i. Herc Hansen
The first time it happened, it was only because they’d just had sex and Raleigh had used Chuck’s shirt to clean up the mess. Chuck had swiped a shirt from Raleigh’s chair and had ran out because he was supposed to be at lunch with his father thirty minutes ago.
“What,” Chuck growled, attempting to straighten out the wrinkles in the shirt.
Herc looked at him up and down, his eyes glaring at the shirt Chuck had on. “What are you wearing? That’s not yours.” And it wasn’t as if Chuck could tell him, “I just had sex with Raleigh and he used my shirt to clean up so I stole his,” so Chuck just settled for a glare. Herc must have decided that he didn’t want to know, because he rubbed his temples but beckoned him over. “Sit.”
Lunch at the Shatterdome was as usual, even after the Rift was closed. Full of bustling engineers and soldiers. Now that the Rift was done and over with, the biggest efforts went to rebuilding the cities from the damage, and actually studying the kaiju, which mostly happened around the Shatterdome. But now that Herc was overseeing as Marshall of the Hong Kong Shatterdome, Herc was almost infinitely busy. Meals together had been an everyday thing, and were now once-a-week thing. Chuck made sure to never miss it, not that he’d let his father know that.
“You know,” Herc said, “I don’t like you wearing that shirt.”
Chuck rolled his eyes and stabbed into the mashed potatoes. “It’s just a shirt, old man.”
Herc stopped him from stabbing his potatoes, so Chuck moved on to shove his salad around. “It’s not just a shirt. It means you’re growing up. A grown-up man who can’t stop playing with his food.”
“I’m 21.” Chuck protested, taking a bite out of the pasta on the plate. It tasted like too much salt, and he made a face. “Almost 22. I can make my own decisions.”
They ate in silence after that for a while, Chuck regretting his pasta-decision with every bite he took. He needed water. A lot of it. Herc cleared his throat and said, “Becket’s a good man.” Chuck nodded, attacking his mashed potatoes again. Herc intercepted his fork on the fourth stab. “I just don’t like the fact that you may become Drift compatible with someone else than your old man.”
Chuck stopped stabbing his potatoes and looked up. “Jesus Christ.” He pulled at Raleigh’s shirt again, realizing that it was a bit big for him. Fuck Raleigh and his height. “Are you jealous of my boyfriend, old man? You’re my father. I don’t think dating Raleigh Becket is going to change that.”
There was silence after that, and Chuck went back to wishing he had a bucket of water. “Wearing his wardrobe now, instead of mine, though.” Herc said.
“Holy shit dad. It’s just one shirt.”
ii. Tendo Choi
Chuck had never really gotten back to giving back the shirt, mostly because it was so comfortable. And it smelled like Raleigh. But seriously, mostly because it was so comfortable. Seriously. And it made him have less nightmares, when he was wearing Raleigh’s slight-too-big-for-him t-shirt.
He also felt like he had a right to steal Raleigh’s clothes. That’s what people who dated did, right? He pulled on another one of Raleigh’s shirts from his closet (Raleigh always fell asleep after a fuck, that bastard). “I’m gonna go see Tendo about what he wanted before,” he said, nudging Raleigh with his toe.
“Mm, yeah.” Raleigh muttered, waving him off. Once Chuck had jabbed at him about Raleigh being old and out of energy, and Raleigh had shot back about Raleigh doing all the work during sex and asked if Chuck would like trying to ride himself on Raleigh’s cock instead. That session had failed rather horribly, with Chuck limping for days afterward, so they’d crossed that off the list for a while.
Tendo started talking at him (not to him, at him) as soon as he walked in, and when he finally looked up, he stopped talking. Chuck raised an eyebrow at him, trying to tug the computer screen to him so he could see what Tendo was talking about. “You know,” Tendo said, finally, “I’ve watched you grow up.”
Chuck frowned. “That’s a little weird.”
“I mean that in a fatherly way. You were this tiny kid wearing your dad’s clothes when you first walked into the Sydney Shatterdome. I was there, remember? Marshall Pentecost wanted to be there when the youngest pilot in history stepped into his first Jaegar.”
“Yeah, I remember. You were the J-Tech Chief back then, too.” Chuck nodded, and then frowned at the screen. “What is this?”
Tendo shook his head and sighed. “It’s the new Drift program that I upgraded. I was going to ask you to look at it, but listen. You wore your father’s clothes since you were 15.”
Chuck bristled. “I didn’t exactly have time to go shopping.”
“No, I know. I’m not saying that was bad. What I’m saying is, you’re now wearing someone else’s clothes.” Tendo looked at him up and down. “Raleigh Becket’s clothes, to be more exact. Weird change for me. Can’t imagine how weird for it is with your dad. I feel like a mother hen watching her baby chicks fly.”
Chuck stared. “Okay, now you’re being weird.”
iii. Mako Mori
With Mako, it was on purpose. He knew Raleigh would never cheat on him, knew Raleigh only saw Mako as a younger sister. He also knew Mako didn’t see Raleigh like a lover, and he also knew that Mako would shoot herself in the stomach before she got in between a relationship.
But he also knew that Mako and Raleigh were Drift partners, and he could never quite shrug it off. He swiped one of Raleigh’s old hoodies and shrugged it on, expecting it to feel constricting. He almost melted at how comfortable it was. He’d never owned a hoodie before. Well. His father had never owned a hoodie before. Also, it smelled like Raleigh, which made him sigh contently before he gained his composure back and ran out for his work-out session with Mako.
Mako, being Mako, had no idea he was wearing Raleigh’s clothes. But before Chuck could figure out how to get it across that he was wearing his boyfriend’s (and her Drift partner’s) clothes, she was shoving the wooden sword at him.
After a few rounds, Mako suddenly leaned in and sniffed at his shoulder. “What the fuck, Mako,” he said, bewildered.
“You smell like Raleigh.” She accused, twisted his arm a little more (ow), and sniffed at him again. “This is his sweater!” She pulled back when he wrenched his arm back out, and he took the moment to sweep her feet off the ground. She landed gracefully, but by the time he’d already pointed his sword at her throat. “That sweater,” she said, “is too big for you.”
“I think it’s called a hoodie.”
She frowned. “A hoodie? Americans are so uncreative with names. Put a hood on a sweater, and it becomes hoodie.” She dropped her sword to prowl around him. “It looks uncomfortable,” she concluded. “What happens when you lie down? Does the hood not get in your way? How about when you lean back?”
Chuck pursed his lips. “It’s comfortable.” He wanted to make a blanket out of it, to snuggle into it forever. He should have known look I’m wearing Raleigh’s clothes would be lost on Mako. It would have been lost on him, too. Two little kids, raised in the Shatterdome. “And it smells like Raleigh,” he grumbled. He didn’t quite mean to say that part out loud, but he buried his nose in it, and breathed deeply.
Mako frowned. “Do you like Raleigh’s smell?”
“Mako.” Chuck sighed. “You’re not getting the point.”
iv. Striker Eureka
He buried himself in Raleigh’s clothes. Shirt, hoodie, track pants, and even socks. He was kind of dragging the pants because the fucker had longer legs than he did and a thicker waist, so it kept sliding down, but he made it to the Striker.
Striker was only about half there. The parts of Striker that had survived the explosion had been fished out and put together, but there was only about a skeleton, and most of the cockpit had been blown out, but the restoration crew had managed to build a sort of a framework. So Chuck climbed into it, dragging Raleigh’s blanket behind him (and covered in Raleigh’s clothes).
“Striker,” he whispered. “You won’t judge me for wearing Raleigh’s shit, right?”
He felt like home in the Striker’s cockpit more than anywhere else, and combined with Raleigh’s clothes, he finally felt settled. He spread the blanket (swiped off Raleigh’s bed) onto the steel plating and curled onto it, flipping the hood over his head and burying his nose in his arms.
The Shatterdome was silent. He’d never experienced a silent Shatterdome. Everyone was always working, even at night. But now that the rift was closed, the Shatterdome actually took a break at night. He sighed and pulled half the blanket over himself, rolling into it, careful not to roll off the platform.
When he breathed in, Raleigh’s smell curled comfortably over him, almost like Raleigh was holding him. Tendo and his father were right. After enrolling in the Academy and having a Jaegar pilot for a father, he never really had time for new clothes. He wore his father’s old clothes, which had been too big, but he’d eventually grown into them.
He’d never had clothes for himself, and wearing something that belonged to someone that was closer to his age than his father made him feel weird.
His boyfriend. Chuck ducked his head deeper into Raleigh’s hoodie, hiding his blush even though no one was looking. The word still sent him shuddering in embarrassment. It seemed too mushy, too unreal. Every girl (and some men) in the world wanted a piece of Raleigh Becket, and here was Chuck, smothered in his clothes.
He wondered what his old man would say now, if he saw his son wearing nothing but something that belonged to Raleigh Becket. He himself felt weird.
Growing up, they kept calling it.
He’d kind of been neglecting Max since he started dating Raleigh, so Max was basking in his attention. Chuck was dressed in his Raleigh-attire. “Max,” he whispered, like Raleigh would hear even though he was in his own room (for once), “Raleigh’s starting to notice that his clothes are disappearing. What do I do?”
He didn’t know if it was okay for him to steal clothes from Raleigh’s closet. Max sniffed at his (Raleigh’s) shirt and drooled all over it, which Chuck took to mean it’s okay. Because obviously his dog could understand everything he was saying.
He ruffled Max’s head and slid over to his closet. It had been full of old gray shirts, combat pants, worn out jeans that were a size too big, and one leather jacket, but now it was full of all sorts of colors and fabrics. “I guess I took a bit too much, huh.” He told Max, who slobbered at his leg. “I think I like him. A lot.”
Still, he guessed he should be returning some, especially because Raleigh had mentioned his rapidly shrinking closet when he was slamming into Chuck last time, and who does that. Chuck hadn’t really had a normal relationship, but he was pretty sure talking about the laundry people stealing clothes wasn’t exactly pillow talk. “Right, boy?” He asked Max, who flopped his tongue at Chuck.
He gathered everything in his arms, looked at the clock, and sighed. “Maybe tomorrow. One day won’t hurt. Right?”
+ Raleigh Becket
Herc and Tendo were throwing him in long-suffering looks, which he didn’t really get. He kind of got Herc’s long-suffering look, since Raleigh was dating his only son. But not really, because it had been a while since they started dating and Herc had just been recently given him the look. Mako had sniffed at him the other day and asked, “Why is it called a hoodie?” out of nowhere. Since Mako was usually the very image of sensibility, he had no idea where the question had materialized from.
Yesterday, part of the Striker Eureka’s restoration crew had found a blanket in the cockpit, the very same day Raleigh’s disappeared from his bed, and Max kept drooling on him. Well, Max did that anyway, but he was doing it more gratuitously as of late. Which, Raleigh didn’t really mind, because Max was such a sweet dog, but lately his clothes had been disappearing at an alarming rate.
Alarming rate. He’d been so concerned about it that he mentioned it to Chuck during sex, and then Chuck had gotten this adorably beaten-down face. Raleigh wanted to punch himself after that, because who talked about missing laundry during sex? Especially to Chuck Hansen, someone who’d never had a normal relationship in his life?
He found Max rolling around at the foot of the restored Crimson Typhoon, so he picked up Max’s leash. “Come on, Max. I’m about to head to Chuck, anyway.” Max followed eagerly, slobbering over his shoes and then running forward.
Chuck’s door was slightly ajar when he got there, so he didn’t bother knocking. The door opened smoothly without a sound, and he saw Chuck sleeping on the bed, curled up on top of the blankets.
And in one of Raleigh’s missing hoodie and sweatpants. “No way.” Raleigh whispered, a grin tugging at his lips. He slid over to Chuck’s closet and tugged it open to find more of his clothes. Suddenly everyone’s weirdness was starting to make sense.
He sank lightly onto the bed, but Chuck was a light sleeper – had been trained to be one – and he stirred. “Hey,” Raleigh said, “It’s just me.” Chuck muttered incoherently, and Raleigh whispered, “So you’re my clothes thief.”
Chuck shot up so fast from his sleep that if Raleigh had slower reflexes, he would have lost a few teeth from Chuck’s skull crashing into his chin. Chuck drew back, looking adorably like a cornered rabbit. “What are you doing in my room?!”
Raleigh chuckled. “What, I can’t even come into your room?” He beckoned to Chuck’s torso. “You seem to be making full of my belongings.” He watched the flush spread quickly over Chuck’s face and decided to spare him the heart attack. “It’s okay if you wear my things, Chuck. Could’ve told me when I mentioned it, though.”
“I was – I was going to return it all.” Chuck groused, looking still like a kicked dog. “It just – it was comfortable.” Raleigh nodded, glancing at Chuck’s closet. Other than his things, the closet was full of military outfits. “It smelled like you, too.” Chuck whispered, and Raleigh looked up. “Made the nightmares stop.”
Raleigh couldn’t help it – he gathered Chuck into his arms and kissed him. “You’re sweet, Chuck.” He laughed, when they parted and Chuck looked bewildered. “I love you so, so much.”
Chuck flushed and dug his nose into Raleigh’s hoodie. It made Raleigh strangely aroused. “Me too,” he mumbled, ducking his head so the hood fell onto his eyes.
“I need my clothes back, really. This was my last shirt.” Raleigh pointed at the loose shirt he was wearing. Chuck nodded, but he looked crestfallen. “You can keep this outfit.” Raleigh grinned, tugging at the straps of the hoodie. “I like the idea of peeling my clothes off of you during sex.”