Nick was in hell.
He and Kelly had just started something before he had been called back to active duty. The universe sure had a fucking sense of humour. What was he supposed to do now, half a world away and missing his friend…boyfriend…partner…whatever they were so much that it hurt to breathe sometimes? What was he supposed to do with all these feelings? With this…God was he in love? He didn't know but he sure as shit didn't want to die in the shale mountains of Afghanistan before he got a chance to find out.
Fuck the DoD. Fuck the marines. Fuck everything that wasn't Kelly Abbott's mercurial eyes and shy smile.
Kelly wasn't handling Nick being gone very well.
He frequently found himself wondering what he was doing, endlessly calculating the time difference between Colorado and Afghanistan, and not even knowing if he was doing that right, because Nick really could have been sent anywhere. Still, it was a small comfort. If he couldn't be with his team he could at least set his internal clock to match their time zone, could at least pretend, if only for a little while.
In his darker moments, he found himself lying down and staring at the stars from his clearing, wondering if his brothers were under those stars…wondering if they were dying under those stars. Bleeding out a world away with another medic who maybe didn't know them as well, couldn't see through Nick's high pain tolerance, didn't know that Ty couldn't take drugs, weren't aware that Owen would bravado his way through an injury if he thought someone else needed him more, didn't know that Digger gave you the lesser injury when asked and had to be coaxed into giving you the real injury. What if the fact he wasn't there was the difference between their lives and their deaths? What if him being shot and nearly dying was the catalyst for them being shot and actually dying?
Sometimes he thought of Nick. He thought of his calm manner and stable thought, but also his fiery passion and the way he laughed. He thought about how he could cry at a movie but would put a brave face on an actual tragedy, so he could get Kelly through it. He thought of his smile, the way his eyes glittered when he laughed, the way he always gave a soft gasp when he came. He thought of all the ways that made him think he might love the man, and all the ways he would be bereft if he lost him. He would hope, but he would steel himself for the worst too.
Fuck the DoD. Fuck the marines. Fuck everything that wasn't Nick O'Flaherty's unwavering support and beautiful smile.