samanthahirr: (Trainer!Verse)
[personal profile] samanthahirr
Title: Never Close Our Eyes
Fandom: American Idol S8
Pairing: Kris Allen/Adam Lambert
Genre: Space Privateer AU, Romance, Action
Word Count: 14,300
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Sexual Content, Violence, Strong Language
Disclaimer: No infringement on the rights of real people intended. Not profiting in any way.

Notes: Written for the 2012 [livejournal.com profile] kradambigbang challenge, featuring some truly stunning graphics by [livejournal.com profile] akavertigo, with logos by rommalb. Fills my Kink Bingo "Wild Card" square with the kink "Sensation Play." Big thanks to [livejournal.com profile] idahophoenix for crucial feedback and to everyone on the KradamBangers Support mailing list for their encouragement. Beta by [livejournal.com profile] cinaea.

Summary: In a remote sector of the galaxy, captain Adam Lambert and his crew of privateers collect bounties off the cargo ships they destroy. A distress signal exposes Adam's darkest secret—a crime that could cost him his hard-won relationship with his pilot Kris. Meanwhile, one of Adam's old marks is coming to settle a score….


Art by akavertigo

Read the story on: ( Archive Of Our Own )  |  


"I repeat, this is the Indazita, requesting immediate assistance. We've lost power and are running out of emergency life support—" The words blurred into static.

Osman looked over his shoulder, his hand paused above the steering controls. "Captain?"

Adam looked from Osman's anxious face to Kris's, and then shook his head. "Hold your course."

"Thank god," Osman said.

Kris gaped. "What? Adam, what are you—"

Deepa burst into control, still buttoning her shirt, bare feet slapping the steel deck. "What's going on?" she demanded.

"Distress signal," Adam said.

That brought her up short. "Shit. Off the channel? Failing comms and life support?"

"It's a classic."

"Son of a bitch," she swore, tucking dark hair behind her ears. "We're not going to…." She raised her eyebrows.

"No."

Kris looked back and forth between the two of them, his confusion obvious. "Adam, we have to help them," he insisted. "There are people dying out there. We need to change course."

The comms crackled clear again. "This is Captain Ryce of the Indazita. If anyone is in range, please, please, we need immediate assistance—"

Kris looked at him expectantly, clearly waiting for Adam to come to his senses and do the right thing. Because it didn't occur to Kris that Adam could do otherwise. And Adam wished to the sun three times and back that he could live the rest of his life without disappointing Kris, but he didn't have time to explain it right now.

No, that was a lie. He had time, he had—

"We're a ten-man crew. Please, only hours left!"

—he had hours, apparently. But memories were threatening to slip their leash, and he needed to get as far from the Indazita as possible.

He turned his eyes to the display, refusing to watch Kris's reaction. "Deepa," Adam said, his voice cracking.

His first mate silenced the transmission.

"Adam!" Kris said, reaching for his arm.

Adam knocked his hand away. "It's a trap," he said. "They're not in any distress." He sneered the last word, bile rising in his throat.

"You don't know that," Kris protested. "How could you possibly know that? They could be dying, and we're the only ones close enough to help. Protocol requires that we—"

"Your protocols, not mine," he cut Kris off. "Deepa, as soon as we're in range of a patrol, notify them of the Indazita's coordinates."

She raised an eyebrow. "You don't wanna go out there? Show them what real distress feels like?" Her fingers were drifting toward the firing console.

"Just notify the patrols," he said firmly.

Kris's voice was hushed when he said, "Don't do this, please. Just…just open comms; talk to them."

Adam couldn't ignore the plea in that voice. When he glanced at Kris's face, he saw something dawning in his eyes—something that looked like horror. Adam ached with the loss, but he couldn't deal with it now—he could barely breathe. "Leave it, Kris," he said.

Kris took a deep breath, set his jaw, and Adam knew he'd made up his mind. "No. Protocol requires that we respond to another vessel in distress. I'm responding."

Kris turned to face the console, and Adam grabbed his shoulder. "Try it and I'll take you off," he snapped, panic wielding the words like a whip.

Kris paled and fell back a step.

Deepa's and Osman's heads turned at the threat. "Kris, man, you can't," Osman said, a little wild around the eyes. "Adam's right; it's a trap."

"I mean it," Adam said, his voice pitched low and shaking. "I'll do it."

"Maybe you should. Then I wouldn't have to watch this," Kris snarled, gesturing to control, to the crew all grim-faced and guilty.

"Kris," Adam said, and it wasn't a plea, it wasn't, but he needed Kris's trust on this.

Kris shook his head and turned away to pace across the cramped deck.

"Osman," Adam said, "get us out of here."

"We're gone," Osman said, and fired up the secondary thrusters.


Art by akavertigo


Adam awoke to the shudders of the main engine powering down and sat up in bed. He was alone. He scowled at their blankets; he didn't think Kris had joined him at all last night. Fuck. That was a first in months.

Kris had disappeared after the showdown in control yesterday, unwilling to hear Adam's justifications for abandoning the Indazita. And he wasn't done being stubborn, apparently.

The intercom in their room chimed, and Deepa's voice came through. "We're a couple tera-klicks out from Aboreo Station. Kris, anytime you're ready to take over the steering…."

They'd be landing in a half hour, then. Adam hurried to his storage locker and pulled out his two-tone red trousers and silver jacket. He hesitated over his customary white shirt, but finally threw it back and pulled out a slithery black tank top. Kris loved the feel of it against his skin, and Adam wasn't above playing dirty today.

He finally saw Kris when he opened the door to control, there in the empty chair at the navigation console. "Kris," Adam started.

Kris spun around and hit him with a glare that could burn solar systems.

Adam covered his hurt by frowning right back.

"Judging by that scowl, he's still pissed at you," Deepa said.

Adam turned his frown on her. "What?" he asked sharply.

"Nothing. Here," she passed him a stack of reports. "The inventory lists for the Novos and Morven cargoes."

Adam's eyes flicked once over the top page before he stuffed them in the pocket of his jacket. Those reports always made Kris uncomfortable. Adam glanced up and stared at the back of Kris's head, noting the uncharacteristic tension in the set of the pilot's shoulders.

Deepa took her seat and cleared her throat. At Adam's querying glance, she said, "I was just thinking…. I trust Kris not to crash us into the nearest moon out of spite, but he could make this a hell of a rough landing if he wanted."

"Don't give him any ideas," Adam said, only half-joking. He ached to go over there and massage the knots out of Kris's stiff neck and shoulders, to get that familiar, wide smile pointed his way again.

She snorted. "It's nothing he hasn't already considered, I'm sure. But maybe you should talk to him?"

"There's no point talking when he won't listen." Adam had learned that lesson months ago.

"Try again," she said, and this time the steel of her former command edged into her voice. She held his gaze until he relented and stepped forward.

"Hey," Adam said, low, for Kris's ears only. "Can we go talk about this? Privately?"

"No," Kris said coolly. "The flight deck is near capacity; this is going to be a tricky enough landing without you distracting me with bullshit platitudes." He wouldn't even look at Adam.

Adam pinched his eyebrow against a growing headache and backed off.

Deepa swore and fastened her safety straps. Adam sat in his chair and did the same. Just in case.


Art by akavertigo


Kris's landing was perfect, the textbook rewritten by a poet. Even the customs agent remarked on it when he boarded with his checklist.

Adam was heading toward the loading ramp when his feet slowed and his gaze slid to the escape pods. He gave in to the compulsion to run a quick inspection without questioning it—until the first door slid open, and self-awareness rudely interrupted his ritual. The panic from yesterday buzzed in his blood again, a low hum of distress, and he had to take several deep breaths to fight it back. He kept his movements slow and deliberate as he programmed the diagnostics, as if controlling his breathing now could control fate down the line.

Doug surprised him as he was running the final checks. The weapons sergeant leaned into the third pod—more than they needed for a crew of five, but better safe than sorry—his thick forearms braced on the steel doorframe above his head. "So how much do we expect to get?" Doug asked.

"At least 6,700 for the prizes. But Dulane Colliery probably won't top 500 for our own haul."

Doug grunted unhappily. "How much are you setting aside for upgrades?"

Adam shrugged. "That depends how much we get paid and what you see out there. Make a list of what you think we should get, and I'll tell you if I can afford it."

Doug nodded and jerked his chin toward the loading ramp. Adam waited for the last diagnostic cycle to finish successfully before setting the system pane down and following Doug off the ship.

At least two dozen other ships crowded the flight deck, crews running between, loading cargo and dodging conveyors. All of the corporations were represented—uniforms in gold, green, brown, black…even the rich blue of the Perth Corporation concentrated around a convoy of Perth ships on the far side of the hangar. There were a few independent crews scattered across the deck, but fewer than last year, and even fewer than the year before.

A quick scan of the armaments on display confirmed what Adam already knew; his Lausanne was the best-equipped ship on the station—aside from the Perth convoy, of course. He caught a few speculative looks from the other independent crews, clearly envious of the wealth of firepower and shielding Adam had acquired over the past few years. Doug clapped Adam's shoulder and headed off toward the Perth convoy, his eyes alight at the prospect of scouting out the newest weaponry on the market.

Adam hurried to the Dulane Colliery office on the fifth tier, a small, windowless room far removed from the spacious luxury of the first, second, and third tiers. A small gold plaque marked the door, which opened to reveal an overabundance of opulence. Every surface was crowded with ornate knick-knacks. There seemed to be as much luxury and decoration crammed into this tiny room as in the vast Perth suite occupying the first and second tiers.

The receptionist took his name with a bored smile and asked him to wait. She got up from her desk and squeezed between the crowd of inlaid cabinets and potted plants to reach the desk of her employer, who was sitting in plain sight just ten feet away. Adam rolled his eyes at the artificial pomp but held his tongue. Rollin would acknowledge his presence only when the factor felt like it.

Rollin finally deigned to acknowledge him, looking up at his secretary's soft prompting and then turning his head as though just noticing Adam. He beckoned Adam over.

Adam waited for the secretary to fight her way back to her seat before navigating the tricky route to Rollin's desk, trying not to knock anything over. His mind boggled at the prospect of Rollin trying to squeeze his enormously obese body between the jade statues and delicate porcelain lamps. It seemed more likely that the office had been installed around him.

"Captain Lambert," Rollin said, when Adam had finally dropped into the chair across from him. "Good to see you. What cargo have you brought me today?"

Adam handed over their shipping manifest: "Conductive polymer chemicals from Veyko."

"Ah, perfect," Rollin said without interest. "Just what our facilities need."

Adam very carefully didn't roll his eyes at the lie. "And as for our…other assignment," he began.

Rollin sat forward eagerly, reaching out a meaty hand. "Yes?"

Adam lowered his voice and said, "We took a Torch ship going—the Novos, and a Cestilian freighter coming—the Morven." He passed over the inventory lists Deepa had made before they'd detonated the two vessels.

Rollin smiled his shark's smile. "Yes, I'd heard about the Novos. What a pity for the Torch Brothers." He started flipping through the data sheets, the fingers of his right hand typing briskly on the console. "And the Morven. My, my, all that processed crude."

While the factor calculated his own appraisal of the cargo they'd destroyed, Adam looked around him. He instinctively checked behind him, expecting to find Kris in one of his usual spots, perched on the carved-ivory filing closet or kicking his heels against the marble water feature. Kris was still keeping his distance, though.

Adam set his jaw and turned back to Rollin just as the factor set the papers down.

"A total of 55,000 credits, if I'm not mistaken. That makes your cut 8,250. Agreed?"

Rollin gave Adam the same patronizing smile he always used—the one that said he was doing Adam a favor instead of adhering to the terms of their unofficial agreement. It made Adam want to punch him in the face. But 55,000 credits was more than fair market value for the cargo Adam had destroyed, and 8,250 was a whole lot more than their own estimate.

It said something about the goodwill Rollin's winking favors engendered that after two years of working for him, Adam still expected to get screwed over every time.

He stuck out his hand and shook on it anyway. "Agreed."

Rollin tapped a few buttons on his console, turned around in his chair, and pulled a piece of paper from a safe. "I have something else for you, too," he said, his smile twitching into something that bordered on friendly. He handed the paper over to Adam, who blinked at the coded message.

"What's this?"

"Rumor, Captain Lambert. Word has it that Perth lost one of its new trainers when you took the Belerica several months ago. You didn't happen to notice one of them in the cargo hold?" Rollin's eyes were sharp on him.

Adam twitched at the cuffs of his jacket, cinched almost too-tight around his wrists. "That was the freighter hauling titanium wiring, right? With the escorts? Huh. Must've missed it."

"I'm surprised you could miss something so valuable in your inventory." Rollin's knowing smirk said he knew Adam's secrets—all of them.

That was the look that kept Adam waiting for a knife in the back. Rollin knew too much about him and his crew to ever sever their relationship cleanly.

Adam made himself shrug. "They're small, right? All we knew to expect was the wiring."

Rollin's smile widened, but he didn't challenge Adam on it. "Well," he said, bona fide excitement creeping into his voice, "as it turns out, we think they did lose a trainer. Which is a huge hit to their bottom line, let me tell you. And that," he tapped the paper Adam was still holding, "is a notice that the government is responding to the loss by auditing Perth's trainer program. A full investigation into its legality and ethics. We couldn't have possibly planned an outcome like this! Once this hits the broadcast, their shares are going to take one hell of a hit. You can't imagine how much damage you've done for us."

Adam laid the paper down on the desk. "You're welcome?"

Rollin shook his head. "I haven't even thanked you yet. I've gotten permission to grant you a bonus for this little coup—just a small token of appreciation. Based on the estimated value of a trainer for this fiscal year through the next five, Dulane Colliery is pleased to issue you another 39,000 credits."

Adam couldn't breathe for a second, his eyes wide with credit marks. "Are you serious?"

"Yes!" Rollin crowed. "Honestly, we couldn't be more pleased. You've single-handedly put Perth's R&D on hold for at least a year, possibly more. This is the first significant blow anyone's landed on them in this sector. It's really shaken up their execs."

Adam's thoughts immediately turned to the unusually large Perth convoy on the flight deck. "Does that have anything to do with the armada they've got parked down there?"

"Most definitely. And speaking of...." Rollin leaned back and steepled his fingers. "An escort that deep means they're transporting something especially valuable—possibly even a replacement trainer. I don't think I need to tell you how grateful the commissioners would be if you managed to take out a second one. Especially in this political climate, with an open government investigation—a second loss could sink the program for good."

Adam flinched, but his eyes stayed focused on Rollin. For the first time all day, he was glad he couldn't see Kris's expression. He fussed with his sleeves again and said, "Even 39,000 credits can't buy the armaments I'd need to take on that many escorts."

Rollin's pleasure dimmed, but he shrugged and took back the paper. "Well, it can't hurt to keep your ears open. In the meantime, how would you like to deliver a load of steel bearings to Colony Eisenbach for us?"


Art by akavertigo


For the hundredth time, Adam wished Rollin would provide them with better cover than moving glorified paperweights from station to station. It was getting harder to brush off the stares when he deposited his payout at the bursar's office. And nearly 50,000 credits for a polymer load…that was just ludicrous.

Adam pocketed the receipts and walked back out to the flight deck, taking his time now to examine the various cargoes being loaded. There was a light-weight cruiser taking on what looked like perishable food stuffs, the boxes marked with the Zaaki Corp's exotic fruit label. While that haul would bring them a tempting percentage, he changed his mind when he noted the lack of uniforms on the crew. He and his crew had struggled for years to make a living as independent transporters before going bankrupt; they'd none of them take kindly to attacking 'one of their own.' And Deepa might very well kill him for it.

He focused his attention on a larger vessel, this one crewed by InterLight employees in garish orange jumpsuits. A stack of large containers waited alongside their loading ramp, branded with the silk farm logos of the New Trang Colony. He would have to watch if they were loading or unloading.

Two men jogged past with empty lorries bound for the Perth side of the hangar, and Adam followed their progress, noting the security perimeter Perth had created around their large cargo freighter. A dozen blue-uniformed guards stood ready, a dozen rifles fully-charged. The Aboreo Station security team was keeping its distance from the Perth encampment, eyeing the corporate guards warily. In fact, the entire flight deck seemed hushed, tense.

"They're nervous," Kris said.

Adam whirled around to find Kris standing behind him, a small smile on his lips as he surveyed the room. Adam sighed with relief to be back on speaking terms. "More so than usual," he agreed. "Not that I blame them."

"Says the biggest predator in the room."

Adam had to smile. "What can I say? I don't like interlopers scaring off my prey. And that show of force…that's bound to set the other crews on edge." He ran his eyes over the Perth guards one last time before stepping back to bump his shoulder against Kris's. Kris didn't shift away from the physical contact, and Adam felt the tightness around his heart ease just a bit. "So what do you think?" he asked, jerking his chin toward the flight deck.

"There's a shipment of Applen liquor getting ready to head out. A Ten-Segai ship, just behind the Zaaki."

Adam followed Kris's pointing arm to a small ship he'd overlooked. Small, fast, and on-loading one of the more costly cargoes in the hangar. "Nice catch," Adam said. "Come on, let's get a closer look." He started a circuitous walk back to his ship, Kris keeping step and pointing out various details about the ships and crews they passed.

"Ideal," Adam murmured, after they'd passed the Ten-Segai Company's ship. Bo would use her wiles to find out their flight plan later.

Kris nodded. "So, I was wondering…." His steps slowed, and Adam matched his new pace. "D'you think anyone here might have helped the Indazita?"

Of course Kris hadn't forgotten about that.

"No."

Kris shot him a quick, cautious look. "We could ask. Maybe one of them knows something about her."

The thrill of their big payout and the excitement of selecting their next score evaporated. "No. Any ship that got close to her wouldn't be here now," Adam said, putting every ounce of certainty into his tone. "She wasn't in distress. There's no reason to ask."

"You keep saying that," Kris said, impatience edging his voice.

Adam quickened his steps, waving to Bo as they approached their own loading ramp.

"Don't ignore me," Kris demanded, falling behind.

"Let it go," Adam whispered, more a prayer for Kris's capitulation than anything else.

Adam pulled out a receipt for his engineer, who was clearly waiting for her paycheck before heading out on shore leave. He handed it over and kept walking, not even bothering to share the good news about their latest windfall. Bo's elated shriek was drowned out by the clang of Adam's boots stomping up the metal ramp.

Kris caught up to him in the corridor, falling into step. "I'm not letting it go. People's lives could have been in danger out there. They may be dead by now. And you didn't lift a finger to help them."

"I told you—"

"You told me it was a trap. That's all you keep saying! All I want to know is what makes you so sure? I want to believe you were right. Explain it to me. Please."

Adam bit his lip and kept walking.

Kris skipped ahead of him and put a hand to his chest to stop him. "You're a mess, Adam. You barely slept last night; you're giving yourself an ulcer; I can see the headache between your—"

Adam grabbed Kris's upper arms and forced him backward into a shallow alcove between two ventilation bulkheads. "You're my headache right now," he growled, using his extra height to loom over Kris.

Kris glared up at him, and then the hard set to his jaw eased. His hands came up to rest on the front of Adam's jacket. "I don't want to be," he said earnestly.

Adam's temper settled immediately. "I know."

"Is it so hard to give me an explanation? I don't have your experience with all this. I'm trying to learn, here."

"I know," Adam repeated. "But this isn't the right time. Later—a lot later—I'll try to explain." He brushed a tentative kiss across Kris's forehead, hoping Kris would allow the caress…and believe the lie.

Kris's arms wrapped around Adam's waist, and he pressed up against Adam. "All right," he said, his lips brushing Adam's collarbone as he spoke.

And even though Adam felt guilty for Kris's confusion, for lying, he couldn't deny his relief at having the fight over and Kris back in his arms. He nuzzled down Kris's temple, tipping Kris's face up for a proper kiss, and Kris allowed that, too, arching up for it and meeting his lips for a long, soft kiss.

"You were such an asshole yesterday," Kris sighed when their mouths parted.

"I'm sorry," Adam said sincerely, and was rewarded with another kiss, sweeter, longer.

"I haven't seen you like that since…the beginning."

The comparison cut deep, reminding Adam how he'd treated Kris when they'd met. "Really sorry," he repeated, squeezing Kris even tighter.

Kris gave a low moan and caught Adam's hair, pulling Adam's head down to lick into his mouth, tongue rubbing against his in Adam's favorite dance. By the time he let Adam go, they were both gasping. And then Kris pressed his forehead to Adam's shoulder and said, "You threatened me."

Adam's heart throbbed painfully. "I wouldn't have," he blurted, clutching at Kris's shoulders. "I swear. You know I swore I would never do that to you—"

"I couldn't be sure of anything, you were so upset."

Honestly, in the moment, Adam hadn't been sure himself. But he would do anything now to make Kris stop hiding from him, to take that devastated note from his voice. He loved Kris, and the thought of hurting him now was unconscionable. Maybe if he just told Kris, shared the whole, shameful truth of what they'd done, maybe Kris could forgive him for yesterday, for all of it.

He opened his mouth…and stopped himself before he'd formed the first word.

A few kisses and he was ready to confess everything? How the hell had Kris learned to manipulate someone like that? Another stab of guilt flared when he realized he'd taught it to Kris, himself, in their first weeks together. He pushed that thought away firmly. It was far too late to undo his past crimes—any of them.

Adam blew out a breath and took a step back, resisting Kris's hold on his waist. "You really think you can seduce it out of me?"

Kris looked up, his gaze assessing. Adam couldn't imagine ever thinking of Kris as naïve again. "It was working, wasn't it?"

"That's low, Kristopher."

"So's this," Kris said, his hands slipping inside Adam's open jacket to touch the thin black shirt underneath. "You know how much I love this, how good it feels." He stroked his fingers across Adam's nipples, and Adam gasped and shivered with renewed awareness of the brush of silk and catch of silver micro-wires on sensitive skin. "Yeah," Kris purred, pressing his advantage. "You knew what you were doing when you put this on. You wanted me distracted."

True, but Adam wasn't about to admit that aloud.

Kris was distracting himself, anyway, pupils dilating, leaning in closer to let his breath fall hot over Adam's skin. Adam stifled his groan and stepped into Kris again, pinning him against the wall. He reached between them and palmed Kris's cock, finding him half-hard in his jumpsuit.

Kris writhed against his hand and pinched one of Adam's nipples as payback. They both shuddered at the sensations, mouths coming together, breathless and struggling for more.

"Damn it, can't you keep it in your room?" Osman said, right behind Adam.

Kris's eyes flew wide, his breath escaping in a startled laugh.

"You know this isn't something we need to see, right?"

Adam's face flushed with embarrassment, and he closed his eyes to find some composure before gritting out, "Thanks, I'll keep that in mind." He could feel Kris slipping out from under his hands, the heat that had built up between their bodies vanishing too quickly. So much for their reconciliation. "Did you want something?"

"Yeah," Osman said. "I heard a rumor about a fucking huge paycheck."

Adam scrubbed at his lips, straightened the already-perfect fall of his jacket, and turned to face his systems engineer. "Your timing, as always, is terrible," he informed Osman before dragging out a receipt.

Osman took one look at the number, grabbed Adam, tried to twirl him, and then gave up and just kissed his cheek. "What the hell! How'd we get so much?"

The how was one more fight Adam didn't want to have with Kris today. His eyes flicked up and down the empty corridor as he said, "I'll explain it to everyone after we ship out, okay?"

"Okay, sure, fine. Holy cow," Osman sighed, pressing the paper to his heart.

"Don't spend it all in one place," Adam advised. "And we're loading in at 10:00 tomorrow—don't be late."

Osman saluted and ran toward the loading ramp.

Adam looked at the other receipts in his hand and huffed. There would be no chance for privacy with Kris until everyone had been paid. He tugged at his lapels again and headed deeper into the ship.


Art by akavertigo


Deepa had her hand out the moment he stepped into control, her white teeth flashing.

Adam couldn't hold his frown in the face of her enthusiasm. He pressed the remaining receipts into her hand.

She took one look and whistled. "I thought Bo was telling stories again. This is...this is huge."

"It makes a dent," Adam agreed. "Get you your next ship a few months sooner, at least."

"A few months? Try a year!"

"There's Doug's, too, if you wouldn't mind. And tell Bo to get details on that Ten-Segai ship loading up on Applen liquor. Oh, and make sure everyone knows to be back by 10:00 tomorrow."

"No problem." She pocketed the receipts and then gave Adam a suspicious look. "You in a hurry to get rid of us for some reason…oh."

He didn't need to ask what she had seen. He was distracted, aroused, frustrated, and he desperately needed some privacy so he and Kris could pick up where they'd left off. Preferably before Kris came to his senses and remembered he was still pissed at Adam.

"I take it things are still…unresolved between you two." She kicked her heels up on a console. "What's the fight about?"

"It's none of your business."

"Bullshit," she grinned. "You may be the captain, but he's the pilot. If he refuses to fly, do you really want to trust this ship to Osman again? Come on. I'm your friend more than his," she offered.

Adam sighed and admitted defeat. There was no sense ordering her to start shore leave already; Deepa only followed orders when she was good and ready to. And she clearly wasn't ready yet. "He doesn't understand about the Indazita—how we could be so sure."

Her smile dropped and she straightened in her chair. "Can't he just take your word for it?"

"Not this time."

"And you haven't explained about the—"

Adam jerked his head at her, and she cut herself short. Kris was listening in; he always was. Adam and Deepa would have to choose their words carefully.

"I can't," he said. "It's not just my secret."

She considered that for a moment. "I would trust you to make that decision for us," she finally said, lifting her brows at him. "You already trust Kris with our lives; that's good enough for all of us. This isn't any different."

"It is," Adam muttered, unable to explain what he was really afraid of.

She stood up and pocketed the receipts. "I don't think so," she said, and put a hand on his arm. "He's already forgiven us our profession and what we did to him. I'd bet he's capable of more." She raised her voice, as if to guarantee Kris would overhear her next words. "I think you have to decide how much you really trust him. And then make the decision of how much to tell him about us."

Adam glared at her. After hearing that, there was no way Kris would let it go.

She ignored his anger and said blithely, "I'll take care of Doug and track down Bo. You're staying in control?"

"Yeah," he mumbled. "Sure."

"Okay. I'll clear the ship—make sure you two can talk." She gave him an encouraging smile.

"Great," he sighed. He braced his arms on a console and let his head hang down as he tried to collect his thoughts.

Deepa opened the door, said, "Play nice," and left the control room. When Adam eventually looked over his shoulder, he found Kris leaning against the inside of the door, arms crossed, watching him.

"Baby," Adam started to say, but Kris talked over him.

"This is about trust? You don't trust me?"

"It's not. It's not like that."

"I was right there, you know. Your body was practically screaming 'fight-or-flight.' And Deepa was ready to go in all lit up. Even Osman was rattled. Something about that ship got to them and got to you, made you afraid—"

Adam flailed his hand in a categorical denial.

"You can't pretend everything was fine. You were so worked up about that ship that you brought up old threats. And now you're keeping secrets from me."

"It wasn't that ship," Adam blurted, the words slipping out before he could stop them.

Kris missed his confession, still busy laying into Adam. "This is my life. This is all I have. You can't do this to me, keep me in the dark when I don't have a choice—"

Stricken, Adam cut him off. "You do have a choice: you can leave. I promised I wouldn't keep you. If you want off this crew, just tell me."

"I don't want to leave," Kris corrected him, exasperated. "I'm staying with you. So I need you to stop keeping secrets from me."

Adam hesitated for a minute, avoiding Kris's gaze. "Kris, we've done things—I've done things—that I can barely live with. We can't even forgive ourselves—how can I ask you to forgive us?"

"That's not up to you," Kris said slowly. "Let me make up my own mind."

That's what it came down to—Adam's shame and the fear Kris couldn't forgive him. There was no way to deal with either of those but to let Kris decide for himself.

Shoulders slumping in defeat, Adam nodded. Kris raised his eyebrows, surprised at his victory. Adam turned and accessed the smallest console, searching through the records for the file he needed.

Kris moved closer.

"I want you to— You need to read something," Adam said.

"Okay," Kris said, and came to stand next to him in front of the small monitor.

Adam's fingers trembled slightly as he found the right broadcast file and displayed it on the screen. He shifted back to let Kris stand in front of him and started the scroll. Adam's eyes followed the text while Kris read snatches of the survivors' accounts aloud.

Adam wrapped his arms around Kris, holding on while he could, before Kris was completely disgusted with him. They watched the words scrolling up the screen as the details of the George Town's destruction flashed by. When it reached the last section, the graphic descriptions Adam couldn't bear to relive, he closed his eyes, ducked his head, and pressed a kiss to the warm skin of Kris's neck, then another, and another.

Kris squirmed in his grip and tipped his neck invitingly, but also scolded, "Adam, I can't read like this. Come on, did you want me to see this or not?"

Adam sighed and left off, going back to watching the screen as the final, damning numbers flashed up. Five survivors out of a crew of seventeen.

The scroll ended, and Kris turned in his arms to look at him. "They'd responded to a distress signal," he said thoughtfully.

Adam switched off the screen and nodded.

"Is this what you were thinking about yesterday? You were scared of a similar ambush?"

"I wasn't thinking about it. I was remembering it."

Kris looked surprised, sympathetic, and Adam wished he could leave it at that—claim to be one of those five survivors—but he wasn't that good a liar, not with Kris.

"I sent that distress signal."

Kris took a step back, nearly out of his embrace. Adam's fingers tightened in Kris's jumpsuit, but he resisted the urge to pull him back in.

Adam tried to temper the truth, tried to excuse murder. "You know what I do for a living. What we all do. You've been helping us for months. But before you, it wasn't so easy; Osman could barely hold a straight line. So at first we didn't hunt. A few years ago, I got the idea to set up in remote areas far off the patrol lanes and lure them out. It worked great for the first few prizes. No one put up a fight, no one got hurt. It was so easy. But the problem with setting out a lure is we couldn't control who responded."

The words poured out faster, getting away from Adam now that he was finally speaking them aloud. "You know how carefully we choose our prizes. They have to have the right kind of cargo, minimal armaments, a corporation crew that won't fight life and limb to protect their ship…and they have to be up to code. The George Town…she was old, decrepit, should have been decommissioned decades ago. After we'd disabled her engines, we kept waiting for them to abandon ship, like the other crews. But they only had one functioning escape pod—only room enough for five. The other twelve…twelve, fuck. They were dead from radiation poisoning within half an hour."

"Jesus," Kris whispered. His eyes were closed, but he was listening, swaying in Adam's hands, a terrible, sad expression on his face.

"We didn't know how bad they'd been damaged, didn't realize they were trapped, dying—we didn't know anything 'til we risked a boarding party. And after," he shuddered at the memory of their corpses, "after, we set the charges and took off. We never reported the prize, never told anyone what we did. That's the only reason we don't have federal warrants over our heads." It was the cardinal rule of privateering—no one got hurt. The government was stretched too thin to police petty theft and corporate sabotage, but murder was a different matter. And a dozen murders…. "No one knows it was us—was this crew that killed those people." A white lie: Rollin's increased favors in the months after meant he probably had suspicions, if not outright proof.

Kris was breathing hard, still not looking at him.

Adam couldn't bear to hear whatever Kris would have to say. He pulled Kris to him with a sharp jerk, wrapping his arms around him before he could escape. Kris's arms wound around him, perhaps on instinct, and Adam breathed in the scent of his hair, whispering, "I know how to set a good trap. And yesterday's distress signal, five tera-klicks off the patrol lanes, just outside un-boosted comm range, it was perfect—a perfect trap."

"And you just went past. That means they stayed out there, sending that signal, waiting for somebody else to answer," Kris said. "Deepa wanted to go after them…."

Another crime on his long list of sins. "The Lausanne may be strong enough to take on two Perth escorts at once, but yesterday, we panicked. I panicked. All I could think about was the George Town." And how to keep this from you, he didn't say aloud. He tightened his grip on Kris and held on to what he had.

"You were right," Kris said after a long time, the words muffled against Adam's shirt.

Adam hmmed a question.

"It was better not knowing," Kris whispered. His next breath was ragged, and Adam had to cup Kris's face, turn it up and kiss him before Kris could throw accusations at him, pull away and hide again.

Kris wrenched out of his grip and swung, his fist connecting with Adam's jaw, making nerves light up and throb with pain. Adam gaped and touched his face, shocked, but even more surprised when Kris lunged forward for another kiss, hanging onto Adam's neck so Adam couldn't retreat.

"You did this," Kris panted in between desperate kisses that sparked in Adam's blood and made his mouth feel swollen and bruised. "Damn you. God damn you." He shoved at Adam's jacket, and Adam shrugged it off and let it fall to the floor in a silver heap. "You made me—" Kris's voice choked off, like he couldn't bear to finish the thought.

"I'm sorry," Adam panted, willing to answer for whichever sin Kris was laying at his feet: ignoring him; lying to him; shanghaiing him into a life of piracy; making him fall in love with a coward and a murderer.

Kris's mouth found his throat, and he bit hard enough to make Adam cry out. "You son of a bitch," Kris growled, and Adam nodded his agreement. "Back, back," Kris ordered, pushing against his stomach.

Adam let Kris direct him backward, until his knees bumped the seat of his chair, and Kris was urging him down. Adam sat, eyes flying wide as Kris climbed on top of him, knees bracketing Adam's own as he reached up and started pulling down the zipper of his grey jumpsuit.

"Oh, fuck," Adam moaned, finally understanding what Kris was after.

Distract me, Kris's lips begged.

Don't let me think, his body demanded.

Adam obeyed, pulling Kris's head down to kiss him again, to drive all thoughts from his mind with raw sensation. Kris hissed and bit Adam's lip, anger hot between them, and Adam took it gladly. He helped Kris get the jumpsuit off his shoulders so Adam's hands could skate down bare skin, freeing Kris's arms and then tugging the material lower, down to his hips.

"Yeah, that's—" Kris panted. "C'mon." Kris's fingers found one of Adam's nipples and pinched hard before soothing the sting with gentle circles over the sheer fabric.

Adam arched at the sensations before touching the neckline of his black shirt. "Should I take this—"

"No," Kris said. "Leave it on." Kris was grinding against Adam's stomach, his eyes rolling back with pleasure. "Yeah."

Adam didn't wait for further instructions. One hand caught the back of Kris's neck and dragged him down. He sucked Kris's lower lip into his mouth and slipped his hand down Kris's jumpsuit. Kris bucked up into his seeking fingers, hardening cock finding a familiar home in Adam's fist. Adam stroked and sucked, his body as attuned to Kris's pleasure as Kris was to his, both of them moaning into the kiss until they were breathless.

Kris fought his way free of the kiss and looked down at Adam, his eyes dark and unreadable. "You're gonna fuck me," he said. "Right here. Just like this."

Adam gulped and nodded, blood abandoning his brain for his cock, and his heart pounding double-time. "Anything," he promised. At Kris's pointed look, Adam put his hands to work undoing his belt and opening his trousers. Kris kept up, shoving his jumpsuit down even further, revealing perfect, smooth skin from collarbones to hips. Adam stared helplessly as his fingers worked on autopilot, freeing his stiff cock from painfully tight pants.

Kris contorted above him, getting the jumpsuit wedged down across Adam's thighs. Kris's eyes fell to Adam's cock and a smirk tipped his frown in the right direction. And it was that expression—that first, pleased look on Kris's face—that almost broke Adam's heart. He wanted to take Kris back to their quarters, lay him out on their bed and make love to him properly, remind him how much Adam loved him, how much Adam was willing to do for him. But Kris didn't want that from him now; he would think Adam was trying to hide something again.

Kris met Adam's eyes, and Adam wondered how much of that Kris had caught, if his heart had skipped a beat, if his breath had caught in his chest. Kris didn't give anything away, his smile slowly fading before he raised his right hand and licked across his palm.

"Oh fuck," Adam groaned, and all thoughts of going slow went out the airlock.

Kris licked his skin thoroughly, pink tongue curling between each finger, getting his hand dripping wet. Adam was paralyzed by the show until Kris reached down and wrapped that hand around Adam's cock, palming the head and spreading his saliva down.

"Shit," Adam hissed. "God damn it."

Kris twisted his wrist and pumped his hand a few times, sending waves of pleasure shooting up Adam's spine. Adam's hips bucked into the tease, and something flickered across Kris's face too quick for Adam to name. "Okay," Kris said, and if it sounded like a question more than an order, Adam didn't call him on it.

"Okay," Adam agreed, and slid down lower in the chair to find the angle where their bodies aligned. He held his wet cock steady and guided Kris down with a hand on his waist, a thumb stroking his favorite spot just inside Kris's hip bone. Kris eased himself down, slowly engulfing Adam in tight heat until the head of his cock was in and he could let go, pull Kris close for a long kiss.

Kris's breath escaped on a ragged gasp, his fingers fisting in Adam's hair as their lips clung and their bodies came together, inch by gradual inch. When Kris was seated on Adam's lap at last, Adam's cock throbbing in the silk of him, Kris finally leaned back and met his eyes. Kris's old smile was there, bright in his eyes and curving his lips, as if relieved to find Adam right where he'd left him.

Adam smiled back and rubbed a thumb over his cheek, whispered, "Love you."

He saw the moment reality intruded, Kris's blissful smile fading as he remembered the fight. Adam answered the only way he could: with a sharp jerk of his hips.

Kris gasped and moved with him, grinding down into the next shallow thrust. A moan spilled from his lips, and his eyes cleared again, adrenaline and lust obliterating everything.

"You're so beautiful," Adam said, his hands sliding over Kris's chest, greedy for all that skin. Kris arched into his hands, hips working over Adam in small circles and lip caught between his teeth. Kris's cock was trapped between their stomachs, dragging across Adam's shirt, liquid shivers moving across Adam's skin, and oh, Adam would wear this shirt every day if Kris wanted.

Kris was grinning, his pupils dilated, head lolling side to side in pleasure. When Adam slipped his hand down to squeeze Kris's cock, Kris's body clenched tight around Adam's, stealing his breath away with the almost unbearable friction, the sweetest drag. Adam retaliated by lifting Kris up by the hips and dropping him, gravity driving Adam's cock in deep. Kris's hands were still tangled in Adam's hair, and he tugged sharply in encouragement.

"Up, baby, help me," Adam panted.

Kris eased himself up before dropping down onto Adam's next thrust. "So good," Kris breathed, and lifted up again.

Their rhythm was slow and harsh, rough and demanding, Kris's grip tight enough to yank hairs loose from Adam's scalp, Adam's grip hard enough to leave bruises on Kris's thighs, and the thought of those marks made him thrust faster. He began stroking Kris's cock in earnest, slick with precum and sweat.

Kris started to fall apart, his breath frantic, voicing the whimpers that Adam bit back. "So close," Kris said, and Adam agreed with a slurred, "Yeah," his balls tightening, drawing close to his body.

"Now, baby, let go," Adam finally whispered, and pulled him down and close as his cock jerked inside Kris. Through the maelstrom of pleasure, he felt Kris spilling over his hand and his stomach, soaking his shirt, and he smiled and kissed Kris through it because oxygen was secondary to this need.

Afterward, Kris lay slumped hot against Adam's chest, the rest of Adam's skin cooling in the recirculated air, and Adam wanted to stay there, floating, forever.

It took him a long time to come down, but Kris was much quicker to recover. He ducked his head under Adam's chin, his hand fisting in Adam's shirt, and his voice seemed to come from a long way away when he said, "You killed twelve people."

"Yes," Adam said.

"They were trying to save you—" Kris's voice cracked, his words breaking off into abrupt silence.

Adam forced his eyes open and stared blindly up at the ceiling, a hard lump in his throat as Kris slid off and left Adam shivering and alone in the captain's chair.


Art by akavertigo


Adam's bad mood was still in full force the next morning.

The crew was aboard, their shipment loaded and paperwork stamped, and their prey had a two hour head start. This was one of Adam's favorite moments: the universe stretched out and waiting for him just beyond the hangar walls. But this time it felt like everything was wrong.

That feeling definitely had something to do with the way Kris had eyed their bed last night and told Adam he needed 'more time to think.' Adam glanced at Kris's back now, and he caught the way Kris's skilled fingers fidgeted over the navigation console.

Deepa dropped into her seat with her sleeves shoved up and her hair brushed back, her entire body vibrating with eagerness. "Bo's so excited for this prize she can barely see straight," she reported. "Or else she's still hungover. She and that Ten-Segai engineer really hit it off last night."

Adam grimaced and went back to staring at Kris.

"2,000 tons of Applen liquor," she whistled. "This'll be our best haul since the—" She caught herself just in time, a hand slapped over her mouth.

Kris turned his head and glanced back at them. When his gaze caught Adam's, Kris flinched and turned to face front again.

"So...you told him," Deepa guessed, finally noticing Adam's misery.

"I don't want to talk about it."

"Uh huh." She looked around the control room, her leg bouncing, stimulants practically leaking from her pores. And then she said, "Are we gonna leave? Or just sit here. I don't know about you, but I've got a hot date with some bottles of Applen."

Adam sighed and forced his gaze away from Kris's back. The signals were green, all systems in optimum condition; no reason to delay. "We're leaving," he agreed. "Doug? Let's get those doors closed," he said into the comm.

"Oh, I liked Doug's suggestion for a tractor beam upgrade," she said, fastening her safety straps. "Even if Perth isn't releasing it yet, I'm sure we'll find one on the black market soon."

Adam nodded his agreement and tapped his fingers impatiently.

"I mean, it's a huge investment, and I don't want to tell you how to spend your share…."

He didn't rise to her bait. "We'll see about cost when we find one."

He could feel her grinning from four feet away.

The loading ramp doors were still blinking on his display, and Adam's frayed patience unraveled further. "Doug," he repeated, annoyance sharpening his voice. "Any time you're ready."

Deepa leaned over in her seat and whispered, low so Osman wouldn't overhear, "I think he was giving Bo an assist last night. If you know what I mean."

Adam couldn't care less who on his crew was getting off with a Ten-Segai employee—not when his boyfriend refused to even look at him. "That's not an excuse for falling asleep on the job," he snapped at her, and then leaned on the comm again. "Doug!"

The light stopped blinking just as Doug's voice cut in, panting and a little ragged, "Doors closed."

"Thank you," Adam muttered, and ignored Deepa's smug, "Oh, somebody sounds rough today!"

"Kris—if you please," Adam added, softening his tone.

Kris nodded without showing his face or a hint of emotion. "Take off in five, four...."

Adam buckled his straps and prepared for acceleration.


Art by akavertigo


Pain in his side woke him, and Adam opened his eyes to Kris's hissed, "Wake up!"

He rolled over and rubbed at the spot on his hip where Kris had pinched him, glaring up at Kris for a blurry moment before the significance of Kris's presence in his bed sunk in. Kris must have joined him during the night; which meant he'd made a decision, and that he was—

Kris's hand came up and covered Adam's mouth. "I heard something. Listen."

Adam's eyes focused enough to notice that Kris wasn't naked; that he was, in fact, still wearing his jumpsuit. The disappointment of which was not relevant right now. Adam shook his head and frowned, his body already tense in response to Kris's alarm.

"I heard voices. Not our crew. There!"

Adam listened as hard as he could, and after a few seconds he thought he caught a low murmuring over the vibration of engines and the constant system hum. "You're sure they're not ours?" Adam demanded, even as he shook Kris off and rolled out of bed. He grabbed up a pair of pants; this was not the time to be caught naked.

Kris climbed off the mattress and stepped over to the door. "Positive, I know everyone's voices too well. How the hell did strangers get aboard?"

"Good question," Adam said, and reached for his gun.

He was just scanning the small room for his boots when Kris gasped. Adam looked up to catch Kris's shocked expression before Kris yelled, "It's a bomb!"

Adam didn't think, he just moved, running forward to get to Kris, pull him to safety—

—and the room exploded.



PART II
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samanthahirr

October 2014

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