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Rationale For The Vacillating

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The first person Tucker sees when he wakes up is Wash.

He has a book in his lap and a small frown on his face, like whatever he’s reading is bothering him. There’s a nasty bruise on his cheek and a few too-long strands of blond hair that are dangling close to his forehead. Tucker briefly wonders if his hair is as soft as it looks, before glancing around.

He can’t see anyone else in the immediate area, and his entire body feels like it’s made out of lead so he dismisses the thought of turning his head to look elsewhere. It’s a few moments before Tucker can bring himself back online far enough to actually make sounds with his mouth.

“Wash…?”

The ex-freelancer jerks his head up at the sound, eyes going wide at the sight of Tucker being awake. Wash hastily throws his book onto a nearby table and stands up, calling for someone. Tucker doesn’t recognize the name, or maybe he does, but the longer he’s awake the more his body seems to dislike the idea. Pain radiates from the area around his hips and he’s not sure exactly why. Did he get stabbed or something?

His mind flickers back to a memory of danger, of worry for his friends, and of a sudden sharp pain in his abdomen. Oh right. He did get stabbed. Fucking great.

“Tucker? Tucker, did you hear me?”

The teal soldier jerks his head towards the sound of the voice and immediately groans, snapping his eyes shut. That had been a terrible idea.

“Don’t move too much-” Yeah, thanks for the fucking tip. “just tell me if you can understand me.”

“Yeah…” Tucker grumbles.

“Well, he can understand us so that’s good!”

Tucker opens up one eye to identify the cheerful voice and sees someone standing over him, grinning widely. Wash is standing a few paces behind, frowning. It’s a few seconds before he remembers that it’s Doctor Grey, but by that point she’s talking again.

“Alright, well now that we know you’re not in a coma, you should be peachy-keen!” the fed doctor says, clasping her hands together. “How do you feel?”

“Like shit,” Tucker mumbles, closing his eyes again. The light burns.

“Well, that’s to be expected. I couldn’t give you too many pain killers until you woke up, but now that you seem to be perfectly stable, I’ll be right back to fix that problem.”

Tucker follows Doctor Grey’s exit as far as he can with his eyes, refusing to turn his head. Fuck that. Wash walks closer to him, concern all over his face.

“I would ask how you feel, but…” he starts, gesturing uselessly.

Tucker smiles just a tiny bit, but doesn’t offer anything verbally. Talking requires far too much effort on his part, and while he’s almost wide awake mentally, that doesn’t mean his body is on the same page.

“I- We were… worried, that you weren’t going to… make it,” Wash says softly, fiddling with his shirt hem. “Doctor Grey was sure you’d be fine but there was a lot of blood and it didn’t help that everyone was loud and not keeping calm. Palomo was even crying.”

Tucker’s smile widens a bit at that.

“I suppose I should go tell the others,” Wash says, shifting his weight from foot to foot. “They’ll be worried.”

Tucker nods slightly, but his eyes focus on the way the stands of Wash’s hair bounce when he nods back. Wash quickly leaves the room and Tucker closes his eyes again, shoving off the odd feelings the image is causing. He can deal with that when he wakes up.

*~*~*~*~*

“Are you sure you didn’t gain any super cool powers?”

“Grif, he was stabbed! And in the stomach, not even near the brain, why do you keep bothering him about this?”

Tucker watches on in amusement as Grif and Simmons continues to bicker at his bedside. They had spent the first five minutes of their allotted visiting time arguing, but honestly Tucker isn’t surprised. The two of them bickering meant all is right in the world.

“Hey, I’m just saying, if he gained some power from this I better be the first to know,” the orange soldier says.

“Pretty sure the first ones would be Wash or Grey, dumbass.”

“No way! You’d totally tell me first, right, Tucker?”

Tucker pretends to think on it, even letting out a small hum. “No, I think I’d let Wash know first, Grif.”

“Pssh,” Grif says, shrugging. “Should have figured you’d tell the wife first.”

A couple of days had passed since Tucker had woken up, and ever since then he had a constant stream of visitors while he was stuck in the Armonia med bay. Doctor Grey only allows them to stay for twenty minutes in groups, and no more than three in at a time, but Tucker doesn’t mind the system. As much as he’ll say he’s fine, the thought of a large group of people all fighting with each other at once was enough to start a headache.

“Pretty sure I’d remember if Wash and I got married,” Tucker says. “Unless it happened while I was unconscious, and in which case I think that makes the marriage void or some shit.”

“You guys bicker like you’re married,” Grif replies, “Besides, I’m sure you’ll be spilling all your gay little feelings for him soon enough.”

Tucker raises an eyebrow at that. “First off, I’ll do that when you spill yours to Simmons – if I had any gay feelings for Wash. Which I don’t. Ladies’ man, remember? Second, what the hell do you mean by ‘soon enough’?”

“Perspective,” Grif says nonchalantly.

Tucker looks towards Simmons for an explanation, who just rolls his eyes. “Grif read a bunch of stories about how people who have near-death experiences lose a lot of their inhibitions. They propose, they have kids, they quit their jobs, all that kind of stuff. They all say that near-death experiences put things ‘into perspective’, and how they should ‘focus more on their lives’.”

“Oh really?” Tucker says. “Then maybe I should stab Grif, then he’ll finally confess he has the hots for you.”

A blush rises to Simmons face. “Excuse me?”

“Keep on joking, Tucker,” Grif says, glowering at him. “You’ll be a stand-up comedian in no time.”

Tucker grins back at him as Doctor Grey walks over, clapping her hands.

“Visiting time is up for you two,” she says. “It’s almost lunch anyway so-”

“Oh shit,” Grif says. “We better get going then. C’mon Simmons, get your nerdy ass out of that seat and let’s go.”

“I’ve never seen you move faster than when you’re reminded of food.”

“It’s all about motivation, Simmons, motivation.”

Tucker shakes his head as they leave, still in disbelief that they haven’t made out yet. They’re so in love, why can’t they see it?

The reference to Wash, however, is ridiculous. Sure, he cares about the guy – if begrudgingly at first – but Tucker is pretty sure his thoughts are completely straight around him. His perspective on everything is exactly the same, except maybe he hopes to get laid before his next near-death experience. By a chick of course.

*~*~*~*~*

“Are you sure Doctor Grey said you could be walking around?”

Tucker sighs, rolling his eyes at Wash. “Yes, alright? Why don’t you ask her yourself if you’re not going to believe me?”

“It’s not that I don’t believe you…” Wash trails off at the look Tucker gives him. “Okay, maybe that’s the case, but you dropping to the ground during the message to Hargrove won’t be very impressive.”

“I’m fine,” Tucker insists. “A little wobbly, maybe, but I can stand just fine in this armor, okay? Keep acting like this and soon you’ll grow feathers and a beak and really be a mother hen.”

The ex-freelancer shakes his head before leaving to talk to Carolina about something. To be truthful, Tucker would really rather be lying in bed than standing in heavy ass armor. But seeing as Felix and Locus would also be seeing this broadcast, there’s no way Tucker is gonna let Felix think he got the best of him. Fuck that asshole. If proving to that douchebag that he’s fine meant standing around in his armor for a few hours and being fussed over, so be it.

Standing, however, is all Tucker really plans to do, not like he has to do much else anyway. The moment they start the message, Tucker zones out completely. He’s heard Church practice it a million times by now and although he’s staring straight on, he’s far away mentally. He frowns under his helmet however at what his brain lands on to think about.

What Grif had said a couple of days past was still nagging at Tucker. That and the fact that one of his first thoughts after waking up was how Wash’s hair looked. Wanting to know the texture of another dude’s hair isn’t exactly a norm for him.

Tucker stole a glance to his left, watching Wash stand perfectly still and alert. No other thoughts had come to him about the other soldier that hadn’t been perfectly ordinary, and Tucker kept trying to push off the odd hair thought on the medication he had been on. That’s all it was, nothing more, nothing less. Grif is just an asshole.

Tucker couldn’t help but feel like that isn’t the truth however, and the perspective comment returns to his mind. The teal soldier mentally shook his head – no, he’s straight. One hundred percent straight. Just because he nearly died didn’t mean he suddenly grew lovey-dovey feelings for Washington of all people, that’s just not how it works.

Unless, of course, the feelings are already there, but Tucker shoves that thought as far down as he can. Perspective change or not, he certainly doesn’t have any feelings towards Wash. He makes a mental note to steal Grif’s snacks next chance he got as repayment for this small strife he gave him.

“Tucker, are you alright?”

Tucker jumps at the sudden voice, realizing that everyone had left they’re stock still positions. Wash is standing next to him, helmet off and a concerned frown on his face.

“Yeah, yeah I’m fine. I was just lost in my thoughts, I guess,” Tucker says quickly, shrugging.

A small smile tugs at Wash’s lips. “You thinking, now there’s a surprise.”

“Don’t be a dick,” Tucker says, but he’s smiling as well.

Wash still hasn’t cut his hair, and Tucker silently admits to himself that it does look soft.

*~*~*~*~*

“So, are you just going to stare at Wash all through lunch or actually eat?”

Tucker jerks at the sound of a voice, looking over as Grif sits down next to him, tray in hand.

“What are you talking about?” Tucker asks.

“You’ve been staring at him for like ten minutes dude,” Grif snorts, shoveling food into his mouth. “I’m surprised he can’t feel your eyes drilling into the back of his head.”

Tucker grimaces at that. “I wasn’t staring at him, Grif. I was just looking in that direction.”

“And if by general area you mean Wash’s body, then sure you were.”

“Whatever you say, jackass,” Tucker says, giving the orange soldier a dismissive wave.

He hadn’t been staring at Washington. Not at all. He had just been watching the ex-freelancer talk with Carolina and wonder if it’s bad news they’re discussing, that’s all. Maybe he let his eyes linger a bit longer on him than necessary, but it’s not like Tucker meant for it to happen.

The teal soldier flicks his eyes over towards where Wash is standing, a blush rising to his face at whatever Carolina is saying. Tucker is curious to know what has Wash all flustered looking, and even from this distance he can see the exasperated look on his face.

“Hey, lover boy, maybe you wanna actually pay attention to me for a few seconds?” Grif says, snapping his fingers in front of Tucker’s face.

Tucker turns towards the larger man, raising an eyebrow. “Is there something you want, Grif?”

“Wow, sorry for interrupting your loving gaze towards Wash and all, but maybe I wanted to ask you something?” Grif says sarcastically.

“What is it?”

“You sound so interested.”

Tucker scoffs. “Like you ever so interested in any of my shit? Shoot.”

“Alright, well…” Grif hesitates before continuing. “So I just found out that Bitters and Matthews used to date? Like, they had a ‘mutual’ break-up or some shit but, they still dated. Y’know, kissing and shit.”

“I know what the fuck dating is, Grif, get to the point.”

“Well, everyone comments on how Matthews and Bitters act like Simmons and I do, so like, should Simmons and I date?”

There’s such pure confusion on Grif’s face that Tucker can’t help but laugh. “Dude, are you fucking serious?”

“Do you think I’d be asking if I wasn’t?” Grif snaps, scowling.

“Grif, how about instead of basing your relationship with Simmons off of someone else’s you actually think if you want to date him,” Tucker says, chuckling.

Grif rolls his eyes. “But that’s way too deep for me, dude. The farthest I’ve gone in my mind is to see if I’m hungry or not, that’s it.”

“Then the mystery stays unsolved,” Tucker says, picking at his plate. “You’re a fucking treat, Grif.”

“Keep laughing it up, Tucker,” Grif says, pointing at him. “Maybe you should take your own advice for once.”

Tucker stills at that. “Excuse me?”

“If you spent less time undressing Wash with your eyes you could actually be undressing him,” Grif makes a face at that. “Ugh, bad thought.”

Tucker sputters for a moment, trying to think of a reply. “What the hell makes you think I wanna do that?”

Grif rolls his eyes, leaning over to steal Tucker’s half-eaten tray. “Uh, first of all, that reaction says it pretty plainly. Second, you two bicker worse than Simmons and I. And if Simmons and I are called the old married couple, you two must be… whatever is above an old married couple. What would that be?”

“A dead married couple?” Tucker suggests.

“Yeah, sure. You guys are a dead married couple,” Grif pauses at that. “Alright, we can’t use that one, it just sounds weird. But you understand the metaphor here.”

Tucker shakes his head. “Sure, Wash and I fight a lot but I’m not into him. I’m straight, remember? Besides, I think I would have better taste than a paranoid ex-special ops guy.”

“Okay, Tucker,” Grif says, shrugging. “Say what you want but you can’t run from your hidden desires forever.”

Tucker punches him in the arm, yanking back his tray. “Shut up, and don’t touch my food, asshole.”

Grif frowns at that, but doesn’t make another move toward Tucker’s his tray. The teal soldier picks his food, flicking his eyes up to glance at Wash one more time. He freezes when he meets Wash’s gaze, and the ex-freelancer hastily walks off. Tucker frowns, lifting his head more. Weird.

“Fucking gay, dude.”

“Oh shut up.”

*~*~*~*~*

The first thing that clues Tucker in that this is a dream is the fact that he doesn’t have a scar on his abdomen from the knife wound. The second is that he’s in a bed that’s not his and in a room that is also not his. The third is the pair of warm arms wrapped around him.

Tucker makes a small content noise, his own head telling him that there is nothing threatening in the dream. The arms around him shift and Tucker turns on his side to get a look at who’s cuddling him like this. The features are blurry, but Tucker can make out warm green eyes and a splatter on freckles and somewhere in him he recognizes this face; it’s the face of someone he knows well.

Tucker murmurs a name that sounds foreign to his ears, and says something that he thinks is a joke because the person next to him is laughing. The laugh is high pitched but also low, harsh and light. Like it’s a hundred different laughs at once, all fighting to take control over the image portraying before him.

The laugh eventually lands on one that is familiar yet a rarity to Tucker. A laugh that he enjoys too much for how little he hears it.

The other person with Tucker says something and the dark-toned man still can’t figure out what they’re saying but he ignores it. The other person smiles and leans forward and Tucker jerks awake, dream dissipating quickly.

Tucker lays there for a few moments in his bed, recollecting his bearings. The dream is already slipping from memory, and all Tucker can remember is the feeling of warmth. In comparison, his room feels drastically cold. The soldier pulls his blankets around himself even tighter, rolling onto his side.

A brief flicker of freckles comes to his mind, and Tucker tries to think of everyone he knew personally that has them. Simmons, but the thought instantly rings wrong in his head. Not him. Donut, but it feels off even if a bit closer to the right person.

At the thought of the the name Tucker feels something inside him coil tightly. No, it can’t be him. Tucker grits his teeth and burrows deeper into his blankets. No. He had been wrong and the eyes, and freckles, and laugh, from the dream hadn’t belonged to anyone he knows, no one. No.

Still, Tucker avoids looking at Wash’s face for too long for most of the next day, lying to himself that he isn’t.

*~*~*~*~*

The third time the lieutenants give Tucker a weird look is when he gets up and walks over. All four of them immediately act like they hadn’t just been staring at him, but Tucker wasn’t an idiot. Or at least, not that much of an idiot.

“What is it you guys want?” Tucker asks, crossing his arms.

“Huh? Oh, nothing, sir!” Palomo says, giving him a nervous smile. “We don’t want anything, especially not from you, ha ha.”

Bitters rolls his eyes at Palomo’s poor attempts to lie, and Jensen shoots Tucker’s lieutenant a sharp look. Tucker begins to count to ten, waiting for one of the soldiers to break and tell him what is up. He gets to seven before Palomo speaks up.

“We were just making a bet!”

Bitters groans and Smith shifts nervously. Whatever this bet entails seems to put the rest of them on edge. Tucker briefly wonders if it has to do with stealing from Grif’s food storage again.

“Well, what is the bet?” Tucker questions.

“Uh… y’know, a bet…” Palomo mumbles, avoiding eye contact.

“Wow, I never could of guessed,” Tucker deadpans, before looking at the other three. “Do any of you want to elaborate further?”

It’s Bitters who speaks up this time. “It may or may not have to do with you, that’s all you really need to know. It’s a harmless bet.”

“If it’s harmless then what does it have to do with me?”

Bitters hesitates before carefully speaking. “It’s a bet with you and Washington.”

Tucker stills at the information but tries to act like he still doesn’t care too much. “Alright, we got the people involved. Can you tell me what the fuck the bet is on so I can figure out what it is that you guys find interesting between us?”

“It’s a bet on…” Smith starts, picking at his nails. “When you two are going to… going to… you know…”

“Yes, clearly I do, but let’s pretend for one moment I don’t,” Tucker says, shooting Smith a withering look.

“When you two are going to… get together.”

Tucker blinks. “What?”

“It was Bitters who brought it up, sir!” Palomo says.

“Dude, don’t sell me out like that!”

“Sorry!”

“Why the hell do you guys think we’re interested in each other?” Tucker asks, trying hard to keep his voice from sounding strained. What the fuck are these lieutenants thinking? He briefly wonders if Grif had anything to do with planting these thoughts in their heads.

“Well, I mean, you did try the hardest out of your group to get your friends back,” Jensen points out. “Plus, you two are constantly staring at each other. It’s like a bad romance or something. I’m pretty sure the whole camp thinks there’s something there between you guys.”

Tucker frowns. “I’m not- wait, what do you mean by ‘two’?”

“Uh, the both of you?” Jensen replies, unsure.

“If you two are anywhere in the vicinity with each other and not talking, one of you will be watching the other. It’s getting kind of sad, honestly,” Bitters snarks.

Tucker stumbles to find words for a moment. “Okay, first off? I certainly don’t stare at Wash, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t look at me. Whatever rose-colored goggles you guys are looking at us through, take them the fuck off. Get a prescription that’s less romantic.”

“Keep telling yourself that,” Bitters says, stretching. “but if you’re going to confess your feelings anytime soon make it in a week.”

The teal soldier shoots him a glare and before he can retaliate he hears Kimball call him over. Tucker bites his lip but leaves, thinking over what had been said.

Obviously they’re just making shit up, right? Even if Tucker maybe looks at Wash a bit too long, there is no way in hell that Wash did the same. The guy is all business and no fun – not that Tucker wants any fun from him. The notion of the ex-freelancer actually having feelings towards him makes Tucker’s stomach churn, but a warmth wash over him.

*~*~*~*~*

It’s almost three a.m. when Tucker wakes up. Part of him thinks that just going back to sleep is the best option, that if he doesn’t he’s going to be cranky all day. There’s a part that refuses to settle though, to let him go back to sleep, so after several minutes he gets up and throws on clothes he thinks is clean.

Stepping out from his room, Tucker glances around to see that the hallway is vacant. Figures, seeing how late it is. Wandering down the hall, the teal soldier rubs at his eyes, body still half-asleep. He shivers once he leaves the bed quarters, grimacing. Stupid Chorus and it’s stupid freezing cold night air.

Gritting his teeth, Tucker marches across the camp’s field, not entirely positive on where he’s going. It’s not until he glances up and sees someone sitting on a roof and staring up does he decide on a place to go. Might as well find whoever else is up at three in the morning.

Tucker climbs the steps as well as he can in the dark, the stairs having a near invisible layer of frost over them and the only light source being moonlight. He really should of grabbed a jacket before he left. When he finally makes it to the top of the building, Tucker stops when he realizes who’s on the roof.

Wash turns at the sound of Tucker’s footsteps, eyes immediately hostile before recognizing him. He offers a tiny smile before turning back to look out over the bases. Tucker steps over towards the blond man, standing next to him and squinting out into the air.

“What are you doing up so late?” Wash asks.

“Woke up. Why are you awake?” Tucker replies.

Wash shrugs. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“How long have you been out here?”

“Maybe… two hours?”

Tucker frowns at that. “You’ve been out here for two hours? How are you not frozen?”

“The cold doesn’t really bother me all that much.”

Sitting down next to the blond, Tucker wraps his arms around himself. “Well you’re lucky then. It’s fucking cold out here.”

“Why didn’t you bring a jacket?” Wash asks, shooting him a disapproving look.

Tucker shrugs, not really having an answer. Just a bad choice.

“You should probably get inside,” Wash says. “before you die of hypothermia.”

“If anyone is it’s you,” Tucker retorts. “Did it ever occur to you to go inside at all?”

“Once or twice.”

Tucker rolls his eyes, pulling his legs up to rest his head on them. He shivers at a short gust of wind, glaring at the night air.

“The stars here are all different.”

Tucker turns to look at Wash, confused. “What?”

“They’re not the ones from Earth, and they’re not some of the major ones I remember from Freelancer,” Wash says, staring up. “They’re all foreign to me. There’s three moons here as well.”

“Didn’t realize you’re an astronomer.”

“I liked looking at the stars as a kid, alright?”

“I’m sure that the ladies love a guy who’s into space.”

Wash gives him a long look before flashing him a quick, tired smile and standing. “I suppose I should head back inside. Are you coming with me?”

Tucker sighs and pushes himself to his feet, grimacing slightly at the fact that he had managed to become stiff in that short of time. He glances towards Wash as he stretches and pauses for a second. A few clumps of hair are mussed from where Wash had run his hands through, moonlight turning the blond strands white. Tucker felt the inane urge to fix his hair himself.

“Are you alright?”

Tucker briskly realizes that he’s been staring, jerking his gaze away and heading towards the steps off the roof. “Yeah, yeah, just tired.”

Shaking his head, Tucker mentally slapped himself. What the hell is he thinking? He gives one quick peek over at Wash when he realizes that he isn’t following, but the blond is staring off into space in front of him. Tucker dislikes the small frown on his face and he grits his teeth at the thought. When Wash catches Tucker looking at him, he gives him a quick apologetic smile, freckles highlighted by the moonlight. Tucker feels something in him twist at the sight. Maybe he’s getting sick.

*~*~*~*~*

Doctor Grey insists that Tucker is one hundred percent healthy. Even the rebel’s head medic says he’s fine, and no amount of protest from Tucker changed either of their minds. He’s not sick according to them.

That’s the only thing he can think of that can explain his slow change in behavior. Everything when it comes to Wash seems like it wants to be in a movie recently. He’s aware of every sarcastic laugh Wash gives off, how close Wash stands next to him, how unruly Wash’s stupid hair is getting because he still hasn’t trimmed it. Tucker’s become so attentive towards the older man that it’s like a shitty romance you’d find in the five dollar bin, and honestly? It’s all getting kind of gross. The words ‘romance’ and ‘Wash’ just didn’t seem like they should fit in Tucker’s mind.

He thinks of Wash’s face in moonlight like some corny book and feels ill.

Grif makes fun of him about it. Not that Tucker confided in the red, no, he’s not that big of an idiot. Maybe he hinted at it, saying that a friend of his is having his problems, but he never told Grif directly about what is going on with him. No, Grif just knows that someone is having these problems and pinned it to him. Well, Tucker isn’t going to correct him.

“Dude, pretty sure you have a crush on whoever this guy is,” Grif says, a drink in hand.

Tucker shoots him a glare. “Not gay dude. Still like chicks.”

“So? Liking a guy doesn’t make you gay, moron,” Grif says. “You could be bi, or, what the fuck is that other one called? Pot? No, pan. There we go. That’s a thing according to Simmons. You can like both guys and girls and whatever else people wanna call themselves.”

“Yeah yeah,” Tucker says, rolling his eyes but mentally thinking on it. “Wash wants to talk to me about Charon and shit so, I’ll see you.”

“Have fun with your boyfriend,” It takes Grif two seconds before connecting some dots. “Wait, is this guy Wash? Dude.”

Tucker’s already walking away and doesn’t bother to respond. For most of his life, Tucker had been positive he’s straight. He likes chicks, alright? Girls, women, they’re his thing. Wash is… well, not female, and Tucker isn’t anything else besides straight. He groans and rubs a hand over his face. This is getting seriously out of hand.

When Tucker enters the meeting room, Wash is the only one there, doing something on a data pad in front of him. When Tucker walks over he looks up briefly before sliding the data pad over to him.

“Read that.”

Tucker sits down on the opposite side of the blond, but finds his eyes flicking up to look at Wash more than they do reading the actual information on the page. He frowns, trying to force himself to focus. His eyes shoot up once more however and make eye contact with Wash. The older man turns his head away from Tucker, fiercely studying the wall and Tucker looks back down at the data pad.

*~*~*~*~*

Whatever small problem Tucker is having is just growing worse in his opinion. Not a day seems to go by anymore that he’s not actively searching out Wash’s company, only to feel on edge the whole time he’s near the ex-freelancer. It’s a vicious cycle Tucker feels himself falling into, but he can’t find a way to break it.

The constant urge to be near Wash isn’t the only habit Tucker is gaining. There’s also the problem of how observant he is of the blond. As much as it pains him to say it, Jensen had been right when she said that Wash stared at him a lot. Although Tucker wouldn’t really call it ‘staring’. Wash is too subtle for that, and it’s only after Tucker starts to become hyper-aware does he notice whenever Wash glances over in his direction, or he holds eye contact just a second too long. Whenever he leaves his hand too long on his shoulder, or inches towards him. Jensen had been right and Tucker hates it.

This whole situation sucks and he just wants it to quit. Quit and get a new job somewhere else and move out of Tucker’s home and life, please and fucking thank you. Then again, if it’s that easy to get rid of his problems, Tucker wouldn’t even be on Chorus. So he figures that he’ll be forced to deal with the situation like a rational person even though that’s bullshit according to him.

He doesn’t ask Grif for any help, because he knows the answer he’ll get. Teasing and half-assed encouragement. God, Tucker sometimes hates the friends he has. There’s not many other people he can confide his plight to, and even less that would give him actual advice. What the hell do you do when you start to notice everything your commanding officer does and want to be near him endlessly?

A small voice in the back of Tucker’s head keeps chirping up about a possible answer, but Tucker refuses to give it any thought. No. No no no no. The only thing Tucker can think of that’s straighter than him is a machine-made line. Even if those can sometimes mess up as well. Wait, fuck.

Then he has a dream. There’s not much shape to it, or at least as far as Tucker can remember when he jerks awake. The colors are bright and comforting, and everything about it makes Tucker feel warm. The dream would be nothing special if he hadn’t woken up with Wash’s name on his lips.

Tucker gets up and takes a long shower in order to get rid of the thoughts. It’s long enough to run the hot water out and he thinks about how pissed the other soldiers will be if they woke up and the water is still cold. Oh well, he figures. They can’t blame him for it anyway, and if they do, they can all line up to kiss his ass.

Even when he’s under his sheets, Tucker still feels nauseated. He’s finding it harder to deny it anymore, he really can’t. Not after that dream. Not after waking up with Wash on his mind and the want of having him in Tucker’s bed. The want of running his fingers through his blond hair. Tucker grimaces. He’s starting to sound like a bad romance movie again, and it just makes him feel even worse.

He can’t cave into it though. He can’t. Not only is right now the worst possible time to get interested in someone, it has to be Wash. Tucker doesn’t even know if Wash looks at Tucker the same way. Glances only say what they are – peeks, subtle looking. They’re not fair ground to decide on someone’s feelings. Tucker isn’t even sure if the guy is into relationships. He grits his teeth and wraps his blankets around him tightly.

When Tucker dies he’s going to kick the first spiritual ass he sees for causing this shit. Sighing, he closes his eyes and buries his face into his bed. He absolutely doesn’t fall asleep thinking about how it might be to sleep next to Wash.

*~*~*~*~*

Tucker glances around to make sure he is still alone in the bathroom, overly-cautious about getting caught. The only sound he can hear is the running water pouring into the sink while he washes his hands, scrubbing furiously. It’s not like he did anything wrong, but if someone asks what he’s doing at two in the morning Tucker’s not sure what he can say.

Usually Tucker wouldn’t even bother with going to the bathroom to clean up after jerking off, but he couldn’t be sated with just a t-shirt tonight. To think of Wash while… those kinds of thoughts seemed wrong to him, like those aren’t his thoughts to have. Afterwards, Tucker immediately headed towards the bathroom, scrubbing his hands clean and debating on a shower. None of the cleaning changed the fact that he actually got off on the thought of Wash, however. God, this is such bullshit.

For the past two days he’s been trying to get comfortable with the idea of having sentiments for the older man. He’s made progress with acceptance, albeit little, but this whole sexual attraction coming up has crumbled all that advancement.

Tucker presses his head against the wall above the sink. He’s so far gone into his own head that he doesn’t realize someone enter the bathroom until he hears them speak.

“Are you… okay?”

Tucker jerks his head away from the wall, turning and stopping at the sight of Wash, shirtless and with mussed hair. Fate sure seems to have a sick sense of humor at the moment.

“What? Yeah, of course, uh- what are you doing up?” Tucker says hastily, trying to draw the attention off him.

Wash shrugs. “Late night training. Came in here for a shower… what are you doing in here?”

“Uh…” Tucker scrambles for an idea, trying hard not to look Wash directly in the eye. “Just got… the urge to wash my hands?”

Wash raises an eyebrow, his disbelief clear on his face but Tucker couldn’t think of anything better at the moment. The whole ‘shirtless’ aspect of Wash isn’t exactly helping him be the wittiest of people.

“Well, if you’re going to shower and all that, I guess I should go,” Tucker says quickly, trying to shuffle past Wash and out of the bathroom without seeming like he’s fleeing.

A hand grabs his arm and stops him however, turning him around to face Wash properly. He asks something but Tucker isn’t focusing because all he wants is to melt into that warm point of contact. This is absolutely not what he needs right now.

“Tucker? Should I take you to the medical bay?” Wash asks, concern written across his face. “You look like you’re about to pass out.”

“Oh I’m…” Tucker waves his free arm around aimlessly. “Fine? Yeah, fine. Just fine. I’m perfectly fine, dude. Are you fine?”

“… Yes?”

“Uh, good,” Tucker says lamely, eyes moving from Wash’s down to his mouth. The blond’s lips are chapped and rough, and Tucker’s pretty sure Wash bites at them when he’s thinking but nevertheless Tucker wonders what they feel like in reality and not in his mind.

Wait, shit, bad train of thought, back up, look back up the the eyes. Tucker shifts nervously, wanting nothing more than to escape the confines of the bathroom. Wash is giving him a weird look and Tucker can’t blame him, but he tugs his arm a bit to signal for Wash to let go. For a few seconds it doesn’t seem to register to him that he’s still holding on, but eventually he pulls his hand away.

Wash coughs awkwardly, not meeting Tucker’s eyes. “I… guess you should head back then?”

The thought of sleep doesn’t sound inviting but escaping the bathroom does so Tucker nods, running a hand through his hair repeatedly. He starts to head out but the sound of Wash talking makes him stop again.

“Um,” Wash says, clearly hesitating. “Do you- ahem, do you… uh- have the meeting with Kimball tomorrow or do I?”

The question throws Tucker off because it’s not what he’s expecting – he’s not sure what he had been expecting – and that Wash is always on top of things like that. He always knew what important stuff had to get done before the sun went down. It’s always Tucker who’s asking those kinds of questions.

“You do,” Tucker says. “Don’t you remember? Aren’t you the one who’s always on top of this shit?”

“Yeah, I just… forgot,” Wash finishes, giving a half-hearted shrug.

Tucker decides to accept the poor excuse for the moment, saying a hasty goodbye before leaving and closing the door to the bathroom. He swears he can hear Wash cursing at himself behind it.

*~*~*~*~*

Tucker is going to kill Caboose.

“Shouldn’t you fucking freelancers know how to pick a pair of damn handcuffs?” Tucker snaps, tugging angrily at the metal cuff around his wrist.

“Yes, if I had something to pick it with,” Wash retorts, just as annoyed as Tucker is at the situation.

The next time Caboose waltz up to him and asks to play a game, Tucker is just going to walk away. ‘Cause if a game of ‘cops’ ends up with him handcuffed to Wash, then he sure as hell isn’t going to play any other game that Caboose might come up with. Tucker sighs and lets his head fall back against the chair he’s sitting in.

“Carolina will be back soon enough with the key, just wait,” Wash says irritably.

“Yeah, if Church stops laughing long enough.”

Wash lets out a little huff at that, tapping his fingers on the table with his free hand. “How did you even let Caboose handcuff you? Let alone to me?”

“It all happened a little quickly, okay?” Tucker says defensively, frowning.

“Yeah, okay,” Wash says, disbelief heavy in his voice.

“It’s the truth!”

“Mhm.”

“God, you’re an asshole.”

Tucker puts his head in his free hand, glaring at the blond soldier next to him. He had finally cut his hair, so the blond locks are a bit shorter and more well-kept. Tucker feels a bit of sorrow at the loss of Wash’s more unruly hair, but it still looks soft to touch. Wash is close enough for him to easily reach out, but Tucker dismisses the thought as quick as it came.

Seriously, he is going to murder Caboose.

Being handcuffed to the one person you really needed to keep space from? Not exactly the most ideal of positions. Especially when Tucker can count almost all of the freckles on the left side of Wash’s face, and see the few gray strands in his blond hair.

Wash’s eyes flicker towards his every twenty seconds or so, and just as fast dart back to staring at the wall. It’s after a minute or two Tucker realizes how intently he’s staring – he’s up forty-four freckles – and he jerks his head down. He estimates maybe a hundred or so freckles total, but he can’t be sure without seeing the other half of Wash’s face.

When he glances over he’s positive that Wash’s cheeks are a shade darker, and the older man’s brows are furrowed. Wash opens his mouth to speak before closing it, frowning at the wall in front of them. Tucker almost asks what’s wrong but then Carolina comes striding into the room, holding up the key.

Tucker sighs in joyous relief, thrusting his wrist forward and thus yanking Wash’s along with him. Carolina shoots Wash a look Tucker can’t read, and Wash subtly shakes his head and the redhead lets out an annoyed huff. Once the handcuff falls away from Tucker’s wrist he pulls it towards himself, rubbing at the lightly chafed skin.

“I’m… going to go- do something,” Wash mumbles hurriedly, pushing past Carolina and hastily exiting the room.

“What’s his problem?” Tucker asks, confused at the soldier’s sudden departure. If anyone should be darting to get away it should be him, he was the one handcuffed to someone he needed space from.

Carolina shakes her head. “The only person on this planet that I think is more blind than Wash is you, and that’s saying something.”

Tucker frowns at her, defensive. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means,” says Church, flickering in front of his face. “That you’re a fucking idiot who can’t see what’s being thrown in his face.”

“Wanna quit the melodramatic bullshit? I get enough of that from Wash.”

“Oh hell no, I’m not getting into your guy’s fucking pining homo love-fest or whatever the hell it is,” Church says, crossing his arms. “If you open your eyes maybe the rest of us could stop watching you two go in an annoying circle.”

Tucker feels his face grow hot, making a few incredulous sounds but not being able to think of anything smart before Carolina and Church leave him be. There’s no way Wash can be having the same problem as him. That just doesn’t make sense. Wash is too focus-oriented to let himself get pulled off his feet for some smart-mouth soldier, right? Right.

Tucker shakes his head in frustration and drops it to the table.

*~*~*~*~*

When Tucker wakes up early in the night with Wash on his mind, a slowly becoming usual, he gives up. He caves in. Fuck it. So he might be a little gay, and he might be a little gay for Wash. Fuck it. If he’s going to torture himself every night with tantalizing thoughts of the ex-freelancer, Tucker is going to man up to it. He likes Wash. It’s fucking bullshit and it pains him to admit it because why the fuck would Wash have the same thoughts, what is he doing to himself, but he does it anyway.

Tucker grimaces and rolls out of bed, anger and irritation at the situation not allowing him to sleep. He heads outside and towards the roof he had sat with Wash so long ago. Has a lot of time passed since then? Tucker can’t really remember. Oh well. Fuck it.

Climbing up the steps, Tucker sees that the rooftop is empty and he only feels marginally disappointed. He sits down at the edge, putting his head in his hands and staring out across the other dull buildings, emotions cooling. The night is silent, so he hears it when footsteps come up the stairs. He turns his head around and freezes momentarily at the sight of Wash. The ex-freelancer is doing the same, surprise written across his face.

Tucker turns back around, fiddling with his hands absent-mindedly. Seeing the douchebag who gave him this affliction isn’t one of his top ideas of the night.

Still, Wash sits down next to him, almost hesitantly and doesn’t say anything. The silence of the night grows heavy and Tucker grows more and more fidgety until he finally has to break it.

“You’re an asshole,” Tucker says, not even looking at Wash.

“Excuse me?”

Tucker shrugs. “You’re an asshole.” An asshole with a nice smile you don’t show often, and an attractive face, and paranoia that you shouldn’t have to deal with. Also, you make me way too sappy for my own health, dickbag.

Wash doesn’t say anything to that, and Tucker is grateful for it. Just keeps the extra parts to the sentence in his head, keeps it silent. The night air turns tranquil once more, and Tucker has to fight to keep his eyes open. All rational sense is telling him to just head back to bed, but he the thought of making the long trek back is too much effort to him.

He doesn’t even realize his head is resting on Wash’s shoulder until a few minutes have gone by. Tucker isn’t exactly sure when he laid his head against the ex-freelancer, but he isn’t being shoved off, so he takes it as a sign that he’s allowed to do this. Wash feels slightly tense under Tucker’s head, but as time goes on the tightness of Wash’s muscles relax. Part of Tucker worries about being extremely transparent, but the teal soldier shrugs it off. If he is, so be it. He’s comfortable damn it.

Falling asleep in that position is a bit more surprising to Tucker, but when he drifts back into consciousness it’s the only thing he can figure that happened that would lead to him currently being carried. He feels a rise of indignation in him because damn it, he may be a shitty one but Tucker is a soldier and he can walk himself back to bed, thank you very much.

He recognizes the freckles that litter his carrier’s arms though, and even if Tucker feels absolutely ridiculous he relaxes into them again. Being carried like a child isn’t as bad if it’s Wash who’s carrying, he figures. He almost laughs, laughs at just how fucking screwed he is pertaining to the ex-freelancer, but contains it. He doesn’t want to shatter the guise of being asleep.

When Wash finally lies him down onto his bed, Tucker has to fights the urge to reach out and tug the bigger man down into his bed with him. Wash lingers by his bed for a few moments before leaving, almost silently closing the door.

Tucker feels warm all over, even though inside his room the air is chilly. His half-online brain is trying to fill in all the missing pieces from when he was asleep, but Tucker pushes it off. He doesn’t want to think of rational reasons right now. He just wants to think of freckles and blond hair that he still needs to card his fingers through, think of the reason he wants to be true as to why Wash didn’t just wake him. Even if he’s just toying with himself, Tucker can’t bring himself to care too much. Fuck it.

*~*~*~*~*

Wash stays abnormally far from Tucker all the next day, and it makes the teal soldier irritable. He snaps at Palomo a bit harsher than necessary, and he orders Bitters and Jensen to do double the laps. The lieutenants bitch and moan, and even Grif asks if there’s something up Tucker’s ass but he’s in no mood to hear it.

With waking up that morning came rational reasoning, and the warm feeling from the contact with Wash the night before had dissipated quickly when he got up. He can think of several reasons to why Wash would carry him back and not just wake him, the reasons ranging from silly to plausible, and none of them with romantic intent.

Wash avoiding Tucker all day did nothing to boost his spirits. A tiny part of his head whispers that didn’t he want to avoid Wash when he was still in denial, but Tucker refuses to let his hopes get up. Just because he accepted the fact he is into Wash doesn’t mean Tucker is going to start building himself up just to fall.

By the end of the day though Tucker is ready to bring himself and everyone else crashing down around him.

When he steps into the hall leading to the private quarters and bumps into Wash, the blond almost immediately flees when he sees it’s Tucker. He stammers out an apology and a hasty goodbye before turning around and scurrying away. It’s then that Tucker loses the last of his patience. He’s never had a particularly bad temper, but after so much building in tension, Tucker wants this tower to fall now damn it.

So he follows after Wash. He follows him until Tucker catches up enough to grab Wash’s wrist and whirl him around, only to land a sucker punch across the blond’s face. Wash actually stumbles back, mostly from being off-balanced, and curses loudly.

“What the fuck was that for?” Wash snaps, prodding at his nose and checking for blood.

“For being a god damn asshole,” Tucker hisses, wondering if he could land in another punch or if Wash’s freelancer reflexes would block it.

Excuse me?” Wash says, incredulous.

“You heard me,” Tucker says, folding his arms. “You’re a fucking asshole, and you make everything so unfair.”

Wash makes a frustrated noise. “Tucker, I don’t know what hell you’re talking about.”

“Everything! Your hair to your freckles to your face to every other romantic bullshit I’m stuck thinking about because of you.”

Wash stops at that, surprise widening his eyes. “What?”

“God it’s annoying,” Tucker continues, clenching his fists. “First I didn’t pay any mind to it, and then Grif opens his fucking mouth about you and I’m suddenly cascading down a flight of fucking gay stairs. Now I’m at the bottom and it’s your fucking fault.”

“Tucker, what are you-?” Wash cuts himself, eyes going wide.

Tucker’s beyond stopping at the moment though, throwing his hands up wildly. “And it’s like, sometimes I wonder if you fucking fell down them to. ‘Cause sometimes the things you do have such double meanings and it’s unfair because if I have to suffer through this, then you should too.”

“Tucker, stop-”

“Do you even have an inkling of this bullshit?” Tucker continues on, jabbing a finger in his direction. “Because I think you feel the same sometimes, but other times it’s like oh no, he’s just being stuck-up over-protective asshole Washington. It’s just ridiculous and I blame you and your stupid fucking hair for all of it.”

Tucker takes in a deep breath, panting slightly at his hasty speech. The longer the silence goes on the more it crashes down on him what he had just done, and the fact that Wash isn’t saying anything, just staring at him. Tucker feels something inside of him want to wail at the emotional outburst he just had, and the repercussions that were coming. And Wash is just standing there, his face in a twisted expression for some reason and-

Tucker feels a dull shock of pain at being slammed against the wall, but the lips on his erases his concern for it. He melts instinctively into the kiss, returning it even more whole heartedly once he full realizes he’s kissing Wash. Tucker is almost ready to say it’s a dream, but nothing in them feels as clear as this right now.

He moves his hands up to tangle in Wash’s hair and fuck- it is soft, it’s soft and light in contrast to the weight pressing against him and Tucker can feel his anger and tension and pent-up feelings melt off him. Weeks of fighting with himself and he finally gets what he wants and it’s everything he could of wanted. Calloused hands grip Tucker’s hips and the pressure is a welcome addition along with the nails digging into his skin. Wash smells like something cool and chilled, a little like mint but not the same, but before Tucker can find the proper word Wash is pulling away and for a brief moment Tucker has the closest view he’s gotten of the older man’s face. There’s a tiny scar on the left side of his nose.

And just like that Wash is tearing himself away from Tucker like he’s some sort of danger, taking a few steps back and looking ready to bolt. His hair mussed and lips red and Tucker can’t lie and say he doesn’t look attractive like that, even if Wash’s face is torn and he’s breathing a bit too quickly.

A long moment of silence passes between them before Wash lets out a whisper, voice hoarse and quiet.

“I can’t, we can’t – it complicates everything. We can’t, I can’t do- can’t allow this. As much as I want…” Wash bites his lip hard before continuing, taking in a deep breath. “Want to, I can’t. Not now. It’s not- no, no. It just complicates all of-” He pauses, rubbing at the back of his neck before looking Tucker in the eye. “No.”

Then Wash is taking off down the hallway, leaving Tucker to lean against the wall and collect his thoughts alone. The silence is hard and heavy around him, but Tucker isn’t really paying attention, sliding down the wall to sit on the floor.

Part of him thinks he should run after Wash again. To demand a better reason as to why not. To argue and bicker and fight until Wash finally lets him gets his way, get both their ways because Wash wants it to. Let’s them cave.

The other part of him disagrees. It says to just go and crawl into bed, because Wash is right. Here they are on a planet on the outskirts of nowhere trying to bring down corruption; this isn’t what they need. It just complicates everything. It’s not what’s needed.

Tucker doesn’t like either of those parts’ ideas however, so he just rests his head back against the wall and closes his eyes and tries to ignore the chaos he’s just allowed to happen because he couldn’t keep himself in check.

Fuck.