Fandom: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Pairing: Jack Mitchell/Gideon
Length/Rating: <2.5k, Teen
Tags: Holding Hands, Touch Starved, Emotional Hurt/Comfort, Prosthesis, Gentle Touches, Intimacy, Romantic Fluff
An exploration of the importance of touch in Mitchell's and Gideon's continuously evolving relationship.
Written for the bonus prompt for @flufftober: "holding hands".
Thanks to the wonderful @lisbetadair for editing and @samithemunchkin for helping with all my random AW questions. Fic can be read here on A03 or below!
To say that Mitchell had complicated feelings about his prosthetic arm was an understatement.
It had been the plan to eventually get a prosthetic, once the military combed through his medical insurance to find out what he could actually afford, which likely wasn’t much. When Will’s dad approached him at the funeral, and offered him a way out of the hole of misery he had dug himself into, Mitchell lunged at the opportunity. The chance to have a prosthetic that was functional at a military level, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and so Mitchell knew his answer was yes, even as Mr. Irons was handing over the card.
Mitchell thought nothing would compare to the searing pain of having his arm blown off and his body tossed onto the ground like a rag doll. But he severely underestimated the amount of pain that the surgery entailed.
A fully functional prosthetic. Not a simple on-and-off job. A graft that surpassed the strength and dexterity of a normal human arm. Hours of reconstructive surgery. Days of nerve regeneration. Weeks of testing. Months of physiotherapy
It glitched. The first simulation he ran with his new commanding officer, Gideon, it glitched.
It was fucking embarrassing.
He wanted to refuse the hand that Gideon offered, but knew that throwing a temper tantrum wasn’t the best impression either. So Mitchell reached up with his good remaining arm: the one with real skin, that still pumped red blood, and had all of its original nerves, and grasped Gideon’s, accepting the offer of help.
He could feel the strength, the tenseness of the older man’s muscles as he heaved Mitchell upwards. And the warmth. Oh, the warmth. Mitchell’s fingers twitched involuntarily as a brief mental image of running his hand along those forearms, helping to ease the tension, shot through his mind. Mitchell shook his head, trying to banish that thought from his mind as he forced himself to let go of Gideon, prying himself away from that warmth.
It was a comfort that he had no business taking.
But after the technicians fixed the glitch, repairing his hand with a few quick lines of code, it was Gideon that took Mitchell’s hand in his. Running his fingers along the palm of Mitchell’s prosthetic, carefully turning it over to check the joints and then carefully, but firmly, wrapping his hands around Mitchell’s, making sure it could close tightly. Gideon then let go, patting Mitchell on the back and leading the way to the firing range.
Of course Gideon had to make sure his arm was in working order, Mitchell told himself as he followed after the other man, having to break into a jog a couple times to keep up. And it’s not like he could feel the other man’s touch. Not really. For all the time and effort spent on nerve regeneration, the sensation in his hand and forearm were still greatly diminished. It was more pressure that he could feel, not texture or temperature. But he could have swore that Gideon’s hands lingered longer than they needed to…even if he didn’t know why.
Over the next couple years with ATLAS, Mitchell slowly got more used to the feel of Gideon’s hands.
At first, it had been a simple pat here, a gentle squeeze of the shoulder, or a congratulatory hug at the end of a mission, but over time, the touches came more frequently, each more daring. A hand on his lower back when squeezing past him in the kitchen, touching of thighs while watching a movie, the offer to massage a sore muscle, and so forth.
Mitchell loved them all. He tried to not be too reactive, but he couldn’t help but lean into each and every touch, chasing the warmth that Gideon shared, the comfort he offered.
Mitchell prided himself on being a great observer, able to decipher other people’s motivations and actions, and adjust to meet changing situations in the field, but the first time he found himself pressed up against the wall, Gideon’s mouth on his, he realized that his observation skills could use some more work.
Even through his fatigues, his skin felt heated where Gideon’s hands gripped his waist, strongly but gently pinning him up against the wall as his tongue explored Mitchell’s mouth. The tickle of Gideon’s rough stubble along his own, the surprisingly softness of his lips; Mitchell couldn’t help but let out a small moan at the conflicting sensations.
Encouraged, Gideon slid a leg between his thighs, and continued pressing further into the kiss. Mitchell almost jolted at the increased intimate contact. The pressure and warmth of Gideon’s leg between his own sent a wave of pleasure rippling through him.
But Mitchell’s general lack of movement or verbal agreement must have concerned Gideon, as he pulled back from the kiss, his shoulders starting to angle as if he was going to pull away.
Stifling a whimper from the sudden loss of contact, his right hand shot out, grabbing tightly onto Gideon’s hip to pull the man back up against him. He hungrily chased Gideon’s lips with his own, their teeth accidentally clinking together in his haste. Mitchell pulled back slightly, but not too much, not wanting to give up an inch of contact. They continued making out against a wall, both chasing that comfort that only they could provide for each other, until Gideon finally tugged on the bottom of his shirt, tilting his head suggestively in the direction of the bed.
With his hand grasped firmly in Gideon’s, Mitchell followed eagerly behind.
After that night, now that Mitchell knew that Gideon had feelings for him too, Mitchell started to allow himself to touch Gideon more.
He started slowly, cautiously, still not entirely sure how Gideon wanted to be touched in front of the others.
He would reach out and touch Gideon’s shoulder when they were in the command room, peering over floorplans or pulling up intel on the computers. He would sit a bit closer on the couch in the rec room when they were playing video games, just enough so that their shoulders would bump against each other in the course of the competition.
Once those were deemed successful, Mitchell then moved onto the slightly more daring touches as well: the extra caresses while double checking Gideon’s gear, returning a hug at the end of the mission (he still wasn’t comfortable initiating one, not yet), small, little kisses when no one was looking. And a tug on his hand when it was time to go to bed.
But still, Mitchell didn’t touch Gideon with his left hand.
“I still can’t believe it,” Mitchell said, looking down at his new left hand.
It had only been a week since he killed Irons.
Mitchell could remember everything with startling clarity. How he lunged at the last moment to grab Irons, only for the two of them to go barreling towards the building’s edge. To end up with half of his body over the side of the building, Irons dangling below him. The man had had the audacity to tell him that he had no plans of letting go, while gripping tightly onto his left arm.
Irons hadn’t realized that it wasn’t his choice to make.
It was Mitchell’s.
Mitchell had no plans of falling to his own death. Gideon needed his help. And he absolutely felt no attachment to the piece of crap ATLAS-made prosthetic.
He was done. He was done with Irons, done with ATLAS, done with this war.
Yanking his knife free from his vest, Mitchell reached over and started to pry the prosthetic off. He flinched instinctively as the sharp, serrated edge of his knife cut into his remaining arm, but the pain was dull, distant. Negligent compared to the rest of the damage that had been inflicted on him on that mission. And so he kept going.
Finally as Mitchell reached the last connection, he bit his lip as he severed the cord. It failed to stop his shout of pain from the electric jolt that shot along his arm and up into his shoulder, but the pain quickly fizzled, the cord being the last connection from the prosthetic to his nerves.
He watched Irons, and then his prosthetic, fall into the fiery blaze below. It felt fitting. And final.
Mitchell wasn’t surprised that it was Gideon who found him, still stretched out on the ground, oblivious to the heat from the flames surrounding them. But Gideon’s hands; his warm, strong hands, lifted him up, and helped him to hobble from the building. Even though it was supposed to be him saving Gideon.
The series of events that followed were slightly hazier, but ended up being too familiar. With him stuck in a hospital bed, unable to look away from his stump, alone and awaiting the bad news. His stump had been recently re-bandaged, the nurse telling him that he had been lucky that he only needed a few stitches to fix the damage caused by the knife.
But then the doctor came in, pulling in Gideon who had been loitering in the hall, and the scenario suddenly changed. The pattern was broken, for the better. He didn’t have to go through this alone. Not this time. He had Gideon.
Mitchell couldn’t help but grin at Gideon, stifling a small chuckle at the sheepish look on his face. He reached out with his right hand and luckily didn’t have to wait for long, Gideon’s hand quickly slipping into his.
As the doctor started into her spiel that they were now two years ahead of ATLAS technology, Mitchell had to force himself to keep up his smile, not wanting to offend her. The same thing had been said about his first arm. ATLAS had promised him the world, and all he got was glitchy. And numbness. He almost snorted when she pointed out the words ‘maximal sensation’ in the brochure, but stopped himself, turning it into a cough at the last moment.
Mitchell didn’t want to go over the brochures that she left behind, didn’t want to have his hopes raised again, didn’t want to have to make any decisions. But he knew he had to. So he pushed them towards Gideon, told his partner to summarize the highlights, and then with the help of Gideon, along with the welcome distraction of his partner threading his hand through Mitchell’s hair, they came to a decision.
The surgery to install the new prosthetic had also improved over the last few years, and Mitchell was in and out in no time, with significantly less pain than the last time around. After being discharged from the hospital, Gideon insisted that he go straight to the bed when they got back to the base. So now, he was sitting in Gideon’s bed, opting to lean back on his partner rather than use pillows to prop him up.
Mitchell continued to stare at his new prosthetic, turning his arm back and forth so that his palm was resting on the sheets, and then facing the ceiling. It didn’t look much different than his old one: same exact skin colour (they could match based on DNA in the factory), same size, similar weight. It just didn’t have ‘ATLAS’ stamped all over it, which was a relief. But the sensitivity was absolutely amazing. Mitchell still couldn’t believe it. He could feel the softness of the sheets, the coolness of the cotton fabric against the back of his hand, and then again on his open palm.
Mitchell looked back at Gideon, who hadn’t stopped smiling at him since they left the hospital.
With a nod towards his arm, Mitchell let out a loud sigh as Gideon reached out, repeating the same motions as he did that day he met the older man, only slower. Gideon ran his fingers along his palm, gently turning his hand over to check all the joints, and then carefully, but firmly, wrapping his hands around Mitchell’s, making sure it could close tightly. Gideon then raised his hand to his mouth, kissing each knuckle, one at a time.
And Mitchell could feel it all.
He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to stop himself from tearing up. His eyes flew back open as Gideon’s hands cupped his cheeks, his thumb wiping away the errant tear that had fallen down Mitchell’s cheek. The two of them simply stared at each other until Mitchell broke the silence.
“Can I touch you?” Mitchell blurted out, blushing at his forwardness. But it wasn’t an impulsive question either. He had wanted to touch Gideon with his left hand for so long now, but there was a mental wall that stopped him every time he thought to reach out. Mitchell wanted to be able to grip both of Gideon’s hips, to pull him down on top of him, to run his fingers through his hair, maybe even try picking him up. He wanted to touch Gideon in all the ways that the other man had touched him. But he hadn’t been ready before.
“Of course, love.”
Mitchell’s left hand shook slightly as he reached out, only remembering to breathe after he took Gideon’s right hand in his. He kept the grip loose at first, as his mind flashed back to the glitches his first prosthetic encountered. Mitchell almost yanked it back right then, not wanting to hurt his partner, but Gideon’s silent support emboldened him. Pushing back those intrusive and unwanted memories, Mitchell gripped Gideon’s hand tighter, the other man squeezing slightly in response.
“Your hand is warm,” Gideon said softly, as if he was worried that by breaking the silence that Mitchell would pull back, would run. But Mitchell wasn’t going anywhere.
His hand was warm. Mitchell’s left hand was warm.
Mitchell threw himself into Gideon’s lap, wrapping both arms tightly around his partner, the other man instinctively doing the same. He wanted to stay there, forever.
Because his heart was warm too.