Finn lay in the rubble. He hurt everywhere. Like everyone on Earth, he’d see the Reapers fall. Some kind of red energy hit and knocked them out. All the husks, and alien variants, simply disintegrated. No one knew how it had happened but a squad, including the indomitable Commander Shepard, had headed to the beam that was believed would take them to the Citadel, now in Earth orbit. He fought to protect the galaxy, even when he was doubted and vilified, even when he had to go to the enemy to stop this threat. Yet, he was there, the only hope, and it was thought that he had done something on the Citadel. Whatever, or whoever, was responsible had put an end to the Reapers, or at least on Earth.
Once the relief set in, Finn’s thoughts drifted elsewhere, to Charlie. He had no idea where he was. Though well-trained with a sniper rifle, Charlie was an Infiltrator and often found himself up close and personal with the enemy. Last he’d heard, Charlie was attempting to free humans in what were essentially Reaper concentration camps. That scared the shit out of him. If he were there, he could be indoctrinated. If that happened, they could have turned him against his fellows or even made him kill himself. And what did it mean if someone was indoctrinated but the Reapers were dead? Would they still try to aid the Reapers, even though they were dead, or would they be free? Finn didn’t like to think about it, didn’t want to even imagine it. All he wanted right now was to hold Charlie in his arms again and never let go.
But there was work to do, no matter how much his body ached. As an Adept, Finn was among those who could help clear rubble with his biotics. He was well-trained at the Ascension Project, originally given an L4 implant, which was more powerful and safer than prior models. Just last year he had upgraded to an L5x, which nearly made him a match for an asari. All of which meant he could, in context of the current situation, lift heavier objects and not tire as quickly. Unfortunately, he was already dead tired, but he knew he couldn’t rest. He was needed.
Finn hauled himself off the ground, getting a hand from one of his squadmates before he tumbled.
“Easy, Walsh,” Wilkins said to him. “Have a protein bar. You’ll need it.”
Finn nodded and accepted the bar, tearing the wrapper off of it. Normally, he’d pocket that wrapper but with all the destruction is wasn’t going to make much of a difference.
“Thanks, Wilkins. I’m going to need it.” Even in this day and age, the Irish accent was evident. When different regions on Earth had started to assert their nationality, Irish - or Gaelic, as most of the world called it - came back in fashion. Finn was raised on Irish but had also learned English with an accent particular to County Clare in the Province of Munster. Not that it much mattered given his language implant, but the accent still showed through, even in translation.
He and other biotics spent the next several hours moving debris, looking for survivors, and helping however they could. It was easier to biotically lift an injured person off the ground than to physically pick them up. Eventually, though, exhaustion set in. It was too much of a strain to continue and, frankly, they hadn’t rested for nearly a day, given the fighting with Reaper forces and then the search and rescue.
Still, Finn couldn’t take a rest quite yet. Communication wasn’t fully functioning but it wasn’t gone. He had to see if there was any news and went to the most senior ranking Alliance officer in the vicinity, Major Thomas Wycombe.
“Sir,” Finn said as he approached, offering a salute, which was returned.
“What can I do for you, uh,” the Major began, not really knowing who Finn was. Things were a mess and at this point marines fell under the command of whoever happened to have the highest rank.
“Lt. Walsh, sir.”
“What is it you want, Walsh? I have a lot of work to do.”
“Yes, sir. I’m about to take some rack time but I, uh, was wondering if you could find out the status of another service member. Lt. Charlie Renault, Commando Infiltrator. Last known mission to free humans from one of the Reaper camps.”
Wycombe took a deep breath. It wasn’t the first request of this type to be made and surely wouldn’t be the last. Yet, morale was needed now more than ever. These marines were overworked, underfed and barely had time to rest. If they were to keep going, they needed information, good or bad. He didn’t know what Finn’s reason was for finding the other man but he could make a few guesses.
“I’ll see what I can find out. It may be difficult. Yours isn’t the only request and communication is spotty at best.”
“I understand, sir.”
“Eat and rest. Perhaps I’ll find something out. Dismissed.”
Another set of salutes and Finn headed out.
Finn ate and then tried to get some sleep. Despite his exhaustion, he was having a difficult time drifting off. He was worried about Charlie, wondering if he’d ever get to see him again.
That brought Finn back to their first meeting, and that was a hell of a story. It wasn't anything that anyone would ever have thought would lead to a relationship.
Finn had gone to a sex party. He loved sex and loved to get fucked up. He had been using Hallex. It gave him heightened senses and extreme euphoria. The combination was mind blowing. From what he understood, nothing like that had existed on Earth until joining the galactic community.
When Charlie entered the room, Finn was on a bed with two cocks in his ass. The Hallex overcame any feeling of discomfort he might have had, instead giving him intense pleasure. Charlie smirked when he saw the scene, walked up in front of Finn, dropped his trousers and stuck his cock in Finn’s mouth. Finn didn't even question it, sucking on it like he was a starving man getting food at last. Then again, Finn didn't even know who was inside his ass and really didn't care.
After several minutes, one of the guys fucking him tensed up and unloaded inside of him. The other kept going. Realizing an opportunity, Charlie pulled out and took the place of the first man. Then the other came and pushed Finn off of him so he could get up. No one else took his place but Charlie didn't mind. That ass was slick with cum and that made the whole affair nice and easy. Charlie took his time, not in a rush to get off and get out. He did notice a lot of the others were drifting out, leaving just a few stragglers finishing up with whoever they happened to be with.
Not long after, Charlie dumped his load inside of Finn and pulled out. Finn didn't move from that position, clearly waiting for someone else to take Charlie's place. Charlie could see that Finn wasn't lucid and it was unlikely that anyone was going to help him out.
It didn't feel like Finn had been asleep very long when he was awakened. He was still feeling exhausted and achy, but that was probably because would need more rest to overcome the fatigue.
Finn hit the head (which was little more than a hole dug into the ground - modesty wasn't an option, not that it ever really had been in the marines), washed his face in the water basin and headed to get some grub.
He really wanted to go ask Wycombe if he'd heard anything but he knew now wasn't the time. They were both Alliance marines and on some level knew this was what they'd signed on for. One thing different now was the lack of communication. The odds were better if he checked back in later, after his shift.
Hours later, Finn came back into camp. As much as he just wanted to collapse, he needed to know. Unfortunately, Major Wycombe had no information to give. There were so many missing. It didn't mean they were dead, just that he hadn't been able to locate them. Fact was, Wycombe barely knew who Finn was, and that was mostly true everywhere. No one was with their unit at this point. They just fell in with whoever was nearby, assessed the abilities of those who showed up and sent them on their way. That night Finn cried himself to sleep.
Charlie knew he couldn't leave Finn like this. Finn would be tossed out, hopefully with his clothes but no guarantees there. There'd been a lot of drug use at the party and that could cause legal problems.
Searching around for clothes, Charlie picked from the little that were left. It was a struggle to get his pants on. He didn't bother with underpants. Hard to know whose was whose anyway. Then he got the other into a shirt and put his feet into a pair of boots. Boy were they a bitch to tie up.
Charlie tried to get information about the other but he was too out of it to give a coherent response. That left searching his pockets. He pulled out a set of dog tags. His name was Finn Walsh and he was a Corporal in the Alliance marines. That was something they had in common. The major difference was that the imprint was blue, meaning he was a biotic. Charlie really hoped he didn't get out of control right now.
The next morning was difficult, at best. The excessive use of biotics and the long hours had begun to make him emotionally unstable. That affected his work and he was called before Major Wycombe prior to the completion of his shift. The Major did not at all look happy to see him.
“Lt. Finn,” Wycombe said, irritation in his voice. “What is going on with you? I understand that you’re working long hours and not getting enough sleep, but other biotics are working under the same conditions and managing just fine.”
“I’m under stress, sir,” Finn responded. “Emotional stress. My… partner is missing and it’s making it difficult to rest. I’m not sleeping, not eating. It’s affecting my performance.”
“You’re supposed to be a professional. I don’t have access to your records at the moment but I doubt you’d be a lieutenant if you hadn’t shown exceptional skill. That’s especially true of a biotic who doesn’t appear to be in an all-biotic squad.”
“I apologize, sir. We both knew the risks but it's never almost been the end of the world. I'm already finding so many dead bodies… makes it hard to deal with.”
Wycombe sighed wearily.
“Who were you looking for again?”
“Lt. Charles Renault. Infiltration commando. Last seen trying to free people from one of those Reaper camps.”
Wycombe showed doubt on his face for a moment. He knew that those who entered such camps rarely came out unless they were indoctrinated.
“We've had some restoration of communication. I'll see what I can find. Meanwhile, take this extra time and get some rest. You won't do anyone any good, including Renault, if you're worn out. Dismissed.”
Charlie had decided trying to get Finn to his own home unlikely so brought him to his apartment. He was still a mess and, frankly, Charlie didn't want to take the time to make an extra stop.
Once inside the apartment Charlie was going to leave him on the couch but knew coming down from Hallex could be dicey. He decided, fuck it, they could share the bed. It's not like Charlie hadn't been fucking him less than an hour ago.
In the bed, Finn drifted off and Charlie soon followed. When morning came, Finn was snuggled up against Charlie but the drugs and whatever else had him sleeping longer than usual.
Charlie extricated himself and went into the kitchen to make coffee. He was sitting at the kitchen table when Finn walked into the room, still fully naked.
“Who are you,” Finn asked.
“One of the guys who really enjoyed cumming in your ass last night.”
Finn’s cheeks turned red, something Charlie found odd under the circumstances.
“Oh, uh, yeah. I don't remember much about last night.”
“No kidding. Hallex and whatever else you took can mess with your memory.”
“How… how many guys were there?”
“I don't know. At least a dozen when I walked in. You had two cocks in your ass when I first saw you.”
“That surprise you?”
“Well, I knew there was going to be one or two other guys besides the one I'd come there with but… I don't usually… ever… do stuff like that. No wonder I'm so sore.”
Charlie looked at Finn with some concern. He had thought Finn was some kind of cumdump sex addict but it looked like there was more to the story.
The extra hours of sleep did help recharge Finn’s batteries. When he got up he was more capable than anytime since the Reapers had fallen.
That didn't make much of a difference when the days passed and there had been no word about Charlie. He wanted to go ask Wycombe again but he knew it was a waste of time. It would just annoy the Major. If he'd heard anything he would let Finn know.
Even knowing that, it wasn't easy. It was better to distract himself with work and pass out before doing it all again the next day.
More days passed and soon it was time to move on. There was still no news and he had to check in one last time with Major Wycombe.
“Son, I'm truly sorry. I don't have any information. We're just now getting up a wider range of communication and beginning to share information on who we have under our command. I know it must be hard, but we still have no answers for you.”
Shit shit shit is what went through Finn’s mind. He knew Wycombe was right but he also knew it was just as likely that Charlie had been turned into a husk and had been disintegrated when the red wave came through to destroy them all.
From that point on, Finn was a virtual zombie. He did what he was supposed to but he barely spoke except to acknowledge orders. He lost a lot of weight from not eating and was staggering from lack of sleep.
The thing about it was the not knowing. He could live with hearing that Charlie had died in the line of duty but this was maddening. The worst part was that if he were dead, Finn might never know. No one would ever know who the husks were and the red wave removed any chance of finding out. There was also no trace of those killed by beams from the Reapers.
Finn enjoyed dinner with Charlie. It was their third date and Finn found he liked this growing level of intimacy. Sure, the dates were spread out due to tours of duty, but Finn hadn't gone to a sex party since right after the second date. He was getting the feeling that he might want to spend even more time with him. They'd quickly learned that since their ranks were the same that it wasn't an issue. No problem with chain of command.
“Cheers,” Charlie said with that French accent, raising a glass.
“Cheers,” Finn responded, clinking his glass with who he was starting to think of as his boyfriend.
The sex had happened right from the start, setting aside the sex party where they'd encountered one another. Nothing had happened that next morning but Finn had left his number so that he could repay Charlie for his kindness. He bought him dinner, but that wasn't considered a date. It was only when he got a message from Charlie a week later, saying he wanted to see Finn when they were next both docked, that they had begun to date.
Weeks passed and there was nothing. Communications were ranging further and further. Charlie had lost all hope by this time. When his shift ended, Finn tore off his helmet and threw it as far as his biotics could fling it.
“Fuuuuuck,” Finn raged.
He screamed more before falling to the ground and sobbing. Finn didn't think he'd ever get up again. He definitely didn't want to.
There was a hand on his shoulder. Finn tensed, ready to send whoever it was flying, regardless of the consequences. As soon as he turned around, the helmeted marine pulled his hand away like he'd been shocked. Then he quickly undid the clasps that attached the helmet to the armor.
Finn was in shock. They both were. Charlie sat down on the ground next to Finn and they both kissed and sobbed, babbling about how they'd missed each other and thought all was lost.
It came out that the comms in Charlie's armor had gone down, so he'd had a difficult time finding his way to any of the units that had formed. He'd survived by scavenging whatever was around. Dry goods from ruined homes, stray animals and whatever else he could find. Water was harder to find but he recycled what was in his armor as much as possible.
Charlie had stumbled into this camp purely by luck. Or, as Finn determined, some greater force in the universe had worked to bring them back together, as though they were meant to be.
There was no use trying to keep these two apart. They worked together, ate together and slept together. Being around one another improved the overall performance of the both of them. Even Major Wycombe could see that it might be better in the long run to put them in the same unit. However, someone with greater rank than he would have to make that decision, assuming the chain of command still existed.
One day, after time on search and rescue, Finn dropped to one knee before Charlie. He pulled off one of his dog tags, holding it in one hand.
“Charlie, I don't want to live without you,” he started. “I'm not sure I can. Would you be my husband?”
Charlie looked shocked. It wasn't that it was so hard to believe as it was unexpected.
“Yes,” Charlie said, no hesitation in his voice. “I would love to be your husband. Until death do us part.”
Finn handed the tag to Charlie in lieu of a ring. Charlie pulled off his own tags and handed one of them to Finn. This was not an approved action but right now they didn't care. Being together was all that mattered.
Finn rose to his feet and gave his now fiance a passionate kiss. They were both grinning from ear to ear.
Several months passed before Finn and Charlie resigned from the marines, instead devoting their time to rebuilding the infrastructure so that people would have places to live, safe drinking water could be had for all, and crops could be planted. Meat was scarce but that would likely change.
It was around then that Finn and Charlie came across a holy man of one of the religions that survived after first contact with aliens. Many had ended when the existence of aliens seemed to run counter to their doctrines.
This man was essentially a Buddhist monk. Finn asked if he had the power to marry them. He said it was possible. They had, in fact, acquired some rings. It was in a distasteful manner, relics of the dead from the Reaper War, but that was all they had.
The monk arranged for a ceremony. There were locals around who served as witnesses and the two men were finally bound spiritually, if not legally. Government was still a work in progress but nothing could hold back the spiritual aspect.
They digitally signed a marriage certificate on their omni-tools, as did the monk. When the time came, they could prove their bond. It was important to them that the day of their wedding was officially recognized rather than some future date when an official of some sort declared it legally valid.
The years passed and the men remained together. It wasn't so much an intense love as a quiet, contented feeling. There was no doubt they could survive so long as they were willing to work together to make it happen.