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Below Deck

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Aaron turns the latch handle on the door and knocks as he pushes it open. Marta's stripped out of her pants, now down to her underwear and tank top, lying on the narrow bunk along the wall. They've slept like this for the past two nights, she on the bunk and he on a couple blankets on the floor next to her. They slept hard from the exhaustion of injury and trauma. He thinks Marta is suffering some effects of PTSD from it all and she's coping well, great actually, but he's still worried.

“Doc, you okay?”

“'M fine.” She rolls onto her side toward him, tucking her hands under her pillow, letting her top leg fold forward and gives him a sleepy smile. “Just feeling kinda drowsy after being in the sun today.”

He nods as he shuts the door behind him. Locks it. After spending the first couple days mostly sleeping, eating whenever the Captain's boy brought food, today was the first day they'd spent up on deck. The Captain chuckled when he brought them an old bottle of Coppertone sunblock, making some kind of joke about them needing to protect their pale skin.

He kicks the corners of the blanket on the floor into order, unfastens his pants and pushes them down. They've been practically naked in front of each other a lot the last few days. They wore the bedsheets like togas while the boy had washed out their clothes, and they'd nursed each others injuries. But that had still seemed like necessity, like pack animals tending wounds, but none of it had been sexy. The idea had been so far out of his mind that Aaron hadn't once considered the possibility of having a hardon in front of her. It just wasn't going to happen. But today, the let down finally hit. They'd laughed. They'd felt alive and enjoyed the sights of the islands and the clear sea.

“How's your leg?” she asks, pushing up onto her elbow. Her question feels like an order and he probably doesn't have to listen to orders anymore but that idea is still a little terrifying, and besides, he likes listening to the Doc's orders. He stands close for her inspection. She reaches out and touches his leg, the wound already healed over with a smooth, light pink scar. “Amazing.” She says the word with a kind of far away awe, and smiles up at him. It's still kind of a sad smile, like she's glad that he's healed so fast but she's still attached to the guilt about why.

“It's good,” he says, and puts a hand over fingertips, against his thigh. “How's yours?”

“Urgh,” she groans and rolls towards him onto her belly so he can see for himself. “I don't know. How's it look?” She looks back at him over her shoulder so he makes sure that his facial expression is appropriately studious. The abrasions were mild so now there are only a few small scratches and scabs but there's a lot of bruising peeking out from under the edge of her underwear on her left ass cheek.

“It'll probably start yellowing tomorrow. It'll hurt less.”

“I'm not complaining,” she says.

“No, I know." Because she wouldn't. "The hamstring okay?”

“Better.” She reaches back and presses at the crease of her thigh where the tendon is strained. “Not perfect.”

She rolls back up onto her side and he continues to stand there, looking at her. He shouldn't be doing it, he knows. He's tries to be respectful, doesn't want to be creepy, and he knows if he stands hulking over her like this it might feel like an intimidation to her. He never wants to do that. But these thoughts all snap through his brain like a series of filaments burning out.

It's just that the line of muscle running down the side of her thigh has caught his attention. It's a delicate and beautiful thing but it shows her strength too.

He doesn't have permission to think such things, he reminds himself so he drags his gaze upwards but he then notices how her nipples are raised against her tank top and he thinks that the weather is warm, she can't be cold so he wonders if that could possibly be a sign of arousal and if it could be directed at him or just because she hasn't had any sexual gratification in a while but he shouldn't even be wondering such things so he tears gaze upwards yet again and meets her eyes.

And she's seen him. She's caught him looking at her, and she's a smart, intuitive lady, she knows what he's thinking.

“Sorry,” he says, and his throat is sticky dry so it comes out in only a breathy whisper. He turns away, bends his knees and lies down. He folds his hands over his stomach and fixes his eyes on the ceiling.

It's the first time in days that things have actually been awkward and it's all his fault. He should have better control than this. He can, he will. He's better now, he thinks, and repeats it. Better. Better. Better than he was before.

Marta shifts and he can tell she's looking down at him from the bunk.

“Aaron? Hey,” she says gently.

He doesn't know if he should apologize again or if maybe he should leave, take his blanket and sleep on deck.

“Can?-” Marta starts to say, interrupting his thoughts before he can contemplate any further and she pushes herself up and over the bunk's safety rail and sinks down next to him with her pillow in hand. “Can I sleep here?” she asks.

He looks at her, surprised and disappointed but nods. “Of course," he says and starts to get up and leave.

“No.” She laughs softly and puts a hand on his chest, letting her fingers linger on his skin. “I mean, here, with you. There's no room on my bunk or I'd invite you up."

“Oh. Oh. Okay. Yeah," he stutters, realizing she wants for them to lie together.

He lays back down, still not sure, but he opens his arm to her and she fits herself against him, her arm over his ribs and her head on his chest. And this, this is the kind of thing he was always supposed to avoid. It feels good, settling, like what safe and happy and content might be like. It's a misleading feeling, undermining the reality. He understands why they punished operatives who fell in love. It is distracting. He turns his face to her and presses his cheek against her hair. He closes his eyes and lets the comfort of her settle and reminds himself that he might not be truly safe, but that no one owns him anymore. He's allowed.

He doesn't want to assume too much here, but he’s always been honest with her and he’s pretty sure she intends for them to have sex. Which, theoretically is great. Except for his long list of reservations.

“I should probably tell you. I haven’t been with a woman in a really long time.”

She nods, nuzzles and squeezes him in a way that answers she understands.

“Do you mind if I ask? How long?”

“Years. Ten. Maybe twelve? Since I was someone else.”

She looks up at him sharply then, a crease between her brows. “Was that by choice or were you not permitted? Oh. Or, are you not”

He snorts a soft laugh at that. “Everything’s in working order, Doc. Don’t worry.”

She clicks a ‘tch’ sound at him with a playful nudge, “I'm not worried,” and nestles against him again.

“I mean, I guess I was permitted. In a sense,” he says. Marta remains quiet, waiting, and he knows he’s going to have to explain. It’s weird to him because he thought she knew everything but he keeps learning just how much she was kept ignorant of.

“So, every few weeks, between assignments, or before med check ups, back with the first set of docs. Then with you. I'd get an R&R. Ah, rest and relaxation.”

“I know what R&R means,” she says, poking a finger at his ribs, trying to tickle him.

“Yeah. Okay. And R&R came with a directive, we called it an E order.”

“I don’t know that one. What's an E order?”

“For endorphins. Um, you know, like how the brain needs a good endorphin bath for maximum function right? That sort of thing.”

“So. You were given an order to have sex every few weeks? For the endorphin effect?”

“Not exactly. Well sort of? It wasn't specified. I was supposed to 'consume a spicy food of my preference', 'engage in a relaxing hobby or pastime,' and 'experience a release of sexual tension'. So depending on where I was, I usually just bought a dozen tacos and watched cartoons. Or that Nick at Night? With all the sitcoms? That was good, too, if I could get it.”

“And the other thing? The release?”

He shrugs one shoulder, let his eyes dart away for a second. “Just took care of myself.”

Marta stares at him, her lips tense with that look of professional annoyance on her face.

“Those orders never came from my lab.”

“Yeah. I figured as much, after a while.”

“And it was - they were manipulating my data,” she says, sitting up onto her elbow. “You would have to do this before med checks, you said?”

He nods. “Uh-huh.”

She grits her teeth and clenches a fist, letting it comes down onto her own thigh. “Because they knew! They knew that if you showed up with too much sign of distress it would affect the readings. They put you through all that – and then they would make you 'destress' so your lab results wouldn't be as damaging. God, Aaron, I'm so--”

She lets her head fall against his chest with force, partly in her own frustration but she's also squeezing at him in apology.

“No. Hey, no. We've been over this. They manipulated everything. All of us.”

“I should have known.”

“You couldn't have.”

She presses a kiss to his chest and squeezes him again and the way her head is angled she's looking down his body and he knows she can see that he's gotten aroused now, see him tenting his underwear just because she’s so close and touching him. It’s a little embarrassing for her to see him like this, but he makes the feeling stay low in his belly, disconnected from it. He won't let it climb into his chest, making it hard for him to breathe, making him want to change positions and hide it. He's never been allowed to act on embarrassment. Nudity, his body, its function haven't belonged to him in years. He's accustomed to the submission. And she's examined him before, she's seen it all. She's even seen him erect at least once. She probably doesn't remember but he does.

He hadn't had an E order, no time for it, in seven weeks. Even with the pain of a broken bone in his foot and torn ligaments in his ankle, he sat on the examination table trying to get her to talk to him. Trying to be a gentleman. He didn't mean for it to happen, but when she administered the sedative into the vein in his arm he could smell her. She wore a soft scent, very delicate and sweet, and her hands were warm and gentle as she positioned his arm.

She turned away to set the syringe down and the room was already going wobbly when she came back to him. It was against his instinct to sit still and allow himself to be put under like that. To surrender himself.

He knew the thin medical gown did nothing to hide the outline of his cock, hard and standing, and he curved forward, bracing his hands on his knees. He wasn't allowed to be embarrassed about the functions of his body, but he was ashamed that she might think he disrespected her, or intended her harm. She knew that he was strong, that he could hold her down and make her take it if he was that kind of man, he'd seen that done all over the world, but he wanted her to know he wasn't like that.

“Sorry,” he'd whispered, finding his voice through the fog settling into his blood. “You're just so pretty.”

“Shh.” She cradled his head in her hands and he tilted into her touch.

“Been a long -can't help it ...sorry.”

“Shh, shh, easy now. Close your eyes,” she'd said.

That was the last that he’d remembered, but she hadn't sounded angry or scared of him, and his injuries were healed when he woke up. He liked to think that meant he was forgiven.

They hold each here as their bodies tilt and rock with the pitch of the boat. He feels her fingers making tiny patterns over his skin, skimming between each rib and then up the center of his chest and back and forth over his collarbones. He can’t remember being touched so gently and deliberately in that space between his collarbone and neck. It should maybe be threatening, considering the damage a person could do there, but this makes him arch his neck into the touch and inhale and that’s when he realizes his heart rate has increased. Marta pushes up towards him and he opens his eyes. He watches her eyes follow her fingertips as they trace up his neck to his mouth and then she moves to kiss him. He doesn't mind, if she wants to kiss him, he’ll let her and he won’t mind at all. Except that she pulls away and gives him a worried look, so different from the happy gaze she had a moment ago.

“Should I not?” she asks. “Is this not okay?”

“No,” he says. “It’s fine.” He gives her a smile because she always relaxes when he remembers to smile at her and then he realizes that it’s okay if she kisses him because not only does he not mind, he wants her to. He raises his head a little this time and she meets his lips again and this time he kisses her back.

He tries all the different ways to kiss her; tilting his head from side to side like he’s seen in movies, and then he tries opening his mouth just enough to suck against her lips. He can feel the tip of her tongue so he tries that and mirrors everything she does. If she knows that he’s learning to do this with her for what feels like the first time, she doesn't let on.

Marta pulls away, pushes her fingers through his hair, strokes a thumb over his eyebrow and smiles, then kisses him again. He’s slowly discovering that just kissing? Is a thing. Just kissing, enjoying the weight of her on his chest, the feel of her bare skin under the back of her tank top, is a really great thing. He will keep doing this for as long as she’s willing.

What he doesn't expect is how this gets made even better when she makes the tiniest moaning sound and thrusts against his thigh. He had finally relaxed into the ease of this slow and careful making out like he hasn't done since he was young man, his body had gone soft but now he’s hard again and getting frustrated without any pressure on his cock. She kisses down his neck, licks and kisses at his chest, which he doesn't fully understand but he certainly isn't opposed to.

Aaron opens his eyes and raises his head to watch her, see her wanting to touch him as she slips her hand under the elastic of his underwear and grip around him. Marta strokes him firmly for a little while before tugging at his underwear. He obliges, lifting his ass to push them away. She raises up onto her bent knees, sitting on her heels and looks at him, not looking at him like a doctor looks at her patient, or like he’s an experiment to be studied, but like he’s a man - a person.

Marta’s not shy about showing her appreciation for how he looks. Her eye tooth catches the edge of her lip when she looks him over, pausing over his cock. He looks down at himself, wondering what she sees, but to him it’s the same. Rough. Just a utility. Cosmetic surgeries and regenerative tissue have hidden the most notable and identifying scars but he still has the ghost memory of every disfiguring injury. He’s never invested much value to the times people have tried to seduce him, made lewd commentary about his ass or the ‘gun show’ trying to pass it off as praise. He knows he’s not a handsome man.

But it’s different when Marta looks at him like this and he wants to be wanted by her.

She lifts her top off and he barely has a moment to appreciate the beauty of her breasts and reach for her before she’s pushing her underwear off, tucking the fabric under her knees and she holds still for a moment, like she’s letting him survey her too, like maybe she wants to be wanted as well.

He does.


She ducks her eyes away and stretches out on top of him.

“You sure? About me, though?” he asks. Because he’s learned, just because his body can do something and wants to do it, doesn’t mean that he should.

“Yes. Very much.” She must see the hesitation in his eyes because she adds, “don't you?”

“I. Yeah. Well, maybe? Just, to be honest...” He stutters the last bit out because she’s stroking him again, and because he really doesn't want to disappoint her. He wants her to know he has no idea what he’s doing.

But she’s pulling on him in a rhythmic up-down and then changes to a quick jerk, like he might to do himself and then slow again. The pleasure makes him shut his eyes to roll with the pleasure, already building up and spiking along his spine with every passing second. “It’s just. Ah, jesus. It’s been a long time - you gotta stop, Marta. I’m gonna come. Swear if you don’t stop I’m gonna-”

She stops, squeezes around the base of his cock hard and the muscles in his stomach jump and he whimpers as his breath hitches. With her other hand she carefully holds his balls, pulls them very gently, soothing away the tension of being at the edge of orgasm.

“Just breathe,” she says against his neck, kissing him. “There’s no hurry.”

He nods, focusing on the ceiling for a moment, and breathes in and out. “Okay. I’m okay.”

He thinks maybe if he concentrates on her, he won’t get so close so quickly. She goes easily when he moves to roll them over. She parts her legs and he settles against her and he tries to keep kissing her but he’s just rutting, his cock pressing between her legs. He can feel the heat, the moisture, the thrasp of hair against his cock and he’s beginning to shake with the want of it.

Marta catches his hand where he’s touching the inside of her thigh and guides it down, curves her middle finger over his and they both slide inside of her.

He remembers having sex. Abstractly. The distant memory of a gawky seventeen year old, waiting for his birthday so he could join the Army. He was lonely and horny, with little education about how bodies work. The girls he was with were Residents like he was, desperate to act on what their bodies craved and not knowing what to do. He knows he had sex with them but it was rushed and in the dark. He’s watched porn since. He’s heard people fucking, seen them on surveillance monitors. He’s also seen rape and abuse and humiliation and he’s not sure he understands the lines between it all. There’s so much risk involved. Even a blowjob comes with the risk of teeth, which are a weapon as far as he’s concerned. Sodomy is a device of torture, he’s been taught to use and withstand if need be. He’s got no problem with men who love each other but can not understand why those who do, would do that to each other. And he’ll never proclaim to understand what it feels like to have a woman’s body but he’s never been convinced that sex could possibly be pleasurable for a woman. To have your body invaded like that.

“Aaron?” Marta says, taking his head into her hands and making him focus on her. “What is it? Are you thinking of protection? Because we’re both healthy. Particularly with your...” With his immune system, yeah. “And I have an IUD, so.”

“Right. They gave me a vasectomy, so it’s.” He shrugs. “Yeah.”

She frowns again, and pulls him down to hug him and he’s sorry he said something to upset her again. He wasn't given a choice about the vasectomy but he didn't mind it either. The last thing he’d ever have wanted was to bring a child into the world that was like he had been, simple, small and bullied. Particularly if he wasn't going to be around forever to keep a child safe.

“You’ll tell me to stop, right? If I, I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Shh. Come here, it’s okay,” she says, pulling him close. He drops his head to her shoulder, feeling her knees raise on either side of him. Marta’s fingers brushing his cock and guiding him closer and he goes, compelled by instinct and by her hands on his ass pulling him in.

“Oh, Aaron,” Marta says, clenching around him and kissing his temple

“You sure?” He manages to say through a whimper.

Yes. It’s good,” she says, her voice strained.

He lets himself settle more, sinking deeper and they both moan at the contact. He’s still afraid of hurting her, of being one of those men who hurt women like this, but he’s shaking with how good this feels. It’s instinct more than memory than makes him push, pull back and push forward again, until he’s not even thinking about the motion, just rocking in slow careful movements. Marta’s voice is as wrecked as his own and she’s holding him tight, pulling him deeper.

“Aaron. Aaron,” she whispers between kisses to his mouth, his cheek and shoulder. He wonders if she repeats his name like that because she feels bad for only knowing him as ‘Five,’ and wants to say it now. Whatever her reason, he likes it. So few people know his name, let alone speak it so tenderly.

“Aaron, harder,” she says, arching up and tightening. “God, more.”

He shakes his head, silent no against her neck. “I don’t want to.”

He closes his eyes tight, trembling and sweating with how good this feels, the near painful ache in his cock that makes him want to be harder, to fuck her.

“I’m okay,” she whispers, inhaling and exhaling slowly. “It’s all right,” she says, beginning to pet light little scratches down the back of his neck and spine. It’s soothing, so he relaxes a little, takes a breath, but he’s still hard inside her and she keeps her legs wrapped around him. “Do you believe me when I say this feels good? Hey, look at me.”

He doesn't really want to, but he follows instructions and raises his head and opens his eyes and it’s wise that he listened to the good doctor, he thinks. He’s here, safe in her arms, safe on this boat, for a time anyway, and they’re whole and free and he’s allowed to be with this beautiful woman if she wants him. You’re not a boy anymore, Cross, he reminds himself.

“Thank you.”

“For what?” She cups the side of his face and gives him a quick kiss.

“For pulling me out of my head. I get stuck in there sometimes.” He kisses her, smiles around her hint of tongue. “Want to be good for you but I don’t know enough about the good part of this.”

She nods, and continues to stroke his hair and his neck. He’s bracing most of his weight on his forearms but his fingers can reach her shoulders and he strokes his fingertips over them on and kisses the soft slant of her breast.

“Let me show you. Do you trust me?”

He nods, makes sure he makes eye contact. “Yeah.” He rocks into her a little, gently but still so hard against her softness.

She purrs a little bit in his ear, grips her thighs around him and her eyes flutter shut.

“I trust you know best, Doc,” he says. He really does, even if he forgets briefly.

“Let go,” she whispers. Her legs go slack, she softens around him and she lays back. “Moving more makes it better.”

Aaron moves slowly, pushes up onto his hands and looks down at her. He’s so in awe of this brave, intelligent, survivor who fought for her life, fought for him, even though she’s not a soldier at all. He can’t remember being more attracted to a woman.

He dips his head and sucks a nipple into his mouth and hopes that is something he can do more of later. Her soft ‘oh’ and arching into his mouth tell him chances are good.

“Aaron...” she coaxes and so he goes. He moves then, still careful but faster. He wants to be good and careful and considerate. He wants to be one of those lovers that makes sure she gets off but he doesn't know how. He keeps careful watch of her though, her eyes are shut and her expression is almost pained, but her moans and encouragement tell him not to stop.

He changes pace, adjusts the angle of his thrust and she cries out but the word is “yes!” so he doesn't stop. He can feel it rising him again, he won’t be able to avoid coming this time.

“What can I do for you?” he asks, his voice breathless and strained. “Want to make it good.”

Marta reaches between them, touching herself. "Don't stop."

He understands what she’s doing but wishes he could see better. There’s so much to see and to learn. Aaron pushes onto his knees and hauls her partly up onto his thighs, keeping his cock inside her but giving her fingers more room.

The pitch of her gasps and panted breath changes immediately. She looks into his eyes and says “harder,” brooking no question, and he doesn't hesitate this time. He grips her thighs and holds her tightly against him and thrusts hard. Her breasts move in hypnotizing rhythm to the pace he sets and Marta quakes and rolls against him, crying out and he only knows for certain she’s actually come when she pulls her hand away and lies back.

“Oh my god, Aaron,” she says, sounding exhausted. “Come here.”

He falls forward over her, his balls tight and sore and he knows he’s strong and has to be careful but he fucks her, thrusting erratic and fast, chasing his own pleasure. He moans loudly on every exhale as it builds in him and he doesn't recognize his voice.

She's wetter now that she's come, slicker, and just letting him have her and have this moment. It sparks right down his spine, deep inside of him and hits him with the force of a blow, her voice whispering, “yes” and “come on, Aaron” and “so good” in his ear.

“Oh wow,” he says after a moment, which might be more of a ‘whoa’, it’s not really language, just a groan and a kiss against her damp skin. “That was... Hey, Doc?” he says, looking up quickly to check her face for reaction when he realizes how rough he was just at the end.

“Yeah. That was,” she says, her sleepy smile raising one cheek and he kisses it.