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Family Matters

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They were in-flight from Aya to Voeld and Jaal was just getting settled into the Tech Lab aboard the strange alien craft. The lab was more spacious than the crew quarters and Jaal wasn’t quite comfortable being too close to all these strange aliens just yet.

Jaal was originally surprised how many different aliens this Initiative was comprised of. Humans, Asari, Turian, Salarian and Krogan. The fact that they all came from the same galaxy and, for the most part, seemed to get along peacefully, amazed him. After all these decades fighting against the only other alien species the Angaran had ever encountered, his view of aliens as all being hostile invaders was almost ingrained in his genetic code.

Yet, there had been something about this Pathfinder, Scott Ryder, that made Jaal want to trust him. He hoped that it wasn’t some natural pheromone his species emitted in order to gain compliance but he decided to trust his instincts and give Ryder the benefit of the doubt.

It would take a couple of days travel to reach Voeld, so once he was settled in, Jaal became restless and decided to take a tour of the ship. He didn’t want to disturb the crew on the bridge, so instead he headed towards the back of the ship and soon found himself in the engine room, staring at the drive core.

“Pretty impressive, isn’t it?” a human said, appearing next to him.

“Indeed,” Jaal agreed.

“My name’s Gil Brodie, Chief Engineer.”

“Jaal Ama Darav, of the Angaran Resistance.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Gil said, holding out his hand. Ryder had made a similar gesture and so Jaal allowed Gil to take his hand and shake it. Gil’s hand felt pleasantly cool, just as Ryder’s had. Perhaps humans ran cooler than Angara?

“I heard you moved into the Tech Lab,” Gil said. “So, I take it you’re a bit of a tech head like myself?”

“I have always enjoyed taking things apart to understand how they worked,” Jaal acknowledged.

“It’s nice to meet someone else who has an interest in technology,” Gil smiled at him.

Over the next few hours, Jaal found himself drawn into a discussion with Gil about Milky Way technology and especially their Prothean origins.

“So, your technology was largely based on an ancient, technologically advanced species as well?” Jaal mused out lout. “How remarkable.”

“Yeah, interesting coincidence,” Gil agreed.

Jaal noted the time. “I apologize for having monopolized all your time. I should let you return to your duties.”

“You’re probably right. Feel free to come by any time,” Gil invited. “It was nice meeting you.”

“Likewise,” Jaal replied. “Also feel free to visit me in the Tech Lab if you wish. I would be happy to teach you more about Angaran technology.”

“I’d love that,” Gil said with a wink. “It’s a date!”

Jaal chuckled, not quite understanding the reference, but amused by Gil’s enthusiastic tone.

***

The mission to rescue the Moshae was successful, but Jaal came back greatly disturbed over what he had learned. To know that the Kett he had spent a lifetime killing were once Angaran, broke Jaal’s heart. Perhaps his own father had been one of them. It was almost too painful to contemplate.

Jaal retreated into the Tech Lab as soon as he was dismissed from the Moshae’s side. He needed time to think. Now, more than ever, he missed being surrounded by his family. Sometime after they were on their way back to Aya, Jaal heard a soft knock before the doors of the Lab opened, Gil framed by the door way before he slowly came in.

“Hey, I heard about everything,” Gil said as he approached him. “I just wanted to check and see how you were doing? I can’t even imagine what you’re going through right now.”

“Thank you for checking, but I’m alright,” Jaal managed to say despite the waver in his voice.

“I wouldn’t be,” Gil said.

“I have to be,” Jaal insisted.

“Look, I get it,” Gil replied. “But it’s good to get it out. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here for you. I mean that.”

“Thank you, Gil,” Jaal replied. “You’re…kind. I really miss my family at times like these. Are you close to your family?”

Gil hesitated for a moment before sitting down next to Jaal. “No. I grew up on the streets. I’m not entirely sure who my family were. I don’t know if I was abandoned or just orphaned. It was all so long ago.”

“That’s…very sad,” Jaal said. “I cannot imagine not having my family.”

“You do like to talk about family a lot,” Gil noted.

“Really? I guess that’s just part of our culture,” Jaal shrugged. “Our families are large, and we share our parents with the community.”

“Sounds nice,” Gil admitted. “I wouldn’t wish my childhood on anyone. Although I guess I still turned out alright in the end.”

“So, do you wish you had a family?” Jaal asked.

“Yeah,” Gil admitted. “Maybe someday, if I ever settle down with the right guy, we can adopt a whole passel of kids or something.”

“Guy?” Jaal asked. “Are you attracted to males?”

Gil nodded. “Yeah. Even though my best friend Jill is a woman, I’m only attracted to men. What about you?”

“I have never really given it much thought,” Jaal admitted. “I have only been in love once, with a girl. Her name was Allia.”

“What happened to her?” Gil asked.

“My older brother came and she fell for his charms. They returned together to Havarl and she joined our family and became one of the mothers,” Jaal explained.

“Ouch, sorry to hear that,” Gil sympathized. “So, do you see her when you visit your family?”

Jaal shook his head. “No. They were both taken by the Kett. But their children survived.”

“Man, that’s rough,” Gil sighed as he reached out and gave Jaal’s knee a little squeeze in sympathy. “I take it back. I think I’ll take my days on the streets over having to put up with what your people do every day.”

“But we put up with it surrounded by family,” Jaal said. “I couldn’t imagine having been alone during my childhood.” Jaal hesitantly reached out and squeezed Gil’s knee in an effort to replicate his gesture of comfort.

“Oh, I wasn’t alone,” Gil said. “I ran with a pack of other kids like myself. They were kind of like my family.”

“That is good to hear,” Jaal said.

“I guess, in a way, this group of oddballs we got onboard the Tempest, kind of reminds me of them,” Gil chuckled. “So, until you get back to your family, you could think of us as your surrogate family.”

“Hmm,” Jaal mused. “I would like that.”

Gil let out a yawn. “I should go get some shut-eye. Let me know if you need to talk more. I’m happy to lend an ear.”

***

The next few weeks went by in a blur as they traveled back to Aya, then on to Havarl and Eos before finally taking a respite at the Nexus. Being the only Pathfinder, Ryder seemed to take it upon himself to solve everyone’s problems. Every mission seemed to go on longer than expected as everyone looked to Ryder for help.

Ryder seemed to be accomplishing the impossible. He had dealt numerous decisive blows against the Kett, activated the vaults on three worlds, making them habitable again, and had helped the Angaran people immeasurably in the process.

Before disembarking the Tempest to stretch his legs and get a tour of the Nexus, Lexi had asked him to come in for a routine scan before he began mixing with the general population.

Jaal gladly complied. While he sat on the diagnostic bed, allowing Lexi to make her scans, he thought to ask something. “I was wondering if you could clarify some questions I have about human physiology?”

“Sure, what do you want to know?” Lexi replied as she continued her work.

“Can both males and females carry young?” Jaal asked.

Lexi stopped and stared at him for a moment. “No, the male impregnates the female and she carries the child.”

“So how do two males procreate?” Jaal continued.

“They can’t,” Lexi replied. “Not with each other anyway. They can find a surrogate female to carry a child for them or they can adopt. That’s the only way.”

“I see,” Jaal said. “So then why do two males of their species mate? How is it even possible?”

“If you mean having sex?” Lexi asked for clarification and Jaal nodded. “Some humans are born with a sexual attraction to the same sex. Others are born with a sexual attraction to both sexes. There are even some humans who are born with no sexual attraction to anyone.”

“How very interesting,” Jaal said. “Can you explain to be the mechanics of two human males engaging in sexual intercourse?”

“Why? Is there a human male you’re interested in?” Lexi asked suspiciously.

“There is,” Jaal admitted. “Our Chief Engineer is charming and I find him quite attractive. Knowing my anatomy, is it possible?”

Lexi nodded. “Your sexual physiology is similar enough to humans that you should have no problem in that department.”

Lexi then proceeded to explain to Jaal the mechanics of homosexual sex, emphasizing the need for lubrication.

“Thank you for your very thorough explanation,” Jaal acknowledged. “I appreciate it.”

“Here,” Lexi handed Jaal a small bottle. “Just in case you need it.”

“Ah this is the…lubrication…you were emphasizing?” Jaal clarified. “I don’t even know if Gil feels the same yet. He and I have…much to discuss first.”

“Just take it. It can also come in handy in other ways,” Lexi said with a wink. “I’m done with your scans, you’re free to go, just tell Drack to get his ancient ass in here before I come looking for him.”

Jaal chuckled. “I will convey the message. Thank you.”

***

From the moment Gil first saw Jaal in the meeting room on board the Tempest, he’d been fascinated by the alien. The Angara were certainly a very interesting looking people.

The first time he ran into Jaal in Engineering, he was drawn in by his eyes and kind smile. After the discovery of what the Kett were doing to the Angara on Voeld, Gil’s first instinct was to check on Jaal as soon as the mission debriefing was over. Hearing the depths of sadness in Jaal’s voice almost broke Gil’s heart.

Gil felt very drawn to Jaal and he still wasn’t sure if Jaal would ever be interested in more than mere friendship, but he couldn’t help his heart skipping a beat when he saw the tall alien enter the Vortex. Jaal seemed to look around for a moment, nodding at Liam when they made eye contact. However instead of approaching Liam, Jaal kept looking until his eyes fell upon Gil.

Gil’s heart actually sped up a bit when he saw Jaal’s face light up as he made his way over towards Gil. “I was hoping I’d find you here,” Jaal said with that beautiful sonorous voice of his.

“Ryder has been keeping the team busy for weeks,” Gil gestured for Jaal to join him. “I needed to get off the ship for a bit.”

“I heard from Ryder that you beat him rather soundly at…poker?” Jaal said as he sat opposite of Gil. “Why were you poking him?”

Gil laughed. “I wasn’t actually poking him. It’s a game.” Gil passed the deck of cards for Jaal to inspect.

“Oh, I see,” Jaal nodded. “Could you teach me?”

Gil smiled. “I’m not sure you’d be very good at it. Sure, I could teach you the basic rules, but you Angara wear your emotions so openly…that would be a distinct disadvantage in a game like this.”

“Hmm,” Jaal mused. “I think I would still like a practical demonstration.”

Gil shrugged with a smirk. “Alright, but it’ll be your loss.”

After teaching Jaal the basics they played several hands, Jaal losing every one.

“How do you always know?” Jaal marveled.

“As I said earlier, you wear your emotions so openly,” Gil explained. “It gives away what sort of hand you have, and that determines how I play.”

“Yes, I think I understand,” Jaal replied. “While we’re playing, I am completely unable to read your emotions. You are very good at…controlling your face.”

“I learned how to very young,” Gil said. “Showing too much emotion while living on the streets is a sign of weakness. It’s best to keep a neutral expression all the time if you want to stay out of trouble.”

“This Nexus is quite impressive,” Jaal changed the topic. “It is quite an engineering feat. I don’t think my people ever quite managed to take the Remnant technology to quite this level, even before the Scourge.”

“Would you like a tour?” Gil offered. “I wouldn’t mind stretching my legs for a bit.”

“Yes, I would like that,” Jaal agreed. “I very much enjoy spending time with you and I would love to see more of this station.”

Gil blushed a bit at the compliment and led Jaal out of the Vortex. They started the tour with Hydroponics and ended it in Operations. Jaal had many questions and Gil was more than happy to answer everything he could.

As they sat next to each other in the Tram heading back to the docking bay an awkward silence seemed to fall between them. Jaal shifted a bit nervously, as if he wanted to say something and wasn’t sure how. Without thinking Gil reached out and took Jaal’s hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze.

“Is there something you want to say?” Gil asked.

“There is actually,” Jaal laughed nervously. “You really can read me very well. I was trying to find a way to ask if you would like to have dinner with me…in private?”

“In private?” Gil asked, feeling his face flush. “Where? Like in the Tech Lab? There aren’t a lot of private spaces on the Tempest.”

“Yes, I have come to think of the Tech Lab as my quarters,” Jaal acknowledged. “Would you dine with me?”

Was Jaal asking him on a date? Gil wasn’t sure but he was really enjoying Jaal’s company. “Yeah, I’d like that.”

When they returned to the Tempest, Gil excused himself and decided to freshen up a bit before dinner. He had no idea what to expect, other than sharing a meal with someone who was quickly growing into a close friend…and perhaps something more.

One he was dressed again he made his way to the Tech Lab. He decided to knock before he entered as it only seemed polite. When the doors opened he found a pleasant surprise. Jaal had managed to find a small table and two chairs. On the table were laid out Human and Angaran rations and bottles of water. Nothing romantic and yet why did it still make his heart race?

Most of the crew were still on the Nexus so the Tempest was quiet. “So, was there something you wanted to talk about?” Gil broke the ice as he sat down.

“Yes, as a matter of fact,” Jaal admitted.

“So, what’s up?” Gil asked as he took a swig of water.

“At first, I was intrigued by your admission to preferring only male partners,” Jaal admitted. “It is not a common thing among the Angara. I’ve told you before, how much family means to us, and two males cannot procreate together.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” Gil agreed. “Although there’s always artificial insemination if a same-sex pair really wants a family.”

“Our people haven’t spent much time developing such things,” Jaal admitted. “We’re too focused on our very survival.”

Gil nodded. “I can understand that. That’s kind of what my childhood was like. Never knowing if I’d survive past the present moment.”

“Yet, here you are now, chief engineer on a vessel in a distant galaxy,” Jaal praised. “You’re a survivor. I like that about you.”

Gil felt a blush creep over his face and his heart sped up as he blurted out his next question. “Is that…all you like about me?”

Jaal stared at him for a moment with those amazing eyes before giving him a small smile and chuckle. “Gil, I find you very…attractive. Your mind, your being, your heart. I wish to continue spending time with you…getting to you know…on an even deeper level.”

Gil couldn’t believe what he was hearing. His heart rate continued to ratchet up as he tentatively reached out and took Jaal’s very warm hand in his own. “Do you mean that? I would really like that too.”

“Good,” Jaal said with a smile, squeezing his hand. “You and I have much in common. I feel myself drawn to you in a way I’ve never felt before. Not even with Allia.”

“Yeah, I get it,” Gil nodded. “What I like best about you is how open and honest you are about…everything. I need that. With so much else uncertain right now, knowing there is at least one person I can truly rely on to be honest and have my back. If we…take this further…I want to do it right.”

“As do I,” Jaal agreed. “I’ve had my heart broken once. I do not wish for that to happen again.”

“Yeah,” Gil smiled. “So, we take it slow, see where this goes, enjoy each other’s company along the way.”

“That sounds like a fine idea,” Jaal lifted Gil’s hand to his lips and gave them a quick kiss, sending a thrill along Gil’s spine. Jaal then let his hand go and took a sip of water before changing the subject. “So, how are those engine modifications going? Has Kallo discovered them yet?”

Gil couldn’t help but laugh before filling Jaal in on the latest upgrades he had planned.

Chapter Text

Spending more time with Gil proved to be a difficult task, as Ryder often asked Jaal to accompany him on missions. Jaal was well known and he often helped calm the fears of local Angarans who were still wary of Ryder and his rag tag crew of aliens.

However, Jaal made the best of it, finding time to dine with Gil whenever they were hurtling between worlds and joining him for drinks at the Vortex whenever they docked at the Nexus.

They were currently heading back to Eos when Gil arrived for their regular shared meal holding a bottle and two cups. “Hey, Jaal! I picked this bottle up on our last stopover on Kadara. I had Lexi analyze it first to make sure it’s safe for you to drink. It’s one of the last bottles of Milky Way whiskey left in Andromeda. ”

Jaal loved the little burst of happiness he experienced whenever he saw Gil, and now the man was bringing him gifts? Heaven’s above.

“I am honored to share this…whiskey…with you,” Jaal smiled. “I heard the ruckus earlier with Kallo. Are you alright?”

Gil sighed as he sat down and poured them each a measure of the whiskey. “That’s why I need a drink,” Gil admitted. “Kallo just won’t see reason. He thinks it’s sacrilege to change even the tiniest spec on this ship, but we’re facing challenges that we never anticipated. The scourge, the Kett…argh.”

“Hmm, agreed,” Jaal said as he picked up his cup and sniffed the contents. The smell was intriguing. He was about to try it when Gil reached out and grabbed his wrist.

“Wait, before you try it,” Gil warned. “Take it slow. This stuff can burn a bit going down, especially if you drink it too fast.”

Jaal nodded and took a tentative sip. He noted no burn, so he took a longer drink. The flavor was quite interesting and it did feel a touch warm as he swallowed it down. “Intriguing. However, it doesn’t seem to give me the burn you described.”

Gil looked at him in awe. “Huh. Then be careful. I’m not sure if this will get you drunk or not. Lexi wasn’t sure. She was just sure it wouldn’t poison you.”

“That is good to know,” Jaal said. “I will let you know if I start to feel any sense of intoxication.”

Gil chuckled as he took a swig of his own whiskey. “I don’t know how you do it, but whenever I’m around you I just can’t stay angry. Not even at Kallo.”

Jaal felt a surge of happiness hearing that from Gil. “Being near you also makes my heart sing.”

“Hey,” Gil said as he looked up into Jaal’s eyes. “If you have the time, come with me to Prodromos when we land on Eos. I’d like you to meet my friend Jill.”

“This is your close friend?” Jaal asked for clarification. “The one who is helping your people begin to procreate?”

“That’s her,” Gil confirmed. “She’s my best friend and the closest thing I have to family in Andromeda. She’ll want to meet you and this would be a perfect opportunity. I’ve told her all about you and she’s been pestering me about it.”

Jaal laughed. “I…may have mentioned you in passing a few times when I spoke to my mothers and siblings back on Havarl. I know they will eventually want to meet you as well.”

Gil smiled. “Yeah, I’d like that.”

They sat together in companionable silence for a while, sipping their whiskey and nibbling their rations, when Gil started to look nervous.

“What’s wrong?” Jaal asked.

“Oh, well,” Gill laughed nervously. “I was just thinking about…how I should introduce you to Jill. I mean I know we are both attracted to each other, but how serious is this thing between us?”

Jaal reached across the table and took Gil’s hand. “I wouldn’t spend so much of my free time with you, if I wasn’t very serious about having a future with you in my life.”

“Look I know we’re trying to take this slow,” Gil said. “I just need to be absolutely sure where we stand before I introduce you to Jill. She’s…a little over protective of her friends.”

Jaal contemplated for a moment as he continued to hold Gil’s hand. A thought then occurred to him, so he stood and pulled Gil up with him. “Perhaps this might convey my intentions?”

Jaal pulled Gil into a loose embrace, enough so that Gil could back out if he didn’t want this. Leaning down, he slanted his lips over the human’s. Just a light brush at first. Gil tentatively let his hands fall to Jaal’s hips as he pressed in closer and Jaal allowed himself to get lost in the smell and taste of Gil for a moment.

As Jaal pulled away Gil was looking at him with a newfound wonder in his eyes. “Wow. Okay. I think Jill might approve then.”

Jaal laughed at seeing Gil so flustered. “Good.”

***

Gil was relieved when Ryder said he had a private mission with Cora to complete and was leaving Jaal behind. After their first kiss the night before, he shouldn’t be so nervous, but Gil couldn’t help pacing back and forth as he waited for Jaal to join him.

As Jaal approached, all of Gil’s previous nervousness seemed to fade. “Hey, I’m glad you made it. Jill doesn’t have a lot of time but I know she really wants to meet you.”

Jaal had just reached out to take Gil’s hand when the oft-mentioned Jill strode out of the shuttle. As she approached, she seemed to be assessing Jaal from head to foot. “So, you’re the handsome alien that Gil’s been all atwitter about.”

Gil blushed at her words. He should have known she would be blunt. She always was.

“So, let me ask you something,” Jill said as she stood before them. “What are your intentions with my boy here?”

Jaal seemed momentarily confused as he loosened his grip on Gil’s hand. “Your…boy? I was under the impression that you were merely friends?”

Gil rubbed a hand over his face. “Jill, would you mind not scaring off every single person I’m interested in? Please?”

“I would if you’d just do your part,” Jill groused at him. “We’ve lost so many people Gil. We need everyone to procreate to ensure our survival.”

Gil sighed. They’d been having this argument for months now.

“I thought the Angara loved having large families,” Jill shifted her focus back to Jaal. “Can you make him see reason?”

Jaal seemed to shift uncomfortably. “I don’t think it is my place…”

“Jill, will you let me get settled with someone first,” Gil growled. “I told you, I’d love to be a dad, as long as I can use a surrogate. I just need to be in a stable relationship first. Now stop trying to scare Jaal off.”

“So, you really are serious about mister big and purple here?” Jill asked.

“Yes, I am!” Gil said in exasperation.

“Jaal, are you serious about Gil? You’re not just one to love ‘em and leave ‘em?” Jill pressed.

Jaal was quiet for a moment and Gil almost didn’t realize he was holding his breath until Jaal took a deep one himself and reached out and grasped his hand again. “I am very serious about pursuing a relationship with Gil. And yes, I would be happy to help him raise children if that was his desire.”

Jill eyed him for another moment before smiling. “Good. That makes me happy. You just treat my boy right, or you’ll have to answer to me.”

Jaal actually laughed at that. “Understood.”

***

Jaal found it amusing how much Gil was apologizing to him about Jill’s behavior. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t think she’d put you on the spot like that.”

Once they were back in the tech lab, Jaal grabbed Gil by the shoulders and pushed him gently against a wall. “I told you, it’s alright. She won’t scare me off so easily.”

Jaal reached up and gently caressed the side of Gil’s face as the man tried to calm his breathing. The way Gil just looked up into his eyes, as if the sun and the moon were reflected there, made Jaal feel very happy.

Jaal leaned in and kissed Gil, slow and gentle. Trying to reassure the human through his actions, as Gil seemed to doubt his words.

Once Gil’s breathing calmed, Jaal kissed him for a moment longer before pulling him towards his small cot. “Come, sit beside me.”

Gil did as Jaal bade and just sat there looking at his hands.

“Gil, I think we should discuss our future,” Jaal said earnestly. “We both need to make sure we have the same vision.”

Gil sighed and nodded. “Yeah, you’re right. I just care about you a lot and like I said I want to do this right.”

“So, tell me, in your mind, how do we do this right?” Jaal asked.

“Not entirely sure,” Gil shrugged. “I’ve never gotten this close to someone before.”

“Can you tell me what you have envisioned for us in the future?” Jaal queried.

“Well, if Ryder can pull it off with this Meridian thing, whatever it is, and find us a real home to settle on?” Gil explained. “I’d love to have a little place to call our own. Just the two of us at first. Then, when we’re ready I could let Jill set me up with a surrogate and we could start building a family. Maybe even adopt some Angaran orphans if there were any that needed a place to grow up.”

Jaal smiled broadly at the thought of a home filled with Human and Angaran children. “I would like that as well. I agree we need to wait and hope Ryder is successful.”

“So, you really see us having a future together?” Gil asked.

“Yes, Gil I do,” Jaal confessed. “We agreed to take things slow. There is no need to rush.”

“You’re right,” Gil sighed. “I wish Jill hadn’t gotten me all fired up like that.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Jaal smiled. “I quite enjoyed seeing you all fired up.”

***

Gil paced and worried in Engineering. They were back on Havarl and Ryder had taken Jaal and Vetra with him to help Jaal get his siblings back from the Roekar. Jaal suspected it might be a trap laid by the Roekar leader Akksul, but bringing back his siblings was more important.

They had been gone for several hours now and Gil began to fear the worst. “Hey SAM,” Gil said into the Comm. “Is Ryder alright?”

“Yes, the Pathdinder’s vitals are normal,” SAM replied a moment later.

Jaal wasn’t connected to SAM so all Gil could assume was that as long as Ryder was alright, so was Jaal. Still, he had to wonder what was taking so long. It was supposed to be a quick extraction. In and out. Jaal had been sure he could convince his siblings to return home.

Gil sighed and turned back to the latest engine modification he’d been working on. He needed to finish up before Kallo found out and put a stop to it again. He managed to get so engrossed in his work, he missed the notification that the Pathfinder’s team had returned.

Vetra had to tap Gil on the shoulder to get his attention. “Hey Gil, you should go on over to Med Bay. Lexi’s patching Jaal up.”

Gil looked up as a frisson of worry ran through him. “Thanks, Vetra.”

Gil ran to the Med Bay, to find Jaal sitting on one of the beds with Lexi fussing over him. “What happened? Jaal, are you alright?”

“He’s fine,” Lexi interceded. “He got shot but it only grazed his cheek. He’ll end up with an impressive scar and a story to tell his grandchildren someday. Alright, I’ve done all that I can. Go get some rest Jaal.”

Gil escorted Jaal back to the Tech Lab before running off to make Jaal a cup of his favorite tea. While he was in the galley Drack came in. “Heard what happened. How are you holdin’ up kid?”

Gil leaned against the counter while he waited for the water to boil. “I was so worried. I just had this gut feeling something bad was going to happen. Something bad almost did happen.”

“Look, for what it’s worth, Jaal’s pretty tough,” the old Krogan reassured Gil. “As tough as a squishy species like the Angarans can get anyway.”

Gil half-chuckled at that just as the kettle whistled. He poured two mugs of tea and turned to head back to the Tech Lab. Half-way out the door he turned his head. “Thanks, Drack.”

Drack merely grunted in acknowledgement.

Back in the Tech Lab, Gil found Jaal sitting up in his cot reading from a datapad.

“I thought Lexi told you to rest?” Gil asked as he slipped the data pad out of Jaal’s hands and handed him the cup of tea.

“I was just composing an email to Ryder,” Jaal explained. “He showed great restraint today and because of that, Akksul lost the faith of his followers. The Roekar will no longer be a threat. I just wanted to express my gratitude.”

“I’ll have to admit, I was worried about you,” Gil said. “After all these missions you’ve gone on with the Pathfinder, for some reason something didn’t sit right with me about this one. Seems I was right.”

“I’m sorry to have worried you, but as you can see, I’m quite alright,” Jaal smiled and took one of Gil’s hands in his own. “I have invited Ryder to come with me tomorrow. The Mothers wish to express their thanks for his part in returning my siblings. I would very much like it if you accompanied us.”

“You really want me to meet your family?” Gil asked and Jaal nodded. “Yeah, I’d really like that.”

“Good,” Jaal smiled. “I think as long as you keep fussing over me like a mother hen, my True Mother is going to love you.”

Chapter Text

Gil fidgeted in the shuttle ride to the daar where Jaal’s family lived. He felt honored to meet Jaal’s family, but he was also very nervous. He had never been in a serious enough relationship to meet the family of any of his previous partners.

Jaal gently took his hand. “There is no need to be nervous. I know they will love you, darling one.”

Darling one? They were doing terms of endearment now? That was not helping.

“Will you two get a room?” Ryder teased them.

“Gladly,” Jaal teased back. “As soon as we are at my family’s compound.”

Gil snorted at that, while his heartrate ratcheted up at the thought of Jaal taking him for the first time…in his family’s home. Jaal seemed to sense his increased anxiety and squeezed his hand. “I’m joking.”

Gil nervously rubbed the back of his neck and blushed while Ryder laughed.

As they landed, Jaal kept a hold on Gil’s hand as they made their way inside. They immediately encountered Jaal’s true mother, Sahuna, who was rushing to a resistance meeting. She gushed over meeting the Pathfinder who had helped bring home Jaal’s siblings and rescued the Moshae.

“Mother, I would also like you to meet Gil Brodie,” Jaal introduced. “He is the Chief Engineer aboard the Tempest and someone…very special to me.”

“I’m pleased to meet you,” Gil smiled.

“Oh, I have heard a lot about you as well,” Sahuna beamed. “We will have to talk once I get back from my meeting. I’m sorry to rush off but I’ll be late. Jaal, will you still be here when I get back?”

“Don’t worry,” Ryder reassured her. “I’ll make sure they stick around long enough for you to interrogate him.”

“Ryder!” Gil admonished. Sahuna just laughed before excusing herself.

They made their way into the main living quarters and Jaal introduced them both to all the mothers, siblings and cousins that were currently present. Naturally they all wanted to know more about the Pathfinder, so as Ryder began to regale them with stories of their adventures, Jaal once again took Gil’s hand and led him away into another room.

“This is my room, my tiny sanctuary,” Jaal explained as they entered.

“Nice,” Gil proclaimed. “I never got a room of my own growing up. I’m kind of jealous.”

Jaal pulled Gil into an embrace. “It makes me sad to think of what your childhood was like. No one deserves to be abandoned like that, least of all a child.”

Gil leaned into the embrace and just enjoyed the feel of Jaal’s arms around him for a moment. “Thanks.”

Jaal then remarked about a container that sat on his bed. As he opened it, Gil immediately noted the schematics. “Do you remember how I told you that I enjoyed taking things apart? These are the schematics of a Kett weapon an aunt of mine stole. She gave it to me and I couldn’t resist taking it apart to learn how it worked.”

They looked through some of the other items inside before Jaal set the box aside. Gil noted a shift in Jaal’s demeanor as he grew more serious. “I never show people these things. They are very personal and hold a lot of meaning for me.”

“I feel honored that you showed them to me,” Gil said as he reached out and took Jaal’s hand.

Jaal turned and looked at him. “You make my heart sing, Gil. I adore you.” Jaal leaned in and kissed him and Gil’s own heart began to sing. He felt a little bit like a giddy school boy making out with his crush. It was something he’d seen in movies but had never experienced himself. Jaal had a way of making him feel special, more than anyone ever had before.

Jaal broke off the kiss and he seemed to realize where they were and how many other people were just outside the door. He stood nervously and helped Gil stand. “Let me show you one more thing you might like. Lie down.”

“Lie down? Here?” Gil asked nervously.

“Yes, on the floor,” Jaal confirmed.

As Gil lay down, Jaal activated something and then suddenly the room was filled with an array of stars and nebulae. Gil was in awe. “That’s beautiful. Did you make that?”

Jaal joined him. “Yes, long ago. It’s not accurate. More of a dream, really. Just one more thing I want to take apart and figure out.” Gil reached out and took Jaal’s hand overwhelmed with what Jaal was willing to share with him. “Now, I have someone share it with.”

Later as Sahuna returned, Gil certainly felt as if he was being interrogated. It was clear that Jaal really was her favorite, despite his protestations that all of her children were her favorite. After she learned of Gil’s childhood she seemed overcome with a mix of sadness and determination. “That settles it. Regardless of what happens between you and Jaal, I’m adopting you. You will be a sholaon. No one should be without a family.”

Gil chuckled. “I’m flattered, thank you, Sahuna.”

“No, from now on, you will call me mother,” Sahuna insisted.

“Oh well, okay,” Gil shrugged. “Mother.” The word felt foreign on his tongue, but Gil couldn’t help the spread of happiness it gave him to say it.

Sahuna reached out and embraced him. “Welcome to our family.”

***

Jaal felt a mix of excitement and relief when Ryder announced they were heading to Aya. They had just spent several weeks on Elaaden and he wasn’t sure he’d ever get all the sand out of his clothes or the various nooks and crannies of his body. At least Ryder had managed to activate the Elaaden vault, so hopefully the ambient temperature would finally cool down somewhat on that wretched planet.

They hadn’t been back to Aya in months and there was a special place there that Jaal wanted to show Gil. It took some time to arrange it, but he called in a few favors and managed to get the little tropical cove all to himself for a day.

After they landed, Jaal immediately headed to Engineering. Before he could even speak Gil looked at him, puzzled. “You’ll never believe it. Ryder told me we’re going to stay docked here for a few days and that I should take the day off. What in the world am I going to do on Aya for an entire day?”

“I have an idea,” Jaal smirked. “Come with me.”

Gil shrugged. “Alright.”

Jaal was amused by all the comments he overheard as he and Gil made their way through the streets, holding hands. It was controversial enough that he was holding hands with a male, but that the male was also alien? Practically scandalous!

“So where are we going?” Gil asked as Jaal continued to lead him through the crowds of people.

“You’ll see,” Jaal smiled. When they neared their destination, Jaal insisted that he cover Gil’s eyes. “It’s a surprise.”

Once they were standing by the small beach, Jaal removed his hands and Gil gasped at what he saw. “This is beautiful! How can we be the only ones here?”

Jaal chuckled. “I have my ways. Don’t worry, we won’t be disturbed. We have this place to ourselves for the entire day.”

Gil looked around in wonder. “I always dreamt of visiting a tropical paradise. I just never had the credits to travel very far back in the Milky Way.”

JJaal and Gilaal was pleased that Gil liked his surprise. Overcome with happiness he pulled Gil into a kiss. After a moment Gil pulled back and looked up into his eyes as he reached up and caressed Jaal’s face. “You’re amazing Jaal. What did I ever do to deserve you?”

Jaal led Gil to the edge of the water and wrapped an arm around him. “This is my favorite place in the universe. Do you have such a place?”

Gil turned to face him. “Yeah. Right here, in your arms.” Jaal’s heart soared as Gil pulled him in for another kiss.

As the kiss, broke Gil snuggled his head against Jaal’s shoulder and they just held each other for a moment. Jaal couldn’t hold back his feelings anymore. Being here, with Gil, everything about this moment was perfect.

Jaal pulled back and looked deeply into Gil’s eyes as he placed Gil’s hand upon his chest. “Beyond all reason, I have fallen in love with you Gil Brodie,” Jaal confessed. Jaal’s breathing increased as he tried to convey his next thought. “I want…if you want…”

Gil stopped him with a quick kiss. “We’ve been taking this slow for months now, but yeah…I want you Jaal. More than I’ve ever wanted anyone.”

They kissed again as they both slowly began stripping off their clothes, leaving them in a messy pile upon the beach. Jaal then led Gil into the shallow water. Seeing all of Gil for the first time sent a frisson of desire through him. He desired to become one with this man, the need of it was almost painful.

“I have never met someone who was as close to my kindred spirit as you are,” Jaal said as he drank in the sight of Gil, circling him, coming up behind the man and wrapping his arms around his cool skin. “To be near you is intoxicating. I wish for you to always remain at my side.”

Gil turned around in his arms and smiled. “I love you too, Jaal.” Then Gil wrapped his arms around Jaal’s neck and pulled him down under the water before pulling Jaal into a quick underwater kiss.

They frolicked in the water, enjoying each other’s touches. Soon their touches became more heated and Jaal couldn’t hold back his desire anymore. Looking at Gil’s own arousal, it seemed that they were definitely on the same page. Jaal led Gil back up to the beach. Behind a bush he’d hidden a bag with some essentials, including a blanket, which he spread out, and that bottle of lubrication Lexi had given him all those months ago.

Gil smiled at him wryly as he laid down on the blanket, pulling Jaal down on top of him. “You came prepared.”

Jaal felt heat creep over his face for a moment. Settling himself over Gil, he couldn’t believe how happy he felt in that moment. It was as if his heart was about to burst. Jaal reached up and caressed Gil’s face as the human stared up to him in wonderment. Then they were kissing again. Jaal was addicted to kissing this wonderful man. He loved the taste of Gil’s cool tongue and the wonderful scent that was so uniquely Gil.

Their kiss grew more heated and Jaal just had the overwhelming urge to taste more of Gil. Jaal began to kiss and lick his way down Gil’s chest, drawing little moans of pleasure from the man. Kneeling between Gil’s legs he took a moment to really study the man’s penis. The color and shape was different from his own, but not remarkably so.

Jaal reached out and wrapped one hand around Gil’s erection. Gil arched his hips up into the touch and groaned. The flesh here was warm, warmer than the rest of Gil. The skin was soft despite the underlying flesh being hard. A small amount of fluid was leaking from the tip and Jaal leant down to lick at it, wanting to taste all of Gil. To his Angaran tongue, it was surprisingly pleasant.

Jaal continued to lick and taste Gil’s cock, causing the man to writhe beneath him. Gil finally became exasperated. “Please, stop teasing. Please Jaal, I want you.”

“Then you shall have me,” Jaal smiled as he picked up the bottle of lubrication. “Do you require any…prep? I’ve done some research…”

Gil cut him off as he raised his legs to expose himself fully. “Yeah, prep me a little. It’s been awhile for me. Just don’t tease me much longer. Please.”

Recalling what Lexi had described and the research he had done subsequently on the subject, Jaal dripped a generous amount of lubrication directly onto Gil before he gently spread it around his furled hole.

When Jaal first inserted his index finger into Gil, he moaned in pleasure. “Oh, yeah. Fuck it’s been too long.”

Jaal chuckled as he kept sliding his finger in and out. It was then he realized he might have a problem. The rest of his hand was not like a human’s and he didn’t have an easy option for sliding another finger into Gil to help stretch him.

“Oh dear,” Jaal said with embarrassment. “I believe I will need your help.” Jaal raised his other hand and wiggled his fingers in explanation.

***

Gil laughed at Jaal’s predicament. They’d both forgotten that Jaal’s hands weren’t well suited to the task of prepping him. “Hand me the lube.”

Gil quickly finished prepping himself as Jaal leaned over him and kissed him gently. Gil then reached out with his lubed hand and stroked Jaal’s impressive erection. It matched him perfectly, a beautiful color of purple, more pointed at the tip than a human and…it had ridges. Gil shivered in anticipation at feeling that inside of him.

Jaal groaned as Gil gave him a few more strokes. “Ok love, I’m ready for you.”

Jaal leaned over him and Gil got lost in his kisses as he slowly pushed inside of him. The heat of his cock was incredible and the feel of those ridges…Gil almost came right there and then as he groaned into Jaal’s mouth.

Jaal looked down at him with those fathomless eyes so full of love and adoration for him. Gil still couldn’t believe it and his heart soared as he caressed the side of Jaal’s face. Then Jaal began to move, slowly out and then in again and the pleasure that wracked Gil’s body was indescribable.

They clung to each other as Jaal slowly made love to Gil. This wasn’t the hard, frantic fucking he was used to from past partners. This was so sweet and gentle, Gil truly felt as if he were the most precious thing in the galaxy to Jaal. Gil couldn’t stop the flood of emotions that overcame him as Jaal continued to slide in and out of him. In this moment Gil truly felt as if they had become one.

Gil reached up and pulled Jaal into another deep, breathtaking kiss as he met Jaal’s thrusts. The pleasure began to build and he had to reach down and stroke himself, his own cock hard and leaking. Gil couldn’t help speeding his hips up against Jaal’s agonizingly slow thrusts as he began to chase his pleasure. “Jaal, love, I’m close. So, close. You feel so good…uhnnn.”

Jaal let his head fall onto Gil’s shoulder as he began to match Gil’s pace. “Oh yes…Gil…yes…so good…so very good…” Jaal then buried himself to the hilt inside of him and Gil could feel the powerful pulses of the Angara’s cock and the heat of his release flooding his insides. The image of it in his mind finally sent Gil over the edge and he came harder than he could ever remember. For a moment, his vision whited out as he shot ropes of cum over his belly.

When he came back to himself, Jaal was placing sweet kisses all over his face and neck while still buried inside of him…and still cumming.

“Fuck, Jaal,” Gil laughed. “How much do you have stored up there?”

Jaal chuckled into his neck as kept filling Gil for another few moments. Jaal sighed with contentment when he finally finished and slowly withdrew.

Gil flushed a bit with embarrassment as he felt Jaal’s semen leak out of him, but he pushed it aside as he curled up into Jaal’s embrace. “That was amazing,” Gil sighed. “You’re amazing Jaal. I love you. So much.”

Jaal tenderly kissed the top of his head. “Good. Because your heart is now my home.”

Chapter Text

“Kallo!” Gil shouted into the comm. “Why in blue blazes did you undo all my modifications? Do you know how long it took me to do all that?”

The comm remained silent, but several minutes later Kallo stormed into Engineering, yelling at Gil about daring to make any of the modifications he did. “It’s a good thing you were finally off the ship long enough for me to reverse all the damage you’ve done!”

The argument raged until Ryder finally came in and intervened. After speaking to both of them privately, Ryder encouraged them both to compromise. Gil would inform Kallo of changes he planned and why he felt they were necessary, and Kallo could only verbally object if he knew a valid reason why the modification was unsafe.

After that Ryder brought them back together and Gil took the time to explain every modification that Kallo had just undone and Kallo had to reluctantly agree there was nothing wrong with them other than the fact it changed the original specifications of the ship. Since Kallo couldn’t state any valid reason against the modifications, Ryder gave Gil the go-ahead to restore them.

Gil then spent the rest of the day trying to restore all of his modifications. He only managed to get about a third of them done before he realized how late it was. He was grumbling about Kallo under his breath as he called it a night and made his way to the crew quarters to take a much-needed shower.

As he entered, Jaal was tinkering around with something, probably related to the project he’d been working with Liam on. Just seeing Jaal seemed to make Gil’s stress melt away.

“Ah, there you are,” Jaal smiled as he turned around. “From what I’ve heard you’ve had a rather stressful day. You look exhausted.”

Gil ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah, while we were down on Aya, Kallo took the opportunity to undo all my modifications. It’ll take me all week to restore them all.”

“Oh my, I’m sorry,” Jaal apologized. “If I hadn’t kept you away so long…”

Gil immediately made his way over to Jaal and put his fingers up against his lips. “No, it’s not your fault. Yesterday was amazing and I wouldn’t have changed one minute of it. Ryder came up with a way for Kallo and I to compromise, so this shouldn’t happen again.”

“Good,” Jaal said once Gil removed his fingers. “I think you should rest now, darling one.”

“Yeah, I plan to,” Gil stifled a yawn. “I just really need a shower first.”

“Hmm,” Jaal mused. “Would you come by the Tech Lab when you’re finished?”

“Yeah, sure,” Gil nodded giving Jaal a quick kiss before heading off for his shower.

***

Jaal quickly returned to the Tech Lab and double checked everything. He’d made some modifications of his own to the space and hoped that Ryder and Kallo wouldn’t object when they found out.

Once Gil arrived Jaal heard his surprised intake in breath. “Jaal…what is all this?”

“After yesterday, I realized I no longer want to sleep without you by my side,” Jaal explained. “So, I arranged to have a larger bed brought in here today.”

Jaal had rearranged the Tech Lab so the rear portion was turned into a small bedroom with a bed large enough for two people. Jaal then went and extended a small partition he’d also added which could give them some modicum of privacy.

“You really are amazing Jaal,” Gil smiled broadly as he allowed Jaal to lead him towards the bed. They both removed their clothing and Gil slipped into the bed first. Jaal looked down at his sleepy lover who was smiling up at him with half-lidded eyes.

If someone had told him he’d not only meet a new alien species that he didn’t want to kill, but fall in love with one of them, he would have thought them insane. Now here he was, about to climb into bed and sleep with a human that he adored.

“Hey you comin?” Gil said with a yawn.

Jaal shook himself out of his reverie and slid into bed next to Gil, wrapping the man up in his arms. Gil snuggled his back against Jaal’s chest and just relaxed into his embrace. Jaal drifted off to sleep feeling happier than he had in a very long time.

***

Over the next several weeks Ryder was intent on completing numerous missions across the cluster. While doing so he also managed to track down the Turian and Asari arcs. There was now a real sense of hope as outposts were established on several worlds, the Kett had been pushed back on numerous fronts, and the climates on various worlds were being dramatically improved with the activation of the Remnant vaults.

Gil was in awe of how much Ryder had accomplished since he became Pathfinder. No one thought that the lanky, sarcastic son of Alec Ryder had it in him, but he’d proved them all wrong.

Ryder had just held a staff meeting, informing them that he was finally ready to continue pursuing the Archon and they were about to head deep into Kett space. “I won’t lie, this is going to get dangerous. You’re the best crew I could have ever asked for and I’m glad you’ve all had my backs out there. I know I can count on all of you again.”

Gil had helped Ryder locate the Archon’s probable location based off a transponder that Ryder had brought back from Kadara. Now all they had to do was fly in and let Ryder and his team do their work to locate the Remnant artifact that would hopefully lead them to this place called Meridian.

Once they were underway, it would take them three days to reach what they hoped would be the Archon’s ship. Gil busied himself in Engineering, making sure everything was working perfectly. He knew they might need to get the hell out of there, and fast, if things went wrong.

Gil had just finished triple checking everything when a private communication came though. “Hey Gil!” came Jill’s voice over the private comm channel.

“Hey Jill! It’s been awhile. How’s everything going on Prodromos?” Gil asked.

Things aren’t moving along as quickly as I’d hoped,” Jill replied. “I have gotten several couples signed up to start trying to make some babies, but we need more.”

“Well it’s a start at least, right?” Gil tried sounding supportive.

It is, but that’s what I’m contacting you about,” Jill explained. “I think I need to start leading by example. I’ve decided to have a baby.”

“That’s wonderful! Who’s the lucky father?” Gil asked, curious that Jill hadn’t mentioned anyone in her life before now.

Well, I’m hoping you would be,” Jill clarified. “If you’re willing to donate some sperm?

“Wow,” Gil exclaimed. “You know I’ve talked about settling down and adopting kids, but to actually have one of my own? I’ll have to ask Jaal first because that’s a big step.”

How are things going with you two?” Jill prodded.

“They’re great,” Gil beamed. “We’re sharing quarters now. He’s just so amazing. I love him so much.”

So, he’s treating you right?” Jill kept digging.

“Yes, Jill. I think I just said he’s amazing, didn’t I?” Gil began to sound a touch exasperated.

Well, I want to be sure, especially if he’s going to help raise our child,” Jill said.

“You would be okay with him and I raising the child together?” Gil asked.

Yeah, as long as I’m still in the child’s life too, of course,” Jill said. “I know the Angara value family, so as long as you trust Jaal to be a good father, then I’ll trust your judgement.”

“Oh, he’d be a great dad,” Gil insisted. “I’ll ask him and let you know, then we’ll have to find a way to arrange everything. I’m not sure we’ll get to Prodromos again anytime soon though.”

Let me know the next time you’re heading to the Nexus and I’ll meet you there,” Jill suggested. “I have to go. Take care.

Gil stood in stunned silence for a moment. A child. A child of his own to raise. Gil had never considered the possibility before now, but suddenly he was imagining holding a tiny baby in his arms, teaching them to walk and play catch and all the other things fathers did with their children. The chance to give a child of his own a home he’d never had.

He had to talk to Jaal.

***

Jaal was busy in the Tech Lab making some much-needed upgrades to his armor and weapons in preparation for their infiltration into the Archon’s command ship. He needed to be prepared for any eventuality. Surprisingly Gil came in despite it being several hours before their normal evening meal together.

“Hey, can we talk?” Gil asked as he came in, looking somewhat apprehensive.

Jaal set aside what he was working on and gestured for Gil to sit beside him. “What’s troubling you, darling one?”

Gil still blushed a little at the endearment. “So, Jill just contacted me. She’s asked me for a really big favor and I need to know if it’s something you’re okay with.”

“What is it?” Jaal asked full of curiosity.

“So, there aren’t enough people signing up to have children yet,” Gil explained. “So, Jill wants to set an example and have a child of her own.”

“That’s wonderful,” Jaal approved.

“Well, here’s the thing…she’s asking me if I’ll be the father,” Gil said. “She’s asking if you and I will help raise her child…our child.”

“Oh my,” Jaal replied, taking in the news. “Does that mean you will have to…with her?”

Gil shook his head and laughed. “No, no, I wouldn’t have to have sex with her. I wouldn’t want to anyway…I mean she’s a woman and…I’m just not attracted to her in that way.”

“So then, how?” Jaal asked, confused.

“Oh, that parts easy,” Gil continued. “I just have to provide a sample of my sperm the next time we’re on the Nexus together. She’ll get it implanted by one of the med techs there and then we’ll see what happens.”

“Ah yes, I believe you mentioned something like that,” Jaal remembered. “So, do you want to have a child?”

“Yeah,” Gil admitted. “Being able to raise a child and give them all the things I never had as a kid, it’s sort of been a dream of mine for a long time. Would you be okay helping to raise a human child?”

Jaal smiled as he looked at how happy Gil was at the prospect of parenthood. “I would be honored to help you raise your child. Would you possibly consider adding an Angaran child or two into our home as well? In the future, of course.”

“Yeah, I’d like that,” Gil said. “But I hope we resolve all this with the Kett and find Meridian before we have to deal with any of that.”

“Agreed,” Jaal said. “We are not really in a position right now to raise children. Do you think Jill would be willing to wait?”

“Well, I doubt we’ll be docking into the Nexus again soon,” Gil admitted. “Let’s talk about it again when we do. I don’t want her to go all that way for nothing.”

Gil returned to engineering and Jaal tried to focus his thoughts back to the upgrades to his armor he’d been working on. However, his thoughts kept drifting to the thought of possibly one day sharing a real home with Gil, one filled with the laughter of children. The very thought made him smile with happiness.

As he began working again, he was hit with the realization that the next few weeks would be perilous. He was not afraid to risk his life. He would have never joined the resistance if he’d been afraid. However, now that he’d found a lover and life partner, one with whom he was seriously considering starting a family with, an unfamiliar feeling of dread began to seep into his consciousness.

For the first time in his life, Jaal worried about how his death might affect others. Among the Angara, they were so used to losing family members, he didn’t worry for his mothers or siblings in case something happened to him…but with Gil. The man had never had a true family and it was something Jaal wanted to give him. Jill and the Tempest crew would look after Gil, but it still hurt Jaal’s heart to think of not being there.

Jaal realized he would now have to be hypervigilant during missions. He now had someone to come home to and perhaps in the future children to raise. Now more than ever he wanted to see the downfall of the Kett and with Ryder’s help, he hoped that would become a reality.

Jaal returned to his task with renewed determination.  

Chapter Text

Gil listened closely to the comm chatter from the Pathfinder team as they made their way through the Kett command ship. There had been some brief rejoicing when they discovered the Solarian Arc when they arrived in this system, but it would take some work to extricate it from the Kett ship.

In addition to that, Ryder still had to locate the Remnant artifact they needed to find Meridian. As Ryder’s team fought wave after wave of Kett, Gil’s stomach kept clenching with worry. Then what Gil worried most happened.

Over the comm, Gil could hear everything and his heart nearly stopped when he realized what was going on. Ryder and his team, including Jaal, were caught within an immobilizing field and were within the Archon’s grasp. After taunting the team, the Archon thankfully left them alone, but SAM’s next recommendation made Gil blanche. SAM was proposing to kill Ryder, in order to free him from the field.

SAM’s reassurances that Ryder could be quickly revived didn’t calm Gil’s nerves. Even if Ryder were freed, how would the others get out? As SAM stopped Ryder’s heart, everyone on the Tempest held their collective breath until they heard Ryder over the comm. He sounded a little worse for wear, but he was alive. Thankfully he was able to free the others without resorting to the same extreme measures.

Once the team was safe again, Gil slumped against the wall and slid down to sit on the floor, filled with relief but dreading what the Archon might try next.

***

Jaal felt the pit of his stomach plummet as he hung suspended and helpless in the immobilizing field as the Archon strode towards them. Jaal feared the Archon might just kill them outright, or worse, try to Exalt them. Jaal feared Exaltation fare more than death. To lose everything about himself was a terrifying prospect.

Jaal also knew that Gil could hear everything that was going on and his heart ached to at least say goodbye. He came out of his reverie when he saw the Archon leave, keeping them all in the immobilization field. What happened next was even more shocking.

Seeing Ryder lying on the ground, dead, made Jaal realize how close of a friend Ryder had become. Thankfully, SAM was able to revive Ryder and the roller coaster of emotions that Jaal had felt over the last several minutes had him reeling. Once Ryder had released him and Vetra from the field, he needed a moment to collect himself. Thankfully Ryder needed a moment or two as well, considering he’d just been killed and brought back to life in the span of a few moments.

Somehow despite all the obstacles, Ryder eventually found the ancient Remnant artifact he’d been searching for and managed to get a scan of it before they all got out of there. Jaal did not envy the tough call of having to rescue either the Solarians or the Krogan as they made their escape. In the end, Ryder chose to rescue the Krogan because he felt they’d been discriminated against the most of all the Milky Way races. Jaal suspected the choice was also in large part due to how much Ryder and the rest of his team had grown to respect Drack.

Hearing the Solarian’s final sacrifice of their comms still wasn’t easy, but there was nothing for it now, so Ryder pushed forward and got everyone he could to safety.

There was a flurry of activity as they undocked from the Solarian Arc and escaped the system, escorting the arc back to the Nexus. It wasn’t until they were well on their way back that Gil was finally able to take a breather and go check on Jaal.

As Gil entered their quarters, he felt a weight lift as he saw Jaal sitting on the bed, just wearing his underclothes and nothing else. “Hey Jaal, mind if I join you?”

Jaal looked up and smiled. “I was hoping you’d come by, darling one. I could use your company. Today has been…trying.”

They climbed into bed together and Jaal just wrapped his arms around Gil’s waist and held him close. It felt as if neither needed to speak to understand the stress they’d both been through over the course of the past day. All that stress did finally take its toll as it pulled them both under into sleep.

***

Each of the Tempest crew still had private quarters on the Nexus. Tann initially objected but Ryder had insisted. The crew quarters on board the Tempest were small and cramped and while some members, like Liam, Cora, Drack and even Jaal had found alternative, and larger, accommodations on board, Ryder wanted them all to have a home to return to. At least until they could find themselves something permanent, either at one of the outposts or perhaps on Meridian, if they ever found it.

As soon as they disembarked upon arriving at the Nexus, Ryder was whisked off by Director Tann. Jaal was looking forward to some downtime. He happily followed Gil to the habitation deck where his quarters were.

“Before the Hyperion finally arrived, I was going stir-crazy here,” Gil explained as they made their way along a long corridor lined with doors. “But it somehow feels like coming home after we’ve been away so long.”

“Yes, just as my old room at my family compound still feels like home to me, although I am rarely ever there anymore,” Jaal replied with understanding.

As Gil opened the door to his quarters, Jaal frowned when he saw Jill running down the corridor towards them.

“Hey, Gil,” Jill greeted breathlessly. “Not trying to avoid me, are you?”

Gil chuckled. “No, Jill,” Gil shook his head as he entered his quarters and ushered Jill and Jaal inside. “I just wanted to relax and freshen up a bit before we met. You have no idea what we’ve been through recently.”

“You can tell me all about it, after getting me that semen sample,” Jill cut right to the chase.

Jaal was taken aback by Jill’s bluntness. He shouldn’t have been after their previous encounter, but nonetheless she was drawing his ire.

“There is no need to rush this,” Jaal interjected. “Gil and I still have much to discuss on this, especially in light of recent events.”

“We do?” Gil asked. “I thought we’d settled this?”

“Darling one, we haven’t had a moment’s peace to really speak, but yes, we do,” Jaal said gently but firmly.

“Woah, are you trying to get Gil to back out on his agreement?” Jill said, a note of anger rising in her voice.

Jaal sighed. “No, but I do wish to speak with him privately first. That’s why we hadn’t sought you out immediately upon arrival. Could you please give us some privacy?”

“Jaal, you can’t kick Jill out,” Gil grumped. “She’s my best friend and these are my quarters.”

“Gil, please,” Jaal tried to remain calm. “I just want to talk privately first.”

Jill huffed and slammed a plastic sample container on a nearby table. “Fine. Call me when he gives up his sample.”

Jill then left, leaving Gil staring at Jaal in shock. “I can’t believe you just did that. I thought you wanted to raise a family with me!”

“Darling one, I do,” Jaal said soothingly. Jaal was perplexed as to why Gil seemed so angry. “We only just arrived and I wanted to discuss this with you further before we just start…providing Jill with samples. That’s all.”

“What more is there to discuss?!” Gil shouted. “I want kids, you want kids. It should be a done deal.”

“Yes, I do wish for a family,” Jaal agreed. “However, is now really the best time? You know within a day or two Ryder will have us back on the Tempest heading for this Meridian. The Archon is still out there, the Kett are still very much a threat. Do you really wish to conceive a child now, when we may very well never live long enough to witness its birth?”

“But don’t you see? If I don’t leave Jill with a sample now,” Gil said, exasperated. “Then if we die she’ll never have my child.”

Jaal walked over and sat on the bed. “Do you really wish for your child to grow up fatherless, like we both did?”

Gil paced back and forth for a moment, running his hands through his hair. Finally, with a resigned sigh he sat down next to Jaal. “Look, I get it. We about to go up against something we have no idea about. Yeah, it means risking leaving my kid without a dad and I know what it’s like to feel abandoned and unwanted…but maybe Jill will meet someone who will be a great dad. There’s no guarantee the kid will grow up with no father.”

Jaal took Gil’s hands into his own. “All I’m asking for is to wait until we’ve found this Meridian and know what the future has in store for us. If Ryder fails and the Kett overrun your Initiative, then your child could very well find itself exalted. Do you really wish to risk that?”

Gil was silent for a long time. He pulled his hands away and buried his face in them. Just as Jaal began to stand, deciding to give him some space, he felt Gil’s hand grabbing him. “Wait.”

Jaal sat back down and Gil sat up and faced Jaal. “You’re right. We should wait. With everything going on I shouldn’t risk a child being born that could be at risk of that horrendous thing the Kett do to other species.”

“What will you tell Jill?” Jaal asked gently.

“That I’ll hang on the sample cup until we’re ready,” Gil said. “She’ll be fuming mad about it but I think she’ll understand in the long run.”

Jaal nodded. “Hmm. Good.”

***

Gil swallowed nervously and squeezed Jaal’s hand as he entered the Vortex. He and Jaal had come to an agreement and he was about to give Jill the news. He knew she wouldn’t be happy about waiting, but Jaal was right. It was wiser to wait.

They joined Jill in the back corner and she was eyeing them suspiciously. They sat down and he could tell Jill wasn’t happy already.

“I don’t see the sample cup,” Jill began, blunt as ever. “So, have you decided to renege on my offer?”

“No!” Gil shook his head. “No. Please let us explain first.”

“Ok, talk,” Jill said as she leaned back and stared at them both.

Gil took a deep breath. He didn’t want to disappoint his friend, but Jaal was right. They had to wait until Ryder found Meridian and then reassess their prospects in this galaxy before they were ready to help raise a child.

So, Gil and Jaal, in turn, explained their reasoning to Jill. At first her expression was a mixture of anger and annoyance, but by the time they were both done explaining, her expression had changed to one of resignation and acceptance.

“You both make excellent points,” Jill reluctantly admitted. “I suppose I can wait until our Pathfinder resolves this entire Meridian mystery.”

Gil breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks, Jill. I was hoping you’d understand.”

***

Jaal and Gil had barely sat down for a meal together when Ryder contacted them through the comm system. “Hey Gil, I’m ready to head out. Can you get the Tempest fired up?”

Jaal smiled affectionately as he saw Gil’s shoulders tense. “Yeah, can you give me a bit? I just sat down to dinner.”

“Oh alright. Will an hour be long enough?” Ryder asked tentatively.

Gil sighed. “Yeah, sure. I’ll have the Tempest ready to go in an hour.”

“Sorry Jaal, we never really get much time to talk lately, do we?” Gil apologized.

“Don’t worry, darling one. I understand. Our duty must always come first. For all our sakes,” Jaal smiled with understanding. “We’ll take some time to really talk once all this is over, hmm?”

Gil nodded. “Alright. I’m just so glad I have you. Sorry for getting so cross with you earlier. I didn’t mean to.”

“It’s quite alright, I understand,” Jaal replied. “This is a frustrating time.”

They hurriedly finished their meal and then headed back to the Tempest in companionable silence their hands clasped tightly, as if they never wanted to let go.

Chapter Text

It had been a very difficult few weeks. Ryder nearly died again when his team was ambushed, his implant was hacked and he was temporarily disconnected from SAM. The fight against the Archon and his forces took a huge toll on everyone, and on top of that the Angara had to process yet another startling revelation; that they had been genetically engineered by another race calling themselves the Jardaan.

However, everything they survived was worth it once they found Meridian. Ryder had a tough battle defeating the Archon and they all knew the Kett weren’t completely neutralized. However, for now, there was peace and an incredible new world to explore.

***

It’s been three months since the Archon’s defeat. Since it was agreed that Meridian would be primarily a human world, Gil was able to request a requisition for a home on Meridian. It took time to for everything to get established after that final battle with the Kett, but Gil and Jaal were finally able to move into their new home.

Up until now, whenever they weren’t off on missions with Ryder on the Tempest, they split their time between Gil’s quarters on the Nexus and Jaal’s small room on his family’s compound on Havarl. Now they were walking up the newly paved road through the main settlement on Meridian toward their new home.

Gil felt Jaal squeeze his hand as they rounded the path and saw the home. It had two levels, with access to each module through exterior stairs. It was the same style as they saw throughout the sector. It would be some years before the Initiative was well established enough to start building custom homes from local materials. Gil didn’t mind. All that mattered was that it was theirs.

As they approached the main door, Gil input their personal code into his omni-tool to unlock it. “Welcome home, Jaal,” Gil smiled as he led his lover inside. The main level was fairly basic. It included a small kitchen and dining area, an office with two work stations, and a smaller version of the tech lab on the Tempest.

Jaal smiled happily, dropping the pack he was carrying into one corner. “All of this is ours? Just for the two of us?”

Gil placed his pack next to Jaal’s and smiled but didn’t respond, instead he pulled Jaal through to the back door and up the stairs to the upper level. In the upper module they walked in to find a living room with a large window overlooking the valley where their home was situated. They were on the outskirts of the main settlement on Meridian. The lush green of all the plant life spread out before them was breathtaking.

Jaal was about to remark on it, but Gil shook his head and led the Angaran to one of the two closed off rooms on this level. “This is the master bedroom. This is all ours,” Gil explained. It had a large bed, a dresser, a couple of night stands on each side of the bed, and a door leading into what was most likely the bathroom.

Then Gil led Jaal out again and into the other room. Jaal gasped when he realized what the room was, as it held all the furnishings necessary for an infant. It was clearly a nursery. “This will be our child’s room. Once we’re ready for them, and so they will be sharing this home with us. Until then though, yes, it’s all ours. Just the two of us.”

Jaal pulled Gil into an embrace before leading Gil over to the living room. He sat on the couch and pulled Gil down next to him. “I think we’ve waited long enough. The Archon has been defeated. The Kett have retreated, and now we have this wonderful place to call home. I think now would be the perfect time to begin a family.”

Gil felt a catch in his throat as Jaal said that. “Do you mean it? Jill’s resettled here on Meridian now too and I know she’s ready whenever we are.”

Jaal smiled. “Yes, I mean it. We now have everything we need to raise a child properly, and I’m sure Jill will be an excellent mother and help care for them whenever we are on missions. Don’t you agree?”

Gil nodded, feeling choked with emotion. “So, how soon should we try to do this?”

Jaal leaned over and gave Gil a passionate kiss. “How about right now? We can unpack our things later, right?”

“I like the sound of that,” Gil purred. “Oh but wait. We need that sample cup first.”

Jaal chuckled at Gil as he ran out of the upper module and downstairs to grab his pack. Gil decided to carry both packs upstairs. Once he was back he didn’t see Jaal in the living room so he made his way to the bedroom and found a very naked Jaal lying on the bed.

Gil felt hit cock twitch at the sight of Jaal’s obvious arousal and he dropped the packs right where he stood and nearly forgot to fish out the sample cup he’d been carrying around with him all this time. He also pulled out a bottle of lube.

Gil placed the two items onto the night stand next to the bed and looked at Jaal, his breath quickening at the sight of him. They never had much time to devote to physical pleasures since their first time together on Aya. But now they had the entire week off and the privacy of a home all their own.

“I think you’re overdressed, darling one,” Jaal said, his voice deeper with the obvious lust he was feeling.

Gil couldn’t remember taking off his clothes so fast before. As soon as he was completely nude, Jaal pulled him down onto the bed and positioned himself over him. For a moment Jaal gazed at him lovingly as he caressed his cheek. Gil’s heart was pounding as he surged up and kissed Jaal with all the passion and love he could convey.

Jaal kept teasing him with tender kisses and touches and it started to drive Gil crazy. “Please Jaal. Please, touch me, fuck me…please.”

Jaal chuckled and reached over to grab the sample cup. “I think first you need to get Jill her sample, Darling one.”

Gil nodded. The cup had a special top that would hermetically seal the sample inside once closed and locked, keeping the sample fresh for a few hours. Jaal removed the top and set it aside before handing it to Gil.

“You hold on to this and I’ll help you provide the sample Jill needs,” Jaal suggested. Gil nodded as he sat himself into a better position on the bed in order to be able to catch the sample at the appropriate time.

Once Gil was in position, Jaal reached down and began to stroke Gil’s erection. Firm, sure strokes that were sure to send Gil over the edge quickly because he was already extremely aroused. Jaal leaned in and kissed and nibbled Gil’s neck, which made Gil moan with pleasure. Gil let his eyes slide closed and let Jaal pleasure him. Soon enough Gil felt his balls contract and he knew he was near the edge. “Faster, please.”

Jaal sped up his strokes as Gil’s legs began to quiver. He was so close…so close. Then at the last moment Gil tore open his eyes and grabbed his cock, aiming the tip into the cup just as he started to cum.

“Wow,” Gil said, out of breath. “I swear no matter what we do, it’s always amazing with you.” Gil gave Jaal a quick kiss as the Angaran just smiled adoringly at him.

Gil sealed the lid on the cup and quickly took it downstairs to store in their refrigerated storage unit until they had a chance to take it to Jill. Once back in the bedroom, Gil crawled up the bed and back into Jaal’s arms. “Okay big guy, now it’s your turn,” Gil said wickedly, kissing Jaal with renewed passion.

They spent the rest of the afternoon making love in their new bed and in the shower. Gil had requested a larger shower unit and because of his role in helping to find Meridian, Addison had approved of the request. Gil was so glad he’d thought of it and he found that he really loved having Jaal inside of him while the water sprayed down on them.

Having a new home was one thing, but truth be told, being anywhere with Jaal felt like home.

***

Jaal found it amusing how nervous Gil was, waiting on news from Jill about the implantation. Jill assured them that if it didn’t take the first time, they would just keep trying. In the meantime, Jaal busied himself around their new home. They had unpacked their few personal possessions and Jaal decided to start a small garden on the side of their home.

Meridian was a lush world and he felt certain he would successfully be able to grow some of his favorite fruits for himself and he’d also purchased some seeds of human fruits and vegetables to grow for Gil. There were even a few that they both could enjoy together.

Jaal found a sense of peace, once again tilling the soil. He hadn’t done much farm work since his time on Aya before he joined the resistance. Gil also helped him install a watering system that could detect the level of moisture in the soil and through a drip system deliver the needed moisture to all the new seedlings that he’d planted. That way no one would have to come and water the garden whenever they were away on missions.

Just as he was putting away his gardening tools for the day, Gil ran out looking excited. “Jaal! I just heard from Jill! She’s pregnant!”

Jaal felt a warm surge of happiness at the news. “That’s wonderful news. We should celebrate!”

Gil embraced him and Jaal happily held his love. “Look, my labors are also beginning to show signs of life,” Jaal pointed at the seedlings sprouting in his modest garden.

“It looks like we’re both bringing new life into the world,” Gil smiled. “I know you’re going to make a great father.”

“Hmm, that makes me think,” Jaal mused aloud. “What shall the child call me? Clearly you should be the one they call father.”

“Oh, I was thinking about that the other day,” Gil admitted. “I was imagining the child calling me dad, which is another word for father. Then there’s also the word ‘papa,” which I thought would suit you perfectly. What do you think, Papa Jaal?”

Jaal repeated the name in his head a few times and nodded with a smile. “I like it very much. Papa it is then, Dad Gil.”

Gil laughed at that. “No, no if you say it with my name it has to be Daddy Gil. Dad Gil just sounds weird.”

Jaal made an exaggerated sigh, followed by a short laugh. “Your language has far too many oddities.”

***

Nine months later found Gil and Jaal waiting outside of the one of the private rooms in the new hospital that had been built in the settlement. From inside Gil could hear Jill screaming. She had opted for a natural childbirth and it sounded painful.

“Are Human births meant to be this painful?” Jaal asked. “I don’t recall Angaran women ever complaining about pain during childbirth. I don’t believe our mothers would have as many children if it was as painful as this sounds.”

Gil nodded. “Yeah natural childbirth for Human females is always painful from what I’ve heard,” Gil acknowledged. “I think Dr. Carlyle offered Jill some options for it to be less painful, but she refused. She wanted to set an example for the other expectant Human mothers in Helius, that natural child birth is still possible. Not all of our outposts are equipped with the advanced birthing equipment we have here. This hospital has been equipped with all the tech that was on the medbay on the Hyperion.”

“Is that why some people have refused to start bearing children?” Jaal asked, wincing a bit as Jill made another loud wail of pain.

“I think that’s definitely one reason, yeah,” Gil nodded.

Suddenly, all they heard was silence from behind the door. Jaal and Gil looked at each other expectantly when the door opened just as they heard the cry of an infant. Rushing in they saw the baby being cleaned and swaddled by one nurse and another was tucking Jill into her own blankets.

Gil rushed over to his friend. “Hey, how are you feeling?”

“Still in pain,” Jill grunted. “Really tired, but really happy too.”

Dr. Carlyle brought the swaddled infant over and put the child in Jill’s arms. “You have a very healthy son.”

Gil was on the verge of tears as he looked down at his son. “Aww, Jill. He’s beautiful.”

Jill nodded. “He’s perfect. Would you like to hold him?”

The nurse came over and helped pick the infant up and handed him to Gil. Gil couldn’t stop the tears that crested and slid down his face as he held his son. Jaal came over and put an arm around Gil’s shoulders. “Hello little one. Welcome.”

“Have you chosen a name for him?” Dr. Carlyle asked.

“Are you still okay with the name we discussed?” Gil asked Jill and she nodded. Looking back up at the doctor, Gil said. “His name is Brodie Ama Darav.”

***

“Brodie!” Jaal called as he entered the main level of their home. “Have you been trampling my garden again?”

Brodie looked up at him with big, sad eyes. “I’m sorry papa! I didn’t mean to!”

Gil turned around from his workstation. “What have we told you about trampling your papa’s garden? Don’t you want to be able to eat all the fresh fruit and veggies he grows for us?”

Brodie stood up and pouted his lower lip. “I’m sorry daddy. I didn’t mean to. My ball fell into the garden and I had to get it.”

Gil stood and lifted the child and held him on his hip. “Well, you need to be more careful, kiddo. Next time your ball lands there, just ask me or your papa and we’ll get it out for you, okay?”

The toddler nodded and hugged Gil. Then he looked up at Jaal sheepishly. “I’m sorry papa.”

Jaal wrapped his arms around them both and kissed the top of Brodie’s head. “It’s alright. I forgive you.”

Gil put the child back down and Brodie happily went back to the coloring book he’d been working on. Gil moved into the kitchen and poured Jaal and himself some tea and they sat for a moment, watching their son. “I can’t believe it’s been almost 4 years since we moved in here.”

Jaal reached out and took Gil’s hand. “I still can’t believe I found someone like you to share a home and family with. You will never know how grateful my people are that your Initiative decided to come here. Without you, my people would still be fighting the Kett on our dying worlds. We would have never learned of our true origins. You saved us all.”

“I didn’t do much,” Gil said modestly. “Ryder’s the one who saved everyone. Even the Initiative. Without him we’d all be in the same boat as you.”

“Perhaps, but you did save me,” Jaal said. “Without you, I would have returned to the resistance and who knows if I would still be alive today.”

Gil leaned over and gave Jaal a quick, chaste kiss. “Ew. Stop kissin’!” Brodie shouted from across the room, causing Gil and Jaal to chuckle.

“Yeah life has turned out pretty perfect, considering where I started,” Gil agreed. “So how would you feel about expanding the family?”

“Has Jill asked you to father another child?” Jaal asked.

Gil shook his head no. “Remember, we talked about adopting an Angaran orphan, or two?”

“We did indeed,” Jaal recalled. “How about we adopt one, and perhaps I find an Angaran female who is willing to be a surrogate and bear a child for me as well?”

“I think we need to think about requisitioning to expand our house then,” Gil smiled.

“What do you think Brodie?” Gil asked. “Would you like to have a brother or sister?”

Brodie’s eyes lit up and he ran over and hopped up onto Gil’s lap. “Could we daddy? I really want a brother!”

“What if it turns out to be a sister instead?” Gil asked. Brodie scrunched his nose for a moment but then shrugged. “I guess that’d be okay too.”

Gil and Jaal laughed, and Gil hugged his son tight. “This, right here. This is what matters more to me than anything. Having a real family.”

“Indeed,” Jaal agreed.

“Yeah,” Brodie agreed too. “’cause fake families are no fun!”

Brodie slipped off Gil’s lap and went back to his coloring book and Jaal wrapped an arm around Gil’s shoulder and Gil leaned against him, sighing happily.

Yeah, this is what mattered most. Family.