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6 Months and a Garden

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It has been 6 months since The Second Great Blaze. The event that tore the world apart and the Promare had vanished from all life on Earth. 6 months since Earth began recovering. The Burning Rescue we’re constantly moving, everyone working double or triple shifts if they could last long enough. And usually, that kind of workaholic nature tended to fall to Galo and now Lio.

While the green-haired boy wasn’t an official member, he had a jacket (which he stole from Galo and sewed his own name into,) and was constantly first on the scene if he could get there fast enough. Many of their rescue missions now and days consisted of putting out real fires, helping with rebuilding efforts, and acting as back up emergency support.

Recently though, ever since Promepolis seemed to gather itself together, people also seemed to gather back their misaligned prejudices. Many ex-Burnish were still met with disdain and doubt, and not to mention the added hundreds left many without any place to stay. It didn’t help that those real fires and times of emergency support seemed to become more frequent in ex-Burnish communities and homes that only dismantled their previous rebuilding efforts.

Lio was headfirst into an on-fire building, Galo quickly behind him as they ran up to the 4th floor where a mother said their daughter was. Lio could feel flames nip at his skin, smoke filling his lungs as he barely managed to keep his eyes open. He still wasn’t used to the feeling of the heat hurting, his lungs suffocating, or Galo’s heavy hand on his wrist as he pulled him back and forced a filter mask over his mouth like he always did. Lio barely registered what was happening as he suddenly could breathe, Galo pulling Lio up the steps again as they reached the daughter’s room. When Galo opened the door they saw the girl just sitting, not even moving as tears flowed down her cheeks, but contrasting with the look of pure anger that painted her face. At the sudden intrusion of the door being slammed open, she turned her head, looking to Lio who froze in place. He knew this girl, she was one of the Burnish back when he was still fighting for them.

“Lio, let’s go!”

Galo snapped as he began helping the girl up, putting a finger to his ear to tell Aina and the team they had her and they were on their way out. Lio began moving on instinct, fight or flight survival tactics kicking in at the sudden need to protect his girl at all costs. He wasn’t about to lose her too. Not to the flames that they could once control.

Lio wrenched off his filter mask, giving it to the girl as they quickly made it down the slowly crumbling stairs to outside. They managed to make it out of the building in one piece, only bruises, and small but otherwise raw superficial burns here and there. The mother and daughter duo reunited in a tearful hug as Lio saw Ignis help hand over the culprit responsible for the arson over to the police. Lio turned back to the daughter, who was looking at him with an unreadable expression over her mother’s shoulder for a moment before paramedics attended to them both.

Lio felt a surge of anger go through him. He wanted to throw the criminal back into the fire, have them feel the flames of pain and anguish. But Burnish don’t kill, and Galo’s large hand on his shoulder seemed to help remind him of that as Lio brought his attention to the other’s smiling but worried face.

Galo began to speak, weakly bringing his hand back down to his side as he handed Lio a water bottle saying, “We did good! But you have to stop scaring me like that!”

Lio just dipped his head and looked to the ground, out of Galo’s intense attention.

“I’m serious! You can’t -“

Galo wanted to say that he couldn’t just run in and control fire anymore, but the slight tremble in Lio’s shoulder stopped him. Lio never let anything get to him, at least from what Galo thought. Lio kept neutral as much as possible, never showing how anything affected him. But something about the situation had Lio wrapped up in his own head. He was glad she was alive, but grief overtook him at the remembrance of all those that died in their own Promare-fueled fires burning them out at Kray’s ideals. He was angry for their past loss, overjoyed at saving another life, but tired at the knowledge this will happen again.

People won’t just start accepting them easily, and with more ex-Burnish homes being attacked as of late it was hard to even think about anything else. Galo began crowding next to Lio, not liking the sudden teary-eyed silence Lio held.

“Hey - hey what’s up?”

Galo saw Lio open his mouth, but close it tightly.

“Are you okay?”

Lio whipped his head up, startling Galo slightly but not moving from the arm that had come up to wrap about Lio’s shoulder as he leaned down into the other’s space. Galo saw a tear escape down his cheek and thus decided that was enough for him.

He quickly stood up, not removing his arm from Lio as he quickly yelled over to Ignis that he was taking his partner home. Lio seemed confused at the notion, mostly because he didn’t have a home. He wasn’t given a single place to stay and was currently just bunking on his (Galo’s old) bunk bed at the station.

Galo quickly started his bike, letting go of Lio only a moment to regain his balance before looking up to Lio, waiting for the other to sit. They never rode in the truck anymore to missions unless it was a larger one, Lio once complaining it took too long. But after Lio ended up with almost a broken arm after trying to free a civilian himself without waiting for the others to arrive, Galo from then on didn’t let Lio go alone. He was too willing to put himself in danger, and while Galo knew this trait of martyism, Galo knew he had his team to back him up if he ever got into trouble. Lio, while apart of the team, seemed to never rely on them more than for a single second, even after these months still finding it hard to warm up. Galo was just glad Lio never seemed to have a cold shoulder for him.

Lio held onto Galo’s side as they rode back in silence, not too far from the station but far enough that the ride felt like an eternity. This was something Lio then began to notice, thinking that it was taking longer than expected to return to the station. But he didn’t register that they weren’t headed that way at all until Galo shifted the key off and parked his bike outside a tall apartment building.

“Come on,” Galo started, walking in through the rotating doors as a little bell chimed overhead.

Lio followed curiously but cautiously, asking where they were.

Galo smiled as they entered the elevator, saying, “You need a good night’s sleep and some rest. I know that the bed at the station isn’t comfortable. You also haven’t eaten anything but cereal for the past week!”

Lio stuffed his hands in his firefighter jacket pockets silently. He didn’t realize Galo was paying THAT close attention to him.

“But my stuff is at -“

“I have spares. You can go back tomorrow if you want, but tonight,” Galo turned to look fully at Lio, “I wanna make sure you’re okay.”

Lio didn’t know really what to make of that or how to feel, so he settled on a light sigh as he followed Galo through his apartment door.

The apartment was nice, at least Lio thought so given the fact he didn’t have any frame of reference to go off of. A TV, couch, dining table next to the kitchenette followed by a bathroom and a slightly ajar door that he assumed led to Galo’s room off to the side. Pictures of Galo and the Burning Rescue team littered some spaces on the wall, moonlight seeping in through the curtains across from the door.

Oh, it was late, something that Lio suddenly realized. The clock next to the kitchenette read almost close to 10 pm, Galo yawning openly as he walked over to the fridge as he poured himself a glass of juice.

Lio stood in the doorway a little dumbfounded, not sure where to go or what to do, waiting for Galo before intruding on his space.

Galo widely smiled, saying “You take the bedroom. The bed is made I promise. You need a real mattress and not some foam and springs. I’ll grab the couch.”

“Can you even fit on the couch laying down?”

Lio wasn’t going to intrude, he wasn’t going to take up space. Galo worked just as hard as him today, even harder since Lio almost got too much smoke inhalation and was useless after…oh yeah. Lio’s brain caught up with him. He didn’t even make sure she was OKAY. And yet he was the one being asked if he was alright. It didn’t feel right, he was the one supposed to be taking care of people.

He began to turn to walk out before Galo quickly yelled, “Hey- hey! Lio!”

Galo managed to run in front of the other, blocking his exit.

“Come on, just get some rest. Or do you wanna talk about it?”

Lio openly sighed, hands coming up to pinch his nose and the other clenching and unclenching his fist at his side. No, he didn’t want to talk about it because he was fine. There were more important things to worry about, people still to help, he had to be at meetings and hearings and help pass out papers to resource tents for those still in temporary housing situations. And he had to make sure that anyone who was going to cause any more grief to the now ex-Burnish were to be brought to justice.

So yeah, Lio was fine.

Lio tried to strong-arm his way past Galo but the other held firm, pushing back Lio’s arm as he tried to get the other to look at him.

“Lio, come on you have to talk to me.”

“I don’t have to do anything for you!” Lio snapped, slightly slapping at Galo’s forearm with only mild venom.

Galo frowned, humming at Lio in contemplation who was doing his best to try and get Galo to move by glaring daggers through the other’s skull.

“Alright,” Galo started, “Someone needs to hold on for a moment.”

Galo began to push them both into the moonlit apartment, closing the door behind himself when he became chest to chest with Lio. Well, more so chest to face as Lio only came up to at best his collarbone.

Galo smiled slightly down at his shorter friend, silently hoping they were friends anyway, before backing up to say, “Whatever is bothering you, whatever you need I want to help. You can’t do this alone. So before we pack in for the night, because I’m downright exhausted and I know you are too, do you need anything from me right now?”

Lio seemed to think this over, eyes drifting to the side before answering, “A shower. And maybe a spare change of clothes or something since mine are at the station.”

Galo nodded as he motioned for Lio to follow him to his bedroom, the other trailing behind and stopping in front of the entryway.

Galo handed him an oversized blue t-shirt with likewise large pants as he said, “Bathrooms there, and I’m going to set up on the couch. No arguing!”

Easier said than done as Lio began to open his mouth, but only made a noise in confusion as Galo shoved him into the bathroom and repeating, “No - no - nope! No arguing!”

Galo closed the door behind Lio, who stood in the white and tan colored bathroom in stunned bemusement. He thinks he may have taken in too much smoke and ash this time because his muddled thoughts haven’t even put up as much as a fight as he usually would. That’s how he managed to stay out of the way at the station most of the time or win arguments and debates with media and political executives alike; with the pure stubborn will and a sharp tongue that probably got him into more situations than out of sometimes.

In any case, his exhaustion was something he could not ignore as well as his own emotions, but a hot shower would help with both.

Galo sighed and clicked his tongue in annoyance as he sat down with his arms crossed. He wished Lio would just talk to him! They’ve been a dynamic duo for 6 months. He knew Lio liked him enough to allow Galo to be by his side when they worked and knew Lio didn’t hold any reservations about sharing food with him or snagging clothes or a bed. And he knew Lio didn’t exactly dislike anyone at the station either, he was just a bit of lone wolf.

He didn’t see Lio really talk to anyone besides himself or Meis and Gueira, who for the past month at least have not made an appearance at the station ever since the recently increased attacks on ex-Burnish locations. He knew Lio was constantly running around the city, and with his two other commanders, they were able to do a lot. But the sudden lack of appearances from the two seemed to just further aggravate Lio’s stress. The increased attacks, the exponential paperwork that continued to pile up, and the media and crowds that would hound Lio during speeches or outside meeting spaces - and this was just the start of the things Galo could barely keep up with. That didn’t include the volunteer work Lio did with the Burning Rescue too that kept Galo busy half of not the entire rest of the time.

Galo realized Lio was, well, amazing. Such a realization happened often, Galo constantly finding ways that Lio is more than striking. From physical feats to mental and emotional ones, Galo couldn’t even begin to understand how Lio did it all. But he did, and he did it well, and Galo would do anything he possibly could do support Lio. So when he saw Lio almost cry after the fire he immediately knew he had to get the other out of there.

Galo, while headstrong and brutish, was well aware of the hardships this lifestyle and career had. He could recognize the signs of barely keeping it together, having been through enough rescue missions to know when someone needs a break. Which is why he basically dragged Lio to his apartment now, because he knew Lio didn’t know how to take a second of reprieve. Within the last 6 months, the boy has been working himself to the bone. And today, while Galo didn’t know exactly what, something caught up to him. And Lio was still human after all. Even back then when he was powering the dragon that caused chaos throughout Promepolis, he was still human then too. The tears Galo once saw roll down the inferno he witnessed was a reminder of that fact. Such tears Galo wanted nothing more than to keep at bay from Lio if he could do anything about it.

Galo drew up one of the throw pillows and grabbed the spare weighted security blanket from the back of the couch as he shucked off his shoes, gloves, and left arm sleeve. He could shower in the morning after he made Lio breakfast. Lio walked out of the bathroom, the only noise being the door opening as his bare feet padded across the hardwood floor. Galo momentarily forgot how to breathe as he saw his clothes practically enveloping Lio. The shirt was hanging off one shoulder, the end coming down to the other’s thighs as the pants practically enveloped Lio’s legs.

But Lio looked comfy, his leather gear and jacket folded in his hands, looking at Galo as he rolled his eyes. Galo smirked at the thought that Lio was going to try and take the couch.

“Bedrooms open - I told you I’m sleeping here.”

“You saved my life and...hers today you deserve something more -“

Galo sat up and spat out, “God you’re annoying sometimes,” before grabbing Lio’s sleeve and dragging the other to his room.

Lio tried to plant his feet as his surprise rose, but barely had time to register what was going on before he was basically pushed back onto Galo’s bed.

“Goodnight!” Galo huffed as he turned and lightly slammed the door behind him, Lio listening as heavy footsteps retreated until silence enveloped the space.

Lio blinked up at the ceiling, noticing some glow-in-the-dark stars painting a random picture above him. Galo’s bed was large compared to Lio’s lithe frame. The mattress did feel nicer than his foam cot at the station, and the red and orange duvet was plush and soft as he laid against the top. The room was more personalized then the rest of the apartment, little firefighter figurines littering a desk in a corner that also held surprisingly large textbooks tucked on the shelves. The walls had posters of Promepolis, the Burning Rescue, and a popular TV cartoon show that Lio knows he heard Galo talking about at some point.

Lio felt nervous, the space too big and not his. He tried to take up as little space as possible as he pulled the duvet back, inching to the side as he looked up to the ceiling. The universe was weird, he thought, feeling his eyelids droop as the soft cotton fabric enveloped him as he fell asleep.

When Lio awoke he could smell something cooking and the mechanical voice of the TV newscaster playing in the distance. But the warmth of the comforter and pillows almost pulled a selfish whine from Lio’s throat at wanting to go back to sleep in stay in bed longer.

Until everything that happened last night caught up to him. He sat up suddenly, breathing heavily as he clutched the blankets. He was used to the pinprick anxiety knowing he had another long day ahead of him, but even if he wanted too he wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep.

He was about to get out of bed, twisting to sit on the edge when suddenly Galo came in, a tray of food in his hand and a small apron wrapped around his torso. It honestly was probably a normal white and red apron, but against Galo, it might as well have been extra small.

“Nope! Get back in bed! I thought I was being quiet enough, but I guess not.”

Lio genuinely was confused, his head tilting as Galo moved closer and crowded into his space.

“What...are you doing??”

“Well, you can't enjoy breakfast in bed if you aren't in bed!”

Galo must have been losing his mind, or Lio was still dreaming. They both had places to be, things to do and all, they had no time to be lazing around in bed eating breakfast. At least Lio didn’t have the time. He had to be back at the station as soon as possible to fill out the remaining reports that were due to the city commission council by tomorrow, and he was sure Galo had duties around the station to attend to. Such a point Lio did voice but was crowded almost entirely back into bed as Galo set the tray down in his lap and set the pillows up behind the other to be able to sit up. Before Lio knew it he was almost tucked back under the covers, food placed in his lap as a glass of orange juice was placed in his hand by an overeager Galo who said,

“Day off today.”

“Absolutely not.” Lio protested, almost choking on the fraction of an idea of a day off.

The most Lio allowed himself for a day off was back probably weeks ago when he got pizza with the Burning Rescue team at the request of a very pleading Galo. Those couple of hours just talking without work in the way or serious topics running back and forth barely kept the thought of all the things Lio had to do at bay.

But Galo didn't seem fazed by the response Lio gave, instead walking out of the room as he undid the back of the apron from his waist and saying, “Ignis basically banned us from the station today, so if we try to go we will probably be blasted to bits by Lucia’s laser security system.”

Lio was quite familiar with the concept of the high tech security Lucia and Remi came up with, as he remembers that one day all the reporters and harassing protestors had one day all up and vanished. He did catch a glimpse of one once trying to sneak in before having the green fire-resistant goop turn into freezing glue before being picked up by Varys and more than likely taken far, far away.

But Lio did have things that needed to get done today. And what if Meis or Gueira showed up? Granted, they never showed up without calling ahead first, but he didn't want them to be turned away just because his presence wasn't there.

“I will eat this and then we are going to the station to at least grab some of my things.”

Galo scratched the back of his neck at the statement, a worried glance thrown to the sidewall but agreeing nonetheless. If it was only just a moment or two, maybe a couple of minutes max for Lio to grab his own supplies, then Ignis probably wouldn’t mind. Galo knew that the other having nothing to focus on all day would worsen his mood, and while he wanted the other to relax, he also wanted him to be comfortable.

Galo quickly cleaned the kitchen as Lio made his way out, old clothes back on as he handed Galo the spares from last night, looking away with a slight flush on the tip of his barely visible ears as he said, “Thank you.”

Galo could have swept Lio up in a hug but decided against it, after all, while he was a physically affectionate person he wasn’t sure where Lio’s boundaries were. After quickly huddling on a t-shirt himself he and Lio were out the door and on their way to the station.

Well, they made it to the garage fine. Until Ignis shot both their feet with an instant-ice bullet and said,

“What did I tell you this morning not even 1 hour ago?”

Galo sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck, looking up to the ceiling as he tried to move his legs, but they were frozen to the ground.

“It’s my fault. I wanted to grab some things I left behind,” said Lio, confident as ever even though his feet were also frozen to the concrete.

“Just give us a couple of minutes and we will be out of here like you never saw us,” Galo added.

Ignis sighed through his nose as he adjusted the settings on the ice-gun before shooting the duo’s feet again, ice instantly melting as some red goo hit their shoes. Well, at least it wasn’t as sticky, but it still made a mess. One which while Galo didn’t seem to notice, Lio did as he made a wrinkled disgusting face at the squelching sound as he walked forward. Ignis let them in, and Galo quickly dashed to the elevator, commenting he needed to check something on the roof as Lio went down the side corridor to his bunk.

Lio grabbed his tablet and backpack, making sure that his paperwork had also not been confiscated, which while he knew the others would never dare touch his stuff out of both privacy and politeness, it was still a habit nonetheless to check. And wait, Lio thought, did Galo say the roof? Why was he going to the roof?

Lio made his way back over the elevator before catching Aina tapping away at a monitor in the main lobby. Galo wasn’t back yet, so he might as well say hi to her as she was probably the only other person he could reasonably trust enough. He admitted he could trust everybody there, but he still didn’t feel like apart of the team. Lio thought to himself that he felt more like a freeloader than anything. But he was almost certain if he expressed that opinion he would be met with complicated counter-arguments so didn’t say anything.

“Hey, everything going alright?” Lio asked.

“So far yeah. Nothing major today. Heard you and Galo are on house arrest for the day though.”

Aina turned in her chair, facing Lio fully who just shrugged at her comment. The two really were not the best conversationalists, and Lio didn’t feel the need to fill the space, so instead, he turned towards the digital clock on the monitor and sighing,

“What's taking Galo so long on the roof. There’s nothing up there.”

“You’re kidding me, right? Totally joking?”

Aina raised her eyebrows at Lio, who just frowned and shook his head.

“No? Why? What’s on the roof?”

“Go check it out yourself! I'm surprised Galo hasn’t told you about it.”

“About what?”

Aina just smiled before turning back to her monitor with a slight laugh, flustering Lio enough to walk a bit more forcefully than necessary over to the elevators. There was nothing on the roof, Lio thought, Galo and Aina were probably just playing a prank on him again. It wouldn't have been the first time, and probably not the last. One time they did it they manage to prank Lio into thinking the green goo was edible, and it certainly wasn’t, even if Lucia did taste some of it before writing something down hastily on her clipboard.

Lio tightened the strap on his backpack as he tapped the button to the top floor, the elevator dinging slightly as each number climbed to the roof.

It had been 6 months since the world breathed the Promare’s fire for the last time. 6 months of rebuilding efforts from rubble and ash in some places while others were completely unscathed. And 6 months since Galo found himself realizing that after everything that had happened, he still couldn't believe it. He didn’t even register the feelings at first. Not for the first week, not even after a month.

But one day he was alone, the rest of the city asleep as the crisp night air nipped at him as he stood on the empty roof, looking out to the city below. The Burning Rescue station wasn’t a large or a particularly tall building, but the roof did provide a very nice view of the entire block and some other buildings. It was no Kray Foresight skyscraper, but it got the job done.

But when he stood there that night, the empty space felt like a void. And that night the same void swallowed him.

He found himself sitting on the cold rooftop as everything came crashing down at once. Kray Foresights betrayal, his own feelings on how his mentor and inspiration tried to kill him, the ex-Burnish, and how many of those people did he indirectly send to Kray in the first place? Then Lio, the Freeze Force, the underwater research center, and everything in between, it felt like it happened all too fast. In one day his entire worldview shifted, his life altered, and with the power of the Promare through Lio and his own burning firefighter soul they changed the world.

It was so much to take in. The world seemed to stop for a moment as everything began to piece back together slowly, but when Galo had become more aware of the ex-Burnish needs and then the increasing attacks on the poor and innocent, it became too much all of a sudden.

So when he ended up on the roof, his right hand clutching the burning scars on his left he sighed as tears rolled down his cheeks. People needed him, his burning soul was still alight with the passion for rescue, but as he sat there, the empty space filling him with dread and doubt that night it was hard to not think of anything but his downfalls, the mess-ups, the slips he made. He was used to brushing these things off but sometimes they came crawling back.

Galo took in a swift breath through his teeth, jaw clenching as he tried not to sob into the open night sky. He tried counting the stars, but the city lights made everything seem to far away. Another shame, he thought, he always loved the stars. But he needed something to do, something to keep his mind off everything.

Lio became a great distraction for a while, both of them working in tandem together through rebuilding efforts, but on days when they were forced to slow down but Lio kept moving fast, everything caught up to him.

He glanced around the open area, looking at the roof in contemplation. He stood up, walking over to a few dead flower pots and birds nests, wiping his eyes as unconscious tears fell as he tried his best to scatter the thoughts away. What if, he thought, what if he did something to bring some life back into the center of Promepolis? After all, the city was in shambles, and even before then mostly white skyscrapers dominated everything with little other colors than red and blue. But green, green was starting to become one of his new favorite colors.

A map and plan began to work in his head, shooing away the negative energy as he quickly preoccupied his mind as much as he could. If an outlet was what he needed, then he would make one himself. The next morning he went out to as many garden variety and greenery shops he could plausibly find, packing soil and pots and different things into the vehicle he borrowed from the station. Once he got back, Aina and Lucia were quick to jump up, helping him start setting up a beginner vegetable garden on the rooftop.

And so as the next few months began to pass, the rooftop was where Galo’s negative energy went. He was a workaholic like Lio, but whenever he needed a break the garden would grow. He would spend his time tending to the plants with what surprising care as most things stayed alive, but he figured that the team had something added into it as well. Especially given that some days, or even weeks Galo would be out, or didn't need to attend to the roof as often.

But now, 6 months later, the entirety of the rooftop had multiple different things growing. There were regular-sized vegetables that Varys seemed to look after the most, Aina’s colorful splash of flowers in another corner, Lucia's weird combination of something or another somewhat haphazardly slew about in different places, Remi having multiple varieties of different ferns, and even Ignis had a nice potted cactus plant sitting in the corner.

Galo was mostly proud of his flowers though. With everyone else taking up corners and sides around the roof the only space left was the middle, were his bed of red roses were kept. He doesn’t know why roses, and he doesn’t know where he got the idea from, but the flowers were beautiful, and he couldn’t get enough of the way they bloomed and looked in the garden beds. When the rest of the team found out that he was the one attending to the flowers they asked if he was alright, calling it out of character for someone like him. But he assured them that while it may be new and strange, they had to admit the addition was wonderful considering that somehow everyone had pitched in on the garden project. Lucia even took the time to set up automated watering and solar/shade systems to keep everything healthy considering their busy schedules, which was entirely programmable to everyone’s custom needs.

So when Lio walked out onto the rooftop he thought he entered an alternate dimension.

Galo was humming to himself slightly as he held a watering can in his hand, quickly going around and carefully examining the different blooms. Lio genuinely had no idea how he didn’t know about this. He did check out the roof when he first started living at the Burning Rescue station, noticing nothing on the rooftop so he decided it was no use ever wandering back up again.

How had this been here the whole time!? When did it start?! And since when did Galo even like gardening let alone flowers?!

Lio had a million questions running through his mind as he stood and stared dumbfounded at the bold blue boy.

“Oh, hey Lio! I’m sorry I took so long I’ll be down in a minute!”

Lio had to blink a few times to get his bearings back before walking over to Galo who was finishing up pruning the edges of one of the flower beds.

“What...what is even - how - what?!”

Lio was for the first time at a loss for words. Galo just laughed at the dumbstruck face as Lio ran a hand through his hair, turning slightly to look at the other things growing before bewildered eyes settled back to Galo.

“Welcome to the Burning Rescue Garden! The only place in Promepolis you’ll find pumpkin in summer next to roses and uhh….whatever Lucia is growing over there.”

Galo stood up fully as Lio walked right up to him, both of them standing in the center of the rounded rose bushes.

“You...garden? What even is this?”

Galo held out a gloved hand to his side, motioning to the flowers, “These are mine! I gotta say I’ve been ignoring them for a bit long, and on today’s day off I really thought they could use a little TLC. What do you think?”

Galo wanted Lio to like the flowers, and the garden as a whole of course, but specifically wanted feedback on his work. Lio was awestruck as he leaned down to smell the red roses, tucking his hair back slightly as he examined with a critical eye. Galo realized he was nervous waiting for Lio’s hopeful approval, not that he needed it, but he wanted it nonetheless. Something about knowing Lio LIKED this new and honestly surprising part of him somehow made him jittery.

Lio glanced over to Galo, about to try and grab a rose with his bare hands but Galo quickly said,

“Woah - woah! No! Don’t go touching! They have thorns look,” Galo raised a rose slightly with his gloved hand, showing Lio the sharp pricks on the stem.

“Be careful if you touch them. They’re delicate.”

Lio’s entire worldview was spinning. Galo, the bold and brash loudmouth, was concerned about Lio pricking his finger on his delicate flowers. Okay, this was new, and Lio began to wonder what else about him he could learn.

“I like them,” Lio said open and honestly as he stood back up to full height, looking up to Galo,

“They’re beautiful.”

Galo could not hide his toothy smile as he rubbed the back of his neck, unable to glance at Lio as he said, “Thanks. It’s kinda just, a thing you know?”

Lio understood to an extent, after all, he had his own things too. Lio smiled before turning, motioning for Galo to follow if he was done. Galo quickly grabbed his bag which he left by the elevator, following Lio down in companionable silence. As they exited, Galo quickly yelled goodbye to anyone who could hear them, and Aina watched in amusement as Lio tried to bury a blush behind the top of his jacket and keep his eyes forward in confident but tryhard stomps as they made their way back to Galo’s bike.

Lio and Galo returned to Galo’s apartment shortly, both realizing well, what now? Lio never liked uncertainty, so he quickly grabbed the chair at the dining room table’s end and started setting up a mini workspace. Galo knew he wouldn’t be able to stop the other from working, but it was worth a shot when he said,

“Come on, why don’t we watch TV or something? You need a break!”

No, Lio thought, what he needed was to figure out the housing issue especially now that another perfectly viable space was destroyed. The thought soured quickly in Lio’s head as he downright ignored Galo, opening his tablet and setting it to the most recent newscasts of the day.

“Lio,” Galo started to no response, “Lio come on take a break.”

“Not until I -“

“You what? Figure out another problem that will just haunt you again tomorrow?”

Lio raised his head at that, glaring at Galo who only put his head in his hand as he sat down next to the other.

“Talk to me.”

Lio rolled his eyes, he wouldn’t waste the breath. Galo and everyone else had their own jobs and this was Lio’s and if the sacrifice was sleep, eating, and maybe every single one of his own needs then so be it. Galo sighed as he leaned back in his chair, hands hooked behind his head as he stared at Lio, who tried his best to ignore the attention but eventually gave up after a minute with,

“What are you looking at?”

“Do you think if you keep working yourself to the bone you will be okay?”

Lio downright did not have time for this, but Galo continued, “Take a moment for yourself.”

“Not with people out there dying because of me!”

Lio shook with anger, throwing his tablet down onto the table as Galo sat up straighter.

“What do you mean because of you? You didn’t do anything -“

“There are people out there who didn’t want any of this. Didn’t want the power they once possessed and then be ripped away from them. And then some did. Those that now have nothing! And you expect,” Lio stood, “Me to take a day off when someone could be dying because they followed me believing that everything would be okay when it’s not!”

Lio felt hot anger turn his face red, eyes glaring down at Galo who looked up at him in silence. Lio couldn’t read his face, not sure what the other was thinking, not sure what to say.

“You didn’t do anything wrong Lio,” Galo started, looking as genuinely focused as he could as he continued, “You didn’t start these uprisings in fires recently. You didn’t go outside and tell the world to hate you. You only followed what you believe in, what’s right, and we’re right behind you all the way. I’m right next to you, you don’t have to do this alone.”

Galo turned his body to fully face Lio, who was glaring at the other but his face had anguish written all over it as his lips trembled to hold back whatever he was about to say.

“Take a break. Please. Just a couple of minutes. Come on,” Galo stood and walked over to the couch, patting the seat next to him as he changed the station to a cooking channel, “Let’s watch how to make uh….whatever this is.”

Lio couldn’t stand the other man. Whenever Lio’s temper burned, Galo always seemed to help him cool down. And when Lio’s determination erupted, Galo was never one to back down in his own supportive ways. So Lio couldn’t help it when he did sit down at the other end of the couch, hands in his jacket pockets as he turned to the TV. Just a couple of minutes he told himself, just to entertain the notion as a show for Galo that he could put a pause on everything.

So if they were “relaxing,” Lio might as well get some stuff off his chest.

“Why the garden?”

“Hmm?”

Galo glanced to the side at Lio, who was half lying against the edge of the sofa.

“The garden? Because Ignis said no to a pool, and well...to see so much destruction, it was nice to bring a little life back somewhere close to home too.”

Lio hummed in acknowledgment, so Galo then asked,

“Why stay at the station?”

Lio glanced over to Galo, both of them locking eyes for a single second before looking away quickly.

“Nowhere else to go.”

“You could have stayed with Meis and Gueira.”

“You try being around those two for as long as I have and then I’ll listen to you on that. They deserve a little bit of their privacy.”

Galo raised an eyebrow before a slight chuckle escaped his lips.

“Okay true. But the station isn’t exactly...don’t you want a space for yourself?”

Lio shrugged, pulling the large blanket over the couch over himself, dramatically increasing the movement as the now slouching Lio was almost enveloped by the material.

“I’m not going to take away from someone else, and besides,” Lio continued in an almost whisper, “With everything going on recently, I don’t want to put anyone else in danger.”

Galo let out a sigh of annoyance at that last statement, causing Lio to sink further into the couch cushions. Lio was the self-appointed and community-approved representative for the ex-Burnish. That fact alone constantly set him as a target, especially more so now and days with the increase in violence. Likewise, he was an unofficial member of the Burning Rescue. And as Kray had once said, it’s the division with the highest mortality rate.

“Alright, I’m gonna say this once, because I don’t know if you’ll believe me a second time anyways,”

Galo started, crossing his arms as he turned towards Lio fully, legs now on the couch with his feet facing Lio next to the other ankles,

“You are not taking up space. You are not some sort of curse on the team. You are Lio, you are amazing, resilient, and strong enough that you saved the world! You are incredible and I’ve just decided that you’re gonna stay here until we find you a place to move to.”

Lio had started tuning him out after the praise had gotten a tad overwhelming, a blush creeping up his neck at the attention, but the white noise in his ears stopped when he processed the last part of what Galo said.

“Excuse me?”

“You’re staying here! Is that okay?”

“No!”

“Why not?”

Galo kicked Lio’s ankle playfully, who just shot back a look to Galo like the other had 2 heads.

“This is your place!”

“My home is your home! Come on - think about it!”

“You only have one bedroom!”

“We can sleep together!”

Galo really needed to learn to have his brain catch up to him before his mouth said anything because Lio was now looking at Galo with a very obvious blush and his arms crossed too.

“Galo Thymos I am not sharing a bed with you,” Lio tried to say as flatly as he could muster.

“Okay fine! Maybe we can buy a bed! Or I’ll take the couch or something. We will figure it out!”

“Galo,” Lio started, “No way.”

Galo let out a groan in frustration, leaning back over the side of the sofa and kicking Lio’s upper leg.

“Come on, it will be fun!”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“We could catch up on movies and play games!”

“With what free time?”

“You could finally have a hot shower whenever you want and a real mattress.”

“I’m perfectly fine with the lukewarm water and foam springs at the station.”

“But...“

Galo stared at Lio, who was determined not to budge on the issue. Galo had to admit, that stubborn hard-headed attitude did get a lot done, but when faced at the other side of Lio’s immovable stare it was hard to try and find footing to argue back. No wonder Lio has the leader of the ex-Burnish, he really knew how to stand his ground. But Galo also wasn’t about to back down from a fight.

“A week.”

“What?”

“Stay here one week and if you really hate it so much or if something goes wrong or whatever then I’ll pack up your things myself and bring you back to the station.”

Lio looked perplexed but actually contemplated the idea. A week wasn’t going to kill them, hopefully.

“You don’t need to somehow reassure yourself I’m okay, Galo.”

“This isn’t just for me. This is for you too.”

Lio looked away, staring at the dining table where his papers and tablet were.

“Let me just try to help without getting in your way. Use this space as much as you want. It’s private, you can at least spread out your work on the table or something, and you can sleep in a proper bed.”

Lio had to admit, it was tempting. And just for a week, it wasn’t forever. Maybe a change of scenery and pace would help settle things faster.

“Fine,” Lio said, watching as Galo shot from the side of the couch over to hug Lio.

Lio flinched and froze in place as the other pulled him into a bone-bruising embrace before pulling back and looking directly at Lio. He blinked a few times before realizing, oh...he just did that. But Lio was just as confused, looking back at Galo’s very close face before saying,

“You’re welcome?”

Galo smiled brightly, blinding Lio as the other practically radiated positivity in waves.

As Galo let Lio down he said, “Okay, okay no more questions but, well, I just want to make sure that you made that decision and not...me?”

Galo sheepishly tried to explain himself a bit further, but Lio stopped him by replying, “Good bed, hot shower, and assuaging your apparent worry for me? Of course, I’ll take it.”

Galo rolled his eyes as he stood up, walking over to the kitchenette off to the side with a, “Yeah - yeah whatever” at Lio’s slight huff of laughter.

Galo had to admit, Lio did have a point though. After last night’s fiasco, and the little blow just then, Galo was worried. At least this was a start to get Lio to understand that he didn’t have to rely on just himself for everything alone. Galo would have thought that after everything they went through, after the last couple of months Lio would of at least opened up to him a little. Apparently not though, not yet anyway. Galo was determined though, hard-headed and stubborn right back with Lio. He was going to be the best right hand next to Lio’s own generals, and he was going to show how supportive and useful he could be. And right now, that usefulness was extended to making them both lunch and asking what the other wanted for dinner as well.

The rest of their day went by without further incident. Galo found out Lio didn’t know how to use a stove, Lio found out that Galo wasn’t the best cook, but they both were interested in talking about the latest reportings from the station and going over trivial gossip about their team. It was nice, and at the times where there was silence, it was comfortable. Eventually evening came just as quickly, Galo groaning that their day off was ending.

Lio just called him lazy before a realization hit him, he didn’t have any other clothes. He had spare undergarments sure, but not real clothes. He would usually just sleep in his oversized jacket. Maybe he could get away with borrowing Galo’s clothes again, considering the nicely folded pile was still on the other side of the table anyways from where they were left earlier.

Galo exited the bathroom with his hair dripping on the side of his head, a towel draped over his shoulders and sweatpants clinging low on his hips. Lio tried his best not to stare for too long, but lost focus when Galo said,

“Showers ready. Time for bed! I get couch again, obviously.”

“I slept in a bed last night, you take it tonight.”

“We are so not going through this argument a second time!”

Lio rolled his eyes before swiftly grabbing the pile of clothes and closing the bathroom door. Lio figured that Galo wouldn't say anything anyways, but lingering embarrassment still stayed even as he took his shower, surprised Galo didn’t entirely use up all the hot water. Galo also left out a spare toothbrush, comb, and a little note that said, “If you need anything else let me know!”

Lio smiled at the idea and made a note to make sure not to inconvenience the other before readying for bed. He wasn't planning on not wishing Galo a good night, so when he walked into the bedroom to see Galo laying on his back looking up at the plastic stars on the ceiling he was a tad confused.

“Sorry, just...looking. I’ll be in the living room -“

“You can stay you know.”

Galo stopped sitting up, leaning back on his elbows and looking at Lio quizzically.

“You sure? And I really mean it this time.”

Lio just nodded as he held his tongue as he went to sit on the edge of the bed, hearing Galo sigh and turning to his side.

“You won't just go sleep on the couch once I fall asleep right?”

Galo was beginning to think too much. Lio sighed and dramatically laid down, hair flopping down as he sunk into the soft pillows.

“Hey, are those my clothes again? Did you leave yours at the station?”

Lio didn't respond, only pulling up the blankets as he tugged them out from under Galo. Galo just smiled to himself, turning to pull the other side of the blankets up and over before turning to face the wall.

Their backs were to one another, but Lio could practically feel the other’s body heat. Galo in turn, despite knowing how small Lio was, could feel the others overwhelming presence, and he shifted to further hug the wall as much as he could. They both stayed still, an awkward silence radiating off each other before Galo decided to break the tension with,

“I thought you said you weren’t going to sleep with me.”

Lio sat up quickly before slapping a pillow into Galo’s face, mock suffocating the other for a moment before laying back down on the outer edge with blankets wrapped around him with a quick “Goodnight.”

Galo just barked out a laugh, repeating back a quick “night” before turning to lay on his back with a hand behind his neck as he looked up to the ceiling. He wondered, did Lio like stars? What did Lio like anyways? Galo couldn't stop thinking about how he didn't know much about his companion who was sound asleep next to him. Galo looked over to Lio’s sleeping form, watching in awe and wonder.

Lio never stopped being beautiful, even while resting and facing away from Galo towards the window seeping moonlight through the shades to cast tiny shadows over them, Lio was amazing. Had 6 months really gone by? Galo closed his eyes, letting his thoughts wander as he slowly drifted to sleep.

Galo awoke to an empty bed, which really shouldn’t have panicked him immediately as much as it did. But Lio said he wouldn’t sleep on the couch! Galo quickly sat up, pulling on a white tank top before half storming to the living room fuming as he started,

“Lio I swear to god if you’re -“

Lio was not on the couch, not even asleep in fact. He was standing in front of the stove trying to cook something that was currently burning, wind from the open window gently breezing against his hair and signature white blouse. The sun was pouring in, and Galo had to stop with the realization that he never really had the time to take in how nice his apartment was before. He was used to running back and forth, barely being home for longer than a few minutes or hours to rest. But with the open blinds and window bringing in the summer air, and Lio looking like an angry little angel, Galo couldn’t help but feel his previous frustrated assumption melt off him.

He walked over to Lio, looking over the shorter boy down to what was probably eggs and bacon in the pan, but now it was closer to coal in both texture and smell.

“You said you didn’t know how to use the stove, so can I ask, why?”

Lio just sighed and pinched his nose, turning off the heat and moving to throw the burnt items into the trash.

“Wanted to make breakfast for us.”

Galo’s heart jumped a second because no one did anything for him. Well, that wasn’t entirely true, but no one did anything JUST for HIM.

“Come on, let me show you.”

Galo went to the fridge to grab eggs and bacon again, making a mental note to pick up more food soon. The blue-haired boy quickly made his way around the kitchen, turning on the coffee maker too, unsure if Lio even liked coffee but it was worth a shot. Lio had jumped up on the side counter next to the stove, watching as Galo instructed on how the stove worked and when to add the ingredients. Scrambled eggs and bacon sounded as good as anything, and Lio’s focused attention only made him want to impress the other more.

“What type of food do you like anyways?” Galo had asked, turning over the eggs, chancing a glance up to the other.

Lio leaned back, looking up to the ceiling before saying, “Cereal is good I guess? I don’t know. I never really had a chance for favorites.”

Galo didn't press further but decided that as long as Lio was there, and even in the future, to have the other try as many well home-cooked meals as he could. They had busy schedules, but even take out fast food had its benefits.

Soon their meal was done, and Galo instructed Lio to grab plates and cups as he brought the food over as they sat down at the table. He divided it up equally before looking over to the clock, noticing they didn’t have much time. Galo for the first time was not gung-ho about shoving food in his mouth as fast as he could, wanting instead to instead just talk to Lio over breakfast. He decided that today he could be a tad late, and if Lio had somewhere to be or noticed the time himself he didn’t say anything.

“What are the plans today?” Galo asked, watching as Lio put probably close to 5 sugars in his coffee.

“Be at city hall to drop off the reports, stop at the resource tents to allocate rations, catch up with the new housing assistant in charge of some particular sections, hopefully find Gueira and Meis to ask them about their own efforts, be back at the station -“

“What can I do to help today?”

Galo knew he had his own responsibilities to attend to at the station, but he was already going to be late, and the chances that he was needed all day were slim. Lio paused, owlishly blinking at the other before swallowing his food with a hum.

“You have to be at the station.”

“At least let me help with resources or something.”

“No, you can go to the station and call me if anything comes up.”

“Lio -“

But Lio quickly ended that conversation as he stood, stalking to the bathroom in what Galo assumed to change in his usual attire for the day. Which now that Galo was alone he realized, did Lio even own other clothes? He had to right? But he did re-wear Galo’s old clothes as pajamas again...should he ask?

Galo decided it was probably not a good idea, not wanting to embarrass Lio further. Galo cleaned up as he hummed a small tune, quickly getting his self together as he waited for Lio. Once they were both ready, they headed out - Galo dropping Lio off at city hall with a, “call me if you need anything,” before zooming off to the station.

He was maybe at most 30 minutes late, but Remi made it seem like he was gone a whole week.

“It was only 30 minutes!”

“You should let us know if you’re going to be late! We are behind schedule now!”

“What schedule? I wasn’t given notice I had anything pressing to do today!”

“That’s because you were off yesterday!”

“I own a phone you know!”

They went back and forth for a moment longer, Aina watching from her spot on a chair with feet propped up on a side table before interrupting them.

“Boys - boys, let’s just get started shall we?”

Apparently, there was a lot to do today. Lucia wanted to redo modifications for all the gear, a constant task that was pushed to the back of their minds until today. Ignis has suggested that it would be best to get their paperwork in for any new adjustments needed and funding soon anyways. Galo barely had time to look at his phone until well past lunch, where he made his way up to the roof to enjoy the roast beef sandwiches Varys had made for the team.

The day was gorgeous, and the multi-colored plants and flowers seemed to be enjoying the sunny day as much as Galo was. When he looked down at his phone he saw a couple of messages from Lio, feeling a pinprick of guilt for not answering the other sooner. To be fair, Lio rarely texted him, usually calling. Luckily, it just seemed that Lio was updating that things were going well, his last message sent only a few minutes ago, asking if his assistance was needed.

Galo rolled his eyes, even with Lio probably stuck doing something way more official and important he still had the energy to check-in and make sure he wasn’t needed elsewhere. Galo texted back a reply before doing a quick circle around the garden. He had to admit, it really was beautiful. He thought back to when Lio stood with his eyes closed, taking in the smell of his flowers with utmost consideration that Galo wished he could have taken a picture of. The fire starter took a moment to smell the flowers, it was a cute thought.

The blue-haired boy halted as he realized his thoughts. Cute? Maybe Lio was, he had to admit but that was new. Or was it? Galo shook his head, slapping his cheeks a few times to get his thoughts back in order before spiraling into an area he thinks he didn’t want to acknowledge more than strictly necessary. His focus shifted suddenly when the alarm bells went off, signaling they were needed somewhere for a rescue, and that was exactly the distraction Galo needed to get out of his wandering thoughts.

Everything went as best as it could. Not another attack on an ex-Burnish settlement, something Galo found himself relieved at. Lio was brought to the aftermath of the scene by Meis and Gueira, the trio going over to assist the Burning Rescue while Lio spoke with Galo.

“Nothing with us?” Lio asked almost skeptical, as it seemed that the only fires these days were ones regarding the ex-Burnish.

“Nope! And you didn’t have to come over you know, I would if paged you if it was.”

Lio just hummed, walking back over to check on supplies inside Burning Rescue truck and following up if there was anything he could help with. When they both found they were done for the day, and since Lio was already there, Galo started up his bike, Lio almost too comfortable in following when he sat behind him and grabbed his hips, both sensations Galo seemed to notice a little too closely. But he didn’t voice anything, only waving bye to the rest of the team as they made their way back to Galo’s apartment.

Lio set his things down, stretching his arms and sighing loudly as he moved to walk towards the bedroom.

“Hey, so none of my business, but did you need a spare change of clothes tonight again?”

Lio stopped in his tracks, turning to Galo before saying, “I was on my way to grab some, but thanks for asking.”

Galo didn’t seem to mind the personal intrusion as he heard Lio open his dresser before promptly ignoring him to go take a shower. Well, at least Lio was starting to warm up to him like a housecat. Galo was tired though, so he settled himself into bed, looking back at his phone before turning to Lio who entered with a yawn. Lio was entirely shirtless this time, opting only for black sweatpants that barely hung onto his hips.

Galo wished he could stop staring too blatantly, not saying anything as the other walked over, raising the blanket and settling back into the covers. Is this what others talked about when Galo didn’t wear a shirt? Lio turned to face the stunned silent boy before explaining, “Too hot tonight for a shirt.”

Galo could only nod, quickly glancing down to Lio who in turn only raised an eyebrow at the other.

“And you’re now wearing a shirt to bed, because?”

Oh, Lio was right. On the way to bed he snagged the same shirt from this morning, figuring Lio would be more comfortable, especially so close, but if he was saying something then whatever right? Galo sat up slightly, gripping the back of the tank top before yanking it over his head, throwing it to the side on the floor. It might have been the moonlight playing tricks on the shadows, but he could have sworn he saw Lio run his tongue over his lip before sweeping his eyes over Galo’s chest.

But Lio quickly turned, back facing the other before whispering, “Goodnight Galo.”

Galo hummed in acknowledgment before yawning loudly, turning on his side to face the wall before falling asleep.

Lio awoke just like he did the night before, legs tangled into Galo’s own, head using Galo’s chest as a pillow, and Galo’s arm wrapped against his side in an unconscious protective hug. The only difference this morning was that Lio didn’t skitter out of bed as quickly and quietly as he did the morning before.

His heart still hammered in his chest, but he found himself daring to draw closer as he wrapped his arm around Galo’s hip. He was so warm and so large and Lio couldn’t help pull himself towards the other man.

Lio wasn’t naive about his own feelings. He knew that his heart stammering, the inability to really deny Galo anything, want to stop the other from worrying about him, he knew the feeling at least in concept. After all, once you go through protecting the entire world in a giant mech and saving the planet, it did kind of change stuff between two people. He wondered if Galo felt the same way, or if the other knew Lio’s internal monologue.

But Galo began to stir, and Lio froze in wide-eyed shock as the other’s hand tightened on his side. And then multiple things happened at once. Galo blinked, turning to look down at the top of Lio’s head, a moment of silence as they both held their breath, knowing they were both awake.

“Good...morning?” Galo started, shifting to remove his arm from Lio’s side as the other looked up.

They locked eyes for a moment, Lio nuzzling into Galo’s side before sitting up, stretching and popping his back before turning to stand up saying, “Good Morning. What are we making for breakfast today?”

Galo’s brain was still trying to catch up to him.

What was that? Was he still dreaming? It was morning? Lio was cuddling him?! Lio frowned at the still silent Galo, knocking the other on the forehead and saying,

“Hello? Earth to Galo?”

With Lio leaning in so close Galo shot back as his thoughts fully switched on, causing his head to hit the wall and a pained scream to make Lio flinch back. Okay, Lio thought, maybe not the best way to wake up in the morning. But he had to concede, it wasn’t the worst.

Lio shrugged off the rest of the blanket, moving to head to the bathroom to get ready for the day as Galo got himself together. Galo screamed into the pillow he clutched to his face, trying to stop his heartbeat from ringing in his ears.

What the hell was that?!

Galo crossed his legs and ran a hand over his neck, a blush painting his ears and cheeks red hot.

“Okay, okay calm down Thymos,” Galo whispered to himself, unable to sort out his speeding thoughts.

“Lio, just Lio. It’s only Lio. Nothing weird - it’s just Lio.”

Yeah, just Lio, nothing weird. Except they were both shirtless, in bed, and Lio consciously cuddled closer to Galo and Galo had unconsciously held onto Lio as they slept! Galo thought his head was on fire for a moment, he could feel the heat his blush was causing and he needed to calm down. Why was he freaking out anyways? It’s not like it was weird or anything, and Galo realized he didn’t dislike it. Quite the opposite. In fact, Galo realized the past 2 nights he slept with Lio next to him were probably the most restful nights he could remember.

Lio just had this unconscious effect on him that made everything right. Galo wanted to make him smile, help him, support him, and if he had anything to say about it make him feel like he was the most important person in the world. Because Lio was, Galo realized, so important to him. Maybe he was doubting himself before, of course, they were friends! Maybe even best friends!

Galo smiled into the pillow against his face, feeling renewed and excited at the thought. Lio was his best friend!

Before Galo could think further Lio knocked on the half-open bedroom door announcing, “We’re going to be late. Get dressed!” Galo looked over to his phone on the bedside table and Lio was right, they had to head out at the latest within the next 10 minutes. Lio was to accompany Galo to the station today, having to get resource recommendations from Ignis, and per Lucia to test out some parts of his equipment. A quick scramble to get dressed, brush teeth, style hair, and grab some toast was all the time they had as they way out, Galo noticing that Lio looked more...calm today. He knew that Lio’s errands yesterday went mostly well, and it seems that the hot meals and real rest were starting to help.

So far, a good week!

Galo felt a spark of achievement pulse through him, his smile never leaving his face as they rode to the station. Lucia almost pounced on Lio, the boy quickly taken aback as he almost fell off the bike as they entered the station.

“I have been waiting all morning!” Lucia said, quickly running around Lio with a measuring tape and clipboard in her hand as she measured his arms and legs.

Lio tried to stay still, knowing her erratic tendencies, and also knowing his objectives for the day. Galo just laughed, crossing his arms and giving Lio a thumbs-up as the other huffed in indignation. Galo went over to his locker, finding a note from Aina who said to meet him on the roof. Galo waved goodbye to the green and blond duo, exiting the garage and taking the elevator up to the roof.

As he exited he was met with Aina, who was sitting directly next to the elevator doors under the small shaded area.

“What’s up?” Aina said, shooting Galo a salute as the other mirrored the motion back.

“Come up here to chill too?”

Aina nodded, patting the space next to her for Galo to sit.

“It’s no lake, but it’s hard to imagine ice skating in summer.”

“We could go swimming, maybe we will find the lab still down there!”

Aina chuckled, before taking in a deep breath and leaning her head back to look at the blue cloudless sky. Another good day, something trivial Galo noticed.

“Lio’s … odd isn’t he?”

Galo just shrugged before replying, “Lio is Lio.”

“And Galo is Galo?”

“Exactly!”

“What are you two?”

Aina went straight to the point. She never liked playing word games with the other, most of the time having to resort to straight out bluntness in the end anyways.

“What do you mean? He’s...my best friend? I think?”

“You think?”

“We’ll….I don’t know really?”

Galo found himself tied up in knots. He was friends with everyone on the team, Aina being his second closest friend too, but Lio was something else entirely. Galo got up, walking over to his roses as Aina followed behind, watching as Galo carefully moved some of the leaves to check the stems and petals on the older bushes.

“What do you know?” Aina kept her distance, only watching Galo who’s attention was solely on the flowers.

“He’s wonderful,” Galo started, “And he’s genuinely going to burn out if I don’t somehow find a way to help that wildfire from taking over him.”

Well, that wasn’t what she was expecting. Galo wasn’t an idiot, she knew that he knew that too, but he also wasn’t exactly the most introspective guy.

“You should have seen him the other day Aina,” he started again, taking off his gloves as he twisted a stem in his hands, picking up a pair of shears nearby, “How would you feel if you fought for everything, fought the world, and then found out that everything you’ve done even now is still fighting you?”

“What do you mean?”

“These fires, the ex-Burnish, even us, he’s trying to change the world by himself. He doesn’t realize he’s not alone.”

“If I recall correctly someone created an entire rooftop garden as an outlet for their own shit,” Aina started, “Maybe he just needs a positive outlet.”

Galo cut off a rose, twisting it in his hand, “I just hope he thinks of me at least as a friend.”

Aina took that moment to squat down next to Galo, looking at him directly when she said, “Do you want him to think of you as something more?”

Aina wasn’t dumb when it came to Galo. He just wished after all these months he would just admit his feelings to himself. She remembers the when he came up to the roof that one night, after getting into a fight with Lio in the first place over something trivial about Lio going off by himself and an almost broken arm - Galo yelling about how he didn’t want Lio to get hurt. Lio arguing back that Galo couldn’t protect him. The next morning after that he had bags of potting soil and cleaning the roof off to set up a vegetable garden. Whenever Lio has Galo up in his head the garden grew, and those 6 months, days at a time there would be new additions until it was what it was now.

“I want him to be okay. I want...I just want him to know I’m here Aina, and that he’s so important to me, to everyone!”

Aina weakly smiled, at least Galo was somewhat closer to his own truth of the entire matter than last time.

“And you’re right! Maybe he does need a positive outlet! Do you think he would like to be part of the garden?”

Aina laughed at the idea of the hard-headed tough as nails Lio Fotia pruning vegetables on their rooftop in the summer sun. But hey, people can be full of surprises, right?

“Maybe- who knows, ask him.”

Aina stood back up, helping Galo back to his feet as well as the other tucked the de-throned rose into the side of his belt. They returned to the station to see Lio upside down hanging from the ceiling in Lucia’s laboratory, arms crossed and face in a carefully kept grimace as Lucia laughed, scrambling to get a ladder. Galo quickly ran over, helping Lucia as Aina belly-laughed, asking what had happened as Lucia excitedly began explaining that she thought they could test out some new rocket boosters.

The rest of that afternoon went by quicker than expected, but came to a screeching halt when Galo openly groaned in annoyance at the sudden reminder that he was on duty to watch the station tonight. Everyone took turns, and on especially slower evenings only two people would stay at the station in case of any emergencies.

“Who am I paired with tonight?” Galo asked the table, who were all doing a variety of tasks.

Aina raised her hand but quickly added, “I actually gave my shift to Lio.”

Lio, who was sitting at the table next to Galo, looked up from his tablet slightly and glanced to the side at Aina, but didn’t say anything as he just nodded in agreement.

Aina smiled, leaning back as Lucia yelled, “Not fair! You never take my shifts!”

“You also barely leave the lab half the time!”

Banter made their way around the table, but Lio didn’t join in, only tapping away on his tablet occasionally as he leaned his head on his hand. Galo chanced a peek at the page, noticing Lio looking at a missing person page before switching pages to a list extensive names, stopping on a mother and daughter duo; the same duo they helped just a few days ago. Galo leaned down to Lio, the other glancing up slightly as the other asked,

“What’s up?”

Lio shook his head, replying, “I’ll talk to you later.”

Well, that was better than never in Galo’s eyes. As nightfall fell the team began to head out, Galo noticing that the sky had turned a dark gray, thunder rolling in the distance. Lio was not there to see them off, Galo finding him still at the table being busy as ever. Galo chanced getting punched as he grabbed the tablet, using his height to keep the device out of reach as Lio glared him. Lio held out his hand in a silent request, but Galo just shook his head, a devious smile on his face. He rolled his eyes as he stood up, reaching up for the tablet, but still to no use due to Galo’s tall frame.

But Lio had a sharp tongue and headstrong nature, so he gave a warning of, “You sure? You sure you wanna play this?”

Galo just laughed, holding the tablet even higher. Lio just sighed, stepping back a second before saying,

“Alright.”

And then suddenly Galo was on the floor.

His legs were swept out under him as Lio grabbed his wrist, pushing the hand holding the tablet to the ground as a foot came up next to Galo’s head, the other leaning over as his other knee kept the taller man pressed to the ground. Galo let out a surprised breath as his back hit the cold ground, looking up at Lio as the fluorescent lights cast his shadows over him. Lio held an all too proud smirk, his eyes filled with mirth as he leaned down closer. Galo couldn’t breathe, not with Lio as close as he was.

“Want to try that again?”

“Try again?”

Lio just rolled his eyes, slowly moving his gloved hand up Galo’s wrist and into his hand, fingers ghosting over the tablet. Lio’s other hand went to Galo’s chin, making the other look at him as Lio swiped the device.

“I win.”

Galo looked directly at Lio, wanting nothing more than to Lio lean down just a bit further, press a bit harder. Wait, Galo realized, catching up to his own thoughts, what?!

Lio saw Galo begin to flush, pulling back slightly when he realized the position. But Galo followed him as they sat up, Lio too stunned to catch himself, but the other caught him by his lower back, both of them staring at one another. They said nothing, both unsure of what to do next until they started laughing. Lio let out the most genuine laugh Galo had ever heard, enraptured by the sound of Lio’s enjoyment bubbling to the surface. Galo laughed in turn, pulling Lio closer into a hug that Lio quickly sunk into. They both continued to chuckle lightly, a shared hug on the floor, Lio’s arms around Galo’s neck and Galo’s hands at Lio’s back. When they both pulled away Lio got up properly, helping Galo up before saying,

“Since we’re here, mind if I get some work done now without you being a distraction?”

“Yeah, just not too much. Don't push yourself. Are you hungry? I can make us…”

“Cereal. Cereal is fine. And hey, I’m going to do laundry too. Since your apartment doesn’t have a dryer and there’s one upstairs. Do you need anything done?”

Galo didn't think cereal was fine, especially since he wanted Lio to try new things, but he contemplated what he could make as he slowly shucked off his pants and t-shirt, careful to remove the slightly wilted rose from earlier and setting it on the table, completely forgetting Lio was actually standing there for a whole second.

But as he stood in boxer briefs with little flames on them, and Lio trying both not laugh and stare, Galo came back to his senses before yelling, “IM ORDERING US FOOD!” as he made a beeline for his locker to grab his spare sweatpants.

Lio just chuckled as he made his way upstairs, taking off his leather jacket and white blouse. He didn’t have any extra clothes, so he stayed in his pants, which he figured he would just quickly hand wash the next time they were at the apartment.

Galo dialed his second favorite pizza place, one that delivers, and said, “Yes one large extra half-everything half-cheese pizza. For uhh, Lio F- uhh Galo Thymos.”

While Lio was known in smaller circles that he was staying at the Burning Rescue station most of the time, some didn’t know. In fact, while Lio volunteered constantly, he made sure to not stay in one place too long or give people ideas about his permanent living location. While he did have his “own” incredibly oversized jacket, he only wore it during rescue missions or in private, never out or in public spaces more than necessary. which, if Galo was being honest, hurt to acknowledge, but understood the importance of keeping Lio’s private life a secret.

The world was still new, this wasn’t going to be forever, and soon Lio could be an official sanctioned member of the team. So Galo had to remember to keep Lio’s location a secret, and if anyone other than the team asked about the whereabouts of the other then to direct them to the city hall.

But something didn’t feel right when Galo heard Lio’s name being heard on the other side of the phone, but ignored it, confirming his order and going to find Lio on the laundry floor. Which, if he was being honest, wasn’t so much a floor but just a space with multiple washers and dryers in a room set up to handle weeks worth of washing if need be.

Lio was sitting on top of the washers, tablet in hand, but wasn’t paying attention to it as he stared at the wall, seemingly off in his own world. Galo leaned in the doorframe, knocking on the side, announcing his arrival, but Lio didn’t look over.

“Lio?” Galo started but paused when the whole building rumbled as thunder rolled in overhead.

Lio jerked slightly, suddenly out of his thoughts as he glanced back down at his tablet. Galo walked over to him, hand hovering over the other’s shoulder as a crack of lightning resounded through the building, causing the other to jump entirely.

“You don’t like storms?”

“You try living outside for years when the only thing you have is fire and rain is soaking your clothes.”

Okay, Galo admitted to himself, that’s fair. Galo reached closer to Lio, wanting to protect him. Lio glanced up to Galo, trying his best to seem confident but failing as he jerked at another crack from the storm as rain pounded on the walls. Another thing to add to the list of things Galo was slowly learning about Lio then.

“I have food on its way,” Galo started, wrapping his arm around Lio’s shoulders, “You want to go downstairs and watch TV till it gets here?”

Lio nodded meekly with his head down, clutching his tablet as Galo backed away to give the other some space. Galo continued to hover, only a pinky away from grabbing the others hand, but Lio walked firmly, head down but with as much strength as he could muster. Galo didn’t need to see it, didn’t need the reminder Lio was strong, but he figured it was more for his own sake, and this didn’t say anything about it.

When they made it to the common room back on the lower levels Galo turned the TV on, handing the remote to Lio as he went over to the fridge to grab them both a drink.

“You know,” he stated, “it’s okay to be afraid of things. Makes you feel a bit more human.”

Lio didn't reply, only grabbing the safety blanket on the back of the couch and wrapped it around his back. The security terminal in the ceiling corner flashed a second, showing that someone was at the front public entrance before white static faded the image out. Galo sighed, quickly turning off the security protocols with a voice command Lucia specifically gave them, not wanting a possible short circuit from the storm sending their delivery driver to the next city over. Galo glared in annoyance, grumbling about having to fix that but food first, leaving Lio alone on the couch in the other room as he made his way to the front.

When he opened the door he was met with pounding winds and rain, ushering the delivery person inside as they handed over a flat box.

“Thanks!” Galo said, turning to put the box down, but stopped when the person let down their hood and looked up to him. This was the girl, the girl they saved the other day. Why was she here? Did she work for this place now?

“Oh, it’s you! How are you? You doing okay?”

She didn’t respond, only a slight tremble in her damp shoulders, but kept her eyes on Galo. Galo just tried to smile through it, a sense of unease settling over them at the lack of response before thanking her as he asked again,

“Anything I can do for you tonight?”

She opened her mouth, but stopped, shaking her head as she said,

“Lio Fotia took my life away from me. He couldn’t save me from Foresight, took away the Promare, the only thing that saved my life. Now the flames hurt, everything is worse, and I can’t even get my life back together all because of him. Kray Foresight may have loaded the gun but Lio Fotia pulled the trigger.”

Galo was angry, to say the least.

“Lio has done nothing but try and save you and help you and the ex-Burnish. I have seen him work every day of his life for 6 months and probably even before then to do his best to keep you all safe.”

“Then why does he hide behind politics and society to tell him what to do and wait on instead of taking it for himself and us? 6 months and we still have to live like rats. Kray was right all along, he’s a coward and a fool. Burnish don’t kill. Too bad I’m not Burnish anymore.”

The girl threw something on the ground, and fire erupted in front of them, pushing Galo back as the girl opened the door and ran out. Galo scrambled back, yelling for Lio, but the other couldn’t hear him over the sudden explosions that ricocheted around different floors. Rubble began to fall, Galo running to the common room but seeing Lio gone as panic began to set in. Where was Lio? There were too many floors, too much even begin to try and parse through. He was thrown back as a wooden beam came down, Galo yelling over the voice command security terminal to find Lio Fotia. Through the almost deafening cracks, the terminal faintly made out “-oof” before completely buzzing out.

Galo made a beeline for the stairs, grabbing his firefighter jacket and a mask as he began to run. He doesn’t think he’s ever ran so fast in his life. Up the stairs and over falling rubble he kept going, unsure how many floors the building held. Galo saw the final door to the roof ahead, pulling on his jacket as best he could before forcing the door open to the violent storm outside.

The rain poured down harshly from the dark sky above, stinging against his face and drenching him instantly as pushed his way forward into the gale of wind that almost knocked him off his feet. The sky was purple and red, flashing bright every second as lightning crackled around them and thunder roared as if right next to his ears. The sound reminded him of a certain dragon he once saw, screeching raw into his bones as a bolt of lightning came down somewhere off in the distance, but with enough force and energy to have the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He slipped and fell to his knees as the Burning Rescue station gave another rumble as something else exploded, mimicking the sky as thunder rolled overhead.

But that’s not what held Galo’s attention.

In front of him, standing on the center of the rooftop, directly in the middle of the garden, surrounded by red rose petals and ice-cold rain stood Lio Fotia.

He was still shirtless, goosebumps visible on his soft skin as the rain hammered on his pale figure. Lio held his head to the sky, eyes closed as his hand tightened its hold on a fresh rose stem, thorns digging their way into his palm as blood ran down and through his fingers. He stood like a statue, right side facing Galo, wind whipping at his hair, body held in place as Galo felt his whole world stop for a moment.

The smell of wet roses and summer storm filled Galo senses, burning plastic combining from the slowly rising smoke as the rain tried to fan out the flames below them. Galo wanted to shout for Lio, anything at all but was frozen in place.

At that moment, he realized two things at once.

One, he was in love with Lio Fotia. And two, he had never been more afraid of anything in his life than the idea of losing Lio Fotia.

“Lio!” Galo managed to scream through the wind, as hard and as loud as he could muster.

Lio turned slowly to face Galo, opening his eyes slightly as tears ran down his face. Galo pushed himself back to his feet, running over to Lio and enveloping the other in a tight hug.

“You’re alright. I wouldn’t know what to do if I lost you.” Galo whispered into his ear, pulling Lio’s head closer.

Lio flinched back and out of Galo’s arms as he screamed,

“It’s all my fault!”

He yelled as loud as he could, thunder deafening his screams.

“This isn’t your fault!” Galo yelled back, but Lio just replied,

“I should have killed Kray. I knew this was all his doing. This was all to get to me.”

Lio dropped the rose stem to the ground, bringing his bloody hand to his chest before adding,

“The recent attacks! The fire specifically! He knew I was here! These 6 months he’s been fighting behind those bars but he still has control and that’s why...everything...it’s my fault!”

Lio could barely keep his eyes open through the pain in his chest, falling to his knees as he ran out of strength.

6 months ago the world had changed. 6 months ago Kray Foresight was put behind bars for life, his entire company and assets seized but still monitored and continued to exist as resources were reallocated. 6 months since Lio Fotia lost everything he believed made him powerful enough to change the world.

Galo watched Lio crumble, but he was right there. He was going to help Lio pick up the pieces.

Galo felt warm tears run down his face as he said, “It’s not your fault. And on my word, on my burning soul, I swear we will fix the world just as much as we destroyed it. I promise I’m with you.”

Lio looked up to Galo, watching the other promise his own soul away to him, a genuine smile sending a shiver through Lio. So the green-haired boy couldn’t help it when he shot forward, grabbing the back of Galo’s head as he buried his face into Galo’s jacket collar, tears mixing with the rain as he consciously tried his best to keep his blood off of Galo. But the other didn’t seem to care of mind when as unzipped his jacket and drew the other as close as possible, chest to chest as he zipped the fabric up to try and stop Lio from freezing to death.

Lio leaned back slightly, nose to nose with Galo, looking into the other's eyes. When Lio didn’t move any further Galo brought his arms up, wrapping them around Lio’s back, pressing forward slightly before bracing himself against the ground as the building shook again, cursing as smoke began to blind his view around them.

In the distance he could see Aina’s personal helicopter and the others arriving, knowing they would see them easily in just a moment. Lio leaned back down to rest on Galo’s shoulder, his wounded hand still running red at his side as Lio’s other arm wrapped around the back of Galo’s neck.

“I told you to be careful around the roses,” Galo said teasingly, but Lio just huffed and replied,

“They’re beautiful.”

“You’re beautiful,” Galo retorted, shutting Lio up as Aina landed just over the edge, telling them to jump in.

They both managed to get into the back of the square helicopter safely, Lio wrapped in a koala hug around Galo’s front as Remi and Varys tended to Lio’s bleeding hand. Galo ran his fingers through Lio’s hair, tenderly stroking patterns to try and subside the pain. Ignis was questioning the duo as Lucia began doing remote damage control on her device. Aina took them to city hall but landed them at the top of the roof on the helicopter pad.

The dynamic duo had told Ignis everything, from Kray somehow ending up influencing outside of jail to the attack itself. Ignis didn’t comment on Lio’s condition, only nodding to the others to help the duo get back to Galo’s apartment and that Galo and Lio were off duty for the rest of the week while repairs were being done. Likewise, Ignis made it clear that Lio needed to stay out of sight until he could get higher security set up, to which Lio almost managed to muster enough fight in him to argue back.

“It’s been 6 months kid, and Kray’s been playing us like fiddles to get to you. Personally, even if you weren’t one of my team I would have witness protection on you faster than you can imagine. But I know Galo will protect you better than anyone else I can assign, and besides,” he lowered his glances slightly, making sure that Lio could see that the other was literally wrapped around Galo, “You seem to like him.”

Galo just sheepishly smiled, adjusting his arm holding Lio’s thighs up around his waist as Lio just rolled his eyes, burying his face back under Galo’s jacket. Aina brought the duo back to Galo’s apartment, handing Galo a spare cell phone.

“Just in case,” she said, winking before taking off.

Galo had no idea what that meant, but was glad for the extra means of emergency contact; especially considering his phone was back at the half-standing station and probably unusable. They didn’t say anything as they made their way into the elevator and up to the apartment, only Lio motioning to be let down once he heard the door lock behind them.

Galo didn’t exactly want to let go, but when he dried blood on their chests the gross sensation is exactly what override his own emotions. They both needed showers and time.

Galo unzipped his jacket and Lio unhooked his legs from Galo’s hips, standing up as the other shucked off the material entirely.

Galo’s hair was flat against the side of his head from the rain, parts sticking up here and there looking like static. His face was a bit messy, chest out with spots of dried blood from Lio pressing so close to him from before. His sweatpants were soaked, hugging his legs tight that it didn’t leave a lot to the imagination.

But Lio couldn’t really say anything, he was in the same shape. Hair flat, getting into his eyes and sticking to his face, chest entirely dirty and sticky, leather pants and buckles that never left anything to the imagination to begin with, but even more so now slicked to his skin. They looked at each other for a moment longer before Lio huffed and grabbed Galo’s hand, dragging him to the bathroom.

“I need to get your clothes and -“

“Shut up.”

Lio pulled Galo into the tiled room, closing the door behind them as he pushed Galo back until his legs hit the side of the bathtub.

“We’re going to shower, get dressed, and go to bed. And then in the morning, we will figure things out from there.”

Galo nodded but didn’t really understand. At least, not until Lio started undoing the buckles on his pants. Galo suddenly stood up, face red immediately as he quickly said,

“Are you sure? You can have your privacy I can shower after I don’t mind cold water at all whatever you want -“

Lio glanced over to Galo as he unzipped the back of his pants, silencing Galo with the movement alone as he did everything he could to not look at Lio’s legs.

“This is quicker and easier and…” Lio paused, looking away for a second as he pulled down his pants and underwear, “I like your hands on me.”

Galo almost had a heart attack right then and there. But Lio just snickered as he walked over, turning on the shower to steaming as he got in and turned to Galo, who was still sitting on the edge and gripping the side of the tub so hard his knuckles were white.

Lio grabbed the back of Galo’s hair, forcing the other to look up at him as he said, “Get in, there won’t be a lot of hot water for long.”

He let go as Galo stood up, trying his best to look at anything but Lio as he took off his sweats, almost tripping over the waistband of his underwear as he moved them to the laundry bin on the side. Lio closed the curtain around them for an unneeded form of privacy as Galo did his best to stand as close to the opposite wall as possible while Lio took up the center. Lio grabbed the 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner bottle, motioning for Galo to hold out his hands. Galo calmed down slightly, realizing that he may have been thinking too far ahead. Lio just wanted to relax, and Galo wanted him to relax as much as possible.

Lio was about to squirt some off the liquid into his own hands before Galo grabbed the bottle, massaged his hands into Lio’s hair, lathering up the suds and pressing on the other’s scalp with soft but meticulous focus. Lio leaned back into Galo’s hands, chest facing towards the faucet as he tilted his head up to let him have more access.

His hair was really soft, Galo noticed, running his nails through and eliciting a pleased hum from Lio. While he was busy was his hair Lio grabbed the bar of soap and washcloth from the side, lathering up the material before turning to face Galo. He stopped his movements for a moment, eyebrow quirking in silent question, but Lio ignored the look and rubbed Galo’s chest, cleaning off the dirt, blood, and ash in different spots. He took extra care to dig his hands into the other, his other hand holding onto Galo’s hip for purchase as he edged closer, moving to clean off his shoulders and collar bone too. Galo swiped at the soap that tried to trace into Lio’s face, just watching him closely as the other worked, focus turning into lazy swipes as they looked at each other.

They stood there for a moment, water running down Lio’s back, both almost fully pressed up against another, naked in Galo’s shower. Galo couldn’t take it, and his brain never really did stop his mouth from saying whatever it felt like.

“Hey Lio?”

“Hmm?”

“Can I kiss you?”

Lio didn't say anything, only watching as Galo seemed to catch what he said. In response, after he watched embarrassment completely overtake the other, Lio stood as far up as he could on his toes, able to press a quick kiss to Galo’s lips. Galo stood in silence, brain coming to a complete halt as Lio rinsed himself off, pulling Galo in to rinse too before shutting off the water as it began to turn cold. Lio got out, stepping over the tub and grabbing a towel from the rack and drying off, before handing it to Galo, more so throwing the item at him, making the other regain consciousness.

“You can’t just do that!” Galo yelled, stepping over the tub before backing Lio up to the bathroom wall.

Galo grabbed Lio’s chin, forcing the other to look at him, saying, “Stay with me.”

Lio was headstrong, knew what he wanted, and didn’t miss a beat when he looked up to Galo as he replied,

“Absolutely.”

Galo closed his eyes, tilting his head and pressing his lips to Lio’s own, who in turn grabbed the back of Galo’s neck and pulled him closer. It didn’t last long, as Galo pulled back, realizing they were both still naked, a sheepish look painting his face as Lio just looked up to him curiously annoyed with the sudden lack of affection.

“Come on, let’s go to bed.”

Galo opened the door and ushered them out, turning to their bedroom. The thought alone made him giddy, something about the idea of being able to share in conversations that held “theirs” or “us” or “we” when it came to Lio making his heart hammer with excitement. Lio could take over as much space as he wanted and use him as much as he wanted and Galo would never complain as he would be the first to offer.

This is what he did when he felt Lio lay down in bed next to him, nuzzling kisses on his chest as his non-injured hand roamed appreciatively over Galo’s arms. Galo made a small noise, grabbing Lio’s attention before pulling the smaller boy on top of him, pulling him down for a kiss. This one lasted much longer, their lips moving against one another as Lio used his good hand to balance himself on top of Galo as leverage to lean further. Their bodies still warm, damp as they clung to one another, Galo making a small noise as Lio licked at his lips. He parted his lips slightly, following Lio’s movements as the other licked his way into Galo’s mouth. The pace became heated as Lio worked moans out of his partner, moving his tongue in circles as their heated breaths became pants against each other. They were both lightheaded, dizzy with bliss but neither of them cared enough to stop. Galo would sooner pass out before breaking his lips away from Lio.

Luckily, Lio was the more level headed one, pushing back against Galo’s chest as he sat up, straddling the other’s slim waist and running a hand through his hair, looking down at him through half-lidded eyes. Galo adjusted his head on the pillow, grabbing Lio’s waist and running his hands up and down his sides and thighs before asking,

“Will you talk to me now?”

Lio genuinely could not believe this man. They were both slowly fueling a low burning heat, both had just been through probably the worst attack on both their lives in the last 6 months, and Lio was this close to sucking the other man off till he screamed his name and all Galo cared about was making sure Lio was okay.

“You are, without a doubt, the most ridiculous man alive. I genuinely cannot believe I like you. It’s really incredible, the statistical probability that I like you actually.”

But Lio held no bite to his words, small fresh tears forming on the sides of his eyes as he looked up to the stars on the ceiling. He really couldn’t believe the universe gave him Galo Thymos. Not only that, but Galo Thymos also liked him back.

Galo pulled Lio back down, laying the other down on his side, kissing his forehead as his green locks covered his face before saying, “I just want to make sure you’re okay. I think...I…you’re so important to me Lio.”

Lio hugged Galo’s side, pressing his face into his collarbone as Galo rubbed up and down Lio’s arm. He looked to the ceiling, counting the stars above. He always loved the stars, the universe gave him Lio Fotia after all.

The heat died down though, exhaustion overtaking them as they both fell asleep in each other’s arms, not a care in the world. At least, until they woke up to the phone on the bedside table incessantly ringing and Lio just about to throw the damned thing right out the window. But he picked up the device as he answered the call, not even checking who it was before sleepily asking,

“Hello?”

“BOSS! BOSS ARE YOU ALRIGHT?!”

“LIO WE HEARD THE NEWS WE GOT A TIP TO CALL THIS PHONE. WHERE ARE YOU?!”

Lio blearily looked at the screen, seeing the saved blurry photo of Meis and Gueira.

“I’m good. I’m safe. Kray Foresight apparently has access to some information at the community center. I want you both looking into it and find out the person responsible.”

Lio couldn’t help but feel guilty at the parallel to when the old man tricked them way back then, remembering people were idiots constantly.

“You got it boss! Do you need us to bring you anything? Where are you?”

Lio sat up slightly, leaning on his elbow to look at the smiling Galo, who had his arm thrown over his eyes to block out the sun as his chest rumbled with a slight laugh.

“Call this number if you need anything. Bye.”

Lio swiftly hung up as he heard the other two scramble to try and interject, but Lio just threw the phone on the bedside table, flopping back down on the bed.

Galo quickly wrapped Lio in a sideways hug, the other being a little spoon, nuzzling into the back of his shoulder blades before kissing his back and neck up to his ear.

“Good morning,” Galo whispered, eliciting a shiver and a smile from Lio.

“Good morning.”

Lio got up first, complaining he was starving as Galo took his time waking up. He returned with teeth freshly brushed as he opened Galo’s drawers with little care, picking out a random t-shirt and shorts, which were more so pants on Lio, before turning to him still in bed.

“You do know our clothes are more than likely destroyed right?” Lio said, slight annoyance at the possible idea of losing his favorite outfit.

Galo hummed before saying, “Why don’t we go find out?”

Lio just smiled at Galo’s smirk as he replied, “After breakfast.”

As Galo put on clothes Lio quickly leaned down to press a soft, quick, but passionate kiss to him before adding, “And brush your teeth too.”

They rummaged around the kitchen for a bit, unsure of what to eat until Lio pulled out a box of cereal and carton of milk. They looked at each other, nodding as they made their meal. Lio finished first, jumping on the countertop, turning on the coffee machine in the process. When everything was done, Galo added 5 sugars to his own coffee, face pinched as the sugar kicked in before turning to face Lio who just sipped from the cup in Galo's hand loudly, peering over to top at him.

“You know we’re going to probably be murdered if we ever step within 5 feet of the station.”

“I like my clothes.”

“I was going to tell you I’ll give you mine.”

“That’s nice. I like yours.”

Lio put down his coffee, leaning forward across the counter from Galo, pausing for only a moment before adding, “But I like my leather.”

Galo decided that Lio getting what he liked was more important than whatever punishment was awaiting the two of them, so they made their way to the station. Galo breathed in the fresh air, the sky bright blue with barely a cloud in sight and the sun beaming down on them as they began their walk.

No security bells or whistles exploded when they entered the garage, only Ignis who shot their feet when they turned to the door, ice freezing their shoes to the ground. They both figured they should have expected that.

“We are-“

“Honestly Galo, I know you don't listen but this is entirely surprising for you, Lio.”

Lio just crossed his arms, which didn’t look as intimidating as it usually would of given that the shirt he was wearing was barely staying on him in the first place.

“What do you both need because you aren't going inside”

Galo sighed, saying, “Lio wants to check it our clothes survived and I want to just check on something.”

“You’re gonna have to use your words kid.”

“The flowers, did they...ya know?”

Ignis’s eyebrows rose, rolling his shoulders before hitting their feet with the same red goo from before, melting the ice away.

“You both have 5 minutes before I send Lucia and Vinny on both of you.”

Galo saluted as he ran down the corridor to the elevator, Lio mirroring the salute weakly as he made his way up the stairs to the laundry floor. The stairs were in shape, but he had to push the door open harder to get into the laundry space. Most of the washers were crushed, but luckily when he went over to the far one at the end where his clothes were he breathed a sigh of relief that it was still standing.

Lio fished around for their clothing, grimacing at the soggy material but nothing could be done. He grabbed a nearby bag off the floor, putting the clothes in before double bagging the material to keep them from dripping. He really did like his leather.

When he went back downstairs he stopped a moment to say hi to Lucia and Aina, who were working in tandem to try and get some materials together.

“But we’re in luck! Because of the damage we’ve been approved for the extra money for my projects!”

“That money isn’t for building another rocket blaster, Lucia!”

“Who needs space when you got easily portable and deadly wings!”

Lio grimaced at the memory slightly, waving hello and goodbye as he made his way over to the roof to collect Galo.

The sight was, not the best. Galo was sitting cross-legged on the ground in-between where the rose bushes once stood, petals still littering around the area. Some of the other beds were completely destroyed, others perfectly fine, and even some of the roses were salvageable. It could have been worse, but Lio felt a pang if unnecessary guilt run through him as he walked over to Galo, who had his back turned.

“He loves me, he loves me not,” he heard Galo say, seeing the other plucking petals off a rose.

Lio said nothing, quietly standing behind the other until he was down to two final petals.

“He Loves me. He loves me not. He...loves me.”

Galo turned to face Lio, smiling up at the other as the smell of the previous night’s rainstorm mixed with roses littering around them.

“The smell of wet roses suits you,” Galo said, leaning back on his hands as he let the rose fall to the ground.

Lio dropped the bag, sitting down next to Galo, legs outstretched as they looked over to the city.

Galo grabbed the others hand, intertwining their fingers before saying,

“He loves me.”

Lio just nodded slightly as a blush formed when Galo continued,

“And I love you too.”

Lio picked up a salvageable rose, snapping off the thorn before moving to set it behind Galo’s ear, the other leaning down to cup Lio’s jaw as he pulled Lio towards him, a sweet kiss filling his senses as rose petals drifted around them.

As they both looked out to Promepolis they realized a few things. 6 months ago they changed the world. From then to now, those 6 months they changed their lives. And for the next 6 months into the foreseeable future, they would change each other for the better. Kray Foresight was still alive, and he was never going to stop hunting Lio and the ex-Burnish. But Lio was prepared to face the hardships that he knew were ahead, knowing that even if he didn’t ask for it, Galo would be right there beside him always.