"Good mission, everyone. You only gave me half a headache this go 'round."
Soap grinned as he geared down along with everyone else. Price like to swear that the 141 and their support team were everything but rabid beasts out in the field. "Captain, you cause just as much mayhem as anyone else. You just look cool and collected when you do because you've got that cigar clamped between your teeth the entire time."
Price took the cigar from his mouth to study it.
"It does give me an air of authority."
Gaz laughed. "Our captain needs to look distinguished while gunning down mercenaries."
The teasing continued. Everyone was in a good mood. The mission had been a success and everyone had come back alive with only a few minor injuries. Gaz broke the middle finger on his non-shooting hand, Soap had barbed wire scratches up both arms, and Jack, a support team member, had a burn on his right thigh and ass cheek.
"I never saw anyone's arse hit the ground as fast as Jack's did when his pants caught fire," Ghost rumbled out in his deep voice.
Soap threw an arm around Jack's shoulders, leaning on him as he laughed at the recent memory. "Plopped right down in the mud and did a little sit and scoot to put the fire out. Funniest thing I've seen all week."
"It worked, didn't it?" Jack asked with a boyish grin.
"Indeed it did. Too bad I didn't have my phone out to capture the moment for all eternity." He playfully shoved the young soldier away.
As the team finished gearing down, they began to drift from the ready room, some on their own - some in pairs. Soap noticed Ghost leaving and rushed to catch up with him.
"Wait up, LT."
Ghost stopped to wait for him. They walked together, heading for the barracks unit. Ghost turned his head to look down at Soap.
"You did good out there, Johnny."
Soap smiled up into the lieutenant's dark eyes. "Thanks. I didn't want to walk with you to get compliments but I won't turn 'em down." He gave him a little knock on his shoulder with his fist. "You were amazing as always. Pulled Walker back right before he stepped on a rigged trap door. No one but you would have known it was there," Soap said in admiration for Ghost's skills and awareness.
They reached the door to their barracks. Soap put up a hand to stop Ghost from opening it.
"Can I talk to you for a minute before we go in?" He nodded his head toward the narrow alleyway between their barracks and the one next door. "Over there."
Johnny's heart started racing as he led the way to where he wanted to have a private word with Ghost. Hours before, he'd taken on three mercs by himself without blinking. Now, he was shaking with nerves at the conversation he was about to start.
Ghost leaned against the wall of their building. Soap stood in front of him, making a concentrated effort not to fidget.
"What is it, Johnny?" Ghost asked softly.
Soap blew out a breath, letting the rough timbre of his lieutenant’s voice soothe him as it so often did. "Have you thought about what I said?" He scrubbed a hand over his hair. "I don't want to rush you. But it's nerve-wrecking to put yourself out there and not get a crumb of an answer for days on end."
"Johnny..." Ghost started in a low, almost mournful tone.
Soap huffed a soft, pained laugh. He stumbled back to lean against the wall of the building behind him. "You don't have to say anything else. I can tell by your voice it's a no."
"It has to be. There are fraternization rules for a reason."
Soap straightened again. One hand balled up into a fist at his side while the other waved about in wild, frustrated gestures. "You think I give a fuck about fraternization rules? When we're out there risking our lives every damn day? We should be able to snatch a wee bit of happiness for ourselves in the midst of all this danger and death!"
Ghost stood still in the face of Soap's mini rant. His breathing was so calm that his chest barely moved and his gaze never wavered. "My answer is no, Johnny."
Soap wanted to crumple to the ground at both the rejection and the tender way Ghost said his name. He didn't, forcing himself to stay upright and look Ghost in the eye. "I think you're saying no for the wrong reasons. If you didn't want me that would be fine. But to ignore what's between us because of a fucking rule. It's... It's a waste of what could be a good thing."
"That's the way it has to be."
"Fine. Just... fine." Unable to look at Ghost any longer, Soap spun away from him and left the alley. Instead of going into the barracks he set off across base. He needed a long walk to clear his head.
* * *
They're always together. I hate it. Hate seeing Soap waste his time with a man who refuses to give him what he needs. Ghost doesn't know how lucky he is to have Sergeant MacTavish look at him in open admiration. Doesn't know how blessed he is to be on the receiving end of so many fond smiles and familiar touches. I treasure each and every time the sergeant has so much as patted me on the back. I'm better for Soap than Ghost could ever be. I would never let him walk away from me with such hurt in his beautiful blue eyes. I hate Ghost for not valuing what he has. He's a fool for not embracing the lovely gift right there in front of him.
But I am not a fool.
* * *
The next morning, Soap lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling. He'd been awake for a while. They were off schedule today as they usually were after returning from a mission. The break gave them time to wind down and recover. With nowhere to be, he laid there thinking, ignoring the rumbling in his stomach that demanded breakfast.
Two weeks ago, he'd thrown all caution to the wind and told Ghost how he felt about him. Let him know that he wanted a more personal relationship with him. He knew it was against regulation for them to be together due to the difference in their ranks. But fuck. This burn he had for Ghost was too powerful to ignore because of a regulation. After two weeks of waiting, he couldn't stand the wondering any longer, so he'd asked Ghost for his answer.
To be honest, he wasn't surprised Ghost said no. And since he had, that was that. He wasn't going to harass the man into becoming his lover. He would drop it. Which meant he needed to start putting his feelings for him away. He couldn't keep falling for Ghost when there was no hope that his feelings would ever be returned. In order to stop the free fall, he needed to make some changes.
"Okay, MacTavish. Stop moping," he said aloud to his empty bedroom. "Get up and have breakfast. Then go and talk to Ghost."
After breakfast, Soap made his way down the hall to the lieutenant's room. He knocked on the door, hoping Ghost was inside so he could get this over with.
"It's open," Ghost called out.
Soap cracked open the door and poked his head into the room. Ghost sat at the small desk that came standard in everyone's quarters. He was dressed in black sweats and a black Henley. A plain black balaclava covered his head. His elbows rested on the desktop while his large frame put the strength of the chair beneath him to the test.
"Can I come in?"
Ghost gave him a single nod.
Soap stepped inside and shut the door behind him for privacy. But he didn't go any further into the room. "I wanted to apologize for yesterday. You said no and I should have respected your answer without blowing up at you."
"It's fine, Johnny. I know you didn't mean any harm."
"No, I didn't. But I still shouldn't have done it." Soap looked down at the floor for a moment. "Anyway, I also wanted to let you know that I won't bother you with this again. You're still my big English bestie. With work, on missions, we're solid. But I think in my personal hours I need a bit of distance between us. Just until I get myself together."
Again, Ghost nodded. "I understand."
Soap wanted to protest, wanted to beg Ghost to give them a chance instead of easily accepting putting distance between them. He kept the pleading words behind his teeth. "Okay, then. I'll see ya."
His heart aching, Soap turned and left the room.
* * *
Ghost sat on his couch in the barracks common room. The couch where Soap used to sit with him - for the few minutes he was able to sit still. He'd be up and moving about but always staying within Ghost's orbit. No longer. Now he was on the other side of the room, leaning on a cue stick as he played a game of pool with Jack. Gaz and the others looked on and offered advice to both players. The light above turned Johnny's skin to gold and gleamed on the rich sable brown of his hair. His eyes sparkled as he laughed at Jack missing an easy shot.
Johnny was beautiful to him. And he was beautiful to many others as well. Soldiers, officers, they all noticed Johnny's strength and skill and charisma. Noticed the gorgeous body that he took such pride in, their eyes slipping down from his broad shoulders, to his muscled back, to the tight curve of his arse. And they'd noticed that he and Johnny were no longer as close as they once were.
The boldest of them had slid in right away when it became obvious that Ghost and Soap weren't spending all of their off-duty hours together. The rest had looked to Ghost to gauge his reaction. When he didn't give one, they all started to move in. They gave Soap more frequent claps on the back and pats on the shoulder, hands lingering a second too long. Offered to bring him his favorite snacks from the canteen. Asked could they join him during his workouts or on the gun range. Invited him to hang out off base.
Ghost wanted to knock them all on their asses and demand Johnny return the lion's share of his attention to him. But he understood why he'd taken it away. Johnny had to think about himself. After Ghost's rejection, Johnny had to protect the heart that beat so strongly beneath his chest.
Ghost understood. But he hated it. Hated no longer having Johnny with him at his side on the couch. Missed being with him on late night walks around the base. Missed exchanging lousy jokes over shared meals in Johnny's room. He hated that someone else would eventually become the recipient of Johnny's special smiles and warm affection.
But it was for the best. Johnny deserved better than him. And he deserved better for his career as well. Johnny was a bright and rising star in the SAS. The brass no doubt had plans to promote him. But if he was found to be fraternizing with a superior, all that would be taken away. Ghost didn't care about his own rank. His only concern for his rank was that it let him get his job done as needed. But Johnny - bright, talented Johnny - deserved a high rank and all the accolades that went along with it. Ghost wouldn't jeopardize that by selfishly giving in to the one thing he wanted - a relationship with Johnny.
And so, he sat there on the couch, alone. The distance between the couch and the pool table felt more vast than the width of the room. An insurmountable distance that he could never cross. But it's what was best for Johnny. And that was all that mattered.
* * *
They're different now. There's distance between them. That fight I witnessed must have caused a rift. Hopefully, it's a permanent one. Now those other fools are peacocking in front of the sergeant, thinking they have a shot with him. But they can't see that Soap is wounded - thanks to the biggest fool of all who hurt him. Soap doesn't need a peacock. He needs someone to heal him.
I can heal him. Make him whole again. Make him mine. I'm almost finished preparing. Our special place is nearly ready. No one will ever find us once I take my love to our special place. It's time for me to make John Soap MacTavish mine.
I hope you enjoyed the start to this fic! I've had it started on my computer for a long time and finally gave myself permission to get some chapters completed to post.
Thank you for reading!