Rhys was having trouble getting pregnant. And Jack was pretty sure it was his fault.
His last three heats had resulted in nothing. The fertility treatments weren’t doing squat.
Rhys was getting anxious, worried he’d never be able to give the CEO heirs to control Hyperion after Jack. He was young and healthy, but over six months of trying and the omega started to develop a look in his eyes bordering on guilty shame, and Jack couldn’t have that.
“Something must be wrong with me,” Rhys said as Jack held him on the couch in his penthouse, the lack of results from the latest treatment hanging over them both. “...maybe I can’t have children, Jack.”
“Hey now, don’t think so negative, buttercup,” the alpha said as he nuzzled the back of Rhys’ neck. “We haven’t even been trying that long--”
“We’ve gone three heats already--”
“Yeah, but we’ve been busy with the new gun line distribution, kitten,” Jack reminded. “Just a shitload of stress, baby. You know what that can do.”
“But what if--”
“Nah pumpkin, don’t worry.” Jack pressed a kiss to Rhys’ frowning forehead, giving him a reassuring squeeze. “These things take time. We just need a little R an’ R, you’ll see. It’ll be fine.”
It wasn’t fine, though, and Jack was finally ready to accept that he was the source of the problem.
He paid an overdue visit down to R&D, absentmindedly scratching at the scar that the mask over his face covered. The memory made a swell of fury crest in him which he quickly suppressed, refusing to acknowledge how much his altered-face bothered him.
That Eridian piece of shit that had maimed him had changed him. In more ways than he’d originally considered. It had to have. Rhys was as healthy as the next omega, young and right in his prime. There was no reason his mate shouldn’t be able to get him pregnant.
...Unless of course his mate happened to be a much older, scarred-by-alien-artifacts alpha whose face refused all surgeries, skin-grafts, and cosmetic-procedures to fix the brand there.
So as much as it shamed Jack to think so, he was fairly positive it was all on him.
“I’m not a doctor though, sir,” the beta in R&D reminded as he tried to assist with what was made lucidly clear to be a life and death situation-- for the tech, not for Jack’s own health. “And not a fertility doctor, especially. Sir.”
“Yeah, but aren’t you science morons supposed to know about this shit? Alien tech and all that crap? I know we have samples down here.” The beta wasn’t sure if it was rhetorical or not, and Jack just rolled his eyes, then gestured nonchalantly at the crotch of his pants. “Just make my dick work, idiot. I’m overdue for sticking a pup in my mate.”
“Um, sir, i-if the issue is arousal, I can’t actually prescribe any aphrodisiacs but the--”
“...are you freakin’ kidding me…?” Jack growled to himself then glared at the tech. “I can get my dick up! This is the busiest dick on Helios! In the galaxy!” the alpha declared maybe a bit louder than he’d intended. “It’s this shit that’s the problem!” Jack indicated his face in the same moment that he realized the idiot in front of him took it to mean his face was what was putting his partner off.
The alpha made an aggravated noise, so goddamn frustrated that his hands reacted before he even thought out what he was doing. Jack ripped off the mask covering his face, the little latches there protesting against the less-than-gentle movement on the durable, synthetic skin, and the CEO reveled in the look of shock and pallor on the tech in front of him.
The man’s expression was worth cutting through the bullshit, frankly. The CEO knew there were rumors about what was under his mask out there, but this idiot clearly needed the facts.
And if Jack later became concerned about revealing as much, well, he could always airlock reassign the tech to weapon’s testing. As a target-dummy. “This. This shit needs to be fixed before I can knock up my mate. I’m sure this is it. Think you got something for that, peabrain?”
“W-well we have an experimental drug we wanted to use on the battlefield,” the beta said, eyes glued on the scar bisecting Jack’s face as he quickly spoke. “F-for major trauma from grenades and… things.” The tech’s eyes left their study of the scar only to meet Jack’s own intense look-- awareness of the CEO’s damaged eye making the beta quickly look down- and the tech’s voice shook just a little. “It’s uh… it’s meant to knit flesh back together after major trauma, but on fresh--”
“Alrighty, well, cool. Go get it and stick it in me,” Jack said as he lackadaisically rolled up a sleeve and then looked at the still-standing tech expectantly. He raised a brow as the beta stood there looking at the CEO’s arm blankly. “Hel-lo?”
The beta made a noise before quickly locating the experimental pills from a locked cabinet, and scurried back to the CEO. “It’s not an injection, sir, but a pill regimen… ah… it’s basically a steroid with healing effects comparable to an anshin but--”
Jack snatched the prototype jar of yellow pills from the scientist, tipping one out into his hand. “This baby will make my boys swim faster, huh?” Jack said as he eyed the pill in between thumb and index finger. It didn’t look like anything special.
But then again, the deceptively-simple-looking technology in the mask he wore supplemented his poor vision as well as concealed the scar that ruined his face. Big things, small packages, yada yada.
Jack reaffixed the second skin only to level an intense look at the beta.
“Um… the pills were designed to repair currently in-distress flesh. We’ve had issues with piercings healed shut and uh… willful cosmetic procedures to reverse, so to speak--”
“That sounds like exactly what I need! Cool. So just a couple o’ these and bam! Cock is rockin’ again and everything fixed! Ha-ha, not that I need to be fixed, mind you,” the CEO quipped.
“Ah…” the beta was losing his nerve to Jack’s mercurial moods. The fact he was even having this conversation was like something out of a nightmare, and he’d try to block it out as soon as possible. “No sir, it’s one three times a day for a week… But we don’t know what effect alien--”
“Only a week, huh?” That didn’t sound so bad. He could probably pass them off as painkillers or vitamins if Rhys asked. ...Not that he wanted to keep secrets from the younger man, but he was ashamed in ways he didn’t even want to accept himself; that he was keeping the omega from the dream of children.
“They’re still experimental, sir, but the side effects have been minimal with proper use and--”
“Yeah yeah,” Jack started dismissively, “side effects blah blah. You think these little babies will do the trick? Not like your whole department’s funding depends on it or anything,” Jack mocked, only a little serious.
The beta sputtered a moment in trying to figure out the best response to that, and instead just helplessly repeated how they were still experimental, but Jack was already leaving with the bottle in hand and echoing a request behind himself for the details to be sent to his comm.
Back in the privacy of his office in his big plush chair, Jack eyed the discreet little pill between his fingers, not wanting to hope that some experimental battlefield-steroids could be the answer to his problems, but oh how he wanted.
Jack took one, but if he was supposed to feel anything immediately, he couldn't tell.
Peeking beneath the synthetic skin back home after Rhys was asleep yielded similar disappointment. He reminded himself it was for a week, and he needed to be patient. He took the nighttime pill and decided he’d check again the following morning.
Three days and 9 pills later and he placed a call down to R&D, getting the same beta on the line to ask questions and vent frustrations.
“Give it the full week, sir! That’s when it worked by with all skag trials. But--”
“I haven’t seen any changes,” Jack growled out over the comm. “No change. Nada. That means nothing. Is this what I’m paying you for?”
“It needs to build up in your system first, sir. You’re only about halfway to effective potency...”
Jack snorted at that, but as the words sunk in, he figured it wouldn’t take that much longer to see results. “Full-potency, huh? Why didn't you tell me that before, Rudy?”
“Robbie, awesome, thanks. Hope you don’t hear back from me.” Jack hung up on a gasp with a smirk. Not but a few more days and he should start noticing some changes; maybe his scar would completely heal. Maybe he’d even get vision back and not need the synthetic skin anymore.
He tried not to get too ahead of himself, but his anticipation put him in way better spirits as the week slowly dragged on.
Jack’s obsession with checking the skin of his face multiple times a day had finally been put to a stop as shit hit the fan from multiple angles, drowning him in a heavy workload at the office that put everything else from his mind.
The worries about Rhys’ private little guilty looks Jack sometimes caught, coupled with fall out from a supply ship being attacked and subsequently lost, and also idiot interns making million-dollar payroll mistakes in accounting had meant that Jack had been so preoccupied with his work that he’d forgotten to take the pills, and more than one dose at that.
He realized the mistake with a little spike of anxiety as his thoughts went immediately to Rhys; he was doing this for him. Kept hinting at some sort of surprise at the end of the week that made the omega give him odd looks, but it was better than that sort of self-loathing that started to creep into the younger man’s eyes.
“Oh fuck. Dammit… piece of shit, where’s-- Mm.” He’d located the bottle inside the desk drawer-- brain still preoccupied with trying to locate where their shipment had ended up- as he looked at the little yellow pills.
He was almost done with the treatment. He didn't want to prolong this shit over missing doses. Did the amount matter more than being on time with it? That’s how the tech had made it sound. Maximum potency and all that. Right. Build it up in your system, that’s what he’d said.
He shook out one pill, realizing he had two previously-missed doses, and decided, what the hell? He shook out two more, tossing back all three with some slight relief to have kept himself on track, and got back to work for some hours more.
Rhys called the office later that same evening, and sheepishly asked if Jack still wanted to try and make the dinner reservation they’d set two weeks ago… which was for some thirty minutes prior, with a fancy dress code.
“I didn’t want to bug you. I mean, that supply ship was a pretty big deal…” Rhys said, tone a bit beseeching, like he thought he had no right to be complaining about anything in his failure to give the alpha heirs. And considering he assumed he couldn’t give Jack children, the omega didn’t want to press his powerful mate on such a minor thing as having dinner with him.
Jack frowned as he listened to the younger man’s voice on the comm. That Rhys thought he had to be careful with his alpha made Jack feel like a shit head. “Fuck baby, I didn’t realize how late it was. I’ll be right there, okay?”
“Are you sure? We can always go some other time. I really don’t mind, Jack.”
The alpha highly doubted that. The last time Jack had tried to get out of a dinner reservation to a posh new Helios restaurant, Rhys had withheld blowjobs for a week. That his usually-prissy omega was so quick to voluntarily dismiss his own wants made Jack feel worse; as if Rhys was afraid to lose him for any minor infraction.
...As if anyone or anything could take Rhys from him.
Jack stared at the closed bottle of experimental pills after he’d ended the call with the omega.
It was all him. His fault Rhys hadn’t gotten pregnant yet. The most powerful man in the freakin’ universe couldn’t do what any lowlife bandit could, and it was hard for him to admit it.
It would be okay though. Soon it wouldn’t matter, and whatever damage that that scar had caused the rest of his body should heal. And then he’d give Rhys all the pups he ever wanted and spend the rest of their lives reassuring his mate that he was well-loved and not going anywhere. Ever.
Jack called Rhys back as he left the office with an idea to make up for the late reservation, and proposed he cook the omega a romantic dinner for two-- if Rhys would let him- followed by some pampering from his favorite alpha. Just the two of them.
Rhys was a lot more enthusiastic about having Jack’s undivided attention than the alpha had assumed, and it lit a fire under Jack’s butt to really show the younger man just how much he cared.
Jack ended up getting home not twenty minutes later, and pressed hasty, hot kisses on Rhys’ face and neck in lieu of proper greeting. The pleased noises Rhys made were soothing to Jack’s sense of guilt, and the happy scent coming off the younger man was enough reassurance that he really did prefer to stay in.
“I missed you,” Rhys sweetly purred into the embrace Jack gave him, and opened his mouth to the greedy kiss he was subjected to.
“I’d keep you in my office all day if the company wouldn’t go down the crapper with how distracted I’d get,” Jack promised with a smirk as he broke from Rhys’ lips, and touched their foreheads together. “Why don’t you start a bath, and I’ll start dinner, baby. Hm? Use that fancy soap I got you.”
“I’d rather you joined me, Jack,” Rhys purred as he pressed against the older man, and the alpha lightly chuffed before pressing a kiss to Rhys’ jaw.
“Mm that’s the plan buttercup,” Jack told him as he pressed another kiss to Rhys’ lips. “It’s been a long day and I’m just a simple alpha that wants his omega naked in his lap.”
“You’re anything but simple, Jack.” Rhys laughed throatily as Jack was all hands about him. “You work way too hard.”
“Heh, and don’t you know it, Rhysie.” The wiggle of his hips against Rhys’ own made the omega snort, and Jack pressed a kiss to his jaw. “How about I give you a massage and a happy ending? How about that?”
Rhys chuckled, but such an idea definitely had its merits. Rhys loved Jack’s hands. “Maybe we should order something in… Knowing how your massages go.”
“Nah, no way. No one’s interrupting our evening together, sugar. I’ve got this.” Jack laughed, thinking of the last time he’d given Rhys a proper massage that had turned into an hours-long fuckfest only to come out the other side starving with only chips to munch on. Hardly a post-sex meal, to be sure.
Good memories overall though.
“We’ll run the gamut, cupcake. Dinner, romantic bath, and the dicking of a lifetime.” Rhys’ snorts turned into light chuckles as Jack grinned and caressed Rhys’ jaw with his thumb. “Pick out a bottle of something nice and get the tub going. I’ll get something easy started.”
“Easy by your definition or mine?”
“You little shit,” Jack laughed, pressing a kiss to Rhys’ forehead. “Get in the tub, sweetheart. I’ll meet you there.”
A squeeze of Rhys’ ass later and the younger man broke with a grin to pick out a nice bottle of something sparkling before disappearing with it and two glasses into the bathroom that adjoined their bedroom.
Jack grinned widely to himself, thinking of how nice a night he planned to give the younger man, and went to the cupboards and fridge to try and plan something that wouldn’t require his attention for the time they’d be indulgently soaking.
He removed a few layers of clothing before cooking, hot under the collar with eagerness to join Rhys. Tacos were easy but messy. Spaghetti held the same issues. Steak maybe? But that seemed almost too simple. He wanted Rhys to be shown how much he cared, and by definition, nothing simple would do.
The omega himself was happily filling the large tub with the flower-scented bubbles Jack had gotten him from their last trip to the Edens. The sheer quantity and compactness of the suds nearly swallowed him when he eased himself in, laughing lightly at the face he knew Jack would make before unashamedly giving himself a bubble beard and demanding Rhys to do the same.
It was with thoughts of Jack and a towering wig of bubbles that Rhys popped the cork and poured out two glasses of champagne, enjoying a few sips himself before relaxing back against the edge as the enormous tub still filled around him.
Rhys heard the sound of something shattering, and sat up with concern. Sounded like their good salad bowl, but no shrieks or curses following it. “Everything okay?” he hollered, knowing his voice would carry to the kitchen. “...Jack?”
Rhys waited a few moments before calling out to the older man again and straining to hear. He knew Jack would be able to hear him, but the fact that he wasn’t answering was enough for Rhys to pull himself from the tub with concern and reach for a towel and then his bathrobe. “Jack? Everything okay?”
Rhys entered their living room, bathrobe wrapped about him, eyes trained on the open kitchen as he called out again. “Jack? You okay?”
“Don’t come in here, baby.” Jack was standing before the sink rinsing his hands and gave Rhys a sheepish smile as they laid eyes upon one another. Their salad bowl was on the floor in pieces, a mess of some kind of marinade and meat and glass at Jack’s feet. The man himself was also covered, his front stained in sauce as if he’d lost his grip on the bowl. “There’s glass on the floor. I dropped our skewers.”
“Skewers?” That sounded good actually. But the slow-roasted meat was hardly a priority at the moment. “You dropped it? Did you cut yourself?” the omega asked in concern.
“Nah. Go get back in the bath, kitten, and I’ll meet ya in a second.”
“You’re gonna need a shower first,” Rhys judged, smiling when it made Jack chuckle. “Want me to help you clean it up?”
“Nah baby, I don’t want you to hurt your feet.” Jack wiped his now-clean hands on a dish towel and carefully stepped over to the omega. His shoes made a crunch even as he avoided the glass there. He looked at the mess he’d made with a frown. This wasn’t going the way he’d planned. “Dinner might be delayed, though…”
Rhys just smirked. “Jack, just clean it up and have a bath with me. We’ll order take out. Just get naked and get in there.” The alpha turned his warm gaze on Rhys, and the omega smirked at the blush stealing up the older man’s neck. He felt a little thrill of confidence at that and inclined his face towards the older man. He was rewarded with a kiss, though Jack kept his messy self away from the fluffy bathrobe.
“Give me ten minutes to clean this shit up and I’ll be all yours, sugar.”
Jack ended up being true to his word, and Rhys watched the older man peel off his sodden layers with a smile as he finally joined the younger man in the bathroom.
Rhys lazily watched Jack rinse himself off in the adjacent shower, smiling in appreciation of the older man’s body and the attractive flush running down his neck. And then he jolted up in the tub as Jack seemed to almost lose his balance a moment beneath the water, stumbling a bit where he stood.
“Hey,” Rhys said as he was opening the glass door and immediately touching the older man. Jack’s big hands found themselves on Rhys’ shoulders, and he gave the younger man a sort of dazed look while Rhys held onto him tightly. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I’m…. I’m fine.”
“You looked like you were gonna pass out,” Rhys reported as he searched Jack’s face, arms still fully around him at the ready to catch the big alpha at any moment. Rhys frowned and lifted his flesh hand to Jack’s forehead. He was still flushed, but Rhys had chalked that up to arousal. Maybe not. “Are you okay? How do you feel? You’re running hot.”
“I’m always hot,” Jack muttered, but he allowed Rhys to remove them both from the shower and wrap a towel around his waist. “Just a little dizzy,” Jack easily wrote off. “It’s been a long day. Let’s get back in the tub, baby.”
“Did this happen in the kitchen too?” Rhys asked as he ignored Jack’s last sentence, slightly concerned at the lack of fight Jack was putting up as he wound a towel around the alpha and left the bath behind. Rhys was unworried about his own state of nakedness or the water dripping off of him and onto the carpet as he eased Jack toward their bedroom with growing concern.
Jack made a begrudging sound of affirmation as he allowed Rhys to sit him on their bed and dry him with a second towel. He felt a little dazed. He answered Rhys’ various questions about if he’d missed meals today and how much he actually slept last night, but kept brushing things off to having had a stressful work day.
“The flu has been going around the station,” Rhys proposed with concern, brushing back a wet lock of brown behind Jack’s ear. “You do have a fever…”
“I don’t get sick.”
Rhys ignored that statement, remembering how much Jack had bitched the last time he’d caught a cold. The omega returned to their bathroom to check the medicine cabinet for syrup, but didn’t find so much as a single pain-killer. Then he remembered Jack had cleaned them out the last hangover they’d both suffered.
“We don’t have any medicine,” Rhys announced as he returned to Jack, only to towel himself off and pull on some sweatpants and one of Jack’s shirts.
“I’m fine, pumpkin.”
His voice didn’t sound fine to the omega, nor to his own ears, as Jack reclined in the pillows of their unmade bed with his eyes closed. Rhys pulled on his shoes and pressed a kiss to Jack’s hot forehead, giving the alpha a look of concern. Maybe it was lucky they’d missed their reservation, because his alpha did not look good. “I’m gonna go pick up some medicine from the hub, Jack.”
The older man whined a little in his throat and groped weakly for Rhys. This was not how a romantic-night in was supposed to go. “...you’re all the medicine I need, Rhysie.”
Rhys indulged Jack in wrapping his arms around the alpha, holding him tightly while something inside of him was grateful to still be useful. He pulled back to look at the older man. “I’ll be real quick, okay?”
Jack groaned when he pulled away. “Rhysie…”
“Hey, you’re not dying or anything, okay? You just need rest.”
Jack grumbled some more as Rhys got to his feet, giving the bed and the man in it a last look before he was already readying elevators and clearing security-doors for shortcuts through Helios.