Carlos returns to Earth with a gift for Adam (includes snippets from the untold romance of Adam/Carlos)
On the surface it looked quite ordinary, like a piece of glass that had lost its polish, but bright tongues of emerald flame illuminated the stone from within as Carlos angled it in his hand to catch the light; another turn and the flame burned black as midnight. Their colours, his and Adam’s; Carlos smiled at the thought.
Placing a steaming mug of coffee by his friend’s arm, Andros slipped into the seat across from him and cradled his mug between the palms of his hands, warming them against the chill conditions of the cabin.
“We’ll be landing in an hour’s time,” the blond observed; a boyish smile lit his face and he glanced significantly at the other man “I bet he’s already there!”
Slipping the precious stone into his pocket, Carlos picked up his coffee and returned Andros’ look. “He said he’d be there.” He tried to respond noncommittally; but a hint of anticipation had crept into his tone, and a grin had started to spread across his lips.
It was his eyes, dark pools of liquid heat, which Carlos first noticed. They were an attractive almond shape; accentuated by the kind of thick lashes that on any other boy would have looked out of place but, for some reason Carlos couldn’t fathom, only seemed to add to the young coach’s appeal. Those eyes filled his dreams at night and followed him into his waking hours, consuming his thoughts, until he became convinced that his growing attraction to the older youth must be written on his face and clearly visible to any who cared to look.
And sometimes it seemed as though they did see it, his friends on the soccer team; or at least, they could see that there was now some new reason for his devotion to practice, some new element that fired his performance beyond the already exceptional. They teased him mercilessly, asking who the lucky girl was and between them coming up with names of several pretty classmates they thought might have affected this change; but Carlos only shrugged and smiled. What would they say, he wondered, if they knew he sought to gain the attention of the coach?
His efforts even seemed to be working, for increasingly during their practice sessions he would sense the other youth’s eyes upon him and turn before Adam had a chance to look away, waiting for the time when his open invitation would be returned in that midnight gaze.
Carlos shouldered his pack and stepped up to the shuttle’s ramp preparing to disembark. Casting a look over his shoulder at the chill cabin that had been his home of the past four months, the black ranger was suddenly taken by how much smaller the craft’s living-space appeared. During their extended mission in the Delta-5 system, the quarters had seemed more than adequate, but with the removal of their personal effects the little shuttle looked almost lonely as she waited for the military base to collect her.
He sighed as he saw Ashley absently opening cupboards and slowly taking out the supplies stored there, and walked across to put a hand on her arm.
“Andros can do that later,” he said softly, “it’s time to go home and get some rest.”
She looked over her shoulder at him, a tired smile on her lips, and nodded. “Here’s to the final survey,” she murmured.
“We did a good job,” Carlos agreed, gently steering her towards the exit. “Scientists will be kept busy with the data we retrieved for hours.” She slapped his arm at the jest but visibly brightened.
“Justin’s going to be waiting on those data-pads,” she said affectionately, picturing their friend sitting in his office, waiting for confirmation of their safe arrival.
“Something else that can be done in the morning; right now we’re getting off this old rust bucket and going home.”
“Home,” Ashley repeated, “I can’t wait to see Mark again and Kayla.” Her voice was filled with anticipation as she thought of her little family. At the top of the ramp, she paused and looked critically at her friend. “You ready?” she asked, and Carlos suddenly remembered what he was about to do.
“I’m a little nervous,” he admitted.
“Don’t be,” Ashley told him, placing a supportive hand on his arm. “It’s Adam we’re talking about here; you love him right?”
“Yes.” Carlos didn’t have to think about that.
“And he loves you,” she affirmed, with the certainty of any married person dealing with a hesitant single. “There’s nothing to worry about.”
It was past dusk, and a faint zodiacal light could just be seen, rising from the Western horizon to touch the grey-dark silhouettes of trees around their landing site with magic. A harvest moon hung heavily in the chill autumn night, its golden glow a welcome sight to the tired men and women disembarking from the shuttle. Carlos stood in the doorway of the shuttlecraft, the last to leave, from his vantage point looking around at the empty fields surrounding the airbase. It had been four months since he had left and even in that short time, so much had changed. Taking a deep breath of fresh air and hefting his kitbag more comfortably onto his shoulder Carlos stepped out behind Ashley onto the ramp.
The airbase had seemed to be deserted as they piloted across the field that served as a runway, but as soon as Andros turned on the aft lights for disembarking, silhouettes detatched themselves from the darkened aircraft hanger and made their way across to greet them. At the forefront naturally was Ashley’s daughter Kayla, her golden locks flying out in a banner behind her as she ran. She barely even broke her pace as she reached the foot of the ramp, and the adults laughed and cheered indulgently as the little girl leapt into her mother’s arms squealing her delight. Carlos smiled at the sight before turning his eyes to the assembling group, looking for a certain familiar face in the crowd.
His momentary distraction had given Adam time to barrel his way up the ramp and, before Carlos had time to register what was going on, launch himself at the taller man in playful imitation of little Kayla.
They had spread their blanket beneath a willow for the privacy it afforded them, and Carlos relaxed against the trunk, ostensibly to watch the dappled light filter through the leaves. From beneath his lowered eyelashes, he would occasionally glance at the older youth, watching him fill paper plates with the picnic food they had scrounged from the megaship; and he couldn’t help the smile of satisfaction that came with remembering what they had done in Andros’ supposedly locked solar.
“Are you going to help, or just watch me?” Adam asked without turning.
“Is this real?” Carlos asked, in one of his thoughtful moods.
“Is what real?”
“This. Us” At this, Adam looked over his shoulder at the other youth.
“Are you asking if we’re serious?”
Carlos frowned slightly, thinking “I guess I am,” he replied
“Then yeah, this is real,” Adam returned, shuffling back to sit beside his partner so that he could take the larger hand in his. “I love you Carlos, and I hope you feel the same way.” He smiled when Carlos squeezed his hand and raised it to brush his lips across the knuckles in a gesture they had often used to express intimacy when no adequate words existed. He leaned against the other boy and murmured into the dark tresses “I will always love you.”
“Really?” Carlos asked as Adam moved to retrieve their lunch, and the older youth grinned back at him.
“Of course,” he replied, giving Carlos a playful shove “I’ll always be yours! Now pass me the napkins.”
A thousand stars shone brightly in the crisp fall air and Adam’s eyes reflected their light as he finally released his partner, his cheeks flushed with both the night’s chill and merry laughter.
Looking at his partner, Carlos knew this was his moment, but suddenly he realized that he had not planned what he would say. Adam was a romantic; he would want the words of some great poet, would deserve it, but Carlos could not remember any fitting verse of the great men his partner so idolized, no words that could do their love justice. He only knew it felt right when he touched his fingers to Adam’s cheek, feeling the warmth there, and whispered in a voice choked with emotion “I love you,” pressing the gemstone into his partner’s hand. “Marry me”.
Moonlight filtered into the room through the thin voile curtains. It danced on the rumpled sheets scattered across the bedroom floor and sparked to life ruby colored flame from the half finished glasses of wine on the dresser.
Feeling the light passage of air through the open window, Carlos stirred and turned to study the sleeping face of his fiancé on the pillow beside him, tracing with his eyes the soft curve of lips and cheek and smiling to himself. Perhaps sensing the attention, Adam’s lashes fluttered softly before the dark hazel eyes opened and the corners of his mouth quirked in a sleepy greeting. So beautiful, thought Carlos, and he felt the renewed stirrings of desire as he remembered how this man, his man, had promised last night to love him forever with all of their friends gathered around them to hear it.
Cupping his free hand to Adam’s cheek, mouth hovering inches from the sensuous Cupid’s bow lips, Carlos’ let his eyes show all that he was feeling and the other man met his gaze and lay still. The kiss was slow, languid; and as his lips met Adam’s, strong capable hands started to trace paths over the contours of his lover’s body.
Working lower, his lips blazing a trail of kisses down the curve of Adam’s throat, Carlos’ fingers found the smooth curve of the other man’s waist. He began to caress the sensitive skin, tracing from the line of his hip down his trembling thighs and over his stomach; dexterous fingers almost seeking a rhythm from the sensitized skin, stroking and plucking, dancing in rippling waves. He played his lover’s body like a fine tuned instrument, eliciting gasps and sighs, with practiced skill, he found the sweet spots that made Adam’s whole being resonate with exquisite sensation.
Pressing his mouth to Adam’s shoulder, Carlos lapped at the heated flesh, hearing the first shuddering gasp that indicated his partner’s state of arousal. Slowly he worked his way down the other man’s sculpted chest, using a series of moist kisses, licks and gentle nips over the smooth white skin, feeling his partner’s fingers digging firmly into his back in response even as the Korean arched up to meet him.
Using the experience of all their years together, he stirred the flames of Adam’s desire until his lover lay quivering beneath him; and then carefully controlling the tempo of his strokes held him there on the brink of release as he drew forth from him moans and whimpers that rang sweeter than any music he had ever heard.
On the surface it looks quite ordinary; but light-years from where it began look how brightly it shines!