Made out of two storage containers, Reyes knew their home was small. But it worked for them. What else did they need but each other?
The front door, cut into the side of the containers, opened onto a small hallway. Directly across was their bedroom. If you turned right you walked into Reyes’ small office, the desk covered with piles of data pads. Walking left took you to the living room, just big enough for a small couch and coffee table. Off the living room was the minuscule kitchen, with its two burner stove and its single counter top. And their bedroom? Barely able to fit their double bed and two tiny bedside tables.
But he had never needed a lot of space. And Scott? He was a spacer. Grew up on the citadel, and then went into the alliance. He had lived out of a foot locker most of his life. At least that’s what he had told him when he’d first shown him his home. He had told him they could move somewhere bigger but Scott had kissed him before telling him it was just right. It was more than enough for them.
Reyes loved this little place. Almost as much as he loved the boy currently sleeping in their bedroom, sent here to help his recovery from the battle for Meridian. But what would others think of it? No one else had ever visited his house before Scott. He had been the first person he had shown it too. Now he shared it with him. His had become theirs. And because of that fact, he was about to open up his home to strangers for the first time. No, not strangers. Scott’s family.
He had been in the living room, finishing a call with Keema, when he noticed Scott’s omni-tool signalling an alert. He had made him leave it on the coffee table for that exact reason. So his rest wouldn’t be disturbed. He ignored it, knowing SAM would have told him if Scott was needed. Not that he should be. The other Pathfinders and Cora were looking after things so Scott could be here. Here instead of Meridian. Here instead of where the nightmares never gave him a moments rest. Here where hopefully he could regain his full strength and health back. That’s when Sams voice had came out of the omni-tool, telling him to answer the alert, still flashing. It was Cora calling.
The council had shown up for the summit happening tomorrow. He had hoped for this but never expected it to happen. He had thought Tann would rather die than try to reconcile with the evil exiles of Kadara. Of course Tann wasn’t going to make it easy. To start with, he had commandeered the Tempest as quarters for the council. Commandeered, not asked. If he had asked, Scott would have gladly let him stay there. But that was the difference between his love and that slimy bottom feeder. Scott gave; Tann ordered and took what he wanted. This time his orders had left the crew of the Tempest homeless until the summit was over. No. Scratch that. Homeless for the night. In the morning he would find a place for all of them. But what about tonight? It was late and the outpost could only take three, as every building was filled with people. He found space for Vetra, Drake, and Gil at Tartarus with family members of exiles that had come over from the other planets and the Nexus. But three more still needed a safe place to sleep. What else could he have said? Tight fit or not, he knew he had to open his home once more.
“You found it. Good”, he said, opening the front door. “Come in.”
“A little small”, Peebee said, pushing past him. “Couldn’t the Charlatan find us somewhere bigger? I think Ryder’s room is bigger than this whole place.”
“The same, actually.” Scott had pondered the same the first time he spent the night, cuddled in his arms. SAM had helpfully provided the answer. “And you could sleep on the street.”
“Peebee, hush”, Lexi said. “It’s perfect, Reyes. Thank you.”
“I wouldn’t call it perfect. Living room’s that way”, he said, waving his hand to the right. “You can set up in there.”
“Perfect for the both of you”, Lexi smiled and patted his arm. “How is he?”
“Getting better. He’s sleeping.” He turned his head toward the bedroom door, hearing the rustle of sheets. “Maybe. Excuse me.”
He opened the bedroom door a crack and peeked in. Scott was indeed still asleep, stretched over the center and side of the bed closest to the door, the sheets draped over his waist. He smiled at the peaceful expression on Scott’s face before closing the door and turning back to Lexi.
“Still asleep. On my side but asleep. Where’s---“ Cora walked in. “Cora? Don’t trust my security, Lieutenant?”
“Old habit. Great security, by the way.”
“Thank you. It needs to be with what I’m protecting.”
He had been content with the security of his place before he met Scott. But after Scott started to stay regularly, he had increased it. SAM had been very helpful there; understanding why he was doing so and helping him locate the blind spots he had missed.
“What are you protecting?” Peebee stopped and held up her hands as everyone turned to stare at her. “Okay, keep your secrets. I need help moving the coffee table. Stupid rock on it makes it too heavy.” She turned and walked back to the living room.
“Sometimes she is so oblivious”, Cora said, shaking her head. “Where is Scott?”
“Sleeping.” Which he wouldn’t be if he didn’t get everyone settled soon. “Let’s go help Peebee before she breaks my table.”
They all made their way to the living room where Peebee was trying to shove the coffee table to the side of the room.
“See”, she pointed at the rock. “Stupid rock. This looks familiar now that I think about it.”
“It should.” Cora helped her shove the coffee table. “Almost fell on your head once. Cave in Drauir, remember?”
“Oh, yeah. What’s it doing here?”
Reyes smiled as he looked at the brown rock with small seams swirling with blue, pink, and green minerals. He remembered how pink Scott’s cheeks had gotten as he tried to explain why he had brought it home with him. Telling Reyes how it had reminded him of him. Plain and unassuming on the outside but extraordinary on the inside. It had sat on their coffee table ever since.
"Scott told me the researchers at the outpost told him there wasn’t any use to it. Just a pretty bit of stone. So he brought it home.” He noticed how Lexi smiled at him, trying to ignore her. Hopefully, Scott was wrong and she couldn’t read minds or he was in trouble.
“Home”, Peebee asked. “This is your home?”
“Took you long enough.”
“Thought being the Charlatan would rate you better digs.”
“It works for us. Now...”
He glanced down at his omni-tool as it signaled an alert. Scott’s heart and breathing rate were climbing fast. That could only mean one thing.
“Reyes?’ Lexi crossed the room and touched his arm. “Thank you for this. We can manage from here. Go take care of him.”
“Thank you. Excuse me.”
He quickly walked to the bedroom, silencing the alert. He opened the bedroom door to see Scott sitting up in bed, his chest heaving. The blue glow of SAM’s router on the bedside table bathed the room in a blue glow.
“Thanks, SAM”, he whispered. “I’ve got him.” He closed the door and sat down on the bed as the glow dimmed. “It’s okay, baby. I’m here.”
“Reyes.” Scott’s hand was trembling as he took it in his own. “I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not.” But he was getting better. Slowly but he was finally healing mentally from what the Archon had done. He kissed Scott’s cheek. “You’re on my side of the bed, baby.” It gladdened him to see the small smile on Scott’s face before it disappeared off his face without a trace.
“Scoot.” He slid under the sheets as Scott moved over, laying his head on his pillow. “Yep. Just as I thought. All messed up. Now I will have to fix my side yet again.”
Scott snuggled close, resting his head on his chest.
“You must have a sixth sense when I’m on your side of the bed.”
“I do. Good thing too. Since someone enjoys stealing the whole bed when I’m not in it.”
“You must”, Scott insisted. “Because I didn’t make any sounds.”
No need to tell him what SAM and he had rigged up. Maybe one day but not tonight.
“What was it this time?” Since Meridian, Scott’s nightmares had gotten worse. He could barely close his eyes without one gripping him and pulling him under. They had started to haunt him in the daytime too. It was why he was here. Lexi hoped Reyes could mend the shattered pieces of Scott’s psyche. He wouldn’t fail her. He couldn’t.
“Can’t really remember. Think it was the battle for Meridian again. I woke up and you weren’t here. Where were you?”
“Dealing with our guests.”
“Guests?” Scott sat up. “What guests?”
“Scott, lay down. They’re fine until morning.” Scott went to crawl over him but he stopped him. “No. Stay here.”
“SAM?” The room was bathed in a blue glow. “Thanks.”
“Why did you do that?”
“So I could see you when you answer me. What guests and why are they here? Answer me or I’m going out there.”
He sighed as he sat up and faced Scott. He didn’t want to tell Scott what Tann had done. Not tonight at least. He had to find a way to calm Scott and get him back to sleep. And he had to do it quickly before Scott did what he had said.
“Multiple reasons why you should not do that. One, you are naked.”
“It’s our bedroom. I can find a pair of pants.”
Fair point but that was his weakest argument to begin with.
“Two, then. You need your sleep. If you’ll recall, you are here on doctors’ orders to relax. Sleeping is a part of that.”
“I am relaxed. And I’ll sleep easier knowing who is in our house at this time of the night.”
No way could he check the readout with Scott so focused on him. So old fashioned methods it was. He grabbed Scott’s hand, flipping it over and pressing two fingers to the underside of his wrist.
“Let go.” Scott grabbed at his fingers, trying to get free.
Scott’s pulse was fast and erratic under his fingers. He pulled him close, kissing his cheek.
“Baby, please breathe. Remember what Lexi said? You need to keep your heart rate down. I want you here with me, Scott. I don’t want you returning to Meridian. And neither do you.”
“You didn’t care about keeping my heart rate down a couple hours ago. I’m sure Lexi would be interested to hear about that.” Scott pulled his hand free. “And I’m not going anywhere. Except out that door to see who’s here.”
“Scott, please lay down. Don’t make me call Lexi in here.”
‘Like she would make a house call at this time of night.”
“Considering she’s already here, it wouldn’t be far for her to come.”
He hated the look of hurt in Scott’s eyes. He tried to kiss him but was pushed away.
‘That was the plan all along, wasn’t it? Get me here. Make me believe I was done with Lexi and her tests. Lexi and her needles. Lexi and her endless questions.”
He didn’t bother trying to interrupt. He knew Scott had to get out what he wanted to say before he would listen to him. But like times before, it was tough to listen to him.
“Then when I’m asleep, Lexi shows up to monitor me from the next room. Has she been here the whole time? Every night was she out there, waiting for you to call her? I’m never going to be free of her, am I? For the rest of my life, she’ll be there, waiting. Just like SAM.” He lay back on his pillow, breathing hard. “Maybe that’s a good thing right now but it sucks. This whole thing fucking sucks, Reyes. Maybe I deserve this though. None of this would have happened if I---“
“Scott, what happened on Habitat 7 wasn’t your fault. What the Archon did to your sister... Did to you wasn’t your fault.” He couldn’t stay silent anymore. Not when his blameless love tried to blame himself for what that monster had done. He leaned over Scott and placed a finger on his chest. “No one would have discovered that monsters plan sooner. You beat him, Scott. At great risk to yourself and when you were severely injured yourself, you beat him. You beat him and you came home to me. Just like you promised. You came home. Why is that such a bad thing? The boy I knew before Meridian would have loved to be here. The boy I loved would have enjoyed all the extra time we have together. Did Meridian change you that much?’
“No.” Scott wrapped his arms around him. “I’m still me. Still the man you fell in love with.”
“Yes, you are.” This time when he leaned down for a kiss he wasn’t shoved away. “Still the one I love. Now and forever.” He slid his hand to Scott’s neck to check his pulse again. His own heart rate slowed as he felt Scott’s return to its normal rate. “Go to sleep, my love. You need the rest. I’m right here. I won’t leave your side again until morning.”
“Fine. SAM.” The room returned to darkness once more. “But before I do, why---“
“Sleep.” He lay down himself, kissing Scott’s forehead as he snuggled close. “Or I really will call Lexi in here.”
“Why is she here? And you said visitors. Who else is here with her?”
“I’ll tell you all about it in the morning. Sleep now. Close your eyes.”
As Scott finally listened to him, his body relaxing against his as he finally succumb to the sleep he needed, Reyes finally realized the real reason he didn’t want to move from their tiny home. Scott was very precious to him. He had already come close to losing him three times. The first before he even knew him. And he had come too close to losing him the last time, if he was totally honest with himself. In their tiny home, he always had Scott close at hand. He always heard him just in case something was to happen again. The universe would not find it so easy to try a fourth attempt. He would make sure of it.