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Gravity is (not) the only thing that keeps me here

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They were supposed to stay on the planet only a couple of days – the stretching part of their space traveling workout, as Annie called it – and they have stayed for over a month. The initial forty-eight hours became several weeks after they found out that the uncharted part of the planet had a lot to offer, specifically a lot they could sample, catalog and be paid for once they went back to Earth. Then the whole Cody drama took place – Cody's father learned that his only son had been deflowerd by an alien and the fact that he was basically a big lion didn't help the negotiations when he showed up seeking revenge – and those few weeks become a whole month and then some.

Now it's really time to go, at least temporarily. They need to go back and submit their findings to the Department for Space Development, give the ship a long-awaited upgrade – hopefully with the money they will have gained after delivering their treasure troves to the government – and maybe visit their families. Leo's pretty sure his fathers think he's dead at this point. He always forgets to call home unless somebody tells him to. Kurt and Dave usually get news of him through the others' families and friends.

It's going to be at least four weeks before they can come back here, probably more. That is why Leo has postponed this moment as much as he could. He hates goodbyes, especially those who involve pretty little cute animal-like creatures from another planet who look at him with big, clueless eyes. Plus, Cody smells like chocolate and vanilla, which never helps when Leo has to do something that requires a bare minimum of focus. On a good day, he just spaces out. Otherwise, he just ends up making out with Cody, which is nice but also very distracting.

“You want to say thing to me,” Cody encourages him in his broken English. No matter how much Leo explains it to him, Cody doesn't understand the concept of past or future in spoken language. Everything he says is in the present. On the rare occasion he uses a past tense, it's because he learned the sentence that way. And because of that, this conversation is going to be hell.

“Yes, I have something to tell you,” Leo confirms as they enter the meadow where they usually meet and spend most of their time together. It's a nice place halfway between Leo's spaceship and Cody's village, a no-man's land Blaine – Cody's very scary father – agreed upon after many days of discussion, since he doesn't allow Leo in the village and he forbids Cody to go anywhere near the ship. “Come on, let's have a sit.”

Cody drops on his ass right then and there, like a puppy you told to sit. This and many other teeny tiny details make Leo want to re-think this whole thing he has with Cody, whatever it is. Adam keeps asking him every other day, Is he really sentient? Well, Blaine went full Mufasa on them, giving a thirty minute ominous speech from up a freaking rock. That looked like a sentient being to Leo. And if Blaine is sentient, then Cody must be too. And yet sometimes Leo wonders. Maybe he's just very young, which somehow is even worse.

“You don't speak?” Cody asks, tilting his head on the side. He wears a white tunic today – he changes clothes, that must be a sign of intelligence, animals don't do that – with a hole in the back for his tail to move freely. And said tail is now raised and curved, unmistakably forming a question mark to go with the question he just asked.

“Yes, yes, just give me a moment.”

“How do I give a moment?”

Leo sighs. Sometimes it gets really hard when someone takes everything literally, and Cody is world champion of missing metaphors. “Never mind,” he says, sitting right in front of him. The moment he does, Cody grabs his hand and starts playing with his fingers as if he hadn't one set of his own. “You know that I come from another place, right?”

“Another planet, far far away from my village,” Cody nods.

Leo is not sure that Cody has any notion of the distance he is talking about – it's hard to say if he knows there are other planets besides the one he's living on, or if he's even aware that the one he lives on is a planet – but far away is good enough for now. Count your blessings, that truly is a saying to go by.

“Exactly. And I need to go back.”

Cody stares at him very intently for what feels like a very long time. Then, he shrugs. “Alright.”

“Not exactly the reaction I was expecting, but fine... I guess?” Leo looks at him, trying to understand if Cody has even the vaguest idea of the conversation they're having or if he was going to give him that answer no matter what he said. “I won't be here with you. I will be away for some time.”

“Alright,” Cody simply nods again and then he looks up with the loveliest smile. For a moment, Leo can't see anything else, but then he remembers why they are here.

“Aren't you gonna miss me?” He's a little bit disappointed, if he has to be honest. He wasn't expecting him to pine over him or tearing off his clothes, but at least some acknowledgment of the fact that he is indeed going away after being here more than a month. A guy can dream that an almost-certainly sentient being with whom he has a casual sexual relationship with cares a little for him, right?

“You are here again,” Cody explains as he crawls over him, pinning him down on the ground. He's a very active creature and he hates to stay put. Leo has lost count of all the times he had to talk with him while Cody was climbing a tree or running around, following some animals, like an hyperactive kitten.

“It could be weeks, though, or even months before I can come back,” Leo insists, welcoming him into his arms.

“I am here,” Cody insists, and he could be meaning that he will be here when Leo comes back or that he is now and that Leo should really stop talking and start making out with him instead – that is always an activity that Cody likes above anything else.

Leo could insist, but he sees no point in that. He guesses he will have to believe Cody really understood what he just said and that he will really miss him, at least for a little while. It'd be nice to know that he won't turn around the moment the spaceship will be airborne and forget everything about him five minutes later.

He decides that he did all he could, at least for now, and so he can give in to Cody's cuddles, which are going to be the last he will receive from him for a very long time – he can't guarantee for anybody else. A boy, this boy in particular, has needs.

Unfortunately, Annie's shadow stretches upon them both before Leo can even kiss Cody once. “I'm sorry to interrupt—No, who am I kidding? I'm not sorry at all. I mean, you're cute and all, but I'm not in the mood to watch you two smooch,” she says with a somewhat apologetic smile. “Come on, heart-breaker, there's a problem with the ship.”

Leo sits up, bringing Cody with him. Cody hangs on to his shoulders. Far from being bothered by Annie's presence, he keeps nuzzling at Leo's neck. “What problem?”

“Our mighty captain didn't say. I think he wants to make one of his speeches,” Annie shrugs. “So bring your ass to the ship.”

When Leo gets to the ship – a class one cargo ship they put together from spare parts and scraps – Adam's eyes instantly zero in on Cody, trailing behind him. “He's not supposed to be here,” it's the first thing he says. “As far as your greetings go, I've heard worse,” Leo comments, popping a cherry in his mouth. They are not really cherries – alien planet, alien vegetation – but they look close enough and they seem to be edible. So far, no embarrassing consequences nor death. “You're getting better.”

“We have an agreement with his father,” Adam insists, standing right in front of the spaceship as if he didn't want them to get any closer, a thing none of them feels particularly like doing at the moment.

“No, what we have is us explaining to Blaine we came in peace and he growling a few inches from my face to show dominance,” Leo clarifies. “But, anyway, I didn't bring him here, he came on his own.”

“It won't make any difference when his father will be mauling your face, Leo,” Adam snorts.

Adam really has a flair for the dramatic, sometimes. What happened with Blaine was a bit of a mess – even Leo will admit that – and, from a cultural mediator's point of view, because that is what he's supposed to be, it surely was an epic fail, but it wasn't that bad. The man was angry and came off a little aggressive, but he didn't kill them in the end. There's still room for improvement here, no need to be so gloomy about it.

“Calm down, alright? He's not doing anything.”

Adam frowns, which is his favorite thing to do after being in charge and being obnoxious. “Last time he was here, it was madness.”

This is the second time Cody comes to the ship. The first one he was under the influence of the pollen. Leo was too, for obvious reasons, and everybody got infected. It was mayhem and after it passed they made a pact of never speaking of the consequences of that day ever again.

“This time he's not infected with the pollen,” Leo tries to reassure him.

“I am not,” Cody nods. “The blue flower only is in crystal season.”

“Thank you for this absolutely non-sense explanation,” Adam groans.

Cody nods again, “You are very welcome.”

“Can we go on with whatever you wanted to tell us?” Leo cuts in. “What's wrong with the ship? I was trying to say goodbye to him.”

“Well, it seems like you won't have to,” Adam sighs, his shoulders slouch a little under the weight of defeat. Either it is because Cody is staying or something else, Leo doesn't know. “As of today, we have no mean of transportation, therefore no way to go back to Earth.”

“Excuse me?” Leo looks at him in shock while equally shocked reactions come from Meredith and Annie as well.

“GravSys's down,” Matt intervenes, jumping down the cockpit, an old rag over his shoulder and his face covered in grime. “And there ain't no way to put it back up either. The motherfucker won't respond.”

The Gravity System – or in Matt's extremely concise language, GravSys – is what allows them to have artificial gravity inside the spaceship, so that they don't have to float around to go to the bathroom, and they can have meals on it without food flying around. Still, it's not part of the things – Leo is not an expert, this and that and that other thing is what he calls any part of the ship – that make the spaceship move.

“Wait a second, we don't need that to travel,” he frowns.

Annie snorts. “Well, maybe you don't, but I can't fly the freaking ship with my ass up in the air,” she protests. In fact, she doesn't seem happy at all, and that is never a good sign. “When did that happen exactly?”

“When, we don't know, but we've known it was broken since two days ago,” Adam explains, patiently.

“And when were you going to tell me that?” Annie shakes her head in disbelief. “I'm the pilot, remember?”

“We thought it could be fixed quickly,” Adam goes on, “but apparently it cannot.”

“Something's jammin' it,” Matt sits down on a rock and Cody instantly gets closer and starts orbiting around him. He is fascinated by the guy's height and the way he moves and speaks. “Thought it was a broken piece, but nah. Maybe it's the air, dunno. Slightly different density, system's trippin'.”

“So, what you're telling me is that something broke down, you don't know how to fix it and we're never going to leave this planet again?” He thought the news would make him happier – just twenty minutes ago he didn't want to leave – but knowing that they could be stuck here on this planet of perpetual spring makes him nervous, no matter how nice it sounds.

“I'm just sayin' I gotta work on it,” Matt corrects him, as calm as he usually is even in dreary situations like this one. “Could be a while, though. If it's the planet, there's calculations to be done. If it's a piece, gotta find another one on this motherfuckin' planet.”

Good luck with that, Leo thinks. The most advanced civilization they have encountered so far – scratch that, the only civilization – is Cody's and they are way behind the level they would need right now. “I can't believe this is happening.”

“You stay,” Cody comments with moving candor and clearly oblivious to what that means. “I don't miss you.”

“Yeah, thank you,” Leo snorts as Meredith laughs and pats him on his shoulder.

Adam watches as Cody finally leaves Matt to jump nonchalantly inside the cockpit for the first time. “What do you think you're doing?” He instantly screams after him.

“I explore!” Cody declares, disappearing inside the spaceship.

“That's unacceptable! Leo! Go after him,” Adam frowns at him. “Possibly before he destroys the rest of the spaceship.”

Leo lets out a long, annoyed sigh as he stands up. “I'm going, calm down. He's not, like, explosive or anything,” he mutters. “Matt, how long did you say it's gonna take?”

“I didn't,” Matt grins. “A day, three weeks, a year. Dunno, really.”

“Great,” Leo groans as something inside the spaceship falls, triggering a chain reaction of things falling and making an awful harmony of crashing sounds.

Whatever the amount of time they're going to stay, it is going to be hell for sure.