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[personal profile] harpokrates
continues from where we left off...

“You look more stupid than usual today.” Naomi Hunter, PhD, MD, was one of the foremost researchers in nanotechnology and gene therapy. She was brutally clever, smartly pretty, and also a raging asshole. im pretty sure naomi hunter was never part of FOXHOUND but i really like her character so she gets to be in this (and in the other fic)

“It is a pleasure seeing you too, Dr. Hunter.” Liquid shifted on the cot, distinctly aware of his own nudity. a ref to the first game, there isnt a real reason for him to be naked

“Ready for your shots, Major?” She said dryly, flicking the syringe with her pointed nails.

He grimaced.

“Maybe if you hadn't gotten that tattoo, you could get injections in your arm like everyone else.”

“Maybe if your nanomachines didn't dissolve ink, it wouldn't matter.” He lifted his arm behind his head, exposing the side of his chest.

“Mm, don't be such a baby, Major.”

Liquid winced as the needle slid between his ribs, and the burning sting of nanomachines and peptides. Dr. Hunter pulled the needle out, and stuck a gauze pad on the injection site. Liquid reached across with his right arm and held it in place.

“Why can't you just use the right arm?” He said, tenderly rubbing his ribs.

“I have told you before. Oxygen degrades my nanos. If I stuck them in the right side of you the percentage that get picked up by the vena cava increases.” bam science nonsense

“Yes, yes, and then I'd have to come in every other week to get jabbed by a needle.”

“And you waste my nanomachines. Really, is an hour in my office and then the rest of the day off once a month all that bad?”

“Sometimes I wonder.”

“Alright, up.” She batted at his arm. “Anything to report, any abnormalities? I heard someone on base had food poisoning, have you experienced that?”

Liquid stood up, his arms spread. Dr. Hunter glanced him over with medical efficiency. “No, no, and no. My vision went a little spotty when Ocelot's revolver misfired and I smacked my head against a wall, but that's happened before. Why do I have to be naked, again?”

“You have a history of hiding injuries, Major.”

He scoffed. “It was only the once.” Dr. Hunter gave him a look.

“Alright,” she said, “I'm willing to pass you a clean bill of health, but, Liquid?”

He glanced at her.

“Watch yourself. Keep your stress levels low, and don't engage in any combat.”

“Worrying about me, Dr. Hunter?” He tugged on his clothes and leaned against the wall to tie his shoes.

“You do sign my paycheck.” She handed him back his dogtags. “They used your last psych eval. as an example of potential instability.”


“Exactly. You're lucky that no one else wants FOXHOUND or you might be on probation already. Send in Sniper Wolf when you leave.”

Liquid left the room without bothering to finish lacing up his boots. Wolf spotted him, and headed into the small clinic without any prompting.

His jaw ached from grinding his teeth.

It was very infuriating to not have people trust you, but it was more infuriating to know that it was entirely your fault.

Liquid let his feet lead him to the TMD hangar, past the queued genome soldiers. Shadow Moses was painfully undermanned. There were about fifty genome soldiers, FOXHOUND, and the twenty assorted scientists and engineers working on the TMD, and now Dr. Hunter and her gaggle of nurses.

REX was as imposing as ever, perhaps more so in the sparsely populated room. Liquid dragged himself up the ladder onto the catwalks. His side twitched, and he let his head rest against the dirty metal rungs for a second. Nanomachine shots did this to everyone, and this was the reason that FOXHOUND and the genome soldiers got them staggered. While Liquid, Wolf, and Octopus, plus twenty-five of the genome soldiers were in some state of misery ranging from burning pain to mild cramps and drowsiness, Ocelot, Raven, and the remaining genome soldiers only received their peptide combinations. Then next month, they switched. The only exception was Psycho Mantis, who was too fragile, and had the ability to communicate by telepathy, rendering nanomachines useless.

Liquid leaned back against the cool metal of a support strut. It was times like this that he wished he smoked, or chewed gum. Something mindless and repetitive to keep his mouth busy so he didn't grind his teeth. i think i have him smoke in the other story, but thats a lot to do with his daddy issues

deleted b/c no comments

“Like Godzilla monster movies?” Liquid mumbled, only half paying attention.

“No, no. Like, well, mecha anime. America may have been the first to use a robot as a character, but the Japanese really mastered it. I, well,” he faltered, “I got the idea for REX from anime to begin with. I just wanted to be able to create something like that, to see it in real life, with a real purpose. I mean, REX will shoot down missiles.”

“I didn't take you for the military type.”

“Well, it's a means to an end, I guess.” He sighed. “That sounds bad. I mean, I like to create things, but not to hurt people, but to protect them. I think that's what science should be used for, not WMDs. People who can make something, knowing that it'll be used to destroy, to burn away people and leave nothing but ash... they, they're sick.” He rested his head on his arms. check out that trauma. i wanted his thought process to be a little more complex that 'missiles=bad' but instead got this thing

“Sometimes people need to be destroyed.” The desert. Cold, dusty nights and burning days. Liquid shook his head.

Hal glanced down. “Yeah.”

Liquid blinked away the haze in his eyes. “I didn't expect you to agree.”

“I know I'm young, but I'm not that naive. But, still...” he sighed, “I don't think science should be used that way. You need to be responsible with the things that you create. It's like Jurassic Park, y'know?”

“Never saw it.” Liquid let his head loll to the side and his eyes slide shut.

“Oh, it's really great; it was the first PG-13 movie I ever saw. I like the book a bit better, it really goes into the technology; you can tell Crichton does his research, but the movie is pretty good, too. See, this man, Hammond, funds this...” Hal's voice trailed off.

Something shook his arm.

“Are you okay, Liquid?” Hal crouched in front of him, blurry.

“Fine,” he mumbled, “just tired.”

“The nanos?”

“Mmmhm.” for the longest time i had liquid ramble about whatever bad thing he did here but it was stupid so i fixed it

Hal sat next to him along the wall, his knees tucked against his chest. The harsh lines of his back were softened under his oversized sweater, and the sleeves hung baggy over his skinny arms.

“I imagine it gets pretty boring up here, huh?”

Liquid nodded slowly.

“I, uh, heard rumors, well, actually, Saanvi, that's Dr. Kaur's first name, she told me. Anyways, she heard from her friend in the medical staff that you used to be a pilot. I guess being stuck on an island is a lot different than flight, huh?”

Liquid glared at him bleary. “'Stuck' is an odd choice of words, Doctor.”

Hal's eyes widened behind his glasses. “Oh, well, that's just what I've overheard, is all...”

“Ah, military men,” he rubbed his eyes, “you'll never find bigger gossips.”

“Yeah,” Hal flushed, “you wouldn't believe the things they say about the woman in your unit, the one with the-,” he mimed pulling down a zipper on his sweater. “Oh, uh, that was rude, sorry.”

Liquid snorted. “Sniper Wolf can handle herself, believe me.”

“Well, I mean, with the way you, uh, jumped to our, that is Saanvi's and I's, defense like that, I assumed you were one of those protective types.”

“Protective types?”

“Yeah, like the kid on the playground who gets into fights all the time trying to stop bullies.”

“Really, Doctor, you think too highly of me.”

“You can call me Hal, y'know.”

Liquid said nothing.

Hal broke the silence. “I didn't think what we were doing here was that important we needed a Black Ops team.”

“I'm not Black Ops, just special forces.”

“Well, you don't need special forces to guard a R and D project. I mean, there aren't even any live nukes here anymore.”

“Why so curious?” Liquid caught Hal's eyes. They were the ugly, flat gray of the sky before a storm, made artificially small through his glasses.

“I, uh,” Hal's gaze flicked away and back, like he wanted to stare but couldn't, “I just uh, you seem different.”


“Well, you didn't yell at me for spilling coffee all over you.” He cracked a self-depreciating grin.

Liquid snorted. “It's just a shirt. Although I wonder why a senior project lead was on coffee duty?”

“Oh, I lost a coin toss.” Hal shrugged, the bones of his shoulders lost under fabric.

“Bad luck.”


Hal stood up, cracking his back and brushing dirt off of his pants. “I've gotta go,” he looked sad for a moment, “see you.”

Liquid stared after him. “Wait,” he said.

The engineer turned around.

He could say it. Hal Emmerich was a very intelligent man, he would understand necessity. He might even understand circumstance and bad timing. But he was a pacifist at heart, really, and he could never understand the death of non-combatants. He was nothing special, really. There were a million other engineers with mad ideas; he wasn't unique or new. If Hal Emmerich hated him for what he did, then it couldn't matter less to Liquid.

Liquid Snake opened his mouth.

“Goodnight.” he said. tsundere garbage here


“We're using standard rules: rounds last ninety seconds, back on the ground for seven seconds is a loss.” Decoy Octopus's nasal baritone was muffled through his ubiquitous balaclava. i saw rocky 4 and really wanted to write a fight scene thats it, thats the whole rationale behind this nonsense

Liquid rubbed the rough, tattered bandages layered over his knuckles. “First one to win a round is the victor?” The words slurred around his mouth guard.

The genome solider grunted, tugging a knot at the base of his thumb tighter. He had about half a foot on Liquid, but wasn't nearly as brawny. He wouldn't be a hard fight; Liquid was the commander of FOXHOUND for a reason.

Shadow Moses didn't have a proper gym or shooting range, but it did have an empty warehouse that the grunts had jerry-rigged into service. Wolf lurked here when she wasn't busy with her dogs. A few old mats tossed in a corner was no real substitute for a boxing ring, but Liquid had fought in more slipshod places before.

While technically this was a demonstration of self defense, it was obvious that no one would take it that way. The gaggle of Genome soldiers surrounding them were getting restless and twitchy. They just wanted to see their CO bleeding with a mouthful of broken teeth. Liquid often shared that sentiment about the top brass. He stepped into the ring. His stomach rolled and his heart felt like it was being compressed by his lungs. Nerves, it was just nerves.

He hadn't been nervous about fighting in years, but that was besides the point.

Octopus had found an old whistle in one of the storage closets, and blew a piercing note.

“Alright,” he shouted. “watch and learn.”

The genome solider met Liquid in the center of the mats, and they shook hands as well as they were able with their gloves pulled over the layers of tape on their fists. Then the grunt punched Liquid in the jaw, and his head snapped to the side.

Octopus shouted, and Liquid ran a wrapped hand along his chin. No blood, but the bruise would be bad. He ran his tongue along the inside of his mouth, prodding the coppery patch of skin in his cheek. He spat bloody phlegm onto the mat and ducked low, lashing out with his foot at the other man's knees.

The other man stumbled, but caught himself and lashed out at Liquid with a right hook. Liquid pulled his head back. The fist blurred past his nose. He drove his knee into the man's stomach, and shoved him to the side as he folded over. The genome solider gagged as he pushed himself back up

“You can forfeit at any time, you know.” Liquid sneered.

The genome solider growled at him, gasping for air. He hunched over and pulled his fists in front of his face. Liquid ducked the first punch, and snapped his fist out at the second, catching the man's arm at the elbow. The joint cracked, and the genome solider yelped in pain. Liquid kicked the inside of the man's knee, and he crumpled to the ground. Liquid's chest heaved, and sweat ran through his hair and beaded on his neck like a clammy hand.

Octopus blew a sharp high note. “Seven seconds.” He reached down to pull up the genome solider, but the man batted his hand away, and staggered to his feet. A few genome soldiers separated form the crowd and pulled him back into the conglomerate.

Liquid pulled off his gloves and wiped the blood and spit from his face. His spine prickled.

“Yes?” He drawled.

“That was violent, for a training match.” Octopus said without breaking his stare. He held out a towel. “Something's wrong?”

“No.” Liquid grabbed the towel without looking at him.

Octopus sighed, and scratched his head through the balaclava. “I should report this.”

“You only report violence if it's 'in excess and out of character based on prior observations'. I think you'll find that I've always been this prone to breaking jaws."

“Actually it looked like his collarbone and fibula.”

Liquid pulled his shirt on and clapped Octopus on the back. He stumbled under the weight. “You, my friend, are entirely unfunny.”

“It must be why we get along so well.” Octopus deadpanned. “but seriously, Major.” He looked at Liquid with his pale, piercing eyes, “get your issues fixed. If this unit gets disbanded because you can't deal with your life, I will hunt you down and castrate you.”

Liquid scowled at him. “Asshole.

Octopus laughed. “That's my mother-in-law's nickname for me too.” im not sure what characterization to give octopus. I made him married b/c i thought that making everyone in FOXHOUND single was a little odd. idk, i guess i wanted him to be in a loving relationship with 2.5 kids or something


The grunts were working maintenance on the Abrams under Raven's supervision. If there was a flaw to FOXHOUND, it was the extreme specialization of its members. For example, Liquid could pilot practically any flying thing under the sun, from a prop-plane to a V/STOL, but he knew next to nothing about tanks or other treaded vehicles. Hell, he had barely passed his driving test back when he first took it, and that had been in the eighties. this entire scene was written pretty early on, it might have been like the fourth or fifth bit i finished

He was walking towards the labs again. It was a bad habit, like chewing pen caps, or a cocaine addiction. Doctor Hal Emmerich, PhD, was a bad habit. It really wasn't good for Liquid to spend so much time around a civilian, especially some nobody contractor, even if he did have extensive background checks. He was a liability, and he was making Liquid into a liability.

The stairs smelled less musty than they had when he had first come down here, and there were boot scuffs on the textured steel. The lab door slid open loudly in the silence, and Liquid's footsteps echoed. A flicker of light in the corner caught his eye.

“Up late again, Doctor?” he walked towards Hal's station, letting an easy grin slide across his face. “I'm beginning to suspect that you're just trying to burn your way into another vision prescription for insurance benefits. It's clever, but I can't say I condone it”

The engineer was slumped over his desk, his head pillowed in his arms. He slept the way he did everything else: obnoxiously, but somehow, unfathomably, endearing. His glasses were crushed against his nose, and drool puddled beneath his mouth. He snored like an asthmatic. Liquid had heard that sleep made people beautiful, but really it just made Hal uglier. Without his animated movements and rambling, he looked tired and dead, with baggy eyes and skin sallowed to look like bloodless fat. here we have my attempts to make hal seem 'ugly'. as i said before, im not fond of fics where character x sees character y and instantly is super attracted to them. especially when they get described with really unrealistic terms. I can understand like attractive, or even sexy, but a lot of people use 'cute' to describe full grown characters and it seem infantilizing. just my two cents

Liquid took a step towards him, hyper-conscious of how loudly his footsteps echoed. Hal's glasses looked like they were digging into his skin. When he woke up, there would be a perfect imprint of a pair of bulky BC frames pressed onto his face in red dents. Liquid was absolutely certain that he would laugh at the engineer. BC frames is a slang for the general issued glasses in the military. it means 'birth control' b/c they were really ugly. im pretty sure theyre really fashionable nowadays

He reached for the glasses. His hand felt sweaty, then dry when he rubbed his fingers against his palm. The dry rasp of skin against skin made him flinch. A tingle buzzed through his hands, like the kind of nerves when one looks down from the bay door of a high altitude plane, but without the fun adrenaline rush from the HALO jump that came afterward.

He had to move Hal's head a little: he had the arm of his glasses pinned between his ear and the table. His hair was thick and felt like straw. No doubt he was one of those people who thought it was okay to skip conditioning and use soap to wash his hair.

Liquid folded the glasses and set them on the desk with a quiet click. He rubbed the cuff of his greatcoat. Hal was often cold in the empty, Alaskan base, and it was colder underground in the labs. He never complained about it, but it was obvious in the way he piled on sweaters and huddled next to the Crays when they were processing multiple versions of REX at the same time. It was stupid. It was very, very stupid, and Liquid felt silly for even considering it

He sighed through his nose, pulled his FOXHOUND coat off, and draped it over Hal's shoulders.

Liquid Snake was not a romantic. He could admit to being melodramatic, and occasionally vain, and when he was being very honest with himself, obsessive. He was barely even friendly, and was stand-offish to most people. There were people never meant to be in a relationship, and he was one of them. i think this concept is from the book jurassic park. grant and the kid are talking about sattler and i think the kid asks if grant and sattler are in a relationship. grant replies that he isnt cut out for a relationship

He turned with a flair that would have been there if he still had his coat, and headed toward the door. i dont like this phrasing, but i couldnt find a way to convey what i wanted otherwise

“Liquid?” Hal asked, his voice thick with sleep.

Liquid paused by the door. “Go to sleep, Hal.” he said finally, quietly.

“You used my first name.” Hal mumbled, burying his face into his arms.

Liquid's gaze dropped to the floor. Was he feeling guilt? Indigestion? He had a creeping, buzzing feeling in his hands, like looking down from a rickety bridge, but knowing that you can't fall. The door softly wooshed shut behind him, leaving him in the empty hallway. He looked down, trying to avoid glancing through the little window on the door. He caught sight of the faint glow from the computer out of the corner of his eye. The indigestion feeling increased, and he felt his cheeks flush red.

He leaned against the far wall and slid to the floor, rubbing his chest. Shit. Shit, shit, shit. He had a fucking crush, like some schoolboy.

And it was on some nerd, too. when my sister edited this chapter, she just wrote 'gay' in all caps over this entire last bit


REX made a sound like thunder and fire as it revved its engine, then settled down into a gigantic cat's purr.

The crowd erupted in a cheer. Liquid could see Hal and Dr. Kaur towards the the front, hunched over a monitor, both of them barely keeping themselves from jumping in joy.

Wolf snorted.

“What?” Liquid looked down at her.

“They're acting like it's a child learning to walk.”

“I guess it is, for some of them.”

“Oh,” Wolf arched an eyebrow, “is this empathy? From the Liquid Snake?”

“Shove off.” Liquid said.

“We leave in a week, Major.”

“What's that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing. But, Liquid,” she looked at him seriously, “you should get your coat back.”


“You're out of uniform, Major.” Wolf drifted away into the crowd, looming after some red-head. an unsubtle reference to sniper wolf/meryl, my other implausable otp

Huh. How had he missed that?

Hal was smiling. Someone in the crowd was passing around alcohol. He was tempted to call it contraband and confiscate it.

Liquid looked at the festivities, the shouting and the jumping, and quietly retreated to his office. this section is too short but it needed to happen, i couldnt find a good way to combine it with something else


There was a rapping at the door

“Come in.” Liquid said without looking up.

“Uh, hi, Major.” Hal hovered in the doorway, looking unsure.

“Doctor,” Liquid stood up too quickly, and slammed his knees into his desk, “come in.”

He pushed his chair out of the way and stepped out from behind the desk as gracefully as possible.

Hal winced. “That was pretty loud, you oka- oh my God!”


“Your face! What happened?”

Liquid touched the tender spot on his jaw. “Just a training accident. I'm fine.”

Hal slid into the room, glancing at the gaudy décor. He had a bundle poorly hidden behind his back.

“That bruise looks awful, are you sure?” he touched his own jaw.

“I've had worse.”

“Mr. Tough Guy, huh?

Liquid snorted.

The both glanced down, and an uncomfortable silence crept into the space between them.

“I can't believe it's over already.” Hal shifted his weight. “It just doesn't feel like we spent three years up here for this.”

“I was only here for four months.”

“Ah, right. Our 'special forces team'. We didn't end up needing any protection, huh?”

Liquid gritted his teeth.

“Liquid?” Hal looked concerned

“We,” Liquid paused, “ I botched a mission. We were never here to protect the project. We were here until the media found something else to report on.”


“That's not just... I,” Liquid pushed his hair back, “I don't regret it. Being sent here.”

The tension was like fog, and the quiet was oppressing.

“Uh, Liquid?” Hal broke the silence.


“I, uh, well,” he took a breath. “Y'see, I, uh, fell asleep and I guess you gave me this,” he gestured to the folded coat in his hands.

“Ah, well...” Liquid began.

“Anyways I wanna tell you thanks and that was a nice thing to do so I made you this, y'know, as a thank you sort of thing,” Hal paused for a breath. “So yeah, thanks.” he shoved the folded coat into Liquid's arms, and crammed a little box on top of it.


“You're welcome, bye.” Hal practically ran out of the room, his eyes fixed on the floor. as much as i like this dialogue, it seems somewhat out of character, but maybe thats because i wrote this scene near the end, after both the ending, and the earlier bits

Liquid stared after him, dumping the box on his desk. He shook out the coat and eyed it critically. It looked fine, so he draped it over the back of his chair as he sat down.

The box looked like off-brand Tupperware, flimsy and stained with spaghetti sauce. He pulled off the lid.

Hal had made some rice... thing, with a side of something that looked like it could be meat. It was artistic, to some degree of artistic, and if he squinted he could make out a robot. here we have it the entire reason i wrote this dumb thing. Bento

It meant something, he was sure, but internet service out in the middle of the Arctic Ocean was spotty at best. Typing 'silly dinner in box with vague robot' into Yahoo probably wouldn't turn up anything worthwhile. Besides, they still ran dial-up. i asked my mom, and she said that yahoo was more in the public consciousness in 2005 than google

He dug a fork out of his desk drawer and poked the rice. It didn't look bad , per say, but the rice was clearly made in a microwave and the meat looked like bagged ground beef. Liquid sighed and snapped the lid back on before tossing it into his desk drawer.

Maybe he could try this his way. i was planning to have a dumb scene where ocelot or someone finds the bento like a month later but that was too dumb even for me

things i meant to write before the end and forgot for some reason: a cute conversation where hal asks liquid 'why he would jump out of a perfectly good airplane' and cracks up laughing, a scene where they talk about their families, this was scrapped b/c i wanted to keep pretty lighthearted and didnt want to introduce a heavy subject like CSA and rape


Liquid opened the door from the stairs and almost gave Dr. Kaur a black eye

“Sorry,” he grabbed for the pile of boxes in her arms before she could drop them.

“Ah, Major,” she pushed her wire-rim glasses higher on her nose, “Hal is busy with his lab station.”

“I-I'm not-”

She patted him on the arm and took the boxes back. “I told him you wouldn't get his lunchbox scheme.”


“Good luck.” The elevator pinged open and she stepped in.

Liquid stood there for a while. He shook his head and pulled his hair back in an elastic from around his wrist.

The basement lab was half-packed, and looked like the aftermath from some fistfight. The scattered remains of a gutted computer were strewn across one of the work stations. Liquid toed a jellybean into an air register on the floor. ha more game refs

Hal was huddled over his station, slowly dumping the contents of his drawers into a battered cardboard box. His messy hair was pushed behind his ears, and his glasses were slightly crooked, or maybe it was his face that was crooked. Liquid felt a grin and a blush creeping up his cheeks, and tugged down the sides of his mouth with his thumb and forefinger.

“Would you like to have dinner with me?” Liquid asked, leaning on the back of Hal's chair.

“Huh?” Hal looked up at him. His puzzled frown turned into a grin at this angle, but also his eyes and chin had switched places. Well, everything had its pros and cons.

“Well, I say dinner, but I mean we split an MRE on the top floor of the communications tower during a break in the blizzard."

“D-dinner?” Hal turned red, and stared at his work. “I-I don't-”

Liquid planted his elbow on the desk and leaned down. “I can guarantee it'll be better than what the mess serves.”

“Well, I, it's just that the...” Hal trailed off.


“I'd rather not, I mean I, uh.”


Liquid's gut rolled with humiliation, and the sting of rejection felt like copper in his mouth. At least Hal was too polite and too embarrassed to report him for asking and telling. in 2005 dont ask dont tell was still in place

“I've misinterpreted. Sorry, bye.” Liquid said tersely.

“W-wait!” Hal held up a hand to stop him.

“Yes?” Liquid didn't look back at him.

“REX's hangar.”


“Let's go to REX's hangar, it ought to be empty, we could, uh, eat there. It's too cold in the communication tower. That's why I, ah, yeah. I didn't mean to make you think I didn't want to, uh, have... dinner.” Hal didn't look him in the eyes.

Liquid felt an irrepressible smile well up under his cheeks, and fought to keep it down. Hal looked vaguely concerned

“Are you okay? Your face...”

“I'm fine. Everything's fine.” he covered his mouth. “I'll see you at twenty-hundred hours?”

“Sure.” Hal smiled.


“Here.” Liquid gave the rest of the Creamsicle cookie to Hal

“Thanks.” Hal gingerly balanced the bag of lasagna on Liquid's shoe and took the cookie. They weren't out in the middle of the desert, and therefore couldn't find a convenient rock on which to prop the heating pack, as per the instructions. Hal's shoes were threadbare, and looked like they would dissolve if someone looked at them wrong, so Liquid had sacrificed one of his boots, and was currently sitting on his foot in an attempt to ward off frostbite. He was just grateful that Hal was too polite to comment about how badly his feet smelled. for the curious, theyre eating the vegetarian lasagna meal, which is delicious as long as you add the hotsauce to the lasagna. my mom and i split it while camping and it was still almost too much food. In order to 'cook' an mre, you fill the little heat pack with water, prop it on a rock, slide the food in and wait 10 minutes


Maybe he wasn't.


“You, well,” he pushed up his glasses, “you really did want to pilot REX, didn't you?”

“Not really.” Liquid didn't meet his eyes.

“Oh,” Hal looked startled, “I just thought that that would be like some sort of ambition thing.”

“FOXHOUND is my ambition. I managed to save the program from being decommissioned after its former leader retired to be with his family.” liquid doesnt know that big boss is his father, so i dont think he'd be this devoted to FOXHOUND but i guess it works

“How heroic of you.” Hal smiled and jostled his shoulder.

Liquid snorted. “Honestly, some days I feel like it's more trouble than it's worth.”

“Hm, if you think that a well trained military group is a hassle, you should try managing a lab full of high school interns and grad students.”

“I honestly didn't think that you science-minded types of delicate constitution were so liable to start screeching and throwing things.”

Hal chuckled. “Well, with the high school kids, it's all about dating, and with the grad kids, it's all about plotting each other's murder to weed out the competition.

“Once Sniper Wolf pushed a man out of a window for kicking her dog.”

Hal had a sideways smile: the right side of his mouth kicking up like it was trying to escape his face.

They settled into silence. REX loomed under the bright fluorescence lighting, concealed beneath a draped protective sheet. Liquid shifted his socked foot around, trying to ward off the pins and needles feeling. Hal was sitting next to him about a foot away. He was half considering trying the yawn thing.

“I'll miss this.” said Hal.

Liquid hummed in agreement.

“I'd, uh, miss you, too.” Hal glanced away.

Liquid looked down at him. Butterflies frantically swarmed in his stomach. This was... well, not unlikely, perhaps, but certainly unexpected. He rubbed his hands on the legs of his pants, trying to will away the tingling feeling.

He trusted Hal. Hal was simply the sort of man who inspired trust. Not perhaps because of his outstanding character, but because if he was ever given an opportunity to betray, he wouldn't recognize it. Hal was the type to keep secrets for years and then forget them. He could tell Hal.

Liquid whispered a string of syllables to the empty air. this was at least a little inspired by 'it could be worse' a tf2 fic by 'anonymoustf2fan' or something like that. check it out, its really good

Hal glanced up. “Huh?” The word registered, and his eyes widened behind his glasses. “Your n- uh, I don't, uh, I'm not sure I'm allowed to know that?”

“Know what?” said Liquid. “It could mean nothing, for all you know.”

“You don't strike me as the kind of man who says meaningless things.”

“You'd be surprised.”

Hal smiled sadly.

“We shouldn't ever go to Jupiter together.” oh more game refs, i mention his name in the notes, i think, but its frank, who was killed by HAL in the movie 2001 a space oddessy

Liquid narrowed his eyes. “What?”

“It's a movie reference, geeky stuff, it doesn't matter.”

“You said it, of course it matters.”

“You're such a flirt.” But Hal grinned anyways, the edges of his eyes crinkling.

Liquid winked at him, then laughed. Hal slid closer, so that their shoulders were touching. He was warm, even through the FOXHOUND coat. Liquid let his arm drape across the other man's back. Hal leaned into the embrace, and rested his head on Liquid's shoulder.

The snow drifted lazily across the sky outside.

“I really like you, you know,” Hal blurted out. “but I don't think I'm worth a court martial.”

Liquid looked at him until he blushed and glanced down. “ I think you are.” he said softly. for the longest time this line was 'you are worth more than you think' or aomething equally awful

Hal smiled fondly and pushed his glasses up. The storm outside was howling, and the shutter doors of the hangar slammed in their frames. Liquid was more content than he had been in a long time.

“Kiss me?” he said.



on the ao0 version, i have an awesome picture by seehang at the end. its a little weird tbh, i had just finished the fic as they posted the picture, and it is nearly spot-on to what happens. kismet, or serendipity, what have you

and that's that, post-mortem over hope you had fun, hope i can use this to improve my writing


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