See No Evil
The lights were down on the bridge, pale blue light flickering from the instrument panels, the hum of a generator somewhere on the bridge. Night mode, the submarine submerged, lying in a trench while the crew got some rest. No safer place on the planet than here, with the ocean like a blanket to hide them.
Billy Lee thought sure Sigurd would be there. He wasn't even sure, precisely, why he was seeking the former Element out. It wasn't so much that he needed to talk as to have a sympathetic person nearby, someone to let him know that the children were all right, and loss of faith was not the end of the world. Sigurd would know about things like that.
He would wonder, later, what possessed him to stay. Why he didn't back out of the room into the hall, down the elevator, and find someplace well-lit and preferably crowded to hide in. He supposed it must have been shock that froze his legs to the floor, some cruel twist of fate that kept him from averting his eyes.
Bart's hair gleamed sullen gold in the light of the night-mode bridge, a long coil of braid that slithered over his shoulders like a desert serpent. It took a moment, in light of what he was witnessing, to see the scars. Thin and pale on the sun-bronze skin, like an intricate map of pain stretched taut over his back, shifting with the motions of his body.
Maybe it was the scars that made Billy stay. Not that Bart wasn't enough to keep him there, or Sigurd, moon-colored hair pressed to Bart's shoulder, one eye closed in the dark. So maybe it was the scars. Or maybe it was Sigurd's hands on them, long fingers tracing the delicate webwork down Bart's back. Maybe it was the sounds they were making, soft and muted over the hum of the Ygg's engine. Maybe it was the motion in the shadows between them, Bart's body jerking and relaxing, sinking down into Sigurd's lap, the way his toes spread and curled as he started to move.
Beautiful. The thought sprang unbidden to his mind, simple and as natural as the way Bart's body arched upwards, his thighs tensing as he strained against Sigurd. Sigurd's fingertips dug impressions in the flesh of Bart's backside, kneading the muscle there. Bart flung his hips down harder, his braid swaying with the motion, and the comm station chair creaked with protest at the activity.
Shameless, the way Bart looked down, half smiling, his hands furtive in the dark between them, as if watching an illusionist's trick. Whatever words he spoke were lost in Sigurd's hair, hips grinding down hard one last time, body going lax. Sigurd's legs stretched once, his boots scraping the floor, head falling back against the chair as his chest heaved for air. Bart's muted laughter held nothing of sin, only a sort of shared secret as he leaned over him, curious fingers making the ring in Sigurd's navel flash like a star. They looked at each other for a long time there in the dark, blind sides towards the door, and to Billy. They kissed, and Billy ran.
Why the kiss did it when nothing else did he wasn't sure. Billy Lee had spent too long on his own to be shocked, not so much a prude as he might try to be, and too honest about his worldliness for the Ethos ever to have trusted him totally. He understood the whys of Sigurd's need and Bart's acceptance much more than anyone might have suspected him of understanding, but the kiss baffled him, and he fled.
Need was easy to comprehend. Love was difficult.
Even harder to comprehend was the blood thundering in his ears, and not from his sprint. His breath came fast and harsh as he leaned against the elevator doors, trying to calm his heartbeat. The doors opened onto the second level corridor, and Billy hurried toward the gear hangar, coat billowing out behind him.
At this hour the hangar was dark, lit only by running lights along the individual docking bays. Billy sought out the shadow behind Renmazuo's cape, and sank down behind an empty supply crate. It might have been in half-memory of his childhood days that he sought haven in the small places beside big things. When he was little it was behind beds, under tables, curled small in the dark. Now the best comfort was near his gear, thinking perhaps the cockpit would be better but not wanting to cause a commotion by powering Renmazuo up in the middle of the night. So he settled instead for the shadows around the big machine's ankles, head on his knees, not thinking about Bart.
Failing, he corrected himself. Failing to not think about Bart.
He heard the corridor entrance open and close and went still, holding his breath. A technician, maybe. Or Fei, restless from nightmares and come to run his fingers along the smooth planes of his gear; Billy had seen him there often, late at night.
Boots scraped to a stop just beyond Renmazuo's shadow, and Billy closed his eyes, as if that would keep him from being seen.
"Hey, what're you doing here?"
Bart. Billy thought something at Heaven that he would not have dared a few months before, decidedly snarky and sacrilegious.
Bart's footsteps rang as he circled the storage crates in Renmazuo's hangar, one blue eye widening at Billy. "I thought I heard somebody back here... you okay?"
Billy stood, tossing his hair and shaking out the folds of his coat. "Fine. Why?" Bart's braid, he noted, was recently redone, sleek and gleaming. Sigurd's work.
"I dunno, you just looked... upset, is all." He smiled up at Renmazuo's towering shape. "Come to check on your gear before bed? I do that with Brig all the time."
"I--" Billy began, and found little else to follow it, his jaw difficult to unclench.
"Billy?" Bart's gold eyebrows lowered in concern, and his hands were warm on Billy's shoulders. "You sure you're okay? You don't look so good. Want me to get the Doc?"
Billy shook his head, hoping that he didn't sound as strained as he thought he did, explaining that no, he was fine, he just couldn't sleep, that was all. He could have fallen into Solarian for all he knew, stringing together words automatically and trying to deny his senses. Bart's fingers were warm on his shoulders and he smelled like he always smelled, whip leather and gear fuel and an underlying scent of sharp thin desert spice. But tangled in his scent was something else, low and primal like sex, sweetened with the nectar-smell that hung around Sigurd's hair. Billy couldn't clear his brain to stop talking, he was stunned silent only when Bart's fingers ruffled up his bangs, his palm pressed to Billy's forehead.
"You're awfully hot," Bart said, doubtfully. "And you sound a little out of it. You might have picked up a fever, you know. I'd better get Citan--"
"No--!" Billy had planned only to reach out to stop him, to keep Bart from bringing Citan and probably his father down here to see what was wrong. Bart turned to go and Billy reached out, but something went wrong in the shifting of his weight and Billy found himself falling, catching himself on Bart's jacket and sending them both to the floor. Bart was sprawled on top of him, their legs tangled together, his braid a cool weight across Billy's throat. And Billy realized, with a bit of horror, that there was no way of hiding just what his body thought of Bartholomei on top of it, breathing harshly and radiating sex. The cold metal of the corrugated floor had seeped past Billy's coat to his back before Bart moved, blinking and pushing himself up, left thigh still wedged between Billy's.
"I-- Sorry bout that... guess you got me off guard."
Billy did not say anything at all, throat working silently.
"You okay? I knock your breath out?"
It wasn't true, but Billy nodded anyway, trying to wiggle away. Bart had him pinned with accidental effectiveness, however, and he was only making his situation worse. Bart's pants were white leather, and they creaked when he leaned forward, shifting pressure in a way that made little sparkles go off in the corners of Billy's vision.
"Did you hit your head?" Bart's hands were in his hair, as if looking for concussion. Billy was almost angry now, wishing Bart would damn well say something about it, not politely pretend that Billy wasn't achingly hard, pressed against him.
"I'm fine," Billy managed.
Bart lowered his eye, and his lashes were thick and pale like his hair, something Billy had never noticed. "I'm sorry," he said, and Billy realized that his face was darker than tan, blood-flushed. "I didn't think you'd come here for privacy... should have just left you alone."
Billy was shaking his head before he knew what he was doing, it was just wrong to see Bart contrite, embarrassed.
"No, No," Bart argued. "It's my fault."
Damn right it is, Billy thought, with astonishing clarity. "Really, Bart, it's--"
"If you," Bart began at the same time, and chewed his lip. "Look, I could do it for you, maybe? Make up for harassing you. I wouldn't mind. You want me to?"
Billy frowned, not sure what Bart was offering. "I thought you said you didn't want me doing things like that."
Bart looked genuinely stumped, then grinned. "Oh, that. I meant, you know, for money. Letting people..." He struggled for words, finally deciding on, "Hurt you."
Billy remembered, without warning, the pale precise lines of scars across Bart's back, and suddenly there was more not said in Bart's face than Billy could ever have imagined.
"Bart--" Billy started, but the pirate waved him away with a grin, his hands busy with Billy's gunbelt, as if glad for something to do.
"Don't worry, I'll still respect you in the morning. Besides, It's not as messy as doing it yourself, right?" Bart sounded as if he'd just stopped by to help Billy replace a b-circuit, not to ease away the painful ache between his legs. His fingers slipped under Billy's pants, cool from the metal floor and sweet on Billy's flushed skin. "Just tell me if you don't like it, okay?" His head dipped down, braid tangling in Billy's holster. He touched Billy's navel briefly, as if to let him know where he was, before easing downwards.
He would not react, Billy told himself, sternly. He would not succumb to the kisses along this inside of his thigh, the gold-shadowed roughness of Bart's cheek against his stomach, the way Bart's hands moved over his sex. He tried, valiantly, to think of something else, of scripture, of the complicated process to clean his guns, of Renmazuo's diagnostic check. All of it failed miserably, and he had to settle for at least not moaning too loudly. It was only when the motion of lips and throat enveloped him that he started to shiver, surrendering.
Warm. Billy had not thought before of it being warm, his only thoughts on the subject involving the weight of money offered to perform such an act himself, and the feeling he might have sentenced Prim and himself to die by refusing. The hangar was cold, metal walls too far apart to keep the heat like the other rooms on the Ygg, and the icy depths of ocean pressing against the craft made the huge room chilly at the best of times. Bart's mouth was pleasant if only for its heat, his breath intimate on Billy's skin. His whip-callused thumbs exerted careful pressure on Billy's hipbones to hold him in place, desert-golden bangs tickling his belly. Billy had not accounted for tongue or lips or even teeth, or how tight Bart could make his mouth, or the muted wet sounds of what he was doing. Billy had not, he realized, accounted for much of anything, including Bart.
It was better than anything. It was worth 3000g. It was worth letting Bart do it. It was worth admitting how much he liked it, hands tangled in the braid for an anchor, not thinking or caring that there were in the middle of the gear hangar where anyone could find them. He no longer questioned why Bart and Sigurd had been doing what they were doing where they were doing it. Had they been on the bridge, Billy would have let Bart do it to him there, too. He didn't even know how much noise he was making until Bart reached up fingers to Billy's lips. Billy had them in his mouth before he even realized it was something he could do, tasting Bart's skin and a faint touch of salt he knew was from something else, greedy to have every lingering trace. Bart made a noise in his throat and buried his face in harder, relentless. Billy, even if he wanted to, could not have endured it.
It was uniquely not like coming for himself, the way Bart swallowed as if to take him all down, squeezing out everything he could, until Billy panted for mercy. It left him gasping for air, even after Bart had tucked him back into his pants, buckling his gunbelt back.
"You okay?" Bart asked, sitting up and dragging a hand across his mouth.
Billy nodded, getting up to his elbows. Guilt tainted the sated warmth pooling between his legs, and as a former priest, he knew only a good confession would ease it. "Bart, when I came here tonight--"
"It's okay." Bart shook his ragged sunshine head, grinning. "You don't have to explain. C'mon, lemme help you up, the floor must be cold." Bart pulled Billy to his feet and began dusting him off, stopping only when he realized he had been straightening Billy's bow for a good two minutes. "Bedtime? You must be wiped."
Billy's eyebrows came together in a frown. "What about you?"
Bart shrugged him off, smiling. "Don't worry about me. That was my apology, remember?"
Billy fidgeted with his cuff, speaking to it and not to Bart. "Maybe I owe you an apology, too."
"Maybe," Bart said, grin widening. "But we can work that out later, if you want." It was impossible to tell if he winked, but it was highly likely he had. "Since we room together and all. C'mon, If you're awake enough, I wanted to ask you about getting a magnetic coat put on Brig... you got one on your gear, right? How much does it help?"
They had gone through the spare parts and discussed options and it was much later, in their bunks, with Bart sound asleep, when Billy found what was eating at him. One touch of mouth to mouth, there in the shadows of the bridge, Bart and Sigurd's kiss. Bart had made no such offer to Billy, no matter what other intimacies had passed between them. All in all, Billy consoled himself, it was nothing but a kiss, and Bart surely had no idea that he'd neglected to give one. Billy scolded himself for acting like a spurned schoolgirl, and pulled the covers firmly over his head. Sleep was slow in coming, though. When he found it it was uneasy, thick with dreams of Bart's mouth on his, hot and open and tasting of himself.