Ran could feel Rassied’s gaze on him as he left the bridge, and after the doors closed between them, he grinned.
When they first met, they had become friends, though they were so different. Rassied was so serious, but underneath there was the layer of humor and enjoyment of so many things. And Ran... everybody thought of Ran as outgoing and happy, yet inside he had his dark side and a stillness. They complemented each other, while being different. And yet, their friendship never went any further, and Ran couldn’t figure out why.
It wasn’t that Rassied was only interested in women – that was pretty obvious from the few times he’d seen his friend indulge himself with a liaison. Which was, admittedly, not that often. And it wasn’t Ran, because while he did generally prefer his partners with more curves and bouncy breasts, he certainly wasn’t opposed to having fun in any form. Any number of men, women, and even a few aliens could tell that. Which might have been part of the problem. Ran enjoyed himself with many people, and made no pretense of otherwise. Rassied... Rassied was too aware that he was the Prince of Cynsia. An alien, one quarter human, who grew up in a household of responsibility and a world’s eye upon him. Which is why he escaped to the stars and crewed a starship for his living and went home as rarely as he could get away with. But it did make for a rather reserved Vice-Head and friend, particularly in the romance arena.
Ran didn’t push it, caring more about their friendship and their working relationship. But that didn’t mean he wouldn’t jump if Rassied ever suggested it. The Cynsian was tall and strong, yet with features and hair that the forthright would call ‘beautiful’, and he was graceful in movement with a sharp intelligence. The thought of all that applied in a bedroom setting often had Ran drooling. But it didn’t look like it was going to happen. At times, if Ran accidentally carried his routine flirting over to the serious Cynsian, Rassied would run as fast as he could with dignity – which often translated to a quick "there’s a computer problem I need to look into" or some other science project he’d have to check. Or if he didn’t run, Rassied would get serious and sad, going into a depressive funk that was no fun at all.
It also wasn’t that Rassied wasn’t interested – which could have been a possibility, though there weren’t a lot of people who didn’t find Ran attractive. But no, the Cynsian was definitely interested. Ran really enjoyed the times Rassied would indulge himself with lingering looks. Sometimes, some very *long* lingering looks. With anybody else, and in some of the settings they’d been in, those looks would have been followed by an invitation to a private corner. But no, not Rassied. Ran rolled his eyes at his absent friend.
The Vice Head could also be rather possessive, particularly if he thought Ran might be in trouble. And he could be tender, especially when Ran was hurt. Ran being hurt usually meant that Rassied was in command during that time, so there was no way the Cynsian could camp out by his infirmary bed -- Dr. Rin usually reserved that privilege for herself. Or Dr. Hamilton. But when he could make it out of bed and stagger into the command center... the look that Rassied would give him then... There was rarely any big demonstration. A ‘welcome back, Captain’ and a data pad and report or two. But the eyes; the eyes said it all. Really, Rassied often showed a lot of the elements of a lover, without them actually being lovers. Ran enjoyed it, and was frustrated by it at the same time. Because he would really like the sex too.
With a sigh, Ran turned from the corridor to his quarters to the medical labs instead. He cheerfully greeted everybody he saw on the way, poked his nose into various projects and experiments, and kept his people on their toes. All the while, also fuming the more he thought about his non-relationship with Rassied.
Barreling into Counselor Hamilton’s office, Ran started to speak before he noticed the doctor was on the comm. He shut his mouth and paced around the office instead, picking up little items the doctor had brought back from various worlds, and putting them down again. Mostly in their right spots. And after some time, he changed his mind about what he was going to do.
"Alright, Ran, what’s up?" Rod turned off the comm and turned to his unexpected visitor.
Ran pushed the doctor back and gave him a very complete snogging, with a lot of groping and some thrusting as well. When he pulled away, he noticed in satisfaction that the doctor was flushed and panting, and his glasses were rather steamed up. Reaching out, he undid the edges to Rod’s uniform...
And Rod pushed him back a step, and then took off his glasses to clean them. "Not that I minded... or would mind... but I doubt very much that’s what was on your mind when you came in." He put his glasses back on quite calmly for a man just bent over the edge of a table. "What’s up?"
"That is a very disgusting display of self-control, you know."
"I wouldn’t get very far as a counselor if I didn’t." The doctor gave the captain a wry grin, which was returned. Both their jobs often called for quick responses, in sometimes awkward situations. It was one reason they were such good friends.
Which reminded Ran of why he’d come... "Rod, just why the hell does Rassied avoid me?"
The doctor blinked. Then cleaned his glasses un-necessarily and blinked again. "Excuse me? I don’t think I’ve ever seen Rassied avoid you. YOU avoid HIM sometimes... but not---"
"You know what I mean."
Rod sat down and made himself comfortable. "No, I’m afraid I don’t."
Ran went back to pacing around. "Well how about last week, when we were over bar-hopping on planet Didus, when Rassied went back to the ship?"
"He’d gotten a call from the science station about that experiment they were running..."
The captain just looked at his counselor and raised an eyebrow.
"Well, yes, okay, it was obviously rather staged... but Rass always does that sort of stuff when we’re in crowds. He hates them – you know that."
"He hates the crowds, but he goes with us anyway. Until I start flirting with him, then he runs." Ran brought out the observation that he’d been making, laying it out on the table along with his underlying thoughts on the situation. He knew Rod wouldn’t miss it.
"Ah." The doctor didn’t disappoint, tilting his chair back and closing his eyes. Probably reviewing that situation and others they’d been in. "Well, that explains why you were so horny when you came in just now."
"I could always go visit Rin instead..."
"She’d appreciate that. She usually does."
The two men shared a grin, in the way that guys will over pretty women, before they returned to seriousness.
"Honestly," Rod shook his head, "I hadn’t noticed that before. But Rassied is usually pretty avoidant of any sort of displays. Being chased like he regularly is, it’s a rather natural reaction."
"I don’t do that, and I’m chased more."
Rod rolled his eyes. "You went in the opposite direction, oh vain one. And Rassied gets chased just as much... it just usually stops sooner when he gives that blank look of ‘oh, I didn’t know’ or the glare, or the sudden swerve into astrophysics, or the running. You tend to like the game a bit more."
Ran acknowledged the truth of that.
"Rassied... Humm..." Rod stood up and paced a bit himself. "Oh, I think I have it."
"What?" Ran was practically hopping.
The doctor sat back down again. "Why do you want to know?"
"Oh for pity’s sake, not this part. Please not this part." Ran sighed, and flopped down into a chair himself, giving in without much of a fight – he knew he would lose if he tried. "It’s just getting frustrating. Ever since we’ve known each other, we’ve had this tension thing going along with our friendship, but he never ever makes a move. I don’t mind, most of the time – it’s kindof cute, and it’s, well... it’s safe. I’m always safe around Rassied, and I trust him and our friendship even more because of it. But... but sometimes it just bugs the shit out of me."
Ran rolled his eyes, "No shit, Sherlock." He shrugged, "Normally, I’d just take a cold shower or a hot one instead. But..." Ran thought of those violet eyes watching him as he’d walked away. Watching, wanting, ... and letting the door close between them.
"But not this time," Rod sighed as well. "Ran, do you remember when Zeus proposed to you?"
It was an abrupt shift of topic... yet one Ran had been thinking about too, because it was where Rassied’s most protective side had come out. "That was a mistake – Lieutenant Foreman was trying to propose to Lt. Radar, and I got in the way." Everybody knew that by now too, especially after their wedding.
"Yes, and do you remember what your concerns were when you found out about Radar’s race?"
Ran sent him a sharp look, "I was asking Dr. Rin for the medical data, not you."
Dr. Hamilton leaned back against a wall and simply looked down his nose at the captain.
"Oh all right. Yes, you doctors do collaborate against us poor mundanes..." Ran frowned, thinking about what he’d brought up. "You know, I was remarking to Rass at that time too... that 25 years was so short of a lifespan..."
"And what did he say?"
"He said that 100 years was also short."
The doctor nodded, "That’s what I thought. Rassied is rather a young Cynsian... not even out of his first century yet."
"I guess he looks at me the way I was thinking of Radar." Ran had always known about the difference between them. But he’d never minded it before. He used to rejoice in it instead – that his friend would be around for so long after him. That there would be so much more that Rassied would do and see. And someday, he would go back to his planet and settle down and take up his responsibilities. But that would be long after Ran himself would be gone – that he would have his friend and Vice-Head with him until then. He’d never thought about what it was like on Rassied’s side of equation. "Zeus decided he didn’t want to waste any of the time he had left with Radar. Even if it was only four years, he would have that time."
"Rassied has already turned down at least 20 other offers for different positions in the time he’s been on the Janet V – some of them even for his own Captaincy or research Head of a planetary staff."
Ran sniffed at that, "None of those could compare to the Janet V! We’re the best ship out there with the most advanced technology anywhere."
"Not even the Seven Sisters?"
The Seven Sisters... the ambitious research project designed for a 20-year journey deep into the galaxy, exploring and discovering, dangerous and exciting... Ran had thought about that one himself, but 20 years was a long time... but it wouldn’t be that long for a Cynsian. He’d once thought that Rass might leave for another ship if it got the new technology that Jane was supposed to have. Rassied told him at that point that he wasn’t staying on Jane just for the technology. Already mad at Rassied, he hadn’t paid as much attention to the subtleties of that as he should have. So he told Rod about it now, instead.
The doctor just nodded. "I think you have your answer, Ran."
"But I don’t know what to do with it." Ran paced around the room some more. If Rassied hadn’t ever propositioned him yet, because of the difference between them, it wasn’t likely he ever would. In fact, the longer this went on, the less likely it became. Diminishing possibilities.
Ran’s head snapped up. "The longer this goes on..." he repeated his thought outloud, his plan starting to take place even as he said it. The longer it went on... but it wasn’t only up to Rassied. Ran rarely made the first move on anybody – there were enough people willing to have sex with him that he didn’t need to seek it out. Either it happened, or it didn’t happen. Either case was usually fine with him. But with Rassied... and the Cynsian prince was supposed to come by his cabin tonight to report. Perfect timing.
"Ran, that grin of yours is scaring me."
The captain looked up to see Rod back in his seat, smiling at him. "I’ve figured it out," he announced.
"That’s nice – now go seduce him like a good little Captain, and we’ll all be much happier."
Ran blinked... how...
"You don’t honestly think that grin of yours could have meant anything else, do you?"
Ran shook his head and thanked the doctor. He ducked out of the room, intent on his plans... and then turned and went back in. "Rod. If this works..." he hesitated, not knowing how to say it, exactly.
"Rassied isn’t like the rest of us, Ran." Rod steepled his fingers together and looked at them. "If your relationship with him changes... well, everything else will have to change too." He glanced back up at the captain, "but that’s as it should be. Don’t worry. We’ll be fine. Well..." the doctor’s gaze drifted off to one side, "most of us will be fine."
It would loose him Rin, is what Rod wasn’t saying. Ran had thought more than once about proposing to the doctor. She was a very good friend, cared deeply about him, and they got on very well. She would be a very good wife for a starship Captain. But she also cared too much, sometimes. Not that Rassied didn’t also have that reaction. But between them... To have Rassied, he would loose Rin, and probably some of his other lovers who wouldn’t be able to make the transition between lovers and friends as easily as Rod. Because in having Rassied... he didn’t think he would want as many lovers, nor have the energy for them, if he had Rassied.
But if he didn’t change things. If he left things as they were... he could have Rassied as his best friend and Vice-Head, steadily by his side, probably for the rest of his life. And he could have everything else too. But he’d still be missing something.
He thought about violet eyes following him as he walked off the bridge. He thought of blue hair spread over his pillow. He thought of the smile he might be able to coax from a serious Cynsian. And he nodded.
"Goodnight, Rod. Thanks for all the help."
"Goodnight, Ran. I won’t expect to see you until lunchtime tomorrow."
Ran stuck his tongue out at the doctor, than went back to his cabin, humming cheerfully as he plotted his plans. Tonight, a certain prince was going down. Though it was debatable who would actually be going down... maybe they could wrestle for that part. Or maybe not, considering how much stronger Rass was. Or...
The humming turned to cheerful whistling, and heads turned as they watched their captain go by...