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Measured in Bleakness

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The vid feeds flicker slightly. A woman with her teenage daughter glares at the vid screen nearest to her and loudly complains about missing her serialized drama. Gerard’s sitting in a corner of the communal area for passengers, drawing. He’s not really paying attention to the line of screens scrolling random streams of brain-rotting mush. As long as his art pad doesn’t fritz on him, Gerard’ll be fine.

Their ship’s supposed to be docking at station 51 in three days, standard time. Gerard can survive without having to see the latest episodes of his favorite sci-fi and fantasy shows. Mikey’s been downloading them since Gerard’s been gone. They’re supposed to have a week-long marathon as soon as he’s slept off the transportlag of intergalactic travel.

Gerard hasn’t seen his brother in nine standard months. The symposium on Modern Artistic Expression in the Post War Age lasted three months longer than expected. Gerard couldn’t just skip out early on it, considering he’s one of the supposed ’voices’ of the movement.

Sometimes it blows that he’s famous. Well, in some circles; the mass media doesn’t give a shit about him, or his message. Of course, they wouldn’t because Gerard slams them for being assholes who only want the juiciest stories. War, and the strife it causes, is about the biggest headline a modern journalist can hook these days.

There hasn’t been an outburst of major violence in three years, but that doesn’t mean that the media lets any small, little skirmish go. No, they sink their teeth into the drama and shake until the sparks are fanned into flames...

The vid feed flickers again. The woman prods the comm button that’s next to where she’s sitting with enough force to chip her perfectly manicured fingernail. Gerard’s betting she’s going to complain about that when she gets a hold of a member of the ship’s staff.

“The vids screens are broken, why is no one up here to fix them yet? I’ve already chipped my very expensive manicure trying to handle the problem myself. You owe me three hundred credits to get a touch-up.”

Gerard doesn’t hear the comm response. He’s just going to pretend he doesn’t exist, lest harpy lady turn on him as well. He’s already had to deal with other passengers mocking his choice of entertainment when he steps out of his room at normal hours.

A few minutes later, a guy in staff uniform grays scurries to the still-flickering feed screens. He sets a small satchel down at his feet before pulling out a worn pair of digi-tech glasses and slipping them on. Gerard pretends to skate his stylus across the surface of his pad; he’s not really drawing anymore though.

He’s seen the ship’s off-hours tech more than he’s seen many of the other staff, but then again, Gerard keeps odd hours. He hasn’t really gotten a chance to ask the guy his name yet. It would suck if he got the guy in trouble for chatting up a passenger. Space transportation laws always slip his thoughts as soon as a new art project butts in and there’s something around a hundred rules and regulations that the crews have to work under.

The guy seems frazzled and his dark brown hair’s unkempt, almost as if he was pulled out of bed without warning. Considering the hour, Gerard wouldn’t put it past that being the case.

After fifteen minutes of fiddling with wires and whatever the fuck it is that controls the feeds, the tech gives up, sliding his glasses off before hiding them away again.

“Ma’am, we seem to be having technical difficulties, at the moment, with our external communication systems. There’s nothing physically wrong with the vid screens, it’s the feed itself that keeps disconnecting.”

Harpy lady has a fit.

“I paid top credits for this transport and this journey has been nothing more than a coach flight masquerading as high class. If shit’s going to break, don’t advertise quality entertainment feeds. I will be demanding my credits back.”

Tech guy sighs as harpy lady and her daughter stalk off.

“Yes, it’s always our fault when the pulsars get extra pulsy, or the nearest sun flares its spots. Why yes, we just do it on purpose. Fuck, why can’t it be the day after tomorrow yet?”

Gerard’s not sure if he should respond because tech guy is muttering to himself more than actually talking to anyone. But since his social skills have apparently decided to abandon him, Gerard ends up saying something anyways.

“See, I knew humanity was the cause for those pesky flare ups. What happens the day after tomorrow?”

Tech guy shakes his head once before snickering under his breath and dropping down to one of the cushions near Gerard.

“Room 12zb, right? I was so sure you were a bitey, what with the lurking about at dark hours and the pale skin. Guess I was wrong, and I was so hoping you were because there’s never anything exciting happening around here. When we dock, I’m officially free of this core-mucked black hole of an assignment. Signed away eight years of my life to the transport office....and you really didn’t ask that. I’m going to shut up now, before you decide to complain to supervisor Shaw about my lackluster customer service skills.”

Gerard’s officially interested in tech guy, who’s now close enough that Gerard can eye his name badge without seeming like a creeper, the last person who called him out on his zero-age vampire wardrobe hadn’t been quite as complementary as tech guy.

“Is this an instance of chrome mocking chrome, because you’re just as pale as I am and this is the first time I’ve seen you court standard light hours? So what you’re saying is, when we dock, you’re a free man again? And yeah, I’m room 12zb, I like the ring of that actually. It sounds mysterious, much better than my actual name. I’m Gerard, if you wanted to know, and I’m not going to complain about your lack of perfect social skills, mine are just as horrible.”

Tech guy laughs and wriggles fingers in front of his face for a second, in a mimic of fangs, before dropping the mime and straightening up enough to fiddle with his name badge, tugging on the corners until his badge pulls away from his shirt when he shakes it for emphasis.

“As my cheap-ass name tag so helpfully reminds me every shift, I’m Brendon, and I work the dark hour technical fix-it shift, but we’ve been having issues with all the communication devices for the past twelve standard hours so the complaints and work orders keep coming in. I was already clocked out and about ready to finally pass out when I got commed. And fuck yeah, freedom, I’ll be so damn happy when I’m cut loose of this floating prison. I haven’t been planet-side to catch sun rays since I signed up, so that’s my pale skin excuse, what’s yours?”

Gerard can’t imagine working for the transportation agency. After the last great war, intergalactic travel boomed, but the majority of the jobs were left unfilled because no one wanted to be away from their homes for several year stretches. Star shine, Gerard gets bored during normal travel, there’s no way he could handle being in the black for years.

“I’m an artist, we’re not fond of the sun?”

Brendon laughs. “I’m now imagining a collective of artist types hissing and curling in on themselves when they’re dragged outside to witness sunlight. Fuck it, this is forward of me, but if you’re n-”

A metallic groaning sound cuts Brendon off. The ship shudders violently and Gerard tumbles from his seat to the cool floor of the communal area. Brendon stumbles to his feet, but trips when everything around them shakes.

Suddenly, it’s hard to breathe through the change in pressure around them. Brendon’s voice is a whisper that Gerard can barely hear over the noise of his ears popping. “Aw fuck, the dampeners are failing. They’re going to take the main LS systems offline with them when they p-”

The ship jerks hard, a sharp shifting jolt that flings Gerard into the bank of vid monitors. There’s the unmistakable sound of metal ripping apart.

Gerard passes out.

*

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Gerard groans and tries to move around, move towards the voice that woke him. The vid monitors shift with him. Pain streaks up his left arm when he falls out of the tangle of wires and broken tech.

“Ow.”

It’s almost pitch black. Only a thin streak of weak light paints a far-off corner in dull lightness. There’s the skittering sound of something sliding across metal before a clicking noise starts up.

“Gerard? Fuck, where are you? Wait, give me a second.”

Brendon’s voice is close, but Gerard can’t tell from where until the clicking noise stops. A thin beam of cold, blue light cuts through the darkness. Brendon must have had a flashlight with him when whatever happened, well, happened.

“I’m near the monitors. Wherever that is now. What happened?”

Metal screeches and there’s the heavy sound of a thump followed by cursing before the blue light sweeps near Gerard. Brendon, at least, has the good grace not to blind him the moment Gerard winces at the light’s intensity.

“Sorry, I think.....I think we crashed. Which is stupid because there’s nothing to crash into. That is, not until tomorrow’s hyper jump. However, we’re not floating in space since we’re still breathing. All systems are off-line. The ship’s dead.”

Gerard can’t see Brendon, but it’s not hard to focus on the blue light and the noise of wreckage moving as Brendon climbs over shit to get to him.

“How could we crash?”

Something shifts, the debris around Gerard starts to scatter. Brendon winces. “I don’t know. The electromagnetic sensitive equipment was screwy because of the energy flares. That could have compounded shit. I Don’t Know. I’m not part of the mechanical crew. I can lend a hand if the engine room needs one, but there’s only so much I know. How bad are you hurt?”

Gerard shrugs, even though Brendon can’t possibly see the motion and has to hiss through clenched teeth when the motion sparks bright pain behind his eyes. There’s something poking into his arm. Gerard’s guessing he’s got a sliver of vid monitor embedded in flesh somewhere. It doesn’t feel like he’s broken any bones, or is suffering from internal injuries.

“Nothing’s broken, except the vid monitors. I think I might have a few shards stuck in my arm, but I can’t see and it’s hard moving about without worrying about cutting myself. You?”

The blue light bounces twice, before landing at Gerard’s feet. Brendon shuffles forward, kicking wires and other shit out of the way. The moment he has a clear spot, he sets the light down. The clicking noise from before starts up again. When it tapers off, the blue beam of light is wider, less intense than it was moments before.

“Broke a few fingers and got bruised up, but nothing I can’t manage. I’m going to try and move some shit so you can shuffle forward, okay?”

Gerard nods. With the flashlight sitting at his feet, it’s easy to see the thin shard of plexi sticking out of his arm. Gerard doesn’t think about what he’s about to do, just places his fingers steadily against the plexi, and pulls quickly. A bitten-off scream echoes around them. Brendon startles enough to trip into a nest of wires and broken furniture.

“Ow, star shine, fuck that hurt. Gerard?...Fuck, you pulled it out, didn’t you? Okay, just breathe steady and tear the bottom of your shirt off. Find a rip and just yank. You’re going to have to stop the bleeding. Give me a second, and I’ll help.”

Brendon crawls out of the wires and scoots close enough to lean forward and drag Gerard away from the shattered plexi. He’s panting some from exertion and there’s sweat dripping from his hairline. He bites off a yell when Gerard accidentally bumps into his right hand.

It takes the two of them longer than Gerard likes to wrap his arm with the strip of torn black shirt.

“How did you climb with broken fingers?”

Brendon shrugs at Gerard’s question. The blue light paints them in odd streaks of shadows and half-light. “My left hand’s fine, and if I’m careful, I don’t jostle the fingers I broke on my right hand much. We can’t stay in here. Do you think you could move, stand?”

Gerard nods. “I think so. Do you think anyone else survived?”

*

It takes them what must be hours to make their way to the tiny patch of sickly light that’s bleeding into the wreckage. They have to keep stopping to climb over broken objects and take breaks so they can catch their breath. Wherever they crash-landed has to be solid, hospitable land, because they’d be unconscious already from lack of oxygen if it wasn’t.

When they finally make it out, Gerard has to blink several times. The landscape in front of them is flat, for miles and miles. In all directions. The only thing breaking up the monotony, is the massive quantities of debris, and warped metal, that peppers the flatness in massive puddles of broken ship parts and random bits of shattered-apart satellites.

It looks like a graveyard for space junk. Brendon breaks away from Gerard to circle the wreckage while Gerard stares.

“Whatever happened, it ripped a chuck out of the ship....or several.”

Brendon’s voice carries in the emptiness, but it sounds dead, listless, out here in the open. Gerard could have sworn that he had heard inflection in Brendon’s voice while they were still trapped inside the ship. He takes one last look at the endless horizon line before shrugging and turning to find Brendon. His arm smarts from the motion. Gerard does his best not to pay attention to the pain.

He’s alive. That’s better than any other alternative. He can’t see Mikey, or his parents, again if he’s dead.

“Fuck, Gerard, I need your help. I can’t open this shaft door alone. The locking system is dead so we have to break into it manually. I can’t do it by myself with broken fingers, fuck.”

The air around them is still and devoid of warmth. It’s also absent of any chill. Gerard’s idly thinking about the science fiction shows he and Mikey watched as teenagers while Brendon walks him through opening the shaft door when the door finally lurches forward, swinging open.

A body falls out, broken and very much dead, and lands at their feet. Brendon drops to his knees and Gerard fights not to throw up his breakfast from earlier. They take a minute to calm down before climbing up into the passageway.

Searching the fragment of the ship, doesn’t turn up any survivors. Only more dead people. Apparently, they’re the only two left alive, but it’s a curious thing.

Most of the ship is nowhere to be found. There’s just pieces of it wrecked, twisted up bodies littered amongst the debris, but the majority of the passengers, crew, and ship, just aren’t here.

Gerard doesn’t know what to make of it.

Eventually, they settle down next to the gutted-out ruins of an old deep-space telescope. Gerard passes out a rationed amount of the food and water they found while looking for survivors. Brendon sits next to him and doesn’t touch his rations.

“This doesn’t make any sense. None. It’s like there’s no EM field at all. Which isn’t possible. Without an EM field, that means whatever planetoid we’re on isn’t rotating, and if it’s not rotating there shouldn’t be any gravitational force keeping us land-bound.”

Gerard leans over to stare at the tiny circular device Brendon has cradled in his left hand. The compass looks like it originally came from some children’s toy ten, or maybe, fifteen years ago. The needle is pointing straight up, instead of in any direction or spinning uncontrollably in an never-ending circle.

“Maybe it’s broken?”

Brendon turns his head to stare at Gerard. For a moment, Gerard worries that he didn’t convey his question right. The deadness has also crept into his own voice.

“No. Floating dead in space, the emergency lights on the ship would have flickered on, even if there was a massive power failure. The emergency systems are wired outside the normal circuits. However, when I came to, not even the emergency systems were running. This means something killed the system itself. Bled it dry. I’d say we fell into a black hole, but those don’t just randomly pop up in charted space.”

The compass continues to do nothing. Brendon glares at it before pitching it off into the distance. It makes a dull clank of a sound when it pings against some long-forgotten piece of metal. Gerard takes a sip of his water and watches as Brendon finally picks at his rations.

“Improbability Bubble.”

Gerard doesn’t know why it took him so long to remember one of Mikey’s favorite classic sci-fi tropes. When Brendon turns back to stare at him again, Gerard repeats himself. “An Improbability Bubble, that could be it right? Sound doesn’t carry naturally. I bet that’s why your flashlight flickered and died once we got out of the ship. It could have been what bled the systems dry. I mean, science fiction has to get the science from somewhere and it makes the best sense of all the crack-pot theory we could concoct. I don’t know why it only took two chunks of the ship though.”

Brendon stares at the splinted fingers of his right hand and shrugs before changing topics. “This wasn’t how I imagined our first date. Not that I really had time to mentally imagine anything. I was going to ask you out, it would have just been an offer to get shitty re-perked port coffee together, but it would beat this by spades.”

The dim light that illuminates everything around them hasn’t changed. It doesn’t intensify and it doesn’t darken, even though it should technically be dark hours by now. Gerard briefly wonders if this is what it would feel like to live in one of those lighted, digital photo frames where nothing ever changes.

“You were going to ask me out?” Gerard’s actually glad that his voice lacks any tonal difference at this very moment, because he’s never been good at the social cues that surround the whole romantic relationship thing.

Brendon slumps some. “Yeah. I know I’m spazzy and babbly, but I thought, why not, and then, well..yeah.”

Gerard nods for really no reason at all. “I would have said yes, and being marooned like some sci-fi trope would screw with asking. Star dust, I’ll still say yes, not that there’s any coffee or anything else remotely related to a normal date option lurking about.”

Brendon laughs and it sounds nothing like it did when Gerard heard it before they somehow survived an event that shouldn’t even exist. “Marooned would be if we were dropped off here on purpose, this is more like a shipwreck, thankfully there’s no tropical sun to crisp our skin a mottled red or any sea fowl to peck at our eyes.”

When they’re finished with their rations, Brendon shuffles closer and curls up against Gerard’s side. He’s asleep before Gerard can decide if he wants to ask if it’s okay if they cuddle. No stars twinkle above them. Gerard stares at the nothing until his eyes start to ache. Eventually, exhaustion tugs him down into sleep.

*

Time passes in a way that makes it evident that the concept doesn’t exactly exist with them in the Improbability Bubble. Gerard’s plexi wound is scabbed over, but it won’t heal any farther, and Gerard’s afraid to scratch at the scab. What if he does and then bleeds out because the wound won’t close?

Brendon’s fingers don’t seem to want to mend either. Gerard’s found him cursing enough times over not being able to tinker on random objects they come across to know that he’s having the same issues with healing that Gerard is. They’ve been exploring the IB for weeks and nothing they salvage works.

Nothing.

Well, okay, with Gerard’s help, Brendon was able to re-wire a portable filtration case into working for awhile. Gerard’s not sure how long the devise actually worked because they’ve resorted to relying on counting each time they wake from sleep as the start of a new day. There’s no other way to really mark the progress of time. The light never changes. Nothing ever moves unless they move it themselves, and there’s never any difference in the climate, or lack of climate for that matter.

Some of the smaller space crafts they find are actually in one solid piece, instead of broken up like their’s was. From what he notices, Gerard’s pretty sure it seems normal for larger vessels to break up and only scatter random portions of the frame about in the IB.

The only major problem Gerard has with all their exploring, is that they keep coming across bodies. There’s never a smell of decay lingering or the traces of scavenging animals being by to take bites out of the carcasses. The dead just look like they’ve fallen asleep, except for the few that noticeably show the after-effects of massive, self-inflicted trauma. They haven’t come across a skeleton.

Not once.

Brendon has this theory that most of the people trapped here have died of old age. Natural causes. Shit like that. Gerard’s not willing to test his theory by not eating or drinking. Sure, none of the dead seem to have died of malnutrition or starvation, but Gerard would rather play it safe, even if he logically knows that they should have died days ago from lack of proper eating habits.

Their rations keep getting smaller and smaller. Eventually, they’re either going to die from the starvation Brendon doesn’t seem to believe in, or they’re going to go crazy from the nothingness around them.

“My friends are going to kill me. If we ever get back. I haven’t seen them since I thought running away legally was a good idea. They have this surprise ‘Welcome Back Jackass’ party planned for me, or well, they did. I wasn’t supposed to know about it, but Ian accidentally let it slip the last time I got to wave him.”

Gerard nods. “I’d be surprised if Mikey hasn’t tried necromancy by using one of my hand-drawn sketches yet. Do you think anyone survived on the outside? I mean, we’re it here, but there’s a whole, what, three quarters of the ship not sitting off to our left.”

Brendon leans into Gerard. They’ve been very tactile with each other since that first ‘night’. Gerard’s pretty sure they’re dating, or doing the trapped alone together during an impossible situation equivalent of dating. He’s more than fine with this.

There’s definitely worse ways Gerard could be spending his time trapped here. Brendon fits in ways the few other people Gerard’s dated haven’t. For one, he’s just as rambly and random as Gerard is. They both have eclectic taste in movies, and Gerard would like to think that he’d still be seeing Brendon if they weren’t shipwrecked here together.

“I don’t know. It’s possible. Most of the ship has bulkhead doors, like you see in those old movies about ocean submarines. If they closed them off before the pressure was compromises too badly, it would have sealed off any leakages and would have given the crew time to usher passengers to the survival pods.”

Gerard wraps an arm around Brendon’s shoulders and Brendon yawns before whispering. “I hate this boredom. It feels like I’m going crazy. There’s nothing to do but wait for death. Nothing ever changes here, and there’s no signs that point to anyone else ever finding a way out. I’m glad I’m not alone, but it sucks that we’re here.”

That’s the sad truth. Gerard doesn’t want to die, but he doesn’t have any ideas. At least, none that would work. It’s depressing as fuck to think about, so Gerard tugs Brendon even closer and kisses him. This isn’t the first time they’ve kissed, but this is the first time it feels different, almost desperate.

Brendon moves around and shifts to climb into Gerard’s lap, being careful to keep his right hand away from gripping Gerard’s left arm. They kiss a second time and eventually their breathing becomes erratic, yet the sound around them is nothing more than a steady drone.

Gerard gets lost in a random thought and breaks their kiss to rest his head on Brendon’s shoulder. “Could you build a bomb?”

Brendon stiffens only slightly in his arms. “In theory, yes. Why?”

“There’s this movie, very underground and hard to find anymore, but it’s about these teenagers who get stuck in a time loop. They relive the same week in the past over and over again, for years, before one of them finally snaps, builds a bomb and blows them all up. They wake up in their present time and the movie ends. It had its issues, the time period was too loosely represented-”

Brendon moves his left hand to slip fingers through Gerard’s dark hair. “You want us to build a bomb because of a movie plot? I’m not saying no, but I want to be sure you know how low on the possibility scale it is that doing this will work. That’s if I can get the explosion to actually ignite. We’d have to bury it and hope the timer didn’t die before it went off. Not to mention, we’d need to find a shuttle that could, hypothetically, work in space as a literal life raft until someone could pick us up.”

Gerard wraps his right arm around Brendon’s back and tips them forward until they’re stretched out on the dustless ground that goes on forever. “If you have a better idea, we can go with that. As long as it’s not, go crazy and kill each other.”

Brendon smiles at him before leaning up and biting at Gerard’s bottom lip. “I’m in, but know that this isn’t going to be easy. I’ve never actually built a bomb in real life that was supposed to explode, only a mock one for science projects.”

“Do or do not, there is no try.” Gerard knows he’s a massive idiot for quoting a classical movie, but he doesn’t really know what else to say. Brendon laughs, and Gerard wishes for the hundredth time that the IB hadn’t stripped them of their inflection and vocal emotion. He misses Brendon’s laugh.

“We’ll start when we wake up, Yoda. Until then, sleep.”

*

“Fuck, wires don’t twist like that or you’re going to snap them. You have to be more gentle with them. Look, like this, fucking ow. I hate this.”

Brendon shakes his right hand and glares at the open transport panel they have popped open. The tiny transport pod they’ve selected doesn’t even have scorch marks scored into her hull. She’s space-worthy, or at least, that’s what Brendon says. Gerard doesn’t know much about space travel that he hasn’t learned from sci-fi movies and based on a true story inspirational vids. Brendon’s spent eight years living in space while on an intergalactic passenger ship. He knows more than Gerard does.

They’ve been alternating between bomb building and augmenting a survival transport the past month and a half. Brendon’s been getting aggravated more and more. Not that Gerard can tell by his words, but his body language is hostile. Gerard’s isn’t any better. They’re cycling together and bleeding into each other.

Having a goal to work towards has helped them morally. It’s just frustrating as fuck. They can’t test anything out to see if it works because if they do, they run the risk of fucking up the only time anything might actually work. Everything is a one shot deal.

Either it works and they survive, or it doesn’t and they’re put out of their misery together.

“Yeah, like that. I think....I think that’s the last tweak. Lets put the panel back into place and I’ll run you through procedures one more time.”

Brendon’s been paranoid the past week, drilling information in to Gerard’s head. They can’t cut the pod on until after the blast for fear that if they do before, they’ll end up stranded in a coffin if their plan actually succeeds. Someone has to be able to switch on the life support and record a distress message. They’re going to be floating in space without a way to paddle forward, so they need to be found quickly, and Brendon’s afraid that something might happen and he won’t be aware enough to go through the check list himself.

“I know what to do, Bren. We’ve stopped and gone through mock trial runs seventeen times already. I could do this in my sleep.”

It’s the truth. Gerard just hopes he doesn’t have to run through the checklist in his sleep, or blind. Brendon crowds him against the panel the moment they have it closed. “Good. I just...if something happens and I can’t work the controls, you need to be able to take care of yourself. If you’re out, I know what to do. It’ll be a bitch working the switches with broken fingers, but I can do it.”

The transport pod is cramped and there’s barely enough room for the two of them to move around, let alone enough for Brendon to start kissing Gerard. If they want to have sex, again, the landscape outside the pod is open and full of space. Except, Gerard doesn’t really want to move, especially when Brendon drops to his knees and rests his forehead on Gerard’s jean cover thigh.

They’ve been fucking since the ‘night’ Gerard asked if Brendon could build a bomb. Some times, they’re frantic and other times they’re slow and Gerard’s pretty sure he’s in love with Brendon, no matter how fucked up the notion might seem. Brendon whispers the words into Gerard’s skin when they cling to each other afterwards. They might sound devoid of heart, but the actions aren’t.

Gerard wonders why everything had to fuck up for him to finally find someone he could connect with. Occasionally, he worries that he’s only duped himself into thinking he’s in love. Wouldn’t anyone else in his position end up the same way? Brendon had shook his head and voiced his own opinion when Gerard had mentioned the notion to him yesterday.

To Brendon, because he had already wanted to pursue something with Gerard, it’s not the particulars of their situation that’s brought them together. It’s just made it easier for there to be no distractions between the two of them.

“One last time, for luck.” Brendon mouths the words against Gerard’s thigh before using his left hand to unzip Gerard’s fly. They’re wearing borrowed clothing. This is their third change since they started actively raiding other transports and ships for supplies. Gerard hasn’t really bathed in months. A shitty cloth wash-off with a damp scrap of torn clothing and barely enough water to wet the damn thing, doesn’t really equal quality shower time.

That doesn’t mean they’re filthy. Somehow the IB keeps them from getting itchy or overly sweaty. Not that Gerard really minds, he’s gone seven standard days without a shower before. He can handle being greasy, if it came down to that.

Brendon’s mouth is warm and wet. It’s such a contrast to the lack of anything that happens around them. The temperature never changes and it never rains. Gerard has trouble not bucking his hips forward. Brendon has to raise his right arm to press across Gerard’s stomach to pin him to the panel because he can’t grip Gerard’s hip with his hand.

Gerard would be afraid of breaking the rigged panel, if it wasn’t for the fact that they’ve done this several times before, in this exact spot. His fingers dig into Brendon’s elbow, another bruise to add to their collection of smudged purples, blues, greens, and pinks that never seem to fade away.

It never takes long for Gerard to snap and come. Brendon swallows what he can before pulling back enough to lick up whatever he’s missed. The sight never ceases to make Gerard’s knees weak. Brendon slides back an inch or two and Gerard drops to push Brendon against the double bench seat they’ll be sharing when they make their break for it tomorrow. Brendon’s just as high-strung as Gerard is, and it doesn’t take long to get him off.

They sit slumped against each other, until Brendon fishes around for a discarded shirt so they can clean up. They learned the hard way that come doesn’t naturally dry and flake here, it just stays liquid and sticky. Once they’re cleaned up, Brendon rests his head on Gerard’s shoulder and naps.

Gerard follows him down the rabbit hole for a few hours, but wakes up restless, with a wayward thought in his head. He misses art deep down in his soul. Drawing shit on the flat, unusual, surface of the IB with scavenged malformed metal rods isn’t satisfying. A few weeks ago, one of the gutted wrecks of a pod had a tiny box of specialty paints in it. Gerard’s been itching to use them, but he hasn’t had time for anything not practical, until right now.

Their little transport pod doesn’t have a proper name. It’s just a random handful of numbers that makes Gerard sigh internally about. He already has a new name in mind, a nod towards the history of antiquity.

Aquarius seems fitting. The water bearer in astrology. Considering the human body is about seventy-five percent water at birth, it just makes sense. Gerard’s also got purple and yellow paint to work with, so he can paint tiny stars in the pattern of the classical constellation.

Brendon finds him when he’s just about finished, the purple s trailing off when Brendon presses his forehead against Gerard’s shoulder while his left arm wraps around Gerard’s waist.

“I didn’t take you for a classical space exploration history buff. You never talk about it when we ramble about random shit.” Brendon kisses Gerard’s shoulder before backing away.

“Everyone knows about The Aquarius, my college humanities professor taught a week-long lecture on the pit-falls of early space travel. He touched on The Helios debacle of twenty-two-twelve, and everything else in between. The Aquarius was one of the rare positive outcomes during the twentieth century.”

Gerard caps the paint and sets the brush next to the purple paint. The letters aren’t going to dry, so he steps away from his handy-work and goes to watch Brendon check the bomb over one last time.

“It’s a good name, I like it. The bomb could be Andy, but I really don’t want him to turn out to be a dud.”

 

Digging into the ground isn’t hard, the surface of the IB is solid but not frozen. It yields to their make-shift shovels of twisted metal hull chunks without much resistance. Gerard’s still not certain why Brendon thinks they should bury the bomb.

“Tell me again, why won’t smothering the giant explosive in dirt deter the blast radius?”

Brendon moves more colorless dirt. “What we really want is a concussion blast to rip the Improbability Bubble into shreds. I’m afraid that if we leave the bomb out in the open the IB will bleed it of its charge. If it’s buried loosely, it might have a chance to detonate uninterrupted.”

Once the bomb’s buried and activated, thank everything the timer actually blinks to life, Gerard drags a mildly stunned Brendon to the Aquarius. They don’t have time to marvel over shit working. Brendon has trouble buckling himself in after they have the pod manually sealed shut, so Gerard has to lean over and help him.

Hopefully the bomb explodes, because if it doesn’t, they’re going to die of suffocation in about an hour. Brendon grabs Gerard’s left hand with his right even though it must hurt like fuck, and tugs Gerard into a quick and messy kiss.

When they part, words trip off of his lips. “I lo-”

Everything whites out. There’s no jerk, no violent shake of their tiny survival pod. Just a sudden absence of everything. Gerard blacks out.

*

The pressure around him is daunting when he wakes. Gerard has to struggle just to move. His breathing is erratic and it’s painful every time he inhales and exhales. Brendon’s out next to him. Gerard almost panics before he notices the slow rise and fall of Brendon’s chest. Star dust, he has to reach the control panel and switch on the life support, but it’s difficult.

After a minute of wrestling with his buckle, he’s finally free and he falls towards the panel. He flails out a hand and flips the right switch. A tiny lick of coolness drifts in the cabin around them and Gerard sags some.

The life support works.

When he goes to try the engine, just as a precaution, it doesn’t work. Brendon had warned him that it wouldn’t. Too many years of being shut off, making the propulsion turbines useless.

Brendon doesn’t wake up when Gerard tries to shake him awake. It scares him; Brendon’s been at his side for however long they’ve been stranded in the IB, and to suddenly be alone is frightening.

It takes three tries before the comm system comes up and lets him record a simple distress message.

“This is Gerard Way passenger of The Ebony Lark. We’re floating dead in space, the coordinates are encoded with this message. I have one other survivor with me. We’d like some assistance as soon as possible.”

Gerard sets the message on loop and stares at the starlight shining brightly around them. A huge chunk of space debris floats by the view finder and Gerard stares at it. It never once crossed his mind what would happen to all the wreckage if they were actually successful.

Apparently, it came with them. Hopefully it won’t be an issue.

“Fuck, I feel shitty. Gerard?”

Brendon’s voice sounds strained and thin, weak. Gerard shudders some. His arm hurts worse than it ever did when they were stranded. “I’m right here. It worked.”

He drops back to the bench and curls around Brendon the best he can. Brendon shakes in his arms and Gerard realizes he’s cold. It’s an unusual feeling after not being plagued by chills in what feels like forever.

Time passes slowly and Gerard fades in and out of consciousness. Maybe it was a bad idea for them to stop eating three days ago. However, they’d finally ran out of rations, and there was nothing left, short of undesirable options that they vetoed pretty quickly.

Gerard’s just dropping his head back down on Brendon’s shoulder to sleep again, when there’s the crackle of static.

“This is Captain Martin of The Cassandra Sun, It’s going to take us a second to get to you, there’s a lot of debris around you. What is your medical status?”

Brendon slowly leans forwards and stretches to flip the comm switch instead of standing and shuffling closer to the panel. “We’re banged up and dehydrated, but nothing critical code.”

Gerard drifts as Brendon answers the captain’s questions. His whole body hurts and he’s tired.

They made it back, he’s allowed to be lazy for a moment, or twelve.

*

The sound of knocking wakes him up. Gerard sits up in his bed and watches the nurse check his charts before turning and leaving after asking him if he needs anything. Mikey’s asleep at his bedside. He’s been home for four days and the hospital still won’t release him yet.

It’s been two weeks since they were found, floating a light year away from where The Ebony Lark got torn into bits at. Brendon’s in the room next to him. His friends randomly drop in at odd hours to deliver messages.

No one really understands what happened. It’s been two standard years since the Lark was crippled violently, fatally. Three fourths of the people on board didn’t survive the ordeal. And of those who did survive, few could, apparently, describe what happened.

Gerard’s had to field reporters and scientists since he was put up in this hospital room. Station 51 was always home to the weirdo theorists and out-there philosophers before Gerard left, it’s not like that would change in the time he’s been gone. His parents have been good at shooing the extra-determined people away from his room, though, and from the occasional commotion next door, Brendon’s friends are doing the same thing.

It would be better if Gerard could see Brendon, but the doctors have them separated at the moment for observation purposes. It sucks, because while on The Cassandra Sun they were allowed to be in the same room together. The dark hour infirmary nurse even let them share a medical bed together, as long as they promised not to have sex when anyone was around to hear or see them.

Gerard misses Brendon, and a small, small, tiny, little voice in his head keeps whispering that they’re home now, why would Brendon still want him? Gerard’s been doing his best not to listen to the little venomous voice. Brendon’s friends keep slipping in to remind him of how much Brendon really does care.

It’s weird, but appreciated.

Mikey snuffles some in his sleep and jerks awake. Gerard winces because the motion looks like it was painful. He’s been at Gerard’s bedside pretty much constantly, when Gerard’s parents haven’t been in to take his place. It’s hard as fuck to wrap his head around the fact that his family thought he was dead. He doesn’t fault them for it, but it’s still weird. Gerard’s going to have to go through a mass of red tape just to get his paperwork active again. Star shine, that’s not even getting into the trouble he’s going to have trying to claw his way back into the artistic community.

“You’re staring at me again, Mikey. I’m not that mesmerizing. Go back to sleep, I’m fine. I’m not going to vanish, I promise.”

Mikey adjusts his glasses and just blinks. “Who said I was staring at you, asshole? Your boyfriend’s standing in the doorway shuffling about. I’m going to get coffee, Brendon do you want any?”

Brendon shrugs and steps into the room when Mikey gets close enough to slip around him. “Spencer and Dallon are playing confuse the dark hour staff for me. I hope that’s okay. Your mother said it was when I asked her earlier, right before she left for the night with your father. It is okay, right?”

Gerard doesn’t know why Brendon sneaking out to see him would ever be wrong. “It’s more than okay, Bren. Do you think they could distract the staff for a few hours? It’s hard as fuck trying to sleep alone.”

That seems to break Brendon of his frozen inaction near the door. He bolts for the bed and climbs up, until he’s curling up against Gerard’s side. “I wasn’t sure, if we were still us, the guys said I was being a moron, but things are so fucked up right now, and I can’t think straight. I missed you, Gee.”

Brendon’s left hand searches for Gerard’s right before twining their fingers together. The doctors on The Cassandra Sun healed Brendon’s broken fingers and Gerard’s arm the first few days they were in the infirmary, but old habits die hard.

“It’s probably going to be weird for a while, but I’d like to try and make this work, if you want to, that is?” Gerard doesn’t get a chance to say anything else because Brendon surges forward and kisses Gerard hard.

“Okay, I was expecting that, but like that’s still not something I want to see a lot of, like not at all if possible. My brother doesn’t have a sexuality, it makes shit easier.” Mikey doesn’t even knock when he slips in and shuts the room door behind him with his elbow. “I got black, I hope that’s okay Brendon?”

Brendon shrugs. “I don’t think it matters anymore. I shouldn’t even drink this, but thank you.”

Gerard hasn’t been allowed coffee since they got back. He doesn’t really give a fuck if it wires him. His first sip, isn’t exactly bliss, but it comes close. he makes an embarrassing sound in the back of his throat after he swallows. Brendon buries his head in Gerard’s shoulder and tries not to laugh.

Mikey ignores the both of them in favor of flipping through the graphic anthology he brought with him during light hour shift. Gerard’s glad that the nursing staff has, at least, decided to not enforce the visitors hours for Gerard and Brendon. It’s comforting having Mikey around, Gerard’s missed his brother and having him around helps solidify everything around him as real, instead of some insane break from reality.

“I know this technically isn’t our first date, and I didn’t pay, but we have coffee. That’s a step in the right direction right?” Gerard finishes his cup and plucks Brendon’s from his fingers, setting it on the bedside dresser.

“We never took a step in the wrong direction. When we get released, I’ll take you for a real cup of coffee. None of this stale swill.” Brendon’s mouth tastes bitter when Gerard kisses him. Seriously, as soon as they get sprung from this bed, Gerard’s taking Brendon to his favorite coffee shop, if it’s still in business, and introducing him to the world of quality brews.

“I should have known you’d be a coffee snob.” Brendon’s laughter is happy, if a bit strained from exhaustion. Gerard wants to hear Brendon laugh as often as possible, and have it not sound empty and flat.

“You love me anyways.”

Brendon ruffles a hand through Gerard’s hair. “I do.”

Mikey snorts and Gerard sees him shake his head before he goes back to his graphic anthology without teasing Gerard for being sappy. In a few months that will change, until then Gerard’s going to milk the experience for as long as he can. Maybe, if he’s lucky, Mikey will say or do something that Gerard can use as sibling blackmail material. He’s going to need all the ammunition he can amass for when Mikey finally decides it’s perfectly harmless to tease Gerard for being ridiculous.

Gerard’s fine with that. It would be good to get back to normal. Really live again. There’s so many things he wants to do with Brendon, and only a third of them have anything to do with sex and an actual bed. They’re alive, and Gerard fully intends to exploit that forever if Brendon will let him.