Fandom: The Unit
Pairing/Characters: Mack Gerhardt/Bob Brown
Rating/Category: PG-13, Pre-Slash
Prompt: keeping warm
Summary: Mack and Bob have completed a mission, when their plans to get out of the country are delayed.
Notes/Warnings: Some language. Other than that, this is my first foray into "The Unit" fic, so please let me know what you think and tell me if you see any problems with it. Written for Round 2 of smallfandomfest. I appreciate any and all feedback, just please try to be constructive with the criticism. Thanks.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, the show, or any affiliated items. I make no profit and am merely out to have a little fun with the boys. Any mistakes, etc. are mine.
Mountainous Region outside of Dogubayazit, Turkey
Mack and Bob were struggling, through what could only be called ‘a driving snowstorm,’ across rugged mountainous terrain on their way back to the makeshift cave shelter they had used the night before. The two men had completed their mission; rendering inoperative a two-man arms smuggling ring that was using the road through Dogubayazit as their route into Iran. Mack had radioed their success back to SOCOM and now they had to get back to their hidey-hole and get their things together; an evac was scheduled to pick them up from a designated meet point in six hours.
“Christ,” Mack grumbled, his voice barely audible over the howling wind.
“What?” Bob yelled back, turning his head to face Mack as he gestured to the army-issue hat that covered his ears.
Mack took a few steps closer to Bob, raising his voice he answered, “This weather is fucked. I can hardly see two feet in front of me.”
“Roger that,” Bob nodded his agreement. “Let’s get back to the cave and hope we can still get out—" his words were abruptly cut-off.
It looked to Mack, for all he could see through the veil of snow, that Bob had just disappeared. Carefully, he stepped closer to the spot where the younger man had been walking only seconds ago. Mack saw the area where it appeared that Bob’s feet had slid out from beneath him. Squinting against the chill wind, Mack scoured the snow-blanketed ground below his current position.
“Cool Breeze!” he called, his voice straining to rise above the storm that swirled around him Cautiously, he began to pick his way down the treacherous incline, still scanning below for any sign of Brown. Mack finally was close enough to where Bob had landed that he could make out the young soldier’s snivel gear through the blinding snow. “Cool Breeze!” he tried again, gaining momentum as he moved toward Brown’s location.
Bob could hear Mack calling for him, although now it was muffled not only by the earflaps on his cap, but also by the snow that seemed to have covered his head after his tumble down the slope. Shaking the powder from his head, Bob gingerly began to move. ‘Okay—legs, check. Arms, check. Neck, check.’ Sure now that he wasn’t injured, he sat up and attempted to focus his eyes on Mack’s figure as it neared him.
“I’m good,” Bob called out, hoping that Mack could hear him.
Mack heard Bob’s reassurance and quickened his pace to make sure that Bob really wasn’t hurt. Ever since the sniper had taken out Williams, Mack thought about what he would do if he lost another of his ‘brothers.’
Reaching Brown’s semi-seated form, Mack knelt down next to him, checking arms and legs and head for any trauma. “Jesus, Bob…” he muttered.
“I’m fine,” Bob answered. “Everything seems to be in working condition.”
Mack shook his head; a cursory examination of the young soldier seemed to validate that opinion. “Fuck,” Mack growled. “You were there, a few feet ahead of me and then you were gone. Fuck!”
“I’m just a little wet,” Bob said, placing his hand on Mack’s knee as he used the leverage to pull himself up off the ground.
“Yeah, alright,” Mack grunted as he stood. “We need to get you back to the cave. I just hope the evac can still pull us out in this storm.” He dipped his head toward the slope, indicating to Bob that they needed to get moving.
Mack stayed behind the younger soldier as they navigated their way back up the incline, determined that there would be no further unexpected problems as the trekked across the frozen mountainside. The two men walked for about a mile before Mack noticed that with each step Bob seemed to sway on his feet a bit more. He stepped up his pace and fell into step beside his comrade.
“You okay?” he asked, leaning forward so Bob could hear him.
“Cold,” Bob mumbled, his teeth chattering. “Ti…red…” he added, his words slurring as he stumbled across the uneven ground.
Mack grabbed him then, gripping Bob’s elbow to steady him. Mack loosened his hold just a hair as he led Brown along the snow-covered path, patient with the other man when he faltered or began to mumble garbled attempts at speech. Mack’s job now was to get the two of them back to their shelter, ready their things for evac and most importantly, keep Bob warm.
Slowly, but steadily they traversed the final half-mile. Mack felt a twinge of relief as he spied the cave where their rucksacks lay waiting. As they approached the opening in the side of the mountain, Mack steered Bob into the cramped interior. He made sure that Brown was leaning comfortable against the slick rock before letting go of his arm.
Mack grabbed the rucksacks and pulled out both sleeping bags, quickly unzipping and unrolling one onto the granite beneath his feet. Next, he rummaged through both bags until he found the two thermal blankets. Efficiently he unfolded the aluminum-foil looking squares and spread one beneath and one atop the open sleeping bag. Satisfied with his preparations, Mack turned his attention back to Bob.
“We need to get you out of these clothes,” Mack stated.
“Clooothesss, wha…” Bob murmured, his vision cloudy as he concentrated on Mack’s approach.
“Need to get you warmed up, buddy,” Mack continued as he began to undo the clasps on Brown’s winter gear. It seemed to take forever to remove the layered uniform, but Bob did not protest as Mack undressed him. Carelessly, he tossed the wet clothing into the corner intent on getting Brown enveloped in the thermals as quickly as possible.
Finally stripping the last piece of wet gear from the younger man, Mack picked up the blanket and wrapped it around Bob’s shivering form. Gently, he helped Bob to the ground so he could lie down. Reaching behind him he pulled a dry cap and pair of socks from the rucksack. Mack slid the socks over Brown’s feet and pulled the cap down over his head. He knew that would help Bob retain as much warmth as possible. To finish his task, Mack draped the other sleeping bag over Bob’s foil-encased form.
“Bob?” Mack prompted, crouching down next to the younger man. Wearily, Brown’s eyes slit open and he looked into Mack’s wind-reddened face. “You okay, for a while?”
“S’okay,” Bob mumbled.
Hoping that he had managed to curb the progression of Brown’s condition, Mack stepped back and assessed their situation. He grabbed some of the wood they had gathered yesterday and placed on the fire pit at the mouth of the cave. Mack slipped a container of waterproof matches from one of his pockets and lit the wood, smiling as it made a crackling sound that assured him that it had caught. He affixed a piece of nylon rope near the top of the cave and hung Brown’s wet clothing from it to dry.
Mack glanced at his watch, realizing that they still had hours until the evac was scheduled to arrive. He grabbed a bottle of water from the sack and poured it into a metal thermos so that he could warm it up for Bob. Mack unfolded a small wire grill and placed it above the fire; as he balanced the thermos on top of the grate, his radio squawked.
“Dirt Diver, come in, this is Snake Doctor” Jonas’ voice cracked across the airwaves.
“Copy, Snake Doc,” Mack responded, thumbing the transmit button.
“Dirt Diver, the bluebird is locked in the cage. He should be set free before lunch,” Jonas relayed the information.
“Copy that, Snake Doc,” Mack responded. “Cool Breeze is feeling that wind, but otherwise we’re 5 by 5.”
“Roger, Dirt Diver. Turn down the A/C. Snake Doctor, out,” Jonas signed off.
Muttering aloud to himself, Mack replayed the conversation. “The evac’s delayed; they’ll be here for us in the morning.” He wasn’t going to allow this to change anything. Right now the most important thing was to keep Brown warm. Mack lifted the thermos from the rack and tested the water to make sure it wasn’t too hot. Satisfied he moved toward Bob’s place in the center of the cavern.
Mack knelt down next to Bob and put his hand on the other man’s shoulder. “How ya doing, buddy?” Mack asked. Brown opened his eyes at the sound of Mack’s voice, somehow managing a weak smile as he looked into the older man’s face. “You need to drink this,” Mack continued. “Here let me help you sit up a little,” he offered, moving behind Bob so that the young man could lean into Mack’s body.
Bob wriggled himself into a semi-raised position, his head resting upon the crook of Mack’s knee. Mack unscrewed the cap on the thermos and held it to Bob’s lips. “Slowly,” he warned, as Bob sipped at the heated liquid. Patiently, Mack tilted the container to Bob’s mouth until finally the young soldier had consumed the canteen’s contents. For awhile they just sat there, Bob’s head cradled in Mack’s lap as the older man unconsciously stroked Bob’s cheek.
The reverie broke when a strong gust of wind blew past the opening to the cave. Mack heard the wire grill clatter against the stone as it was tossed from the fire. Lightly, Mack lifted Bob’s head.
“Gotta go check on the fire,” Mack stated.
“Okay,” Bob responded, although it was just one word it was the most coherent he’d sounded since falling down the embankment. “I’ll just stay here,” he added, struggling to loosen the blanket from around his body.
“You need to stay wrapped in that,” Mack chided as he strode across the cavern floor toward the fire.
“I know,” Bob acquiesced, “I just don’t think I need to be wrapped as tight as a mummy anymore.”
Mack shook his head; he knew that it wouldn’t help anyone if he picked a fight with Brown right now. Instead, he turned to the fire and placed a few more logs into the pile. The smell of the crackling fire drifted around him as he stared out across the moonlit mountainside. The snow seemed to have slowed some since they’d traveled back to the cave, although the wind still whipped past the mouth of the cavern.
“Mack,” Bob’s voice echoed in the small space.
Mack turned. He made his way back to Bob’s side. “Feeling better?”
“Still cold,” Bob muttered, sleepily. “When are we getting out of here?”
“Evac’s been grounded till morning,” Mack relayed the news. “Guess we’re holing up here for a few more hours.”
“’Kay,” Bob answered. “I still can’t seem to get warm enough though,” he added quietly, exhaustion plain in his voice.
Mack knew that the best way to warm someone was with skin-on-skin contact. Deftly, he stripped down to his boxers. “Let’s untangle you a bit more from that blanket,” he suggested as he hunched down at Brown’s side. Mack reached out and began to unfurl the thermal from around the younger man’s body. “Body heat,” he said, his voice hushed. “I need to get under there with you, okay?” he continued, the words barely above a whisper.
“Yes,” Bob answered, a weak smile tugging at the edge of his lips. He maneuvered himself a bit to the side to make room for Mack’s body beside him atop the sleeping bag.
At first, Mack felt awkward as he crawled under the thermal blankets. When Bob scooted back, however, fitting himself against the curve of Mack’s body, the older man relaxed. He marveled at the way their bodies seemed meant to conform to one another. Unsure, Mack draped a protective arm across Bob’s chest.
“Mmmhmm…” Bob mumbled as Mack’s arm encircled him. “Warmer already.”
Mack wondered what all of this was going to mean in the morning, but for right now he was content.