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The Stars Look Very Different Today

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They knew the asteroid was coming. Not much in advance, but enough to build the Avalon, load it with the planet's best and brightest, and slingshot it into space toward the nearest habitable planet.

They broke the living quarters up into smaller communities, to foster friendship and bonding. "Fucking," Gwaine says, as they all lounge about the common room drinking Elena's contraband home-brewed wine. "That's what they mean. They want us to start making moon eyes and fucking each other's brains out. Can't repopulate the stars without babies, right?"

He's sure there are people on the Avalon who are fine with that idea, but it all seems a bit clinical and uncomfortable to Gwaine. Still, there's Elena's wine, and good company, and the brilliant shine of the stars through the common room window. All in all, he figures the apocalypse could be a hell of a lot worse.

#

Gwaine slides in beside Freya and offers her an apple, crisp and pink-skinned. She barely glances at it. "No thanks. Not hungry."

He keeps his smile on, keeps his hand out. "Eat it later, then."

"The generated apples get soft if you let them sit," she says impatiently. "Thank you, but—"

"It's not generated." He takes her hand and puts the apple in it, lets her feel the weight and the slick texture of the skin that the generator just can't quite get right, no matter how Elyan tinkers with it.

She stares at it, and then at him. "How?"

"It's my personal item."

"You brought an apple tree—"

"It's a hybrid. Miniaturized, but still grows full-size fruit. My own design," he adds proudly when she continues to gape.

She closes her fingers around the apple. It takes her a bit longer to close her mouth. "I'm not going to fuck you just because I'm supposed to feel some obligation to pop out kids for the good of mankind."

Gwaine's smile falls off his face. "Whoa. It's an apple, not a ring. I thought you might like it."

She remains dubious, but when Gwaine reaches to take it back, she keeps it and bites into it decisively.

#

He meant what he said. Still, he can't say he's not pleased when another month of flirting and a bit of Elena's wine suddenly has her wrapped around him like an octopus as he carries her back to his berth.

"Wait." She pushes his hands off even as she sucks a hickey onto his neck. He drops onto the edge of his berth so she's straddling him, free to leave whenever she wants. "I'm not fucking you, dammit."

"Okay," he says, and she rears back and blinks at him like it's the last thing she expected.

#

She's free with her kisses, but freezes whenever his hands trail past her waist. "Frey," he whispers one night when she keeps pulling them away from her hips, but pins him and shoves her tongue down his throat every time he tries to put distance between them. "If you don't want a baby, all you have to do is say so."

She freezes. Her face goes soft and vulnerable, and her eyes shine with tears. "I don't want a baby," she whispers like it's some terrible secret. "I can't—"

He silences her with a kiss, swallows the startled noise she makes against his mouth. "I'd make a terrible father, anyway," he says, and when she gives a wet laugh, he swallows that, too. "Do you want me?"

"Yes. Christ. But—"

He knows. There aren't any contraceptives on the Avalon. "It's okay," he whispers and rolls her onto her back. "It's okay," he soothes when he presses his mouth to her sex, when she grabs his hair and pulls him in hard against her.

Later, he wraps her in his arms as he moves three fingers inside her, whispering against her ear about how beautiful she is, how much he wants to make her feel good. And finally, the pinched worry eases out of her expression and pure, simple pleasure floods over her face.

Later, he thinks, when the frantic need has died, he'll bring her apples in bed and suck the juice off her lips and show her all the ways they can take and give pleasure, without ever risking a child. Later. Right now, he just wants to hold her close and kiss her through her orgasm.

It may be the end of the world, but it feels like the start of something new.