Yesterday I got this awesome present from eirok, and together with him and cherrytruck we started devising theories about how the situation in the picture had come into being. It was fun, and now there's fic too. DEDICATED TO YOU, EIRIK. Hope you enjoy it!
Pairing: Big Boss/Zero
PG-13 (but I have to say, it's mostly for the alcohol) SFW
Word Count: ~2,000
Summary: Big Boss doesn't deal with his new title well. Fortunately, he remembers the one he always calls for assistance.
Notes: Set right after the ending of MGS3. (Also, I wonder if I should warn for too much backstory and excess cuteness. XD)
Disclaimer: MGS belongs to Hideo Kojima & Konami.
The lights were dimmed inside the bar, which fit Snake about perfectly as he sat down and made a curt order. Dressed up as he still was, the barman gave him a dubious look – Snake wondered with some paranoia what that was about, if his face screamed Big Boss even to people who couldn't possibly have half a clue – but he downed his glass of whiskey and forced the thought away. It could be just the eyepatch making him look like a pirate.
“Pour me another,” he said, tone dispassionate. Might as well play the part as usual.
Wait, didn't pirates drink rum?
“I say sir, better pay and get out of here, we're closing.”
Snake blinked against the sudden rush of hard light. Someone was shaking his shoulders as if he hadn't been roused from his nap already, though with his alcohol-induced sluggishness that was understandable. The voice he distantly recognized as the barman's urged again, “C'mon, wake up.”
It was then that Snake realized that he more than likely wasn't going to have enough money to pay for everything he'd had.
Although he wasn't as drunk as to be inarticulate, negotiation wasn't his strong suit even while sober. His instinct, on the other hand, was ingrained. Making a choked nose, he slid off the bar stool and doubled over, coughing out something with just enough resemblance to the words “feel sick”.
As expected, none of the staff were enthusiastic about cleaning puke, leaving his way to the toilets unblocked. Snake bolted the door after entering and leaned back against it, genuinely unstable for all his earlier pretending.
Shit. That wasn't supposed to get out so of hand. Behold the new Cold War hero, Big Boss, stuck at a dingy bar because he can't pay. He could all but see Major Zero's face.
Now there was a thought.
How he managed to make sense of the radio equipment he'd had the idea to bring along – feeling a little guilty about letting his original one land in the fireplace a few days prior – Snake couldn't tell even as he fumbled for the right frequency. 140...there...damn, don't drop it now...85. Right.
He wasn't quite certain what he expected of this. He'd have understood no reaction or a belated one, but definitely not the almost immediate answer he'd always relied on during missions. There was a bit of static and then, “Snake!” Not even a little bit sleepy.
“I was hoping you'd call. You haven't done anything foolish, have you?”
“I, uh...” There were no words for how ridiculous Snake – Big Boss, my ass – felt at that moment, huddling in a public restroom to make what could only be considered a parody of an emergency call. He took a deep breath, fighting nausea. “I got drunk, and...ran out of money.”
“You what?” The sheer indignation in Zero's voice nearly knocked Snake off his feet.
“I-I just thought of The Boss and...”
A short silence followed. “Where are you, then?”
“At the--” Snake stopped himself, deciding there was no need to bring the toilets into this. “Lemme get you the address.”
“Well?” came Zero's voice when there was nothing but the sound of shuffling for the next minute or so.
“Wait-- dammit, think I'm gonna be sick.”
In the end, Zero arrived only to bail Big Boss out of the bar's clutches, sticking out like a sore thumb in all his typical sobriety. If his face betrayed any displeasure at first seeing the bill, Snake was slumped on the nearest table at the time and didn't register anything. He was glad he kept his balance when Zero patted his shoulder, entreating him to get up.
The night air was a refreshing change from the environment Snake had just spent his evening in, so he made a point of taking deep breaths while he struggled to keep up with Zero's pace, half-leaning against him as they walked. It was difficult to tune out the Major's angry muttering, though.
“Going from your inauguration straight to a bar to get pissed, what on earth were you thinking...”
Snake didn't have the strength to argue or explain – neither would have gone well in his current state, anyway. “Where we going?” he slurred in as few words as possible.
“Somewhere you can sleep this off,” Zero shot back in a tone that left no room for objection, while Snake marvelled at the concern he could distinguish plain as day. This was starting to get almost entertaining.
The “somewhere” turned out to be a hotel room, the place Zero was staying; Snake didn't even want to know whether that was a lucky coincidence or deliberation at work. Either way, he was grateful for the clean bathroom as he splashed cold water in his face and attempted to wash the sour taste out of his mouth, mostly succeeding. He even felt slightly less disoriented.
“You should take that off,” Zero remarked matter-of-factly behind him, leaning against the doorframe. Startled, Snake realized that his tuxedo was nowhere near the pristine condition it had boasted not so long ago. “Here, I'll lend you my spare trousers if you promise not to ruin them too.”
Torn between blushing and getting irrationally offended, Snake wound up simply stammering a thanks. The trousers were the most basic camouflage pattern, which was exactly what he needed for comfort, so he kicked off his shoes and dumped his dirty suit into the shower stall without care before he put them on. As for his upper body, he'd rather go around shirtless than grotesquely formal.
“There you are,” Zero sat him down on the bed, having just switched the lights off. Snake rested his head in his hands briefly, then gave a sigh.
“Damn. Forgot the eyepatch over there.”
“In the bathroom, you mean?” Before Snake's still somewhat hazy mind had a chance to process it, Zero was back with the accessory, placing it next to him on the bed. Snake gave a subdued nod but said nothing.
Zero sat beside him. “Lie down, will you?” This time, Snake didn't respond at all. But he was shaking.
“Come on, Jack, snap out of it. We can talk tomorrow if you want to, but now you need to rest.” Still nothing. “Look at me, then.”
That finally got a reaction, although Snake's reluctance couldn't have been more obvious – never mind that the eye-contact lasted a grand total of about two seconds before Snake was groping about for the discarded eyepatch. Noting all his misdirected effort, Zero picked it up for him.
“Give me that!”
“You don't need that to sleep,” Zero said resolutely, “which you really ought to be doing. Now will you finally move over or force an old man to carry you?”
Snake couldn't help the half-hearted chuckle any more than he could help complying. “You're not that old,” he remarked once he'd settled his head on the mess of pillows the hotel personnel had provided the bed with. He could feel the mattress shifting as Zero made himself comfortable just opposite of him.
“Why, thank you.” Snake could make out the smile even in the dark.
It made him feel rather pathetic now, the way he'd called on Major Zero like that was the only solution ever available. Pathetic, and owing a pretty good apology. “I'll pay you back tomorrow, I promise.”
Well. So much for pretty good, Snake thought.
Zero made a sound that was probably his closest equivalent to a snort at that. “You might if you insist, but that's not what worries me here. Couldn't you have spoken to anyone instead of, well, doing what you did?”
“Uh, I...” Found out the truth about The Boss. Couldn't think straight. Felt like punching all those people in the face instead of shaking hands with them. Didn't really want to talk to you, either.
It was straightforward enough, but his throat had closed against the words and that was that.
“Thanks for helping me out,” he ventured pitifully.
“Right.” Zero still appeared unimpressed. “If only you'd asked before you managed to dig yourself in deeper. But I suppose you just can't help it,” that last sentence actually sounded amused.
Not even Snake himself could tell why he was suddenly scooting closer, but he was glad when Zero's arms wrapped loosely around him, neither forbidding nor encouraging.
“What now, are you cold?”
Snake shook his head, which wasn't all that different from a nod when lying down, and tried to come up with something to say that wouldn't make him sound delirious. Not that he cared the greatest of deals, with not much of a face to lose anymore.
“At any rate, yes, you've always been reckless,” Zero mused if only to break the silence, “I used to wonder when you were still in survival training if survival wasn't too much to demand of you. Of course, it might just have been Providence at work...”
“I'm not dead yet,” Snake felt compelled to point out.
“Anyone else would have been by now.” It was disturbing how casually Zero made that claim – probably because Snake could find no way to discredit it. If anything, it made him all the more determined not to spend the rest of the night lying there wasting their time away.
“You remember just before the Virtuous Mission?” he began, trying to sound nonchalant about the whole thing. It could have been nothing, after all. Convenience. Except for the part where Zero was the last person Snake would have imagined needing such conveniences, not being trapped in an isolated training system and all.
But Zero caught on easily. “I was wondering if you did, with so much getting in the way and your new flames from behind the Curtain.”
Had Snake been standing up right then, he would have done a double-take. “What, you mean you knew about EVA and--”
“Refusing to answer the radio the moment you got to safety? I'm not stupid, Jack.”
“But why didn't you say anything? Wait, you know what, never mind,” and Snake leaned in and kissed him, since clearly talk was getting them nowhere tonight. And he wasn't going to risk a mention of Ocelot as well.
Zero's response was so smooth that Snake wondered for a moment whether it was premeditated, but the idea didn't linger. He grabbed on to the older man's shirt to pull him closer, determined to drag out the kiss for as long as he could.
They stayed in a sort of half-embrace afterwards; for his part, Snake knew he wasn't moving anywhere. It was a good thing Zero didn't seem to mind.
“So, are you feeling better?”
Zero laughed like Snake had never heard him before. “That's good enough, I suppose. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't pleasant for me too. Although perhaps we better continue this when...err, Snake?”
All he got in reply was a snore.
By the time dawn broke in through the window, the relics of the night seemed completely innocent. There was the eyepatch still lying on the bed, the slumbering figure of Big Boss, all this giving the impression of any other lazy morning. Snake's face looked peaceful in sleep despite everything, Zero noted with satisfaction. Not quite intact, but serene.
When he had looked away from Snake a while ago, he noticed a crude engraving on the wall below the window, no doubt commemorating the stay of some previous guest couple. Their initials had apparently been J + D. If Zero believed in such things, he would have called this cosmic alignment. It would make for an interesting theory.
In practice, however, he was happy to just watch over Jack a little longer.