“We’re heading to Marcus and Puck’s tonight to watch Redead Revengance 3. You off?”
Afra had caught me grabbing a drink from a machine in one of the small break rooms. I didn’t share a bunk with any of my closest friends on the ship, which is why I was hoping that I could manage to avoid them all until tomorrow.
“I, uh… I don’t do gory movies.” An ironic truth.
“It’s campy 2080’s horror, and the effects are super cheesy. You’d like it.”
I pretended to peruse the vending machine options some more. “Eh, not much of a movie guy. I got other stuff to do.” Another truth. Whew, I was on a roll!
The corporal rolled her eyes with such vigor that the g-forces created brought her head along with them. And made her groan. “’Kay, fine, have fun dusting your creepy love shrine to the new chief.”
“It’s a tasteful love shrine, Afra, and I’d thank you to remember that.” It had been several years since I’d learned to master the art of self-deprecating deflection.
“Your poor, poor bunkmate,” she laughed as she disappeared down the hallway.
But I called after her. “Well Chang’s a furry, so it’s poor Bo, actually!”
It was around 2124 when I got to Hound’s suite, all told. I wasn’t the sort of person who showed up to things early, preferring instead to be as exactly on time as possible. It was difficult to focus on much of anything else that evening, though. My nerve endings were as hot as an electric fence, and every time I sat down I couldn’t stop shaking my leg. Keeping the blood in my brain was a comedically herculean struggle.
“Fuck it,” I muttered under my breath, knocking at 2129. I could blame it on my clock running fast. My atomic clock. Sure.
“Come on in,” he said, and I disappeared into the human-sized door before anyone could see me.
The sight of him lounging along the sofa made me all but stop in my tracks to marvel at whatever divinity decided to engineer these fine specimens. He gently set down the datapad he had been studying, and beckoned me closer.
“Well don’t you look cute out of uniform, too,” he said with a grin as I stepped forward, face as hot as the first time he addressed me.
It wasn’t anything particularly special, but an old standby: black, tight-cut pants, boots, and a tastefully loose-fitting (read: oversized) tunic-style shirt made from the traditional textile weave of the planet M’ggesh. The ambassador’s aide had gotten mixed up between M’ggeshic and Terran clothing sizes and neglected to order mediums for the Solomon’s crew.
I smiled and pointed at the color blocking on his shoulder. “Doesn’t look like you can take yours off, though.”
“Oh, this old thing?” Hound glanced over at the gold paint. Then with a slight tilt of his head, I watched as it vanished before my eyes. I gasped, it somehow slipping my mind that the lieutenant commander was one of the sector’s pre-eminent experts in light-bending techniques, and as much a guru on the subject that the Autobots had in their whole army. Though you’d never know by looking at him.
“Scandalous,” I giggled.
He got that boyish look on his face again, and snapped his fingers. The green on him turned to red, suddenly. He snapped again, and it was black. Again, and it was plaid! I laughed, and it faded back to his normal green as he stood up. But with one last snap of those thick digits, the room itself disappeared, to be replaced by sand and stone and a blue sky full of puffy white clouds above my head. He’d transported us to Monument Valley.
The sand beneath my feet behaved like real sand. The clouds above moved like real clouds. The sun even hurt my eyes to look at.
“Wow,” was all that I could say.
“It’s not perfect,” he said, crouching beside me. He reached out to a seemingly empty space beside him and knocked – it was the coffee table, obscured by his illusion. “Still recycled air, too, and if you listen, no sound.”
I held still a moment, and nodded. I could still hear the ship.
Hound’s hand slid onto my lower back, experimentally rubbing me with a finger or two. It felt fucking nice, and I leaned into the touch. “I’ve been to here before,” I murmured lazily, placing my hand against the green bulk of his forearm. “If I picture it hard enough, I can smell the dry air, feel the hot breeze on my face, tune out the ship and remember the silence.”
“Nature lover too, huh?”
“A biophile through and through,” I laughed.
The giant mech lowered me onto my back in the sand, then, and I bit my lip excitedly. When I looked back to him, his eyes were almost ultramarine compared to their earlier cyan. Whoa. Was that like, robot eye dilation? Did I just turn him the fuck on?
“I’m quite the biophile myself, actually,” he said in a low voice, stooping far enough to kiss me on the cheek and run his thumb along my neck. I totally just turned him the fuck on, my brain told me. “Have a special appreciation for organic bodies. Especially ones as nice as yours.”
I arched my back at those words. His mouth was on my neck, and his hand was sliding up the front of my shirt, and it was him doing it, and he was huge and rugged and handsome…
“You have no idea how amazing this is,” I moaned, trying to grope the sides of his helm. “I can’t believe we’re… we’re doing this.”
He laughed against my belly. “Can’t believe I had a secret admirer this whole time. It, ah… can make a mech feel pretty good.”
“You can thank me for it by touching me with those big hands some more,” I said, and took off my shirt.
“Gladly,” he grunted, leaning in again to kiss me and rub at a nipple. “Mmh… can’t wait to taste your cute little –”
Of course this was going to happen, though.
Of course it was.
Hound’s sexy, rumbly words were interrupted by a voice over the comm system. “I’m sorry to interrupt lieutenant commander, but there’s been a theft of personal property reported just now. Please report to the security office.”
We paused, looking at each other, then broke away. He cursed under his “breath” in Cybertronian. “Is it that important, Lieutenant DeSousa?” I could still hear the lust in his voice.
“Ten grams of tetrafluocoxanine,” the lieutenant deadpanned. A potent party drug.
Hound and I looked at each other. “I’ll be there in five,” the mech said, and closed the comm.
Around us, the desert disappeared, revealing the blandly decorated XL suite, and the view of the colorful nebula outside. The mech crouched above looked at me as he tried to smile away the intense blueballs he was probably getting.
“Duty calls, I guess,” he ground out, chuckling.
I chuckled too, trying to hide my disappointment, and put my shirt back on. “Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.”
“Don’t you give up now, Lieutenant Orr,” he said, pointing a finger at me and giving me a surprisingly serious look. “And that’s an order.”
My face must’ve lit up at that because a smirk curled his lips.
“Oh, you like that stuff, do ya?”
I just nodded, starry-eyed.
“Alright then,” he said, voice low and rumbly again, as he leaned in to graze his huge teeth against my ear. “As your superior officer, I order you to return to your quarters for the time being. I want you getting some good sleep tonight, and I want you looking sharp for rounds tomorrow morning.”
I saluted. “Yes, sir!”
Hound laughed warmly, pinching my shoulder between his fingers to turn me around. “Now go on.” There was a pat on my ass – actually, it was a straight-up grope – and he pushed me towards the door. “You’re dismissed, lieutenant.”
If I was frustrated before, I wasn’t now as I zipped out the door and booked it down the hall before anyone I knew would see me.
Only thing left to do was rub one the fuck out.
I slept decently well that night, and showed up to my post looking about as brushy-tailed as I could manage. I spent my morning organizing rounds for the ensigns, and taking careful inventory of the weapons lockers on decks 4 through 12. I only got through about three-quarters of them when I broke for lunch, and with no word from my lieutenant commander, I went to break bread in the usual place.
The chicken Cesar salad wasn’t quite as good as it usually was, but there was a fresh lemon wedge this time at least.
“We missed you last night,” Marcus said, plopping his tray down next to mine. “You would have loved Redead’s ending. Ain’t that right, Rafferty?”
Puck fuckin’ Rafferty took the seat on my other side, a guy so charming that it was easy to forget that he was also an asshole. There was nothing on his tray except a pair of protein shakes. “Def. The part where the zombie prince fucking explodes during his big Thriller dance number? Amazing. Shame they just don’t make movies like that anymore.” He elbowed me then. “Yeah, so, everyone was asking where you went,” he grunted. “Y’hit the weight room?”
The two guys looked at each other, grinning. “Found some wellness in the tubes again?”
“Zero-g meditation is pretty great, you should try it.” I wiped my mouth with the napkin. “Maybe beef up some of that brain along with those biceps.”
Macrus laughed, but Puck was all sour grapes. “Yeah? So where’d you go, anyway?”
“Believe it or not, I was in my bunk.”
“He lies!” Marcus cried dramatically.
“Ask Chang if you want,” I shrugged. “I was there all night after 2145. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have ammo to count.”
“Alright, well, we’re doing some indie movie tonight. You in or what?”
“Yeah, it’s The Darkness Within or something. About a chick in a coma.”
“Sure, but I’m, uh, on call for the next few days. Might have to leave early.”
Puck and Marcus exchanged looks. “On call? I don’t remember the old chief doing anything like that. Thought that was an essential personnel thing?”
“Yeah, not sure what the… procedure’s gonna be if I do get called, but I’m booked for it, so.”
Marcus King grin slowly widened. “Who’s doin’ the calling?”
“I, ah, not sure,” I lied, heading over to the bus bins to deposit my plate. “Anyways, gotta get back to it. I’ll see you tonight!”
We paused halfway through the movie to let some folks use the head. It was a pretty hilarious sight, a bunch of grown adults crammed into a 80 square-foot bunk room stunk up with the smell of buttered popcorn, Cheetos, and smuggled beer.
“Holy shit,” Puck said, staring at the paused screen. “I never want to fall into a coma.”
Afra gave him a look. “You know it’s easier to get you out of one nowadays, right?”
“Still. Hey King!” Puck shouted at the head. Marcus shouted back through the closed door. “If I fall into a coma, I want you to pull the plug on me!”
“I’m not gonna pull the fuckin’ plug on you, dumbass!”
The woman just rolled her eyes.
River Chang just snorted and took another gulp of beer.
“Aw man, I don’t want my life in Bowie’s hands.”
Just then the pager at my waist started to vibrate. Report for duty, was all it said. I cleared my throat and immediately fought down the blush that threatened to invade my every inch of skin. Standing up, I straightened my civilian clothes, and stepped around the body sitting on the floor as I made to excuse myself. “Honestly, I don’t want anything of yours in my hands until it’s been doused with bleach, Rafferty. Everyone else, I’ll catch you later.”
“Where do you think you’re going?” Afra asked, cocking a brow at me.
“Oh, I know where I’m going.”
Marcus grabbed the remote and explained through a mouthful of Cheetos that I was “on-call”.
“Yes,” I deadpanned. “Being on-call means you might sometimes get, how do you say, called. This would be one of those times.”
“Orr’s found a new calling,” Chang chuckled.
Afra snorted. “Or maybe it’s a booty call?”
“Speculate all you want, but I gotta report. See ya tomorrow, crew.”
I was so gone.
I stopped by my quarters on the way to Hound’s suite to touch up my hair, brush the popcorn bits from my teeth, and wash up downstairs real quick.
Because tonight was the night, I could feel it.
Then I realized that if my alibi was going to hold, I need to put on my uniform.
“Goddammit,” I grumbled, racing to switch wardrobes.
Another page arrived just as I stepped into a tube and hauled myself up a few decks.
Giving you 90 seconds, lieutenant.
I groaned, hurrying, trying not to overshoot his deck. Which I didn’t, thankfully, but in my lust-filled haste I exited the tube upside down. Gravity promptly took hold of me and sent me careening to floor in a tangle of pain. I cursed loudly.
“You alright?” asked an ensign passing by.
I flashed a thumbs up. “Don’t mind me,” I wheezed, picking myself off the carpet. “As you were.”