At last! The final installment of the (way more successful than I anticipated) fic: Return to Planet 51!
You have all been such wonderful readers. Thank you so much for sticking with me through the entire thing.
Enjoy the final installment!
Epilogue - This Side of Paradise
It had been three months, three glorious months of peace. The rain rock shipments were going swimmingly, a shuttle landing every two weeks, empty, on the planet's surface, taking off two days later with a large shipment of rocks. Earth had averted its energy crisis, able to expand and create better, more fuel-efficient cars, busses, trains, and especially space shuttles.
It was summer on P51: hot and humid and so satisfying. Lem was throwing an arbitrary party at his newly bought house. It was small and needed a bit of work, but it was finally something he owned, something he could call his own. The party was appropriately called the "Welcome To My New House/Three Months Since the Astraeus Landing" party.
Vera lounged in a cheap, plastic lawn chair, stretched out like a cat in the sun. Her large sunglasses made her look even more alien than she already did. She tilted them down onto her nose slightly, gazing over their tops to eye the approaching Charles Baker with a quirked eyebrow.
"Burgers?" Chuck offered, smiling toothily. He was wearing a ridiculously bright button up shirt that barely deserved to be ceremoniously burned, much less worn.
"I told you, I don't do the floating meat thing," Vera dismissed, coolly pushing her sunglasses back into place. Chuck shrugged and walked over to a tittering Lem. He was attempting to play good host by interacting with several scatterbrained astronomy professors. Chuck caught him laughing at a particularly cheesy joke, teeth bared, eyes pleading for help. Chuck took pity.
"Hey Lem, I still can't figure out how to get these burgers to behave. Mind giving me a hand inside?" Chuck asked with a sly grin. Lem looked relieved.
"Excuse me gentlemen, I must go impart some knowledge. Help yourself to the juice bar! I'll be back in a bit."
Once out of earshot, Lem leaned in close to the human.
"I owe you."
"Hmm… I'll have to think of a fitting way for you to reciprocate, then." Chuck wiggled his eyebrows. All Lem could do was laugh.
They entered the kitchen, scooting around two of Lem's female co-workers. They both waved at Chuck, and left in a fit of giggles. Lem sighed.
"I don't get it. You are such a lady magnet," Lem exclaimed.
"And a dude magnet," Chuck corrected, causing Lem to roll his eyes and take the tray of burgers.
"Whatever. As long as I know you're sticking with me and only me, I'm a happy guy."
"Lem." Chuck gave him a serious look. "You know I meant what I said."
"Yeah, I know… you're just so popular!" Lem protested, setting the burgers on the table.
"I'm all yours, buddy. You should know this." Chuck scolded, moving to look out the kitchen window. The green people milled about in the cramped back yard, making small talk, going back for fifths at the juice bar, and generally enjoying themselves. Vera was passively explaining something to a fascinated Neera and an excited looking Skiff as Rover chased a terrifying looking alien pet around the perimeter.
"I know…" Lem said again, sounding defeated. Chuck turned around with a wicked smile.
"Hey, if you were just asking for some proof, there are much more affective ways to do it," he said, pushing of the counter and swaggering over to Lem, who promptly grew a shade darker, but smiled back with a similar amount of enthusiasm.
"Oh?" he asked innocently, placing his hands at the base of Chuck's neck, brushing a thumb beneath the collar of the human's shirt. "You'll have to teach me what to do next time." Chuck grunted, pushing Lem back against the kitchen table, leaning down to talk right into his ear.
"Well there is this one thing you do with your…"
The two of them jumped so badly, Chuck ended up almost four feet away from Lem. His hands snapped to his side as he took in the sight of General Grawl standing awkwardly in the doorway leading to the hall. The three stood there for a moment, Chuck at attention, Lem, whose whole body had become limp, and Grawl, who was making a particularly amusing face without really looking at either of them.
"This didn't happen," Grawl said finally, moving swiftly to the door.
"Yes sir!" Chuck yelled, saluting vigorously as Grawl exited. Lem looked petrified. There was a tense moment of silence before Chuck started shaking with silent laughter. Then the laughter became less silent.
"That wasn't funny!" Lem exclaimed, motioning emphatically towards the door. Chuck wiped tears from his eyes, trying to regain his breathing.
"Oh my god, I disagree, it was so funny," Chuck bellowed, doubling over with more laughter.
"He could tell someone," Lem said soberly.
"Dude, and be a total hypocrite? No, he's sleeping with Vera. He won't say a word," Chuck protested.
"But… he's in the military!"
"Which means he's probably done some awkward experimental group circle-jerking. Don't worry about Grawl. He's got our back," Chuck assured. Lem laughed, despite himself, stepping forward to place a quick, but firm kiss on the man's lips.
"I..." he started, his eyes darting off to the side awkwardly.
"You…?" Chuck prompted.
"I just wanted…" Lem struggled with his words, swallowing thickly. "I've been meaning to say… for a while… that… I…"
Instinctively, Chuck stepped forward. Wrapping his arms tightly around Lem's lower back, he scooped him up into a kiss. This time they did not cut short for fear of someone seeing. This time they were they only two beings that mattered, the rest of the world be damned. Lem threw his arms around Chuck's shoulders, pressing against him as hard as he could, wanting to melt into the beautiful human who was never ashamed to hold Lem with a vulnerable desperation only he was allowed to see.
"I love you," Lem breathed as their lips parted, eyes still closed. Their foreheads were pressed together. Lem could feel Chuck smiling without having to look.
"And I lo-…" Chuck started, but a distant rumbling interrupted the moment, causing the two to open their eyes.
"What's that?" Lem asked, stepping away.
"Sounds like… a ship." Chuck said in disbelief. "But another shuttle isn't due back for another week."
The two rushed out the kitchen door into the back yard. All of the guests looked disturbed and somewhat frightened. Vera had risen from her seat, her sunglasses pushed on top of her head, eyes to the sky. Sure enough, streaking across the horizon was a shimmering Earth shuttle, gleaming as it caught the sun's rays.
"We should go to the landing site. Now," Vera commanded.
It took them almost twenty minutes to get across town to the landing site for Earth shuttles. By the time they arrived, the two humans were standing at attention several feet away from the massive craft. Vera and Chuck approached the two men, greeting them formally.
"Gentlemen. To what do we owe the pleasure?" Chuck asked, smiling amiably.
"We are here on a diplomatic mission. We wish to foster a lasting relationship with the people of Planet 51 and wish to share cultural information. It has been requested by the leaders of several world nations that ambassadors from Planet 51 come to Earth to help promote good public representation and learn of our culture in the same way that we have learned of theirs," the man ended with a curt nod.
Chuck looked at Vera, who returned his gaze. The two shared a rare smile before Vera turned to address the men.
"We'll see what we can do."
Or is it?