“I thought I’d find you here.” Raleigh leaned against the wall and watched Chuck at work.
Chuck was, as usual, down in the engine room tinkering with the ship in one way or another. It wouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to Raleigh if he one day walked in on Chuck sleeping in there. He was pretty sure he had spied a blanket stashed behind some tools and machinery on more than one occasion.
“Where else would I be?” Chuck asked, not looking up from a control panel as he fiddled with some wires. Raleigh wondered if Pentecost knew that Chuck was fucking around with his ship; the other man probably didn’t really care so long as she was still flying. Chuck’s upgrades had worked wonders on the old girl so far and he wouldn’t be surprised if Pentecost was turning a blind eye.
But it wasn’t the work on the ship that Raleigh had come down there to admire.
Chuck had stripped down to a tight fitting tank top that may have once been white but was now covered in a layer of grime. His pale hands and arms were smudged with dirt and grease and he only managed to spread it further as he wiped the sweat from his brow. If anyone knew how to wear dirt and make it look damn sexy it was Chuck Hansen.
“You know, the whole point of shore leave, is actually leaving the ship.” Raleigh remarked as he continued to watch Chuck and admire the shift in the muscles of his back as he worked.
“In case you haven’t noticed, mate.” Chuck said. “But we have a fucking invasion to deal with.”
“Not right now, we don’t. Even the commander is down there.” Raleigh sighed. He knew he was fighting a losing battle. Chuck very rarely ventured outside the ship, unless it was for a supply run or a mission. Raleigh sometimes wondered if he knew what fun was. “We all need to blow off some steam every once in a while.”
“Yeah well, we don’t all have the luxury of getting to enjoy all the perks that come with Pentecost’s reputation.”
Raleigh rolled his eyes. “Come on, Chuck…”
“I don’t have time for this shit, Becket.” Chuck turned his back on him. “I’m not leaving the ship, and that’s final.”
“Fine.” Raleigh turned to leave. “Spend all your time with the machines. They’re all you really care about anyway.”
“The fuck is that supposed to mean?”
He turned back and Chuck was frowning at him like he knew he had done something wrong, but couldn’t quite work out what. It wasn’t an unfamiliar look; Chuck was one for running his mouth and then wondering why others looked so offended or pissed off. Anyone who knew him knew that he wasn’t one for sugar-coating anything. He tended to go for blunt and brutal honesty which often ended in flying fists or bullets. Raleigh usually found his social ineptitude cute and endearing on most occasions, but not this time. Now it was just infuriating.
Raleigh wasn’t entirely sure what the thing between him and Chuck was. It first happened after what the crew had since dubbed the ‘suicide mission’. Some people still questioned Pentecost’s sanity in choosing to go through with it. At the time Raleigh had figured it was down to that ‘we could die tomorrow’ mentality. It had certainly felt that way at the time; they had been all over each other in a frenzy. They’d stripped each other of their gear and fallen into bed together, tangled in a mess of limbs.
Raleigh had woken up alone the next morning. They had geared up without a mention of the previous night with only the mission on their minds. He figured they had a pretty slim chance of making it out alive anyway; there was no point in trying to figure Chuck Hansen and his intentions out. He’d need a hell of a lot longer than that anyway.
Chuck never really brought that night up again and as much as he wanted to neither did Raleigh. That was until he’d ended up in Chuck’s bunk again after another mission where he had nearly had his head blown off. Since then it had become a kind of ritual; they would go out on one mission after another that somehow always ended in a shootout and then the two of them would fall into bed together. Chuck had called it a post-mission stress relief and in a way it was. But to Raleigh it was more than that. So much more.
It was why he never questioned Chuck’s intentions out loud; why he never tried to broach the subject of what this thing was or where it was going. He was too wrapped up in Chuck to let it end by opening his mouth and bringing his feelings into the mix. Raleigh was well aware of the stupidity of his actions, but he was willing to risk it all and cling onto Chuck for as long as he could. Before Chuck was done with him.
He’d ended up confiding in Mako after one drink too many down on the Shatterdome. Although to her it was already obvious. She pointed out how he couldn’t keep his eyes off the other man and how the two of them would disappear at the same time for hours on end. Maybe he really was that naive.
Mako had rolled her eyes at him when he had told her that he had decided to remain behind on the ship that night. She didn’t bother to lecture him. He had heard it enough times before.
“You need to either break this off or talk to him.” Mako had chastised him. “Before one or both of you gets hurt.”
“We’re both adults, Mako.” Raleigh had huffed and folded his arms.
“More importantly.” She continued, ignoring him. “Before it starts to affect our work.”
“I wouldn’t ever–”
“I know that.” Mako’s expression softened. “I just don’t want you to get hurt, Raleigh. Chuck is a good person, but you may have to face the fact that he may not be as emotionally invested as you.”
She was right. Of course she was right. But still, Raleigh had done nothing. He had a good thing going and he was damned if he was going to give it up before it reached its end date. He knew it was a stupid mentality to have. This thing, whatever it was, was going to end. And it would blow up in his face.
Raleigh didn’t know why he was still on the ship. He could have still salvaged his evening; could still take Mako up on her offer to join her for drinks. Although he didn’t much feel like being the third wheel with her and the Asari she’d gotten pretty cosy with recently. And yet there he was, still on board and pining after the man who saw him merely as a good lay.
He clenched his fists. Well fuck him.
“You know what it means.” Raleigh fixed him with a hard stare. “I’m tired of this, Chuck. I’m done.”
Chuck’s frown morphed into a look of genuine confusion, and that hurt Raleigh all the more. His fears had been confirmed, but at least now he knew where they both stood with whatever it was between them.
“The fuck are you saying, Becket?”
“I’m done screwing around, Chuck. If that’s what this is to you then…then I’m done. I can’t do it anymore.”
Chuck’s eyes widened but he didn’t say anything. Raleigh turned and left him there.
“Thought I’d find you here.” Chuck leaned against the door frame of the starboard observation deck with folded arms and watched Raleigh.
“Where else would I be?”
When Raleigh wasn’t fooling around with Chuck, he’d usually be found there gazing out into the infinite expanse of space on his down time. As a kid whenever he felt small or lonely he’d look up at the stars; something which had never changed throughout his life. You’d think a guy who spent most of his life among them would get sick of stars, but not Raleigh.
He heard Chuck sigh but made no move to look at him. He didn’t trust himself not to crack if he did.
“You gonna look at me?”
“Got a better view right here.”
He didn’t hear Chuck approach but the next thing he knew his arms were around his waist and Chuck’s solid chest was pressed against his back.
Raleigh made to push him off but Chuck’s held him place. “Chuck, don–”
“I ain’t screwing around, Raleigh.” Chuck breathed against his ear. “Not now, and not before.”
“Could’ve fooled me…” Raleigh murmured and felt himself relax in Chuck’s embrace. He cursed himself for giving in so easily but Chuck had that intoxicating effect on him, and he was sure he knew it.
Chuck pressed his face against his neck. “You know me, better with machines than people.”
Raleigh scoffed. “That’s putting it mildly.”
He didn’t need to see Chuck to know that he was rolling his eyes. They both lapsed into silence.
“So…” Chuck drawled. “Everyone’s down on the Shatterdome having a good time.”
“Yeah. I’m aware of that.” Raleigh sighed. “You don’t need to remind me.”
“Which means…” Chuck continued. “That we have the whole ship to ourselves…”
A sly grin appeared on Raleigh’s face. “That we do…”
“So, tell me Raleigh.” Chuck turned him round and pulled him towards him by his belt with a predatory smirk on his face. He nodded towards the window. “Ever been fucked under the stars?”
Chuck’s lips latched onto his neck and Raleigh’s hands shot up and fisted Chuck’s shirt. “Or how about in an engine room?”
Chuck trailed kisses along his throat and up to his jaw. “The mess hall? Doc’s office?”
Raleigh returned the look with a grin of his own before pulling Chuck into a kiss. “Ask me again in a few hours…”