by Komon Seiko (黄門聖子)
“Congratulations on another daring rescue,” Ken said, his voice scathing as he refused to turn around from his console to watch Gale stump back into the lab, still smoking gently.
“Thanks!” Gale said, muffled by the polycarbonate faceplate now that Ken has turned the in-suit mic off, still hopped-up on adrenaline from the fight with the… whatever-they-weres. Ken thought they’d had six heads each, or maybe eight, but there had been a lot of them in kind of a clump it had been hard to see after everybody had figured out they could fly and the news helicopters had gotten the hell out of the way. Time to stop procrastinating on upgrading the external on-suit cameras. Ken tapped away at his console for another few moments, annoyed enough to make Gale wait as he went over the last bits of news footage, annoyed all over again as the marquee “SPACEMAN SAVES THE DAY AGAIN” scrolled along the bottom of the screen under a reporter. He still owed Gale payback for getting caught by a journalist and deciding to name the armor something as stupid as that, even if the attacks that had started around seven months ago did appear to be aliens, and even if the domed helmet did maybe sort of make it look like a spaceship. Ken took another few breaths before the sound of Gale’s trying to bounce on his toes still in the suit with three busted rotors in one of his calves ground down on his nerves sufficiently to force him to turn around and actually survey the damage.
It wasn’t as bad as he’d braced for. The smooth, white, streamlined surface of the armor was scratched and scored and blacked in places, but that always happened, and he couldn’t see any irreparable structural damage. “Situation report?” he said briskly, shaking his lab coat out and standing up to come over to inspect, his hands moving over the interlocking plates. He caught a glimpse at himself briefly in the semi-reflective surface of the faceplate–tense and tired, his brown hair mussed from running his fingers through it, almost embarrassingly shorter than Gale while he was in the armor. Even with the worry lines at his eyes and mouth he still looked about sixteen, even at twenty, and he suspected he’d look still twenty when he was thirty-five or forty, which would be nice if he valued looks over credibility. Three Ph.Ds and a flame-throwing space rocket robot suit and still no tenure. Well, he hated teaching anyway–and he was shaken abruptly from his thoughts by the realization that Gale was talking.
“We won!” he said cheerfully, still trying to rock on his feet like an overexcited puppy, but he stopped when Ken kicked gently at one of his shins and frowned at the weirdly hollow sound when he connected that meant some of the greave-plates had taken a bigger denting than they looked. “But, um… I got hit a lot, I guess. Some of it feels… squished. The shoulder bit–”
“Pauldron,” Ken sighed. “It’s a suit of armor, not a LEGO set, it’s the pauldron or the gardbrace–”
“The shoulder bit,” Gale insisted, “anyway, it’s busted, I can feel it. And, um.” His voice turned almost sheepish. “Part of the helmet is broken. I mean, probably. I think.”
“I know,” Ken said, struggling to keep his face completely still. He could still hear the impressive crunch of the blow, right next to one of the mics, still see the last few flashes of video and the long, horrifying seconds when everything was black and silent and he’d only had the suit data to tell him that Gale was still alive before he’d drawn his next audible, shuddering breath. “We lost video. I was wondering why you didn’t take the helm off the second you came in the door. I did tell you to be more careful–the neck joints are delicate.”
“I know,” Gale whined, dancing in place a little as Ken’s hands moved up to feel under the plates of the helm for the now-semi-squished release catches. “I’m sorry, I’m just sweating to death in here, can you please…”
“At least they didn’t hit anything you were using,” Ken muttered, his eyes unfocused as he felt for all of the pressure points with his ungloved fingers. Metal dug painfully into his his skin and ignored it, pressing harder. “I should just leave you in there to boil slowly in your own fluids, like a sardine in a tin–” He pushed, feeling the pressurized hiss of the release valves sting his fingertips before he shifted his grip to take the domed helmet carefully away.
Gale heaved a huge sigh and Ken took a step back, looking up at him. His face was streaked with sweat, his thick, dark hair plastered down into his face, and he was laughing a little. He always looked terrifyingly delicate for the first few seconds after he took the helmet off–he was bigger and broader than Ken was, though still lean, but the suit engulfed him in a way that sometimes made him look very small and breakable, that made it difficult not to imagine what would have happened to him in a fight without the suit in the way. He was still flushed with exertion and excitement, Ken could see, his warm, brown eyes bright, but there was a scrape on his cheek and bruises already blossoming on his face. Ken reached up without thinking, getting halfway to touching a contusion at the corner of Gale’s mouth before he fumbled at the smooth surface of the helmet and had to put it down, exhaling sharply. He pointedly ignored the faint curl of Gale’s lips as he turned away, elbowing the breastplate of the suit.
“Sit down,” Ken said, knowing he sounded grumpy and not caring as Gale creaked over to the one chair in the lab that would take his weight in the suit as Ken scraped together some tools and went over to join him. Gale sighed as he eased down, just watching Ken quietly as Ken took as dignified a seat as he could manage on Gale’s knee and went to work on the shoulder of the armor.
“I don’t know why I bother,” Ken muttered, ignoring the sharpness of the torn metal as he levered a screwdriver under a dented plate and tugged.
“Hmm?” Gale said, sounding only mildly interested as he watched Ken’s face from close up and Ken endeavored to ignore how Gale was staring at him.
“Telling you to be careful,” Ken said, grunting softly with effort as he pulled the piece free and let it clatter to the floor, trying to see if he could get to the release catches now that it was out of the way and his hands getting rougher the longer he spoke. “You always say you are, and you come back with the armor shot to hell where I can see that you’d’ve lost a leg or had your arm ripped off at the shoulder or your head bashed in if you’d been hit differently, and one of these days I’m going to have to winch you up and go after your dead body with a can opener and a sledgehammer and it will be your fault–”
“I am careful!” Gale interrupted indignantly. “I know you work hard fixing it, I don’t break stuff on purpose!”
“I’m not worried about the stupid armor, you idiot!” Ken snapped, then stopped, biting his lower lip and taking a shivering breath with his screwdriver half-wedged under another stubborn piece of plating. He sat there for long seconds, his free hand curling into a fist where it was braced on the chest of the armor before he felt cool smoothness on his face and he jerked up to see Gale cupping his cheek, gloved fingers close enough to his ear that he can hear the faint whine-hum of the servos as Gale brushed the backs of them down the corner of his mouth.
“I’m sorry I scared you,” Gale said, his eyes wide and honest, stripping up all the layers of Ken’s irritation and anger just as easily as Ken took apart layers of the armor, and he didn’t stop touching Ken, sliding his fingers down to stroke lightly against his throat. Ken felt himself suck in a breath, his whole body tensing, but nothing came out when he opened his mouth. “I can be careful, promise. Look.”
And he shifted his other arm around Ken’s waist to pull him in, Ken’s legs spread wide over the thighs of the suit, feeling the cuisse-plates through his clothes as Gale leaned up and kissed him and he exhaled on a helpless sound, clinging a little. He struggled to catch his breath, but Gale’s mouth was slick and hot and his cool, heavy hands felt like they were everywhere, stripping Ken out of his lab coat and stroking over his back, and if it wasn’t for the span of them wrapping against his ribs through his shirt and the smell of oil and machinery he could have closed his eyes and imagined just Gale holding him with nothing in between them.
At least, until Gale’s hands slid down and plucked delicately at the fastenings of his pants, biting on the tip of his tongue in concentration as he managed to get them open without tearing anything. Ken opened his mouth to protest, his eyes widening, but it was too late and Gale’s smooth, cool fingers were already sliding against his bare, incredibly sensitive skin and he exhaled on an embarrassing whimpering noise instead. Gale wrapped an arm around his waist and leaned in to kiss his temple, but he didn’t look away from his hand, just kept rubbing at Ken carefully, not quite curling his fingers around to stroke and not pressing too hard. Considering how much strength was packed into the machinery, even running at diminished power capacity and partly broken, Ken was pretty okay with Gale’s continuing to be just that delicate. He could feel the rougher, pressure-sensitive metal of the fingers of the glove start to warm to his skin and the thought made him writhe, barely able to go anywhere in Gale’s careful, implacable grip as he resisted the urge to chip a tooth chewing on Gale’s shoulder, biting down on his own lip to muffle the noise he made instead.
“You look good like this,” Gale said, and Ken’s eyes jerked up to find Gale watching him, his eyes warm and his thumb just rubbing slick and slow over the head of Ken’s cock, the motion delicate and repetitive enough that he didn’t have to keep watching to avoid any accidents. Ken hissed and tried to buck his hips, sucking in a breath as he just twitched in Gale’s grip, barely moving. “I mean, you look good all the time, but especially like this.”
“You’re a tease,” Ken panted and Gale just laughed, leaning in to press their foreheads together as his grip shifted from Ken’s hips to his waist and he pressed his palm down, the tips of his fingers brushing Ken’s balls as he exhaled on a soft breath. Ken made a humiliating noise and jerked his hips, rubbing into that touch and turning his head to bite at Gale’s mouth as he stroked gently, feeling all the tension and terror, the stress from being forced to sit on the sidelines and provide what little remote advice and support he could from miles away when Gale could die any second, it all wound tight inside him along with the feel of metal against his skin and Gale’s breath on his throat until he was gasping, shuddering taut in Gale’s hold.
“Go ahead,” Gale said, and Ken knew Gale was watching his face again and he tossed his head, not caring. “I want you to.” And then Gale’s thumb shifted, and a scored-rough patch of the metal brushed just under the head of Ken’s cock, and that was it, he was done, crying out and shaking apart against the metal of the breastplate as he spilled into Gale’s hand and then slumped, his cheek smushed against the shoulder of the armor and his thighs trembling slightly.
“See?” Gale said gently after a moment, shifting Ken closer with the arm around his waist and kissing his temple softly. “Gentle.”
“That’s not what I meant and you know it, you manipulative jerk,” Ken muttered, muffled a little by his cheek still mashed against the warm, smooth metal of the armor. The hot-copper engine-grease smell just under his nose pulled another shiver from him and he forced himself to sit up a little, unsteadily. “And guess who gets to clean this up?” Gale had the grace to look sheepish, if not quite apologetic. Ken sat up and readjusted his clothes before he really took a look at Gale, catching the flush on his cheeks and the faint, impatient half-squirm he was doing without really moving the suit too much. Ken’s eyes lit and he leaned in, standing between Gale’s legs and nudging them farther apart with his own knees as he leaned in to kiss Gale’s mouth, soft and slow and hot, one hand tangling in Gale’s sweat-damp hair… and the other sliding under the collar of the suit, quick and deft, pressing three fingers to the on-suit manual override and locking every joint in place. Gale froze.
“Not fair!” he said indignantly after a long, squirming pause while he figured out exactly how much he couldn’t move. Ken ignored him and reached for a screwdriver, kneeling between Gale’s legs and getting to work on disassembling as few of the tasset-plates over Gale’s hips as he could and still get to him. Gale wriggled and bucked and jerked his head for a few seconds before he slumped, panting a little and glaring.
“You’re the jerk,” he accused. “You’re the one who’s–oh.” Gale stopped talking abruptly when Ken lifted the largest plate off of Gale’s lap and pressed a hand to him through the thin layer of fabric that made up the undergarment he wore in the suit.
“Complaining?” Ken asked archly as he gathered his nerve, his cheeks flushed as he turned to lick very delicately at one of Gale’s still-slick fingers, tasting sharp metal and his own fluids just to hear Gale’s reply die in his throat on a low, hungry sound, his mouth soft against the cool surface of the gauntlet. His hands were still working, tugging Gale out of the briefs before he leaned in and closed his lips around Gale gently, his tongue curling as he sucked, his eyes fluttering shut as he just listened to the sounds Gale was making. Mostly cursing.
“M’so gonna get you for this,” Gale breathed, and Ken grinned around him as much as he could, watching the taut muscle he could see of Gale’s belly strain as he tried to jerk his hips, thrashing a little in the armor. “When I get out of here, oh god, you are in so much trouble, you won’t even know what, oh, there, don’tstopohplease–” Ken took him in deeper and dragged his eyes open to watch Gale’s flushed, sweaty face, his eyes on Gale’s teeth digging into his lip, the heat in his eyes. He sighed and hummed a soft moan, low in his throat as he moved a little faster, feeling Gale start to shake–he wasn’t the only one on edge and he sucked harder, his eyes intent. Gale sucked in a breath and tensed all at once and that was was all the warning he gave before he was sobbing softly, not holding back even a little as he strained against the armor and made an outrageous amount of noise, shuddering apart as Ken sucked him through it slowly and then drew back, looking satisfied and more than a little smug.
Ken straightened up after a minute and surveyed the suit critically, then went back to work on the shoulder, disconnecting and tugging up a few more plates until he could get to the connection ports that would allow him to plug the suit in for diagnostics. He hooked it up and tapped at the console, releasing the override and the catches on the suit all at once so Gale could get out of it.
He didn’t, for a long moment, just sat there, still panting for a few seconds before he levered himself up… and Ken could really see the bruises starting to blossom over his shoulder and up his calf, already darkening purple against his skin and overlayed with smaller scrapes and cuts and contusions in other places. He looked much smaller out of the armor, and the injuries made him look even smaller still, somehow, enough that Ken couldn’t help reaching out and touching a broad red scrape on his side, stepping in against him despite the sweat and faint smudges of engine grease.
“You shouldn’t be taking this much damage while you’re in there,” Ken said softly, his voice tense, and Gale made a low noise in return, touching Ken’s cheek.
“I’m okay, promise. And I’ll be more careful next time, okay? I’ll be fine,” Gale said, his voice soothing, which just made it worse, Ken’s temper flaring as he took a quick step back, looking up.
“I could stop,” he said suddenly. “You say that every time, that you’re going to be more careful, and it’s getting worse. I could stop fixing it, and then you wouldn’t be able to–to hurt yourself like this.” Gale looked at him, shocked, but Ken’s jaw was set, his heart pounding.
“But–but it’s yours. I mean, you’re great at it,” Gale said helplessly, looking miserable. “You love working on the suit, I know you do.”
“Not as much as I lo–” Ken started, but he cut himself off, his mouth snapping shut and a dull flush creeping up his cheeks as he just looked away, every line in his body tense and unhappy. Gale softened in response and shuffled in, pushing Ken’s hair back from his face.
“I can’t not go,” Gale said softly, touching Ken’s face and sounding almost apologetic. “Not when people are in danger. They need people to help with evacuations, and digging people out when stuff gets knocked over, and–”
“And we’d be right back where we’d started, with you charging in basically naked in the middle of a huge fight and you’d end up set on fire or stabbed to death with shrapnel or crushed under a collapsed building and just as dead,” Ken snapped. “That’s why I built you the stupid armor in the first place, to try and make sure you didn’t hurt yourself acting like a moron. It isn’t a license to be even more reckless.”
“You could come with me,” Gale murmured, leaning in to nuzzle at Ken’s hairline, and Ken resisted the childish urge to shove him.
“You know I can’t,” Ken said, sounding bitter. “You know the A.I. I wrote for the suit isn’t good enough, you need someone working remotely for you to keep everything fully functional.”
“I dunno if I’d trust it, anyway, if it were,” Gale admitted before he just wrapped his arms around Ken and pulled him in, nuzzling into his hair. “I like knowing you’re there. Makes me feel safer.”
“I should kill your flight capability and lock up the armor the next time I catch you about to do something stupid, let you drop like a lead balloon so you can let somebody else commit some thrilling heroics for once,” Ken said, sounding thoroughly annoyed, but he was pressing his mouth softly to a bruise under Gale’s collarbone.
Gale just laughed and backed him up against the nearest mostly clear worktable. “You wouldn’t do that,” he said, plucking at the buttons of Ken’s shirt, and Ken swallowed hard.
“No,” he said, running his hands very gently down Gale’s chest. “And–and I know it’s important to you, to help people. I get that, I really do, I get that people need you, but it’s not just them, okay? I–I need–”
Gale just kissed him and pressed him back, his mouth firm and slow on Ken’s as he pulled Ken’s trousers open again and pushed them down, hitching Ken’s hips up and over the side of the worktable. Ken gave up protesting and just clung to Gale’s shoulders as he kissed back, his breath speeding up and his hands tangling almost desperately in Gale’s hair, pulling him in closer. Gale broke away after a minute, kissing softly all over Ken’s face and fumbling in a nearby toolbox. Ken tipped his head back, looking dazed and then stiffening a little as Gale fished out a small bottle of lube.
“Did you hide that in there?” he demanded, or tried to, but Gale’s mouth closed on the sensitive skin of his neck again and the force was knocked from his voice as he just clutched at Gale’s hair. He felt Gale tug one leg out of his pants and underwear, not even bothering with the other as he drew back a little farther to slick his fingers, clearly trying not to look smug.
“You’re impossible,” Ken said, hitching in a breath as he felt Gale’s fingers against him, stroking slick and pressing in.
“Yeah,” Gale said, grinning a little as he nudged his fingers deeper, stretching carefully and curling, his eyes lighting as Ken writhed and clutched at his back. “You love me anyway, though.” Ken’s eyes jerked up to his and he sucked in a sharp breath, but Gale’s briefs were already out of the way and he was pressing against him, pressing in, and Ken’s head thunked weakly back against the table as he breathed, squeezing his eyes shut tight. It felt like it took forever for Gale’s hips to slide against his but he exhaled on a shuddering noise when they did. Gale was still inside him for long seconds before he started to move, his thrusts long and slow, making Ken forget his injuries and clutch harder at his back. Gale just leaned closer, into that tighter grip, pressing slow kisses against Ken’s face and down his throat, making Ken shake a little.
“I love you too,” Gale sighed and pushed in a little harder, driving the breath from Ken’s lungs as he leaned in to press slow, wet kisses against Ken’s throat. It was a long few moments before he drew back to speak again.
“I just– I trust you,” Gale said, and Ken nearly bit him for insisting on having this conversation right now, but then Gale was kissing him again and he just sank into it, clutching at Gale’s back. “I’ll come back to you,” Gale murmured, still against Ken’s mouth, his teeth catching at Ken’s lower lip. “So trust me too, okay?”
Ken didn’t respond for long seconds, just feeling Gale move in him and breathing hard against his mouth, but eventually he drew back to nod, swallowing hard. Gale’s whole face lit up in a grin before his mouth curled at the edges and he snapped his hips and Ken cried out, arching his back helplessly. Gale moved against him slow and hard for what felt like a long time until Gale’s hand slid down and curled around his cock, making the heat running under Ken’s skin suddenly much more urgent. He bucked and squirmed, whimpering a little as he felt his body wind taut until Gale leaned in and bit at his throat, sucking hard enough to leave a mark as Ken came, pinned down and shuddering apart under Gale’s weight, feeling his body tense over and over and barely aware of the amount of noise he was making until he slumped back, gasping for air and coming back to himself just in time to watch Gale’s eyes flutter shut as he drove in one last time and went still.
They stayed like that for several seconds, Gale almost slumped on top of him before he shifted and moved back, sitting down on the nearest chair and pulling Ken down into his lap to slump there, still shivering lightly and looking dazed.
“Good,” Gale said smugly, still pressing kisses to the side of Ken’s face. “I get to keep the Spaceman suit, no more arguing and no takebacks.”
“I still hate you for calling it that,” Ken muttered by way of agreement, feeling the indignant noise Gale made against his cheek.
“It’s a great, name,” Gale said, offended. “You even said it was the ‘s’ suit before, ‘s’ for–”
“It’s armor designation sigma because you somehow managed to completely trash seventeen previous prototypes before I was finally able to build something you didn’t tear up like it was put together out of painter’s tape and tinker toys–”
“‘S’ for Spaceman, it’s great, and too bad if you don’t like it,” Gale said with finality, punctuated by a very loud series of noises from somewhere a little ways below where Ken’s ear was still pressed to his chest. “…We need dinner.”
“We need a shower, desperately, and then dinner,” Ken said firmly, starting to pick himself up and rearrange his clothes as best he can without making them more of a mess than they already were.
“Pancakes for dinner?” Gale said hopefully. “I think brave and daring heroes should get pancakes for dinner.”
“You can have pancakes for dinner,” Ken sighed, as though this was some great and terrible burden.
“If that’s the criteria, I think we both get pancakes for dinner,” Gale said firmly, and for once, Ken didn’t argue.