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Walk A Mile

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When Brad's and Nate's relationship is made official and public, there are jokes about cock; jokes about ass; jokes about Iceman cock, and blow jobs, and Marine spunk. It's never brought up without a crude comment. The minute Brad and Nate appear in the same room, lewd remarks are made loudly.

They're hanging around Mike's backyard a few weeks after, when Nate's phone rings. He looks at the screen, and his mouth hardens into a line. He disappears into the house as he answers.

Brad gives it about two minutes before he follows. As soon as he does, Ray drops to his knees and uses Poke, much to Poke's displeasure, to act out Brad giving Nate head. Gabe says he hopes they at least lock the bathroom door before they get started. Walt, Chaffin, and Lilley bet on how many buttons will be missing off Nate's shirt when they get back. Stafford bets that they won't even be back.

It's ten minutes later when they need more beer, and Stafford goes off to the kitchen in search. The back door is wide open, so he walks right in. He's about to open the fridge when he hears Nate. Nate's voice is quiet, Stafford can't make out words, but the tone is unmistakable. It's the one he heard creep into Nate's voice in Iraq, when Nate was talking to Gunny and thought he and Christenson were asleep—defeated, helpless.

Stafford turns around. The angle is right so he can see into the living room without being seen. Nate and Brad are standing face-to-face, close enough that their foreheads are touching. Brad's got his hand wrapped around the back of Nate's neck, and Nate's gripping Brad's forearm hard enough that the tips of his fingers are white. Brad murmurs something and then closes the gap between them and kisses Nate.


The kiss is brief, and chaste, and so much more than sex.

Nate drops his hand from Brad's arm and grabs a fistful of Brad's shirt, getting his finger caught up in Brad's belt loop. Brad rubs Nate's shoulders and starts whispering to him again. Stafford silently backs out of the kitchen.

"Don't tell me they were fucking in the fridge," Christeson says when Stafford returns empty handed.

"They were talking," Stafford says, even though that's not at the right way to describe what he saw. "They looked like they needed a minute."

"Just a quickie, then," Gabe says. Everyone laughs but Stafford.

Stafford watches when Brad and Nate walk out of the house a few minutes later. They look exactly like they always do--respectable distance between them, looking mostly where they're going and not at each other—but it looks wrong now, like they're holding themselves back from the way they fit.