of a very rocky hill, with nothing in sight except for—he squinted. Shit, was that the base? That had to be a five mile walk at least. How the hell did he end up out here? And why was he wearing nothing but American flag boxers? He didn’t own American flag boxers!

At the sound of a groan beside him, Gabriel twisted around to look at what was probably the only human being for miles around. He had more clothes on than Gabriel, wearing jeans and plain t-shirt… and a cape? No, it was a towel tied around his neck as if it was a cape. Either last night had been really fun or…

“Hey,” Gabe croaked. He coughed and cleared his throat, trying to get his vocal chords warmed up to try again. The other man had no such problem, mumbling into his arm without turning over.

“I thought this SEP shit was supposed to keep me from getting hangovers.” Gabriel’s stomach dropped, leaving a pit of icy cold in its place. He knew that voice. He knew that blond hair with the stupid fucking haircut. His brain went into overdrive and blanked out all at once. No. No way. There was no fucking way that he slept with Jack goddamn Morrison last night.

Up until now, Morrison—Jesus Christ, Morrison?—had been facing away from Gabriel, rubbing sleep from his eyes, but Gabriel’s silence must have concerned him. Morrison rolled over, propping himself on his elbows, asking “Are you doing alright?” only for the question to die on his lips when he caught Gabriel’s horrified expression. And somehow, instead of disgust or rage or terror, Morrison seemed to become only more concerned. In the back of his head, alarm bells were ringing. Why wasn’t he surprised? What happened last night? Did Morrison have a black eye? Let’s go with that one. That one’s safest.

“The fuck happened to your face?”

Morrison rolled his eyes and the alarms in his head began ringing a little bit louder. “Very funny, Gabe.” Gabriel choked. That one was not safest. “Gabe?” Oh god. Oh god oh god oh god this can’t be happening. Some hint of understanding must have passed through Morrison’s thick skull because all the blood rushed out of his face, making him look even paler than usual. “What,” he said carefully, “do you remember from last night?”


“Your stupid fucking hair!” Morrison announced grandly, sweeping his arm out while still holding his cup of liquor—had he moved on to whiskey or was he still drinking vodka?

“Pffft, how dare you insult my hair! It’s leagues better than yours!”

“No—“ Morrison lurched forward as he tried to run his unoccupied hand through his hair self-consciously. “No it’s not! Fuck you!”

“Well, you wanna know what I hate most about you? Your face!” Morrison snorted as he drank from his cup, dribbling some alcohol on his shirt. “I’m serious! You have a really punchable face! Your nose is too straight, your teeth are too white, your jawline is sharp enough to cut glass, you’ve always got a stupid smug smirk and, and, god I just wanna break it.”

Morrison swaggered up from his seat, and Gabriel nearly toppled over when his support disappeared. Why was he leaning on Morrison anyway? The world lurched again and he braced himself on the counter instead. Oh. That’s why.

“Do it.”

“Huh?” Gabriel blinked up at him blearily. “Do what?”

Morrison rolled his eyes. They were really blue. Like, really really blue. “Break my face!”

Gabriel laughed. “I’m not gonna break your face!”

“Why not?”

“I don’t want to!”

“But you just said that you did!”


“Break my face or I’ll break yours!”

“Ha! No you won’t.” To be fair, Morrison really did try to punch him in the face, but he missed horribly, falling into Gabriel’s lap. Gabriel laughed uncontrollably, doubling over and clinging to Morrison just as much to keep himself upright as to keep Morrison from falling to the floor.

“Stop—stop laughing! It’s hard to aim right when there’s two of you.” Morrison tried to pull himself up, but only succeed in floundering on Gabriel’s lap. He somehow managed to sit completely on top of Gabriel and continued to squirm. Gabriel’s eyes nearly rolled up into the back of his head and he rolled his hips in search of more friction. The weight on top of him stilled and Gabriel blinked his eyes open. Oh, fuck. He shoved Morrison off of him, much more sober than he was before, but still way too drunk for this. Or maybe not drunk enough? He could hardly breathe—the steady mantra of fuck fuck fuck taking up most of his beleaguered mental processes—as Morrison struggled to stand back up, clutching the counter to stay steady. Morrison leaned forward, his very very blue eyes hard as he squinted at Gabriel. “Why’d you stop?”

And then Morrison kissed him.


Gabriel tried to reach through the fog in his brain again, trying very very hard to keep his breathing steady. He was not panicking. “Uh, I was at, uh, Nguyen’s? And then I was drinking and, um, maybe there were games? And… you were there?” Morrison’s expression didn’t change, it was just solemn and serious and he couldn’t take it anymore. “Please tell me we didn’t sleep together. Please.” Morrison flinched and somehow become paler. “Oh my god, we did. We did? Nooo no no no—“

“Gabe—Reyes, stop. We didn’t sleep together.”

“Oh thank god!” He didn’t think he could live with himself if—wait, why did Morrison look so upset? Did he… did he hurt his feelings? By not wanting to sleep with him? Is Gabriel in the fucking twilight zone? You know what, no. Fuck this. It’s the crack of fucking dawn, his back felt like someone had beat him with a cane, it was a five mile walk to base, and he was wearing nothing but star-spangled boxers. Morrison can take his emotional needs and fuck right off.

Gabriel scrambled to his feet, scanning the ground for anything that could help him out—like clothes or a cell phone or a really heavy rock. Glass bottles littered the ground, glinting light up in his face. He nudged one with his foot to better read the label, then groaned. “Whisky? I drank whiskey last night? No wonder I don’t remember shit. Fucking hate whiskey.” He paced around the hill some more, peeking behind boulders, hoping to find anything he could use to cover up. He wasn’t exactly shy, but he doubted anyone would give a lift to two half-naked dudes on the side of the road.

“Uh, G—“ Morrison cleared his throat. “Reyes. I have your sweater.”

Gabriel closed his eyes and counted to five before turning around. Sure enough, Morrison was holding out his favorite hoodie, the black fabric covered in red-brown dirt. He snatched it out of Morrison’s hands and quickly pulled it over his head. Swiping the dirt off wasn’t at all effective. What did Morrison do, sleep on it? He glared up at the other man, who was standing awkwardly about five feet away, hands shoved in his jean pockets. Morrison looked absolutely ridiculous, he still hadn’t taken the towel-cape off and the shirt that Gabriel had mistakenly thought was plain black actually had “WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD” in big white letters across the chest, complete with an arrow pointing down at his crotch.

“What. The fuck. Happened last night?”


Unfortunately, neither of them were sober enough to stay upright during the frantic and decidedly messy kiss. They toppled down from the bar stool with a loud crash. Gabriel had somehow managed to fall on top of the metal leg of the chair, catching all of Morrison’s weight on top of him. He barked in pain, and Morrison slid off of him with a frantic “sorry!”

“Are you breaking my shit, Reyes?” Gabriel looked up, or is it down? Whatever, he looked and Nguyen was leaning on the doorway between the kitchen and the living room/dance floor, but everything was upside down because of course he had to look up with his head—which was actually down to the floor, because he was lying down and the chair was still under him and he should really move because his back hurt like a bitch and you see why this was confusing?

“Hi, Nguyen!” Gabriel lolled his head in the other direction to see Morrison sitting against the kitchen island, smiling up—or maybe down—at Nguyen.

“Reyes, you actually got him drunk!”

“What?” Morrison’s face scrunched together and wow that was really cute, “I’m not drunk! Look, I can still say the Code of Conduct, look, Article one, I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life—“

“Yeah,” Nguyen snorted, “that’s great Morrison. Hey, Reyes, we’re gonna go get fireworks, c’mon!” Nguyen leaned down and grabbed Gabriel’s hand, pulling him up. The whole world tilted dangerously, but Gabriel somehow remained standing. “Young is driving. Gotta love Mormons, am I right?” Nguyen was grinning at him, so he grinned back. That just made sense.

“Yeah, let’s blow shit up!”

“—accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy. Hey, wait, can I come?”

“Uh, I don’t think there’s enough room in the car.” Nguyen said, already walking back out of the kitchen.

“Then we can put him in the trunk! C’mon, Morr… Morrin… Jack! Jackie, let’s go.”


Reyes kicked at the box that at one time carried a hundred dollars’ worth of fireworks. They had found it about halfway down the hill, next to another empty bottle of whiskey. It was like an adult version of Hansel and Gretel, except he was following breadcrumbs of sin. How the hell did they get out here? He looked over his shoulder to see Morrison tentatively walking down the steep dirt path. Ugh, he didn’t care if Morrison knew the meaning of life right now, Gabriel wanted nothing to do with him.


“Wal-mart?” Nguyen whined. “Wal-mart sucks!”

“No one else is open this late,” Young patiently explained from the driver’s seat. Gabriel was in the backseat with three other guys since one of the girls from the party took shotgun—Nguyen on the far left, and then Lee, who was the smallest of them, and then it was him and then it was Jackie. Turns out the trunk wasn’t big enough and Young wouldn’t let them strap him to the roof. Something about 550-cord and hundred-mile-an-hour-tape not being “secure”. Killjoy.

Young shifted the gear into park. “Okay, everybody out!” Both passenger doors opened and the passengers themselves spilled out into the parking lot. “Everybody meet me back here at the car. If you’re not back in thirty minutes, I’m leaving you.”

“But Young,” Gabriel smiled, barely aware of Nguyen prying a bottle from his hand and tossing it in the backseat. “We have such great chemistry!”

Nguyen snorted, physically guiding him through the parking lot. “C’mon, Romeo, focus! Fireworks!”

“Oh yeah, I love blowing shit up.” He cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted into the night. “What’s the sound of artillery!”

“BOOM BOOM!” Nguyen and Jackie shouted back, cackling with laughter.

“Raining down on the enemy!”


“I said what’s the sound of—oh, shit, is that an America aisle?” As soon as the main doors slid open, Gabriel bee lined for the red-white-and-blue display, snatching up an Uncle Sam hat and donning it on his head. He faced his group and pointed at them. “America wants you,” He said with a wink.

The chick—who was she here with?—giggled. “You’d have girls lining up at the recruiting office.” She tucked her hand in Lee’s and pulled him down the main aisle. Probably to the “family planning” section.

“Ohhhhh, baby Lee! Get some!” He turned back to dig through all the patriotic novelties, finding everything from presidential masks to eagle slippers. “Guys, they got bubbles!”

Nguyen laughed from behind oversized American flag sunglasses. “Reyes, you useless drunk! Hey, Morrison, watch him, I’m gonna grab the biggest, baddest box of fireworks I can find. Don’t let him near the frozen foods!”

“The frozen… foods?” But Nguyen was already gone. Jackie turned to look at him, his really really blue eyes wide. “Why can’t you go to the frozen foods?” Gabriel held up a pair of American flag boxers.

“What do you think? If I wore these, would you salute the flag?”

Jackie blushed madly and stuttered. “I, uh, wh-what?”

“I’m just kidding, Jackie.” He stepped up close to the other man, feeling the heat emanate from his chest. With a predatory grin, Gabriel lowered his voice. “You know what you need?”

“An adult?” Jackie squeaked.

“More beer!” He announced, grabbing Jackie by his shirt sleeve and dragging him away from the holiday aisle. “Or wine. Whatever they have in large quantities for cheap.” It took them nearly twenty minutes to find the alcohol, after a wrong turn in the hardware department and a prolonged detour in the toy section. Gabriel was aggrieved to discover the alcohol had been completely ransacked leading up to the holiday weekend and it hadn’t been restocked yet. The only hard liquor in the entire store was a few bottles of whiskey. He grabbed three and pushed them in Jackie’s arms. “Come on, we gotta hurry! Our thirty minutes is almost up!”

“We wouldn’t be in a hurry if you hadn’t gone through the entire shirt rack! All of them!”

“Whaaaaat no that was your fault.”

“How? How was that my fault?”


“Where the fuck did you even get that shirt?” Morrison looked down at his chest, a light blush taking over his face. Did Morrison always blush this much? “And don’t tell me you always owned it. I won’t believe you.”

“Uh, you bought it for me.”

Gabriel stared. Nuh-uh, there is no way he bought that. Not even as a joke. He hadn’t done something that stupid since the last time he drank whis—oh. “…I’m never drinking again.”


“Where the fuck are we going?”

“Off base so we can fire these bad boys!”

“Hey, Reyes?” It was really hard to hear Lee over the general noise in the car. “You’re kinda crushing my leg.”

“We’re all crushed together, Lee,” Nguyen reminded him.

“No, wait, I can fix this.” Gabriel tried standing without stepping on anybody’s feet with exactly no success. Pft, if Young would have just listened to him--

“Reyes what are you doing.” Gabriel turned his head to the left—hello, when did Jackie get so close? He could hardly even see the really really blue irises his pupils were so blown. Jackie shifted awkwardly, accidentally causing Gabriel to shove his still very sore back into the car door.

“Stop fidgeting, blondie!”

“You’re sitting on me!” Jackie hissed.

“And now there’s more room for everyone!” Gabriel announced proudly, sweeping his arm out demonstratively.

“Not for me!”

“Good thing you don’t count.”

“You weigh a ton.”

“Aw, Jackie, you’re acting like you don’t enjoy this.”



“God, where did I put my phone?”

“Uh, not sure. Maybe you left it in the car?”

“Okay, I’m starting to get creeped out with you being helpful and nice.”

“I’ve always tried to be helpful…” Oh, great, now Morrison was pouting. Gabriel rounded on him, only to pull up short because, woah, when did Morrison get so close behind him? Wow, his eyes were pretty blue, weren’t they? Gabriel doesn’t think he’s ever noticed before. Of course, Morrison’s always made sure he was out of striking distance, so it’s not like he had opportunity to notice—focus!

“Yeah, I’m sure everyone has always wanted a walking doctrine manual.”

“They wouldn’t make it doctrine for a reason.” Ugh, he was just so damn rule bound.

“Please stop talking.”


“Aren’t you supposed to put that on a rock or something?”

“Why would they call it a bottle rocket if you aren’t supposed to put it in a bottle?”

“Okay, but are you sure you’re supposed to put all of them in there at once?”

“Shut up, Jackie. Have fun for once in your life!”

“I’m just saying that—oh shit he lit it.”

“What are you scared of? They’re just bottle rockets,” A sudden draft of wind blew around them, and with a delicate clink the bottle tipped over. “TAKE COVER!”


“Where are you going, Reyes?”

“To base, obviously.”

“You want to walk there?”

“You got a better idea?”

“I could call someone to pick us up.”

“You’ve had your phone this entire time?”


“Let’s do the roman candles next!” Nguyen shouted from the top of the hill.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah! Wait, where’d my bottle go?” Gabriel twisted in place, inspecting the ground. Nope, not here, maybe it’s a little further down the hill.

“It’s mine now.” Gabriel came to a sudden stop—or maybe not so sudden, he kept sliding down the dirt path—and looked back up the trail at Jackie holding two bottles high in the air.

“Wha—Jackie give it back. You already have one!”

“Yeah, but now I got two.”

“Jack, Jack, Jackie, give it back!”

“What do I get?”

“What d’you mean, what d’you get?”

“You get the bottle, but what do I get?”

“How about you give it back and I don’t deck you in the face.”

“How about I get a kiss instead?” Jackie leaned into his space, hovering over him and his eyes were glittering and he was biting his lip and holy shit when did he get attractive? Jack was leaning closer and Gabriel kept having to tip his head up higher and higher and then the world was rushing past him. He blinked up at the stars above him, trying to figure out how exactly he ended up on the ground. From seemingly nowhere and everywhere, he could hear Jackie’s rich laughter and he smiled.


“Can… can we talk about last night?” Morrison asked. They were sitting on the top of the hill again, watching the sun climb higher in the sky while they waited for Nguyen to take his sweet fucking time in picking them up.

“I am ninety-eight percent sure that if I never find out about last night, I’ll live a happier life.”

“I guess I’ll just keep the pictures then.”

Gabriel whipped around. “What pictures? Morrison? What pictures?”


The ground really wasn’t that bad, he thought that he could probably lay there for a while and still be happy. Plus the stars were really pretty, swirling around and sometimes there were explosions of color—reds and blues and greens streaking across the sky. Yeah, staying here sounded fine. Thump. Gabriel lolled his head to the right to find Jackie lying next to him, grinning.

“What’re you grinning at?” A click and a flash that left Gabriel blinking. “Hey! Fuck—fuckin’ delete that!”

“Nope.” Click, click, BOOM.


Oh shit oh shitohshit. They both floundered in the dirt, a whistling noise driving out any coherent thought, Gabriel swung out his arm trying to roll over and Jack shouted and then the whistle ended in a pop and everyone seemed fine.

Except Jackie.


“Are you blackmailing me?” See, this is what he got for corrupting Morrison! Wait. Why is that a turn on. That should not be a turn on.

“No, I’m just trying to get you to talk to me.”

“By threatening me with photos of questionable content.” Yeah, this was definitely not supposed to make his blood pump faster.

“They’re mostly just selfies…”

“I really hope I gave you that black eye.”



“Can you open it?” Gabriel held Jackie’s face in his hands, trying to get a better look at the swelling around his eye. It was already starting to purple.

“No, it fucking hurts! I can’t believe you hit me.”

“I didn’t mean to.” Pause. “You want me to kiss it better?” Jackie stared up at him with his one good eye.



“Okay, fine, why do we need to talk about last night so bad?”

“Because you should probably be prepared for what the guys are gonna say when they get here with the car.”

“I have a bad feeling about this.”


“Holy shit. Reyes?”

Gabriel could push Jackie off of him or maybe even stop sucking face long enough to see who was yelling his name. He could. He wasn’t going to.

“Called it! Fucking called it!” Wait, he didn’t need both hands right now, he could just untangle this one from Jackie’s cape aaand flip Nguyen off. Perfect! Ten points to Gabriel. “Oh my god, you better remember this shit tomorrow!”

Tangled up in Jackie’s arms and legs, gripping the short blond hair just so he could crush their faces together, Gabriel knew he could never forget a night like this.


“Look, it’s just… you liked me last night. Why don’t you think you could like me now?”

“Me? What about you? You didn’t like me before last night.”




“God, Reyes.”

“Stop calling me Reyes.”

“Gabriel? Gabe?”

“Yeah, I like Gabe. Keep saying it.”

“Shit, Gabe, I never thought I’d get to do this.”


“I thought you said we didn’t sleep together!”

“We didn’t!” Morrison protested, his voice an octave higher than normal. Gabriel stared. Clearing his throat, Morrison averted his gaze. “We could, though. If you wanted.” Gabriel said nothing. “Just throwing it out there.”

“The fuck is my life?”


The buzzing in his skull felt so good. The night air felt good. Holding Jackie felt good. He sighed, letting his eyes slide shut as he surrendered to sleep. Life was good.


“There’s nothing I can do to make you reconsider?” And damn if Morrison didn’t look absolutely wrecked as he asked that. “Nothing? We just go back to being—fuck, we were never even friends.”

“Hey, for me, we never even left that, so we couldn’t ‘go back’ to it even if I wanted to.”

“And you don’t want to.” Morrison said, not even pretending to make it a question. Gabriel paused, studying the look of heartbreak on Morrison’s face. God damn his bleeding heart. What was he gonna say, though? Oh, fuck it. He’s made worse decisions in his life. Like drinking whiskey on the Fourth of July.

“I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you one chance to change my mind. One.”

“Change your mind how?”

“That’s up to you, Jackie.”

Okay, he’ll be honest. He was expecting something boring as shit. A list of painfully logical reasons in OPORD format, maybe a powerpoint slide deck. Declarations of love or some bullshit. What he didn’t expect was Morrison to fucking leap at him like a dog in heat. He nearly cracked his head falling back on the boulder, but Morrison caught him with his hand behind his head and then Morrison’s lips were on his and oh he was actually a really good kisser. When Morrison pulled away, anxiety in every motion and movement, Gabriel could only blink stupidly.

“So…” Morrison began, not even daring to voice his question.

“I don’t think I’ve decided. Think you should probably kiss me again. You know. Just to be sure.”

Morrison—should he start calling him Jack now? Or maybe Jackie. He seemed to respond really well to Jackie—grinned down at him. “I think I could do that.”


Who said the best fireworks were on the Fourth of July?