When deciding to undertake a scouting mission with Gig, Kent had, perhaps foolishly he will admit, envisioned a rather relaxing few days. The small island was about a half a day’s journey from New Independence, with pristine beaches and a small jungle at its center. He had been looking forward to spending some time alone with his dear friend Gig, hiking around, and basking in the gorgeous natural wonders of this beautiful planet, all with the added benefit of a new property for the Brighton lineage. While the first few hours had been just as he had imagined, Kent’s day had taken quite a miserable turn.
Running into rival parties of the Rogue Wave had certainly been a possibility that he had considered, but not one he had taken seriously enough it seemed, as he was now sprinting just a few paces behind Gig through the surprisingly thick jungle. They had been completely cut off from the Wake Robin by the pirates and thus had lost their best chance for escape, but still they ran. Gig’s path through the trees was incomprehensible to Kent but with every change in direction they managed to gain more and more distance from their pursuers until finally Gig stopped running abruptly and ducked behind a particularly wide tree. Kent followed and they hid in silence side by side behind the tree. Gig had long since sent his eye out to aid in their escape, and his remaining eye flicked back and forth between Kent and the surrounding plants. That and Gig muttering to himself, “this isn’t going to work,” was the only warning Kent had before he was unceremoniously shoved into a thick shrub. Kent let out a small gasp as he managed to fall face first onto a particularly large branch but the sound of their pursuers crashing through the jungle towards them took precedence over his throbbing eye. As quietly as he could, Kent curled up under the thick leaves and pressed a hand to his watering eye and waited.
The sounds of people running drew closer and closer, and just as quickly, moved away from them as the pirates ran past their hiding spots without stopping. They waited until the sounds of their pursuers were barely audible once more, and then Gig stood from his crouch behind the tree. Kent let out a shaky breath and stumbled out of the tangle of branches. He would have fallen again if not for Gig quickly catching him by the shoulders.
“Are you okay?” Gig asked softly, helping support him as he regained his footing. Kent flushed red at the combination of his own clumsiness, Gig’s concern, and the feeling of Gig’s warm hand still remaining on his shoulder.
“I’m quite alright,” he said in what he hoped was a dignified tone. He dusted off his plant stained pants trying to focus on something less emotionally fraught in hopes of regaining some of his composure before looking up to meet Gig’s eyes.
“Oh man, I’m so sorry,” Gig said when he caught sight of the developing bruise on Kent’s face.
“No, no, it was my fault, I should have been more careful.” Kent said trying to sound reassuring even though his eye was still watering profusely. Gig didn’t look terribly reassured but he allowed the matter to be dropped anyway. Gig removed his hand from Kent’s shoulder and Kent immediately missed the warmth the touch had sent through him but drew himself up and followed Gig as he and began to head in a new direction.
“There's a ship this way,” Gig explained as he guided Kent through the jungle at a hurried clip. “I didn’t see anyone around, it seems like our best bet.”
Kent felt a pang of sadness at having to leave his ship behind but bid Gig to carry on. He wasn’t familiar with this group of pirates, which indicated they weren’t incredibly prominent among the Rogue Wave. He comforted himself in the knowledge that getting the Wake Robin back would be no difficult task with the assistance of the rest of the Brighton lineage at his back.
After a short walk Gig and Kent reached the edge of the tree line and got a view of the open stretch of beach. They paused to survey the scene before exiting the safety of the trees. It was as Gig described, a single ship much smaller than his own, and as far as Kent could tell, there was no movement within the ship or around it apart from Gig’s eye whirring overhead. The way clear, Gig and Kent quickly made their way over to the ship Gig's eye passing them as they went, headed back into the trees. Gig ran to a small panel on the ship’s underbelly that was just beside the outline of the ship’s ramp. Kent following closely behind and watched as Gig pulled a small tool from a pocket and used it to pop the panel open.
"They're heading this way," Gig said as he began fiddling with the exposed wires. "There's only two of them but they're pretty close." Kent nodded and pulled out his sword, steeling himself as he turned to face the trees. He felt more sure of himself now that he had a goal he could focus on. The nervous energy was still coursing through him, but he was sure footed finally and his hands were steady. He scanned the trees diligently for signs of movement in the direction Gig had indicated while keeping an eye on Gig and his progress with the ramp. Within moments Gig let out a cry of, “Got it!” and the ship’s ramp lowered down into the sand. Kent lead the way around to the opening and peered inside the ship. The small cargo hold appeared empty, but Kent still made his way up the ramp cautiously, sword still drawn.His caution paid off when a metal bar swung towards him from the darkness. Kent dodged back away from his attacker and a large silhouette emerged from the ship solidifying into a stony faced pirate mirroring Kent’s grasp on his sword with their bar.
The person was larger than Kent, more of an even match to Gig, but Kent stood confidently between his unarmed friend and the pirate nonetheless The pirate drew closer swinging the bar once more and Kent raised his sword to block the blow. The hit was more powerful than he expected and Kent was backed further down the ramp. The pirate finally noticing Gig, let out a yell and swung a third time even harder than before, but, Kent noticed, more desperately. The pirate over committed to the swing and Kent took advantage of their miscalculation, to smoothly slide out of the way of the bar before slashing at their arm with his sword. The pirate cried out in pain and dropped the bar. It rolled down the ramp where Gig collected it and raised it in front of him.
The pirate clutched at their injured arm and glared at Gig and Kent from the top of the ramp. “You’re going to regret this,” they said menacingly.
Kent scoffed and said “I doubt it,” leveling his sword at the pirate’s chest. “Out,” he commanded. Their face twisted further in anger at being ordered out of their own ship, but they complied walking past Kent and down the ramp. Just as they drew even with Gig the other two pirates burst onto the beach. Out of the immediate reach of Kent’s sword and bolstered by their friends’ sudden arrival, the pirate lunged for their weapon falling into a heated grapple with Gig. Kent hurried down to where Gig and the pirate were wrestling for control of the metal bar and slashed at the pirate again. They released their grip on the bar just as Gig pulled at it and the unresisted force sent the bar out of Gig’s hands and into the sand a few feet away. Gig and the pirate dove for the weapon and though Kent wanted to help, the other pirates had closed in on the ship with their own swords drawn and Kent turned to face them instead.
The newcomers were as unskilled in fighting as the first pirate, and while Kent was sure he would have been able to soundly beat them were he fighting them separately it took all he had to be able to keep them away from Gig and the ship. As it was they had the numbers and were stronger than him and he knew they would eventually tire him out. Then out of the corner of his eye Kent saw Gig’s opponent land a nasty hit to the side of Gig’s head. Gig cursed and stumbled back a bit. Kent, distracted by his worry over his friend, left too wide an opening. The taller of the two pirates Kent was facing took advantage of the opening to stab at Kent’s chest. Kent slid away at the last second, deflecting what could have been a much more serious hit into a lighter slash across his torso. He hissed in pain, but focused on his fight again.
Just as he was beginning to think he would have to make a drastic move Gig gained the upper hand in his own fight and with his own sharp blow to the pirate’s head, they fell to the sand unconscious. He heard Gig stumbling up the ramp behind him and put all he had into driving the remaining pirates back while the ship behind him began to rumble.
“Kent come on!” Gig shouted from the top of the ramp before throwing the bar at the taller pirate hitting her in the shoulder. She fell to the ground and Kent, now able to focus all his energy on one opponent sent the last pirate sprawling backwards as well before darting up the ramp that had slowly started to pull back up into the ship. The taller pirate scrambled to her feet and ran for the ramp but it closed just before she made it and the ship rose into the air. Kent didn’t quite sag with relief as he re-sheathed his sword and turned to Gig who had sagged with relief in the pilot’s seat.
“Are you alright?” Kent asked as he took in Gig’s more-disheveled-than-usual appearance. While Gig didn’t seem to be seriously injured he was bleeding sluggishly from a small cut above his right ear.
“Kinda sore but nothing serious,” Gig replied, glancing away from the controls and to look over Kent. “How about you?” Kent gingerly pulled off his blazer to inspect his ribs. It was more of a scrape than a cut and nothing a bit of pressure and some light bandaging wouldn’t take care of. He said as much and Gig turned his attention back to the piloting of the ship fully.
Kent made use of the first aid kit he found strapped to one of the walls to clean and bandage their injuries, and Gig flew the ship getting them clear of the island. Once they were sure no one was following them, Gig set a coarse back to New Independence and the exhaustion of the day hit them both full force as the adrenaline finally wore off. Kent had been awake for quite some time already when they had first landed on the island and if Kent was exhausted with his strictly reasonable sleep schedule he knew Gig had to be dead on his feet. Sure enough when Gig finally stood from his seat he did so slowly grasping the back of the seat to steady himself. Kent put a hand to Gig’s elbow as an additional offer of support.
“You should get some rest,” Kent said trying not to fret. Gig, grinned widely at Kent
“You too man, you look beat,” he said. Kent felt warm as he straightened up determined to get Gig settled down to rest. They made their way to the unexplored corner of the ship and, small as it was, found the door to the quarters in no time.
Kent opened the sliding door, let out a soft, “Oh,” and froze in the doorway.
In all of the excitement he hadn’t really considered the size of the ship, but now facing the single bed, his tired mind kicked back into overdrive. He vaguely noticed Gig himself stopping in the doorway as well and also taking in their predicament. It would be a lie for Kent to say he hadn’t imagined what it would be like to sleep so close to Gig and a thrill of excitement rushed through him even if it wasn’t quite what he had envisioned in his many fantasies all of which involved much happier beginnings to such a scenario rather than a frenzied escape that left both of them injured and exhausted.
Just as soon as his delight hit him it passed and the realization that this was indeed not one of his fantasies where everything went perfectly washed over him and his blush changed to one of embarrassment. He was sure he was beet red as he anxiously looked over to Gig to gauge his reaction. Kent knew it would be unlikely for Gig to react to such a situation as dramatically as he often worried he would, but he had already been proven the fool today for not fully considering unpleasant possibilities. Still, his raging emotions turned back towards relief when he looked at Gig’s face and only saw mild surprise. The other man realized Kent was staring and turned his tired gaze to meet Kent’s eyes. Kent felt his face was far too hot.
Amusement overtook the tired surprise on Gig’s face upon seeing Kent blushing but Gig didn’t comment on it. Instead Gig just laughed softly and said, “I guess this is it huh?”
Kent still blushing awkwardly broke eye contact and cleared his throat saying, “You sleep here. I’ll take the pilot chair.”
“You super don’t have to do that,” Gig said still amused at Kent’s shyness. He stepped into the room kicking off his shoes and began nonchalantly taking off his pants. Kent simply couldn’t believe this was really happening to him and he watched Gig undress for far too long before snapping out of it and whipping around to give Gig some privacy and to hide his mortified expression. “Sure the bed’s kinda small,” Gig continued either oblivious to Kent’s distress or unbothered, “but there’s enough room for both of us.”
“I couldn’t possibly impose,” Kent choked out to the hallway from behind his hands that had at some point moved by themselves to cover his face.
“Kent,” Gig pleaded, but Kent was too busy trying to recover.
“Kent,” Gig repeated and Kent turned around at the change in tone to face Gig once more. He didn’t allow himself to look at Gig’s bare chest or legs or eyes focusing on a spot on Gig’s forehead instead. He dropped one arm down across his own chest and left the other covering his face.
“That chair is super uncomfortable. You won’t be able to sleep at all,” he said hands moving as he spoke enchanting Kent and drawing his attention and Kent felt his head nodding along as Gig continued.
“Seriously, it’s not an imposition. You’re my friend too, and I don’t want you to be uncomfortable or tired either.” Kent relaxed a bit at Gig’s heartfelt reassurances. Somehow after all this time Kent was still taken so completely off guard to have Gig’s earnest kindness directed at him.
“Well if you’re sure,” Kent heard himself say, still standing frozen in the doorway. He managed to force his legs to move and followed Gig into the room.
“Thank you,” Gig said seeming to relax as well. Gig climbed onto the bed sprawling over more than half of the mattress and Kent stiffly sat down on the unoccupied right side of the mattress and undressed. Unlike Gig, he only took off his shoes, leaving on his torn button up and jeans both slightly bloody and rather dirty. In a few awkward rigid movements he was laying down on his side, his back to Gig to hide his still furious blush, and as close to the edge of the bed as to give Gig enough space. Gig huffed a laugh behind him and Kent hunched his shoulders a bit snapping his spine straight once more when his back hit Gig’s knee.
He hadn’t imagined it being like this either.
Kent lay back stiff, once more barely breathing, and all traces of his earlier tiredness driven away.
Then he felt the bed shift as strong arms wrapped around him and he was pulled back away from the edge of the bed until what felt like an eternity later he was pressed up against Gig’s chest. Kent was so shocked he barely heard the exasperated and tired, “go to sleep Kent,” Gig muttered into his neck. Kent shivered at the even puffs of breath that blew across his neck, the hard lines of muscle under soft skin, and the warm relaxed embrace.
"Okay," Kent said, breathless and in saying so, Kent decided to let go of his anxiety. He let himself accept the moment for what it was. He relaxed into Gig’s arms and let himself be happy and loved in whatever capacity this was. He rested his cheek on Gig’s bicep smiling brightly. As Gig’s breathing slowed behind him he felt bold enough to press a small kiss to the arm under his head. It was a gentle enough press of lips that could easily be mistaken for an accident. Behind him he felt Gig’s chest expand as he let out a breathy laugh that could be also be mistaken for a sleepy sigh and a smile against his hair that couldn’t be anything else.
Tomorrow they would arrive back home, his dearest friend and his family would take back his ship, he would wake up in Gig’s arms. Kent fell asleep.