The night is quiet, the stillness making their footsteps seem louder as they slink back through the barracks. Gal’s hand feels warm in his as he drags him back to their bed, eyes and feet heavy. Something about it almost doesn’t feel real, like the pieces of his life were finally falling into place. Or at least some of the parts. It tugs on Ettian’s heart that it can’t last forever; in just a few days they’re destined for Rana, the plan underway. He squeezes Gal’s hand tighter.
Gal offers him a small smile, and squeezes back. His hair is still mused from their time in the Ruttin’ Hell earlier that evening, the blush high on his cheeks. They’ve reached their destination, the key dangling in Ettian’s fingers as he slips it into the lock of their door, turning and pressing it open with a soft click.
The soft glow from the inside of their room leaks into the hallway before Gal quietly closes the door behind them, slipping against it with a soft thud. Ettian looks up, having busied himself with stripping off his dirty flight suit the moment he stepped inside from the hall, leaving him in a loose t-shirt and his tight leggings. Gal’s body sagged against the door, letting the weight of everything that was about to happen and everything that has finally fall on his shoulders. It feels like the first time Ettian’s seen him since they arrived at the base, really seen him as the boy he’s known for the last two years of his life.
Ettian moves, crowding into Gal’s space, eyes fluttering from his lips to his eyes, smiling softly. No matter where this goes, they’ll always have this.
“Hi,” Gal whispers, shy and slow into the space between them. Ettian presses their lips together, smiling into the kiss. He feels one of Gal’s hands wrap his hand around the nape of his neck pulling him closer for just a moment.
“C’mon, I want to go to bed,” Ettian says, eventually breaking away from his trying hands. Gal pouts, expecting some sort of response, but it’s all for nothing considering Ettian’s back is turned as he stripps out of the remainder of his clothes. He decides to follow suit, removing his uniform for something softer, a t-shirt and pajama pants.
Ettian has somehow managed to sneak past into the bathroom, Gal can hear the faucet running. This is the way that things are supposed to be between them: easy, without explanation.
“You know, I’m going to have to yell at Wen for almost killing you,” Gal says suddenly, breaking the peaceful silence. He doesn’t know why he said it, he doesn’t want to start a fight, but they need to talk about it at some point.
Ettian pops his head out of the bathroom, mouth foaming with toothpaste. Gal would laugh if he didn’t need to stay serious. There’s something about the other boy, the way his sleeping shirt sags too much on one side, or how his hair has started growing out, tight coils inflamed by the frustrated runthrough that definitely occurred when Gal posed the question, that makes him stop in his tracks. He’s beautiful, powerful, and so painfully with him that he fears it could end them both.
“No Gal, please don’t,” he says through a mouthful of toothpaste, not even bothering to take the brush out of his mouth. His eyes are pleading. “She didn't know what she was doing, it was my fault if anythi-,” Ettian rushes out.
“I know, I just,” Gal pauses taking a breath, “I wish you didn’t put your life in the hands of a girl with a deathwish,” he finishes offering a small smile, hoping it’s enough. Ettian pauses for a moment, face unreadable. He turns back into the bathroom without a word. Gal’s stomach drops. He hears the water running, loud and angry and then it gets cut off, and Ettian reappears in the doorway, clean faced and smiling softly. Gal thinks the light from the bathroom makes him look like an angel.
“I’m sorry, I know I worried you,” Ettian glides across the room, towering over Gal on the bed. The shy panicked boy from the river is long gone. Gal stares up at the pilot, wide eyed as he cups his cheek and crouches down so that they’re eye to eye.
“I love you, you know,” Ettian says, privately, almost like a prayer. Almost like it slipped out and the world wasn’t meant to hear it.
“I know,” Gal whispers back, hoping the other boy feels the sincerity in his voice. I love you, I don’t want to hurt you, please stay with me. He leans forward into his touch, kissing Ettian as deeply as he can, hoping to press the meaning into it.
It feels different than he thought it would, kissing Gal. Ettian has always imagined it would be calculated, like his negotiations. But, it’s different, like a lot of Gal turned out to be. Gal kisses with his entire being, like it’s the last thing that he’s ever going to do. Which, maybe it is, considering what they were about to do.
The thought leaves Ettians mind as Gal sweeps his tongue over his bottom lip, pulling him down. The pilot misjudges the momentum and leans forward too, knocking himself off balance and sending the two of them onto the bed, his head landing on Gal’s chest. The room is still as he slowly picks his head up, oddly anxious that his clumsiness somehow ruined the moment. But Gal is there, beaming down at him, looking as perfect as ever.
The silence lasts one...two...three...seconds longer before they both collapse into laughter. Ettian feels it hiccuping out of Gal’s chest, almost hysterically. It feels better to laugh about something than to cry, he thinks. He’ll take this any day.
Slowly, after the laughter subsides, he rolls off Gal and onto his back on the bed next to him, feet still on the floor. He reaches around for the other boy's hand, linking their fingers together and throwing him a tired smile.
“I need to go to bed,” Ettian states simply, not making any effort to get up.
“Then why don’t you,” Gal quips back.
“Because you need to move your ass so that I can get in bed,” Ettian replies, not much effort in his voice.
“Since you asked so nicely,” Gal replies, rolling his eyes half heartedly. He pulls himself to a standing position and watches as Ettian worms his way to the opposite side, closest to the wall. He can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous the whole thing looks.
“What? What’s so funny?” Ettian questions, mock challenge in his voice.
“You look like one of those ruttin’ sandworms on that beach we went to back on Rana,” he manages to get out between giggles. It shouldn’t be that funny, but the giddiness of finally being close to Ettian like this is bubbling up inside him again.
Ettian chuckles at the memory, opening his arms as if to beckon Gal inside. “C’mere,” he mumbles, the exhaustion from the day's events finally showing in his voice, and there’s no way that Gal could say no to that.
He settles into the bed, turning into Ettian’s chest, letting himself be vulnerable and small. He interlocks their legs, sliding a knee between the other boy's legs and gently pushing him onto his back with an arm wrapped tightly around his middle, holding him close. Ettian wraps his arms tighter around Gal, placing a calming hand on the back of his neck threading his fingers through his hair and wrapping the other around his torso.
Gal’s eyes are straining to keep open, but he feels a pair of lips press a kiss to the top of his head as he drifts off, weakly grasping Ettian’s tshirt before dropping off into a nights sleep. This can be enough.