12/29/12 10:14 pm - oudeteron - S3 Fic: When All Is Said and Done
Hey there! I come bearing my contribution to this year's Secret Santa. For our fabulous ikipud/pudding! <3
Title: When All Is Said and Done
Characters: Big Boss/Zero
Prompt: #1: Between MGS3 and PW - BB and Zero having tea together. BB complains that he doesn't like tea and ends up clumsily making himself coffee instead.
Word Count: ~1,200
Summary: Past wrongs won't fade away, but Zero tries his luck and invites an old friend to reconsider his decision to cut ties with his former unit. Things get very awkward, very fast.
Notes: Pud, I did what I could to stick close to your prompt, but given that an awesome fic of BB and Zero having tea together already exists thanks to Thene, I embellished the situation a bit differently. (Tried to hold off the mountains of angst between these two tossers, but some might have seeped into it all the same because I get easily carried away when it comes to BB/Zero.) Anyway, I hope the fic is to your liking and manages to justify itself! XD Thanks for being such a prolific contributor to this fandom and a great friend.
Also, I considered putting an exact date between MGS3 and PW onto this but then I figured lol no, not until MGS5/MGSV happens. For now, let's imagine this takes place a few years post-MGS3, but still pre-Portable Ops.
Disclaimer: I love tea. I love coffee. Character biases = not mine! :P
Actual Disclaimer: MGS belongs to Hideo Kojima & Konami.
“Make yourself at home, Big Boss. Or would it be more apt to say welcome back?”
“Major, I told you not to call me that any—”
“Yes, and I told you not to call me Major and yet here you are, saying what you please just the way I so fondly recalled all these years. Sugar?”
A pause, a beat skipped. “Come on, it hasn't been that long.”
“I could interrogate you about that sugar if you'd prefer.”
“Don't tell me you're making tea in there.” Big Boss's boots shuffled on the immaculate carpeting. “I didn't agree to see you so we could have a tea party.”
“Well, Jack, I didn't hear that. This is your last chance to ask me to ruin this tea by tipping a spoonful of sugar into it and after that, you're on your own.”
Something close to thunder resounded as Big Boss stormed his way from the door to the kitchen counter. “Major, please. You really have no coffee in this apartment?”
“Of course not, why would I—oh, fine. Fine, you win, Jack.” For a moment, all Big Boss could see of his host was the top of Zero's head as the latter squatted in front of the counter, rummaging in the compartment below the sink. “At least, I think...right, there it is.”
Big Boss watched through one narrowed eye. The container was beaten and evidently a couple years old to say the least; good thing surviving on rations had long since taught him not to be picky about how...distinguished his provisions were. Besides, old or not, it wasn't tea.
His gaze shifted back towards Zero. “You...just kept that around in case someone who drinks coffee comes over?”
There was a low sigh. “I've never invited anyone who likes this muck but you, Jack.”
A moment of silence followed as Big Boss let that sink in. He decided not to voice his conclusion; anyway, it was hanging between them unspoken and entirely too weighty for the moment. Settling for a thanks, he stepped aside to let Zero back to the kettle.
“Oh no, no, no,” Zero interrupted him more than a little smugly before he tossed the can at Big Boss, at a speed a person of any lesser ability could never have been able to react to. Fortunately, as this was no one else, the missile was intercepted in the nick of time.
Zero smiled, a genuine one. “You wanted your coffee, so have at it. I don't know the first thing about how strong or watery you like that stuff.” His smile morphed into a smirk as he picked up the tea he had already prepared for himself, irritatingly careful. “I look forward to continuing our conversation in the drawing room.”
As he walked out, humming under his breath, all Big Boss managed in retaliation was a glare.
He sucked at this. It was kind of embarrassing. Coffee was his drink of choice, and yet he had no idea how much of the stuff he should even put in the mug to get a palatable end result. Ration coffee had generally followed the guideline of “the more the better”, if you didn't mind running out after a few sips, because otherwise it really did taste like the muddy water Zero preferred to term it. (Which was ludicrous anyway, since the brand Zero had left him with had to be better than some nameless ration stuff—Zero never bought second best, even when he had no intention of using what he bought himself. But arguing coffee with the man was like pulling teeth, only without the laughing gas to make it tolerable.) Shaking his head, Big Boss allowed some sugar to flutter into the mug, then stared at the coffee again, trying to figure out how on earth not to waste Zero's self-sacrificing hospitality.
“Jack, what in god's name—?”
He jumped. “Major! I mean, uh, the coffee. How much do you think I'm supposed to get?”
“How should I know? You ask for it and you can't even make your own drink?”
Big Boss gave him a look he hoped would remind Zero of old times. It better be worth it, since he felt ridiculous enough already, the cream of the crop stumped by a mug and a can of ground beans.
“Are you implying I should make you your bloody coffee?”
“It's that or find me a beer,” Big Boss countered nonchalantly. He saw Zero's face visibly blanch.
“Well, I hope this isn't setting the tone for the rest of our negotiations,” was all his former commander could muster as he set to work.
“It's just I don't think I'm going to forget about her,” Big Boss concluded, setting his empty mug aside, and they sat without talking for a while.
At length, Zero stood and crossed the small bedroom to stand in front of the window, scanning the silent night city outside. “And I would never ask you to.”
“Then what is this?” Big Boss gestured towards his coffee in a way that must have looked incompatible with a stealth agent of his caliber, former or not. Never mind that Zero couldn't see him.
When Zero spoke up again, it was in that calm, considered manner of his, as unforgettable as the scar over his eye. “I wanted to ask if, perhaps, you might be interested in...not putting our differences aside, exactly. I know you are no shallow man. In doing some work together again. This time, on your terms.”
“Would that contract include no Bond jokes out on missions?” Though Big Boss couldn't help himself, his chuckle came out a little hollow, a little unlike the old—the younger—Jack. Maybe there was no point pretending. “No, sorry. Got enough disloyalty to live down as it is.”
No response came from Zero at first, so Jack stumbled on, “But believe it or not, I appreciate the offer.” Still the radio silence, and Jack figured that he knew what it felt like to have your hopes pulled out of you and twisted like barbed wire between your insides and the ceiling for everyone there to see—knew that sinking feeling all too well—so he stood up too and followed Zero to the window, where their headquarters now seemed to be. Zero's reflection on the glass betrayed nothing. There was just the barest hint of warmth where their bodies didn't meet.
“I could stay the night.” His hand touched down, quietly, on Zero's shoulder. “If it means anything.”
Something flashed on the windowpane before Zero turned, shaking Jack's hand off but grabbing hold of it before it had the chance to descend all the way. Seconds passed motionless in the shade, the only thing keeping the scene from complete darkness being the light pollution that went like an afterthought to this whole twentieth century, to this whole arms race they were imitating. Jack wondered as the tension mounted since when Zero had been so impulsive, if it was him or the circumstances or both.
So much for just a harmless cup of coffee.
What Jack should have remembered was that there were still words in Zero's book, and words would seal the arrangement. “If it's an honest offer you're making, that means enough.”
The distance between their faces closed, the scars aligned. In these small hours, it could be them against the times again.