Brody was never too sure what led him to go to the observation deck in the middle of night. He had just finished some minor repairs and should have gone straight to bed. But his feet still carried him out on the deck where Riley was leaning onto the railing, staring into the nothingness.
When he heard Brody approach, Riley straightened up and turned around to see who it was, “Oh, hey.”
“Hey.” Brody joined him at the railing. If he looked closely he could see the scar on Riley’s temple from the time when he had almost died. He knew there were other scars, hidden by Riley’s clothes. Brody had watched him shower after all if only for a failed prank.
“Can’t sleep?” Riley asked.
Brody shook his head. “I just finished some repairs. What’s keeping you up?”
“It’s nothing.” But Riley said it a little too quickly and too softly to sound genuine. On the one hand Brody didn’t want to pry but on the other Riley was his friend and he wanted to help if he could.
“You better not be planning another dye attack”, he said, deliberately lightly.
“Technically that was you”, Riley replied with a smile.
“You cheated!” Brody complained with mock seriousness. “No outside help.”
“When did we agree on that rule?” Riley wanted to know.
“That’s the unspoken rule of every prank war”, Brody said.
Riley laughed softly and shook his head. “I’ll try to remember that.”
They were silent after that, looking out in the void, or rather Riley was. Brody kept sneaking glances at him. He looked tired, Brody thought. Worn out. He felt a spike of anger directed at Colonel Young for letting Riley return to duty so soon already.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Riley said, looking out into hyperspace.
“Yes”, Brody replied but he wasn’t looking at what was outside. His attraction to Riley was nothing new. He had just never acted on it, not wanting to jeopardize their friendship.
“I dreamed about this when I was a kid. Be careful what you wish for, eh?” He shook his head. “Don’t listen to me.”
“Homesick?” Brody asked.
“All the damn time”, Riley admitted. “What about you?”
“Not really. I mean I’d go back to earth in a heartbeat if I could but there’s nothing specific I’m missing apart from good alcohol.”
“No one you miss?”
“All my friends are here”, Brody said which was either really lucky or really sad.
“There’s no one else?” Riley asked. “No family? No partner?”
“My family is actually an argument for going into space as far as possible”, Brody replied. “And my last relationship ended a while ago.”
“Sorry.” Riley sounded like he meant it.
“Don’t worry about it”, Brody said. “You’re close with your family, aren’t you?”
Riley nodded, a smile coming to his lips. “I promised my nephew to bring him to school on his first day. My parents have been complaining that they barely see me anymore. I left home because I thought I could never stay on the farm for the rest of my life but I also don’t want to spent the rest of my life on this ship.”
“If you don’t want to spend the rest of your life on this ship you shouldn’t pull stunts like you did with the steam pipe”, Brody said teasingly despite that fact that he still had nightmares where Riley hadn’t made it out alive.
“Save your life, didn’t I?”
“Yes, but we just established that you’re the one who has a family to go back to.”
“Doesn’t mean I want to lose one of my friends.”
“Still, next time you’re leaving the heroics to me. It’s my turn.”
“We’ll have to keep disagreeing on that.”
They were sitting silently next to each other and Brody gathered all his courage before he said, “I know it’s not much, but I’m here.” He took Riley’s hand in his. If he had dared to look at Riley, he would have seen the smile spreading over his face.
“Adam”, Riley said softly and when Brody turned his head, he pressed a kiss to his lips. “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it”, Brody whispered hoarsely.
“And what if I want to mention it?” Riley asked, still holding on to Brody’s hand.
“Not like I could stop you”, Brody said, glancing down at his shoes.
“You could say no.”
Riley’s vulnerable tone gave him the courage to look up. “Not going to happen.”
There was a light in Riley’s blue eyes when Brody looked into them. He raised his hand, his fingertips caressing Brody’s cheek before he cupped his face with his hand and leaned in to kiss him again. It was a proper kiss, open-mouthed and slick.
There was a surprising ferocity behind Riley’s kiss as if he had been waiting for this for as long as Brody had. His hands roamed over Brody’s body as if he couldn’t touch him enough, even teasingly slipped his fingertips under the hem of Brody’s shirt.
“Hey”, Brody said breathlessly when they broke apart but still remained close enough that he could feel Riley’s breath on his skin.
“Hey”, Riley replied, smiling.
“A lot”, Riley answered and kissed him again, sweeter and slower this time. “Thank you.”
“It’s uhm, it’s late”, Brody felt his face heat up. “Do you want to come back to my room?”
Riley nodded. “I’d love to.”
“And it’s okay with your - ?” Brody traced the scar on Riley’s temple instead of finishing the question properly.
Riley gave him a fondly exasperated look. “You don’t need to protect me, Adam.”
“Someone should”, Brody replied. “And I have a vested interest in keeping you safe.”
“And I for you”, Riley replied.
“We’ll send Volker then”, Brody joked.
Riley laughed. “You’re a terrible person.”
“You knew that already.”
“I like you anyway.”
“Good to know.” Brody smiled as they walked back from the observation room to his room. Riley held his hand the entire time and he was smiling too.