the reluctant lobotomist (fourfreedoms) wrote,
the reluctant lobotomist

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Fic: The Natural Chemical Balance

Title: The Natural Chemical Balance
Author: fourfreedoms
Fandom: Generation Kill
Pairing: Brad/Nate
Word Count: 2,583
Rating: PG
Summary: Nate's car breaks down in front of Brad's vineyard
Notes: This started as a snippet from amberlynne's prompt here. And I was trying to write eight different other things, but this decided it wanted to be longer so I cleaned it up and added 1,500 words.

The engine light on Nate’s rental car starts flaring alarmingly on the 101 just south of Healdsburg. He’s due for a friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner in an hour and a half. He doesn’t have a date, which Amanda was bugging him about from the minute she sent him the wedding invitations, the shoddy rental is about to explode, and he doesn’t understand why anybody would have a wedding in this burnt out part of the country anyway. The 101 is down to two lanes up here. Embarrassing.

He gets off at the first exit, burnt grass and highway detritus giving way to acres of vineyards. He hears the insects buzzing through the lowered windows. He sighs and adjusts the collar of his shirt. He’d changed in the dim lighting of the Red Carpet Club’s bathroom at the airport and finding mismatched buttons and pen ink stains he never realized were there, lamenting that choice the entire slow crawl up the highway. The smell of burnt rubber is filling the car and his clothes are going to reek of it. The car judders. There’s a little turn out with a sign, and he pulls off in front of it.

“Jesus,” he says, popping the hood and slamming out of the car to inspect the damage. The engine is smoking under the hood. He’d only had the car for two hours from the Hertz rent-a-car at San Francisco airport—if it could’ve just waited the last few miles to Healdsburg. Or broken down near the auto mall that is Petaluma. “Shit.”

“Everything all right?” a voice comes from behind him.

Nate pulls of his sunglasses and turns around. Walking towards him with two rangy golden retrievers at his heels is a tree of a man. Nate knows intellectually the other guy can’t be that tall, but something about him just seems to take up space. The guy shades his eyes against the sun and smiles disarmingly.

Nate scrubs at his face with his hand. He feels horribly out of place in his charcoal dress pants and cream dress-shirt. It's got to be 80 degrees out. “I’m sorry if I’m on your property. As soon as I call for a tow truck I’ll be out of your way.”

The man looks amused, slightly longish blond hair falling into his eyes. “Do you have cell reception?”

Nate pulls his blackberry out of his pocket and sighs at the lack of bars. “Just my luck.”

“You’re fine,” the guy says, “I have a landline in the main house if you want to use it.”

He skirts past Nate up the driveway, the dogs following behind obediently. Nate swallows, watching the man’s jeans mold tight over his ass and thighs as he walks. He rolls his eyes up to the sky and then takes off behind him.

“I’m Nate by the way,” he says, catching up to the guy and offering his hand.

“Brad Colbert,” the guy replies. His grip is strong and sure, callused from work, and Nate’s hand tingles when he gets it back. He hopes he isn’t blushing.

It’s a long walk up the drive, bracketed by rows of tamed vines, with Brad occasionally tossing a tennis ball for one of the dogs, Shadow and Fox, Brad calls them. Shadow is full of energy and bounds after the ball, but Fox has decided to babysit Nate, brushing golden dog hairs all over his pants. He and Brad don’t talk, but somehow the silence feels more companionable than oppressive. Nate guesses Brad just doesn’t see the use in filling the air up with pointless conversation. He can get behind that.

The main house that Brad mentioned had conjured images of a barn-type compound, but what Brad actually meant was a sprawling Spanish style ranch house with rugged red cliffs soaring up in the background. Nate has to take a second to stare. When he turns back to Brad, the other man is smiling at him.

“It’s beautiful,” Nate says.

“Thank you,” he demurs, and shows Nate through the front door. He calls back over his shoulder, “C’mon, Shadow.”

They wind down several long cool hallways to an office of sorts. Nate feels thoroughly turned around. The office walls are covered in awards and Nate realizes he actually recognizes the name of the vintner, Shadowfox. He’s had a bottle or two at parties in the past. His parents aren’t big fans of California wine, but Nate loves a good Zin.

There’s a skinny stick of a man sitting with his feet propped up on the desk and he takes one look at Nate and says, “Ooh la la, Brad, this is a higher class hooker than you usually pay for.”

Nate stares at him and then turns back to look at Brad who seems annoyed rather than embarrassed. “Shut up, Ray,” he says. “The phone is next to my retarded associate, please help yourself.”

He stalks out of the room and Ray follows after, attempting to apologize, but clearly only annoying Brad further. Nate eavesdrops on their argument for a moment longer before picking the phone up out of its cradle. He calls a towing company first. They promise him forty-five minutes to an hour. Nate looks at his watch, he’ll probably be late.

He calls Amanda next. “I’m going to be late,” he tells her as soon as she picks up.

She sighs, sounding beleaguered. “Of course you are, first no date, second not on time, third you’ve started voting republican again.”

He laughs. “I assure you it stops at being late.”

“Where are you?”

“Not too far. My car broke down and this guy is letting me use his phone.”

“Christ, Nate, how late are you going to be?”

He spends several more minutes appeasing her and telling her everything is going to be fine. Finally she relents and hangs up on him. Nate doesn’t take it personally. This whole wedding thing has been making everybody nuts. Her future husband is practically a stoner and he’s been freaking out. Nate’s gotten eight e-mails from Amanda on the subject. He walks out of the room, following the sound of voices.

He finds Brad and Ray in a spacious living room in the back, overlooking the rear of the property. One wall is entirely glass and the rows of carefully tamed vines seem to go on for ever. Ray is sprawled out on a leather sectional, telling some story about rabies and pole dancers in Reno. Nate can tell that Brad is mostly not listening. They both turn when he enters the room.

“Thanks for letting me use your phone,” Nate says, finding it hard not to stare at Brad who is backlit by the window and seems to glow. “I’ll uh…get out of your way.”

“You’re welcome to wait here,” Brad replies evenly. Ray snorts and Brad turns to him, “Get out, Ray.”

Ray raises his hands in supplication, but rolls to his feet and leaves. He winks at Nate as he goes. Nate raises his eyebrows at Brad. “Ignore him,” Brad replies and walks over to a sideboard. “Can I help you to a glass?” He holds up a bottle of Campo Viejo Rioja.

“Not your own wine?” Nate asks.

Brad laughs. “If I only drank my own wine, I’d get pretty bored.”

He pours Nate a glass and hands it to him. Nate looks down at his watch. Only 4:43 PM. Early. He supposes he’s in wine country. He thinks about sitting down, but it feels appropriate standing here next to Brad. Brad clinks their glasses together and takes a sip, his eyes never leaving Nate’s. Nate raises his glass to his mouth and takes a bigger swallow than he meant to. He has to tongue the excess off his lower lip. Brad’s eyes darken and drop to his mouth.

“I uh…don’t suppose there’s anywhere you have to be tonight?” Nate asks, knowing he’s completely lost his mind.

Brad takes another sip, his throat working, and then sets the glass down on a low coffee table.

“No, I don’t suppose there is.”

Ray pops his head in through the doorway. “You’ll need to wear a suit, carebear,” he says to Brad and then disappears again. Nate snorts with laughter at the dry expression on Brad’s face, setting his glass down on the low glass coffee table.


Nate hates most of Amanda’s friends. He’d had a friend at the business school his second year of Law school who’d been primed his entire life to take over the family business. He’d drunkenly confessed at a bar that he was trying to reconcile an $85,000 a year salary with the $200,000 salary he could be making on Wall Street. Nate, who’d known since he was a freshman in college, that he wanted to work for the DOJ had had to suppress the urge to vomit. Most of Amanda’s friends are exactly like that, high-priced corporate attorneys and civil litigators, which he can’t blame her. That is the sphere she runs in, she’s lucky she ever met Paul with his mellow I-wish-it-were-still-the-sixties attitude, but it does mean that during the rehearsal dinner he’s thrumming with frustration. Brad weathers it well. Nate can’t tell what he’s thinking at all.

Amanda was so glad he showed up with a date she didn’t ask any questions. Also Brad looks like a GQ model in the suit that Ray had picked out for him, and that went a long way to excuse his lateness. “He hates suits, thinks they make him look gay,” Ray had said confidentially, ironing Brad’s snowy white lawn shirt.

Brad was outside dealing with the guy from the towing company, insisting Nate enjoy another glass of the Rioja. “Isn’t he…gay?”

“Yes?” Ray replied, like he didn’t understand the relevance of the question.

“Jesus, Ray, you don’t have to iron the shirt!” Brad said, striding back into the room.

Ray snapped back between grit teeth. “First impressions are important, hombre!”

Nate doesn’t think a wrinkled shirt would've marred Brad's appeal. Brad does not need dressing up. About four different female corporate ballbreakers are eyeing him like his presence on Nate’s arm and what that means doesn’t make a difference to them.

“So how’s Baltimore, Nate?” Craig, this guy that he and Amanda attended law school with asks with a toothily false smile.

“Same old same old,” Nate replies.

“Still dealing with poor blacks mowing each other down and crying over cut welfare when another one of them ends up dead?”

Nate narrows his eyes. “Not really, Craig, I’m still working in the gang unit. Mostly just poor people having their lives destroyed by organized crime because they don’t see another way out. And then of course some really bad dudes taking advantage of them.”

He feels Brad’s eyes on him. Craig laughs. “It’s so easy to provoke you, man,” he says and turns back to the guy sitting next to him.

Brad spoons some flying fish roe onto his plate and says, "Try this. It's surprisingly good."

Nate sighs. “Sorry, most of these guys are assholes,” he says to Brad and stabs his fork into his food viciously.

Brad shakes his head. “I sort of gathered you were a lawyer,” he waves an absent hand at the assembled company, “but I wouldn't have thought...gang unit.”

Nate realizes Brad knows nothing about him. He hasn’t asked. He doesn’t know what that means. Nate takes a long sip of the Merlot Brad had dismissed upon their arrival. “Yeah, it was my dream to go into crim law and then become a US Attorney. All the rest of my friends decided to go into the private sector. Who can blame them? Who needs ideals when you have money.” He hates how bitter he sounds, but he doesn’t know how to wash it from his voice.

Brad looks at him, unblinking. His lip quirks and Nate has absolutely no clue what’s going on in his head. They’re halfway through the antipasti before he realizes. Nate had removed his jacket and rolled up his sleeves earlier. Standing next to Brad, the room seemed uncomfortably hot. Now while Brad carefully and precisely eats his potato croquette and makes conversation about good wine years with a guest across the table, he reaches across the distance between them and strokes along Nate’s forearm. Nate turns to look at him, but Brad doesn’t look away from the woman he’s talking to.

Nate hadn’t even noticed that Brad was handling his fork with his left hand, the hand usually reserved for a knife, until the right slid along his arm. The touch is feather-light, starting at Nate’s pulse and sliding up to the thin skin on the inside of his elbow. Nate shivers, but Brad doesn’t let up. He thumbs along the vein, just the lightest pressure and Nate breathes out. Suddenly his food doesn’t taste so much like dust and the guy he was talking to about tax reform doesn’t seem so boring.

Amanda, who’s making rounds of the table, radiant in a yellow silk dress, puts her hands on both their shoulders, bending low to talk to them. “You two are so cute.” She drops her gaze to Brad’s hand on Nate’s arm.

Brad smiles winningly at her. She kisses Nate’s cheek and says, “You’re silly, pretending you didn’t have a date for my wedding.”

Brad laughs, a small amused spate of noise, and Nate’s cheeks flood with color. She leaves them, Brad steadily caressing Nate’s bare skin in time with the beat of his pulse. On the next stroke down, Nate catches his hand. “You know you’re stuck coming to the wedding tomorrow.”

Brad cocks his head, silent for a moment. “In for a penny, in for a pound—I’m sure Ray can find me another suit.”

Nate makes a sound in the back of his throat and he drops Brad’s hand. The rest of the dinner flies by in a blur. Nate yawns over dessert and coffee and Amanda says, “Oh Nate, you look exhausted, you should go.”

Nate shrugs. He’s been up since Six AM Eastern Standard Time. “If you’re kicking me out, I’ll go.”

“Get some sleep,” she replies.

He says his goodbyes and then Brad helps him into his suit jacket. They walk out of the restaurant together, but this time the silence between them feels tense. The temperature has dropped by about twenty degrees. “I uh…have a hotel room, somewhere around here.”

Brad nods and then says, “You left your stuff at my house.”

Nate swallows. “Do you want me to stay?”

“I want you to stay,” Brad replies without hesitation.

He bends his head and kisses Nate. Nate curls his hand in Brad’s shirt and moans. Brad tastes like hazelnut coffee and his mouth is warm. When Nate pulls away his breath is visible in the air. “I don’t do things like this,” he breathes.

“I know,” Brad replies and he kisses Nate again. This time there isn’t anything gentle about it. Brad draws him in tight, fingers hooked through Nate’s belt. He nips at Nate’s mouth, drawing blood up to the surface. Nate’s lip stings, but Brad’s tongue flickering over it sends sensation straight to his dick. Loosening the hand he has clenched in Brad’s shirt takes effort. He puts a little space between them.

“Oh Jesus,” Nate says, fingers to his lips. They’re on the street still. Brad grins at him and then drops his eyes like he’s embarrassed of how proud he is for Nate’s loss of composure. Nate shakes his head. “I hope you can drive fast.”

Brad pulls out his keys, swatting Nate’s ass as he heads for the parking lot. “Oh, you don’t even know.” He turns around when he’s in the middle of the street to walk backwards. “Coming?”


It just didn't want to be porn. SIGH.
Tags: brad/nate, fic, generation kill
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