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Always Have And Always Will (Top Gun, Iceman)


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I’m still on my Top Gun kick and I started this story and found myself completely unable to rest until I finished it. Definitely some major whump and angst going on in this one as well as the obvious cold and sneezing, so just be aware of that. I hope you all enjoy!










    Maverick sighed as he stepped into his house on base, hands rubbing together in an attempt to warm them up. It wasn't quite frigid outside, but it was far from warm. Although flying had kept him warm as it always did, stepping out of his jet and using his motorcycle to get home was not helping matters whatsoever. All he wanted was something warm in his stomach and to take the hottest shower that he could.

    Once Maverick stepped out of is shoes and closed the door behind him, he could hear the sound of clinking coming from the kitchen. His mouth instinctively began to water as he smelled the tang of pork chops. It was one of his favorite meals that his husband made. Although exhausted, Maverick was beyond impressed that his husband could be facing cancer and still insisted on making dinner for Maverick at least on some nights.

    "Smells great, Ice," Maverick exclaimed as he shrugged out of his jacket and hung it in the closet before heading into the kitchen to see Ice standing over numerous boiling pots and pans.

    Maverick tilted his head in surprise when he saw that Ice was wearing sweatpants and a large hoodie. In fact, Maverick was certain that both of those articles of clothings were his. He didn't mind if Ice wore them, though he wasn't sure why he was wearing those instead of his own.

    "Ice," Maverick asked. "Did you hear me, sweetheart?"

    Ice turned around slowly, eyes taking on a faraway look. He let out a few tiny coughs before bringing both hands up over the lower half of his face, sweatshirt sleeves pulled all the way down and over his fingers. "Esich'Shiew! Escih'Shiew! Esch'Shiew! Esih'Shiew! Shiew! Shiew! Shiew! Shiew! Shiew! Esih'ShiEw!"

    "Bless you!" Maverick walked forward and rested a hand on Ice's shoulder, already feeling the heat leaving Ice's body in waves. "That must've been some itch there to make you have such large sneezes, at least for you. Are you feeling alright?"

    Ice lowered his hands from his face and kept the sweatshirt over them, reddened nose slowly twitching. "Just a tickle," he rasped, voice husky.

    That wasn't exactly out of the ordinary considering that Ice was fighting throat cancer. His voice had become rough and gravely, much deeper than it had ever been before. Maverick still felt it was sexy as ever, but he knew how painful it was for him to speak and how self conscious he was because of it. That was one of the only reasons that Maverick tried to hold back any excitement about talking about how much he still loved Ice's voice, was him knowing how much Ice despised his voice.

    "You should've told me you were planning on cooking and I could've picked up a side so you didn't have to do so much cooking." Maverick leaned over and pressed a kiss to Ice's temple. There was more heat than he was expecting and it took all of his willpower to avoid saying something. Ice hated being fussed over, that much Maverick knew only too well, but he couldn't help himself sometimes.

    Ice forced a smile and reached over to grab tongs as he flipped the pork chops over in the pan, watching them sear. "I like cooking for you, especially when you're at work all day and I'm not."

    "Honey, you work too. Just because you do stuff at home when you're feeling up to it and I drive down the base, doesn't mean that I'm working more than you." Maverick came behind him and wrapped his arms around his middle, holding him close as he rested his head on the back of Ice's hood. "You're fighting cancer.....again. You don't owe me anything besides not worrying about you and making sure that you rest."

    Ice inclined his head back and thunked against Maverick's head lightly. "Pork chops are your favorite. Wanted to make something special."

    "And I appreciate that. I just want to make sure you're not working too hard," Maverick continued before drawing back and walking over to the sink.

    Ice watched him go and heat rose in his face. "Y-You don't have to do that," he stammered.

    Maverick lathered his hands with soap and washed up to his elbows, looking over his shoulder when he heard Ice speak. "Hey, I want to. Don't want to potentially bring anything home. I should've done this first before I hugged you." Maverick grabbed a hand towel and began to dry his hands before heading back over to his husband. "Now, I can give you all the affection." He swooped in to plant a kiss on Ice's cheek until Ice chuckled and Maverick broke the kiss in favor of setting the table. 

    Ice continued to stir a pan containing chopped up veggies and broth while he checked the internal temperature of the pork chops with a nearby thermometer. The numbers began to climb as he leaned forward, trying to keep the thermometer steady while his hand began to shake, struggling with it more than he wanted to call attention to. 

    He pulled the thermometer out just as his he felt the strong scent from the pork chops bother his nose. He was ordinarily fairly sensitive to smells like spices and perfume, but now seemed even more heightened than usual. After the first itch, Ice rubbed the back of his hand against his nose in an attempt to ward off the feeling until he was forced to pitch to the side into a lifted elbow. "Eisch'Shiew! Escih'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Eisch'Shiew! Shiew! Shiew! Shiew! Esich'Shiew!" His sweatshirt clad hand gave his nose a few fierce scratches as he blinked moisture from his eyes. 

    "Bless you again," Maverick called from the dining room. "You sure that you're okay?"

    Ice nodded. "Just the spices."

    "Those always set you off. Sometimes I wonder why you cook with so many things that make your nose itch.”

    "Because you like the taste of them.” Ice lifted his elbow over his face and drew away from the stove, coughing productively into the thick material. Phlegm flapped in the back of his throat and he felt his stomach churn. His other hand came up to rest on his opposite elbow, making sure that he kept it secured over his face.

    Maverick immediately set the glasses down in their respective spots, and came back into the kitchen, hands reaching out to steady Ice as he coughed away from him. "Ice, Ice, easy," Maverick soothed as he reached up to pull the hood from over Ice's head. "Okay, I'm going to get you some water. Just hang tight."

    Ice squeezed his eyes shut firmly and continued to cough, pain exploding in his chest. Black dots began to dance in the corners of his vision and he feared he may not be able to stay on his feet for much longer.

    He was only faintly aware of Maverick rushing over and pulling his hand down from his face, in favor of pressing a water bottle to his lips. Ice began to drink only to pull away a few seconds later, sputtering on the liquid as he coughed.

    Maverick came behind him and thumped on his back while leading him back over to the table. He hooked a foot around the leg of a chair to scoot it back, hands pressed firmly on Ice's shoulders until he sat back. Maverick kneeled in front of him and held the water bottle in front of his face. "You keep drinking this and I'll grab our plates. Just focus on breathing and resting, alright?"

    Ice gave harsh clearing of his throat as an agreement, still fighting off the coughs that surged from his lungs.

    Maverick grabbed both their plates and headed back into the kitchen, eager to get the food served before Ice tried to help. He never could stay seated for long, no matter how much Maverick begged him to.

    After double checking the temperature, he placed one pork chop on each plate before spooning out the vegetables and brought and pouring it over both plates. He wasn't going to win any points for presentation, but he was certain it would taste scrumptious. Ice was a magnificent cook even if he never took that compliment.

    Maverick carried both plates back and set one in front of Ice and the other where he usually sat. However, one look at Ice had Maverick bringing his chair closer until he was sitting almost shoulder to shoulder with him.

    Ice gave him a look, one filled with frustration and shame.

    "Is it a crime for wanting to be close to you?" Maverick took Ice's hand and brushed his fingers over Ice's. "Honey, you're ice cold."

    "It's in the name," Ice reminded huskily.

    Maverick rolled his eyes. "Ha ha, very funny. You can try deflecting this all you want but I can't help being worried about you. You sure you're alright?"

    Ice gave him another look, this time feeling he had to say something. "I have cancer, Mav. I don't know if I'm going to be 'alright' for some time."

    "Okay, okay, you got me there." Maverick released Ice's hand and began to cut his husband's pork chop.

    Ice raised a hand weakly and set it on the table beside Maverick's. "I can do it," he protested.

    "I know you can, but last time you used a steak knife your hand shook so much that you dropped it. Just let me do this to help you after you cooked this wonderful meal." Maverick finished cutting quickly, well aware that Ice would continue to be embarrassed until he finished even though there was no one else to witness just how much Maverick did to help him these days.

    Once Maverick finished, he turned to his own pork chop. He cut off a single piece and brought it up to his mouth, reveling in the savory tastes that exploded across his tongue. "This is amazing," he mumbled as he shoved some vegetables into his mouth. "I would divorce you right now and marry this pork chop if that was an option."

    Ice found himself laughing despite himself, though that did nothing to help the pain in his lungs and throat. He reached out to grab the water and drank a good portion before setting it back down. While Maverick shoveled food into his mouth, he was painfully aware that Ice still hadn't touched his. 


    Suddenly Ice pushed back on the table hard so that the legs of the chair scraped against the floor. Maverick dropped his fork right away, fearful that Ice may have choked. It was to his surprise as Ice turned to the side, leaning back against the back of the chair to keep his bent arm steady as he ducked down into it. "Ecish'Shiew! Esch'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Esih'Shiew! ESich'Shiew! Esih'Shiew!" Ice momentarily halted, head lifted. He blinked his eyes and rubbed at the side of his nose, only to lose the fight against the ever growing itch again. "Eichs'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Esih'Shiew! Esich'Shiew!"

    Maverick clenched his jaw as he scooted forward still until he could rub at Ice's back. He felt each tremble of his body despite how soft the sneezes seemed compared to Maverick's much louder sneezes. The fact that Ice was prone to truly dizzying fits didn't help in the slightest, especially when they scraped against his still raw throat. Maverick didn't realize the pain with each sneeze Ice faced until he laid his hand on him, and he cursed himself for not realizing it earlier.

    "Honey, honey, it's okay. Try to breathe through it," Maverick instructed as he used one hand to hold him steady, while his other picked up a napkin to hand it over Ice. "Shhh, shhh, I know that it hurts. I know. Try taking in some deep breaths. I'm right here and I'm not going anywhere."

    Ice took in a few ragged pants as he tried to control his breathing as Maverick suggested. He was faintly aware of Maverick holding something out to him and he was forced to blink his eyes several times until he could make it out. 

    He took the napkin from Maverick and brought it up to his nose, wiping the undersides lightly. It was only when the fierce pangs of pain receded did he turn back around, appearing more solemn then ever. "Sorry."

    "You have nothing to apologize for." Maverick lifted his hand as he threaded his fingers through Ice's meticulous hair and brushed it back. The softness was still there, yet all of Maverick's attention was how much warmer Ice felt. "You're warm, very warm. I'm sure you have a fever, Ice." 

    "I get fevers all the time." He swallowed thickly, phlegm in the back of his throat unwilling to budge despite how much he tried to clear it.

    Maverick slid his hand down until his thumb pressed against Ice's sinuses. Ice drew back almost immediately, fixing Maverick with a strong glare. "Not that come with pretty serious sinus pain you don't. Were you feeling this sick this morning? Before I left for work?"

    Ice shrugged out of Maverick's touch, his gaze anywhere but on Maverick. "Wasn't this bad. Just was a little achy and stuffed up."

    "Why didn't you say anything? I would've stayed home today to take care of you," Maverick pointed out, pouting slightly.

    "That's precisely why I didn't say anything.”

    "I don't—"

    "You always drop everything to care for me. I didn't want you to have to do it for a cold. The Navy—"

    "—can fuck off for all I care."

    Ice rolled his eyes. Typical Maverick, throw caution to the wind and deal with the repercussions later. "Let's not go that far. Just because you haven't threatened to be thrown out of the Navy this week, doesn't mean you have to try."

    Maverick formed a smile and nodded, struggling not to laugh. "You're right. I'm sorry, I don't mean to smother you. I just don't like to see you feeling this rough." His hand found it's way back up, this time laid gently on the side of Ice's face while his thumb lightly brushed over Ice's cheek. "A man this handsome doesn't ever deserve to be in this much pain."

    Ice couldn't help but laugh at the corny line. "Wanted to do something nice for you." He took his free hand and motioned to his still full plate and Maverick's half eaten one. "Couldn't even do that."

    "Hey! What part of that I'd divorce you for this pork chop did you not hear?" Maverick lowered his hand and patted Ice's knee lightly until his wingman looked up to meet his gaze. "I appreciate all that you do, but you didn't have to do this when you felt so bad. I wish I would've been here to help you."

    "You're here now. That's what matters."

    Maverick nodded and drew back, motioning to the food around them. "That's right, and right now we're going to finish eating up here, and then we'll take a shower and just relax for the rest of the evening. That sound good to you?"

    "Anytime spent with you sounds good to me." Ice broke off to cough into a fist, the sound deep and crackling in a way that Maverick had come to expect from Ice, and not just now with a cold. This cough was one that had reared it's ugly head at the onslaught of Ice's battle with cancer and showed no signs of stopping anytime soon. The sound was enough to send Maverick's stomach lurching only for the fact that he knew how painful it was and how much it frustrated Ice. 

    "Try and eat a little more. You're far too skinny." Maverick turned back to his own plate, hopeful that if he showed interest in eating, perhaps Ice would do the same.

    It didn't quite have the effect that Maverick was hoping for as Ice mostly moved pieces of the pork chop around. He ate a few bites of vegetables, but most of it was left untouched with Maverick polishing off what remained once it was clear that Ice wasn't going to eat anymore. 

    After they finished eating, Maverick insisted on clearing the table despite Ice's numerous attempts to help. Maverick would urge him to sit back down and kiss his forehead or the top of his head, quick to reassure him that he was more than capable. He cleared off the table quickly, worried that Ice may insist that he help if Maverick didn't let him. 

    Once everything was cleaned up to Ice's standards, Maverick turned back to the man in question, who was blowing his nose weakly, coughing in the aftermath with a fist coming up to rub small circles on his chest.

    Maverick came over and did the same, adding some pressure until Ice was able to take in a breath without coughing, moisture collecting in the corners of his eyes. 

    "Shower time," Maverick announced as he leaned over and looped his arm around Ice's waist and hauled him to his feet.

    It took a moment for Ice to find his footing, and once he did, he looked over to the shorter man. Maverick was so deliberate and careful with his footsteps, eyes darting back to Ice ever few moments to make sure that he was still following. There was so much that Ice wanted to ask him, to begin to say, yet he knew better than to break Maverick's concentration.

    The two headed into the bathroom where Maverick immediately propped Ice up against the sink while he went to turn on the shower. Water began to spray against the opposite wall while Maverick turned both dials until the water began to warm up, though not enough that it would cause dizziness or Ice to feel faint. 

    As soon as steam began to billow from the shower, Ice felt his nose begin to run. He barely had time to lift the collar of his sweatshirt over the lower half of his face, hoping that he could shield Maverick from seeing it. "Eisch'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Esih'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Shiew! Shiew! Sheiw! Esih'Shiew!"

    Maverick spun around at the first one and was quick to press against Ice, rubbing his back and keep him from swaying. "Bless you," he began once Ice finished, rubbing his forearm through the sweatshirt.

    Ice gave a liquid filled snuffle. "Cad you hand be sobe toilet paper," Ice requested, sweatshirt still over his face.

    "That's going to hurt." Instead, Maverick rubbed Ice's nose for him through the sweatshirt while Ice felt himself blushing. He desperately wanted to turn away, but the sweatshirt was doing wonders for the itch that continued to plague him and Ice felt himself leaning into it. "That better?"

    Ice nodded while Maverick pulled the sweatshirt down from Ice's face. His nose was red and irritated, but at least it was no longer running. Maverick couldn't help but lean forward and kiss his lips lightly.

    Ice instinctively turned away, nose wrinkling. "Do you want to get sick?"

    "No, but I'm always immune to your colds. You know that." Maverick dropped his hands and grasped the bottom of the sweatshirt. "Ready to take this off?"

    "It's comfy," Ice whined. "Reminds me of you."

    Maverick chuckled. "That's probably because it's mine to begin with."

    "Oh, I forgot. Sorry I sneezed on it.....multiple times."

    Maverick waved him off, feeling the pangs of Ice's embarrassment from there. "That's definitely not the worst thing to happen to it. Besides, have you heard of these things called washing machines? They can wash and clean them now. No more germs! It's a super cool invention."

    "Dick." Ice lowered his head and butted it against Maverick's shoulder playfully.

    Maverick made a show of stumbling sideways despite Ice knowing that there was no way he was strong enough in his current state to move him. It was one of the little things that Maverick did to give Ice the illusion that he was still as strong as he used to be.

    "I know you are but what am I?" Maverick continued to lift the sweatshirt from his head and set it on the floor before moving to his sweatpants. Although there were certainly times where this was a lot more sensual, Maverick knew that Ice didn't have the strength nor energy for anything like that at the moment, which was fine by him.

    Once Maverick help Ice undress the rest of the way, he turned to himself. He had been waiting to get out of his uniform since he walked in the door, but part of him knew how much Ice liked to see him in it. It was as though Ice was trying to live vicariously through Maverick now that he had to do most of his work at home while he battled cancer. Ice would give anything to be in a uniform again, consistently, and Maverick knew that. So, despite how much Maverick loathed them, he wore them for Ice and didn't dare complain about having to wear one when he knew that Ice would give anything to.

    After both men were stripped of their clothing and Maverick tested the water temperature, he stretched out his arm to Ice, unsure whether he was going to take it or not.

    Ice surprised him and grasped Maverick's arm as he shuffled forward. Maverick led him forward, more than relieved that they had gotten a walk in shower instead of a typical step in shower now that Ice's movements were a little sluggish. Most of the time Maverick didn't have to worry about Ice taking a shower since he didn't have to step into it over a large lip, which made the whole purchase worth it in Maverick's eyes. 

    It didn't take long for the two to find comfortable spots to stand under the steady stream. Maverick stuck his head under the water and allowed it to cascade through his hair, dripping in steady streams down his neck and face. He lifted his head back up and gave it a shake, water spraying everywhere.

    Ice coughed as he nudged Maverick with his arm. "Shit, Mav! You're like a dog."

    Maverick chuckled. "Got water in my ears. Hate that feeling."

    "You most certainly are like a dog then."

    Maverick cupped water into his hand and splashed it into Ice's face. It was Ice's turn to shake his head and begin to rub harshly at his nose, breathing through it almost savagely.


    "You godt id ub by dnose," Ice complained, tears springing to his eyes.

    Ice had always be sensitive when water got in his nose for some reason. Maverick had teased him for the longest time about it whenever they would go to the beach or swimming in a pool. It was only recently that he had realized how self conscious Ice was about it and laid off. However, in private Maverick still found it somewhat amusing.

    Maverick lifted a hand and flicked his pointer finger lightly against the side of his nose, a smile of satisfaction showing on his face as Ice's breath began to hitch. He cupped a hand over his nose and mouth, shoulders trembling as he ducked down. "Esixght! Esixght! Esicxght! ESixgth! Eishxght!"

    "What are those," Maverick asked surprisingly harshly as he pulled Ice's hand down. "You're going to hurt yourself, or push the water back further inside. That's not why I flicked you."

    Ice tired to resist, but the need to sneeze overwhelmed him, and this time there was no way for him to effectively stifle. "Esich'Shiew! IEsch'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Esish'Shiew! Esih'Shiew!"

    "That's better," Maverick joked as he massaged the back of Ice's neck, finding the muscles tight and knotted. "You alright? Did you get all the water out?"

    Ice shot daggers in his direction. "Dno thangks do you!"

    "Hey, this was all thanks to me," Maverick protested, feigning surprise. "If anything, I think that you should be thanking me."

    Ice couldn't keep a straight face as he chuckled, Maverick joining in a moment later. It didn't last long as Ice was forced to lean against the wall as he coughed, goosebumps beginning to show on his upper arms and back of his neck.

    "We better move this along." Maverick grabbed a bottle of shampoo and squirted a generous amount on his hands. "C'mere. This'll go quicker with two of us. Close your eyes."

    Ice did as Maverick said while Maverick lathered the shampoo through the taller man's hair. It hadn't been long since his last shower, so it was hardly greasy, but Maverick knew how much Ice enjoyed the feeling of someone massaging his scalp. He became like a cat, leaning into the touch and arching his back through it. If they weren't in a time crunch, Maverick's would spend as long as Ice could tolerate rubbing blunt nails against his scalp. Unfortunately, time was not on their side and Maverick was forced to break off much sooner than Ice would've liked and started on his own hair while Ice stood back under the full blast of the water stream, the shampoo streaming from his head until their feet became almost coated in the soapy water.

    Washing their bodies went much quicker and Maverick made quick work of helping Ice, who was fading fast. His eyes fought to stay open while his breathing grew thicker, and the more that he coughed. The steam was definitely helping with his congestion, though it frustrated Ice as he was forced to rub his palm against his very runny nose to stop it from dripping down his upper lip.

    Once they were both rinsed off, Maverick turned the shower head off. Immediately, Ice began to shiver, teeth chattering so loud that Maverick worried he may snap a tooth.

    "Alright, hang in there," Maverick instructed as he opened the door and grasped under Ice's arm to keep him steady so that he didn't slip while they walked out of the shower. A memory foam bath mat was waiting for them, which Maverick was thankful for as he reached for a towel to wrap around Ice, who was still swaying on his feet.

    "Hey, you with me?" Maverick lifted a hand and rested it on Ice's cheek. "Ice?"

    Ice nodded slowly. "M'fide. Jusdt code."

    "Yeah, tell me about it." Maverick grabbed another towel and wrapped it around the front of Ice. He lifted the back of one towel and began to dry Ice's hair as quickly as possible. It was rather thin, and there would come a day when he would lose it, but for right now Maverick did everything that he could to be gentle with it so that he didn't cause any to fall out prematurely. "That feel okay?”

    Ice nodded before giving a light cough and pulling the towel up to his face and sneezing productively six times in the folds, lifted his head for a few second to pause, and then sneeze another five times. He continued to rub his nose against it until Maverick instructed him to blow. It was beyond embarrassing, but not seeing another option, Ice did as Maverick suggested, relieved that he could begin to take a small breath in through his nose. Afterwards Maverick gingerly pulled it from Ice's grasp and threw it in the laundry hamper.

    Maverick noticed Ice looking away bashfully and Maverick couldn't help but lift his hands to either side of Ice's face, thumbs brushing right under his eyes, careful not to touch Ice's sinuses in the process. "Talk to me," Maverick begged. "What's going on in that head of yours?”

    "You shouldn't have to do this," Ice confessed, voice barely above a whisper. "You shouldn't have to do this for me."

    "Now I'm going to stop you right there. I want to do this. Besides, you care for me too before you try to tell me otherwise. You're the whole reason I haven't been dishonorably discharged or killed." Maverick forced a laugh. "Just because I'm not the more medically complex of us doesn't mean that I do more for you than you do for me. On the contrary, I'd say you would still win that argument. You keep me out of trouble and cook and do stuff around the house."

    Ice shook his head. "Not that much."

    "Not that much right now," Maverick corrected. "But even if you could do none of it, you still are the man that I get to sleep next to every night, share memories with, and love unconditionally. I would be no one without you, Tom Kazansky. I love you."

    "I love you too."

    Maverick pulled Ice's head down and pressed a kiss to his too warm lips. When he drew back, he made sure that Ice was still looking at him, to see the love that Maverick had in his eyes for him. "What do you say that we get you into something warm and we watch a movie in bed? Does that sound good?"

    Ice nodded slowly. "Sounds nice."

    "It does, doesn't it?" Maverick looked around before remembering that he hadn't thought to grab a change of clothes for either of them. "I have to go grab some clothes. Any preference on what you want?"

    Ice took a moment to answer, and when he finally did, his brow was knit together and his gaze troubled. "Um....no."

    "Ice, please, let me know," Maverick begged. "What would you like to wear?” 

    Ice gave a small shrug, head ducked down into his shoulders. "Your black sweatpants and your Star Wars t-shirt," he requested so quietly that Maverick hardly heard him.

    Maverick couldn't help but grin. "Would you like me to grab that quilt I got you last Christmas too? It may help to keep you warm."

    Ice instinctively brightened despite his attempts to keep it under wraps as he nodded vigorously. "That would be great, Mav."

    "Alright, hang tight." Maverick stepped out of the bathroom and tiptoed into their bedroom, well aware that he hadn't dried himself off fully yet. It didn't take him long to find the clothing that Ice had asked for while grabbing himself some basketball shorts and a plain white t-shirt. There was no doubt in his mind that Ice's temperature was going to fluctuate, which would then make Maverick either cold or warm as well. It was best to choose something that was breathable as Ice tended to be extremely clingy when he was sick as well. 

    After Maverick grabbed what he needed, he headed back to the bathroom to find Ice practically scrubbing his hands against his nose so hard that Maverick was momentarily worried that he was going to rip it off.

    "Hey, hey, hey, what's going on," Maverick fretted as he rushed forward and dumped the clothes on the sink before reaching forward and grasping Ice's wrists hard, forcing them down at his sides. "What the hell were you trying to do?"

    "Itches," Ice growled as he lifted his shoulder and rubbed his nose against it as Maverick still had his hands. "And it's stuck?"

    "A sneeze is stuck?" Maverick slowly released Ice's hands when it was clear that he wasn't trying to do harm to himself. 

    Ice nodded, breath hitching but not becoming the sneeze that it was clear that Ice wanted it to be. He paused briefly, head tipped back and nostrils flaring, only to continue to rub his nose back on his shoulder a moment later.

    "Alright, not sure that's going to do anything." Maverick snapped his fingers and Ice lifted his jaw, mouth slightly parted. Just when he was about to ask Maverick what he meant, Maverick reached up and flicked the side of his nose.

    That was enough for Ice to suddenly duck down into his hands that he covered over his nose and mouth. "Esichs'Shiew! Escih'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! ESich'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Esich'Shiew!"

    "Jesus, Ice," Maverick gasped as he set to rubbing Ice's shoulders, still feeling his lungs expanding.

    "Ecsih'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Esich'Sheiw! Esich'Shiew! Escih'Shiew!" Ice briefly paused and gave his head a fierce shake. "Esich'ShiEW!"

    "Damn that was a long fit," Maverick exclaimed before he could stop himself. He knew just how self conscious Ice tended to be about his sneezes because of how soft and numerous they were. They may not feel soft to Ice, but compared to others, his sneezes were kitten sneezes, at least that was what Maverick was always saying.

    Ice snuffled behind his hands before taking a step to the sink. Maverick continued to rub his back even as Ice pulled his hands away from his nose and began to wash them rigorously, a sheen of wetness still left behind under his nose and on his upper lip.

    Maverick didn't waste anytime in grabbing a few tissues from a box on the edge of the sink and coming towards Ice with them, wiping his nose with the gentlest of touches. Ice tried to shrink away, but a few light kisses on his cheek and forehead caused him to relax.

    "Before you say anything, you're not gross," Maverick reassured once he finished and had thrown the tissues in the trash. "You're sick, it happens."

    "Not to you," Ice croaked.

    Maverick rolled his eyes. "Just because I haven't had something like that happen in front of you, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Besides, you saw me when I had to have my appendix out. Now that was a rough couple days."

    Ice couldn't help but laugh at that memory as he finished washing his hands and looked expectantly for Maverick to do the same.

    Knowing better than to argue with him about this, Maverick washed his hands dutifully, just so that Ice wouldn't tear him a new one for it. Once he finished, he handed Ice his change of clothes. "Do you need help?"

    Ice pondered it for a moment before shaking his head. "I'm okay, I think. I'll let you know, though.”

    That was just the answer that Maverick had been hoping for. It was so difficult for Ice to ask for help, so leaving that door open that he may need help, was so far in the right direction that Maverick counted it as a home run.

    Maverick stayed close by as he changed into his own clothes, attention still on Ice. He watched as Ice bent over to pull on his boxers, his movements slow and almost robotic. It took him a minute or so before he was able to pull the boxers up and reached for the sweatpants. He hunched over the sink for support as he lifted his left foot, attempting to step into the pants, but was forced to put his foot back down so that he didn't fall over.

    Although Maverick wanted Ice to be the one to ask for help, he couldn't bear to watch him struggle. 

    Maverick threw on his t-shirt quickly before sweeping over to Ice's side, taking the pants from Ice and bunching up the left leg. "There....that might be easier to step into." Maverick held them close to Ice. "You can lean on me."

    Despite his reluctance, Ice rested a hand on Maverick's shoulder and braced himself as he stood on one leg while Maverick quickly guided Ice's leg into them. He did the same with the other side before handing the pants to Ice for him to pull them up. Anytime Maverick could give Ice the independence that he craved, he always did.

    Ice had no problem putting on his shirt while Maverick collected the rest of the damp or wet towels and placed them in the hamper. Usually he would hang them up to dry and reuse them, but with Ice being sick, he didn't feel comfortable doing so. 

    After Ice changed into his clothes, Maverick looked back to see him almost swaying. The heat that was coming off of him was still palpable and the faraway look in Ice's eyes were worrying Maverick more than he cared to admit.

    Maverick came over and rested a hand on Ice's back. "Let's get to bed."
    Ice let out a low mumble, so muffled that Maverick couldn't even guess what he was trying to say.

    "What, honey," Maverick questioned, rubbing Ice's back lightly.

    Ice gave Maverick a look that the shorter man could only describe as scathing. It was usually a look reserved for work as fear was a powerful tactic that Ice could use to hit his point home. Whenever he used it at home, Maverick was always on high alert, wondering what could've set him off. Ice was never one to use it unless it was important, which was the fact that worried Maverick the most. 

    "You shouldn't have to go to bed just because I am," Ice repeated, voice sour with bitterness.

    Maverick sighed, hand still on the small of Ice's back. "Who says I'm not just as tired as you are? Besides, just because we're going to be in bed, doesn't mean that we have to sleep. We have the TV in there and can watch a movie or something. There's books so we can read. Laying in bed doesn't necessarily mean we have to sleep."

    Ice shot Maverick a knowing look that practically screamed, 'I know I'm going to fall asleep as soon as we get to bed. What are you going to do then?'

    "Maybe this is just my excuse with cuddle you a little extra," Maverick continued, reaching up to kiss Ice's jaw. "You let me worry about keeping myself occupied, okay? Don't worry about me."

    Ice seemed less than satisfied by that answer, though he was too tired to argue. Instead he lowered his head so that it was rested atop Maverick's, enjoying the feel of his slightly damp hair on his too warm face.

    "Alright you leech, let's go," Maverick joked fondly as he started forward, arm still tightly around Ice in case the taller man stumbled.

    The walk to the bedroom was arguably slower than their trek to the bathroom earlier from the dining room. Maverick didn't mind so long as Ice was alright. He could see Ice itching to break free of his grasp to gain more independence, though also knowing how that would end up.

    Maverick used his free hand that wasn't wrapped around Ice to take his shaky hand and planting kisses to each finger before migrating up to his palm and all the callouses that came from an entire career spent in the military. He was faintly aware of Ice watching him, though he said nothing. 

    They walked on in silence until they arrived at their bedroom and Maverick helped Ice sit down on his side. He was about to ask if Ice needed anything when he lifted his elbow to his face and craned to the side. "Esich'Shiew! Esich'Shew! IEsch'Shiew! Escih'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Esich'Shiew! Escih'Shiew! Escih'Shiew!"
    "Tissues coming right up!" Maverick took the opportunity to scurry out of the room while Ice snuffled back the congestion, causing him to cough. He couldn't help but groan at how the sneezes had scraped his throat, even though he hadn't held them back at all. It was just part of his fight with cancer, one that he despised nearly as much as how deep and rough his voice had gotten lately.

    Ice didn't have much time to wait as Maverick walked back in with a box of tissues and a timid smile on his face. He set the tissues beside Ice, watching as he didn't hesitate to pick a few tissues from the box, bringing them up to his nose and blowing.

    The sound seared through Maverick's ears; he could only imagine how painful that was. "I'm going to see if we have any medicine that will help with this. I don't want to give you cough syrup since we need whatever gunk is in your lungs to come up. We may have some regular cold pills, though."

    Ice knew that Maverick was more or less talking to himself, and that no matter what he said, Maverick had already made up his mind. 

    Maverick jumped back to his feet and headed out of the bedroom and down the hallway, muttering to himself as he went.

    Ice finally finished blowing his nose, which prompted a coughing fit that had him fighting to stop the gunk in his throat from leaking out. He knew that Maverick would chastise him for it when he found out, but he hated coughing anything up. It disgusted him and the taste made his stomach churn. He was tired of doing so, feeling like he had been coughing nonstop since being diagnosed with throat cancer. 

    The coughing continued even after Maverick walked in with cold syrup that Ice couldn't remember purchasing himself. He pressed his lips into a tight line as he continued to cough.
    "You have to be coughing stuff up, Ice, not holding it back." Maverick continued over and handed a few tissues over to Ice and pressed on his back and shoulders. "Just let it happen. I know it hurts, but it'll hurt a lot more if you keep all that shit in."

    Ice shook his head and reached out a hand to grab Maverick's wrist, squeezing it tightly, desperately. The pain in his eyes was unmistakable, something that Maverick wished he could take from him.

    "I know, honey. It hurts and it sucks. I will take this from you if I could, you know that, right?" Maverick pressed a kiss to Ice's forehead while lifting the bunch of tissues and helped Ice situate them in his palm and lift them to his mouth. He continued to murmur reassurances as he felt Ice shudder with each cough, clearly still fighting it, but being unable to fully do so.

    Maverick felt Ice shudder against him as he coughed up a string of phlegm and mucus. His nose ran as well from the force of the coughs and Maverick continued to pepper kisses on his shoulder, well aware how embarrassed Ice was. The best thing that Maverick could do was not call attention to it, at least not right away.

    When Ice was finally able to calm his breathing so that he no longer felt like his lungs would rip from his body, he slumped against Maverick, who was unprepared for Ice's sudden dead weight.

    Thanks to his rigorous workout schedule for the Navy, Maverick managed to brace himself and Ice while closing the bundle of tissues and setting them in the trash beside the nightstand. Next he grabbed more tissues and gingerly began to clean under Ice's nose, well aware that Ice would never allow this if he wasn't feeling like total shit. He hardly moved as Maverick worked, not even when Maverick used the tissues and closed his nose slightly to make sure he got as much congestion out of Ice as possible.

    Once he finished, Maverick threw the tissues away and wrapped his arms around Ice. "Tell you what: if you take some meds we can cuddle for the rest of the evening, but I need to get something in you. We don't want this fever to get worse or your cough to turn into bronchitis or pneumonia. Do we have a deal?"

    Ice weakly lifted a trembling hand and gave a thumbs up before dropping his hand back on his lap.

    Maverick rubbed Ice's opposite shoulder until the taller aviator straightened. He swayed while he sat, eyes trained on the ceiling, eyes squinting.  

    It was only when a generous helping of red liquid in a tiny plastic cup flashed across the corner of his vision did Ice break his stare from the ceiling. He looked at it quizzically, as though wondering where it came from.

    "May not taste the best, but it's better than nothing." Maverick pressed the small cup into Ice's hand. "Drink it quickly and it may help with the taste." 

    Ice lifted the cup and studied it. He then looked over to Maverick, who was pouring some water into a plastic cup, a plea sitting on the tip of his tongue.

    "Ice, you have to take it," Maverick chided when he looked over to see that Ice was still studying it. "Please."

    Maverick never sounded that pathetic and desperate, at least not recently that Ice could remember. Cocky, brazen, and annoying perhaps, but not desperate.

    Against his better judgement, Ice brought the cup up to his lips and swallowed it down, entire body shuddering at the sour tang it left behind on his tongue. This wasn't the first time that he had forced himself to take medication like this, though it had been a while ago.

    Maverick swooped in to take the plastic cup before trading it for a glass of water. "That should help with the taste."

    Ice didn't waste anytime in drinking it greedily, at least until Maverick took it from him with horror etched on his face. "You're going to make yourself sick if you go to town on that like that."

    Shyly, Ice reached back for the water.

    "Are you going to drink it like a normal person and not shock your system," Maverick asked, the water pressed protectively to his chest where Ice couldn't reach it.

    Ice rolled his eyes. "M'not a child."

    "No, but I still don't want to see you hurt yourself. Can you settle down with it just a little," Maverick requested, his patience stretched thin, yet he didn't show it.

    Ice nodded, though he couldn't help but laugh softly as a tired smile crept onto a face, a real smile, which was something that Maverick hadn't seen recently.

    "What are you smiling about," Maverick chuckled as he sat down beside him and handing the water back.

    "I'm usually the one telling you to calm down, not you telling me. I finally know why you fight back against it so much." Ice continued to laugh until it turned into a pain filled groan. 

    Maverick reached out and began to massage Ice's chest. He could feel his lungs shuddering, the flesh that covered them hot to the touch. "And now I know how you feel. It fucking sucks being on this side."

    Ice took the water and hesitantly brought it up to his mouth, swallowing it down slowly this time. Maverick watched just in case, but was pleased that Ice seemed to be heading his advice and was taking smaller sips. When he finished, Maverick took the glass and set it on the nightstand for later. 

    "Now do you know what time it is," Maverick questioned with a waggle of his eyebrows.

    Ice huffed as he reached under Maverick's shirt to press his hands against Maverick's stomach. Maverick shied back, shirt pulled down harshly. "Your hands are freezing!"

    "Then warm me up."

    "You don't need to tell me twice." Maverick threw the covers back and crawled backwards with his arms wrapped around his shoulders to help Ice do the same. He was so skinny now that Maverick barely struggled pulling Ice backwards until his back was against the headboard. Maverick shook his head to clear it, not allowing himself to go down that road, fearful of where it may lead.

    Ice pulled the covers over himself while Maverick buried in beside him. He was quick to stack as many pillows as possible against Ice's back so that he was sitting upright. Ice was prone to coughing fits on the regular without having a cold, and Maverick always feared that if he laid flat then he would wake up unable to breathe. Ice often reassured him that he didn't need to worry about that, but Maverick did anyway and Ice didn't fight him on it.
    "That comfortable," Maverick asked, tucking the blankets and sheets around him before pulling the quilt that he had set on the bed around Ice's shoulders. Maverick wasn't the biggest fan of the quilt because of how hot it made him, but if Ice wanted it, Maverick would deal with it without a single complaint. 

    Ice hummed to himself once the quilt was added. "Perfect."

    "You still cold?" Maverick lifted a hand to his forehead and hummed to himself. "Still pretty warm, but that could be some residual from the shower."

    Ice allowed Maverick to fuss for a few more seconds before raising one hand from under the covers and grasped Maverick's face lightly, thumb rubbing over the minuscule stubble on his jaw.

    "Is that your sign to tell me to shut up," Maverick asked, using his own hand to grasp Ice's before kissing the back of his hand affectionately.

    Ice shrugged. "You shouldn't have to worry this much about me. I'm okay, Maverick."

    "I know, I know. It just makes me feel better sometimes. I get worried about you, you know," Maverick confessed with a hint of embarrassment radiating from his words.

    "I know you do. But I'm okay, for now. It's just a head cold." Ice gave a sniffle to prove his point, congestion settling back in again.

    Maverick couldn't help but scoot closer to him so that one arm was around his shoulders as he laid his head in the curve of his neck. "These are the best moments," Maverick murmured after a moment.

    "Me being sick?"

    "No, dumbass!" Maverick gingerly kicked his foot against Ice's shin. "I meant just snugging with you, hanging out. I feel like we don't do this enough." 

    "There's this thing called work, Mav. We kinda need that for insurance and money," Ice reminded as his eyes began to close.

    "Wow, you must be feeling a little better because you are big on the jokes tonight." Maverick's voice was light and teasing as he held Ice tighter. "I just wish I could stay home all the time and do this."

    "We would be at each other's throat if we never left this house. I love you, but sometimes you need an outlet and I understand that."

    Maverick blushed. "Residual from my childhood I guess. What is it the psychologist calls is? Self sabotage?"

    "I do as well. It's alright." Ice swallowed thickly as he remembered his upbringing, head suddenly shaking to dislodge that memory before it took hold. He couldn't, wouldn't, go there.

    Maverick seemed to sense it as he began to brush his fingers against Ice's too warm skin, grounding him on the here and now. It didn't always work, but if they caught it early before Ice spiraled, they could usually pull him out of it. The last thing that Ice needed was an episode of remembering the trauma of his childhood on top of a pretty nasty illness.

    "You still with me," Maverick inquired, voice soft and leading.

    Ice nodded surely, pleased that he wouldn't have to lie this time. "I'm alright. Caught it before it was too late."

    "Okay. Just let me know if you need me to do that again. I'll do it all day everyday if that's what you need," Maverick whispered in his ear.
    Ice turned his head to nuzzle against the top of Maverick's head, his short hairs tickling his chin. "I know you would. Thank you."

    "You don't need to thank me. It's all out of love." Maverick couldn't help but breathe in Ice's scent. Although it was clogged with the smell of sickness, he could still pick out Ice's scent anywhere. The slight musk of the cologne that he usually wore and leather that Maverick could never guess where he got that from. It was familiar; it was Ice.

    "Are you good," Ice rasped when Maverick didn't say anything for a few moments.

    "Shouldn't I be asking you that," Maverick joked softly. "Not the other way around?”

    Ice gave a pause before responding. "I still want to check in with you, even when I'm the one who's sick. No one gets forgotten here."

    Although a relatively simple phrase to anyone else, it was one that Maverick clung onto for dear life. Reminders that Ice cared about him and wanted to know when things were bothering him made Maverick practically melt. It was the same way how he fretted over Ice, but that he didn't mind in the slightest, and his upbringing had tried to hammer into him that no one was going to ever feel or do the same. That was a lie, he knew that now, but it was still hard for his brain to make that switch.


    Maverick was just about to shake his head when he realized that it was still on Ice and he didn't want to move from that comfortable position. "Sorry. Don't know where I went there for a moment."

    A rumble of understanding rolled in the back of his throat as Ice took a hand and fumbled under the covers until he managed to find Maverick's hand again. He pulled it onto his lap and gave it soft squeezes, each finger at a time before moving to his entire hand. "This okay?"

    "It's more than okay. Your hand is.....strong," Maverick replied after a moment.

    It wasn't quite the compliment that Ice was expecting, but it would work for him. He kept his grasp firm over Maverick's hand, ready to give him an out if he asked for it, but thinking that wouldn't happen. Maverick was huge on physical touch while Ice was rather indifferent sometimes. However, knowing how much Maverick craved and appreciated it had made Ice a more touch craving person, but only with Maverick. He felt safe with Maverick, and Maverick safe with him. 

    "Ice," Maverick whispered after a few moment.

    Ice peeled his eyes open and chased the sleep from his voice with a firm swallow. "Yes?"

    "Is it wrong that I still think of him?" 

    "Him? Him who?"

    Once Ice said it thanks to his sleep filled mind, he regretted it. His heart dropped into his stomach and he waited for the explosive rush of anger, or a heartbreaking cry. Neither one was preferable, though Ice had dealt with both more than he would've cared to admit. However, he would always do so for Maverick, no questions asked.

    "Goose," Maverick replied softly, voice void of emotion.

    "Maverick, you—"

    "I know it's been decades," Maverick whispered with his eyes closing while he fought to keep composure. "But, sometimes my mind takes me there and I forget that he's no longer here. I feel that loss all over again and......and I'm left wondering if I should've moved on by now and why can't I move on?”

    Ice gave Maverick's hand a firm squeeze, not quite to the point of pain, but certainly close. "No one expects you to 'move on', least of all me."

    "I don't get why I can't move on, though," Maverick repeated, voice growing husky while his throat grew thick with emotion. "Why can't I just move on?"

    "You lost someone so close to you. He wasn't just your RIO, he was your best friend, your brother. Civilians don't understand that bond that one has to have to trust someone that explicitly in life or death situations while thousands of feet off the ground. It's something most people can't even begin to understand." Ice coughed to clear his throat, a congestion bubble popping when he swallowed. "But, I do, and I'm telling you that you don't have to move on. You can think about Goose, grieve him, at anytime and that is okay. I'm never going to ask you to get over it or move on. Goose was a part of you that no one, not even me, can ever replace."

    Maverick nodded. "He was like my brother. I wish I could've had a chance to say good-bye."

    "I know." Ice sighed. "But, whatever you were going to say, he knew. He knew how you felt about him, Mav, how you now care for his son like he's your own. Goose would be proud of what you did, I know it."

    Maverick sighed and Ice wondered if he had said something wrong. It was not like Maverick to be quiet in any sense.

    "Is it wrong to consider him my kid?"

    Ice lifted one brow. "You mean our kid?"

    Maverick suddenly lifted his head from Ice's shoulder so quickly that he almost knocked his skull against Ice's nose. He looked deep into Ice's eyes and Ice stayed as still as possible, unsure exactly what Maverick was trying to do. All he knew that was when Maverick acted like this, it would be best not to interrupt.

    "Our kid," Maverick repeated as he smiled hopefully. "Our kid."

    "I think that it can never hurt to have too many fathers in his life that have cared and now care for him," Ice pointed out. "Besides, you never let him forget who his father was and what he stood for. Bradley is lucky to have you in his life."

    "You as well." Maverick slowly shifted back down so that he had his head rested on Ice's shoulder again. "You make such a great father. I don't know how you’re always so patient."

    Ice swallowed thickly, hoping to rid himself of the tickle that he already felt rising inside of him. "I had a world of practice dealing with you."

    Maverick couldn't help but laugh as well as he lifted one leg and intertwined it around Ice's, growing so close that Ice was able to feel his body heat and it helped soothe his aching muscles. It was becoming increasingly difficult for Ice to keep his eyes open, though he didn't want to tell Maverick that, especially if he wasn't finished with talking about Goose. Maverick didn't allow it to happen often, so Ice always did his best to sound eager to encourage Maverick to share whatever he wanted about his best friend. 

    "Hmm, Ice?"


    "I love you."

    Ice couldn't help leaning his head down and kissing Maverick's forehead. "I love you too. Always have and always will." 

The End

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