A/N: Thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, and followed! I really appreciate the lovely comments and helpful feedback.
Abel was shaken awake, on alert right away. "Come on," Cain said, letting him go and throwing his clothes at him.
"Where are the sirens? Are we scrambling?" Abel asked as he pulled on pants, half awake but adrenaline buzzed. The last few days had been protein bars and caffeine pills in the lab, working with the rest of the navigators to find a way for Sleipnir to get out of this running silent. They'd been working later and later while the fighters did—whatever it was fighters did when the ship was running silent. His back ached from falling asleep curled around Cain and they both smelled like last night.
"Just shut up and get dressed." Cain smoked and paced the three steps of their cramped rack, and pushed Abel out into the empty hallway before he had his jacket pulled all the way on.
0300. Their wing was on night shift, the halls empty and quiet as Cain led them to the lift. Abel shifted in the silent lift, uncomfortably reminded of the day he'd met Cain.
Cain held the lift doors closed at their stop. Fighters' training level. Abel looked at Cain, his heart starting to pound in his throat. There were so many terrible ways this could go.
Cain flicked his cigarette into the corner of the lift. "You're going to shut up and stick close to me. Don't look anyone in the eye and don't touch me. It's midshift so you should be ok."
"Cain, I don't-"
"I said shut up." The doors opened and Cain walked out, not waiting to see if Abel followed.
Cain walked differently here. In their shared rack, Cain took up the whole space but made room for Abel—here, Abel felt like a fighter trailing a carrier, pushed out of arm's reach by the set of Cain's jaw and his stance. The few other fighters they passed sized up Cain, giving him a nod or wary space, but Abel felt oddly invisible for how out of place he felt. Navigators' training felt like the lab or command center—bright, efficient and clean, gym and lab, library and sim all laid out neatly, but there were scars on the walls here, and no straight paths. Abel hurried to keep up with Cain's swagger.
Cain keyed open a door and pushed Abel into the darkness, checking behind them before he locked the door. Abel reached a hand out in the darkness, turning a little to find a wall. He flinched back at Cain's irritated swipe as Abel's hand accidentally grazed his shoulder.
The harsh lights flickered on overhead, painful after the half-light of the hallway and the darkness. A shooting range. Whatever Abel had been expecting, it wasn't this.
Cain reached inside his uniform jacket and pulled a pistol from a new shoulder harness. "You ever shot a gun?" Cain asked, handing it to Abel grip first.
"I went skeet shooting with my dad once," Abel said, holding the gun flat with both hands and looking down at it.
Cain snorted. "Pansy. They don't teach you navis anything at academy. We got carry orders, so you're going to learn how to shoot. Don't want you to get your candy ass killed first thing when we get boarded."
"When-" Abel looked up at Cain. No one from command had said anything—at least, to the navigators they hadn't.
"When. They don't give the order to ships that make it through. Here's how you load the thing." Cain walked him through loading and checking the safety, snapping directions but strangely patient even when he dropped the clip the second time.
Abel's first shot down the range went wild, maybe hitting the ceiling he was shaking so badly. Cain stepped up behind him, rearranging Abel's stance. Cain's breath on the back of his neck as he grabbed Abel's hips didn't help. It had been a while since their last time, their schedules no longer lining up except for scrambled patrols, Abel pulling longer shifts and coming back to rack exhausted. Cain's pelvis pressed into Abel's ass, distracting him from the gun, the shooting range, from the danger of being caught down here on the fighters' level.
With his face just over Abel's shoulder, Cain wrapped his hands over Abel's on the gun, bringing the pistol up. "Relax, princess, it's just a gun," he said waiting a few seconds as Abel took a deep breath. "Now pull."
Abel took his second shot as the door override signal sounded and Cain spun away from him. Two fighters swaggered in, a big one Cain's height but wider, and another taller but lighter. "What a cute date," the tall one said, stepping towards Abel. "Who's the girlfriend, Cain? You bring her around so she can find a husband?"
Cain pushed past the wider one and put himself between Abel and the tall fighter. "That's the navi that's going to shoot you in the balls if you don't step off, Laius. And he's mine." Abel stood there pointing the gun at the floor in both hands, watching over Cain's shoulder with big eyes. The wide fighter smiled at him crookedly and kissed the air. Abel had seen him before, with Porthos? Porthos's fighter, Planchet, licked his lips.
"I just thought it was awful cute of you to bring him down here after Bering said to leave the navigators out of it, is all," Laius said, ignoring Abel now.
"Yeah? I thought it was pretty cute how he told you to take it up the ass from your navi and you did that too," Cain said, pushing Laius into the other one. "Abel, fuck off," Cain said over his shoulder.
Abel stood there for a second, rooted in place. Cain looked at him for the first time and Abel all but ran for the door. He stood outside it as it closed, holding the gun and uncertain what to do with it, uncertain if he should wait out here where any fighter might see him, and uncertain even how to get back to the lift. The door keyed open after a moment, though, and Cain came out with a bloody lip. He put a hand on Abel's shoulder and pushed him ahead back to the lift.
Abel held the gun out to Cain once the lift doors were safely closed. "Keep it. Stick it in your pants til we get back to rack, then put it under your bunk. Fuck, take the clip out first, genius," Cain said as Abel moved to put it away. Abel flushed as Cain grabbed the clip away from him. "Shoot your cock off and you'll be no goddamn use. And don't tell any of your little navigator friends about this or I'll take your balls off myself."
Cain stretched and cracked his neck as the lift stopped at their level. Cain checked Abel's watch and looked sideways at him. Still an hour until Abel was scheduled at the lab. "You got time for a fuck?" he asked. Abel flushed deeper and smiled as the lift doors opened.