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Twenty-four-hour shifts aren’t so bad, if you know how to keep yourself busy.

Galo isn’t good at sitting around and staring at the wall – Lucia is fun to test freeze tech with, but only for so long, you know? Eventually your fingers start to burn numb and the green sludgy fire-retardant stinks up your nose and the novelty wears off real fast.

Down time is never long anyways, especially back when the Mad Burnish were running around.

It’s busier now.

Galo works two back to back forty-eight hours after the crash of the ship – but Galo isn’t thinking of it as a job insomuch as saving all the thousands of people affected by Kray’s batshit Pernassus project. There are countless injured outside the city as well; ‘cause duh, fallout from a city-sized ship crashing into the earth is a no brainer, even for someone like Galo.

It’s long days – rough, depressing work, but that’s okay. It’s easier to busy himself in helping others, rather than sorting out the own mess in his heart.

Lio hurts him most of all.

These weeks have been brutal, and Lio has appointed himself as head of ex-Burnish refugee and humanitarian efforts, and that’s a load of politics that makes Galo’s head spin. He gets the gist of it – it ain’t gonna’ be easy to undo thirty years of segregation and warmongering and fear, even if the burnish aren’t really burnish anymore. Even if they weren’t at fault to begin with.

Ignis keeps riding Lio’s ass about going home to catch some Z’s, but Lio has set up operations in the corner of their common room, and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere soon.

“We’re working tight with the Temp,” Ignis says, arms crossed, hip up against Lucia’s workbench. “She’s young, but eager to help. We can get you a sanctioned apartment at the least.”

“I can’t accept that. Not when so many of my brothers and sisters are going without,” Lio says, straightforward as always.

Ignis never repeats himself, and Lio never folds, so Galo continues to watch Lio work tirelessly in the corner of their Rescue tower, and Galo’s burning soul aches for the pain in Lio’s eyes.

 

~

 

Galo may be an idiot, but he’s not stupid.

“I’m not a firefighter,” Lio says, but spends all his free time in the Burning Rescue building, organizing death records and filing paperwork for government pensions and sitting knee to knee with his generals, scratching their heads about where they’re going to move all the displaced people.

It makes the most sense for Lio to be here. The media is um, not friendly out there. Galo likes people. He likes cameras and answering simple questions – but they’re so cold to Lio. So bizarrely cruel and unforgiving, throwing big words around like terrorist and deranged and mentally unstable, which Galo finds super wrong and messed up. He’d go out and fight ‘em all personally, but Ignis said um, no.

They’re safer here anyways. Galo sure as hell won’t let any stinky reporter sneak into headquarters, nor will Aina or Ignis or Varys or anyone else here.

Galo is tired, and that’s good, he likes when his muscles hurt. That’s how ya’ know you’re doing your job right.

He peeks in the common room sometimes, just to see if Lio is still there. He always is; eyes ringed red and black, flipping through pages and making phonecalls and when he isn’t? He’s out with the rescue team, pulling people trapped week-long under rubble, handing out rations and sitting hip to hip with the children on the sidewalk.

Galo isn’t sure if he’s ever seen Lio sleep.

“Hey,” Aina knocks on his forehead like a door, and Galo startles. “Anyone in there?”

“Oops,” Galo blinks. “You were saying things again, weren’t you?”

Aina sighs, “I was talking about dinner. Did you hit your head a little too hard today?”

“Only the right amount,” Galo tells. His brain then catches up, “Wait?! Dinner? Is Varys cooking?”

“Uh, duh.

“Oh thank god. Remi about killed me with the tofu yesterday.”

“It’s healthy,” Remi argues. Aina gives him a rare ‘unfortunately I agree with Galo’ look, where her mouth goes all pressy and her eyebrows wonked, and Remi sighs.

“Hey Lio!” Galo beams, gripping the back of his chair and tugging playfully. “Come eat! You’re gonna’ get a flat ass from all that sitting.”

Lio gives him a scandalized look, and Meis and Gueira start to laugh.

“No,” Lio says. “We’re about to hand out dinner rations.”

“We got it, Boss,” Gueria says. “You haven’t eaten all day.”

“What?!” Galo gasps. “That’s just wrong.”

“I’m fine.”

“Come on,” Aina beckons. “I’ll save a spot at the table.”

Galo hooks an arm under Lio’s armpit and hauls him up with a grin; Lio bristles like a cat, swatting his hand and frowning – but Galo has learned not to take offense. Lio is cold by appearance, but warm in subtler ways.

“Make sure you visit the tents by the green district,” Lio demands.

“Aye aye!”

Lio walks stiffly by his side, following Galo without another word. Galo can see his brain working too hard, and Galo wracks his own to find the right thing to say, and comes up short.

Lio is under a lot of stress. Hey, Galo gets it, but sometimes, he wishes…

Well, he doesn’t know exactly what.

“If you’re lucky, you might get to try Varys’s hotdog sundae,” Galo says.

Lio blanches, eyes going wide.

“His what?”

“Trust me, you have not lived yet. Everything you’ve eaten until now has been a lie.”

“I think I’ll pass.”

“If you ask me, I just think you’re afraid to live deliciously.”

Lio blinks for a long second, and Galo perks up at the flash of humor in his eyes. He turns his gaze down to the floor, and almost smiles. “It sounds like food poisoning just waiting to happen.”

Galo laughs and slaps him on the back, and Lio’s form doesn’t move, sturdy as a rock. Galo is selfish – he’d do stupid things just to see Lio smile.

“You’ll learn soon enough, my friend.”

The mess hall is loud and bustling and smells like pizza and gravy, and Galo tries to include Lio in the conversation, but he’s a little more reserved than usual. It’s okay, because Galo is satisfied just watching Lio eat something.

Damn, he’s starting to sound like Aina.

 

~

 

Galo grunts and rolls his shoulder, walking through the garage bay as he fights through tossed wrenches, forgotten robot parts and messily parked cars. He can not for the life of him find the new matoi prototype that Lucia made him.

Yes, technically he’s supposed to be off for the next two days but he really wants to mess around with the prototype tomorrow, even though yeah okay he’s kinda’ low on groceries and laundry and maybe he should work on his bills but also Lucia said the prototype had a new gun mechanism which hell yes he’s going to take that to the shooting range and fuck with it.

Galo accidentally kicks a paint can, and freezes as it echoes around the garage. Ignis will have his ass for dinner if he catches him here on a day (night, what time is it?) off, so Galo creeps around quieter this time.

He hunts through the containers on the back of the firetruck. When he comes up empty, he moves onto the lockers. Quickly throwing open cabinets, Galo opens, closes, opens, closes, and finally steps up on his toes, and pats around the top hanging door.

It all happens a little too fast. Galo fwaps his hand around the shelf, there’s a very dignified yelp, and suddenly Galo is nursing a black eye.

“Shit,” Lio peeks over the edge of the shelving. “You scared me.”

“Woah–“ Galo recoils, pressing a hand to his eye. “Nice arm! That kinda’ hurt.”

“Um…” Lio blinks, and then Galo starts to process what just happened.

“Wait…what are you doing?”

Galo leans up on his toes, Lio slides back up against the wall, and Galo blinks as he sees an old paramedic blanket and an orange jacket wadded up for a pillow.

“Are you sleeping up here?!”

“Shhh!”

“Lio!”

“Go away.”

“Uhh, no way dude. Why are you napping in our garage?!”

“I gave Meis my bunk. Now shut up and leave.”

Galo drags the bench over and steps on it, now eye level with Lio’s little hidey hole. It looks cold and dirty and what the hell, Galo would never let any of his friends live like this!

“Does Meis know you’re here?”

“Um…”

Galo starts to laugh, covering his mouth when it echoes. He shakes his head, “Big Boss is sleeping in a cabinet. That’s incredible.”

Lio’s eyes darken, “I’ve slept in worse.”

Galo feels a sliver of guilt, but stomps over it with determination. He smiles, grabbing Lio by the thigh and yanking him towards the edge.

“Come on, you need some real shuteye.”

“I don’t,” Lio hisses. “I just need to close my eyes for a second.”

“That’s called sleep, man.”

“Shut up – don’t-“ Lio inhales as Galo pulls him off the self by his hips, and lands him on his feet. He blinks up, and Galo can’t help but smile down at him. He always wants to smile at Lio. How cute – sleeping in a garage so his general can have the bunkbed! Galo could just squeeze him to death and maybe pat his fluffy hair and probably get kicked in the nuts for it.

“I have a suuper comfy couch,” Galo tells, urging Lio towards his bike at the edge of the garage. “I spent six months breaking that baby in. I’ve had Varys sleep on it n’ everything. Big Guy approved.”

“It’s fine,” Lio tugs, albeit without intention. Galo knows Lio is capable of landing him on his ass if he really wanted to, and that thought makes him feel weird, so Galo shoos it away. “You don’t have to bother.”

“Not a bother at all! What are friends for, right?!”

Lio stares at him blankly. Galo stops walking to stare back at him. He has these sparkly pink eyes that still, amid their exhaustion, burn with the hottest fire Galo has ever seen (and he’s seen sooo many. Like, at least a hundred fires).

Lio’s voice is deep, too smooth to reverb around the garage.

“We’re friends?”

Taken back, Galo nearly hesitates. He slaps Lio on the shoulder instead, again pushing him towards the bike, “Well we are now! Just you wait, I’ll be the best friend you’ve ever had. Galo Thymos, best friend extraordinaire –“

Lio exhales, almost a laugh if Galo decided to look into it, and he tugs Galo by the waistband.

“Wait. Let me grab a couple things.”

That’s a yes if Galo has ever heard one. He nods, and Lio steps back into the building, and Galo waits stubbornly on his motorcycle.

Lio does come back. There’s a bag over his shoulder, black and almost indistinguishable against the rest of his outfit. He still fits so strangely in their little Burning Rescue family, but he’s a good fit nonetheless. Galo selfishly wants to see him in an orange jacket, maybe just once.

“Okay,” Lio says.

“Hop on,” Galo calls, and he knows Lio is experienced with bikes – but even if he didn’t, it would be obvious from the way Lio confidently slides onto the back, weight evenly balanced as he grips a hand on Galo’s shoulder and waits.

Galo tells himself not to get distracted by the heat at his back. He flips his kickstand and revs out of the garage, and Lio leans with him when he turns, and for a moment, Galo thinks of giant robots, and the feeling of fire at his neck.

 

~

 

 “Err, I would’ve cleaned if I’d known…”

“No you wouldn’t have,” Lio says easy. He steps into Galo’s apartment like he’s done it a thousand times, but then again, Galo has never seen Lio seem unsure of anything. Except maybe, once. “I’ve seen your locker.”

Fair enough.

“Well, mi casa es su casa. The couch is over there, help yourself to anything in the fridge –“ Galo bites his tongue in surprise. Time slows to a horrible standstill, and Galo is suddenly aware of how gentle Lio is capable of being. 

He’s looking up at him with another expression Galo can’t read, but Lio is cupping Galo’s cheek, finger sweeping across his bruise with regretful tenderness.

“Sorry,” Lio whispers.

“Its…” Galo exhales, but Lio is then gone, bent down to unbuckle the three hundred snaps on his boots and meandering through his apartment.

Galo touches his own black eye, still stuck in his head – but slaps himself out of it, bounding after Lio after he rounds the corner.

“Feel free to use the shower,” Galo points. “It screams before it gives you hot water, so don’t be alarmed. It’s just saying hello!”

Lio gives him a look, but doesn’t make any comment. He sets his bag down on the couch and walks straight to the bathroom without another word.

Galo swallows, and scratches the back of his head. He’s kind of a puzzle, isn’t he?

Okay, it’s still three in the morning – blankets! Right, right. Galo hunts through his closet for the shit Aina usually uses when she crashes. He sets the blanket and the pillow on the couch, and wipes his hands on his pants nervously.

He tries to sweep some of the trash off the coffee table and closes the blinds so the sun won’t wake Lio up first thing. Galo can hear the shower running already, so he figures he can wash up in the morning. His eyes are starting to go dry anyways – so he walks up to the bathroom door and hesitates.

“Um,” Galo starts. “Goodnight! My room is on the left if you need anything!”

No response. That’s cool.

Galo retires to his room and chucks off his clothes and falls asleep to the sound of water rushing through the pipes. At least he can rest knowing Lio is no longer sleeping in a garage cabinet.

 

~

 

Wait, no.

 

Galo is desperately trying to figure out what’s wrong with this picture.

 

He woke up feeling pretty good. Hey, no work today, (still couldn’t find the matoi), but he filled up on gas yesterday and the sun is up and - !

And Lio still looks miserable.

“Mornin’!” Galo greets, stretching his arms above his head. “You’re up early.”

Lio looks like he’s been here a while. Papers are spread out along Galo’s kitchen table, and he has one of the Burning Rescue tablets propped up against Galo’s (dead) houseplant. There are still dark circles under his eyes, and his skin looks pale, and he’s in the exact same outfit as yesterday, and Galo has a realization.

Lio doesn’t own things. Like, clothes and paraphernalia. It’s likely he’s living off of a small ration pack of toiletries, just as he has the last thirty years in hiding. Lio’s bag was full of paperwork.

And Lio never had a home to put things in, even if he wanted to. 

Lio looks up at him, and aghhhh, if Galo could just make him smile! If Galo could just – just see the way Lio looked at him after they saved the world – just one more time.

Lio’s voice is deep and smooth.

“Did I wake you?”

“Nope! You hungry?”

“Not particularly.”

“Lies,” Galo says, opening the fridge. “I’ve got toast and eggs? Shit I actually need to go to the grocery store today.”

“You don’t need to make me anything,” Lio says, typing into the tablet.

“Sure,” Galo beams, and makes him breakfast anyways. It’s not fancy or nothing, but Lio looks up at him gratefully when Galo slides a warm plate towards him.

“Thank you…”

“You can take the bottom shelf in the bathroom,” Galo says, eating messily over the sink. “N’ that top drawer under the T.V. Just toss that crap aside, s’ just movies Varys keeps giving me.”

Lio looks at him and lifts an eyebrow.

“Am I moving in?”

“Well I’m not going to let you live on a shelf,” Galo teases.

Lio rolls his eyes and bites his toast.

“It was just for one night.”

“It’s a comfy couch, issnit?”

Lio relents, and Galo counts that as a win.

“I’m gonna’ run errands,” Galo tosses his keys up and catches them. “Any food requests?”

“How responsible,” Lio says dryly. “Color me impressed.”

“I’m very responsible! My burning-“

“Yes, I know,” Lio replies, and this time the look in his eyes is fond, and Galo realizes he’s screwing with him. “I don’t need anything, thank you.”

“Don’t go anywhere,” Galo points. “Or do, I don’t care. I used to keep a spare key above the fridge but Lucia swallowed it and – yeah, don’t ask.”

Lio snorts once behind his hand, shoulders shaking a little, and a knot ties in Galo’s chest.

 

~

 

He buys enough food to last a couple of weeks, and secretly tries to think up meals that’ll impress Lio. He also subtly buys a pack of toothbrushes and soap, a little unsure of what exactly Lio does and doesn’t have.

Galo is happy that Lio is still there when he returns. He’s working on his tablet, eyebrows pushed together in concentration, and Galo wants to smooth out the wrinkles with his thumbs very badly.

His apartment isn’t huge, ‘cause firefighter pay isn’t luxurious much, but their paths don’t cross a lot anyways. Lio leaves that afternoon to visit the refugees, and Galo wants to go with him, but he’s not sure if it’s any of his business to.

Galo isn’t the hesitant type, but this is different, more personal stuff. He just wishes Lio didn’t look so tired.

 

A purple toothbrush appears next to Galo’s orange one.

 

~

 

They start working the same shifts. Twenty-four on, forty-eight off, but both of them are pretty shitty at the not-working thing. Lio goes on Burning Rescue shifts while at the station, and does his paperwork nonstop at Galo’s apartment, and Galo rides his bike and punches bags at the gym and practices at the shooting range and tries not to hover over Lio’s shoulder like a dog.

He still kinda’ does though. Lio doesn’t tell him to go away, so Galo sits at the table and watches him read. Lio tucks his hair behind his ear, deceptively soft and sweet. If only he didn’t look so unbearably exhausted.

“Do you like sushi?” Galo asks, head in hand.

“I think so. It’s been a long time,” Lio answers.

“I’m thinking of learning how to make it,” Galo says. “I’ve tried a couple times, but the paper always comes out lumpy.”

“Aina made sushi for group lunch last week, didn’t she?” Lio asks, without looking up. “Ask her to teach you.”

Galo grins, happy that Lio remembered something small like that.

“Yeah, but Aina doesn’t have the patience for that type of stuff. I’d end up with a fish crammed up my ass.”

Lio gives a surprised laugh, slapping a hand over his mouth and forcing his expression neutral again, and Galo leans back on the two legs of his chair and cackles.

“Still not a part of the Rescue team, huh?”

“I’m not a firefighter,” Lio tells. He’s not burnish either, but neither of them say it.

 

~

 

The only reason Galo notices, is because it’s the first time he’s ever seen Lio not in black leather. Which – okay, he’s not gonna’ complain. It’s skintight and sort-of sexy in a way that Galo didn’t consider sexy to begin with but Lio has these long legs and a cinched waist and –

“Is that my sweatshirt?” Galo asks.

Lio stares at him, face still red from the shower, and rolls up the sleeves on the ridiculously large blue hoodie.

“Maybe.”

“Okay,” Galo nods. “Why?”

“My clothes are in the washer,” Lio explains, pattering back over towards the kitchen table barefoot – and okay, okay okay okay. Galo’s brain is in totally pure and wholesome places but he is so absolutely sure that Lio is not wearing underwear. Which makes sense, Lio doesn’t own a lot of clothes, everyone needs to be clean yes yes but that is his sweatshirt and it looks so big and oh lord Galo’s brain might melt out of his ears.

“We need to get you some more clothes,” Galo says. God, Lio’s legs are so strong and smooth.

“Says the one that never wears a shirt.”

“I do too wear shirts,” Galo huffs. “They always burn off me!”

“So unfortunate,” Lio replies airily. “I don’t have money for frivolous stuff anyways. All the government donations are going towards those in need.”

“Oh, speaking of!” Galo pats around his pants, and then darts into his room to pat around his other pantsuntil he finds a white envelope. He skips back to the table, where Lio has already folded himself up in the chair and Galo’s eyes do not go straight to his legs because Galo is a man with honor. “This is from Ignis. He said you wouldn’t accept it if he gave it to ya’.”

Lio raises an eyebrow and takes the letter. He looks at the front and the back, and then slides his nail under the seal.

“What is this?”

“A check for the hours you worked this month. Burning Rescue hours, anyways.”

Lio freezes and narrows his eyes.

“I said – 

“Yup!” Galo cuts off, “But you still helped us with the schoolhouse fire and the ex-Burnish first aid and the outer city cleanup and you saved the world with the greatest firefighter in history so like, it’d be wrong not give ya’ something!”

Lio takes a look at the check number, and then sets it back down on the table. His expression is unreadable, so Galo claps him on the back and passes his way towards the couch.

“Don’t pout, you can keep wearing my hoodie. I don’t mind.”

“Hmm. Like you get any use out of it anyways,” Lio teases, and Galo smiles ear to ear.

 

~

 

He thinks about Lio’s mouth a lot.

Probably too much.

 

Lio is clever – a perfect addition to the team – surprisingly strong and stubborn and willing to jump right in the action alongside Galo.

Lucia likes to talk mechs with him. Galo never understands much of her rambling, but he does like new tech, so he lets them nerd out together and hopes good (big crushy) things will come of it.

Lio talks too low to overhear, but Galo watches his mouth anyways, and feels guilt build in his stomach.

He knows how soft his lips are. He knows how perfectly Lio’s neck fits against his palm.

 

Galo wonders if Lio remembers.

 

 

He hopes he doesn’t. He also hopes that he does.

 

There are still housefires, still car accidents, still emergencies that keep their day to day schedule full. Galo attacks every fire with his burning soul – he likes the heat of it on his face, likes feeling his suit push itself to the limit as he pilots through a burning high rise.

Varys and Remi are thirty floors below. Galo extinguishes a room full of flames, busts open a window and climbs twenty more floors to the people trapped in a storage room – and a new feed pops up on his window.

“There’s a backdraft up there. It’s spreading to the upper floors.”

Galo grins, climbing through another window and extinguishing flames with his suit.

“When are ya’ finally going to get back in a suit again, Lio Fotia? You’re missing out on all the fun.”

Lio gives him an unimpressed look, and he bats off Lucia’s pestering.

“Focus, Galo.”

“Don’t be afraid!” Galo yells, throwing open the storage door. “Your hero has arrived!”

There are universal sighs through the coms, but Lio’s feed is the one Galo keeps obsessively checking, even when he tries not to. Sometimes, Lio will half-smile when he thinks Galo isn’t looking, and it makes his heart do a variety of silly things, and Galo is probably addicted to it.

The feeling is warm – smooth, like tiny flickering fires in his chest – and Galo knows what it means.

 

He just doesn’t know what to do about it.

 

~

 

“Galo Thymos! Is it true that Burning Rescue is housing terrorists?!”

“What is your opinion on the Kray Foresight trial? Do you think him innocent?”

“It’s speculated that ex-Burnish refugees will steal jobs and collapse the Promepolis economy! Do you believe this to be true?!”

“No more questions,” Ignis says, and pushes Galo quickly off the stage.

 

“I don’t want this,” Galo’s voice wavers. He nearly trips over his feet as Ignis crowds him in the building, cameras flashing behind him. “I just want to talk about helping people.”

“I know,” Ignis says, and keeps an arm around his shoulders. Galo feels so much righteous fury and crippling anguish all at once, the passionate feelings so at war with each other, that all Galo can do is walk numbly down the hall.

 

~

 

Galo startles to the sound of something shattering in his kitchen. He jerks upright, his body transitioning from dead asleep to wide awake in seconds.

Adrenaline coursing through him, Galo kicks off the covers and scrambles out of bed, skidding into the kitchen and calling, “HEY!!”  

Galo stops himself at the counter.

It’s just Lio, stood barefoot on the tile with the lowlights on. He’s in the new pajamas he’s been wearing – just grey sweats and one of Galo’s stolen t-shirts, and his hands are dripping with blood.

“Sorry,” Lio says, looking to the floor, and Galo notices the broken mug.

“Oh,” Galo blinks. He’s not much of a coffee drinker, but Lio dug out the old pot Galo had stashed under his cabinet and now it usually sits on the counter and hey, why is Lio making coffee at two in the morning and oh shit – “Your hand!”

Lio is staring at the gash in his palm, calm and unbothered. His stare narrows, and it almost seems like he’s waiting for something. Almost like —

Oh.

Like he’s waiting for it to heal on his own. They both know the Promare are gone. And they both know the wound is there to stay, but Lio continues to stare as if maybe, the fire might lick his palm and heal it clean once more.

Galo darts to his bathroom and rummages under his sink for the first aid kit. Lio is still standing there numbly when he comes back, so he pulls Lio carefully around the broken ceramic and leads him to the sink.

“It’s fine –“ Lio starts, but Galo isn’t having it tonight.

“Stop saying that. I’m a paramedic,” Galo grits sternly. “Let me.”

Lio looks at him, and he almost seems startled. Galo holds him by the wrist and keeps his palm under the spray. When he’s sure there aren’t any bits stuck in there, he applies pressure with a towel, and leads them over to the kitchen table.

Lio’s papers are spread all over the table, and the light of his tablet is still on – and Galo feels angry, because Lio has not been sleeping, he’s been fuckin’ working. Right under his own nose!

Galo wipes Lio’s hand clean and uses antiseptic just to be sure. It’s a bleeder, so Galo grabs a bandage and starts wrapping his hand tight.

“I didn’t mean to wake you up,” Lio says.

Galo focuses on wrapping between Lio’s fingers, weaving in and out on autopilot.

“You’re not that smart, you know,” Galo says.

Lio looks at him, and blinks once as if to say, did you really just say that to me? – but Galo continues.

“I know the signs of exhaustion, dummy,” Galo squeezes his palm, and Lio tenses a little from the sting. “I’m a workaholic, but you’re giving the word a whole new meaning, dude.”

“Galo…”

“It can wait,” Galo says, forcing his eye – and jeez. Lio is just so…pretty. Lio knows it too, but Galo wants to tell him anyways. He drops his hold to Lio’s wrist, so thin and small that his fingers touch. “Whatever it is you’re working on, whoever you’re trying to help – it can wait.” He smiles, lowering his voice a little to match the low lighting and the late hour. “I’ll save you, Lio Fotia. And I’ll help you save those people too.”

Lio’s gaze wavers. His throat bobs with a hard swallow, and his eyes dip down and up almost too fast to register.

“It’s not just…” Lio sighs, and some of the exhaustion settles in his drooped shoulders.

Galo wants to kiss him. He wants to so very badly. But Lio is dealing with so much – he doesn’t want to be another kink in his neck.

“You can talk to me,” Galo says seriously. “I’m your friend, remember?”

Lio gazes into him. His uninjured hand comes to rest outside of Galo’s large one, and the touch feels electric, like little static shocks.

“I can’t sleep,” Lio whispers. “So I’d rather be working than staring at the wall.”

Galo frowns.

“Why can’t you sleep?”

Lio hesitates. He flexes his fingers, testing the bandages.

“It’s hard to explain.”

“I can try and understand,” Galo says earnestly. Lio pauses a moment longer, long enough for Galo to feel fidgety – but Lio speaks eventually.

“I’ve felt different since the Promare left. Kind of…wrong.”

“Hah? How so?”

“It’s like…when the sync happened, I was complete. The past thirty years it’s been – like,” Lio presses his hand to his chest, “- like I was sharing this body with something else. And now it’s just empty. At night is when it feels especially…”

Galo stares at him, projecting as many encouraging thoughts as he can without vibrating out of his skin. He’d never judge Lio for anything, especially after what they’ve been through.

Lio looks back up at him, and all the hesitation is gone, fueled with the Big Boss fire in his eyes. His voice is resolute.

“It feels lonely.”

Galo’s heart breaks a little. He frowns, and when Lio tries to pull his other hand out of his grip, Galo squeezes tighter.  Determination forms in his mouth.

“Well you don’t have to feel like that anymore! You’ve got all of us! Meis and Gueira and Ignis and Aina and the whole Burning Rescue family–“ Galo stops, and then grins. “And you’ve got me!”

Lio smiles at him. Toothless, and soft enough to reach his eyes. It’s almost sad.

“I know. But this is different.”

Galo isn’t sure if he’s able to understand in the way Lio wants him to. So he double checks Lio’s wound, and then rises to his feet, pulling Lio along with him.

“Well if you’re up, I’ll stay up with ya’. Might as well work through some of the movies Varys has been bugging me up the butt about.”

“But…” Lio frowns, “You work tomorrow.”

We work tomorrow. If you can brave it, so can I!”

Lio sits stiffly next to him, and Galo turns the T.V. on with the remote. He yanks Lio over until he can wrap an arm around his shoulders, and Lio relaxes almost instantly.

“That mug is still broken.”

“Eh, you’ll clean it in the morning.”

“I will?”

“Well you’re the one that broke it!”

Lio snorts, and kicks his feet up on the table alongside Galo. The room fills with pink and blue light as the T.V. fuzzes to life.

“That’s fair.”

They flip through crap late night TV channels, reruns of Full House and FRIENDS and Antique Roadshow. Lio snorts every once in a while, little tuffs of breath and offhand comments. Galo doesn’t like to think about how Lio didn’t get to watch shitty TV shows and eat junk food and binge out on beer with friends, because Lio was too busy leading a revolution and saving people from human experiments.

They’ve been watching long enough for the same Full House episode to loop back again, and Galo is just about to ask if Lio wants to pop in one of those movies, but he finds him asleep against his shoulder already.

Galo’s heart takes a snort of cocaine and buzzes right out of his chest. He bites down on his tongue and looks back to the TV, the sight of Lio’s soft, sleeping face almost too reverent to look at.

The clock on the VCR reads 4:41 am. They need to be up in two hours; Galo turns the T.V. off, and reclines his head back against the couch.

He hopes Lio isn’t too mad.

Galo closes his eyes, focuses on the steady rise and fall of Lio’s chest, and is out like a light.

 

 

~

 

 

The kitchen is swept clean by morning.

 

Galo is woken up by pants thrown in his face.

 

“Come on!” Lio calls, shouldering on his leather jacket. “We’re going to be late.”

“Not if I’m driving!”

“Not if I am driving,” Lio grins, and there’s a pep in his step that makes Galo feel giddy. But also a little sad, because if two hours has Lio like this, then he wonders how little of sleep he’s really been getting.  

 

~

 

A call to Ignis’s office can go two ways, which in Galo’s mind, is quite simple.

Either A, you did something good.

Or B, you did something bad, so you better start running.

 

Galo can tell by the constipated look on Ignis’s face that it’s option A, and Galo physically relaxes. Lio seems a little confused, and Galo kicks the door shut behind him.

“What’s up, Cap?”

“This,” Ignis says, and throws an orange jacket at Lio. He catches it before it can smack him in the face, and Lio looks at it with disbelief.

Galo gasps, turning the jacket over in Lio’s hands and pointing.

“It says Fotia!!”

“We want you to quit dancing around and join the team already,” Ignis says.

Galo looks to Lio, but his stomach sinks as he sees the cold look on Lio’s face. His voice is gritty and forced.

 

“No.”

 

“Yeah?” Ignis crosses his arms. “Why?”

“I can’t stop my work for the ex-burnish,” Lio states, shoulders back, head raised. “Hate crimes are at an all time high, and we’re still finding homes and jobs for the displaced – “

“I think you’ll find that Burning Rescue and your refugee Initiative have similar goals,” Ignis says. “You help us, we help you. We’ve got resources you need, and you’ve got talent like nobody’s business. Think it over, kid.”

“Come on Lio!” Galo clenches his fist. “Make it official! We’d be unstoppable as a mech team.”

“If it’s any consultation, your buds already took the job,” Ignis says, bored.

Lio perks up, “Meis and Gueira? But they didn’t tell me…”

“It’s a new world!” Galo grins, squeezing his shoulder. “We’ll fix it up together, remember?”

Lio swallows, and clenches his fingers in the jacket. A light shines through his eyes, and he smiles lopsided.

“Fire Rescue, huh?”

 

“Your locker is nineteen,” Ignis grunts, tossing him a key, which Lio catches as well. “Get the hell out of here.”

 

~

 

 

They’ve settled into a routine, and that part is a little weird.

Galo cooks dinner, Lio taps stuff into his tablet, they take turns with the shower and let the TV run while they eat. Lio drags his blankets out of the storage closet, Galo half-cleans up dinner, and the rest is usually scrubbed by morning.  Galo retires to his room, and Lio – well.

Galo hesitates in the doorway this time. He cant bare the thought of Lio staying up all night by himself, but Galo is also about ready to keel over where he stands. It’s been a vicious week; they busted up most of the mechs and had to do a few rescues tech-free, and that shit sucks hardcore, and Galo has the bruises to prove it.

As exhausted as Lio looks, it still appears that he’s not sleeping well.

“Hey, Lio?”

His head jerks up, and pearly pink eyes meet his own.

“Yes?”

He looks so soft. So different from the Lio that stands headfirst before danger, who heaves people on his shoulders, who helps others until his fingers bleed. Galo knows that big shirt is his own, and all the words get jumbled up in his mouth.

“I have a big bed.”

A long pause.

Lio nods, “Okay?”

Yup. Galo nods to himself, and turns back around towards his door. He shuts it, and scrubs his hand through his hair. Good job, nailed it.

He clicks off his lamp and throws himself into bed, crowding up against the wall and huffing.

God damnit, he’s so bad at this. He doesn’t want to be. He doesn’t want to push Lio past his boundaries. He doesn’t want to seem needy.

 

He just.

 

 

Really really.

 

 

Likes Lio.

 

 

Galo smooshes his face in his pillow and sighs.

 

He lays there for a while. He didn’t shut his blinds all the way, and some of the outside lights bleed on his carpet. He can see a neon sign flickering on and off, blue, yellow, blue, yellow, blue, yellow –

 

The door creaks open. Galo tenses, and when it slides open a little more, Galo holds his breath.

Feet softly pad across the carpet. There’s a moment of hesitation, and Galo can feel Lio’s eyes on him, so he tries to resume his breathing normally to appear asleep.

The sheets lift, and Lio slides in against his back. His movements are slow and deliberate, and Galo swallows thickly as he feels a hand press along his naked side, and come to rest at his stomach. There’s a nose between his shoulderblades, a soft, lithe thigh between his own, and the sheets fall back down around them like snow.

Galo is hyperaware of everywhere they’re touching. He’s counting the seconds, the minutes, and Lio’s forced breathing goes steady, and he appears to fall asleep instantly.

 

Galo squeezes his eyes shut and burns.

 

~

 

Have you ever woken up so comfortable that you’re almost terrified to even blink? Like the moment you breathe wrong everything will come collapsing down around you?

Yeah. Except there’s a warm little body cuddled against his chest, and Galo’s brain immediately registers who it is.

He’s afraid to open his eyes. Lio’s breathing is slow and even, and he smells so good – crisp and woodsy and Galo recognizes it as the shampoo they share.

Curiosity gets the best of him, and Galo peeks open an eye.

Lio’s hair is spread across the pillows. The blinds are letting in warm light, and it falls across them in streaks. Galo’s heart beats in his ears, a thump in his mouth and behind his teeth.

Lio stirs a little, and Galo slams his eyes shut, hoping desperately that Lio doesn’t have some kind of freak-out. Galo’s arm somehow made its way around Lio’s waist during the night, and they definitely did not fall asleep in this position. Oopsie.

 

Galo can feel the very second Lio wakes up. He tenses, and Galo counts to five.

Please don’t leave, please don’t leave –

Lio lets out a hearty sigh, and snuggles in closer to Galo’s chest.

He can’t really help it. Galo hugs him instinctively, and Lio mumbles something groggily.

“G’mornin,” Galo smiles.

“Mmm.”

“Sleep good?”

Lio swallows. He tenses again, and Galo selfishly rubs his hand down Lio’s spine.

“Yeah. Um. Sorry.”

“Hey, I offered,” Galo shrugs. “Er, sorta.”

“Is that what that was?”

“Don’t make fun of me, it’s too early.”

Lio chuckles under his breath, and a small hand creeps out to worm beneath Galo’s arm. He really hopes Lio can’t hear how quickly his heart is beating.

Lio sighs again, and his cold toes press into Galo’s calf.

“I haven’t slept that long in two months.”

Galo frowns, and tugs down the hem of Lio’s shirt so it modestly covers the waistband of his underwear, because Galo’s body is not above popping a boner right now.

“How many others are suffering like this?”

“I’ve…asked around. From what I’ve heard, it’s not many. Meis and Gueira –“ Lio yawns, “- struggle some nights, but not as badly as me.”

“Hmmm. Maybe it’s just ‘cause you’re strong as shit.”

“That’s-“ Lio pauses. He frowns, and leans his head back far enough to look Galo in the eye. “Actually a possibility.”

Galo shrugs, “I mean, you did have a super strong connection with the alien thingies.”

Lio flops back down on the pillow, and stirs in his thoughts for a moment. Galo yawns contagiously, and pats Lio on the hip before rolling to his back.

“We don’t have to be anywhere today, do we?”

“You don’t. I’m joining a volunteer team to help build homes today.” Lio squints at Galo’s clock from across the room and huffs. “In an hour. Damn.”

“Oh!!” Galo perks up. “That sounds like fun! Can I come?”

Lio raises an eyebrow at him. There’s something very intimate about the way Lio presses his fingers to the new bruise on Galo’s shoulder.

“You got busted up yesterday.”

“Pffft, no more than usual. Come on, lemme’ help, I can lift the heavy stuff.” Galo flexes his arm, and Lio’s eyes roll.

“Bullheaded as ever. Sure, the kids will have fun riding around on your back.”

“Aww, jealous because you want a turn?” Galo laughs, sitting up after him.

Lio’s face turns red. Galo freezes – and Lio turns his head so fast, Galo begins to doubt if he even saw him flush in the first place.

“Put a shirt on. You’ll poke someone’s eye out.”

Galo scoffs and crosses an arm over his chest.

“Well you hogged all the blankets last night!”

“Only because you take up all the space.”

The absurdity of their argument makes them stop. They look at each other, standing in the middle of Galo’s bedroom, and begin to laugh.

 

~

 

It’s Ignis’s turn to cook group lunch today, but Ignis can’t cook for shit, so they dig into KFC buckets and lounge around the tables, popped up on the counters and passing around napkins.

The TV is playing the news, but it’s tuned out from their chattering.

“All I’m saying is that the government needs to be a little less stingy with their money,” Lucia snaps.

“They’re not going to give you ten million dollars to build some super robot,” Remi says. “You might as well just give up now.”

“They forked over the cash for the Krayzer X! And who the hell funded Kray’s spaceship anyways? That cash is sitting around somewhere and I deserve it.”

“The prototype is interesting,” Lio comments. “Do you really think you can sync two pilots?”

Lucia scoffs, “Do I think? Of course I can. Just need parts, baby.”

“Why can’t we focus on the fire-fighting part of our job?” Aina asks.

“Oh shaddup, you’ve got no complaints so long as you’ve got your little ship to fly around,” Galo chews. Aina kicks him from under the table, and Galo yips.

The television starts to beep behind them. They all tense, turning to look up at the screen – but they relax as they realize it’s not an alarm, but a breaking news broadcast.

Kray’s face flashes on screen, and Galo’s stomach takes a swan dive.

“Breaking News! Kray Foresight’s month-long trial has officially reached a verdict. Judge Loreina has sentenced Foresight to three 30 to life’s with no bail – “

The room breaks into cheering. Galo’s throat burns, and he sees Lio crush his solo cup in his hand, some of the soda sloshing over.

“Thank god,” Varys says. “Kray can rot in hell.”

“He should’ve gotten a death sentence,” Gueira huffs, and Lio nods along. Galo feels like he can’t breathe.

He should be happy, right?

They show Kray on screen. His hair is pushed back, hands cuffed behind his back, and when he looks at the camera, Galo still feels that heat in his stomach. It’s sick – it makes him absolutely sick, and Galo wants to reach in and claw it out.

The cops shove Kray in a black car, the camera fizzles back to the reporter, and oh god, is Galo about to cry? He thinks he’s about to cry.

He stands abruptly from the table. Eyes turn to him, but Galo is quick to bite his tongue and pace out of the room, making a panicked B-line for the elevator.

When the doors ding shut, Galo furiously rubs at his eyes with the back of his arm, biting into his lip until it stings.

 

 

 

It’s quiet up on the roof. His gaze falls across the city skyline, and he hates that he naturally turns to the old government tower. There’s not much left of it now, but Galo is nothing but a dumb fucking dog, still trained to seek out it’s master.

Galo grips the railing and grinds his teeth. He closes his eyes, hoping the breeze will cool down his skin.

 

The elevator dings behind him. Galo tenses, but he recognizes the soft footsteps, and does his best to relax.

 

Lio comes to stand next to him. He’s in the big puffy fireman’s jacket, and his hair rustles with the wind. Galo looks at him – and the flame in his chest is different. Less tainted and ugly than the torch he still carries for Kray.

 

Galo looks away, feeling disgusted and guilty.

 

Lio doesn’t say anything at first. He grips the railing and gazes across the Promepolis skyline. There are cranes as far as the eye can see, construction crews working to rebuild what was destroyed. Lio’s tone is deep and soothing.

 

“Can I ask you a fair question?”

 

Galo would tell him anything. He nods,

“Sure.”

 

“Were you in love with Kray?” Lio asks, and the question is like ripping off a bandaid. It’s raw, and it jolts right through Galo. Lio is quick to add, “You have no obligation to answer.”

Galo licks over his bottom lip, and looks away. He opens his mouth, closes it, and feels terrible. Lio is going to hate him, but Galo isn’t a liar.

 

“Yes,” Galo says. “I was.”

Lio’s hand tightens on the bar.

“Ah.”

“I…” Galo rubs his eyes. “Everything I did was to make him proud. I just wanted Kray to see me. I wanted him to be proud of me. That day we fought – he gave me a metal and, and it was the best day of my life.” Galo glares across the city. “He did such despicable things. Yet I still – whenever I see his face I…” Galo laughs dryly. “He hated me. I don’t know why it makes me so sad.”

“He was so undeserving of your affections, it makes me sick,” Lio says outright, shocking Galo silent. “I hate him with my entire being, but I hated him more when I found out how he broke your heart.”

Galo swallows. He braves a look at Lio – and his eyes are staring right back, a blazing wildfire of anger.

“He wanted you to kill me that day.”

“Burnish don’t kill,” Lio says. His eyes turn down. “But I still wish Kray was dead.”

“I’m glad you don’t hate me,” Galo blurts. Lio looks at him like he’s said something ridiculous.

“What?”

“Because I…because of the way I used to…”

Lio’s hand slides up to cup his cheek, and Galo’s eyes go wide as saucers. Lio glares up at him.

“There is nothing wrong with your feelings. Kray was lucky to have someone like you love him with such intensity.”

For once, Galo doesn’t know what to say. Lio swallows, and his voice drops near inaudible.

“Truthfully…I’m a little envious.”

“What???”

“Nothing,” Lio says, coolly dropping his hand to untwist the strap of Galo’s compression sleeve. “Do you want to go back in?”

“Um…not yet.”

“Okay. Can I stay out here with you?”

Galo grins, and claps his hand over Lio’s fingers to squeeze them.

“Of course!”

Lio’s eyes shine. He turns back to lean over the bar, and Galo mimics him, and the wind rustles their hair.

“Lio Fotia?”

“Yes?”

“I’m glad I met you.”

Lio hums, and tucks a strand of hair behind his ears.

“Galo Thymos?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m glad I met you too.”

 

~

 

Lio crawls in his bed after dinner. It becomes a part of the ritual, and Galo looks forward to it every night.

The lift of the covers, a warm body curling up next to him – a knee between his thighs and a nose at his neck. Galo doesn’t mind being the little spoon. Lio’s breath is always minty against his ear, and sometimes if he’s lucky, fingers will trace the divots of his ribs, and Galo wants Lio to touch him forever.  

 

But he’s happy with this. Happy to know that at least here, Lio can get a good nights sleep.

 

Galo did say he would save him, didn’t he?

 

~

 

He tries to nap at the station sometimes. You get used to falling asleep everywhere and anywhere, but being able to pop awake at any moment is an acquired skill.

 

Galo has a top bunk. Aina used to make fun of him for the little glow in the dark stars he’s stuck on the ceiling, but Galo likes them. He doesn’t remember much of his mom, but he has a very vivid memory of climbing chairs and sticking them to his walls with little glue dots. It usually has him out like a light.

Today is a quiet shift with nothing to do, and Galo keeps tossing and turning in his bunk. He can hear Varys snoring a couple beds down, and usually it’s a nice white noise, but Galo just feels so –

Empty.

 

He pats around the bunk, wads up the stiff sheets and tries to roll over, but his brain is wide awake.

 

Damn!

 

Galo scrubs through his hair, slings his legs over the side of the bed, and hops down. Oh well, must be a sign, right?

 

He goes hunting for Lucia. Maybe she has something cool he can fuck around with.

(It’s not like he’s hoping Lio will be with her. Cause that’d be silly. They already spend so much of their free time together…haha…)

 

Lucia isn’t in the lab. He hunts through the common room, peeks in the gym, and even searches the kitchen. Galo ends up riding the elevator all the way down to the garage.

 

He can hear shuffling as soon as the elevator doors open. Galo braces his hands behind his neck and walks towards the equipment wall, calling out,

“Yo! Anyone down here?”

Lio’s head pops out from behind the firetruck. Galo grins.

“Hi.”

It looks like Lio is trying to stuff a dead body in a locker. Galo remembers what is actually in the bag, and starts to laugh.

“Havin’ fun with Smoochie?”

 

Lio looks at the dummy, and back to Galo.

 

“You guys named it Smoochie?”

 

“Hey, that was before I worked here,” Galo lifts his hands in defense. Lio rolls his eyes and shoulders the dummy back into the supply locker. “Are you still doin’ your medical training?”

 

“Yes. I was able to get those proposals sent to the acting Governor, so I had free time for the CPR test today.”  

 

The word rings around his head like a bell. Galo pauses, hand braced up against the back of the firetruck.

 

Lio looks at him, and everything goes very quiet.

 

“Ah,” Galo swallows. “Did you pass?”

Lio’s eyes smile, and he turns back to sorting the rest of the paramedic supplies. The clang of the locker sounds extra loud.

 

“With flying colors.”

 

 

Galo can still picture Lio’s chest under his hands. Coaxing his lips open and floating the heat into his mouth. Fire pooling out of his chest and into Lio’s throat. A burning sensation up his nose and behind his eyes.

 

Lio’s back is turned towards him, and he stands up on his toes to shove another practice bag on the shelf.

 

“Do you use it a lot?”

 

Galo chokes, “Huh??”

 

“CPR,” Lio clarifies.  

 

Galo rolls his tongue around in his mouth, and blinks at Lio’s silhouette.

 

“Err…occasionally. Less than you’d expect! Haha.”

 

Lio hums casually. He shuts the cabinet and turns back around. He looks so good in the jacket, but also Lio looks good in anything and Galo really needs to stop ogling him if they’re going to do this whole friend thing.

 Galo’s heart thumps as Lio takes a step forwards, tipping his head as he walks.

“How many people have you kissed?”

 Galo feels his face heat.

“Uhh, y-you mean – “

“- with the kiss of life,” Lio finishes, encroaching closer.

“Um. I – well of course I’d do anything to save someone – “

“Right.”

“-so it’s, it’s my civic duty to –“

“How many?” Lio asks again. He steps up on the lip of the firetruck, now standing taller, and Galo has to tip his head to look up at him.

“Ah. Probably four or – or five? One was a dog, so I don’t really think that –oh!

Lio’s hands hold his cheeks; Galo jolts, and the world falls out from beneath his feet, because Lio leans in to kiss him for real.

Galo feels like his eyes might pop out of his head. His mouth parts out of shock, and Lio presses down and kisses him, lips moving slow and deliberate and hot, scorching enough to ignite in Galo’s gut.

His hands find Lio’s narrow hips with desperation. His lips are soft and firm and they take and take and it’s like gasoline on a fire. Galo kisses back passionately, squeezing his eyes shut and making a sound when Lio sucks against his mouth and pushes his thumbs hard into Galo’s cheekbones.

The fire in his soul blazes. It’s an electrical storm, sparking from his fingertips to his toes, and its cold hard proof that the CPR kiss wasn’t a fluke. Kissing Lio is just like this –

Galo’s breath sucks out of him as Lio leans back and blinks down prettily.

“Has anyone kissed you like that?” Lio asks, and his voice is rough and beautiful.

“No,” Galo admits. “What was that for?”

Lio sighs. He thumps Galo’s forehead, and he flinches back – but Lio holds his head firm.

“Idiot.”

Yes I know, we’ve been over this.”

Lio leans back in and kisses him again, and okay that’s – okay. Wow.

He’s forceful, demanding of what he wants but slow as he takes it, and Galo rises to the challenge. When Lio pulls back a second time, Galo tries to chase after his mouth, but Lio holds him back by a hand at his neck, and Galo pouts.

“You are too beautiful,” Lio says. Galo gapes dumbly, because he really feels like that should be his line, but Lio decides to wreck his world all over again. “I like you, Galo.”

His brain explodes. Ka-Boom! Right out of his ears.

“What?! You do?!”

“Oh my god,” Lio sighs.

“Lio!” Galo gasps, dragging his hands up Lio’s waist and lifting him off the truck. “I like you too!”

Lio inhales as Galo spins him around; but his arms wind around Galo’s neck, and he lets out a laugh as Galo sets him back on the ground.

“Does this come as a surprise?”

“Of course it does!” Galo stares down at him, and pushes Lio’s bangs away from his face. Cheeks hot, Galo says sincerely, “I…I need to apologize. Since I kissed you I um, I haven’t stopped thinking about you.”

“Why would you apologize for that?Wait...did you think I forgot about it?” Lio scoffs. He pinches Galo’s nose. “CPR doesn’t use tongue.

“Hey! I had to get the fire in there somehow!”

Lio snickers, and it’s so cute Galo can hardly stand it. He beams and scoops Lio up again, ignoring his protests and smothering his mouth in another kiss. Lio purrs into him, curling his slender fingers into Galo’s hair and moving his lips against Galo’s in a perfect tandem. Galo’s heart sings, floats up above the garage and into the sky. He’s never burned so bright.

 

They’re in perfect sync.

 

 

“Alright, pay up,” Aina says at dinner. Varys, Remi, and Guiera groan. Ignis snorts behind his sunglasses and doesn’t say a thing, and Galo is completely lost.

 

 

~

 

 

That night, when Lio crawls in bed, Galo dozes easily with the weight of Lio’s head on his chest. He’s just drifting off to sleep when Lio abruptly sits upright, shocking Galo into gripping his arm tight.

“Wait,” Lio scowls. “Did you say you kissed a dog?!”

Galo’s brain takes a moment to load, squinting at Lio’s face. When the lightbulb goes off he pouts, “Hey now, it drowned in a pool!”

“But a dog?

“I saved its life! Quit looking at me like that, there was a little girl and she was crying and hey don’t leave! There’s no use brushin’ your teeth again it happened like, years ago — Lio!!!”

 

 

~

 

 

 He’s trying to decide between two different brands of rice, when Lio holds up a box of fruit snacks and lifts an eyebrow.

“Is this what constitutes for a date these days?”

“Hey, you asked to come with me,” Galo argues, decidedly tossing both brands in the cart. “I can’t take you on The Greatest Date of All Time if I don’t have the right ingredients!”

Lio doesn’t respond, but his lip quirks upwards. He looks at the back of the snack box, and then tosses it in the cart as well. He hooks both feet on the bar, and Galo wraps his arms around Lio from behind to push the cart further down the aisle.

“Of all time, huh?” Lio ponders. “That’s a big claim to fame.”

“I don’t do anything by halves!” Galo grins. Lio glares at the old lady giving them weird looks behind her grocery list, but Galo pays it no mind. “Have you ever had a burrito pie?”

“Do not start with me Galo.”

“I’m dead serious! I’m no good at making ‘em, but Varys is a legend.”

“If you make me eat something ridiculous for our first date I’ll never forgive you.”  

Galo stops at the vegetables; he grabs a couple cucumbers, and an avocado.

“It’s nothing weird, I promise! If you can’t figure it out already, then you’re as dumb as me.”

Lio tries to kick him without leaving his perch on the shopping cart, and Galo narrowly misses having his kneecap booted in.

“See if I ever help you do the shopping ever again.”

“Oh yeah, ‘cause you’re so much help,” Galo laughs. Lio opens his mouth to reply, but is distracted by a big spikey fruit on the stand.

“What is that?”

“I have no idea. Let’s try it!”

“What if it tastes bad?”

“Then we’ll give it to Meis,” Galo says, and Lio starts to snicker, shoving the spikey fruit back in the cart and waiting patiently for Galo to start pushing him again.

“Will you at least tell me where we’re going?” Lio asks.

“Nope!”

“We’re staying home then.”

“Not at all.”

“But you’re cooking?”

“It’s a secret!”

Lio huffs, leaning his elbow on the bar and setting his head in his hand.

“Fine. But I get to plan the next date.”

“I’ll definitely beat you!” Galo challenges, and Lio snorts into his hand.

 

Galo’s secret plan is to ride up to the mountains and eat by the lake before the sun sets too far. Lio hugs him from behind as they ride, his chin hooked on Galo’s shoulder, and he perks up when he realizes where they are.

“We crashed here,” Lio says, swinging a leg off the bike.

“It used to be frozen all year round,” Galo tells. He pops off his helmet and helps Lio unsnap his own while he’s distracted. “Now it doesn’t freeze anymore. Must’ve been somethin’ to do with that old man.”

Lio steps up to the water’s edge, and peers down.

“I wonder if the lab is still down there.”

“I’ve been tempted to swim and find out!”

“Please don’t,” Lio says with good humor. “Not without me.”

Galo managed to keep Lio from nosing his way around the kitchen this afternoon, so he gets to see Lio’s pleased face when he pulls out homemade sushi boxes from the container he shoved under his bike seat.

“This is what you were making?”

“Yup! They’re still kinda’ lumpy, but Aina showed me how to keep ‘em from unrolling.”

Lio smiles and pops open his tupperware. “They look good. Is there a fish crammed up your ass that I should be concerned about?”

Galo sways back and cackles, and Lio’s shoulders shake with a short laugh. Galo grabs the emergency blanket out of his supply kit, and they choose the least-rocky part to settle down on. The sun is orangey red, and down far enough that it doesn’t shine in their faces.

Is it romantic? It feels romantic. Galo isn’t good at this kind of stuff, but he likes food, and he likes the trees, so he hopes Lio likes it too.

Lio looks hot; his bangs are pulled back by a little ponytail, and he’s wearing a black hoodie and jeans, and Galo almost gets distracted checking him out.

“Shit,” Galo curses, patting around. “I forgot the chopsticks.”

“I brought some,” Lio says, pulling them out of his hoodie pouch. Galo squints.

“You knew all along, didn’t you?”

“You’re easy to read.” Lio snaps his chopsticks and smiles, scooting close enough so that their legs touch. “Thank you, Galo.”

Galo nods, and offers up his sushi.

“Cheers!”

“Crunchy,” Lio notes, cheeks stuffed like a little chipmunk. He’s so adorable Galo could just die.

“I tried some different ones! The uh… the eel didn’t work out. Had to throw those away.”

A breeze blows across the lake. Lio scooches closer, and Galo lifts up his box so Lio can sit between his legs.

“This place is pretty far from town,” Lio notes.

“Yeah, used to come up here to cool down a lot. I kinda’ miss skating around on the ice, but this is nice too.”

“Mmm.” Lio chews. After a moment he says, “You have an explosive personality, but I’ve never taken you for the angry type.”

Galo sets his chin on Lio’s head. He swishes the thoughts around in his brain.

“I used’ta be kinda’ bad. Not super, but like, growing up with no family, you know, I’d get mad about stuff. Especially when I first joined the team – it was at Kray’s recommendation, and I didn’t want to fuck up and ruin Kray’s reputation just ‘cause I couldn’t keep my temper in line.”

Lio tenses in his arms.

“Ah.”

“Sorry,” Galo says quickly, sitting back up again. “I promise I don’t – it’s – you’re the only one I –“

“Kray has no idea how hard you tried for him,” Lio fumes. “Or he did, and he just didn’t care.”

Galo’s heart sinks a little.

“Yeah…”

Lio twists in his lap, face full of determination, and Galo has to throw out an arm to support the weight shift.

“I’m going to be someone worthy of your feelings,” Lio says outright.

Galo gapes at him. He sets down his food to keep it from rolling into the lake.

“Wh-what kind of statement is that!” Galo laughs, pressing a thumb between Lio’s scrunched eyebrows. “You already are, silly.”

Lio puffs air out of his nose like a dragon.

“Not yet,” he says. “But I will be.”

“I’ll work hard too,” Galo nods. “I still have to make this the greatest date of all time!”

 “You’re close,” Lio says, wiping rice from the corner of his mouth. “Maybe if you hadn’t thrown the eel away.”

“Dammit.”

Lio laughs at him, and Galo can’t help but laugh too. It’s so nice to see life in his eyes. This person works so hard, so tirelessly to help others, Galo wants to be by his side forever.

He’s never had the object of his affections actually return his feelings. The whole thing feels a little too good to be true.

 

~

 

Lio is bossy and stubborn and hogs all the sheets, and he’s anal about shoes on the floor and doesn’t let Galo eat ice cream out of the tub and he spends too much time buried in his tablet, and Galo loves all those things about him.

That’s okay, because Galo is messy and loud and never remembers to switch over his laundry and crawls into bed after going to the gym and he’s equally stubborn, and Lio seems to like all those things about him too.

Even when their feet hurt, and their hands are tender and burnt, and their shoulders are bruised, and they work double shifts to help save the people trapped beneath a burning overpass, Lio still goes to the refugee tents to hand out rations on his day off, and Galo always goes with him.

 

Lio has a bruise on his cheek from a malfunction in the mech suit. He got slammed up against the glass, and the mark pulls on Galo’s heartstrings, but it also makes him proud, because Lio can take a hit and keep on swinging.

Lio crouches down to hand a bag of toiletries to a family, smiling as they grab his hand and shake it, and Galo’s gaze is magnetized to the strip of skin at the nape of Lio’s neck.

He stands back up again, tall and authoritative as he gives demands to his old Mad Burnish soldiers, and Galo is unbearably attracted to the confidence Lio holds himself with. Lio is a man, and demands respect as one, and the lizard part of Galo’s brain squirms around and says yeah, I’d get on my knees for him.

“Carry this box down to the Robinson family,” Lio commands, and Galo nods obediently.

 

~

 

“You know he’s intolerably whipped for you, right?” Aina asks.

“Hah??” Galo gapes, mouth full.

Aina rolls her eyes and gestures with her fork, and Galo sneaks a look at Lio talking to the Captain across the room.

“Totally. Like,” Aina makes a whip sound, and Galo rolls his eyes.

“What are you on about?”

“He won’t get it,” Remi sighs. “Lio worships the ground he walks on.”

Galo scoffs, “He does not.

“He sure as shit doesn’t treat us like that,” Varys says, and Galo blows them off, shoving another slice of pizza in his mouth.

 

~

 

Galo comes home around the afternoon. He pops his back, tossing his keys on the counter and setting down his work bag.

“I’m home!”

Lio looks up from the kitchen table. New papers are thrown about, and there’s evidence that Gueira and Meis were here, given by the cups littered at the end of the table.

Lio greets him wordlessly, lifting up his arms and giving Galo a needy look. Galo laughs, and crosses the room to bend over and give him a hug.

“Awww, did ya’ miss me?”

“Mmm.” Lio squishes his face in Galo’s chest. “How was work.”

“Not bad! Got called out for a couple car accidents and a house fire. It was weird without you.”

Lio requested time off to attend an ex-burnish rally. Galo and the rest of the team really wanted to go, but they couldn’t all call out. Galo told him to go for the lot of them.

“I’m glad you’re okay,” Lio says. He hasn’t let go yet, so Galo stands upright, and Lio just kind of – hangs on. Galo supports him beneath his thighs, and Lio hooks his ankles behind his lower back.

“How was the rally?”

“Good. The rest of the segregation laws have been amended, but we’re hoping to see more acceptance from the general public, especially with the upcoming elections.”

“You have our support,” Galo grins, pulling back to look Lio in the eye. He then frowns, “You look tired.”

Lio sighs as Galo walks them towards the couch.

“I am.”

“I thought I told you to get some rest,” Galo sits, pouting at Lio. “Have you been working this whole time?”

Lio settles into him, worming his arms around Galo’s neck.  

“We worked different shifts this week.”

“Yeah, and?”

Lio gives him a look.

“You slept at the station.”

“Uh huh,” Galo frowns. “Then you should’ve enjoyed the peace and quiet!”

Lio squints at him – and it’s that look Lio gets when he’s trying to decide if Galo is being genuine or not. It’s ridiculous, because Galo is always genuine.

“Galo,” he says patiently. A hand comes up to stroke through his shaved hair. “I thought you’d figured it out.”

“What are we talking about?”

Lio squeezes the back of his neck gently, and looks him right in the eye as he says,

“Baby, I can’t sleep without you.”

Galo opens his mouth, and then blinks. He pets up Lio’s back, squeezing his thigh with his free hand.

“What?? I didn’t know! I thought – well, I don’t know what I thought.”

“I told you about the Promare.”

“Yeah! But people have weird sleeping habits.”

“I still feel incomplete,” Lio says, drawing Galo’s attention. “But…not when I’m with you. It’s like the fire is back in my chest.” He presses a hand above Galo’s heart. “Here.”

Silence.

Galo stares at him stupidly, staring and staring until his eyes start to sting.

Lio giggles, sitting up and smothering Galo’s eyes with his hand.

“Don’t cry!”

“I’m not crying!” Sort of.

Lio makes a sound, and Galo gasps as lips press in against his own. Lio keeps his eyes covered with his palm, but Galo kisses him back, parting his lips and focusing in on the feeling of Lio’s mouth moving against his own.

The hand falls from his eyes. Galo breaks the kiss on accident by smiling too wide.

“Sleep next to me forever,” Galo says. “I’m okay with starting fires if it’s with you.”

“Okay.” Lio pets his mouth, his nose, his chin. “Just don’t go where I can’t follow.”

“Such a place doesn’t exist,” Galo grins, and Lio keeps kissing him. It’s all teeth until it isn’t. If Galo tries, he can wrap his hands around Lio’s waist entirely, so he squeezes him once just to try it, and Lio makes a tight noise.

Galo ends up pushed into the couch. It’s not rough or hurried, but it’s firm, so Galo lays his head back against the throw pillow, and Lio settles back against him.

Galo cups Lio’s cheek before he can kiss him again.

“What do you want to do?” Galo asks. He just wants to be sure.

“I’m tired.” Lio pecks his mouth stubbornly. “I really just want to make out with you until we’re braindead. Is that okay?”

“Totally okay,” Galo says, spreading his legs so Lio can lay down against his chest. “Just ignore my boner. I’m still new to a lot of this, you know?”

Lio blinks, and then smirks down at him like a cat.

“Ah.” He kisses his cheek and the corner of his mouth. “That’s good. I’m going to take my time with you.”

“I’ll take whatever you’ve got,” Galo grins, and Lio crushes their lips together.

It’s not like Galo is the worlds most experienced kisser, but he is a quick learner. Lio likes to take control, but Galo learns how to look for openings. He copies the swipe of Lio’s tongue, and learns how to lick into Lio’s mouth without slobbering all over himself.

They take turns. Hard and soft, Lio sucking on his tongue, and then Galo biting his mouth and tugging in return. Galo keeps his hands above Lio’s waist, but he’s quickly addicted to the weight of him on his chest, a heat between his legs and searing in his mouth.

It’s kind of fun. Like, way fun. Lio is quiet at first – but Galo learns how to draw out small noises. He purrs when Galo slides his tongue along his own, and yips when he bites his lip. Galo is reprimanded in return, Lio turning to take a big bite out of his cheek, and Galo breaks out laughing.

He feels so light he could float away.

“Quit learning so fast,” Lio huffs, and sucks down his neck – and Galo accidentally moans.

“Shit, sorry,” Galo squirms.

“Hmmm.” Lio doesn’t push it too far, but Galo can see the wheels turning in his head. He presses one last kiss to Galo’s neck (oh god, chills run down his back), before he returns to Galo’s mouth. “You make pretty noises.”

“Stealin’ my lines,” Galo slurs, and nips at Lio’s tongue when he sticks it out. Lio giggles, and Galo bites it again – and they’re just fucking around on Galo’s couch, twisted up with no pressure of going anywhere, and it’s the best feeling ever. “God you’re hot.”

“Yeah?” Lio rasps.

“Hell yeah.”

They make out for a long time. The pace speeds up and slows down. Galo rubs circles into Lio’s back, and he seems to like it when he holds him by the neck, so Galo does that too.

Lio plays it dirty, and dips his head to suck on Galo’s ear.

“Cheater!” Galo gasps, poking him in the ribs as he laughs. Lio beams down at him (wow) so Galo flips them, pushing Lio into the couch and nuzzling his neck in return. He’s careful to keep his hips away from Lio’s, because he is definitely hard.

“Hahaha-stop!” Lio squirms, hands darting to Galo’s shoulders. “Your hair t-tickles.”

“Make me,” Galo teases, licking a stripe up Lio’s cheek. “Big boss.”

Lio’s hand hardens tight in his hair, and Galo yips as he’s forced back to meet his mouth again, and their teeth clack and their lips feel bruised and Galo could die here.

 

~

 

“Ta-da!” Lucia squeaks, Vinny mimicking her atop Lucia’s head. “What do you think?”

“Wahhh!” Galo throws out his arms in disbelief, smoothing his hands up the legs of the mech. “This is amazing!”

“I see you finally got that funding,” Lio deadpans.

“I have my ways,” Lucia winks.

“There’s two cockpits!” 

“Yup,” Lucia nods. “Her name is DeLucy. She takes two pilots, hence,” Lucia gestures vaguely.

“Was this approved?”

“Barely,” Ignis says, drawing their attention. He crosses his arms and jerks his chin towards the robot, “We’ve been taking on more high-scale emergency calls. Not that we’ll ever want to be police, but tech like this comes in handy around here.”

“You want us to pilot it?” Lio asks.

Lucia waves her hand around, “Aren’t you two like, soulmates or something? Quit acting shy and get in the damn thing.”

Galo shoots Lio an excited look, and Lio sighs, pretending like he isn’t happy about it – but they’ve been living together for a couple months, and Galo is learnin’ pretty quick. Lio is totally excited.

“Wreck it, and we’re taking the cut out of your next three-thousand paychecks,” Ignis jokes.

“I wouldn’t hold my breath,” Lucia sighs.

“Holy shit this thing has seat heaters!”

 

~

 

 

Galo tries not to look too hard into stuff. Black and white and all that. He likes things that are real, stuff he can grab on and touch with his hands.

This thing with Lio is realso he likes to touch him a lot, just to remind himself how lucky he is. Lio lets him, so it must be fine.

They kiss too much. In the kitchen and over the back of the couch and at the table and sometimes, when Galo gets off his motorcycle and rips the helmet off his head, Lio will stand on his toes and kiss him like it’ll kill ‘em not to, and Galo lives for that shit.

They both made dinner tonight. The dirty dishes are still sitting in the sink, but Lio is sprawled over him on the bed, licking the taste of vanilla ice cream out of Galo’s mouth, and he is definitely not moving for no dishes.

“What did I say-” Lio kisses him, “-about eating ice cream out of the tub.”

“Mmm, something about a bowl.”

“Yes. That you should use one.”

“A tub is a bowl,” Galo argues. “A very good shaped one – ah,” he tips his head back as Lio sucks down on his throat. A hand squeezes his left arm, and Galo’s entire body shivers.

Lio sits back and peers down at him.

“Okay?”

“Yeah,” Galo rolls his arm. “Just left my sleeve in the other room.”

Lio sits up on Galo’s hips, and gently runs his hand down Galo’s scars.

“Sensitive?”

“Mmm.”

“We Burnish-“ Lio stops himself, and presses his fingers into Galo’s bicep. “Ex-Burnish. We burned our bodies, but never felt the pain.”

“I didn’t feel pain either,” Galo says. “Just tingly and warm. But suddenly my arm was all burnt up. The pain came after.”

“The Promare healed our bodies before there was permanent damage,” Lio explains. He drags his fingernails up to Galo’s shoulder, and bends down again to kiss his chin. “You wear the scars well.”

Galo grins, “Is that a compliment I hear?”

“Yes.” Lio flicks his nose. “Unfortunately you are sexy.”

Galo laughs, going a little warm from the praise. His mouth is sticky and tender from Lio kissing him for so long, and he looks forward to nights like these, where they can just fool around without anywhere to be.

 

Lio tucks his hair behind his ear, and Galo’s stomach dips.

 

 

Yeah.

 

 

But still.

 

 

Lio kisses into his neck again, and Galo squeezes his eyes shut. He is purposely ignoring how hard he is, because if he focuses it on it too much, he’ll go kinda’ crazy. Don’t get him wrong, he looooves making out with Lio for hours on end, but also, getting rock hard and forgetting about it later leaves him sore in the morning and jeez is he really complaining about this? Lio’s tongue is down his throat, shut up.

Galo flips the script and slides his tongue back against Lio’s, wet and slippery. The surprised moan from Lio is gorgeous, and it adds to the butterflies beating around in Galo’s chest.

Lio huffs at him, and Galo yanks on the hood of Lio’s (his) sweatshirt.

“Galo.”

“You need to stop wearing my stuff,” Galo tells him. “It’s bad for my heart.”

“Oh, I know.”

Galo gasps.

“You’ve been teasing me?”

“Well duh,” Lio purrs. Galo gives him a scandalized look, and Lio rolls his eyes. “You walk around half naked all the time! Seriously, don’t even go there.”

“Pfft, and what’s the big deal with that? S’ not like I walk around like this,” Galo squeezes Lio’s bare leg, dangerously close to his shorts.

Lio scoffs, “What? Do you have any idea the hell I go through with you?”

Galo is almost offended, but Lio reaches down and feels over Galo’s pec, squeezing once, and Galo goes dead still.

“I hate,” Lio hisses, “-when other people stare at you. You are mine, Galo.”

Throat dry and bizarrely turned on, Galo rests his hand on Lio’s bare outer thigh and croaks.

“Yeah. I am.”

Lio bites into his bottom lip. They’re at a standstill, staring at each other in the silence of his bedroom.

Galo shrugs, “I guess I should be honest too…”

“Mm?”

“I don’t like when people look at you that way…” Galo swallows. “When they – when they look at you the way I do.”

“Oh?” Lio’s lip twitches into a half smile. His nails skate up Galo’s chest, coming to circle his adam’s apple and back down between his pecs. “And how do you look at me?”

Galo can feel his heart in his ears. His hands are starting to sweat a little, and he really wants to move Lio off his crotch before this gets weird. Galo swallows, and meets Lio’s gaze with a solid answer.

“Impurely.”

“Yeah?” Lio grins, and it’s snakelike and evil. He scooches downwards and ah fuck, more weight presses right down on his cock, and Galo grinds his teeth through a groan. Lio slides until they’re chest to chest, arms propped up on his collarbone, head only a breath higher than his own. “I like when you look at me that way.”

Galo brings his hand to Lio’s waist. His grip is so large against him, but it fits so well, right in that divot made for him.

“You do?”

“Yes,” Lio rasps. “It’s heavy. I can feel it.” He dips his mouth to move against Galos, brushing their lips together, “Like you’re touching me.”

Galo juts his chin up and kisses him, and Lio uses his full weight to kiss back. Galo slides his hand up and fists in the elastic of the hoodie, and Lio grinds his thigh into Galo’s crotch, and Galo makes a punched noise into his mouth.

“Oh fuck Lio,” Galo flops his head back against the bed. “If – if we’re just gonna’ make out, you can’t keep doing that.”

“This?” Lio asks innocently, and drives his thigh right against his cock. Galo hisses, and Lio bites and tugs on Galo’s lower lip. He pulls back, letting Galo’s lip slide through his teeth. “Who says we’re just making out.”

Galo swallows, mouth dry.

“Damn. You’re okay with that?”

“Are you?”

“Uh, yeah.” Galo draws up a leg in the sheets, grinding back up against Lio’s thigh. “Duh.”

“Then yes,” Lio smiles, and is lazy in kissing him again. His mouth is slow, but he shifts his weight and rocks down against Galo again – and oh, that was not his thigh this time.

“Shit,” Galo curses. “Can I take this off?”

“I’ve been waiting for you to ask.”

Galo helps Lio sit up and peel off the sweatshirt. He’s only wearing those red booty-shorts that he sleeps in, and Galo’s mouth waters when he sees how hard he is.

“I can touch you right?”

“Yes.”

“Hell yeah,” Galo cheers under his breath, and immediately drags his palm up Lio’s chest, down the dip of his stomach, and grinds his hand into Lio’s cock through the fabric. He is so fucking smooth.

Lio makes a pretty sound, rolling his head to one shoulder, and his body is soft and lax, but his eyes are on fire.

“Come on,” Lio urges, rolling his hips in slow circles. “I want your hands on me.”

Galo strokes back up his stomach again. He squeezes around Lio’s ribs – so small! – and thumbs over Lio’s nipples. He moans airy and light.

“I…” Galo starts. He knows his face is burning, but he meets Lio’s eyes out of stubbornness. “You have to show me what to do.”

“I’ll show you everything,” Lio purrs, a stake in Galo’s heart. Galo’s breath whooshes out of him, and he digs his thumbs into Lio’s hipbones, and Lio’s cock gives a happy bob against the elastic of his shorts.

“You’re beautiful,” Galo tells him.

“Get naked,” Lio replies.

He rolls off long enough for Galo to shuck off his sweatpants. Lio is back on him in a heartbeat, sucking on his lips and mouthing into his jaw and down his throat – and Galo chokes, stomach flipping as Lio bites down and sucks.

“Ah! Lio…”

“You’ll be good,” Lio says, not asks. “And do what I say.”

“Yes,” Galo breathes.

“Good. I said get naked.”

Galo swallows, and peels off his underwear. He’s not like, bashful or nothing, but Lio’s eyes are heavy and hot and he knows Lio has done this kind of stuff before and – well, he’s not nervous, but he just – hopes that he’s good enough. Lio deserves the best, and Galo wants to give it to him.

“Holy fucking shit,” Lio breathes.

“Huh?”

“Oh my god,” Lio continues, pushing his head away with one hand and sitting up to hook a hand around Galo’s thigh and pull. His cock bobs off his stomach, Galo feels his face heat, and Lio looks at him like he’s done something scandalous. “I cannot believe you would hide this from me.”

“Wh- what?”

“I knew you had a big dick,” Lio tells him, still pushing Galo’s head away when he tries to sit up again. “But come on.”

“Lio,” Galo whines. “Stop making fun of me.”

“I’m n – you know what? Shut up. Just shut up,” Lio says, and wraps a hand around the base, and Galo squirms. His fingers barely touch, and the sight of Lio’s hand around his dick is enough to make him dizzy.

Lio gives him no warning before he’s leaning down to suck the head into his mouth. Galo sighs through his nose, and sparks light up his spine when Lio swirls his tongue and sucks down halfway.

“Oh – wow,” Galo breathes.

Lio pulls up, sucks the head and kitten licks, pumping his hand in a practiced rhythm.

“Yeah, wow,” Lio repeats. “Stay still.”

“Okay.”

Lio pulls him back into his mouth, and it’s at his own pace, and Galo obediently keeps his hips on the bed. Lio’s mouth is warm and wet and he’s slow and tedious, like he’s trying to memorize the feel of him. Galo twitches in his mouth, and cups the back of Lio’s neck gently.

It’s so much all at once. The velvet of Lio’s tongue, his eyes hazy and cheeks red and his lips stretched obscenely wide.

“Ah –“ Galo chokes out a noise, and curls his toes when Lio swirls his tongue again. “Hah – Lio, it – it feels good.”

Lio pulls up. His hand slides down to squeeze his balls, and Galo groans.

“Mmm, like this?”

“Y-Yeah. Your mouth is – oh!”

Lio takes him down as far as he can. More than halfway, enough that Lio moans a sound around him.

Lio’s throat works as he hits his limit, gagging in the most refined way Galo has ever seen, and Galo groans right from the chest, loud in the stillness of their room.

(Their. Room.)

Galo’s eyes snap open as he feels a tightness in his stomach.

“Oh shit –“ Galo taps his shoulder. “Off off off!”

Lio pulls away just in time, fingers clamping down tight around the base, and Galo slams his eyes shut and counts to six.

“Oh my god, Lio.”

“Christ,” Lio curses, “I want you in me. Is that okay?”

“Yeah,” Galo exhales. He opens his eyes, and the flushed look on Lio’s face punches him in the gut. He tenderly pushes back Lio’s bangs. “Fuck yeah. Show me what you want.”

Lio leans off the bed and rummages around in the bedside drawer.

“Do you want to prepare me or watch me do it?”

“I want to do it!” Galo beams. “I want to make you feel good.”

“Okay. Let’s switch places.”

Lio lays down on the bed and kicks away the last of his clothes, and Galo sits back on his heels.

“Fuck.” Galo blinks, and Lio looks up at him through his lashes as he dryly works himself in hand.

“Here,” Lio pops the cap of the lube and hands it to him. “Coat your fingers.”

Galo is still trying to process how amazingly hot Lio’s body is. His cock is flushed and pink and disappearing between pale fingers, and Galo numbly pours lube in his hand.

“Not too much,” Lio tells. He wiggles back to get comfortable, and makes grabby hands to pull Galo closer. “Just add one finger at a time. It’s easy.”

“Right,” Galo nods. Lio parts his thighs, and Galo clenches his jaw, selfishly running his dry hand up Lio’s inner thigh, and bumping his fingers against Lio’s at the base of his cock. “You’re…”

“Come on,” Lio huffs. He guides Galo’s right hand between his legs, and he coaxes his middle finger against his entrance. “Be good and listen to me.”

Shit – focus. He has to prove himself!

Galo slides in the first finger, and Lio’s entire body jerks.

“Oh! Too fast?”

“No!” Lio grits, gasping as Galo pulls back and pushes in. “Jesus your fingers are big – yeah, like that, faster.”

Lio teaches and Galo listens. He adds another, and is completely fascinated with Lio’s body. He takes him in so greedily, receptive to everything Galo does. Lio relaxes back and digs his nails into Galo’s thigh, moaning softly.

 “Yes,” Lio sighs. “Just like that, baby. You’ve got it.”

“It doesn’t hurt?” Galo scissors his fingers, and Lio rolls his hips back against him.

“Mmm, it’s a good burn.”

Galo curiously curls his fingers, and Lio shouts, hand slamming back up against the headboard. Galo freezes.

“Wh— are you okay?”

“Ffffuck.” Lio hisses through his teeth. “You got it.”

“Wait…that’s…?” Galo blinks curiously. Lio’s cock is wet, leaking against his stomach and ohh… Galo’s forgotten hardon is still very much there.

Lio looks down at him through wide, almost panicked eyes.

“G-Galo, now don’t –“

Galo absolutely curls his fingers again, and Lio moans loud, back arching off the bed, hands slapping the headboard repeatedly again.

Galo!!”

Oh, that’s gorgeous. Amazing, fantastic, there’s not enough words for it, nope nope.

Galo grins wide, tongue sticking out through his teeth, and Lio slaps his leg.

“Knock it off!”

“It can’t feel that good.”

“You’d be surprised,” Lio pants, deep and gravelly and it’s another kick in Galo’s stomach. Lio tugs him by the hair, and Galo shoves his fingers all the way in as he leans up to kiss him, getting to feel the breathy sound Lio makes against his mouth.

“Keep teaching me,” Galo prods. Lio smirks against the corner of his lips.

“Let’s swap again. I’m going to ride you.”

Throat tight, Galo pecks him, pulling out his fingers.

“Ah. S-Sounds good.”

Lio flips them, settling back happily over Galo’s hips. He taps the condom wrapper against Galo’s mouth.

“Bite,” he says, and when Galo does, he pulls and rips the wrapper. Galo’s chest tightens with nerves as Lio rolls the condom on him, and slicks him back up with lube.

Lio looks so slender on top of him, his dick so pretty and pink to match the rest of him. Lio is staring down at Galo’s cock with a firm determination, and Galo squirms.

Lio looks down at him.

“Don’t be nervous. Do you want to stop?”

“No! No no- I, I’m not nervous. It’s just, um. Don’t hurt yourself. I really don’t mind if we just –“

“Do you have any idea who you’re talking to?” Lio snaps, sitting up on his knees. “Hurt myself. Don’t make me laugh.”

Lio then begins to lower himself onto Galo, thighs tense and head tipped back, and Galo is dumbstruck because he takes him. Deeper and more and more until Lio is giving small puppy whines, and Galo is wound so tight he might snap. 

Oh – “ Galo holds him, grips along his hips and helps hold his weight, not that he needs it. “You are incredible, s-so gorgeous. You’re going to burn me, Lio!”

Lio offers a half smile, rolling his head on one shoulder and panting with the effort of staying still. 

“I thought firefighters don’t get burned.”

“Don’t tease me now,” Galo sighs. “I feel like I might die.”

“Come on,” Lio teases. He rises up, slick and tight as he rocks back down. “Show me that burning soul.”

A spark ignites in his chest. Galo plants his feet and snaps up his hips, and Lio lets out a delighted moan at the strength behind it.

Lio threads their fingers together, and grins at him evilly as he sits up again and begins to bounce. Galo really, seriously might die.

The rhythm part takes some getting used to. Lio alternates between fast and slow, rolling his hips in circles, taking him to the hilt, pushing off of Galo’s hands and riding him for filth – and Galo starts to get the hang of it, learning to snap up when Lio descends, pulling a gravelly moan from Lio’s chest.

“So big,” Lio gasps, squeezing his sweaty palms. “You’re-“ he bounces, hair swishing around his face, “-you’re perfect.”

Galo digs his teeth into his bottom lip to keep himself from saying something stupid. The room is burning, and they’re both sweating, and Galo’s heart is beating so fast it might as well just roll down the street. He cant take his eyes off him – such a beautiful body, so confident and strong and the way Lio looks at him makes Galo feel like he’s the special one.  

Galo loses sense of time — Lio keeps going and going like an endless supply of power.

“You feel so good,” Lio continues. “You feel so –“

Galo can’t take it. He needs more; Galo doesn’t even think – he just does.

He rolls them over on the bed, holds two of Lio’s wrists in one hand, braces his other against Lio’s slick thigh and slams in, and Lio tips his head back and wails.

“Sorry,” Galo tells him, releasing his wrists. “Sorry sorry – you’re just so –“

“Harder!” Lio demands, and Galo moans from the feeling of nails in his back. He controls the pace now, completely on autopilot as he chases after the twist in his stomach, thrusting into the slick heat of him.

Galo buries his face in Lio’s neck, working for the pace that’ll make Lio feel the best. He knows it from the fingernails that scratch into his shoulders; Lio garbles his name in short breathy pants, and Galo can’t even begin to process how sexy it is.

“Galo – shit, Galo!” Lio’s back arches off the bed, and his toes curl into Galo’s calves, and he moans into Galo’s shoulder – and Galo pushes off his forearm to watch Lio come, and wow. It should probably be weird, but Lio is stunning to watch. He comes all on his own, shooting up his stomach as he holds onto Galo for dear life.

Galo slows the pace down when Lio starts to tremble. Lio wipes his eyes, and he sighs as he flops his head back against the bed.

“Dammit. You lasted longer than me.”

“Ha-ha,” Galo grins, pecking his mouth. “Do I win?”

“You win everything,” Lio mumbles, dazedly staring up at him. His eyes are fogged over, mouth red and puffy, and Galo’s cock throbs from how close he is.

Galo goes to pull out, and Lio’s hand flies to yank him by the hair.

“Where the hell are you going?”

Galo scrunches his eyebrows.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” and he needs to come like right the fuck now or he might need to amputate something.

 “You can’t hurt me,” Lio glares. “I’m the leader of the Mad Burnish. Now fuck me, Galo.”

That last shred of common sense is sent right down the garbage disposal. Galo digs his hand into Lio’s thigh and fucks in brutal, and Lio squirms back to meet him thrust for thrust, hand bracing up against the headboard so he doesn’t get fucked right through it.

“That’s it,” he pants. “Use me. However you want – I’m your toy, Galo, I’m yours.

He couldn’t possibly last any longer. Not if the whole world was depending on it. Galo’s thrusts go short and deep and Galo curls in on himself, the sound he makes foreign to his own ears. Lio is urging him on, petting across his forehead and saying pretty words that sound like mush. It feels like his whole spine is on fire, and Galo can only chase after it, shaking when his body throbs.

“Yes, that’s perfect, Galo,” Lio tells him, stroking his hair. “You did so good, just as I told you to. You’re incredible.”

His heart is so loud in his ears. Galo feels burnt everywhere they’re touching, but there’s no fire to be seen.

The room is filled with their labored breathing. 

“Is...is it always like that?” Galo asks, breath shallow. Lio’s fingers leave little sparks where he strokes his face.

“Why? Was that a decent first time?”

Galo laughs, and Lio smiles up at him, happily meeting his mouth when Galo leans down to kiss him. It’s long and sleepy, and Galo hums as he pulls back.

“I’m sticky.”

“Oh, you’re sticky?”

 

~

 

Lio refuses to get out of bed in the morning. That’s okay, because they’ve got nowhere to be, but Galo’s stomach starts to growl by nine.

“Tell your body to shut up,” Lio grumbles. He’s face first in Galo’s chest, tolerant of Galo rubbing up and down his back. (Galo knows he secretly likes it, especially when he massages up into the back of his neck).

“I can’t help it! Let’s eat somethin’ and then we can come right back, promise.”

“I’m not moving,” Lio mumbles.

“Well stay here then, I’m starving,” Galo yawns. He gently shifts Lio off of him, and Lio flinches as his hips are jostled, and Galo freezes. “Dammit Lio. Did I hurt you?”

“No,” Lio hisses, smooshing his face in the pillows. “I’m sore, thanks to your elephant dick.”

Galo laughs, and gently prods Lio onto his back. He sleepily glares up at him, but it’s a feeble effort, Galo is immune to his glares.

He gently spreads his thighs and pushes Lio’s shirt up to his chest. There’s a little bit of bruising around his hips.

“S’ mostly my back,” Lio mumbles. “If you fuss over me I’ll stab you.”

“I’m not fussin’!” Galo leans down and kisses Lio’s stomach. He flinches as he feels pain run down his own spine. Sitting up, Galo presses a hand to his shoulder, and tries to turn his head to look. “Haha no way, I think you scratched up my back, babe.”

“Let me see.”

Galo turns on the bed, and Lio sits up off one arm to run his other hand over the cat scratches.

“Mmm, that’s hot.”

“Yeah, definitely. I’m gonna’ make breakfast, and then you’re gonna’ teach me how to blow you.”

“Deal,” Lio flops back on the bed. “I want pancakes.”

“I don’t think you’re in any place to be demanding things.”

Lio glares at him again, and oh that one makes Galo feel things. He laughs as he gets out of bed, imaginary fire at his heels.

“Okay okay! Pancakes it is!” 

 

 

~

 

 

 Galo is nervous the first time they pilot DeLucy. But there’s something familiar about the sync, like reaching in and becoming whole again.

He never forgot what it was like to fuse together and punch the world into an explosion of flames (that’s not what happened, Galo – yes it is!-)

But being in the sync, piloting a robot not as two separate beings, but as one mind – it’s a high you can’t get anywhere else.

This time I agree with you. 

This time??? I always make perfect sense, thank you.

Maybe.

There’s a skyscraper on fire, and the DeLucy scales it like it’s nothing. Galo likes working in the field with Lio. Likes feeling him close, likes knowing that he can protect him.

I’m the one protecting you.

Hehe, maybe! Galo sees them as equals. Maybe that’s why they sync so well.

Yes, baby. Focus.

The room explodes in a blaze of glory, and Galo smiles from the feeling of heat on his skin.

 

~

 

“Hey, has anybody seen... wait, what is going on here?” Lio stops, shoes squeaking on the floor.

“Hey boss!” Meis waves.

“Your boyfriend has like, so many hidden talents,” Gueira says. “I’m kind of jealous.”

“Ready, and-“ Remi tosses a grape across the room, and Galo jumps up to catch it in his mouth. Ta-da!

“He’s like a dog.”

“Yeah, but a good one.”

“Dumbass, all dogs are good dogs.”

“Hey Lio!” Galo smiles, ignoring whatever argument is happening.

Lio waves, and then turns back to Meis. Galo is momentarily distracted by Lio’s butt in those little black pants, and almost misses the other grape Remi tosses him.

“Alright, let’s go for a three-pointer,” Varys says. “This one’s for all the marbles.”

“Wait, nobody said I was gonna’ win marbles!”

“Oh my god, just –“ Remi throws another grape; Galo takes a running jump, and tuck and rolls when he catches it in his mouth.

“So this is where everyone’s been,” Lio folds his arms. “Throwing food at my boyfriend.”

“We call that down time around here,” Varys says.

“Catch this!” Gueira calls, and Galo jumps up and catches it all the way across the room. Hey, that was a close one – his friends clap, and Galo grins, validated.

“Do you wan’t to try?” Meis holds up a bowl of grapes.

“I can catch anything!” Galo boasts.

Lio’s demeaner is cool and indifferent, and his tone is honey deep when he says,

“I don’t have to throw food to make Galo jump for me.”

Varys wolf whistles, Galo flushes all the way down to his feet, and Lio drags Gueira and Meis out of the room to discuss whatever it was he came here for.

“Well fuck me,” Remi says.

Galo scratches the back of his neck.

“Yeah.”

 

 

 

Galo finds him in the garage later. He lifts Lio off his feet, preening at how easily Lio folds around him, tipping his head to meet Galo halfway. Lio is a perfect weight in his arms, and he directs the kiss at his own leisure, and Galo swallows him up happily.

 

Yeah. If Lio says jump, he’ll jump.

 

 

But if Galo says come, Lio will come.

 

It goes both ways.

 

 

~

 

“You’re an idiot,” Lio tells him.

“Sorry,” Galo shrugs, and Lio pinches his nose. Galo chokes and Lio eventually lets go to resume stroking through his hair.

Galo closes his eyes because it feels nice. Lio’s nails scratch along his shaved side in meticulous circles, and it distracts from the pain in his leg.

“Why can’t you learn how to dodge?”

“I’ve already told you,” Galo hums. “My motto is grin n’ bear it.”

Lio frowns at him. Galo’s eyes are closed, but he can hear it in Lio’s voice.

“I don’t like when you get hurt.”

His tone is honest, and it pulls at Galo’s heart. He opens his eyes and says more sincere this time.

“I’m sorry.”

Lio pets across Galo’s forehead. His fingers drag feather-light over his cheeks, and he taps Galo’s mouth once.

“One more time?”

“Haha – I’m sorry!”

“Okay,” Lio smiles. “I forgive you.” He bends over his lap to peck Galo’s mouth. “Don’t do it again.”

“This is rich, coming from you.”

“Galo.”

“I’m just sayin’ – ow ow ow -  okay!! I pinky promise!”

“Hope to die?”

“Yes!”

“Good,” Lio says. “Because otherwise you will.”

Galo giggles at the serious look on Lio’s face, and Lio cracks a hand down against his belly with a painless slap!, and Galo laughs even more.

His heart is so full, it feels like it might burst.

“Hey,” Galo says, bringing up a hand to cup Lio’s cheek. “Can I tell you something?”

Lio’s eyes are so beautiful when they soften like that.

“Yes.” 

“I love you,” Galo says.

 

 

Lio stares down at him.

 

 

He’s very, very good at that poker face, and Galo waits patiently as Lio does nothing but gawk. His mouth is a firm line, and his eyes burn holes.

 

 

Galo bites his lip and drags his thumb across Lio’s cheek.

Galo would never take the words back, even if Lio got mad at him for it. It’s the truth. 

 

 

Lio’s throat bobs.

 

 

“Jerk,” Lio eventually says. “I wanted to tell you first.”

Galo beams, just utterly explodes with light, and Lio snatches his palm and kisses it.

 

~

 

It’s amazing how much his apartment has changed because of Lio. It’s unnoticeable to the naked eye, but it’s a world of a difference to Galo.

Shoes at the door, black clothes crammed in the closet, the never-ending waterfall of paperwork on the kitchen table; the coffee pot and the earrings pooled on his bedside table and the fruity shampoo that shows up in his shower and that little purple toothbrush that sits next to his own.

It’s their apartment. Theirs. Galo likes that word.

He never thought of himself as lonely before, but Lio brings a new purpose to his life that he didn’t know he could have.

Galo does not think of Kray anymore.

 

 

“Hey,” Lio kisses him. “Stay with me baby.”

 

 

“I’m here,” Galo sighs, tipping his head so Lio can access his neck. “Fuck, I’m here.”

Lio has been edging him for the better part of half an hour. Galo’s knees are rugburned from blowing him in the living room, and Lio dragged him to the bed and settled at his side. They’ve been kissing for a long time; Lio’s hand is slick with lube, and Galo’s stomach clenches whenever he looks down to watch his cock get worked over with smooth fingers.

He tenses when he’s close, and Lio stops, squeezing at the base again, and Galo drops his head back with a sigh.

“Are you mad at me yet?” Lio teases, but there’s a genuine note in his tone. Like he’d stop if Galo asked.

“You can do anything to me,” Galo tells him.

Lio’s eyes widen, catlike. He hums happily, and noses up into Galo’s neck. He slides his hand up slow, and thumbs across Galo’s cock – and he’s so hard, so so hard, but he won’t come until Lio tells him to.

“I love you so much,” Lio sighs. Galo smiles, and Lio drops his head back on Galo’s shoulder.

“I love you t-hhn,” Galo moans, twitching as Lio squeezes him tight. His fingers are slippery, and his tight grip turns gentle, curling down to his balls and drawing circles with his fingertips.

Lio’s voice is soft and curious.

“Galo…”

“Y-Yeah?”

Lio’s fingers dip down further, nudging apart Galo’s thighs – and it’s like ice shooting right in his veins. Galo’s eyes snap open, and his breath catches in his throat.

Lio deliberately runs a slick finger against his ass, and from the position they’re in, it’s almost like Lio is doing it to himself.

“Have you ever touched yourself here?”

Galo’s brain turns off. It takes a moment to complete the reboot, and Galo blinks rapidly, face hot.

“Um…”

Lio rubs the pad of his finger up against him, and Galo is shocked by how fast his heart skyrockets. His cock throbs off his stomach, thighs parting wider.

“No,” Galo rasps.

Lio asks, tone flat like they’re discussing the weather, “Can I?”

“Yes,” Galo answers too fast. He clears his throat, “I said anything, right?”

Lio looks up at him and smiles.

“Yeah.”

His head flops back down against Galo’s chest, Lio’s index finger presses in to the third knuckle, and Galo almost bites off his tongue.

“Shit!” Galo curses. Uh, he definitely wasn’t expecting it to be that easy. Lio pulls out and pushes back in, and Galo stops breathing.

“Relax. Are you okay?”

“I’m great!” He squeaks.

“Does it feel weird?”

“Y-Yeah. It’s – I don’t really see how this is supposed to feel good.”  

“Be patient,” Lio mumbles. He adds his ring finger and there Galo feels a burn, but definitely nothing he can’t handle. He forces himself to relax. Galo chooses to gaze up at the ceiling rather than Lio’s hand between his legs (fuck).

“That’s it…” Lio tells him. “So glad you’re letting me do this. Gonna’ make you feel so good,” He spreads his fingers, scissors them and curls, and Galo chokes a little. “You’re easy, Galo.”

“Don’t be mean!”

His fingers curl again, and Galo chews into his bottom lip.

Lio tips his head to kiss his pec before sitting up.

“I can’t reach like this. Flip over.”

Galo’s face heats.

“Um – are you –“

“Trust me?” Lio bats his eyelashes and come on, Galo can’t say no to that.

He rolls over with bated breath, and goosebumps roll down his spine as Lio presses his hand flat against his lower back.

“Damn, I’m going to get hard again. You’re so pretty,” Lio sighs.

Galo gets comfortable, shoving a pillow under his head and hugging it.

“No, you are!”  

“You’re going to come without touching yourself,” Lio tells.

Galo swallows. He can feel his heart in his mouth; he blurts without thinking.

“Yeah? You gonna’ make me?”

A beat.

Lio grabs his ass and squeezes. Galo gasps, and Lio presses his thumb against his rim and presses in.

“I sure am,” Lio says. “And you’ll never forget it.”

Galo sighs as Lio pulls his thumb out and curls his index and ring finger in instead. It’s wet with more lube, and Galo squeezes his eyes shut because it’s different now. Lio’s fingers feel longer with the new angle, but Galo now feels twice as exposed.

Lio rubs his free hand up his back comfortingly, and fingers him with a rhythm that actually – er, starts to feel really good. The nerves are twisting into something else; arousal in his stomach that has him arch back against Lio’s hand.

Galo gets lost in it. Lio fingers the fuck outta’ him, and Galo takes it, drooling into the pillow.

“Yesss,” Lio purrs. “Oh Galo, baby. I am about to introduce you to your new best friend.”

Galo, momentarily distracted by the heat of Lio’s hands, takes too long to process what he’s saying.

“Mmm?”

Lio pulls his fingers all the way out, slowly scissors him, and then twists them at an angle as Lio decides to take a bite out of his asscheek.

Galo can only accurately describe the feeling as; dying. He can’t tell you what sound he makes, because he momentarily blacks out. Electrocuted, Galo probably screams.

When he does blink away the dark spots, Lio is laughing above him, and Galo is sticky.

“Oh my god,” Galo breathes.

Lio isn’t just laughing – he’s cackling. He rolls Galo back over – who goes like a log, because seriously, Galo is still trying to get the tingly feeling to go away – and Lio sits right on his thighs and beams.

“That is what it feels like.”

“Holy shit,” Galo furrows his eyebrows and looks up at Lio with concern. “I’m so sorry.” He will never doubt Lio again. Ever.

“You really came,” Lio observes, dragging a sticky hand up his stomach with glee. “I’m so spoiled.”

“I think I just died.”

“Yeah, it’s intense. Maybe you’ll be a little nicer the next time you bend me over the counter.”

“You don’t want me to be nice,” Galo grins sleepily. Lio gives him an unreadable look; it’s almost proud.

Galo lets out a breath, the throbbing beginning to ebb. The post-orgasm haze is warm and he can’t bring himself to feel an ounce of shame. He notices that Lio is hard again, and smirks back up at him.

“Already?”

Lio rolls his eyes.

“Yeah, I’m into you busting over my fingers. Get over it.”

Galo holds Lio by the thighs and laughs.

 

 ~

 

 

He's biting his tongue in concentration, trying to remember what Varys told him about measurements and butter and paying attention - which is ironic because, well, Galo wasn't really paying attention when Varys told him but hey the food always turns out fine in the end. He takes a whole stick of butter and plops it in a cup. That should do it. 

Cooking helps him take his mind off things. It's been a good substitute for running up to the woods whenever someone rubs him wrong. 

Lio has decided to hole himself up in the bedroom all day, and if that's his way of coping with stuff, then Galo won't bug 'em. Hopefully he'll come out for food. 

Galo doesn’t hear the bedroom door open, but he does feel arms wrap around him from behind. He pauses while opening the microwave door; Lio nuzzles into his back, and Galo resumes setting the cup in the microwave and punching in the time.

“Did you take a nap?”

“No.” Lio speaks into his shirt. “I can’t sleep without you.”

“Right. Sorry.”

Galo doesn’t know what else to say. The microwave beeps, and he pulls out the cup.

 “Galo?”

Lio’s tone draws his full attention.

 “Yeah?”

 “Why do you love me?”

 

The question throws him off guard. It’s seemingly random, but Galo perks up the more the thinks about it.

 

“Well, lots of reasons!” Galo chirps. Lio’s arms tighten around him, so Galo covers one of his hands and threads their fingers together. “You’re like, wicked strong and super hot-“ Lio sighs, but Galo keeps going, “-and you’re always looking out for your own, n’ you’re willing to run yourself into the ground if it means saving a life and I respect people like that, hardcore.” Galo smiles, “I dunno’. There’s so much. You have tiny cat sneezes and you double knot your shoelaces. Do I need to go on?”

“I’m not a good person, Galo,” Lio says.

Galo scowls.

Lio isn’t the insecure type. Galo wracks around his brain, and then scoffs,

“Is this about what that stupid reporter wrote?”

“Galo-“

“I meant what I said!” Galo turns around, leaning on the counter so he can clap Lio’s face in his hands. “Or else I wouldn’t have said it!”

The media has been up their butt since the elections started. Apparently being saviors of the world isn’t enough good press to stave off the ex-burnish smear campaigns. Galo likes to stay out of it, but when a reporter asked how he felt about working alongside Lio, he answered honestly.

“Well, I love him!

That started a shitstorm Galo wasn’t really anticipating. Lio’s been getting the worst of it, and Galo still feels guilty – but what, he was supposed to lie?

“I’ve done bad things,” Lio tells him.

“We’ve all done bad things.”

“Not you,” Lio frowns. “You’re – you’re selfless and – and bright in a way I’m not.”

Galo pinches his cheek, and Lio yips.

“Seriously! This is comin’ from the guy who works every day and night to-“

“I care about my people,” Lio says. “I don’t care about everyone.”

“Yes you do, stop lyin’ to yourself,” Galo snaps, and Lio freezes. “I’m not hearing it anymore! I watched you carry three people out of a housefire last week, and then you went back in for more.”

“Only because you did.”

“I was following you,” Galo says, smoothing over the red mark he pinched on Lio’s cheek. “I’ve just been followin’ you.”

Lio’s eyes shine over. Galo tucks him into his chest and hugs him tight.

“People are talking so terribly about you out there,” Lio mumbles.

“Me? I don’t care about any of that.”

care. They don’t deserve to have your name in their mouths,” Lio hisses. Galo smooths down his bedhead and holds him close. “I wish they’d just keep it about me without dragging you into it.”

“Lio…” Galo lets out a hard breath, and tries to sort out the words. “We’re a team now.”

“But-“

“And it’s gonna’ be like this for a long time,” Galo continues. “Look I – I don’t plan on going nowhere. I’m gonna’ keep putting out fires and I’m gonna’ keep sleeping next to you and, and one day I’m gonna’ ask you to marry me, and the paps will get ten times worse but I don’t care about that stuff. I care about my friends and my job and I care about you.”

Lio leans back to look at him, and he’s crying. He’s a pretty crier. Galo feels a bit raw, but no more than Lio appears to be.

Galo will always find him utterly gorgeous. 

“You would marry me?” Lio asks.

Galo blinks at him.

“Well, duh.

Lio yanks his head down by the back of the neck and bonks their foreheads together. Galo winces a little, but peers open an eye to meet Lio’s watery pink ones.

“I would marry you too,” Lio says outright.

Galo grins, “Even after this mess I made?”

“We made it together,” Lio mumbles, and tips his head right to kiss him.