Fair-souled and Able-bodied

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Fair-souled and Able-bodied
by templemarker

Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] alasse in [info]yagkyas 2010. Originally posted here.


Bryan sat at the bar, nursing Maker’s and surveying the room.

Bravo 2 didn’t do the whole reunion thing all that often–of the wives, no one was real interested in taking on the logistical nightmare of getting their team back together, and frankly Bryan was still surprised that most of the guys themselves could find their ass with their own two hands. But finally Poke had replied to one of Ray’s LOLcat emails with a notice in large, bold words that all members of Bravo and a couple other members from First Recon were required to make their presence known in Poke’s local Applebee’s in six weeks’ time.

It wasn’t all that much of surprise when everybody that was in the country–and a couple who had leave time accrued–complied.

He had to admit, it was unnerving being here with all of them again. Some of them looked different–older, more battle scarred–but some, like Hasser, looked exactly the fucking same. Bryan had gone on to meet hundreds of other guys, getting attached to all kinds of special forces deployment teams, but these guys–his guys–had always stuck in his head. They went to some lengths to keep up with him, too, making sure they had his email address, leaving him messages on his phone, hauling his ass out to the bar whenever he was back in the country. Bryan had some family, but he didn’t see them much; he guessed this must be what it was like, siblings and cousins and half-step-uncles-thrice-removed.

It was nice.

Poke came up and clapped him on the back; Bryan swallowed down a mouthful of bourbon and said, “So how’s it feel to be paterfamilias to this bunch of idiots?”

Poke grinned at him, with a lot of teeth. “Pretty good, since I even got the prodigal Navyman out here. Damn, Bryan, answer an email once in a goddamn moon.”

Bryan snorted. “Yeah, I’ll sure to be on that the next time I’m casevacing out of Pakistan holding some kid’s life in my hands.”

Poke’s gaze turned serious. “You doin’ alright, man? You’ve been moodier than normal. Well. Normal for you.”

Bryan closed his eyes for a second; Poke had always been too incisive by far. If he were being honest with himself, Bryan was a little raw right now. He’d taken some leave after a tough deployment, wanting to put a lot of distance between himself and goddamned southern Asia, and this gave him a good reason to do it.

And it didn’t hurt to see his guys, either. His healthy, alive, laughing and drinking guys.

Bryan opened his eyes, and Poke was still staring at him. He had that papa bear face on, the one he acquired right after his daughter was born and was now brought out if he ever thought he had to knock some sense into someone. Bryan guessed he could use some sense, tonight.

“Nah, Poke,” he said carefully, mustering up a weak smile. “Let’s go play some pool, man. It’s been awhile since I kicked your ass.”

Poke’s face didn’t clear, but he grasped Bryan by the arm and kind of half-hugged him. “Please, you’re shit at pool. Lemme take all your money.”

Bryan let him do it, and tried to put all those other thoughts away, for at least tonight.

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