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“I really like you.”

His voice was surprisingly steady to Culuikha’s ears. Despite the fact that every inch of his face showed that he was nervous.

“And I really want to date you. As in… being boyfriends.”

His dark eyes trained on Culuikha’s face, searching. Though searching what, Culuikha had no idea. He stared back at Godam’s eyes, and curled the corner of his lips upwards slightly.

“I’d like that.”

The smile Godam directed towards him next was very blinding.

*

Culuikha and Godam knew each other for a while now. They weren’t exactly being in a good relationship back then. Godam was new appointed Captain for USS Patriot while Culuikha had been in the ship as First Officer longer than him. Culuikha was salty that the higher ups decided to put in new guy instead of made him Captain, and with Godam being goody-two shoes all the time, it didn’t do well for Culuikha’s state of mind. He just couldn’t stand that kind of people.

Well, it was his habit to always assume the worst in people. Not to trust people too much because the only one he could rely on was himself. So, there was no way someone as perfect as Godam existed. Seriously, how could someone be kind without wanting anything in return, always willing to help, friendly, handsome, and basically had no flaws? That kind of people shouldn’t be trusted even more. So Culuikha put him at arm-length.

Along the way though, their relationship improved. Godam saved his life during a very bad situation with Xrephus, and Culuikha didn’t like being in debt. Especially to Godam, about something as important as his life. So, he saved him back. And somehow, it became a never-ending circle. Culuikha had lost count on how many times they had saved each other, and in return, Godam used that mutualism on life-saving as an excuse to be friendly to him.

Culuikha could tolerate him better now though. Now that he was being a little closer to the new Captain, he knew that Godam wasn’t as perfect as it seemed. Well, yes, he was still pretty perfect, but the guy sulked when he didn’t get to eat his favorite food and didn’t want to share it with anyone ever. Very childish.

A year after, Culuikha finally wanted to admit that Godam and him were at least friends because they hung out quite a lot outside the obligation of Captain and First Officer. Culuikha didn’t really trust people, but he knew he could trust Godam a little.

It was then, when he noticed how people talked about them. Well, not exactly about him per se, but more about Godam towards him.  

They lived in the same spaceship together for a very long time. Some even had been in USS Patriot for more than a decade. They rarely met other people unless it was when they were in other planet to take some samples—and even then, there wasn’t much time to socialize. Probably a quick fuck to loosen up a little, but not more than that—so, gossips tend to just circle around the crew.

Apparently this time, the hottest gossip that was circling around was about how the Captain had been crushing pretty hard on the First Officer. Because everywhere he went, Culuikha heard about it. He personally thought that it was freaking ridiculous. Godam was kind to everyone. Culuikha wasn’t special.

“He shared his fried chicken with you, Chief,” one of the deck crew with name Culuikha couldn’t really pronounce told him. “He doesn’t do it with anyone else.”

Culuikha just snorted at that fifth-grade level of observation—for fuck’s sake, they were freaking space crew of USS Patriot, they should be smarter than that—but somehow, it made him pay more attention towards Godam.

And true, Godam was actually being more attentive to him than everyone else. Godam was protective person by nature, but whenever it was concerning Culuikha, he was a little tad more protective. Well, since he didn’t really want to call it as over-protective—which was actually what Godam did. He leaned into Culuikha’s space, focused fully on him when they talked. He was getting more touchy-feely but somehow still being polite about it; like lingering touches after he squeezed Culuikha’s shoulder or arms, and even few times, Godam had his hand on the small of Culuikha’s back before he caught himself and put his hand away. And even Culuikha caught his eyes flickered to Culuikha’s lips before snapped it back up to his eyes. Godam was so damn obvious. No wonder everybody knew that he was crushing on Culuikha.

Culuikha never made a move though. He didn’t even reject Godam’s advances. He was the only person in the ship that he trusted despite the fact that there were people in here whom he knew longer. He thought Godam would keep his feelings to himself as well, due to professionalism probably.

But in their second year of knowing each other, Godam finally said it.

“I really like you.” He walked Culuikha to his cabin and stood there, facing Culuikha at the door.  “And I really want to date you. As in… being boyfriends.” Not the most romantic place to confess, but nobody was around and Culuikha counted that as a win.

“I’d like that,” he answered a moment later, and the next thing he knew, he pulled Godam into his room by the collar of his uniform, and let the door closed behind them.

*

They were together for a little over a year. Sneaking kisses here and there, even during duty, followed by sex—and hell, wasn’t the sex amazing. Godam was different when he was in bed. A little wilder, which Culuikha really liked, and a huge cuddle afterwards. Godam also liked to whisper sweet nothings to Culuikha, kissing him and saying ‘I love you’ casually whenever he passed him on the hall.

Few months into relationship, Godam somehow had migrated himself into Culuikha’s room and even left his belongings there because he loved to more time there rather than in his own designated cabin. Good thing that Culuikha’s bed was big enough to accommodate both of them.

Everyone cooed at how sweet they were, how they were such a relationship goal and how they would definitely be together forever, get married with a lot of kids.

And well, if what they meant forever was only a little over a year, they guessed it correctly.

*

The change wasn’t abrupt. But Culuikha noticed that Godam acted a little differently towards him for a while now. He brushed it off though, guessing that Godam needed space so he gave him that.

But apparently, what Godam wanted was more than that.

“I’m sorry,” was what Godam said, being a goody-two shoes he was. “I just… I think we didn’t work out.”

Culuikha nodded at him. “It’s okay.”

Godam definitely didn’t look okay. He looked crestfallen upon Culuikha’s words, but Culuikha didn’t say anything else to follow it up.

“I—I already applied to be moved to another ship,” Godam said again instead. “I will be gone in few days after the handover to you is done.”

“Oh, they made me Captain?”

Godam swallowed and nodded. “You always want that, right?” His dark eyes lost its warmth.

“I do.”

Godam took a deep, shaky breath as if willing himself not to cry—that was ridiculous, why would he cry?—and then mustered up a smile. The one he always showed to other people. “It’s a goodbye then,” a pause, and then Godam leaned a little closer. “I love you,” he whispered before he kissed Culuikha one last time. After he pulled away, his eyes trained on Culuikha’s face, again with the same searching look he got on him when he confessed back then, but Culuikha still couldn’t really tell what did it mean.

Godam let out a long sigh before smiling again. “You’re gonna be a great Captain.” He squeezed his shoulder, before finally walked away.

*

Godam’s departure was a shock to everyone after he officially announced it next day.

People were whispering, and the brave ones didn’t even bother to whisper. They just outright asked, “But what about Culuikha?”

Which Godam always smiled at and answered with, “We broke up. But we’re fine. He’s gonna be a great Captain. You don’t need to worry.”

And the fact that Culuikha and Godam broke up apparently was even more shocking to everyone than the news about Godam’s departure. Culuikha didn’t like the pity stares people gave him, because he was fine. He had things more important to be worried about, like planning the next routes and the navigation equipment maintenance because their space sounder was little bit glitching.

And somehow, Culuikha believed that Godam would come back. He knew for a fact that Godam loved it in USS Patriot so much. More than any other ships he had been in. He always referred to this ship as ‘home’, which made Culuikha referred it as such too. Crew rotation was a common thing after all.

Besides, Culuikha was willing to give Godam the space he needed. Culuikha had trusted Godam for a while now, and now he believed that he would come back when it was time.

The day when Godam left, Culuikha took over everything smoothly. People stopped giving him pity stares—finally—and it was nice to finally sit down on the Captain’s chair after years being on its left side. Other than his new job description as Captain, Culuikha went on like usual.

It was two days after Godam left that it finally hit him.

He woke up that morning, went to brush his teeth and saw Godam’s toothbrush there, unused.  ‘Ah, it’s been two days since the last time he came back home,’ he thought.

And it only went up gradually from there.

Culuikha made coffee in their pantry, and Godam’s stupid mug was there. Culuikha always asked him to throw it away, that Godam could use other mugs or even his, but Godam insisted on keeping the “No. 1 Capt” mug there on their shelf. ‘It’s been two weeks.’

Culuikha just got out of shower, wanted to take a little break after a pretty intense shift when he saw Godam’s slippers. It was fluffy with big rabbit head on it. It was silly, but his heart hurt. ‘Three months now.’

And that day, he received the news that Godam was going to be stationed permanently on Earth, wasn’t going to go back in space.

But Culuikha would wait. Godam would come home.