Fandom: Generation Kill
Word Count: ~12,000
Summary: Nate works for a company in research and development. He doesn't know how he sleeps at night. Better Off Ted AU.
Notes: A graduation present for ericaplease who I have known for the entirety of our college careers. I wrote this thinking it would be a quick little thing. And then it was 5000 words. And then it was 10,000 words. Much gratitude goes to amberlynne for audiencing, and for setissma for taking pity on me and offering to beta.
On the eight days a year Nate’s ex-wife decides she wants to be a mother, Nate sleeps at his desk. He can’t quite bear to go home to an empty house, cooking for one, and a night without bedtime stories. And while his dad would say that makes him a failed man, or the word he always uses, a “pussy,” Nate doesn’t care. There’s always more than enough work to do here. Like figuring out how he’s going to explain to accounting how half their monthly budget was spent on Ray and Walt’s attempt to create Spidey fluid (Spidey fluid that has the smell and consistency of come and got everywhere) when they were supposed to be splicing strawberry DNA for a series of non-fat no-cal no-carb no sodium albeit tasty diet foods. Or why lab six’s computer has spontaneously decided to stop running advanced statistical models and keeps generating flowery-worded religious tracts. Or how to solve the fact that Doc refuses to work with Trombley, but he’s their only tester who’s signed an NDMA saying they can light him on fire or give him Bison pheromones and he won’t sue them.
The last time his wife showed up for her yearly and nevertheless shabby parental duties—that Nate is legally bound by a court order to respect—he wound up watching Turner Classic Movies until 4:45 AM and sobbing into a tub of Dolce De Leche Ice cream while Ginger Rogers smooched Fred Astaire on It Had To Be You. And then crying some more through To Have and To Have Not. He woke up on the couch two hours later with an imprint of his cycling magazine on his face and eyes so swollen it looked like Justin had given him pink-eye again.
So he stays at his desk. If he drowns himself in reports, he doesn’t have to miss his son.
“Poke has informed me that you have no projects pending,” Brad, his boss, says from his open doorway. He steps further inside the room when Nate looks up from the Spidey-fluid report. “And yet here you are, at this absurdly late hour.”
Nate sighs, and rubs at the bridge of his nose. “There was more work than I thought.”
“Bullshit, your ex-wife is in town.”
Nate blinks at him. “Does everybody know about that?”
Brad ignores the comment. “Any thought for a late meal?”
The clock on the wall says that it’s 10:22 PM, but it’s not a surprise that Brad’s still here. One time, down in the labs, Nate overheard Walt telling Ray that he’d never noticed Brad leave the office. Ray’s answer was that Brad didn’t have an apartment, that he possibly didn’t even sleep. Something Nate had even wondered about himself. He’s there first thing in the morning and he’s always the last to leave. Despite that, Brad looks perfectly pristine in a suit that probably cost as much as a semester’s tuition for his son’s private school. He didn’t know Brad did late night snacks, or anything else that mere mortals indulged in.
Nate’s stomach growls, and Brad’s impassive face takes on the sheen of a smirk. “Why not?”
They look ridiculous in the all night diner chock full of club kids and stoners—two adult males in business attire—ordering cheese fries, beer, and digging into their burgers like it’s niman ranch. Brad orders a strawberry milkshake extra thick and devotes himself to slurping it up the straw. Nate feels a sudden wash of affection and wonders if this is what it feels like to be a woman. He sighs and morosely shoves a cheese fry into his mouth.
The waitress, a young college student whose nametag unfortunately reads Barbie, comes by to check on them. She’s been overly friendly all night. Women tend to get that way around Brad because they can’t tell how idiosyncratic he is by looking at his face. Nate thinks she’s kind of endearing, even as she lingers too long and asks questions about things he’d rather not think about, like why he ever wanted to work for a giant corporation that may be causing global destabilization in order to satisfy shareholders.
Barbie tries to tell a joke as she’s refilling Brad’s water glass and Brad interrupts, “Your attempts at flirting are sophomoric and unwelcome.”
She starts, water sloshing all over herself. Brad simply stares at her evenly, waiting for her to collect herself and leave. Her cheeks flame up with color and Nate realizes once he probably would’ve felt horribly embarrassed, but now he just finds Brad’s heinousness amusing. He gives the poor girl a smile and mentally adds another ten percent into her tip. Ray has this story about Brad at a bar when the entire department was out celebrating a product launch. Apparently some poor slip of a thing bought Brad a drink and he lit her (or maybe it was the drink) on fire. Nate doesn’t know if that’s true, but a small part of him believes it’s possible.
“Do you date?” Nate asks, because he’s tired and he misses his son and cheese fries and beer could loosen anybody’s tongue.
“Date?” Brad asks like the word’s not part of his vernacular. “No, I have meaningless sex on a fairly regular basis. I find it quite satisfying.”
Nate narrows his eyes. “I can never tell when you’re being sarcastic.”
Brad pulls a face. “Why would I be sarcastic?”
Nate groans internally.
Ray and Walt are currently attempting to come up with a soap that washes off tattoos. So far they haven’t been able to stabilize it enough so that it doesn’t wash off skin with it.
“There is no way I’m going to be able to test this on humans, Homes,” Poke tells him, shaking his head as Ray runs around the lab shrieking, Walt chasing him with a fire extinguisher.
“Don’t be so negative,” Nate replies, leading Poke back out of the lab. “They’ll figure it out eventually.”
“You don’t get it, bossman,” Poke says. “How are we ever going to get volunteers?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it’d have to be people with tattoos who regret their tattoos. And what are we going to say? You hate your tattoo, so try this soap that might leave you with even more regrettable scars? Or if we can’t find people who have tattoos who think they’re regrettable, we’ll have to offer to tattoo participants, just so that we can remove them. And what person would agree to that?”
Nate sighs and pushes the button for the elevator a little harder than necessary. “A psycho.”
Poke nods and then gives Nate a bright look. “Hey, but there’s always Trombley.”
Nate shoots him a dark look. The elevator doors open and they both step inside, staring perfunctorily at the ceiling in silence.
After a moment, Poke says, “Rudy from accounting was here late last night. He said he saw you sleeping in your office again. I know Justin is with Meg, but I thought we’d resolved not to sleep in the office anymore?”
“What’s Rudy from accounting doing spying on me?”
Poke dodges the question. “Also, he says you went out with Brad for a quick bite.” He raises his brows.
Nate narrows his eyes. “So?”
Poke snorts. “Eh, nothing.” The elevator doors open. Brad stands in front of them, saving Nate from further questions.
“Ah, Nate,” Brad says, he steps into the elevator and hands Nate a stack of folders. “I need you to look at these. Where are we on the ink pigment removing soap?”
Poke shoots Nate a look and Nate blows out a breath. “We’re not going to make deadline.”
Brad lifts a brow. “What’s wrong?”
“Well, currently the pigment removing soap removes…well, everything.”
Brad blinks. “And?” Poke guffaws and barely hides it behind a cough.
“And people want to remove their tattoos without removing their skin?”
“I don’t understand. People want to remove their tattoos. We have a solution.”
Poke shakes with silent laughter. Nate ignores him. “You don’t have a tattoo, do you?”
“I do have a tattoo. But only a complete idiot gets a tattoo that he’s going to regret. Serves them right.”
“How are we going to market that? ‘You hate your tattoo and we know how to fix it? It comes with permanent scarring, intense pain, and possible nerve damage, but serves you right?’”
The elevator doors open and Brad goes to get off. He looks back over his shoulder. “Why not?”
The doors close and Poke is practically rolling on the floor from laughter. “‘Why not?’ Your face, G, priceless!” he says, between cackles.
In the cafeteria, Nate sits playing with the little metal seal on his bottle of Pellegrino. Ray and Walt slide their trays onto the table across from them.
“Yo, Ficklinator!” Ray says cheerily.
Nate stares at him. “Please don’t call me that.”
“Natinator?” Ray tries again.
“No,” he replies firmly. “What do you need?”
“Are you spacing out because your hosebitch-ex has your son?”
“I believe the phrase is hosebeast, and no. I'm thinking about work.”
“Hosebitch is better.”
Nate rolls his eyes.
Walt looks back and forth between them. “What Ray is inadequately attempting to ask is, 'Are you all right?'”
“I’m perfectly fine. It’s only eight days.” Walt and Ray don’t look convinced. “Guys! I’m a big boy.”
Ray snorts and knocks Walt’s shoulder. “That’s what Connie in acquisitions says.”
Nate clears his throat. Walt drops his eyes to his tray and gets very busy with his Waldorf salad.
In the sudden silence, Ray turns to Walt. “That was inappropriate, wasn’t it?”
Walt purses his lips and nods. He puts a hand in front of his mouth like Nate can’t hear him and says, “But not more so than your usual level of inappropriate.”
Ray pumps his fist. “Booyah!”
Nate shakes his head fondly and gets to his feet. “Enjoy your lunch, gentlemen. I’ve got to get back to work.”
“See ya! Don’t weep in your office tonight. The hosebitch ain’t worth it,” Ray shouts after him.
Nate cringes. The entire cafeteria turns to look at him as he’s making his way to the trash.
“You are still here,” Brad says, taking up his doorway. “I believe Ray told you, very loudly and in front of multiple witnesses, to go home tonight.”
It’s 9:57 PM. Nate knows this because this night is going so slowly he’s afraid that Ray and Walt might’ve turned on the chronoslippage device again.
“We’ve been over this. There’s too much work, and then all the setbacks with pigment-removing soap. I really can’t afford to get behind.”
“Hmm.” Brad doesn’t look like he believes a word. “Late night Chinese then?”
“I…” Nate looks down at the game of spider solitaire he was playing on his computer and says, “Sure.”
Brad drives a Spyker C8. It’s one of the most beautiful cars Nate has ever seen. He can feel his testosterone spike just from looking at it. Brad looks mildly amused.
He says, “Go ahead, you can touch it.”
Nate leans forwards and runs careful hands over the hood. “Jesus. The 12S? Is this car street legal?”
Brad shrugs. “Not really, I had it built custom. It’s the 620 PS engine.” He gestures Nate over to the passenger side as the doors unlock with a click.
“What does that get you? 350 km/h?” Nate asks as he gets in and stares at the interior in wonder. The seats are black leather, and it smells just like Brad does.
Brad grins, sticking the key in the ignition. “400.”
“Jesus. I think I just came.”
Brad gives him a look he can’t interpret and then pulls out of his reserved space. He drives them across town to a little family-owned Chinese restaurant. He parks the car on the street and Nate stares at him.
“Are you sure you want to do that?”
Brad gives him that wolfish grin that made 72% of workers respond on the employee satisfaction survey that Brad makes them pee themselves out of fear. “Let them try to steal my car.”
“Well, all right then.”
He follows Brad inside and one of the waiters greets them with, “Mr. Brad, you are back!”
Nate gives him a sidelong glance. “Here often?”
Brad ignores him and sits at a window table. “Their sesame chicken is the best I’ve ever had.”
“Well then, order some up,” he says as he pulls out a chair.
The waiter sets two Tsingtaos down and looks at them expectantly. Brad orders half the menu and waiter scribbles it down unsurprised. Nate thinks it might be enough to feed a small village, but when it comes he finds he can’t stop stuffing himself. He’s eating past the point where he’s hungry, it’s so good.
“This is heaven. I’m not sure I’ll be able to eat Chinese food anywhere else ever again.”
Brad’s face is undeniably smug. Nate shakes his head. “You should never have said that you had a tattoo in front of Poke.”
“Yeah?” Brad asks, dipping his finger into the sweet sour and sauce, grinning at Nate’s face as he sticks it into his mouth.
“Yeah. Ray’s started a pool on what and where it is. So far his supposition that you’ve got ‘welcome aboard’ tattooed to your dick has the most bets.”
Brad shrugs. “Could be.”
Nate laughs incredulously. “You don’t care if they hear about that upstairs? What if they want you to test out the ink-removal soap?”
Brad looks unconcerned. Nate has no idea why. Upstairs would absolutely do that, even to the head of a department like Brad. “I’ll fight that battle when it comes.”
Nate stays silent for a long moment and then he says, “You're very strange.”
“Mmm, thank you.”
Nate didn’t exactly mean it as a compliment, but he knows better than to say as much. Brad is unflappable. He holds his hand up to order another round and Nate takes the moment to study him. He doesn’t know why Brad’s reaching out to him. They’ve always gotten along, but he knows like eight things about Brad. He wears Burberry suits, collects cuff links, despises arugula, paces when he’s on the phone, hates the feel of newsprint between his fingers, listens to some exceptionally bad 80s hair metal, has no patience for useless or incompetent people, and now, has a tattoo. Yeah, that’s exactly eight.
Sometimes he doesn’t even understand what he’s feeling around him. When he first started he never thought he would like Brad and his eccentricities. He’d found the terror Brad inspired in his underlings off-putting and his decisions downright maddening. But when upstairs had told him Patterson was forming a whole new experimental department and had specifically asked for Nate, he hadn’t gone. Hadn’t even considered it, really.
Nate is exhausted. He went home to shower and change, but he came right back again after a breakfast of bright blue fun flavor Yoplait usually reserved for Justin’s lunch. What? It was going to go bad if he didn’t eat it. He gets back to the office to find the lab has exploded just like the time that Ray switched around the labels on the pharmaceuticals and they sent 10,000 kilograms of experimental baby analgesics to another lab facility instead of the psychedelics they requested for use in studies. Babies on psilocybin, what a nightmare.
“What’s going on?” he says, tugging on his shirt cuffs. He can feel a raging headache forming and he lays an unusually severe expression on Ray where he sits in the corner sulking, his skin bright purple. Walt looks triumphantly smug as he pipettes a substance into a test tube.
“You’re only allowed one office affair,” Ray tells him, arms crossed.
“One office affair, that’s all you get. Walt already used his,” Ray adds and swivels his chair around to present Walt his back.
“Wait, wait, what?”
“Ray is upset that I had a date with Jeanie Holloway in the cancer lab last night.”
“I’m not sure what that…” Nate stops up short. “You had a date in the cancer lab?”
Walt looks up from his test tube and groans. “No, Jeanie who works in the cancer lab. Why would you ever think I had a date in a cancer lab?”
“I don’t—” Nate breaks off and shakes his head. He directs at Ray a frustrated: “What are you upset about?”
Ray snorts and rubs at his distinctly purple nose. “Walt had an office liaison last year. You only get one. Them’s the rules. You can’t just go breaking them because you feel like it.”
He thinks the conversation slid out on a hairpin turn somewhere and is now fishtailing in a blackout zone because he has no clue what’s going on. “I don’t understand. You’re not upset that you’re purple?”
Ray perks up. “Oh, that shit’s kind of baller actually.” He slides his swivel chair over to a lab table. “See, we’ve found a chemical that interacts with the dead layer of the epidermis and turns people a nice shade of pansy purple.”
“Yes, I can see the many uses of that.”
“Halloween costumes, shortbus, or like the Blue Man Group. They won’t have to paint themselves all up and shit. They can just pour a little chemical on and hey presto chango pansy purple.”
“Can you turn blue then?” Nate asks, head cocked.
“No, but neither can Walt’s stupid cancer girlfriend.”
“You’re just jealous because you wanted her!” Walt shouts back. Ray has already worked himself up into high dudgeon and he sallies back with several colorful insults. Nate doesn’t even know what a ‘waffle-shaped ball-taint’ would look like.
He sighs, thumbing the bridge of his nose. He walks to a cabinet full of medicines and carefully marked chemicals. “Do we have any baby analgesic left?”
Ray stops shouting at Walt and turns to look at Nate. “Uh probably? But after the psych lab sent all their stuff back, I’m not sure what’s like…Tylenol and what’s, y’know, shrooms.”
“That’s just great, Ray,” Nate sighs. “What are you supposed to be doing again?”
“Uh…we were waiting for you to tell us that.”
Nate throws up his hands and leaves. He’s phoning this day in as officially crap.
He gets a summons from Brad at ten after one. The cafeteria had buffalo chicken pizza, just about the only thing they couldn’t screw up, and he was just about to bite into a piece when his blackberry buzzed.
Odd noises come from Brad’s office. He’s unsure what he could be walking into exactly. A failed prototype from cybernetics destroying Brad’s office. The psycho blue jays that were cross-cloned with eight different species and wound up with scales, a mouth, and four eyes flying around. Experience has demonstrated that it could be anything. He doesn’t bother to knock. The door opens under his hand and reveals Brad sparring in a loose gi that has fallen open to reveal hard pectoral muscles. Nate’s entrance provides a distraction for his opponent and Brad punches him in the head and then throws him into the wall. Well, that was unexpected.
Brad turns to the door while the other guy is stumbling dazedly around. “Ah, Nate, just who I wanted to see.”
“Uh, yes?” Nate is aware that he is staring at Brad’s chest. And his abs, and the grooves in his hips that disappear into low-riding pants. He’s too tired to pretend anything else.
Brad turns to his felled sparring partner and says, “You can leave.”
Nate has to stand back as the poor guy weaves toward the door. He catches his hand on Nate’s lapel just before exiting and says, “Run for your life.”
Nate clears his throat and disentangles the guy’s grip, smoothing the rent fabric of his lapel with a practiced hand. “I’ll be just fine, thank you.”
He hears what sounds suspiciously like a chuckle from Brad’s end of the room. “What’d you need?” he asks as Brad downs a water bottle.
Brad pulls his mouth off the lip of the bottle with a pop. “What’s going on in the lab?”
Nate says the first thing that comes to mind. “Full body dye.”
Brad furrows his brows. “And,” Nate leaps to add, “AND the self-cutting fabric we were working on.”
Brad gets a faraway look. “Perhaps you can find a way to full-body dye the fabric.” He starts disrobing right there.
Nate clears his throat. “Yes, I’m sure such a thing is possible.” Brad turns around and throws the top half of his gi into a hamper in the closet. And Nate finally gets to see the tattoo. It’s huge, a bright wash of red. Nate wants to touch it, see if the skin feels different. Jesus Christ. Losing his son for eight freakin’ days is causing him to completely lose his mind. “I’ll be going then.”
Run for your life indeed.
Nate’s woken up from a sound sleep by a cursory knock at his door. He raises his head from his desk to find Brad standing, yet again, in the doorway. He blinks and peels a memo off his cheek.
“I’ll get right on it,” he says sleepily.
Brad shakes his head. “Pizza and beer.” He turns right around and walks out.
Brad calls back a ways down the hall, “And no you won’t. If you continue being this efficient, the company is going to start firing people as redundancies.”
“Hurry up, I’m thinking the works and an ice cold IPA.” It’s only then that Nate realizes Brad meant for Nate to follow him.
Nate decides to pay for the pizza and pitcher they ordered, but when Brad asks for the check he tells the waiter, “If you hand him the bill, you won’t get a tip.”
The waiter shoots Nate a dark look and nods.
“Brad!” Nate flushes. “I’m never going to be able to come here again.”
“Only with me.”
Something about the way he says it makes Nate stare at him. The waiter shoves the bill into Brad’s hands before Nate can ask and Brad’s forking over a platinum card without even looking at it. When the waiter brings his card back, he signs with an impressive flick and then sticks his wallet back into the inside pocket of his suit.
“Coming?” he asks, getting to his feet.
Nate follows obediently. Brad takes him back to his house. He doesn’t even bother to ask how Brad knows where he lives, just sighs, when Brad pulls up in front of his house. He gets out of the car. He doesn’t have anything with him besides his keys and his wallet, because he left his briefcase and all his pending work back at the office.
He registers that Brad gets out behind him, following him up the steps. Nate unlocks the door and turns around to say, “Do you want to come in?”
But he doesn’t get that far. Brad places a palm on his chest and gently shoves him into his darkened house. The door swings shut behind them both and Nate knows what’s happening here. He knows like he knows where his nose is on his face, but it still comes as a surprise when Brad’s mouth descends over his.
Brad’s never been here, but he navigates Nate’s furniture expertly, pushing him up against the only patch of wall that isn’t covered with finger paintings and craft projects and pictures of him with his son at Six Flags. Nate strains upwards to meet Brad’s mouth, moaning as Brad gets a thigh between his legs.
“When was the last time?” Brad says, pulling his shirt from his pants and unworking the buttons.
“I’m a single dad.” Nate catches Brad’s face between his palm and kisses him again, mouth skating over Brad’s. Brad deepens the kiss, hands clutching at Nate’s open shirt. He flicks their tongues and then catches Nate’s, sucking on the tip. Nate shudders and tears his mouth away, thumb running over the beginning of stubble on Brad’s cheek. “Have you ever…with a man?”
“No,” Brad says shortly. “I’ve fucked women,” he says shortly, and Nate is about to retort when Brad’s hand slides around his body, over his ass, pressing up and in so that all that separates Brad from breaching that tight ring of muscle are two layers of fabric. “Here.”
Nate squeezes his eyes shut tight so he doesn’t have to see any evidence of his kid as he pushes back against Brad’s hand. Brad chuckles, he nuzzles along Nate’s collarbone. “It’s not as difficult as you might think. You eat her out, once, twice, so that she’s all warm and pliant, and then you get her slicked up, and even though she’s nervous, you keep telling her it’s going to be fine. And then she’s letting you slide a finger in, and one finger becomes two, and you’re at just the right angle to thumb her clit.” He punctuates his statement by scraping his teeth over Nate’s pulse. “Soon she’s telling you she didn’t know it could feel like this, rocking against your hand as you work her clit some more, and just when you’ve wrung another orgasm out of her, she lets you inside where she’s so warm and tight.”
Nate drops his head back against the wall and says hoarsely, “I’m not a woman.”
“You’re not,” Brad agrees, amused.
Nate has lost his mind. That has got to be the reason he says: “You can still fuck me.”
They destroy about a thousand dollars worth of designer clothing getting undressed. Brad steps on a toy transformer and curses, and Nate laughs. Brad silences him by drawing him in close for another kiss. And then he’s walking Nate back into his living room and up the stairs. And then it’s a race, urgent hands and breaths mingling together. They get caught, making out, right in front of Nate’s bedroom door. Brad’s teeth scrape over Nate’s lower lip and Nate gets his hand inside Brad’s pants, fingers curling around Brad’s dick in retaliation.
Brad pulls his mouth away as Nate strokes him, shuddering. He’s got his palm braced against the wall and his harsh breaths drift over Nate’s face. Nate rubs at the head and feels precome spurt out, slicking his thumb. Brad catches his wrist, stilling his motion. “Wait, wait, wanna be inside you.”
Nate swallows. He thinks of himself, spread out over his bed, Brad above him and feels his dick harden. Brad gets them both out of their remain clothing and then he’s kissing Nate again, tipping him back onto his bed. They haven’t bothered with lights and it’s dim in the room, and Nate’s glad of it. Brad can’t see how flushed his skin is or how badly he’s struggling to hold himself together.
By the time Brad finally pushes inside after fingering Nate open, Nate is straining for it. Brad curses, stuttering to a halt, like he’s going to lose it. He’s got one hand on Nate’s thigh, holding Nate open and he tightens it, knuckles going white. Nate squirms, feeling how impaled he is on Brad’s dick. He arches his back and then Brad is sliding all the way inside almost before he’s ready for it. This is not sex like he’s ever experienced it.
He feels his heartbeat pounding in his head. Brad groans, leaning his weight onto one hand, bending Nate practically in half. He can see Brad’s grimace of concentration, even in the darkness. He draws Brad down to kiss him, tonguing the sensitive inner flesh of Brad’s mouth even as Brad’s hips snap upwards, driving himself into Nate.
It’s good. But it isn’t enough. Nate reaches between them, wrapping his fist around his dick. His knuckles brush over Brad’s abdomen, solid muscle from throwing jujitsu instructors around his office like they were toys. He tightens unconsciously around Brad and his hips stutter, forehead dropping to rest on Nate’s collarbone. Nate does it again, this time on purpose, enjoying the way Brad’s breath is punched out of him in rush.
Brad comes first. He trembles and curses. Nate grins a little, watching Brad’s face screwed up in pleasure. It’s the same face he wears when a project has gone to the shitter and he’s royally pissed off. Nate continues to stroke himself, even as Brad stops moving, hovering half in and half out of Nate. He comes with a muttered, "Fuck." Brad lingers for a moment, breathing hard. After a moment of punctuated stillness, he pulls out slowly. He gets to his feet and goes to the en suite. Nate feels hot and achy, sore everywhere from the small of his back to his calves.
Brad comes back out, head turned towards the door and Nate shakes his head, rolling over in the bed, completely disregarding the mess. He nearly jumps out of his skin when Brad slides in behind him.
Brad chuckles. “Can’t have you sneaking back to the office while my back is turned.”
Nate wakes up the next morning at 7:53 and Brad is gone. He wallows in bed for a while, wondering at the damage they did to the house. He waits exactly four minutes and then goes downstairs in his bathrobe to inspect the chaos. It’s spotless. Not a toy or a book out of place. He finds a completely catered breakfast on his dining room table. More food than one person could possibly eat. More food than ten people could possibly eat. Piles of cut fruit, baskets full of bread, there’s even a vase overflowing with fresh-cut flowers in the center. He finds a note from a Good Eats Catering to a Mr. Colbert sitting on a perfect bone china plate saying that his request was filled to the letter.
“You’re such a freak, Brad,” Nate says fondly to the empty room. He picks up a muffin, spears a piece of bacon on a fork, and then heads back upstairs to shower.
Nate shows up to work a few minutes after nine and knows there’s a bounce in his step. He walks by Poke’s cubicle and Poke shakes his head at him. “You’ve pulled out the bright blue tie, homeboy, you must be in an excellent mood.”
Nate leans forward on Poke’s cubicle with a grin. He takes a breath and then lets it out, just enjoying the way it feels to breathe. “Yup. Just spoke to Justin. He’s enjoying New York City, but he says he misses me terribly.” He doesn’t bother saying he got laid. Poke’s already like his great aunt Milda who knew everything he tried to hide just by looking at him, he’s not going to give Poke any help in figuring him out.
Poke leans back in his desk chair. “Ah, so you don’t have to be jealous of the hosebitch.”
Nate rolls his shoulders. “Nevermind. Not that I would ever stoop that low. I know that all children have a very special bond with their mothers.”
Poke raises his brows. “Sure, whatever you say.”
Nate sighs and heads off to the lab. Shut it, Great Aunt Milda.
Ray and Walt are working on the prototype for a pair of shoes that will make the wearer into an excellent dancer. They pulled Stafford, apparently the only person in the entire company who knows how to move, from IT to dance hip hop in a special VR suit.
“We’re programming the computer with a database of moves,” Walt explains, gesturing to a monitor bank. “After that we have to program the corresponding soundbytes so that the shoes don’t have you doing the whip to Alicia Keys.”
“Huh,” Nate says, watching Stafford break dance between lab tables. “You’re doing great.”
“Thanks, man,” Stafford says breathlessly, executing a little twirl.
Walt snorts. “We had Ray doing the dancing originally when we were beta testing the shoes’ memory.”
Ray looks up from another computer monitor. “I rumba very well thank you!”
“Quick quick slow is the rumba!” Walt replies testily. “I don’t know what you were doing. The cerebral palsy dance of shame, maybe.”
Ray gasps, feigning shock. “Walt, that’s not PC.”
Walt shoots a beleaguered glance at Nate. “And yet, so accurate.”
He stops by Brad’s office after lunch, dumping off four reports. Brad is taking a conference call, tossing a tennis ball up and down, clearly bored out of his mind. He’s wearing a grey suit that really brings out the blue in his eyes. He catches Nate’s gaze and asks him to wait with a lifted finger. Nate blows out a breath, and takes a seat in the chair across Brad’s desk.
“It’s just that this really has the potential to change the entire market,” a voice protests out of the speaker.
“Yeah, Schwetje, I’m listening to you, and the answer is still a no.”
“You can’t cockblock me on this, Colbert! This is fucking bullshit.”
Nate clears his throat and watches Brad’s face resolve into a frown. “Enjoy your blue balls, sweetheart,” he says, and hangs up with obvious joy. He looks at Nate and then down at the reports Nate set on his desk. “You know, sleeping with you was supposed to make you less efficient, not more.”
“Oh? I was supposed to be so overcome, I’d be unable to think about anything besides you and your magnificent cock?”
Brad grins. “Something like that.” He clears his throat and gestures to his laptop. “Come here, I have some things I want you to look at.”
Nate gets up to go around the desk. Brad’s got opentable up on the screen, a newly confirmed reservation at 8 PM for 2 at North Pond staring at him. “Brad, we—” He’s cut off when Brad slings an arm around his waist, pulling him down onto Brad’s lap.
“Whatever you were going to say, don’t,” Brad says, and leans in to lick a line down from Nate’s ear with the point of his tongue. Nate shudders, leaning back into Brad. Jesus Christ, he hadn’t locked the door behind him. Anybody could walk through. He doesn’t fight or even protest when Brad runs his hand down Nate’s front, stopping at his fly.
When Brad slides his hand in, Nate’s already hard. He pushes his fingers up behind Nate’s balls, stroking over his perineum. “I’ve been doing some research.”