Keith was supposed to have been awake for a check-up, but Ulaz wasn’t particularly surprised to find him still in bed when he arrived. Not just in bed, but fast asleep, tucked in under the protective circle of Thace’s arm - Thace himself had apparently been awake for some time when Ulaz arrived, and he just looked up and touched a finger to his lips. On Keith’s other side, Kosmo gave Ulaz a much more pointed look, but he didn’t move.
Ulaz perched lightly on the edge of the bed and murmured, in the tone normally used for spy missions, ‘He’s supposed to have a check-up.’
‘He’s not going anywhere,’ said Thace. ‘If you have things to do, go and do them, and come back and check him afterwards.’
‘I don’t have anywhere to be,’ replied Ulaz. He watched Keith, who only slept peacefully on and showed no sign of waking. ‘I’ll feed the wolf. Do you want a drink?’
‘Please - that stuff Keith calls cocoa would be good. I don’t think Kosmo will move before his person is awake, though.’
It turned out that Thace was correct - even waving the bowl of meat scraps from the kitchen doorway produced only pricked ears and a little whine, but Kosmo still refused to move, so Ulaz left the bowl on the floor and returned to the bedroom with two mugs - one full of cocoa, one with green tea.
‘Can you sit up without waking him?’
‘This is where we find out,’ replied Thace and started to ease his way into a sitting position. Sometimes, Ulaz thought, it was easy to forget that Thace was a highly-trained spy, especially seeing him wandering happily around a kitchen in a frilly apron with a spoon in his hand, and then situations called for him to move without being sensed, or speak without being heard, or something similar, and it all came back. And, of course, Thace had always been one of their very best.
‘Hm?’ Ulaz blinked, and focussed on Thace’s slightly concerned expression. ‘Oh, sorry. Just thinking. Here’s your cocoa.’ He handed over the Wolverine mug and sat down on the edge of the bed.
‘To borrow an Earth phrase, a gak for your thoughts?’
Ulaz frowned. ‘Is that really what they say? I know they have numerous currencies there but I sincerely doubt the gak is among them. Besides, it’s not worth it. I was only thinking how you were always one of our best operatives and how different you look when you’re cooking.’ He sipped his tea, but it was much too hot, so he set it down on the floor. ‘A great deal happier, for one.’
‘Well, yes, I am happier.’ Thace glanced down at Keith. ‘Aside from the obvious about the war being over - look at him, Ulaz. You and I are having children and he is their omega. There’s nowhere I’d rather be.’
‘I… suppose not.’
Thace looked up. ‘You don’t sound like you’re happy.’
‘Oh, no, I am, I’m very happy. I’m honoured and proud that one of the first children will be mine. I’m looking forward to it, only. Well, it’s merely…’ Ulaz let out a breath and glanced at Keith again, to make sure he really was asleep. He showed no sign of waking, and Ulaz was confident that even if Keith was the best actor in the universe, he’d still be able to tell if he was faking being asleep. ‘Thace, we’ve been friends a long time, haven’t we?’
‘At least twenty years, yes - got to be longer, in fact.’ Thace stared at Ulaz for a moment, and finally said, ‘You’re scared, aren’t you? Of Keith? Why?’
‘No!’ There was a moment of panicked stillness where both Ulaz and Thace held themselves frozen and Kosmo leaned over his charge, but Keith only smacked his lips in his sleep and turned over, snuggling into Thace’s hip. Ulaz let out the breath he’d been holding, and when he spoke it was once more in the mission undertone. ‘I mean, yes. Wait, no, I’m not afraid of Keith but I am afraid. This goes no further than we two, do you understand?’
‘As if I would tell anyone else.’ Thace looked mildly hurt. ‘Go on.’
‘I… was prepared to protect his mental health. I knew he’d form attachments and develop emotions that maybe weren’t necessarily healthy, and I was ready to help him all I could with that. I was ready for him to be vulnerable. I wasn’t ready for how he makes me feel.’
Thace smiled softly. ‘Ah.’
‘And not just him! I’ve been in a circle before, but this one is different. I’ve never seen any circle behave quite like this and I said I’d keep myself back to keep everyone safe but now I find I want to do the opposite more than anything, and all I was ever told by my mentors was “don’t give of yourself, it isn’t safe”. I shouldn’t even be telling you this but if I don’t I’ll go mad. I’m scared and I don’t know what to do-’
Ulaz’s rant, now being conducted into his palms in a high-speed whisper, was brought up short by Thace reaching out and catching him around the wrists. ‘Ulaz. Look at me, Ulaz.’ Ulaz looked up. ‘What your mentors told you, that was for wartime, in a war we didn’t think would ever end. But it did end, and now we are here. You’re safe now. It’s alright that you’re scared, but I’ll protect you. Keith will protect you. The others will protect you. That’s what your circle is for. Do you believe me?’
Wide-eyed, Ulaz gave him a shaky nod, then bit his lip and added, ‘I… might need you to keep telling me.’
‘That’s fine. I promise I will keep on doing that as long as you need.’ Thace gestured to the side currently not taken up by Keith and said, ‘Why don’t you come here while we wait for our omega to wake?’
‘Alright.’ Ulaz kicked off the house slippers he’d started wearing round Keith’s apartment and slipped into bed beside Thace, his tea forgotten - it got forgotten further when Thace drew him into his lap and scented him, dragging his lips across Ulaz’s throat and making the residual anxiety dispel itself into the air like it had never been there. Ulaz put his arms around Thace’s neck and relaxed. Suddenly a stirring beside them made both galra look round at Keith, sitting up and rubbing at his eyes.
‘Ugh. What’s going on? Oh, fuck, I forgot, the assessment…’
‘Don’t worry about it,’ said Ulaz. ‘In your own time. Thace and I were just discussing something.’
Keith yawned. ‘Mmmyeah? Discussing what?’
Ulaz leaned down and kissed Keith, perhaps a little before he was ready to respond, but when he did he chased the kiss all the way into wakefulness. ‘Happiness,’ said Ulaz. ‘Just happiness.’
‘Uh… OK?’ At this point Kosmo bunted Keith powerfully in the back, so that Keith was shunted forwards over Thace’s lap. ‘Alright, fine, I’m awake. Ulaz, I’ll go feed Mister Pushy and then you can do your check-up.’
‘He has been waiting for the best part of an hour and a half,’ said Thace. ‘He wouldn’t allow either of us to feed him, and he wouldn’t move from your side.’
Keith yawned again, and smiled at Kosmo. ‘Dumbass wolf, you know I’m safe with them here. Come on, then.’ There was the usual pop and smell of ozone, and both Keith and the wolf were gone.
Thace looked back at Ulaz. ‘Far be it from be to dictate your relationship with Keith, but I think you should tell him.’
Ulaz rested his head on Thace’s shoulder and stared at hiis own fingertips for a moment. ‘You… think it will do good?’
‘I can’t see how it would be bad. And yes, I feel it might well do you both a great deal of good.’ He dropped a kiss on the top of Ulaz’s head, and gave hm a little shove. ‘Now let me up, I need to get dressed if I am to make breakfast for us all while you are performing this assessment.’
‘Just as I’m getting comfortable,’ sighed Ulaz, but he rolled over, watching as Thace stood up and got ready for the day. Thace got as far as the clothes generator before he apparently felt the heavy gaze on his broad back and muscular backside, and turned around.
‘Was there anything you wanted, Ulaz?’
There were a lot of answers Ulaz could have given to that question. Instead he showed exceptional restraint and said simply, ‘I’m just appreciating. You’re a very fine figure of a galra, you know.’
Thace laughed and turned his back again, and if he flexed his shoulders a little what of it? ‘Why, thankyou, you are too. You didn’t answer my question, though.’
‘Oh, well, when you put it like that…’ Thace paused, his hand on the door of the generator. ‘I’ll tell you later. There’s too many things, and we both have things to do right now.’
‘I wouldn’t normally take you for a tease, old friend.’
‘Maybe I’m taking your words to heart.’ Ulaz climbed off the bed and went over to give Thace a kiss that was truly intended to be brief, but Thace cupped his cheek in one hand, licked into his mouth and the kiss became something to make his knees tremble.
‘I’ll… come back later.’ Both galra looked around to see Keith in the doorway, clearly trying not to grin.
Thace looked up at Ulaz and said, ‘We don’t actually have anywhere to be.’
‘No. Get dressed.’ Ulaz stepped away, pulled the lever to change the bed and said to Keith, ‘Keith, how would you like, later, if you and I took Thace to bed together? I’ve known him a long time and I’m sure between the two of us we could make hm completely helpless.’
Keith did grin then, looking between Ulaz and Thace and back again. ‘I’d love that. Yeah, that sounds fun.’
‘Well, unless Thace has no objections, that is, as you call it, a date. Now come and stand here and we will get this assessment done.’