manicdak: (pic#660569)
[personal profile] manicdak
Title: The Unknown Galaxies
Chapter Two: Family Matters
Warnings: None except for possibly cursing
Summary: Ehren recovers on the nature...



The road to recovery had been a remarkably short period of time, Ehren thought. Though he had never taken a bullet to the abdomen before, so he really had no basis of comparison. He was only going by the baffled looks on the Medics’ faces and their dire descriptions of his injuries.

He knew he had Berilo, an amphibious humanoid from the planet Birosphere, to thank. He had saved Ehren’s life with quick thinking, a little bit of luck, and the miracle of Biron physiology. As an amphibious race, his particular clan had the ability of regeneration. He had the quick wits to make a poultice from his mucous glands. The particular function of such a trait was usually to keep a Biron’s thin and moist skin from drying out on land in more arid climates than that of Birosphere. The enzymes contained in his mucous glands, however, had slowed down the bleeding the bullet had caused and had accelerated the healing to an almost incomprehensible speed.

It had not taken the weeks the Medics had allotted for Ehren to recover, but only a few days. Ehren felt as good and as well rested as he ever had, but they had kept him on the planet as a precaution.

His physical ailments had ceased to worry him, even though the nurses were constantly running after him, reminding him to take it easy and shoving pills into his hand despite the fact that pain had only taken a day to subside.

It left him plenty of time to think about how he had ended up on the Nature and who he had ended up with.

It was a summer on the side of the Nature that the hospital resided, but despite the proximity of the Milky Way’s star, it remained relatively cool under the shade of the giant trees that surrounded the building. Ehren was seated outside at a table with his head in his hands, feeling anxious and bored.

He glanced across the courtyard to spy his father, Heinrich, chatting animatedly to Robin Grey.

Robin was supposed to be his Commander in the Inter-Galactic Action Squad. Ehren wasn’t so sure that was the case any longer. Robin had made it clear that he wanted to pursue a continuing relationship. Ehren wasn’t sure what that meant for his future in the action squad.

Would he have to be transferred to a different squadron, one that was, in all likelihood, very far away from Robin? Would he be dismissed for inappropriate behavior? Would Robin be dismissed? It made Ehren sick to his stomach to think about it for too long, so he did his best to push his fears aside to the darkest corners of his mind. He could only hope that the thoughts stay there and he could continue along his career path with Robin at his side. He didn’t think it was too much to ask for.

His parents had made the trip from Earth to the Nature in the preferred method of transportation between the two planets, a hyperspace plane. He was glad they had come to visit him during his recovery, and he knew it was a hardship for them. The fact was that, despite the relatively short distance, his mother was terrified of space travel. He would have insisted that they stay at home and wait for him to come to them, but he had been in a coma when the arrangements had been made through Robin’s military contacts.

He was interrupted in his thoughts by his mother sitting down beside him and handing him a glass of plear juice as she cleared her throat.

“What are you looking at, dear?” she said.

He turned to glance at her momentarily before turning his attention back to conversation that his father and Robin seemed to be engrossed in.

“What do you think they’re talking about?” He said with a small frown. He racked his brain to try and think of anything that Robin and Heinrich might have in common to talk about. There was only one thing that stood out above anything else.

“Probably you,” she replied.

Ehren laughed out loud to expel some of the nervous energy he was feeling just at the thought of his father and his possible boyfriend exchanging words about him. He took one last look at them and just as he was about to look away, Robin caught his eye. He made a beckoning motion toward him, which Ehren promptly ignored. Instead he threw his glance down at the plear juice in front of him and pretended to be interested in it.

“Your young man wants to talk to you.” His mother completely ignored his body language and waved back at Robin with one hand while she grabbed hold of Ehren’s shoulder with the other and lightly shook him.

“Stop it, mom,” he grumbled.

“Come on.” She stood up and tugged on his arm until he finally relented and jumped from his seat.

“Fine!” He strode purposely across the lawn with his mother trailing after him, nagging at him to take it easy.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into him,” she said when she finally caught up to him as he reached Heinrich and Robin.

“I’d think you’d be used to it by now!” Robin said. It earned him laughs from Ehren’s parents, but did nothing to assuage Ehren’s quickly souring mood.

“Very funny,” Ehren said. He deliberately stepped out of reach when Robin held out an arm out to him.

Robin’s face twitched noticeably downward at Ehren’s rejection of affection, and he quickly turned his conversational attempts back toward Heinrich. His mother joined in the conversation, which wasn’t actually the conversation about himself that Ehren had expected. It seemed as though the completely engrossing topic that held Robin’s attentions was one part Heinrich babbling endlessly about his carpentry craft and two parts Heinrich correcting Robin’s poor attempts at speaking in Earthian.

Ehren tried his best to remain aloof, but couldn’t help but smile as Robin stumbled along in his broken pronunciation of a language he had only started to learn the week before.

“Is there something you needed me for?” Ehren said. “Because I have a glass of plear juice.” He gestured back towards the table then crossed his arms.

“Come on, Ehren!” Robin reached out again and once again Ehren ducked away from him.

He didn’t want to spend any more time lingering in the hospital’s outdoor area with his family. He felt claustrophobic being with them in that moment. There was only one way he could see to get his way out of spending the afternoon in an exercise of familial bonding.

“I’m not feeling so good,” Ehren said. He pressed a hand to his side, even though he felt no residual pain.

His faking brought down a momentary flurry of sympathy from his mother and father, which he knew it would. He was thankful that Robin managed to whisk him away from their parental concern.

Once they made it inside of the building, Ehren paused and leaned against Robin’s shoulder.

“Now, I exist?” Robin muttered.

“Oh, come on,” Ehren said.

Robin patted him on the head, a gesture that Ehren found mildly irritating, so he shook his head and straightened up.

“Are you okay? I thought you said you were feeling better,” Robin said as they continued to walk.

“I do,” Ehren said. “I’m fine.”

They arrived at the hospital room, and Ehren pulled his shirt off. He pinched at his stomach and glanced down at the point where the bullet had entered.

“Look at this,” he poked at the small bit of pale newly healed flesh on his abdomen.

“Not even a scar,” Robin said. “That is…kind of amazing.”

“See.” Ehren jumped on his hospital bed and put his arms behind his head. “I am fine. All this sitting around is getting boring. It’s worse than paperwork.”

“If you’re fine.” Robin sat down on the bed next to him and placed his hand over Ehren’s stomach.

“What was that all about with your parents just now?”

“They’ve been here almost since I’ve been here,” Ehren muttered. “You know how parents can be.”

“Yes,” Robin said quietly. “I do. They only want what’s best for you.”

“I know.” Ehren groaned. “But I’m still young enough to complain about it.”

“Be grateful,” Robin leaned down and murmured it against Ehren’s neck.

He might have been turned on if he hadn’t felt so guilty. In complaining about his own parents continual presence there on the Nature, he took for granted Robin’s situation. It made him feel like terrible boyfriend material when Robin had only just lost one of his mothers, and his father had been missing for years.

“I’m sorry,” Ehren said. “I’m such an idiot.”

Robin didn’t reply in words. He continued to kiss Ehren’s neck and faintly mumbled ‘Mmmmmhmmm’ at him.

“You agree that I’m an idiot?” Ehren pushed him away and arched an eyebrow at him when he finally looked up to meet his gaze.

“I think I’ve said that on many an occasion,” Robin said. He shifted his weight on the bed into a more comfortable reclining position and put his Arm around Ehren.

Ehren curled up against him without a word. He felt safe nestled in the crook of Robin’s arm. It was just about the only place he did feel safe.

Before he had been injured, the danger of being in the Inter-Glactic Action Squad had only been an abstract concept. Sure, he had gone through the requisite pre-recruit training, and he had done his field exercise as required. None of those simulations had prepared him for facing real dangerous criminals.

Out there in the world of time traveling super-villains and ruthless assassins from old-world planets, nobody was going to warn you about their plans to shoot.

In the real world, bad guys aimed an they shot and they didn’t unveil their entire secret plan for world domination before they did it either. Ehren had found that out the hard way, by jumping in front of a bullet to save a man’s life. It wasn’t that he was particularly fond of that man or his life. It had been more of a gut reaction at the time.

They had killed the assassin, but the real bad guy had gotten away, and Ehren felt he had reason for unease. Ganix Viernes was missing in time. He had gone through a lot of trouble to break through Action Squad Security in order to kidnap an informant, who also happened to be his son, who also happened to be Robin’s ex, Feliu.

Yes, they had saved Feliu, but Ganix still remained at large.

“I want to get out of here,” Ehren said. “I don’t know why they won’t let me go. Are they trying to study Biron DNA through me, since it’s illegal to harvest it, or what?”

“I don’t know,” Robin said. “I just think they want to make sure you’re really healed and that you’re not going to fall apart after a certain amount of time.”

“I was not made in a Cryzamine factory,” Ehren muttered. “I’m not going to fall apart. I want to go home.”

“Where is home?” Robin said.

Ehren had to think about that for a moment. He certainly didn’t feel like the planet Tarain, where he had been stationed on I-GAS HQ, was his home, nor did he quite feel at home on the cobblestones of the Utopian capitol city, Robin’s hometown.

He wasn’t even sure how he felt about Earth. It had been quite a few years since he’d called the planet home. He’d been speaking the common Inter-Galactic Standard Languages for so long that the Earthian tongue felt strange and foreign when he tried to speak it.

He could have said that home was wherever Robin was, but the thought was too maudlin for him to say out loud. He could barely keep the giggles in as he thought it when he looked up at Robin.

“I really don’t know,” Ehren said truthfully. “Right now, I would settle for a place with a bigger bed that will fit the two of is in. A place with a lock on the door and no nurses to interrupt, or my parents.

“Yeah, that was embarrassing,” Robin admitted.

“Right, so,” Ehren said. “Can you please get the Vice-Admiral to do something about this medical hold? If I was going to die, I would have died by now. I want to go back to work.”

“I thought you were taking me on holiday,” Robin said.


“If I do that, will get me out of here? Please, Robin?”

“Okay,” Robin said. He gave Ehren a reassuring hug and stood up from the bed.

“Where are you going?”

“To see what I can do about this,” he said.

“Thanks,” Ehren murmured. “I do appreciate it.”

“I know,” Robin said. “But, I really think my political weight is being overestimated here. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do anything.”

“Shut-Up. You sponsored my officer training while you were on probation!” Ehren tried to stifle a grin, but was unsuccessful. “The Vic loves you,” he said. “If he didn’t you’d have been dismissed ages ago.”

“No promises,” Robin muttered. He glanced nervously around the room for a moment before leaning over and planting a parting kiss on Ehren’s lips.

It was a quick kiss and Ehren felt himself leaning upwards for more only to find that Robin had vacated the area and was already headed out the door. Ehren leaned back into his pillows once Robin had gone and touched his fingers to his lips.

It was nice that they had stopped pretending, Ehren thought. Having a secret relationship was probably the most taxing thing he had ever done. Facing the worst criminals in the known galaxies and learning how to speak languages in phonemes that were nearly impossible for Earthian vocal chords had never presented the challenges or the stress that falling into bed with his superior officer had.

That was over. If had ever been a secret before, it had certainly ceased to be one the moment Ehren had arrived at the I-GAS medical facility on the nature where Robin had spent his every waking moment at Ehren’s bedside while he had been in a medically induced coma. Though he was relieved that the sneaking around was over, he wasn’t sure he was ever going to get used to the openly affectionate version of Robin that appeared while he had been asleep. Ehren had to wonder if their relationship had been based on nothing more than sex and antagonism. They didn’t need either any longer. Ehren wondered how long it could last, and if they really had anything in common other than a penchant for irritating each other.

****

Ehren was getting restless an hour later, and Robin had yet to return. There was an unfamiliar panic stirring in his gut; a growing paranoia that Robin might not ever come back. If there was one thing that Ehren had learned over the course of the preceding months, it was that things went missing in time easier than anybody could imagine, whether they fell through random time slips, or were kidnapped by space-time pirates.

His mother eventually appeared in the doorway, happily carting a giant bag full of souvenirs from one of the nearby resort towns.

“You’ve been out on the Nature again,” Ehren said. “This place is dangerous. What...”

“If you stay on the clearly marked pathways, it is very safe. I thought I taught you not to believe Earthian rumoring?” she admonished him. “I’ve always wanted to see this place! You know that. I got you a t-shirt.”

He unloaded her bag on the foot of Ehren’s bed and pulled a shirt out of the pile.

“What do you think?” She said.

“Thank you,” he said. He reached out and pulled the shirt; with the slogan ‘Enjoy the Nature’ above an embroidered redwood tree, towards him and curled it up in his lap.

“I like it.”

“Good,” she said. “Now...any word?”

“I think Robin’s finally getting up off his ass and doing something about getting me the hell off this rock.”

His mother shot him a warning glare that told him that she didn’t approve of the language he was using. He shrugged sheepishly at her and amended his comment.

“I mean, I might get to go home soon.”

His mother’s face lit up at the news of his supposedly impending release. She squealed happily and clapped her hands together.

“I was hoping it would be soon,” she said. "Your father and I have got your room together and..”

She blathered on for a moment about all the plans she had for his so called recovery and was so enthusiastic about it that he didn’t have the heart to tell her that he had been planing on holidays in Amarantos.

“Robin has leave too,” he said once he was finally able to get a word in edgewise. He hoped that she might get the hint, but she didn’t.

“Delightful,” she said then paused thoughtfully.

“We might have to rearrange the room assignments,” she said. “Your father won’t mind sleeping on the sofa for a week or two. Oh, dear… is he going to mind sleeping in a wooden house?”

“If we were staying at your house,” Ehren said. “I would make him not mind, but…we should get a room in the city.”

His mother clucked her disapproval at him, instantly getting the wrong impression of his comment.

“Are you embarrassed, sweetie?”

“Why would I be?” Ehren grumbled. “He thinks I live in a shack, I would love the chance to prove him wrong.”

His mother’s eyes narrowed at the use of the term ‘shack’, as if Robin had had suddenly slid down several notches in her estimation. Ehren grimaced at letting something Robin had growled at him in anger slip out in front of her after the good impression he had been making. As Earthians, they had a built in distrust of any otherworldly humans. There wasn’t much of a chance to interact with the intergalactic community on Earth. There were only two planets within reasonable space traveling distance in the Milky way: the Nature, and Amarantos. The Nature was merely a trip through a rip in the space/time continuum away that only took a few hours to traverse. Amarantos was in an entirely different solar system. Without a Time Travel Device or a Time Ship to offset the travel time, it took nearly half a year to get there in the fastest of the hyperspace planes.

It came down to Earthians being on an isolated planet in an isolated galaxy being a relative newcomer in intergalactic affairs. It didn’t help that they were the laughing stock of the entirety of the known galaxies for not realizing the Earth and the Nature were the same planet millions of years apart, made accessible through a massive time slip explorers had accidentally stumbled upon.

“He…” Ehren considered his next words carefully, but his thoughts were interrupted by Robin appearing in doorway.

“Hello, Ma’am,” he said in his best approximation of the Earthian language. He beamed proudly at Ehren.

Ehren’s mother straightened up as tall as she could manage. Her voice took on a coolness as she addressed Robin.

“I hear that you may be working on getting my son released from this place,” she said.

“Yeah,” Robin replied. “I’ve been talking to the Vice Admiral. He’s got the paperwork in his outbox already. We should be done here by morning.”

“Well, it’s about time,” she nodded at him. “I was going to invite you to our home on Earth.”

“Uh…” Robin ran his hands through his blond hair, and glanced towards Ehren.

Ehren couldn’t supply the proper response to his mother’s sudden lack of warmth. He only grimaced in further embarrassment and called out “Mom” in a prolonged, petulant, child-like whine. She silenced him without glancing away from Robin with one wave of her hand.

“We would love to,” Robin said. He continued to glare at Ehren, hoping for some kind of signal that he had at least said the correct Earthian words, but Ehren’s face was firmly entrenched in his hands.

“Yes, well,” she said, her lips stretched in a suddenly pleasant smile that had Robin worried.

“I hope you like shacks!”

She patted him on the shoulder as she walked out of the room in search of her husband.

“I can’t believe you,” Robin said after a moment shock. “I can’t believe you told her I said that.”

“I can’t believe you ever said that at all,” Ehren murmured. He settled back in his pillows with his hands crossed over his chest.

Robin avoided the bed and sat on a recliner near the window. He gazed outside and proceeded to avoid Ehren as much as he could in as small a room as they were in.

“Are you mad at me? Do you hate me now?” Ehren said, his voice in a near whisper.

Robin finally glanced in his direction and frowned.

“Are you really that insecure? Is that what I have to look forward to?” he said.

Ehren huffed and frowned. He didn’t reply.

Robin sat on his chair for only a few minutes longer, then he stood up and headed once again toward the door.

“Wait,” Ehren said as Robin met the threshold.

“what?” Robin’s voice was tinged with impatience as he turned to glare.

“You really pulled strings to get me out of here?”

Robin nodded. “Is that all? Because I have to go find your parents and beg forgiveness now.”

“You really don’t have to do that.” Ehren shook his head. “Let me. I’ll explain what happened.”

“Fine.”

Robin remained standing in the doorway, and Ehren knew he was just going to have to come out and say what he was feeling despite feeling embarrassed and needy for it.

“Can you stay,” he said. “I really want you to stay, Robin. I don’t like not knowing where you are.”

Robin arched one eyebrow at him then shrugged. He returned to his vigil in the chair by the window, exhumed a crinkly paper bag from his jacket pocket, and began to nibble on something from within the bag that Ehren couldn’t quite make out from his vantage point on the bed.

“What are those?” He asked as he craned his neck to get a better look.

“These?” Robin held the back up. His trademark smirk curled at the corner of his lip as he let out a short laugh before answering.

“Candied plears,” he said, “I got them for you in the gift shop, but since you’re being such a shit right now, airing our dirty laundry, I think I’ll eat them myself.”

Robin watched in satisfaction as Ehren’s entire face lit up then fell into disappointment.

“I can’t have any?” He said after a moment. “You’re really going to be like that?”

Robin nodded, but he only let Ehren stew for moment before throwing the entire bag at him, which he caught upside down and emptied out a small pile of sugar coated fruits out onto his lap.

“Thanks for that,” he muttered as he began to pick them up and put them alternately in the bag and in his mouth.

“You’re welcome,” Robin said. “I don’t think I could eat another one of those things without being sick for a week anyway. There’s got to be enough sweet in ‘em to lay a man out flat. Your ass must have the metabolism of a fucking fast-wing, you know that?”

“I’ve been told,” Ehren said.

He smiled to himself and he chewed on a plear, happy in the knowledge that Robin hadn’t changed all that much despite all the outwardly affectionate gestures. It was certainly a relief.

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