I. On the hand
Liam Kosta was a tactile man. Ryder hadn’t realized before, too busy being unconscious while his sister and her crew were off saving the cluster. Y’know, casual shit.
He’d only been cleared for duty very recently, getting a nice lecture from Harry which was followed up by Lexi the second he set foot on the Tempest. But, he’d been cleared all the same, and it was a relief to feel like he was finally doing something that mattered. He was still taking it easy despite it being a month since he was cleared, prone to bouts of dizziness and the occasional headache, but he was doing something. Expanding outposts, mostly, strengthening borders and figuring out shit like food and drinkable water.
And spending lots of time flirting with Liam Kosta.
Liam was a tactile man, Ryder mused once again, trying to pretend he wasn’t flushing as Liam carefully wrapped his knuckles for him, covering up the bruises and scratches, probably from climbing shit or hitting shit or something else Ryder didn’t remember. Liam’s fingertips were calloused, but warm and gentle.
“I told you I could do it,” Ryder told him quietly. “It’s no big deal.” It was quiet in the little corner of the settlement they’d found. They sat on boulders beside a small body of sparkling water, only recently made drinkable.
“I know. I wanted to,” Liam replied, looking up at him and smiling, his warm eyes sparkling in the sun. Then he tied off the bandage, kissed Ryder’s knuckles, and released his hand like nothing had happened.
If Ryder didn’t know him better, he’d have bought the overly casual display as Liam turned his attention back to the admiring the view, a slight smirk fighting at the corners of his mouth.
II. On the cheek
Ryder kind of wanted to kiss whoever it was on the crew that always had coffee made by the time he woke up. Knowing his sister and her weird sleep schedule, it was probably her, so maybe no kissing. Either way, he wasn’t about to question it as he yawned his way through pouring out a mug of bitter liquid. He turned to get milk from the fridge, blinking as he almost ran into Liam as he rounded the corner, looking unfairly adorable in a t-shirt and sweatpants.
“Woah!” Liam grinned, taking a step back. “Look sharp, Ryder.”
“Can’t, need coffee,” Ryder told him with a fondly dirty look. The corner of his mouth lifting gave him away.
He blinked as Liam smooched his cheek before continuing on to the coffee machine, that same fake-casual look on his face like he hadn’t done anything unusual. Ryder stared at him for a long moment.
“…one day I’ll beat you to it, Kosta,” he muttered, smirking into the cold fridge as he heard Liam snickering under his breath.
III. On the shoulder
Liam was prone to angry push-ups, Ryder realized.
He watched from the doorway, frowning a bit in concern, even if the sight was pretty impressive. Liam faltered slightly, his eyes flicking toward Ryder’s feet, before glaring back down at the floor as he continued on.
“What happened?” Ryder asked, tilting his head and stepping further into the room. The door closed with a hiss behind him.
“Nngh,” Liam grunted.
Ryder lifted his eyes fondly to the ceiling. “Not an answer, Kosta.”
Liam seemed content to ignore him for a while, then abruptly gave up, pushing himself up onto his knees before rocking onto his feet. He wiped sweat from his forehead with his arm, jaw still clenched.
“So?” Ryder prompted.
“I just mean…it’s honestly nothing?” Liam sighed. “Nothing in particular, anyway. Just got this feeling…get it every once in a while. Like you get when you’re caught in the dark, or get stuck too far from shore.”
Ryder softened at that, his heart tugging at the lost look in Liam’s eyes. He reached to take his hand, ignoring the uncertainty of whatever had been going on between them the past few weeks.
“Come sit,” he suggested quietly, nodding to the couch.
Liam nodded, allowing Ryder to tug him along.
They sat, and Ryder kept close, his thigh and shoulder pressing comfortably to Liam’s and allowing his body to warm him. The man’s body heat was near constantly scorching. It made Ryder want to press his cheek against his chest and fall asleep.
“Did something happen?” he asked eventually, his voice still quiet.
“No,” Liam sighed, pulling a face. “Can you not talk like that?”
“Like I’m gonna break. Doesn’t sound right from you.”
Ryder snorted, smiling a bit. “What? I can’t be gentle?”
Liam smiled back, playing with his fingers. “You can be,” he admitted. “Just…still. Doesn’t sound right.”
“Mm.” Ryder took off the hat he’d been trying to wear, the hat of someone who was soft and careful with their words. Liam was right; it just sounded fake. “Well, in that case - we’re all feeling it, Kosta. And you’re gonna be alright,” he told him, more firmly and with a gentle nudge. “And until you are, we’ll just hang out and drink beer. And you can talk my ear off about cars. Again.”
Liam laughed once, the grin wide even if his eyes were still haunted. He turned, though, and hugged Ryder tight. He smelled like vanilla, Ryder mused, squeezing him around his waist and smiling when he felt lips against his shoulder.
IV. On the neck
Fuck, Ryder really needed to take it easy with the weights. He grimaced, rubbing his stiff neck and shoulders as he shuffled back to his bunk after breakfast He was sore as hell from the previous day’s workout. He always tried to go for more than he could really handle. His dad had said the same for years.
He passed by Liam in the hall, who stopped in his tracks and turned right back around to walk beside him. Ryder tried to fight the grin, even as he rubbed at a particularly painful knot. “Hey, Kosta.”
“Ryder. You good?” Liam asked, raising an eyebrow at the grimace on his face.
“Just sore,” Ryder sighed, the pair of them entering the bunks. He sank onto his own bed, practically pouting. “Don’t tell my sister I fucked my neck up again. I’ll never hear the end of it.”
Liam laughed quietly, sitting beside him. “Wouldn’t dream of it. Here, turn around.”
Ryder paused, glancing at him. “Why?” he asked warily.
“Just do it, go on,” Liam pressed, nudging him until he turned obediently.
Ryder pulled his legs fully onto the bed and crossed them, facing the wall as he felt Liam shifting to sit behind him. Then he felt hands on his shoulders, and swallowed as nerves fluttered in his stomach. They’d been dancing around each other for a while, now, but the tiny kisses and flirtatious smiles were nothing compared to this kind of intimacy.
“Alright?” Liam asked, his hands lifting to hover over him instead. “I won’t, if you don’t want.”
“No, I…” Ryder swallowed, and forced his voice to keep working. “I want. Definitely.”
Liam’s palms rested on his shoulders again, warming his skin, and thumbs dug into the knots near his spine, first. He hissed, pulling a face and grunting slightly as Liam dug into the painful tension. Eventually, though, the muscles warmed and loosened, and he relaxed, releasing a grateful sigh through his nose. Liam’s hands moved to work at his neck, then further out to rub and knead at his shoulders and even his biceps.
Ryder shivered when he felt Liam’s mouth on his shoulder, though it was different from the other time he’d done it. This time he kept going, peppering kisses on top of Ryder’s shirt and on until he found bare skin at the base of Ryder’s neck. That made him shiver, goosebumps raising, and he took a shuddering breath as Liam’s lips pressing scorchingly up his neck and to his ear where he lingered, sending almost unbearable shivers down Ryder’s spine as he tickled him with his breath.
Liam had given up massaging, now, his palms now smoothing down Ryder’s arms and down to his hands, where he briefly tangled up their fingers. Then they slid back up, and over his shoulders again to reach his chest, then down his stomach and just brushing his pelvis before coming back up. Ryder was a wanton mess by that point, breathing deeply with his eyes closed and his face tilted up toward the bunk above them. Liam’s teeth gently teased his earlobe, and then there were footsteps in the hall, and it was over as quickly as it had begun.
They separated, realizing how In Public the bunks were, and Ryder felt his face burning. They exchanged a look, though, and laughed shakily.
V. On the spine
It was nice to know that Kosta’s gun show wasn’t just that - a show. Ryder marveled excitedly as Liam held him up like he weighed nothing, pinning him to the wall of his room with his arms tucked under Ryder’s legs and his hands gripping his ass. He wasn’t sure what exactly had happened between ‘hey let’s hang out and watch movies’ and getting hauled up against the wall, but he certainly wasn’t pissed about it.
“Are we gonna fuck on your couch?” he asked deliriously, grinning when Liam laughed.
“I have a bed, Ryder,” he teased breathlessly, and Ryder hummed as the man playfully nipped at his jaw.
“Oh, thank god.”
He was a little disoriented as he was abruptly pulled away from the wall and spun around, latching onto Liam with his arms and legs. Liam carried him toward the corner of the room instead, where he indeed had a couple of mattresses tossed onto the floor.
“Did you get those for me, or do you starfish at night? ‘Cause that might just be a deal-breaker,” Ryder babbled, grinning and breathless as Liam gently laid him down and crawled to hover over him.
“I’m a starfisher,” Liam admitted. “Sorry to disappoint.”
“Shame,” Ryder sighed. “The dick better be worth it.”
“Do you ever stop?” Liam smirked, reaching to pull Ryder’s shirt over his head and then following with his own.
Soon they were both bare and pressed tightly together, hips rolling and hands grasping eagerly. Ryder couldn’t decide what to touch first and settled for shoulders, gripping the sinewy muscle tightly and digging his fingernails into flesh. He would have grabbed onto hair if he didn’t already know Liam fucking hated that. He wondered what else he hated, but he wondered even more about what he loved.
Eventually Liam rolled him onto his stomach, making Ryder’s heart thud in anticipation at what exactly he planned to do with him. The excitement was tempered by fondness as kisses were pressed down the length of his spine, slow and sweet and soft. Ryder closed his eyes to just enjoy the moment.
Eos was beautiful, in it’s way. Rolling dunes of sand, dry heat, sparkling water and colorful flora. And now, a thriving outpost teeming with life and promise. Ryder watched it fondly, proud of what his sister had been able to accomplish, what he and their team had been able to expand upon. They’d never be have gotten here if it weren’t for her.
“Looks great, doesn’t it?”
Ryder glanced over his shoulder, smiling warmly when he saw Liam approaching. He wasn’t sure what it was, but the guy looked especially gorgeous on Eos, his skin and eyes warm against the sun and sand.
“Mhm.” He turned back to watch Prodromos bustling below from their vantage point, on a cliff high above that made him glad he wasn’t afraid of heights. He smiled as Liam slung an arm over his shoulders. “Any particular reason you wanted to meet here, Kosta? This is random, even for you.”
“It’s not, I promise,” Liam laughed, turning to face him. Ryder was a little taken aback by the softness in his eyes. “When we met…properly, everything was already getting started. And I thought I knew what my life was going to be, that I’d gotten my new start in Andromeda. But…I hadn’t realized that new start didn’t begin until you woke up.
“And I just wanted you to know…” Liam took a deep breath. Ryder could feel his fingers trembling a bit, where they were loosely curled around his wrists. “That what I feel about you, is…it’s important to me. And I know we haven’t been together very long. Or we haven’t been together at all, technically, I don’t really-”
Ryder smiled, standing on his toes to close the inch gap and kiss the silly, awkward confessions off his mouth. He wrapped his arms around Liam’s neck, sighing happily when the kiss was returned and he was held a little closer, as well.
Told you I’d beat you to it, one day.
“We definitely are,” he confirmed, grinning at the way Liam’s eyes lit up. “And yeah, it hasn’t been long, but…it feels like a long time. Maybe time is different out here.”
“Or maybe we’re picking up where we left off in another life,” Liam suggested, smiling gently.
Ryder screwed up his nose to hide the way a lump settled in his throat and his eyes stung a bit. “Kosta, come on! You can’t say that kinda shit, I’m gonna cry!” he complained, swatting his chest half-heartedly.
Liam snickered, holding onto Ryder’s waist and dragging him close once more. Ryder couldn’t help laughing as his lips tickled him under his jaw.
“Not even sorry.”