samanthahirr: (Trainer!Verse)
[personal profile] samanthahirr
Title: Never Close Our Eyes
Pairing: Kris Allen/Adam Lambert
Genre: Space Privateer AU, Romance, Action
Word Count: 14,300
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Sexual Content, Violence, Strong Language

Back to Part I

Art by akavertigo

Everything hurt.

Adam winced—and even that small movement set his whole head throbbing—and tried not to whimper like a dog.

"C'mon," Kris was saying. "Open your eyes. C'mon, baby, please."

Adam made himself obey, his eyes cracking open to nothing.

But then Kris was over him, Kris's lips pressed to his, and saying, "Oh god, thank god," against his skin.

"What happened?" Adam asked. It only half-sounded like a whimper.

"The bomb blew in the door. You're pretty messed up."

No kidding, Adam wanted to say, but he saved his strength to lift his head and orient himself.

There was a thick haze of smoke in the room, and the still-smoking door had landed on his left arm.

Adam thrashed, jerking his arm free. "Oh fuck, are you okay?" he demanded, grabbing at the bracelet on his wrist. He didn't want to think about the blood spilling from his left shoulder.

"I'm fine," Kris assured him, one hand cupping Adam's cheek. "I'm here. You're…. Okay, yeah, it's better if you don't look at that. Just reach up here and apply pressure. Don't look! Just squeeze."

Adam met Kris's eyes and swallowed against the barely-suppressed panic he saw there. "Okay," Adam agreed, and slid his hand up to meet Kris's, finding the wet spot on his shoulder. More pain shot down his arm when he squeezed, but his fingers were working, and Kris looked as whole and healthy as the day Adam had met him.

"What happened?" he asked, looking down at the oozing cuts all over his bare chest, the smoldering pieces of metal around the room.

"You were out for a few minutes. They decided you were dead."

Adam's temples throbbed. So did the back of his head. His whole body felt like one massive bruise. "There are intruders—"

"I overheard them say they locked the crew in the cargo hold. You were the last one."

"Fucking pirates," Adam mumbled, shoving himself to his feet.

"Adam," Kris said, catching his free hand. "They're not after our cargo. They've been trying to change our course, pointing us toward the nearest star. They're trying to kill us."

The deck lurched under him, and Adam stumbled against one of the bulkheads, his stomach rebelling as his headache tried to scream its way out of him.

"I know it hurts, baby," Kris murmured, at his side and stroking his hair, his touch as gentle as a breeze. "I'm so sorry."

It was physically painful to concentrate. Adam took a few deep breaths and tried anyway. "They're trying to kill us," he repeated.

"Yeah," Kris confirmed. "I've overridden their course changes so far, but they're gonna figure it out eventually. And once they know I'm on board, that I'm still alive…."

They would come looking for Kris.

"…I have to get to the cargo hold," Adam decided.

"Yeah," Kris said, but his expression was doubtful. "Can you walk?"

"I'll crawl if I have to," Adam said, and ignored the way his legs shook under him, eager to take him up on the offer. He pushed himself away from the wall in the direction of the open doorway and staggered straight into the adjacent wall.

"No, oh," Kris cried, trying to steady Adam as best he could.

Adam blinked his eyes a couple times and tried to focus, but his blurred vision wasn't just smoke from the blast, after all. He played it off like the crash was intentional, stooping down with a hand braced against the wall so he could pick up the gun he'd just tripped over. With the weapon tucked safely in the waistband of his pants, he took another shot at the door.

It took two more tries to get his hand on the doorframe, before the world spun and sent Adam tumbling through the doorway to land hard on the hall flooring.

"Oh shit," Adam groaned as the deck rolled under him, his head spinning. "Which way's up?"

"You have to get up," Kris said, crouched next to Adam and giving him a pleading look.

Adam blinked, and Kris was gone.

Adam stared at the place where Kris had just been. Kris was still ordering him to get up, his tone getting strict, but he wasn't there, and then—and then Kris was suddenly back, his finger right in Adam's face.

"What the fuck." Adam's right hand released his shoulder and grabbed for his bracelet again. "Kris, are you okay?" He tried to squint down at it. The red vinyl cuff looked a little scuffed—both of them; apparently he was seeing double—but it seemed intact.

"I'm fine, I told you. Now come on, up!"

Adam ignored the panic building in his guts. His crew was in danger, the enemy could be anywhere, and Adam was seeing things—or not seeing them. There were too many reasons to panic to give in to it now. He crawled toward what looked like the nearest wall and climbed his way up until he was gasping against the pain in his head but more or less upright.

"Okay. Which way am I going?"

Kris raised his hand, but Adam's eyes were closing against his will. It was really fucking bright in the hall—

"Hey, eyes open!" Kris snapped, and Adam opened them automatically.

"What?" he said, his voice a little slurred. Another symptom he would have to ignore for now.

"You've got some mild brain trauma," Kris said, leaning in close and peering at his eyes. "How much can you see right now?"

Adam looked around obediently. Both ends of the hallway were shifting, fluid and uncertain, like seeing underwater. "I see you," he said. Even though Kris was just as blurry, and there'd been that weird blip where he'd disappeared, Kris was still the most stable part of his world right now.

"Okay, that's alright," Kris lied, and Adam forced a smile. "I'll help you. First, put your hand back on your shoulder and squeeze. You have to keep applying pressure. Good. Now, hold out your left hand." When Adam raised his shaking arm, Kris took his hand and squeezed. When Kris tugged, Adam took a hesitant step. "That's it. You lean against this wall if you start to lose your balance, okay?"

"I can't see where I'm going," Adam warned him.

"I can," Kris assured him. "You just keep those eyes open, and I'll get us to the cargo hold."

"Cargo hold," Adam agreed. He felt crippled, helpless, unable to defend himself, his crew, his ship. But he had one chance to save them all. "I'm ready," he said, and let Kris's next tug lead him forward.

They'd made it to the end of the first hallway—a grueling, three-minute trek that should have only taken twenty seconds at a stroll—when Kris put a hand to Adam's chest and whispered, "Go back!"

Adam stumbled backward, around the corner he'd barely navigated, and waited for Kris to explain.

"One of them, coming this way."

Adam swore and fumbled for his gun. How the hell was he supposed to shoot anything, when he couldn't even—

Kris stepped behind him and caught Adam's forearms, guiding them upward until the gun was pointed roughly ahead of him. "Gun up. Ready? When I say, you shoot, okay?"

He wanted to protest, but he couldn't think of a coherent word to say, and Kris's were the only steady hands he had. He nodded.

After a long moment, silent but for the pounding of blood in his head, Kris said, "Shoot!" and Adam did.

The sound pierced his ears, and he almost missed the high, feminine cry that followed. When he focused on the floor, there was a dark shape laid out on the deck.

"Good," Kris said, his voice as shaky as Adam's grip on the gun. He took a deep breath and said, "Let's keep going."

Adam followed him down the next corridor, trying desperately not to think about the swell of panic building in his chest. And then Kris disappeared again.

Adam was completely unprepared for it. Kris's sure grip was suddenly gone, and Adam's next step faltered, the step after that sending him shoulder-first into a wall. "Kris," Adam begged, his voice strangled from the pain. He blinked his eyes as hard as he could and opened them wide again. "Where the hell are you?"

"Adam!" Kris shouted, standing right in front of him, fingers painfully tight on Adam's shoulders.

"Where'd you go?" Adam yelled, his throat clenched tight against the rising tide of panic. "How could you do that?"

"I didn't go anywhere! What happened?" Kris demanded. "Couldn't you hear me?"

"You were gone," Adam said. He followed Kris's gaze down to his wrist, and Adam started swearing again.

"Something must be wrong with the device," Kris said, and Adam hated the resigned way Kris said it, just accepting it. "That means we have to move faster. Come on."

He took Adam's hand again and urged him ahead, keeping up a continuous commentary: "We're halfway down 6B. The mess is coming up on the right. The ladder to the lower gun port is on the left. You're doing great, baby. Just keep following me, just like that." His voice cut out every once in a while, words dropped like a bad comm link, but the hot grip on Adam's fingers stayed tight and true. And Adam kept following, not thinking about how damaged Kris's device might be—about what he would do if it couldn't be fixed.

Until Kris was gone, completely gone, again.

Adam found a wall—only a handful of paces from the 6F juncture, per Kris's last report, and waited. He waited ten seconds, and then twenty, and then a full minute, keeping count of the pulses beating through his head. "Kris," he called as the panic crested. "Come back. Please. I'm sorry, it's my fault, I'll—" He tried to swallow, found he couldn't, and spat instead. "Fuck, I'll do anything you want, just…don't be gone. Please, I need you."

His legs were trembling, harsh breaths shredding his throat and lungs, and Adam's hands were empty as if Kris had never existed. And for just a few seconds, he slipped under. Adam doubled over and vomited, choking on panic and bile and grief, on the possibility that Kris was dead, until he was hollowed out. And then he leaned his shoulder against the wall and took the first shuffling step alone.

It took forever to go the last few dozen meters. Every faint sound, real or imagined, had him pulling out his gun. He dropped it twice and lost track of his surroundings once, floundering in the middle of a junction with no wall to help steer him. But luck—if Adam deserved any, after the life he'd lived—was on his side.

He finally propped himself against the small access door to the cargo hold and sighed with exhaustion and relief. Finding the door lock posed its own challenge, but after feeling his way up both sides of the door, Adam belatedly remembered to touch the sensor in the center. He leaned his weight on it, let the scan run, and forgot to catch himself before the door had slid away, and Adam was falling face-first over the threshold and into the arms of his crew.

There was muted shouting, a flurry of hands, the deck hard under his back, and Deepa's fingers cool against his throat. "What the hell happened to you?" she demanded, crouched low over him.

Adam blinked up at her wavering silhouette and smiled. "I got blown up." His smile faded as he remembered, "So did Kris."

"Is he okay?" she demanded, cradling Adam's wrist.

"I don't know," he admitted, and swallowed the accompanying ocean of grief.

Somebody gave a low groan of pain, over to the right. Adam turned his head, glad for the distraction. "Who—"

"Doug," Deepa said. "They worked him over good. Who are these fuckers? What the hell are they after? They boarded at Aboreo; they have to know we're just hauling spare parts!"

"They want us dead," Adam said. He couldn't remember why he was so sure of that now, but he was.

He felt the gun tugged loose from his pants. "Then we'll have to kill them first," Deepa said. "We're taking back the ship, right now," she called, a rallying cry to the others, and Adam tried to sit up. "Not you," she said, pushing him down; it didn't take much force. "You and Doug are sitting this one out.

Doug made a noise of protest that Adam seconded, but Deepa, Bo, and Osman were already ducking into the bright glow of the hallway.

He had no choice but to close his eyes and pray.

Art by akavertigo

There were lights flashing by, his head tipping crazily down and up. There was pain, excruciating, digging deep into his shoulder, and Kris's lips against his cheek, his voice soothing in Adam's ear….

He opened his eyes to darkness that quickly resolved to the dull metal of his quarters, black soot streaks radiating across the ceiling. He was in his bed, alone—no, not alone; someone was talking, almost too soft to hear.

When Adam lifted his head, he spotted Deepa on the foot of the bed, her legs stretched out on the mattress. One booted foot bumped Adam's leg as she murmured over a readout pane.


She looked up and smiled, teeth shining ice-blue in the glow from the display. She tucked the readout under the bed and scooted up the mattress to sit by his hip. "Welcome back, Captain," she said, and saluted him for the first time in two years. "I'm pleased to report that we're once again in command of our own ship."

He dropped his head back with a long, relieved sigh. "Good job," he said. "Everybody's okay?" He tried to take stock of his own injuries, but everything felt detached, muffled by morphine.

She nodded. "Doug's been awake since this morning—you were the last hold-out. Bo patched up your shoulder as best she could—it'll hold 'til we get to a doctor. I'm calling it a 100% survival rate for this voyage." She caught the way Adam's eyes instinctively darted around the room and added, "Including Kris."

Adam had to check for himself. He leaned up to scan the dim room; the pieces of door were gone, the doorway standing empty. There was no sign of Kris anywhere. "Kris?" he asked.

He hadn't meant the question for Deepa. She answered anyway. "He's still handling the navigation. Been following my orders, too. If you two ever have a falling out, I wouldn't mind having him on my next crew," she said with a smirk.

Adam ignored the bait and checked his wrist. He was still wearing the bracelet, but he couldn't see or hear Kris at all.

"Nobody took it off," she said. He felt her hand on his knee and wished he could pretend it was Kris's touch he was feeling. "We know better than that."

"I can't…. He disappeared," Adam blurted. His head still ached, and remembering made the pain worsen, but he had to explain. "One second he was with me, and then he was just gone. I still…I can't see him at all."

Deepa's brows knotted and she leaned down over the bracelet. "He got caught in the explosion," she said, considering.

"My fault," Adam said. He should have known better, should have used his head and moved away from the bomb instead of taking Kris straight toward it. He brought his right hand up and started tugging at the red casing, digging underneath for the hidden ties.

Deepa helped, slim fingers squeezing between his skin and the vinyl, until the ties came loose and unraveled. Adam pulled the casing off, ignoring the small section of red that had been scorched darker, the larger section that showed abrasions and a thin crack. The slender silver band that remained on his wrist was unchanged, undamaged, a perfect circle.

They spun it between their fingers, four times round, both of them peering closely until Adam risked saying, "It looks fine."

"Yeah," she agreed.

"Then why can't I see him?"

It was possible that Kris was doing it on purpose, his guilty conscience pointed out. They'd had a fight, about the Indazita, the George Town. Adam had walked into that bomb instead of protecting Kris…. It was a ludicrous accusation—he knew Kris better than that—but it was the only explanation left.

Her grip settled, painfully tight, around Adam's forearm. And then she said, "I know how much you hate to take him off…." She waited until Adam met her eyes before continuing. "But maybe the problem isn't him. Maybe it's you."

Adam tried to hide his flinch. He wasn't sure he entirely succeeded.

"It's just a suggestion," she said, her grip loosening, sliding higher to hold the bracelet. "But it would rule out the possibility of damage."

He hesitated, like he hadn't with the bomb, like he hadn't when he'd found the bracelet on the Belerica seven months ago.

And then he said, "Okay."

She didn't do it for him. She dropped her hands to her lap so Adam had to remove the bracelet himself. He whispered a quick apology as he took it off, in case Kris could still hear him, was still listening. And then he thrust the bracelet at Deepa before he could change his mind.

She slipped it onto her wrist, her gaze fixed on the titanium alloy, and then her head snapped up, and her eyes widened. "Oh my god," she gasped, one hand flying to her chest.

"What?" Adam demanded. "Is he okay? Can you see him?"

Her face broke into a huge grin. "He's loud," she whispered, just for Adam.

The realization that someone else could hear Kris slid like a knife between his ribs. He shoved his jealousy aside. "Is he okay?" he repeated.

Deepa ignored him, seemingly fascinated by the sight in front of her. "And cute. Damn. Oh, sorry," she added, looking contritely at a spot near the foot of the bed.

Adam could imagine the look on Kris's face.

"No, he's okay, really. See?" she said, and turned her eyes on Adam. "Ignore all the cuts and bruises. He's awake, he's talking; he's fine. He says he can't see you…. No, of course you wouldn't! But if I can see you, hear you," she reached out her hand and then grinned again, "and touch you, why can't he?"

Adam looked back and forth between Deepa and the empty place where Kris was.

Deepa nodded, listening, and then squinted at Adam. "I suppose…. Okay," she said, nodding forcefully to Adam, like he was supposed to pay attention now. "Kris thinks it's you. Or, you know, you getting blown up. He can still access your senses, but he can't interact with them. So he thinks maybe all that swelling from the head trauma messed with whichever part of your brain he's supposed to interface with."

"So, when the swelling goes down…?" Adam asked. He hardly dared to breathe.

Deepa looked toward Kris again, and then shrugged. "We aren't doctors. But why not?"

They had to be right. Adam wasn't sure he could deal with never being able to see Kris again, to touch him, hear him. "So Kris is totally okay?"

"Yeah, he's fine," she reported. "The interface is perfect." She held out her right hand and said, a smile lighting up her face, "It's nice to finally meet you, Kris."

Her hand grasped and shook the empty air, and Adam wanted to laugh and scream at the gesture. He forced himself to stay still, to let Deepa have this moment. And Kris—Kris didn't get to meet anyone like this, not since Adam took him. So he bit his tongue and blinked his eyes at the sheet covering his body. He was naked under the sheet, he realized. His pants were gone, and he hadn't been wearing anything else when the bomb went off—

Deepa said, "Of course, just a second," and Adam watched her slip the bracelet off.

He reached out a greedy hand, but she held the bracelet out of his reach and said, "Ah ah, not so fast. I need a second without anyone listening in."

"Deepa," Adam said, his voice a warning. This was one of Kris's greatest fears—losing time. She couldn't do this to him.

She ignored the warning. "I just need a second to say damn. You said he was cute, but…I guess I'm saying I get it, you know? How you could be happy with this." She looked at the bracelet, twisting it lightly in her grip. "But why the fuck anyone would volunteer to live like this, I'll never understand."

"Deepa, give him back. Please."

She pressed on. "Just remember what I said; if you two don't work out for any reason, I'll take him." She winked at him, but finally passed him the bracelet, and two seconds later Kris was safe on his wrist, where he belonged.

Adam looked around hopefully, but Kris wasn't magically there.

"No?" she asked, her smirk fading to sympathy.

"Not yet," Adam gritted through his teeth. He was an optimist. He had to believe Kris would come back.

"Sorry," she said.

"So," he said, changing the subject. "Who the hell were those people?"

"Oh," she said, sitting up straight, her spine going rigid with anger. "Oh, you won't even believe it. Fucking Perth."


"Yeah! Those assholes sent a pack of mercenaries onto Aboreo to make an example of the biggest, baddest pirates they could find. Which was us."

"Why the hell would they—"

"My guess? Retribution," she said. "Payback. For…" her eyes dropped to the bracelet.

"Shit. Fuck," Adam breathed, cradling Kris's device protectively. The Perth Corporation was the largest trading company in the galaxy, with their own colonies, their own army, and enough warships to protect their cargo freighters in the less-patrolled sectors. No one in this sector was big enough—or crazy enough—to go after one of Perth's convoys…except Adam and his crew. Considering how the blowback had nearly killed them, it had been one of the stupidest ideas of Adam's career.

But if he hadn't done it, he wouldn't have met Kris….

"They jumped Doug just before takeoff and waited 'til we were well out of range of the patrols. You were right—they were supposed to sink us into a star and make it back to Aboreo in one of our escape pods."

"Does Perth know about Kris? That he's with us?"

Deepa shook her head. "Doubt it. I threw one of the mercs in the airlock and threatened to space him unless he spilled. And believe me, he spilled. Their orders said nothing about a trainer. If this had been a rescue mission, they would've known what to look for."

Adam closed his eyes and tried to organize his thoughts, tried to figure out how much could be salvaged. "So this was just random luck? They haven't pinned the Belerica on us?"

Deepa snorted softly. "Oh, I wouldn't say random. Dulane has never been subtle with our payments. And that little 'bonus' for destroying Kris? I'll bet you my share, everyone on that station figures we're pirates by now. Our cloaking doesn't extend to the bursar's office, no matter how much new tech Doug installs."

God, he'd known that would bite them on the ass. "Then we have to consider this whole sector burned," Adam said. "We need to relocate; either find another Dulane factor to work with, or go legit again, or…start stealing."

Deepa frowned, her body sagging. "I figured. After we dumped our visitors, I had Kris—"

"Wait," Adam said, "what did you do with them?"

"Shoved them in a pod and dumped them a few dozen tera-klicks off the lane. Bought us at least three days before anyone finds them."

"Alive or dead?"

She spared him a fleeting smile. "Both. Seven mercs, and only four of them were still breathing, so I figured one pod would be enough. They all fit, more or less." She waved a hand at Adam's shudder. "Well I wasn't gonna keep three corpses lying around for the customs agent. This way, the evidence is gone, and we can make a clean start. I've got Kris going full-bore toward the Velano sector."

"We'll need to have a meeting," Adam decided. "See who wants to stay on."

"We've got time. It's two days to the next station. I've been reading some of the sector specs to Kris, so he'll know what to expect."

Adam blinked, surprised.

"I didn't know if he'd ever been," she said, a touch defensive. "And you always complain how annoying he gets when he's bored. You've hardly been a barrel of fun just lying there like that."

"Thank you," Adam said, touched that she'd thought to spend time with Kris.

"Now I've finally gotten to meet him, I may change my mind about which of you I like better," she teased.

"He's totally nicer than me," Adam agreed.

"And cuter." She patted his knee. "But I declared you unfit for duty 18 hours ago, and I'm not reversing that decision yet. So you stay in bed unless you want this to turn into a full-blown mutiny." She stood up, handed him the readout pane, and added, "In case either of you gets bored."

Art by akavertigo

He spent an hour reading the files Deepa had collected, and another half hour letting his eyes rest on the system maps. When he couldn't keep his eyes open any longer, he whispered a goodnight to Kris and let sleep take him again.

Nothing had changed when he woke up. Adam went back to his studies, letting Kris get a good look at the Velani Hole and the Greater Rift, the most dangerous features of the Velano sector. It wasn't until he unconsciously flexed his right arm that he realized there was a familiar weight on his shoulder. When he tipped his head to the right, Adam felt hair brush his cheek, spiky and soft.

"Kris," he said, "I can feel you," and his next breath caught on a sob as the weight eased suddenly. But instead of disappearing completely, a new pressure formed, what felt like fingers sliding down his face. When soft lips brushed his, Adam closed his eyes. This way, at least, he could pretend that it was any other night, and Kris was safe in bed with him.

Kris resettled against Adam's good shoulder, his hair prickling against Adam's skin and his fingers tracing a long circuit up and down the inside of his arm. Adam kept his cheek pressed to Kris's temple and his eyes closed tight, and pretended everything was fine.

He didn't know how much time passed before he heard Kris saying, "—seen me, I couldn't stop laughing. That was my first love, did I ever tell you that? The feel of the sun on my skin, the wind in my hair, skimming the treetops in my neighbor's biplane…."

"You never told me," Adam murmured, wanting Kris to keep talking so he could listen a little longer before chancing his eyes.

"I caught hell for taking her out on my own," Kris said. "No lessons—they were scared to death—but I just knew my way around her. That was the first time I really knew what I wanted. God, I can't believe how long ago that was."

Adam screwed up his courage and forced his reluctant eyelids open. When he turned his head, he found Kris still resting against his shoulder, one hand raised above him, imitating the swooping motion of his first solo flight. Adam reached out his own hand, catching Kris's jaw and turning his head to meet Adam's gaze.

Kris made a joyful sound and lurched forward, pressing his lips to Adam's, his hands carding through Adam's hair.

"Oh my god," he panted into Adam's mouth. "You're back?"

Adam kissed him again and nodded. "Think so."

"You can hear me, too," Kris said, relief thickening his colonial accent. "Don't ever scare me like that again."

"I'll promise if you will."

"Deal." Kris stretched, and Adam felt it all down his right side, Kris's knees bumping his, Kris's boots kicking his ankle a little too hard, Kris's chest landing on his as he sprawled across Adam, his arms loose around Adam's neck.

Adam squeezed him with one arm and savored the warm feeling curling in his chest. "You were telling me about your first love," he prompted, wanting Kris to keep talking to him, to be as free with his story now that he knew Adam could hear him.

"Mm," Kris agreed. "There's nothing out here quite like it: flying in atmosphere, with mechanics and hydraulics instead of systems software, feeling the wind fight back when you change direction."

Adam couldn't help smiling at Kris's happiness. "How old were you, that first time?"

"Eleven, I think. My dad was waiting for me when I landed. He grounded me for a month. Literally," Kris added with a laugh. "And then he signed me up for flight school."

Eleven years old and already flying solo, terrorizing his family and neighbors. Adam had never stood a chance against Kris Allen. "Do you ever miss it?" he asked, meaning all of it, the flying, Kris's childhood home.

"Yeah," Kris admitted, sobering. "I haven't flown in atmosphere since I learned interstellar physics and got hired by the corporations. There's really no money in it, so I had to…I mean, it just made more sense to sign a piloting contract, you know? And then when I really needed it, the trainer contract came up." He took a deep breath, hugging Adam a little tighter. "I knew I was giving up a lot. I knew that. But they promised I could still fly everything. I just didn't think about…about that kind of flying."

They were quiet for a long moment, listening to the hum of the engine flying under Kris's perfect control.

"I can't fly anything," Adam finally said, preparing to offer the only thing he could.

Kris snorted. "I know."

"But maybe there's a way we can get you on one of those planes. Even if you aren't exactly solo, you'll still feel everything. And if you don't want me there, we can find someone else who can take you up—"

"Stop," Kris said, pushing up to meet Adam's eyes. "Stop that. I told you, I'm not leaving."

Adam gritted his teeth at Kris's infuriating insight. He wanted Kris to be happy, and if happy meant putting him on someone else's wrist for an afternoon or a lifetime, he would find a way to fucking deal with it. "But if I can't—"

"I thought I was perfectly clear, before; I just needed time, and I've had it. Hell, I pulled that trigger for you, babe. I've made my choice."

"I pulled the trigger," Adam corrected. It was his gun, his hand on the grip, his crime to live with, not Kris's.

"Which you couldn't have done without me." Kris scowled at him. "Stop arguing with the guy who saved your life, okay, asshole? I'm saying I'm not leaving you."

Adam wanted to keep arguing, to resist the forgiveness he didn't deserve and the shy smile that wanted to break out across his face. He failed on all counts.

Satisfied, Kris nodded and settled his head back down on Adam's chest. "Besides," he said, his voice going smug, "it's not like you've ever bothered taking lessons. Am I right?"

It took Adam a few seconds to guess Kris's meaning. He tensed up. "I don't think that's a good idea."

Kris ignored him. "Biplanes aren't hard. If you find me a colony with atmosphere, I can totally teach you how to fly one."

"I'm serious—I don't think I can handle something like that."

"You will," Kris assured him. "I'm a certified flight instructor and one of Perth's hand-picked trainers. They wouldn't have made the offer if I weren't good at it."

"It's not the trainer I'm doubting; it's the pupil."

"I'm not gonna let my first official trainee crash and burn. Think what that would do to my reputation!"

"If I fail, we both crash and burn," Adam grumbled. "If your biplane doesn't have a systems interface, you won't be able to save us when I screw up."

"Exactly. No choice but to succeed. Come on, Adam. I want to share this with you—just you." He paused for breath and then asked, "How much do you trust me?"

Adam lifted his head and shot him a suspicious look. Kris was obviously trying to look earnest, but a smile kept tugging at his cheeks. "You are such a bastard," Adam groaned.

"I'm calling that a yes," Kris said, sounding far too pleased with himself. He pushed himself up again and crawled over Adam's body, the pressure of his weight settling on Adam's hips. "I promise, you'll love it," he said as he leaned down to kiss Adam.

Adam grumbled some more but kissed him back, good arm holding Kris close and eyes wide open to everything they had.

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October 2014


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