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There had always been this tiptoeing. The lingering touches, stolen glances, joking sentences that could mean so much more if one looked… But never more. They circled around each other but never took it further. It was painful to watch, honestly, seeing how they both wanted each other and yet, never dared to make it real. Everything that went beyond friendship seemed to be forbidden. Jason knew the pain of that, even if his situation was… less complicated. But he knew how it felt to have what you want in arm’s reach, yet be too afraid to take it. In his case, it was purely out of fear – but he was aware of the Captain’s reasons. The history he and Rob shared cut deeper than Gary would like to admit, making him too insecure with this relationship.

Jason also knew that Gary was trying to convince himself that their newly found friendship was enough for him. For them. Even when this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Everyone saw how they acted around the other, everyone witnessed some awkward moments when it almost became real – but Gary was too guarded, too disciplined for that.

Robbie never did anything against it. Jason knew part of the reason was that things didn’t work for them the first time round mostly because of him, but also because they hadn’t discussed their situation properly. Once, soon after he got to their ship, after he and Gary were close again, he tried to cross the border. Gary immediately stopped him and told him what he wanted was impossible. It only served to make the distance between them grow and things harder to speak about, so they never did. It was sad to see how they kept themselves to it.

Jason didn’t know why, but hoped something from tonight. It was a night off for everyone and there was a little party scheduled, with drinks, music and dance. Music was always great for Gary – Jason often wondered how he ended up in military when he loved music so much and had a talent for it – and Robbie was big on parties and once you said the word karaoke, there was no stopping him. Maybe if they both were in a good mood, in a loosened state, maybe then they would admit what they felt for each other. Maybe then they would act on it, forgetting their stubbornness, their unreasonable fear. Maybe all they needed was a little push…

Gary was in a good mood whole day, Jason noted happily while he was waiting for him to finish preparing for the evening. They still had about twenty minutes till the official start, and of course at least half the crew will be late, but Gary, as the Captain, wanted to be there on time. They also both knew how long it took for him to choose his clothes when he didn’t have to wear his uniform. He always paid attention to his looks, so it was a slow procedure for him, and he needed someone reminding him of the remaining time he had. Jason wanted to think that it was partly for Robbie.

“Alright, I’m ready. What do you think?” Gary stepped out finally, looking a bit self-conscious as he waited for an answer. He wore a simple, tight grey turtleneck with dark jeans and looked absolutely amazing.

“You look great!” Jason assured him with a smile.

“Thanks” Gary smiled with a bit more confidence now. “Do we get someone else or…?” he asked as they slowly turned to walk towards where the main hall was.

“We meet Howard on the way and Markie gets Robbie” Jason said, then after a few moments, he quickly added. “Unless you want to wait for him…”

“Nah, we would never get to the party if we wait for him!” Gary laughed but there was a fond expression on his face that he only got when talking about Rob. “I want to be on time.”

“Okay, but no one but us will be on time, just saying… I don’t think the crew would think less of you if you are late one time. You know, being human is good for morale” Jason noted with a small smirk. He was a bit disappointed that he couldn’t get Gary to wait for Robbie, although it was true that then they would definitely be late, and not just a bit.

“Right” Gary rolled his eyes. “But the captain has to be on time. It’s important that…”

“Okay, okay, I understand! I just said so you know. No need for the speech” Jason cut in laughing before Gary could start a monologue.

“Right. Sorry” Gary said, somewhat sheepish and rubbed the back of his neck.

They turned right at the next corner, and saw Howard who was waiting for them.

“Finally! Thought you wanna be on time!” he grinned teasingly but Gary jus groaned in exhaustion.

“Please, don’t you start mocking me with that now!”

“Why not? What did I miss?” Howard asked, still grinning, and looked at Jason for answers, who just shook his head dismissingly, and continued to walk. The two followed him, Howard walking up to his other side. He glanced at him with a smile and Howard smiled back, bumping their shoulders together playfully.

There they were, Jason’s demons. He liked Howard – damn, he loved the man since he had seen him first. But somehow he was afraid, afraid of the pain, afraid of getting into something that could hurt him, even though he knew that Howard wouldn’t do that. The voice in his head was always asking ‘what if’s, always doubting, telling him that it couldn’t be as important for Howard as it was for him. He should know better, he should just ignore this voice, but he couldn’t.

Howard knew. Jason had no idea how, but Howard knew. He knew he was afraid and waited patiently, flirting subtly but never pushing the matter. They shared some intimate moments, although they never crossed a border – they never even kissed, even when they both wanted to. They kept themselves close but never close enough.

Jason turned his head away, shutting his eyes briefly while he tried to shake off these thoughts, then looked back at Howard with a small smile, as honest as he could manage. It seemed to work as Howard just continued smiling without a word or a grimace.

When they arrived in the room, there were very few people present yet, and Gary just threw his hands in the air at Jason’s told-you-so look, but didn’t bother to answer him. Instead, he walked over to a table at the side of the room from where he could see the whole room, and decided to wait there for the party to begin. The other two of course followed him, and soon he and Howard were deep in conversation about the possible future modifications of the ship engine as there was a service coming up. Jason just rolled his eyes at them but had no desire to join a conversation about work when he finally had a free day.

People started to arrive about ten minutes after the appointed start, and the dancing only began much later, even though the music was on since they had come in. It was about half an hour later when Robbie and Mark showed up, and Gary sighed, shaking his head as they came over to them.

“C’mon, Gaz, it’s just a party! I was fashionably late!” Robbie smirked at him when he saw his expression.

“Yeah, if you call still sleeping when we should have already been coming ‘fashionably late” Mark commented with a sly smile, making everybody laugh at that.

“Hey, I was just napping! I thought you were on my side! You wound me so!” Robbie faked a hurt expression, and dramatically put a hand on his heart, then started grinning, too. “But hey, let’s dance! It’s a party! You coming, Gaz?”

“Nah, I’ll pass…” Gary shook his head as he glanced towards all the people dancing. He didn’t really like to dance and couldn’t dance either, and now that the whole crew was there, he wouldn’t want them to witness their captain completely embarrassing himself.

“Aw, come on, you gotta have fun sometimes!” Robbie pouted, and Gary had to look away – only Rob could make those big puppy eyes that could convince him, but now was not a good time to give in to him. It was his dignity at risk.

“No, Rob. Sorry” he said strictly, and although Robbie kept pouting, he seemed to have accepted it.

“Alright… Markie? You’re in, aren’t you? Jay? How?” he turned to the others, smirking happily again.

“Of course” Mark nodded happily, then looked at Jason and Howard.

“Nah, maybe later” Howard shook his head. “We were kinda in the middle of a conversation with Gary.”

Jason was still contemplating it, as he would have very much liked to dance, but he hoped that Howard would be coming too… But he didn’t want to wait for him, that would be so painfully obvious… So in the end he just quickly nodded, and went to the dance floor along with Robbie and Mark.

Gary and Howard stayed there beside the wall and watched the others as they went back to their original conversation. Gary sometimes looked towards Rob, watching him as he danced for a few moments, and only stopped this when Howard gave him a knowing grin. Later, when Howard decided to go and join them, he didn’t even see him anymore.

As he was left alone, he went to fetch himself a drink, and chatted along with a lieutenant and a private until suddenly the music stopped and some lights were turned on. Everyone stopped dancing and was looking around to see what was happening. Gary frowned, excused himself, and went forward to see if something was wrong. But as he got closer, he started catching words like ‘singing’ and ‘karaoke’ from random conversations, and he had an idea what was going on. By the time he arrived to the middle of the room, he knew what he was going to see and he was proved right. Robbie was standing there with an IT specialist who was appointed to provide the night’s technical necessities. An excited murmur was spreading in the room, and Gary could practically feel the anticipation radiating from the crew. He smiled at that, Robbie was quite famous for how he could perform – it wasn’t simply the singing people waited for, and Gary had to admit, he himself was more than a little curious to see what he got for today.

When Robbie took the microphone to his hand and turned towards his audience, there was complete silence in the room and all eyes were on him. He looked over the crowd and noticed Gary, wiggling his eyebrows at him, and making him laugh at that. Then the music started and Robbie started singing with a boyish grin.

“Okay, then back to basics…”

He was also slightly moving along to the rhythm of the music but Gary knew he would soon be dancing freely. Rob could never hold himself back around music, he just loved it. “Goes up your back and then down your spine, and when it hits your head…”

Gary smiled as Robbie pulled an awesome dance move, then winked at him before turning back to the rest of the crew who were watching him eagerly. Most of them already started clapping along and Gary joined them.

He and Rob shared many traits, and their love for music was maybe the most important. Although Gary didn’t like to dance – he preferred just himself and a mic, and ideally a piano. This was how they met. They kept finding each other in their favorite karaoke cafes and clubs, then later Robbie joined the academy’s music club in his freshman year which Gary had already been a member of since his own freshman year from two years earlier.

“Pocket full of durex, body full of mandrex. Are we gonna have sex? Will you wear your knee socks? Back to the rudebox!” Robbie sang, making everyone laugh with the lyrics, then grinned at that, and started the refrain. “Got this double fantasy where we just never stop…”

Gary had heard this song many times, it was one of Rob’s favorites, even if it was fairly old. It had dirty lyrics, maybe that had something to do with it…

“I got one design and that’s to bump you till you drop!” At Robbie’s voice the crew screamed and whooed, but Gary swallowed. He was watching Rob – and he swore he looked right into his eyes in a way Gary could only describe as seductive.

But that couldn’t be. It was pretty crowded in here, and as he looked around, he realized that it was most positively aimed at the hot blond lieutenant behind him. Robbie hadn’t had a fling in ages… Yes, Gary convinced himself, that this was the only logical conclusion. He blushed at his own foolishness and turned around to leave the room for a few moments, but as he was moving through the crowd, someone grabbed his elbow. He looked up surprised to see Jason.

“Where are you going? I’m sure that you can skip one evening of work!” he scolded Gary, and pulled him backwards to where he, Howard and Mark was standing. Gary wanted to protest, that he, for once, wasn’t going to sneak off to work, but gave up on it. He didn’t want to admit the real reason. So in the end he just obediently walked back with him, and resumed to watching Rob. At least he wasn’t near the blond woman this time.

Gary saw Robbie look around, letting his eyes wander on the people surrounding him, taking them in one by one. Robbie was good at keeping contact with his audience, Gary thought, making them feel more part of his performance.

When it was nearing the refrain again, Mark grabbed his arm.

“Hey, let’s go closer!” he said as he started pulling him forward.

“What? Why?” Gary stared at him confused, but followed him reluctantly.

“Let’s give those two a bit of privacy…” Mark said in a hushed voice, smiling as he nodded toward Howard and Jason, who, while Gary wasn’t paying them attention, joined the others and started dancing together.

“Oh, sure…” Gary smiled as well, letting Mark lead him away, although he didn’t understand why they couldn’t stay at the back, just farther from the other two. Mark lead him to the side of the crowd, but to the front.

Robbie was with his back towards them, making funny moves, having the whole crew laughing. A quick body wave, a slide to the right, then a turn on his heels and Robbie was facing towards them.

“Okay, bum, rush the show…” he sang smiling. He was sweating already – all those twirling and the heat of so many people crowding in one place were showing their effect. Robbie looked over his audience, as if he was looking at every single person, one by one… “…did you hear me though?”

His eyes met with Gary’s and he smirked – then through the whole refrain he didn’t look away. Realization dawned on Gary. Rob had been looking at him, the seductive smile, everything, was for him. He felt bad for not realizing it earlier, and even worse for knowing he wasn’t going to do anything about it. He couldn’t, it was a bad idea. Robbie too should have known it was a bad idea…

As the song ended, the crew went crazy, clapping and screaming enthusiastically, and Rob grinned and bowed, clearly enjoying it. Gary clapped too, forcing a smile to seem alright. If anything, Mark was standing right beside him, he shouldn’t notice… Then with one last bow, Robbie put the mic to the table, and, although he was constantly stopped, aimed to leave the room. Soon Gary lost sight of him in the mess of people.

“There you are!” Howard stopped behind them suddenly, closely followed by Jason. “Why did you guys disappear?”

“Oh, I have no idea…” Mark grinned, looking up at Howard, then glanced at Jason meaningfully, making the latter blush.

“Howard, why don’t you two go grab us some drinks?” Jason asked, as if he was trying to avoid continuing in the direction Mark’s statement turned this conversation, but his gaze was on Gary, so he knew what to expect.

“Sure thing” Howard nodded, and he and Mark walked away.

“He put on quite a show for you, didn’t he…” Jason stated, looking over the people who were now watching someone else sing, but with less enthusiasm.

“Did he? He’s always like this when he got an audience, and this is his favorite song. I don’t think…” Gary started, trying to evade the topic.

“Sure, that’s why he was flirting with you” Jason said sarcastically, with a roll of his eyes.

“I didn’t seem to notice…” Gary started again weakly, but Jason wouldn’t listen to him bullshitting.

“Yeah, right, that was absolutely not the reason you tried to flee from the room when I stopped you” Jason looked at him, scolding.

“That wasn’t, I was just… I was simply…” Gary tried to make something up, anything, just to help himself, but he couldn’t. He knew Jason was right. “Alright. I like watching him perform, I loved that he paid special attention to me… But what would you have me do? It was what it was, nothing more – simple flirting.”

“No, it wasn’t, and you know this too. If he wants to be more specific, he’ll have to spell it out for you” Jason sighed and looked at Gary, exasperated. “And we both know he doesn’t dare to do that after what happened between you. He shows you what he wants, but waits for you to do the first step.”

“I… know. And if you know this too, you also have to know what exactly happened and why I won’t do anything about this. Robbie and me together… that can’t end well…” Gary sighed, turning his head away.

“I have a simple solution for that” Jason said lightly, making Gary raise an eyebrow in surprise. “Don’t end it. Seriously, Gaz. It’s been fifteen years, you’ve both changed. Go and talk to him. He’s gone to the bathroom” Jason commanded and Gary found he didn’t want to disobey him.

“Alright, alright” he mumbled, mostly to himself, and turned to leave. But as he caught a glimpse of Howard and Mark returning, he looked back to Jason. “You know, you should listen to your own advice. Talk to him – he’s waiting too” he added with a smile, and Jason blushed, but nodded.

“I think I’ll do” he said gently, looking at Howard.

Gary gave him a last reassuring smile, then took a deep breath and started crossing the room to get to the door. That wasn’t an easy task, with so many people together, some dancing, some just enjoying the night, and some also trying to get somewhere. But eventually he managed to get out to the corridor where silence and a much more human temperature greeted him. He breathed in the cold, fresh air and took his chance to have a moment to calm himself to think through what he was going to do. He had no idea what to say to Robbie, how to start the conversation and just how to act in general. When he realized he was just going to make himself panic, he shook his head and decided that first things first, he should just search for Rob. Even though he usually wasn’t the type, he would just make the rest up as it goes. It depended on Rob too, after all. One couldn’t be sure of anything if it involved Rob.

Gary started walking towards the nearest bathroom, as Jason told him that was where Robbie would be. He had no idea how he knew, but he trusted him. Maybe he had spoken to Rob while he wasn’t paying attention to him – after all, he had lost sight of Robbie in the crowd when he had finished. And anyway, that was as good of a place to start the search as any. Though as it turned out, Jason was right as always – when he opened the door, he found Robbie standing in front of the mirror. The sleeves of his jacket were pushed up as he was leaning above the sink and drying the water off his face with a paper towel. As he caught sight of Gary in the mirror, he turned around surprised, throwing the used paper towel to the bin.

“Hey, Gaz!” he greeted him with a smirk, then waited.

“Hi…” Gary smiled back at him, and damn, he was already embarrassed. “I, uh… I wanted to talk to you about what happened just now.”

“Oh, right” Robbie said, and Gary was sure he meant it to sound light, but he could feel the slightly nervous edge in his voice.

“Right” Gary repeated looking away and bit his lip while he thought about what he was going to say. “So you flirted with me just now. In front of the whole crew.”

“That’s… Um, yeah, that’s right” Robbie admitted and now he definitely looked just as embarrassed as Gary. “Sorry?”

“No! No, I didn’t mean it like that… I just-” Gary protested and sighed, then started again, hoping for more success with his words this time. “I meant to say that I enjoyed it. I would have liked to flirt back, too, but I don’t really know how one does that, as you can see…”

“If this was how you wanted to start flirting, then yeah, scaring me isn’t the way to go” Robbie grinned at him, gaining back his confidence. “But if you still want to flirt, I’m game.”

“That’s good to hear!” Gary laughed softly too, but stayed serious. “What if I not only want to flirt? Are you still, as you put it, ‘game’?”

“Oh…” Robbie looked at Gary surprised, and became serious too. “Depends on what you mean exactly.”

“I mean that we stop dancing around each other” Gary started, looking into Robbie’s eyes. “I know it was me who said no previously, but now I think you were right the whole time. We should acknowledge what’s between us and act on it. I want to be together with you.”

“God, Gaz of course I want to!” Robbie exclaimed in a soft voice and stepped closer to Gary, putting a hand on his waist. He still wasn’t over the shock that Gary had actually asked this from him, so he was a bit out of breath and his heart was beating rapidly. “You mean it, right? You aren’t just saying this because… because you’ve had too much to drink, are you?” he asked softly, looking into Gary’s eyes.

“No, I haven’t even had a single drink whole night. I wouldn’t ever joke with this – with you-, not even when I’m drunk” Gary answered, holding his gaze and placed his hands on Robbie’s chest.

“That’s- that’s good. Great!” Robbie smiled happily, then started leaning closer. But before he could do anything, Gary pushed him back and stepped away, leaving him with a confused look on his face.

“It’s gonna be our first kiss in nearly fifteen years. It’s not going to happen in a bathroom” Gary told him with such a serious expression that Robbie just couldn’t not start laughing at the situation. Thankfully, Gary chuckled a bit as well.

“Well, it’s sure not very romantic…” he agreed after calming down. “Then what do you suggest?”

“I… don’t know” Gary started, looking away from Robbie’s eyes, and slowly stroked a hand up and down on his chest. “Your room maybe? If you don’t mind…”

Robbie gulped as he heard it. That… wasn’t the answer he expected. Not that he had a problem with it, oh no - it sounded wonderful. It was just so sudden that he had to find his voice before he could answer Gary.

“That’ll be perfect” he nodded, then took hold of Gary’s hand as they started walking towards his room.

When they entered the room, the moment the door was locked Robbie had Gary pushed against the wall, hands on his waist as he was looking into his eyes with a playful smile.

“What are the crewmembers going to say tomorrow morning when they’ll see their captain going back to his own room in his clothes from the previous day?”

“I don’t give a damn about it” Gary mumbled and grabbed the collar of Robbie’s jacket, then pulled him into a kiss. It was hot and hungry, passionate and desperate, as after all those years of longing they finally held each other again. No more painful, pretended friendly hugs, no more distances forced to keep.

“Please, think this tomorrow, too” Robbie whispered smiling when they pulled apart for air. “I want to see their faces…”

“You are impossible!” Gary laughed softly, shaking his head, then leaned forward for another kiss.

When Howard and Mark came back with the drinks, Howard raised an eyebrow at Jason questioningly as he handed him his drink, noticing the missing captain.

“Where’s Gary gone off to? Not working, is he?” he asked playfully, but honestly, he wouldn’t put it past his friend to sneak away from a party for that, but in that case he would be forced to resort to drastic measures and carry him back.

“No, he is definitely not working” Jason said with a knowing smile that slightly puzzled Howard, but Mark understood immediately and started grinning, leaning against the wall as he put the extra drink on a table.

“Then we won’t see anything of Rob, either” he commented, and that made it clear for Howard too, who snorted at that, but smirked too.

“Yes, hopefully” Jason agreed with a nod, still smiling.

“Good that those two finally got together, it started to get really painful to watch them” Howard said, shaking his head slowly. “And the sexual tension was just unbearable…”

“Oh, shut up!” Jason scolded him jokingly, but both he and Mark were laughing.

“Come and tell me there was no sexual tension between them!” Howard teased him, looking into Jason’s eyes with a challenging grin. Jason kept his gaze with a grin matching Howard’s, and was about to say some witty comeback but Mark was faster.

“Talk about tension…” he mumbled, raising his eyebrows at the two of them, looking at Howard, then to Jason meaningfully before looking away and taking a sip from his drink.

His comment was followed by sudden silence as Howard and Jason tried their best to avoid looking at each other. Mark was right, too right, and they really didn’t want to admit that, not that they had much choice. Jason was so focused on Gary and Robbie tonight that he hadn’t paid much thought to his own situation.

At the awkward silence Mark started to feel bad for saying what he did. Maybe he shouldn’t have said anything, even if his friends were so obvious with their pining… Maybe he should have let them work things out in their own pace, even if it took too long for them… But then Howard put a hand on Jason’s arm.

“Would you like to go outside to… have some fresh air?” he asked in an uncharacteristically meek voice.

“Yes. I think that’d be nice” Jason nodded, then sent a small smile to Mark to show that it was okay before he and Howard made their way out of the crowded place. Mark sighed happily, relieved, and hoped that their story would end well, too.

They were slowly walking next to each other on the empty corridor, just going a bit farther from the room to not be disturbed, and Howard tentatively took a hold of Jason’s hand, feeling great relief when Jason let him. When they were far enough, Howard stopped and turned towards Jason, trying to look into his eyes.

Jason wasn’t nearly as calm as Howard, he was sure about that. They had briefly danced together before Robbie started singing, but after that he was focusing on convincing Gary and making him realize what exactly he was feeling, and completely forgot about himself and his own problems. And now Howard was here, waiting patiently as always, and Jason didn’t want to make him wait any longer but… He didn’t realize how strong he was gripping at Howard’s hand until Howard squeezed his hand gently, reassuringly. He looked up at him, confused and slightly panicked, then stepped back to lean against the wall, averting his gaze from him.

“We don’t have to talk about it…” Howard offered silently.

“Oh, we have to. I know we have to” Jason said, more confidently than what he was feeling and looked up at Howard again. Howard just nodded, waiting for Jason to go on.

But Jason didn’t know how to go on, so instead of saying something, he drew Howard closer, putting his free hand on his waist, and closed his eyes as their lips met. There wasn’t any resistance on his part, and Jason knew Howard was feeling the same kind of relief he did, the same happiness. All worry left him for now as he lost himself in the kiss. It was slow and gentle, just simply so sweet, better than anything he had ever imagined. It was a perfect first kiss. He couldn’t help his small, dazed smile when Howard pulled back.

“I just… Let’s take it slowly and everything will be fine” he said finally.

“Alright. Of course” Howard nodded immediately, and now he was smiling too, happily, so happily, and Jason felt his heart thump loudly with love at that before he kissed him again.

Gary woke up in Robbie’s arms, pressed against him with their legs tangled and he had never been happier. He caught himself smiling as he reached out to gently run his fingers through Rob’s hair, watching him sleep. He didn’t want to wake him up just yet – because of the party, the shifts were starting later, so everyone could sleep off their hangovers. This morning, Gary was so grateful for this, he would have hated to get up to go to work early instead of just lying in Robbie’s arms… As much as he loved his job, he loved Rob more.

As he was lying there, he sometimes drifted off to sleep, floating between sleep and wakefulness. He was just dozing off again, his eyes closed when he felt Robbie move. He forced himself to open his eyes again, smiling at him.

“Good morning… Did I wake you up?” Robbie asked silently, smiling back at him and trailed his fingers up and down on Gary’s back.

“Morning. No, I was just dozing, been awake for a while” Gary said, then leaned forward to press a soft kiss on Robbie’s lips. “How did you sleep?”

“You were here with me… Do you even need to ask? I slept perfectly” Robbie mumbled with a smile on his lips and stole another kiss from Gary. “And you?”

“Mmm, me too” he smiled back at him, sliding a hand to Robbie’s chest. “But I think we should get up and go have breakfast now.”

“Yeah, maybe…” Robbie wrinkled his nose at that, pulling Gary flush against him again. “I’m kinda hungry, too, but having you in my arms, naked on top of all, is also incredibly tempting…”

“Well, I’m not saying I don’t like this… But it’s almost noon, and shifts start at two. We have to get ready by then…” Gary said with a sighing, pushing Robbie back a bit. “Don’t get any ideas!” he warned him laughing.

“Too late” Robbie made a face, then unwillingly, but let go of Gary.

They both got out of the bed, and Gary started searching for his clothes. Robbie helped him gather his stuff, then stepped to his wardrobe and fished out his uniform for the day for himself. He waited for Gary who quickly styled his hair – he only had to comb his own -, then they stepped out of his room, hand in hand, for his delight. They walked to the dining hall like this, and Gary greeted the crewmembers who came along completely calmly, not once making a move release his hand. Once he even let him steal a kiss and wasn’t bothered in the slightest that they were in the middle of the corridor. This made Robbie really happy – this meant that Gary was serious about it, that he wasn’t going to back out of it. He knew that Gary assured him of it yesterday, but it was better to actually see it and be sure of it.

When they arrived in the dining hall, there weren’t many there, but they immediately noticed their friends sitting at a table in the far corner. They quickly went to get something to eat for themselves, then joined them.

“Hey guys!” Robbie greeted them as he and Gary sat down at the table. “How are you?”

“Not as well as you, apparently” Mark laughed at Robbie’s obvious happiness, then glanced towards Jason and Howard. “Least I’m not…” he noted smirking, and this made the mentioned two blush, while Gary and Robbie looked at them immediately.

Jason and Howard had already finished eating and were both resting their hands on the table. This wasn’t anything peculiar… but then Gary and Robbie realized – they were holding hands.

“Congrats, mates! Looks like it’s not only us celebrating today!” Gary said, smiling happily, then shook his head. “This ship isn’t going to function today, with both of us lovesick!”

“You and lovesick… I’d like to see that” Jason smiled teasingly, but was still blushing. “But thanks. I’m happy for the two of you as well.” At that, Gary and Robbie smiled at each other lovingly.

“Thanks. And don’t underestimate me” Robbie looked at Jason, now smirking cheekily. “I can make him lovesick!”

“Oh, you’re horrible!” Gary shoved at Rob’s shoulder playfully, shaking his head. “But sadly right, nevertheless.”

“I know, right?” Robbie smirked and leaned to Gary to kiss him, at what Howard whistled approvingly, making Gary blush.

After breakfast – or lunch, whatever they preferred to call it – everyone went to their position. Gary and Jason to the Bridge, Robbie to Engineering, Howard to Maintenance and Mark to Infirmary. Rather unusual of him, but Gary honestly found it hard to focus on his work and felt the day would never come to an end. He kept thinking over the events of the previous evening, smiling to himself all the while, much to Jason’s amusement and to the crew’s surprise. He wondered when rumors would start or if they have already started… Because they had already been seen together this morning and god knows who noticed them missing from the party so early… He wasn’t bothered that people knew about them, he just didn’t want stupid gossips spreading. First of all, because he was the Captain, already a big target, and didn’t need to be accused of favoritism. And second of all, he didn’t want Robbie exposed to this all. He had been a big enough target in the past – for reasons that had led to their break-up – and Gary had no intention of letting him down this time. He knew that Robbie was sensitive and he was set to protect him as much as he could.

“Oh Captain, my Captain! Rise up and hear the electrical system report!” the door of the lift to the Bridge opened and Robbie walked in, smiling ear to ear. Everyone laughed at his announcement, including Gary, who stood up and turned to him, taking the disc with the mentioned report supposedly on it.

“I am going to check it as soon as possible” he said, smiling and stepped closer to Robbie, close enough than it would have normally been necessary. “Thanks for bringing it up here.”

“Any time” Robbie grinned, then added in a softer voice, leaning a bit closer. “I just wanted to see you real badly.”

“I was thinking of you whole day too…” Gary whispered back, then grabbing the front of Rob’s shirt, he pulled him to a kiss. Right there, on the middle of the Bridge, in front of everyone there. When he pulled back, he smirked at Rob’s shocked expression but blushed at the clapping and whistles they received. “Well, see you at dinner then, I guess.”

“Gosh, you’re amazing…” Robbie laughed, somewhat out of breath, and shook his head as starting to leave. “See you!” he waved before the door of the lift closed.

Gary returned to his chair, putting the disc down the table beside it as he returned to reading a document on his computer screen, but he noticed Jason looking at him. As he glanced at him, Jason smirked at him with an incredulous look, then winked. Gary just shrugged, smiling somewhat embarrassed but confident, then continued to read.

Jason too resumed to checking some files. He thought of the evening before, of Howard, of the party, of Rob and Gary… Looked like his feelings were right after all – all it took was a little courage, a little push…