“I knew I was asking too much of you. If you’re scared, Kohen, you don’t have to help us. I know asking you to spend time with the other people we rescued and more of the crew was asking a lot. You’ve been in isolation for years. I am so sorry.”
“What?” I lifted my face from the perfect spot against his neck, shaking my head. “I don’t want to spend time with them, but I’m not scared. Not of that.”
“Then what’s wrong?” Captain’s hands stilled, but he kept them on my back. “You’re shaking.”
Heat flushed my face. Was I doing it wrong? “I need you,” I said. It was like my whole body had been coated in ice, and I hadn’t even realized it until the warmth of him touched my skin. Worse than hunger, or thirst, or any need for comfort I’d had before. I swallowed down my embarrassment and fear. “I need you to touch me.”
His eyes widened comically, and Captain’s body went stiff again. “Touch you?” he repeated carefully.
“Like you did before.” When Captain had held me close. It had hurt, but it’d been worth it. I’d had dreams about how it would feel now that I didn’t wear the suit. At first, I’d tried to resist the dreams, not think about them. I still worried a little that my need was part of the way the aliens would test me, by making me feel and act a certain way, even if I didn’t really want to.
But I did want to touch him. And, more than anything, I wanted him to touch me. “Move your hands up and down, please.”
Captain made a strangled noise. “Kohen….”
I could see the spot on his neck, where the blood was closest, jumping frantically. An impulse hit me, and I didn’t even think before I followed through. I leaned down and put my lips against it, to feel the way his heart was beating, to find out if it was as fast as mine.
Visions flashed through my mind of what I’d done before, how I’d mouth that spot, licking it and then sucking up a hard mark… I didn’t dare do more than briefly touch my lips to that soft, sensitive skin. I wrapped my arms around his neck and sighed.
One of Captain’s hands went slowly up my back, hesitating once or twice. He began to make slow circles between my shoulder blades. It felt more than amazing; it was perfect. I closed my eyes and soaked it all in.
I must have dozed off because when I opened my eyes I wasn’t in Captain’s lap anymore. His scent still surrounded me, but I was on the couch on my side, one of the pillows from his bed under my head and a blanket tucked around my shoulders. His scent cocooned me, and I would’ve closed my eyes and gone back to sleep, but I could hear him talking, even if I couldn’t see him.
He must have been in his room, but the door wasn’t shut.
“What am I supposed to do, Deke?” Captain said. “I feel bad enough. I wanted to kick my own ass.”
“Barely, and that doesn’t make him an adult, it just makes me not criminally culpable in the eyes of the galactic.” Captain’s voice was a sharp hiss. “But it would be morally wrong. He’s been a captive, a victim, for years. He’s reaching out to me because I was the one who saved him, not because he’s truly attracted to me. I don’t want that. He doesn’t know what he really wants because he’s never had the chance to find out. He’s too young; he’s practically a child. Not to mention, as a rescued survivor on my ship, I have a duty to protect him.”
“Do you really think that living in that cell means he’s less mature? He was isolated, not sheltered. And from what the files said, it’s not like he’s some untouched virgin. Don’t—”
I couldn’t listen beyond that. Captain didn’t want me. I’d made him feel bad. My heart broke inside my chest, but I couldn’t stay in there and know that the way I needed him was so wrong in his eyes. Touching me made him feel bad.
My stomach churned, and I sat up on the couch, my shoulders hunched. I clutched the blanket close, then stood, creeping to the door. I had to get out of there.
The door whooshed open when I approached, and I scurried down the hall to my room. The door seemed to take forever to open as I waited for the scanner to accept my print. I glanced over my shoulder twice to make sure he didn’t follow me, if he even heard me leave. His voice had gotten louder as he talked to Deke and grew more agitated.
I set the privacy mode on my door to not alert me if someone tried to request entry, and then I hurried to my bed. Over the last few weeks, it had become a place of solace. Soft mattress, warm blankets, and no worries that anyone was going to come take it away from me if I began to enjoy it.
Still wrapped in Captain’s blanket, I slid under my heavy blanket of covers. I wiped the tears away from my cheeks with one silky corner, my breath coming out in a silent shudder.
When would I learn that I wasn’t like other people?
I didn’t deserve comfort. Not after all I’d become, all I’d done, for them. I was probably just as bad as they were.Crying wouldn’t ease this pain, just like it had never helped me before. But I couldn’t stop the slow seeping of tears down my cheeks. I tucked my face into the blanket and let go, wishing everything would just stop.
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