Deke was scary when he was in that good of a mood. He whistled. He sang. He almost danced as he played with his weapons and there was not nearly enough room on the ship for that.
“Knock it off,” Captain said.
“Fine, fine.” Deke stalked over to his seat and sat, his favorite pistol in his lap. The sleek metal glinted dully as he fondled it.
I shuddered, slightly disturbed. Or maybe that was Captain. He was looking at his friend with a funny look on his face. Or… yeah, Chomper was not lap-sized anymore, and he was definitely doing his best to crawl into Captain’s chair when I made my way around to the front of it.
“Hey, get down you little beastie.” Captain and I knew leaving him behind was not an option. No, we had learned our lesson before. Our family stuck together. The whole crew was back in one unit, on the ship, and we had one mission.
Search and destroy.
Then go home.
I already missed the searing heat, the dry, dusty landscape, and the relentless light that made up the long days before the short, dark nights that chilled the air. Space was dead around us, at least to my senses, and the ship a steady temperature but nothing could fix the scrubbed nothingness left from the filters.
Chomper abandoned his attempts to curl up with Captain and came to me instead. He’d transformed on the ship, his wings gone, his body more streamlined for the narrower corridors and smaller quarters, but he was still growing. He still climbed me like I was just an obstacle in his path, curling his body over my shoulders and back, his legs wrapped around my waist.
Good thing he was lighter than he looked, probably so he could fly. And sinuous. He curved his head around to look in my face. “Hi, hi, hi.”
He shivered. “It cold.”
“Maybe wear some of the clothes we got for you?” Yeah. That didn’t happen often, even in this form.
“You warm,” he purred. He rubbed his face against mine, his leathery skin soft and definitely cooler than normal. He snuggled into my neck. I reached up and rubbed the back of his head, his thrumming purr increasing, reminding me of his mom when the eggs were hatching.
“Did you need something, Kohen?” Captain stood and put his arm around us. I couldn’t feel it, Chomper being wrapped around my back and all, but I liked that he was adding his warmth, sandwiching our little being between us.
“Just to let you know we got the shuttle in docking bay 3 unstuck from whatever Deke landed in last time and brought aboard. I had to pry up the landing arm and hold it so it halfway so Luca could scrape the plate clean.” That hadn’t been easy. Those things were meant to be locked out or collapsed inside the shuttle’s exterior skin completely; my arms ached.
“Wow, strong.” Captain’s eyes flashed. “I bet you’re sore.”
“A little,” I admitted. “But it sounds like Chomper here is having an issue. I was thinking I’d take him down to the hydroponics room. Nice and warm there. Moist, too.” That would be a treat. He loved water, but it didn’t last long on the planet which was mainly dry.
“Here.” Captain handed me a small suit. “Aparoe said this shouldn’t irritate him too much, but it’s geared toward regulating his temperature.”
“Maybe Aparoe should try to put it on all his arms and legs when he’s wiggling around trying to keep it off.”
“You could drop him off at medical, maybe have them make sure you’re okay after all that muscle strain, and then meet me back in our quarters at shift change.” Captain had stepped in close, dropping his voice to a husky, throaty suggestion that I could totally get on board with.
Deke made a sound of derision. “You guys just get more and more sappy.” He was grinning though.
“You just sit over there and play with your toys.” Captain ignored him. “Sound good?”
Oh, he was talking to me again. “Yeah. I’ll, um, do that.” The incessant need to touch and be touched by this warm, gentle man never ended. He pulled me in for a hug and I sighed, tucking my head into his neck in an echo of Chomper.
Time spent with the rapidly growing being that Sparkles had left with me for some reason always made me happy. No matter what else the universe had decided to fate for us, we had these moments. It was like a pet, and a child, and a really gross murderous being all in one. He’d pounced on the food Aparoe provided as soon as we hit the medical bay.
“He needs to keep his activity level up and the live food is better for him,” they explained.
“Uh-huh. I just got him in that outfit thing you wanted him to wear. So now you can get him out of it and get it clean and then get it back on him.” He’d collapse after he ate, but moving his limbs would be impossible.
I made my escape.
When Captain made it back to our quarters, I’d bathed and managed to find a way to lie on the narrow bunk that left my legs spread and open for him to view as soon as he came in. He stopped and then glanced around the corridor, hurrying inside.
The door slid shut in a whoosh, locking us together in quiet privacy.
Want more flash?