Linger
By Lokaia
Disclaimer:: Not mine. I just make them do cute things.
Summary:: Slash. Radu/Seth. Cutesy stuff, PG.
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Commander Seth Goddard frowned as he examined the instrument he held in his hand. The salesman babbled on without missing a beat. The height of technology, sure to last for a hundred years before needing to be replaced, adaptable to any ship design. Seth shifted his weight, his right leg coming into contact with the body to his side.

Radu responded to the nudge by clearing his throat. "Excuse me."

"Well, thank you for your time," Seth said briskly. "We'll continue looking."

"But, sir, I--"

"Thank you." Without waiting for another word, Seth placed a hand on the small of Radu's back and guided him through the throng of people. Once they were out of the range of the salesman, Seth glanced at the young man to his side. "Well?" he prompted with a smile. "What was wrong with that one?"

Radu returned the smile shyly. "The price was too much and he knew it. That, and I've seen the polarized interlock connector on the Christa and it didn't look like that one."

Seth shrugged. "It needs to be replaced, but it doesn't have to be identical. A different brand or design might still work."

"Is there any way to check?"

"Now?" Seth rested a hand on the satchel at Radu's side. The Andromedan opened the flap and retrieved the Commander's compupad, handing it to him. "Thank you," the human replied before turning on the handheld computer. A picture appeared of the Christa's interlock connector, obviously different than the ones they had seen that day. Seth scrolled through the list of uses and requirements for the Christa's systems. "I think that last one would have worked just fine."

Radu dropped his gaze, embarassed. "Oh. I-I didn't know. I'm sorry I--"

"It's all right," Seth assured him, replacing the compupad in Radu's satchel. "You said he was overpricing it anyway." He grinned at the Andromedan's pleased expression. "You don't need to second guess yourself, Radu. You have good instincts for this."

Radu blushed faintly, eyes downcast. "I-it wasn't instincts. I just listened to his pulse. It went faster when he knew he was cheating us."

"Well, I couldn't have done it." The Andromedan's blush grew as he murmured his thanks. Seth shook his head and dropped the topic. His legs were beginning to feel sore from all the walking they had done that morning and he really wasn't sure how far they had gotten from the Christa in their search. He had no doubt Radu could find the way back easily--it was walking all the way back that bothered him.

Still, Radu seemed to be enjoying the outing and, hopefully, it wasn't only because they hadn't had shore leave in months. Since the crew had discovered the details of Seth and Radu's relationship of the past six or so months, they had been bombarded with varying forms of feedback. The first, and most frequent, was shock. After that, everyone chose their own emotion. Harlan began with incredible anger that seemed to be directed more towards Seth than Radu. He wasn't quite over that, either, but after three weeks he was beginning to show tolerance. It reminded Seth of the first few months they had all spent on the Christa, except instead of Harlan attacking Radu, it was Seth.

Suzee had chosen disappointment as her emotion and whether it was towards Seth or Radu, Seth couldn't tell. Though, he hoped fervently it was all directed towards the younger man. Not that he wanted Radu molested by an exasperated Yensidian, but because he knew Radu wasn't interested. Radu himself seemed very uncomfortable recently in the presence of Suzee.

Ms. Davenport had disapproval as her emotion of choice. There was the age difference, the rank difference, the species difference, cultural difference... the list went on and the slightest unintentional prompting from anyone would trigger her to recite it again. It seemed, though, that Ms. Davenport was getting tired of it herself and had taken to disapproving-acceptance as of late. The entire crew was grateful.

Unsurprisingly, Rosie was ecstatically happy for them.

Thelma had known, of course. Seth wasn't sure he and Radu could have pulled off a secret six-month relationship without her. The most surprising was Bova, who, once it was all announced, had rolled his eyes, muttered "So? Everyone knew anyway," and seemed surprised himself when it turned out that, no, not everyone knew. No one but Bova, anyway, and Seth still wasn't sure how the Uranusian had found out. He wasn't sure he wanted to know either.

On one of his more sociable days, Bova had idly wondered aloud what Elmira would think of this. Seth had jumped nearly a foot in the air. He had completely forgotten about the Spung princess. But Radu, who sat at his side, merely glanced at Bova quizzically and said, "Why?"

That solved that. And Seth was quite reasonably relieved.

So, it had been three weeks, more or less, that the crew had known. Seth had refrained from public displays of affections with Radu, mostly so as not to embarrass the shy Andromedan, but it was frustrating. He had thought that once the secret was out, he and Radu could be more open about the relationship. But with Harlan and Ms. Davenport's hostility towards them, it seemed best to go about their work normally and not bring anything to the attention of the crew.

Radu hadn't said much about it. He didn't seem disappointed in the lack of public display, or relieved the others knew. He just... was. Despite the feelings of the crew, he hadn't changed in attitude or demeanor in the last three weeks. Seth admired that and considered asking the younger man how the hell he managed it when Seth himself constantly fought urges to knock Harlan and Ms. Davenport's heads together.

He glanced at the Andromedan walking to his side. Radu was distracted, Seth could tell by the look on his face, but seemed very focused on what was in front of him. Seth followed his gaze to an alien couple walking towards them, hands and fingers entwined. As the couple passed them, Radu's head turned slightly to follow them. Seth returned his gaze to the road in front of them before Radu could see he was staring.

As they walked on, Radu's gaze wandered to every pair (or more) of hands entwined. It occurred to Seth that perhaps public displays of affection weren't something to be hidden.

He inched a bit closer to the younger man, allowing his hand to bump lightly onto the other's. For several seconds Radu didn't even notice, or thought it had just been a mistake. Slowly, the Andromedan noticed the bumping and glanced down. Once he had, Seth slipped his hand into Radu's and squeezed, still looking straight ahead. He felt, rather than saw, the beam of a smile Radu gave him and tried not to wince as he "gently" squeezed back. Seth glanced at him, a small smile passing across his face.

Maybe a long walk back to the Christa wouldn't be so bad.
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((A/N:: I'd just like you all to know that all of my fics are titles of songs I have on my playlists. It was SO HARD not to title this "Hold My Hand" while I was listening to Hootie and the Blowfish. Damn that need to be original... sort of...))