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touching you I start to bloom

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For the first ten years of his life, he’s just like Max and Isobel. Feeling his soulmate’s skinned knees and broken bones. He relishes it in an odd way. Proof that the connection is there, that it’s real. The rest of the time, they’re still there, a pleasant hum in the back of Michael’s mind, reminding him he’s not alone, but it’s nothing tangible.

Things are perfectly normal until he’s ten years old and he wakes up screaming in pain, the sharp sting across his back, one after another, so fast and hard he can’t catch his breath. There won’t be a mark there, he knows. That’s what his soulmate will suffer. That’s what his soulmate is suffering.

Michael runs to his mother that night and sobs into her chest about what’s happening. He can’t make sense of the pain, but he knows it’s wrong, knows it’s not normal. Knows someone is hurting his soulmate.

It happens regularly after that. Michael waking up screaming or in pain. Stinging pain on his back. Blows to the ribs.

His mother holds him while he cries and the third time it happens she tells him he needs to learn to close the connection. To protect himself from the pain.

She describes the process quickly, how they can easily just turn off that connection as long as they want. As long as they need it. Michael knows Max and Isobel’s parents have done it. That it helps them survive. He asks his mother if she does it, but she says no. That, even though she’s not with her soulmate, even though she’s never even met them, she’s happy to know they’re out there. Safe and alive.

Michael won’t use what his mother taught him. He won’t shut off that connection. And, when his mother asks why, he tells her the truth. “They’re hurting. Someone is hurting them. And, without me, they’ll be alone. I can’t let them be alone.”

She cries and hugs him then and calls him her sweet little boy. And he does feel little. And powerless. He can only bear witness to the pain his soulmate lives in.

Michael is seventeen when it gets worse. He’s studying for a test when there’s a crushing pain around his throat that feels like it’s cutting off his air supply. He can breathe, he knows he can, but his soulmate can’t. He lets out a sob of relief when it ends. But it’s only minutes before blow after blow to the ribs and then to the face. And he’s sobbing, trying to send all the love he can over that connection, trying to let his soulmate know he’s not alone, wishing he could be there to protect them, instead of being stuck here, completely helpless.

The last time he feels his soulmate, he’s twenty-seven. He’s at work, in the lab, looking at new weapons systems for the war with Earth.

And then there is burning pain all over. Crushing pain in his leg. It gives out beneath him and he’s on the floor, screaming in agony.

He’s barely aware when they move him to his chambers. It’s just nonstop fire and pain, too much for him to take in. He’s certain nothing could ever be worse.

Until it is.

Until he feels the connection sever completely.

Until he feels his soulmate die.

It takes mere seconds for him to decide to block the connection from his end. He could handle the pain. But the emptiness is too much to bear.

Alex was only twelve when the first Antaran ship was spotted, when Bush took it as a threat and had it blasted out of the sky and dragged the rest of the world into a war none of them wanted.

He was recovering at Landstuhl when peace was achieved and he still doesn’t know all the details. Once it was decided he would marry Princess Isobel, he had been iced out of any discussions.

Of course, Earth’s military claimed to be the victor and paraded around the fact that one of their soldiers would be marrying a beautiful, blonde princess, but Alex doesn’t believe it. He knows that Antar had asked, maybe demanded, that a soldier from a line of soldiers be offered up in marriage to Princess Isobel. He wonders, if Earth had royal families that weren’t mere figureheads, if they would have demanded royalty instead.

Antar respects military might. He suspects they wanted a soldier so they’d have someone whose head they could dig into if Earth tried to fight again, someone who could help keep them two steps ahead of Earth. And his father, in his desperation to get rid of him, to marry him off to a woman, had given them exactly what they wanted. Someone who could easily hack into the Pentagon if he wanted to. Or if he was forced to. He just hopes it doesn’t come to that. He’s seen too much death on both sides as it is. So, yes, he’s willing to go along with this charade of a marriage if it ensures the end to this interplanetary war.

But there are parts of this charade he’s not sure he can live up to. He can marry Isobel and be paraded around on her arm. He can play that part perfectly. But the central component of the peace treaty is the possibility of half-human, half-Antaran progeny that would start from the Antaran royal family. Alex has no doubt his father has paraded Alex as the perfect all-American, heterosexual soldier, and he has been waiting for a chance to speak to the princess to help her understand why he won’t be able to procreate with her naturally.

He steps through the door, taking in his surroundings. The flight had been surprisingly fast and comfortable, an Antaran ship leaving Earth and bringing him here at speeds that, to his mind, were like something out of Star Wars. He had only spent a little more than an hour on the ship, and some of that had been spent storing things, making sure everything was secure before they left Earth’s orbit.

The Antar royal palace is massive and bright, taking advantage of the light provided by both Antaran suns with many tall windows and lots of marble, blackout curtains in place for when they’re needed. It’s especially bright in this room Alex is escorted to, all the curtains open wide. And, at one of the windows, stands a blonde woman who turns at the sound of his footsteps. The usual royal protection detail is present nearby, keeping a close eye on the both of them, but they step to the side when Alex reaches her.

Technically, Alex has met Princess Isobel once before, but they hadn’t had a chance to talk. Not with Earth’s dignitaries and Antaran royalty and all the cameras surrounding them. Alex had played his part as expected. He’ll continue to play that part with her for the good of both their worlds, but he won’t do so without telling her the truth about him.

Princess Isobel is tall and stunning and clearly accustomed to wielding the power she was born with. She has a commanding presence and he wouldn’t be surprised if she has her twin brother, Prince Max, the future king-to-be, wrapped around her finger.

“Captain Alex Manes, your majesty” he introduces himself, bowing slightly when he reaches her.

“You’re meant to be my husband, Captain Manes,” a smile plays over her lips. “There’s no need to bow.” She pauses, walking away from the windows to take a seat at the enormous and curiously shaped seats, just enough to be out of earshot of the protection detail. Alex follows, mirroring her seated stance, surprised how the not-chair somehow folds to provide incredible support and comfort. He manages to last the entirety of intense scrutiny the princess puts him through. Finally, she speaks first. “What did you need to speak with me about that is so important yet couldn’t be spoken about during the negotiations?”

“Your majesty, Isobel, I know this is the last chance for my planet to ensure peace with your people, and I don’t want to derail it,” he says, pausing to breath out. “But there’s something you need to know about me before we are married,” he tells her instantly, trying to remain calm and steady.

“We were already informed of your physical injury,” she replies easily, tone reassuring. “I understand that, on Earth, that may be more of an issue than it is here. On Antar, it marks you as a courageous warrior. It’s to be displayed proudly, if you so choose.”

He shakes his head, “No, that’s not what I meant.” He files that bit away to deal with later. He glances at her security detail before looking back at her.

“You can speak freely in front of them,” she assures him. “As long as you’re not a threat to me, they know how to be discreet.” She arches one delicate eyebrow, waiting for him to explain.

He takes a deep breath before speaking, reminding himself that, from what he understands, this isn’t an issue on Antar. Not like it is on Earth, anyway. “I’m gay. My romantic preferences are with other men. I just. You deserve to know what you’re signing up for, your majesty.”

“Your leaders. They requested my hand for the purposes of this marriage, did you know that?” Isobel asks.

Alex nods, “They asked my father to select one of his sons. He chose me.”

“No, I mean… They could have asked that you marry me, my brother, or my cousin. My brother might have required more discussion, as he’s to be king some day, but... I understand that your world has some fears surrounding people who love those of the same sex? Is that why? Are you not free to …” she looks like she’s struggling for the words.

“My father asked them to have me marry you,” he breathes as the realization hits him. His father couldn’t make him pretend to be straight, he couldn’t change him into the son he wanted, so he had, essentially, forced Alex into a marriage with a woman instead.

He’s surprised by the flash of anger on her face, but it’s clear it’s not directed at him. “Your father wanted you to marry a woman.” It’s a statement, not a question. She’s clearly worked it out on her own. “I don’t want to trap you into a lie, Captain Manes,” Isobel says. “Perhaps you would be happier marrying my cousin? Or my brother?” Her tone is careful and she turns toward him more fully, smoothing down the fabric of her dress.

“Are-” he takes a breath, trying to formulate the question in his head.

But Isobel seems a step ahead of him, “Max is certain he will marry only for love, but Michael…” She trails off.

“And he’s attracted to men?” Alex asks cautiously.

“When it comes to sexual partners, my cousin regularly chooses both men and women.” She seems to decide for him in an instant, “I’ll speak with Michael. We will find a way to keep this treaty without trapping you in something you do not want..” And he believes her.

There’s the other concern there too that Isobel seems to be brushing aside far too easily, “What about the expectation that we would have children someday?”

Isobel surprises him by laughing at that, “Captain Manes, we may look like you, but, anatomically, we are not. The males of my species are fully capable of being impregnated and giving birth. Or, if that’s an option neither of you want, we do have the technology to create an embryo with two parents of the same gender.” She seems to sense his impending panic, because she quickly redirects, “That, however, is a conversation that can wait for a future date. Do you have any other concerns?”

“If he doesn’t want-” Alex starts, unable to bear the thought of any of them being forced into marriage, even if he has been.

She smiles at him as she stands, smoothing down her dress once more. A surprisingly real smile, “Michael had offered himself first. Before everyone decided that I was the best person for this arrangement. ” She pauses again when she reaches the door. “For now, I believe your things are on the second floor, down the hall, to the left, last door on the right.”

He nods, watching as she leaves, and he hopes he’s not damaging their worlds’ relationship too much with this sudden change. Of course, Isobel doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem. And maybe it isn’t. Maybe it really will be as easy as she seems to think it will be. Or maybe she’s just so used to getting what she wants that she doesn’t anticipate the problems to come.

“How’s your fiancé?” Michael asks, when Isobel enters his room. “Is he settling in okay?” Maybe he had watched Captain Manes walk into the palace. And maybe he is a bit bitter that his cousin is marrying someone like him. His only purpose was trying to get a read on Isobel’s future husband. To see if he was the type of person who could be trusted with Isobel, especially after everything they knew about Earth’s military.

Instead, he was hit with a wave of jealousy and odd possessiveness. He can’t explain it. He just shook it off and pushed it down, back into the place he kept all the things he ignored. And then he decided he was going to find someone spectacular to fuck at his sister’s wedding. Someone new and fun. He trusts that Isobel will bring in lots of gorgeous Antarans for her wedding.

“His father is a monster,” Isobel tells him. “He’s not attracted to women, and yet, his father decided he would marry me. Because he can’t force his son to fall in love with a woman.”

All Michael can think about is how he wants to destroy the man who would hate what his child is so much that he would try to stomp him out like that. That’s not how things work on Antar. One doesn’t choose the gender of their soulmate. Some Antarans are exclusively attracted to one gender or another, but it’s not something anyone is hated for. Sometimes the soulmate doesn’t match one’s attraction and it’s a mere platonic relationship, while they seek romance elsewhere. He knows both of his cousins are exclusively attracted to women, though Isobel has always known she may have to marry a man for political reasons. Neither her nor Max’s exclusive attractions have ever been an issue for anyone. It’s just seen as the way they are.

Michael forces himself to push his anger down. He instead brings up a logical question that his gut tells him does not need an answer, “Are you really surprised that Jesse Manes is also a bigot? He didn’t want this war to end. I still think he sent his son to spy for him.”

“No, whatever the sins of his father, Alex seems honorable,” Isobel replies, crossing over to him, looking down at him as he sprawls in his chair. “I wanted to ask if you would still prefer you marry him? I’d rather Jesse Manes not get his way.”

He smiles for just a moment at the thought of Captain Manes, Alex, being his. But he slides back into the usual bored act he’s grown accustomed to showing everyone, before answering, “Yes, Iz. I’ll marry Captain Manes.” He tells himself he’s agreeing so easily for good reasons. Isobel will be free to marry for love. Maybe she’ll even marry her soulmate. But Michael doesn’t have anyone out there waiting for him.

“Come with me to talk my parents into it?” she asks. He’s certain she’s dreading it. Isobel has always been a force of nature, but she also has been very good at pleasing her parents.

Michael, on the other hand, well, he’s used to angering Max and Isobel’s parents. So he nods, standing and, when Isobel holds out her hand and raises an eyebrow at him, he rolls his eyes and holds out his arm, letting her take it and walking with her to find her parents.

“Absolutely not!” Vilandra responds the instant Isobel brings it up. “Your father spent long enough negotiating with those ridiculous humans, trying to deal with their oversized egos. You will marry the Captain.” She’s on the edge of her seat, voice raised, anger radiating from her. She looks so much like Isobel, but, where Isobel is effortlessly commanding, rarely needing to so much as raise her voice, Queen Vilandra rules through fear.

Michael glances over at King Zan, who seems bored, sprawled across his throne, eyes closed, but he knows he is listening. Queen Vilandra won’t give in, but Michael knows that, if he can just convince Zan to go along with it, it will be done. He just has to give him a reason to care.

“Michael has volunteered. We were willing to let Captain Manes marry either me or Michael. If Michael, Captain Manes, and I are all in agreement about it, what does it matter?” Isobel argues, tone surprisingly calm. Michael knows she’s used to getting what she wants from her parents, so she doesn’t know how to truly argue with them. Reason won’t help, in the end. One of them will have to offer something up in return.

“It matters to the humans,” Zan replies, sounding bored, eyes still closed. “They have some bizarre understanding of gender and sexuality and they wanted something that fits in with their claims of winning this war.”

Michael is certain that Zan doesn’t truly care either way. In fact, he’d probably be happy not to have his daughter marry a human. Michael just has to give him a good enough reason to give in.

“You can change those terms any time,” he points out. “They’ll just have to deal with it. They’ll find a way to spin it to their benefit.”

“You’ve given me no reason to consider changing the terms of this agreement,” Zan replies.

Michael is well aware he only has one card to play. He doesn’t want to look too closely at his willingness to play it. “You change it, you let me marry Captain Manes, and I’ll behave like the good little royal child. No more wild parties. No more fights. No more drunken conquests. You won’t have to spend any time at all on covering up my behavior or cleaning up after me.”

That is when Zan perks up, eyes opening, sitting straight in his seat. His gaze is steady, assessing Michael, weighing his words. He knows he’s won in that moment. “You will conduct yourself like a proper member of the royal family. No more scandals.”

“Agreed,” Michael replies easily.

“I will speak to the humans,” Zan says calmly. “They will accept the change and you will behave. You will follow your cousins’ example.”

“Deal,” Michael agrees.

Moments later, he and Isobel are being dismissed. They’re out in the hall when Isobel says, “You didn’t have to make that offer, you know. He’s not a bad person. He’d make a good husband.”

Michael just shrugs, “All the parties were getting repetitive anyway.”

“Michael-” Isobel starts. He shakes his head, dismissing his concern, so she changes the subject. “Captain Manes is probably in the guest room I set aside for him if you want to talk to him.” Isobel starts to turn away, before pausing and turning back, smiling at him, “Thank you, Michael.”

His smile in return is soft and genuine. He may put on an act in most areas, but he really does love Isobel. “You’re welcome, Iz.” His smile grows as he asks for one thing he knows he’ll enjoy, “Make sure I have a wild reception though?”

Chapter Text

Michael finds himself in front of the guest room Isobel has readied for Captain Manes and knocks on the door, waiting for him to answer.

And then the door swings open and his breath catches in his throat. Alexander Manes looks like he was carefully sculpted by the gods themselves, if Michael believed in such a thing.

He’s just standing there in what Michael recognizes as casual human clothes. A black t-shirt and a pair of jeans. And, Michael suddenly understands the appeal of these clothes. The t-shirt stretches tight across his broad shoulders and Michael just follows it down with his eyes, over a broad, muscular chest, down until he reaches those jeans. Tight enough that he can see a bulge in the front. Michael’s mouth is dry and his eyes dart upward, straight to the face of the man in front of him. And he doesn’t know if this is better or worse for him, because Captain Manes has smooth golden skin, unnaturally sharp cheekbones, and full lips that Michael instantly pictures wrapped around his cock.

“Can I help you?” he’s asking and, oh shit, Michael is going to have to focus.

“You’re Captain Manes?”

“Alex,” he holds out a hand. Strong, with long, elegant fingers and, oh, yeah, if at all possible, Michael is even more parched at the thought of that hand on him.

“I’m Michael,” he takes Alex’s hand in his own and seems to surprise Alex by lifting it to his lips, pressing a kiss against his knuckles. Alex blushes in response and, okay, this really isn’t fair. How is Michael supposed to think about anything but how he wants to press this man against the nearest flat surface and take him apart?

“Would you like to take a walk with me, Alex?” Michael asks, looking up at him from between his lashes.

He watches as Alex swallows and then takes a moment before he nods.

Michael leads the way through the palace, showing Alex around. Alex is polite and seems interested, if a bit distant. Michael isn’t sure whether it’s the protection detail that’s trailing them or if it’s something else holding him back, but he accepts it and leaves it at that, walking Alex back to his room and promising that he’ll see him later.

And then he turns around and walks away, trying to figure out why it matters to him so much to him that Alex seems so distant with him.

Alex is exhausted and in so much pain. It’s been a long day, most of it on his feet, on unforgiving marble floors. The palace isn’t exactly accessible, though he hadn’t expected it to be. He’ll figure out a way around all of it until he can find someone who can install bars in the bathroom, though he does appreciate that they put furniture he’d be accustomed to in his room. It’s one less thing to adjust to. One more kindness that he’s certain he doesn’t deserve and he hadn’t expected them to give him.

Walking around with Michael had been exhausting, both physically because of the pain in his leg, hip, and back, and mentally, as he had to keep reminding himself that Michael’s flirting was just how he’s known to treat everyone. He’s not really interested in Alex at all. Not as anything more than a conquest and, as long as he keeps reminding himself of that, he hopes he can keep from complicating their hopefully impending marriage.

He’s about to head to the bathroom one last time before taking his prosthetic off, when he hears a swift knock on the door.

He sighs, turning toward the door, opening it and forcing himself to stand straight, almost as if he were standing at attention, no matter how much he just wants to lean against the door and close his eyes.

A beautiful, older blonde woman stands there. She’s about a head shorter than Isobel and instantly seems friendlier, though just as regal. “I thought that dinner with those of us who are here right now might be a bit much for your first day on Antar,” she says. “So I brought you this.” It’s only then that he notices the tray she’s holding with unfamiliar food on it, though there are the familiar utensils set to the side, along with some that he doesn’t recognize at all.

“Thank you,” he smiles at her before reaching for the tray to take it from her.

She just pushes past him into the room, trailed by the protective detail that tells him she’s a part of the royal family, and carries it over to the bedside table, moving to grab the chair from in front of the desk before sitting down and looking at him like she’s waiting for something.

“If you don’t mind me asking, who are you?” he asks, almost wincing at the way it comes out. He doesn’t want to be rude or start any of this the wrong way, but he’s tired and not really up for the usual niceties. Though he knows his friends would say he’s rarely up for them. It’s possible he’s met her already. He’s certain she’s one of the many members of the royal family he’s meant to have memorized, but, with the pain and exhaustion, he’s having trouble pulling that memory to the surface.

She only seems amused. “I’m Michael’s mother. You may call me Mara, for now.”

“It’s a pleasure to-”

“No need for any of the formality, Captain Manes,” she cuts him off. “May I call you Alexander?”

“Alex. Please do,” he replies.

“Alex, thank you.” She pauses, taking him in. He wonders if she’s thinking about his father, if she’s met him during the many meetings between Earth leaders and Antaran royalty. If she is, he hopes she can see that he’s not like his dad. He really does want this to go well, even if he is apprehensive about all of it. He never expected to marry, much less marry an alien prince, but he’ll do the best he can for his world and all the people on it. “Tell me about your family, Alex?” she asks. He can tell she’s waiting for something, the answer to some question other than the one she asked.

Alex presses his lips together for a moment, thinking. And then he speaks, voice remaining even, thanks to practice controlling his emotions for his own safety. “My mom left when I was three. I believe you’ve met my dad. He’s a military man who was determined to raise four military sons.” He takes a breath, considering how open to be. And then he decides. She wants to know about him. She’s reaching out more than the rest of them have so far, including Michael and the tour during which he hadn’t really given Alex a hint of what he was thinking. So he can try.

“I don’t really remember my mother being around. And we don’t talk much. Life with my dad was… hard for a kid. Especially when he figured out I’m gay. I’m not the son my father wanted me to be, no matter the medals or service history.” He pauses, looking at her, waiting for the judgment he expects for speaking so negatively of his father, a decorated war hero, the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. His father had two goals in his life. Climbing as high as possible through the ranks of the Air Force, and turning all four of his sons into miniature versions of himself.

Mara changes the subject instead. “What do you know about soulmates, Alex?”

Alex pauses, a little thrown by the sudden change in topics. It takes him a moment to respond.“Um… Lots of cheesy fiction?” he offers. All he can think of is romance novels and Hallmark movies.

“They aren’t fiction to us,” she tells him, voice calm, but sad. “Antarans feel a bond with another living being. We can feel when they’re in pain. We can feel when they die.” She pauses. “My son was a sweet child. He had such an idealistic heart. And then, a year ago, his soulmate died. I haven’t seen that boy since then.” It’s clear to him that she’s grieving, though he’s not sure if it’s for her son or the Antaran her son was in love with.

Alex is quiet for a moment, measuring options before deciding what to say. “I don’t know a thing about soulmates,” he finally says. “I’m pretty sure I don’t have one. I doubt anyone would want a man like me.” He is certain of it. He’s broken and scarred, both inside and out. And he’s a killer. He’s killed so many of their people that they should despise him. But instead, they have only treated him with kindness. So he promises, “I will do my best not to hurt your son further.”

Mara surprises him by standing and crossing the room to him, pulling him into her arms, even though he’s seated and she’s standing. He can feel her kiss the top of his head, almost like he imagines his own mother would. “Welcome to our family, Alex.”

This entire thing is so new for him and Alex isn’t quite sure how to handle all of it. But he expects today to be a good one. He’s spent most days with Isobel, oddly. She seems to enjoy filling him in on all the gossip within their court. He’s had a few dinners with all of them, which have been exceedingly awkward, but, thankfully, Mara and Isobel manage to keep the conversation flowing and off of Alex, in spite of Isobel’s brother’s attempts to ask him far too personal questions. And Michael’s father, Rath, has been trying to pry Alex away and ask him tactical military questions whenever he gets the chance. Honestly, it’s a bit overwhelming for Alex to have that many people interested in him and in what he has to say. After a lifetime of his father and brothers wanting to push him down, he doesn’t know how to deal with it.

But today will be good. The wedding is only days away and Liz, Rosa, Maria, and Kyle are all arriving today. His family won’t be coming until the day of, thankfully, and he doubts his brothers will even show, but he doesn’t care. The most important people in his life will be here soon, and maybe they’ll help him find his bearings.

The marble halls are a bit much on his leg, but Alex is determined not to let it show as he walks through them on his way towards the entrance, where he’ll be waiting by the airstrip.

He’s surprised to find Michael there already, ever present security detail standing on either side of the bench he’s seated on. “Hey, Captain,” he smirks at Alex. “Figured I’d be able to find you here. Where’s Isobel been hiding you?”

“She’s been making sure I know who everyone is. There are a lot of names and faces to remember here, you know,” Alex answers, instantly defensive. And then he reminds himself of what Mara said and what he promised her. And all the things she’s done to make him feel a little more welcome there, including making his room completely accessible within the first day after he arrived. He can try for her. He can try for all of them. “I’m not used to any of this,” he sits down next to Michael on the bench by the entrance, looking straight forward, trying to ignore the feeling of warm, whiskey-colored eyes on him. “Your family is so… interested in me. They all want to talk to me. They seem to care what I think, even though none of them really know me at all. My family… I think they’d rather I disappeared entirely. I guess they’ve gotten their wish.”

He’s not looking, so he’s surprised by the feeling of a hand tentatively taking his. “Sometimes I wish my family would forget about me for a minute,” Michael tells him. “I’m lucky. I know it. But they…they worry about me all the time. Especially lately. And they meddle. Be prepared for that, by the way.” Michael pauses before continuing, “Come and find me later? I know your friends will be here soon and you’ll be busy, but I think I might know a way to help when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.”

It’s only then that Alex turns to look at him. “Thank you, Michael. Is it okay that I call you that? Before we’re-”

“Please,” Michael responds with a smile. “Please, don’t use the title.”

“Okay, Michael,” Alex smiles back. “And, please, call me Alex,” he adds, squeezing Michael’s hand lightly before turning his attention to the spaceship that manages to silently enter the atmosphere and approach the ground.

Alex loses track of Michael after his friends arrive, Liz and Maria screaming the instant they see him and both launching themselves at him, Kyle surprising him by being close behind. Rosa tries to shove them all out of the way when she reaches him, demanding a hug. Maria refuses to let go though, commenting about how he really did manage to get as far away from Roswell as possible. “It’s going to be good for you,” she tells him. He wonders if that’s hope or her being a little psychic. Either way, he appreciates how much she cares.

Michael considers skipping dinner, eating it on his own, like he knows his parents will tonight, like his aunt and uncle always do. He’s not certain about this group of humans. But he wants to see Alex again, after this afternoon, so he walks into the dining room a minute or two late.

Isobel gives him a look, making it clear to him that she’s noticed his tardiness. As if it matters.

Alex surprises him by noticing him too, in spite of the humans talking excitedly around him. He finds himself on the receiving end of a tentative smile and he could swear his heart skips a beat.

“Everyone,” Alex says quietly, but his tone commands enough to silence all the humans in an instant. Michael knows in that moment that Alex will make better royalty than he ever has. Alex stands, walking over to him, “This is Michael. Or His Royal Highness, Michael.”

“Just Michael,” Michael replies, attention only on Alex.

“Michael,” Alex’s smile grows for a moment before he turns his attention to the rest of the room. “This is Liz,” he gestures at the woman Max is gazing at like she’s the answer to all the questions in the universe. “Her sister, Rosa,” Alex continues, pointing to the woman who was seated between Liz and Isobel. “Maria,” he gestures to the woman on Isobel’s other side. “And Kyle,” the one human man, who had been sitting next to Alex. Michael barely contains his eye roll at the fact that it looks like Isobel is trying to seduce both Rosa and Maria. His cousin has a weakness for beautiful women.

He’s pleasantly surprised by the way Alex pulls him to sit down next to him and the group seems to fold him into the conversation. It’s not long before he’s talking with Liz about the experiments she’s conducting and telling her about his research.

He’s surprised again by the way Alex waits with him after dinner, while all the other humans go off their own way.

“I know they can be a lot,” Alex says quietly. Like he’s actually checking in with Michael.

“They love you,” Michael shrugs in reply.

Alex just nods. And then he changes the subject a bit, “I’m doing okay right now, but you said you had advice for when I’m feeling overwhelmed?” At first, Michael doesn’t think he’s going to elaborate, but then he does. “My dad will be here soon. Maybe the rest of my family. And this time, all the attention is going to be on me.”

Michael holds out his hand, waiting to see if Alex will take it. He can’t quite explain why Alex’s hand in his already feels so right. Like a missing puzzle piece slotting into place. He craves that connection.

Alex slides his hand into Michael’s and follows as Michael leads the way.

“Being a part of the Antaran royal family is a lot. It’s going to be a lot of pressure on you. A lot of attention, a lot of prying eyes,” Michael tells him. “I’m sorry for that.” Alex doesn’t respond, but he does squeeze Michael’s hand, trying to reassure him. It’s not Michael’s fault. And he won’t be alone in it soon. “When I was a kid, when it all got a bit much, I used to try to hide. Of course, they always found me, no matter how well I slipped my security detail. Until I found this place. Obviously, they know about it now, but they also know better than to tell anyone that this is where I come to hide when it’s too much,” he tells Alex, leading him around a corner that seems to lead nowhere. But then Michael presses a hand against a panel, low on a wall, and it slides open, revealing a small, dark, empty space.

Michael steps inside and Alex follows him. The space is a bit small for two fully grown men, but they manage to shut the paneling and Michael turns on a light. “I used to just come here to hide and read during royal balls. After a little bit of socializing, no one would really miss me.”

“I’m sure they missed you, Michael,” Alex says softly. He is absolutely certain he would.

“Nah. Max is the one who is going to be king one day, Isobel is the social butterfly and the one everyone knows will really rule. I’m just the spare,” he says. And then he quickly clarifies, “I don’t mind that. I really don’t want the power or the attention.” Alex believes him. No, he’s certain Michael doesn’t want the expectations or the decisions that come with the job. But maybe there’s something else there he wants that he’s missing.

Alex thinks about a little kid, growing up in all of this. The expectations they had of him, the rules he was meant to follow. Max seems to fit in perfectly with a rigidity that matches the world. Isobel is a bit of a chameleon, effortlessly changing herself to fit every social situation. But Michael… Alex isn’t sure he knows Michael at all, even now. He knows what he’s heard. That Michael is the wild child, the one who is always partying and has slept with half the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes on Antar. He doesn’t see how that could be the man standing before him. He’s heard Mara say he was a sweet child, but that that person is gone. But that seems far closer to the man in front of him.

“Then what do you want?” Alex whispers. He can’t help but glance down at Michael’s lips for a moment. He knows what he wants. He wants a chance for this to be real. He wants the possibility, the hope that maybe they could be more than just an arranged marriage, partners for the sake of an alliance. He never planned on that. Maybe he never thought he’d get married either, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want something real.

Michael’s face falls. “I can’t have what I want.”

That’s right. The soulmate. Alex may be starting to have feelings for the man in front of him, but he has to remind himself that he’ll never be what Michael really wants. He can’t compete with a dead person. It’s foolish to want to try. So, instead, he says, “Thank you, Michael. For showing this place to me.”

“You’re welcome,” his voice is quiet. Careful.

“I should, um, I should get back to my friends. They’ll probably be worried about me.”

“Of course.” Michael pauses, “Walk you to your room?”

Alex can’t help the smile that escapes, “I’d like that.”

Michael shows Alex how to open the panel again and closes it behind him. “Your friends will be giving you a ‘bachelor party’ sometime before the wedding?” He stumbles over the expression a bit.

“Yeah. You know, you can come if you want,” Alex offers.

“I’m not sure I should.”

“Maybe not. It’s going to be a mess. Lots of alcohol. And, on Earth, lots of people get strippers for their bachelor parties. Thankfully, that’s not an option here.”

Michael laughs at that.

They’ve reached Alex’s door and he turns to face Michael, “Anyway, you’re welcome to come, if you’d like. You, Isobel, even Max.”

“I’ll let them know you’ve invited them.”

Alex squeezes his hand. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. And Alex?” he asks.

Alex nods, waiting for him to continue.

“Thank you. I know this isn’t a situation you ever planned on being in. So thank you for… Everything.”

Alex forces a smile as he fights to contain his disappointment. “You’re welcome.” And then he opens the door and steps inside, closing it behind him.

Alex isn’t surprised that Michael is skipping the bachelor party. Really, he expected it. This is a marriage for a political alliance. Nothing more. He knows he should just keep reminding himself that he’s lucky that Michael is kind to him.

He’s glad Isobel showed up though. If he gets nothing else out of this, he’ll have her for a cousin and a friend. And Mara and Rath for in-laws who seem to actually care about him. He doesn’t need love. He can survive like this. It’ll be better than what he has with his own family.

He’s completely surprised that Max is here, though he supposes he shouldn’t be. He’s fascinated by Liz and, to Alex’s surprise, she seems just as interested in him as he is in her.

“Why are you pouting?” Rosa plops down next to him, handing him another drink. “You’re getting married tomorrow. You’re supposed to go wild and do things you’ll never speak of again.”

“I asked Michael to come,” Alex admits.

“I don’t think this is his scene,” she says. And, yeah, maybe she’s right. They are shouting over music, after all. This may be the rumored wild prince’s scene if they added a hundred or more people, but it doesn’t fit the Michael he has met. But he doesn’t point out that it’s not exactly his scene either. They’re trying, with limited resources, to give him a party. They traveled all the way to another planet for him. He’s grateful for all of that.

“I don’t know. I never thought I’d get married. But, if I had dreamed about it, I’d have been marrying someone who didn’t wish he could exchange me for his dead soulmate.” He knows he wouldn’t be mentioning any of this if he were sober, but his friends have been very careful to make sure he has a steady stream of whiskey. And maybe he needs to be able to talk to someone about it. Rosa has always been like a big sister to him and he trusts her to help him figure out a way to survive all of this. Just like she helped him defy his father back in high school, even if that didn’t last until graduation. So, when she asks, he answers her questions, filling her in on all the things that are troubling him. Though if anyone asks later, he’ll blame the alcohol for his emotional honesty.

“What about you?” he asks, finally. “What have I missed out on since I’ve been here? Any new boys?”

“Not exactly,” Rosa blushes. Alex is pretty sure he’s never seen her blush in her life. “There’s this new sheriff’s deputy. Jenna. And, trust me, I know. Me and a cop? I never would have imagined. But she’s fun. She gets me. And-”

She’s cut off by a change in the music, sudden and loud. Rosa’s phone had been playing some Counting Crows, but now it’s suddenly blasting Salt ‘N Pepa’s Shoop and Kyle is standing in front of them, moving his hips to the music and inching up his shirt.

Rosa covers her eyes as she escapes, horrified.

Alex doesn’t want to watch and yet he can’t tear his eyes away as Kyle tosses his shirt to the side and starts rubbing his hands all over his own abs while he undulates to the music. He should have known Kyle would do this. His friend has been desperately trying to both make up for bullying him all through high school and prove that he’s cool with Alex’s sexuality ever since they reconnected. And it’s all been horribly uncomfortable for Alex, from Kyle’s trying to set him up to dragging him to gay bars. And now this.

Kyle almost falls trying to dance and remove his pants at the same time, but he continues, turning around and shaking his ass and Alex is trying to look anywhere but at his friend.

It’s then that he notices Isobel has stolen Rosa’s seat next to him, Maria on her lap, both laughing uproariously and cheering him on.

Just when Alex thinks he couldn’t possibly be any more uncomfortable, Kyle is straddling him and grinding as he moves to the music. All Alex can do is remind himself that the song is almost over and hope he can somehow act appropriately appreciative for this very much unwanted gesture.

Chapter Text

Michael is surprised by Alex’s friend Rosa grabbing him and pulling him aside the morning of the wedding. He waves off his concerned protective detail, certain that no one will be happy if one of Alex’s closest friends has to miss the wedding after security takes her out.

“I know you’re royalty and everything, but if you hurt Alex, I will destroy you,” she threatens. And, the thing is, he actually believes her. She is tiny, but absolutely terrifying, in a way very different from, yet quite similar to Isobel. He can picture this woman ruining his life with her bare hands if he wronged her, the way Isobel would with a few careful words.

“I don’t want to hurt Alex,” he tells her, hoping he’s being reassuring.

“You already have, pendejo,” she practically spits at him. “All this bullshit about soulmates like Alex needs to hear anything else about how he’s not enough for yet another asshole. He’s had this thing forced on him just as much as, if not more than you have and it’s all because his father is fucking scum. And, yet, because he’s Alex, he’s still trying to make the best of it and build something real with you, but you keep telling him he couldn’t possibly compare to a dead person out of some kind of fairytale fantasy!”

Michael feels like he’s been slapped. He doesn’t know how Rosa, or Alex, for that matter, knows about his soulmate, but, somehow, they do. And, with that knowledge, what he said two nights ago must have felt like a rejection.

No, he can’t have what he wants, what he spent most of his life wanting, but his parents didn’t get that either and they seem to be happy and in love. They’ve tried. He could try to have what they have. Or he could end up with what Isobel and Max’s parents have, which is a marriage in which they barely speak to each other, even when they’re in the same room. He doesn’t want that for himself. And he wants that even less for Alex.

And, really, marrying Alex Manes is very far from a hardship. He’s the most beautiful person Michael has ever seen. From any planet. And, from what Michael has seen, he’s thoughtful and kind. Michael’s entire family already adores Alex. Hell, Isobel likes only five people in the universe and Alex is already one of them.

“Thank you, Rosa,” he says finally, “I am glad Alex has protective friends like you. But I promise you, I have no intention of hurting him.” With that quick clarification, he sets off in the direction of Alex’s room, trying to figure out what he’s going to say to him.

It’s not long before he’s knocking on the door and Alex is answering, looking better than anyone has a right to, half-dressed, shirt entirely unbuttoned, giving Michael an excellent view of skin.

“Can we talk?” Michael asks. Alex gives him a slightly confused look, but steps aside and Michael steps inside, waiting for Alex to close the door, leaving his security detail right outside. It’s only then that he notices how wary Alex looks.

“I was wrong when I said I can’t have what I want,” Michael starts. “I mean, I can’t have what I wanted when I was a kid, but I realized… My parents don’t have that. And they’re in love. They’re happy. I spent my entire life expecting to have something that would come easily, that would be perfect right away and that’s not how relationships work. I don’t even think that’s how soulmate relationships work. So…” he takes a breath, and looks down at the ground. “What I want is- I know this entire situation was forced on us and it’s all a lie. We could end up like strangers, only tied together by obligation. But I don’t want that. I like you, Alex. I think that, someday, I could love you. Do you think we could try to have something real?” He finishes, gathering the courage to look up into Alex’s face.

Alex’s face moves from wary to cautious to hopeful. And, then, finally, a smile breaks across his face. Michael swears he’s never seen anything that beautiful. “I’d like that.”

“Yeah?” Michael asks, moving closer to him, crowding him against the door.

“Yeah,” Alex glances down at his lips and back at Michael’s eyes.

Michael pushes forward and gently presses his lips against Alex’s. Just that little touch sends desire coursing through him, making him wish he could have infinite more kisses. He pushes one hand into Alex’s dark, soft hair and wraps the other arm around him, pulling him closer.

Alex’s lips part, inviting him in and soon Michael is drowning in his taste and his touch, just desperate for every little bit of him, hands exploring, reaching lower, toward Alex’s belt.

Alex stills his hand with his own, but doesn’t pull away. “We’re getting married in about an hour. And we can do this fast and dirty. Or we can wait and spend all of tonight fucking.”

“We can’t do both?” Michael can’t help but ask with a cheeky grin.

Alex grins and shrugs, letting go of Michael’s hand. So Michael sinks slowly to his knees and starts to carefully unbutton Alex’s pants. He’ll have time to do all the things he wants to do to him later. But, for now, he just wants to find out what kind of sounds Alex Manes makes when he comes.

The wedding ceremony is long and complicated, a carefully crafted and negotiated balance of Antaran and Christian wedding traditions. Not a single nod to Alex’s mom or the native heritage he has inherited from her. Not that he’s surprised by that. He didn’t have a say in the planning and he doubts Michael did either. It was all decided for them both.

He’s grateful that Michael is at his side, making faces at him, whispering crude jokes whenever he finds a chance. Alex doesn’t respond with a word, simply giving him a gentle touch, barely brushing him, in the most intimate places he can manage without anyone catching him. They only had time to quickly get each other off before the wedding and now Alex’s touches are a reminder of what’s to come, part of teasing Michael and, hopefully, getting him worked up for tonight.

Their kiss for the cameras and all their guests feels like it’s just about expectations, but Michael’s hand in his is steady and comforting and it feels like a promise. That, for once, he’s not alone.

“What do you think the chances are we can duck out of here early?” Michael asks him as he pulls him around a corner and out of sight of the cameras and crowd.

“Slim to none,” Alex replies. “But maybe we can sneak off for a bit? Maybe in an hour? Meet in the bathroom and I’ll blow you?” he offers with a smirk. He knows that’s not the only reason Michael wants to escape. He gets it. All the eyes on him are far too much. “Until then, I’m right here with you, okay?”

Michael surges forward and kisses him, harsh and bruising and so hot that Alex just wants to drag him off to the bathroom now. But then Michael steps back and starts to head back to the crowd, glancing back at Alex just once.

Alex leans back against the wall and closes his eyes, trying to catch his breath and regain his center.

The crowd is loud, music already playing, people starting to drink and relax. He knows he has to go out there and face his father and his brothers, all of whom had only attended out of obligation.

He sighs, opens his eyes, and flinches when he sees his father standing directly in front of him, looking murderous.

Michael wonders what’s taking Alex so long. Maybe his leg is bothering him? He knows it’s been a long day of standing and sitting on hard surfaces and he knows that, while Alex has a cane, he won’t use it in front of these crowds. He hasn’t even used it in front of Michael.

The place is crowded and he’s not tall enough to get a good view of Alex.

It hasn’t been the hour he’s supposed to wait and talk to their guests and act like he’s not just counting down the seconds until he can have those bewitching lips around his cock. Hell, it hasn’t even been five minutes.

He shouldn’t be concerned and he can’t explain why he is. He just knows he needs to find Alex and make sure he’s okay. So he manages to extricate himself from the conversation with some random American politician and head toward where he last saw Alex.

“-couldn’t even do that right,” he hears a familiar voice hiss. “Instead, you just had to flaunt your perversions publicly, embarrass me, and ruin our family name.”

Michael turns the corner to find Jesse Manes backing Alex against the wall, hand tight around his throat. He doesn’t even think before he acts, stepping between Alex and his father, as he says, “Master Sergeant Manes, I’m certain assaulting a member of the Antaran royal family will get you a dishonorable discharge, at least, if anyone finds out.”

To his surprise, Jesse steps back and releases Alex before the security detail reaches him, his face all ice cold rage.

“I’ll let you go with a warning this time,” Michael’s voice is cold and even, practiced, even though all he wants to do is rip the man limb from limb so he will never touch Alex again. “But, if you lay a hand on my husband again, I will have you executed for attempted murder of Antaran royalty.”

Jesse doesn’t look resigned or defeated as he leaves, but he does leave, and Michael instantly turns to focus his attention on Alex.

This looks like a different man entirely, shut down, cold. This is the man who impressed Michael’s father with his tactics. “I had it handled, Michael,” Alex tells him.

Michael knows better than to touch him right now, knows that could end badly for both of them. “I know. I just- He was hurting you. I couldn’t stand by and watch.”

Alex’s soldier posture relaxes just a fraction, “Why not?”

“Because I care about you, Alex,” Michael says simply. He’s sure they’ll have to talk about this later, but for now, it really is that easy. He pauses, “Do you want me to make our excuses?” He’s certain it won’t be that simple, but he will try if Alex wants him to.

“No, I’m okay,” Alex is shaking his head and taking deep, calming breaths for just a moment before striding back toward the party, leaving Michael to catch up. And to find out why Alex doesn’t have his own security detail already assigned to him.

Alex doesn’t know what to do with what just happened. He’s used to his father hurting him, threatening him, insulting him. But he doesn’t know how to handle someone trying to come between them. Someone stepping up to protect him. He hadn’t been even a little bit afraid until Michael stepped in front of him.

Now Michael seems to be giving him his space, talking to their guests as Alex tries to be present enough to be social. He hates this so much.

Thankfully, he’s saved from speaking to yet another dignitary by Mimi Deluca, who instantly pulls him into her arms like he’s still the teenage kid she used to mother, merely because he needed it.

“How are you doing, Alex?” she asks him, a hand soothing down his arm.

“I’m… I don’t know,” he answers honestly.

“I know, honey. You just have to keep reaching out and the world will give you what you need, okay?” He’s not certain what to do with that, but he nods. “I know you haven’t had enough love in your life, but you’re going to be surrounded by people here who just want to love you. All you’ve got to do is let them.”

He nods again, relaxing into her hug this time, letting her fortify him for the next person he has to play a part with.

He keeps going for what feels like forever, until he feels a hand on his arm, gentle, but firm.

“You ready for a break?” Michael asks him. And it’s only then that he notices how sore his leg is and how very much a break would be a good idea. Michael seems to have sensed this, because he takes Alex’s arm and subtly lets him put some weight on him as he leads him to their table.

“Thank you, Michael,” he whispers, so quietly that only his husband can hear.

Michael just responds by pressing a gentle kiss to his cheek and handing him a couple of pills, “Kyle said you may need these,” he tells him.

Alex does as suggested and keeps facing forward, watching the people milling about, some of them dancing. “You know we’ll be expected to do that at some point tonight,” he tells Michael.

“Yeah, but don’t worry about it. I’ve got a secret weapon,” Michael grins at him playfully.

“Unless you’re going to carry me through it-” Alex starts. But he instantly cuts himself off at the sight of a floating dinner roll.

“You did know we have skills you humans don’t, right?” Michael asks, grabbing it out of midair and taking a large bite.

“Okay then,” Alex replies. “I stand corrected.”

Michael is careful with him when they dance, using just enough of his power to take the pressure off from Alex’s stump, making it so much easier for Alex to dance with him.

Until now, Alex has been careful. He knows Michael is gorgeous, but he hasn’t let himself really look, too busy focusing on keeping his emotional distance from the man who is now in his arms.

But now he can take him all in, from the curls that Alex just wants to bury his fingers in, to the warm brown eyes, the slightly crooked nose and the uneven smile that just make him look like trouble in the best way possible.

But it’s more than that. Michael is kind to him, to everyone around him, even if he doesn’t intend for anyone to see it. And he’s brave, putting himself between Alex and his father without a thought.

So he smiles when Michael leads the way to his- their- room, a whispered promise on his lips about finding them a place of their own soon. Alex’s fingers finally find Michael’s hair as he pulls him closer, tongue sliding into his mouth.

Michael’s hands are swiftly trying to undress him and Alex is content to let him, laughing when Michael gets him all caught up in his shirt sleeves. But Alex is quick to free himself and return his hands to Michael’s skin, undressing him too. He pulls Michael with him toward the bed and then on top of him, hooking his legs around Michael and grinding up against him. It’s been too long since he’s had this, since before he lost his leg. And it feels so good Alex never wants to stop.

Michael’s hands are soothing over his sides and exploring, not hesitating or stopping or looking at him with pity when he feels his scars. He only pulls away long enough to move his lips to Alex’s jaw, whispering, “Tell me what you want,” against Alex’s skin, voice rough and so incredibly sexy.

“I want- Fuck-” he can’t think straight while Michael is kissing his neck and grinding against him like that. “Fuck me,” he finally gets out.

Michael doesn’t stop what he’s doing. In fact, he seems content to take his time, finding out what Alex likes. And, when his hands finally move to Alex’s pants, he takes his time there too, slowly sliding them down, mouthing Alex through his boxers.

“Can I take this off?” Michael asks, gesturing to his prosthetic, hands gentle on what’s left of Alex’s calf.

Alex nods, showing Michael how it works before removing it and letting Michael set it to the side, watching as Michael gives a quick kiss to his knee before moving back up again.

His boxers are gone quickly after that.

It’s been a long time since Alex had anyone inside him and Michael seems to realize that. Either that or he truly is content to take his time, coating his fingers with lube and then taking Alex’s length into his mouth, distracting him while he carefully, slowly, slides one finger inside him.

Alex whimpers as he moves against his hand, adjusting to the intrusion.

Michael’s tongue swipes across the tip of his cock at the same time he starts inching another finger inside Alex. He’s certain he’s not going to last long at all if Michael keeps this up.

When Michael brushes against his prostate, Alex cries out desperately for more, shaking with the effort of holding himself still for Michael.

By the time Michael adds a third finger, Alex is certain he’s an incoherent mess, the only words escaping his mouth being ‘please’ and Michael’s name. He can feel Michael laughing, not so much at him, but maybe with delight, and the vibration against his cock combined with those three fingers stroking inside of him is too much for him to hold on any longer.

He’s coming, fingers digging into the bedspread, holding onto anything he can.

And, when he’s finally coming down, he can see that Michael is just looking up at him fondly.

“Sorry,” he starts. “That wasn’t-”

“It was perfect,” Michael interrupts him, pressing a kiss to his thigh. “Do you still want-”

“Fuck, yes,” he gets out instantly.

And Michael is laughing with joy and reaching for the lube again.

Once they’re both at least a little cleaned off, Michael tosses the damp cloth out of the way and climbs back into bed, curling into Alex, sighing in contentment at those long fingers playing with his curls.

“Don’t for a second think I’m complaining because I definitely got the best person in your whole damn family,” Michael starts, “But why did you agree to marry my cousin?”

Alex sighs, fingers stilling in his hair. “They asked me to. Apparently, your uncle wanted one of you to marry a warrior from a long line of warriors and, with my dad’s position, our family tree, and the fact that he had four military sons… They asked him to ‘volunteer’ one of his kids. He picked me. Because he’s a homophobe and, if the only way he could force me to be with a woman was getting me to marry an alien woman, he’d go for that. Even if he does hate you all almost as much as he hates me.” His voice is surprisingly even as he explains it all.

“No, I got that,” Michael replies, pressing a kiss to his chest and then snuggling in further. “But why did you agree?”

“I guess I wanted to get out from under my dad’s thumb?” Alex offers. “When I was a teenager, I realized that the only way he’d ever let me get out of that house in anything other than a body bag was if I left in a uniform. So I did. And then I was still under his control. This was a way out.”

Michael shudders at the thought of this man going through that when he was just a child.

“It’s okay, Michael,” Alex reassures him, pressing a kiss to his temple. “I’m happy to be here with you.” He’s silent for a while before he asks, “And you? Why did you agree?”

Michael bites his lower lip, trying to think of a way to explain it, “Part of it was that I want Isobel to be free to marry who she wants. She’s always been more like a sister than a cousin to me and she’s always taken care of and protected me. I wanted to do the same for her. And part of it was anger at your dad for trying to make you bury who you are like that.” He pauses for a minute before continuing, “But I think the biggest part of it was you. I only caught a glimpse of you, but, I don’t know, I just…was drawn to you. I can’t explain it.” He grins when he says, “Plus I couldn’t let that gorgeous body go to waste parading around on my cousin’s arm.”

Alex laughs at that, but pulls him closer.

Michael doesn’t point out that he’s not exactly lying about how hot Alex is.

“Princess Isobel said something,” Alex’s voice is soft, uncertain. “About anatomical differences and… Having children?”

“Is that something you’d want?” Michael asks, carefully

“It’s something that’s expected of us,” Alex replies. And then, quickly, like he needs to clarify, “It’s never been a possibility for me before. I’ve never even considered if it is something I’d-”

“There’s no rush,” Michael replies, pressing another kiss to Alex’s bare skin. “I’ve been on birth control since I was a teenager. Just… Consider it and let me know?”

Alex lets out what he assumes is an affirmative sounding hum and Michael closes his eyes, drifting off to sleep easily in Alex’s arms.

Michael wakes to feel Alex tossing and turning and mumbling in his sleep. He’s heard stories of soldiers before. Soldiers who have nightmares that he couldn’t imagine. But he doesn’t know what to do. So he sits up, moves away to give Alex room, and whispers his name. Then says it louder.

Alex startles awake, shaking, breath coming in desperate gasps.

“You’re safe. You’re here with me,” Michael says softly. Repeats it until Alex calms down a bit and meets his eyes.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t-”

Michael shakes his head, “What can I do?”

“I should have some medication? In my old room. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping and…”

Michael nods, reaching for his clothing, just enough that his wandering through the halls like this won’t upset his husband. Antarans don’t particularly care, but he knows many humans are much more modest. “What’s it called? And where exactly can I find it?”

He returns mere minutes later with a bottle of pills, handing two to Alex along with a glass of water and watches as he takes it. “What else can I do, Alex?”

“Distract me?” Alex asks, hopefully.

“Can I hold you?”

Alex shakes a bit, but he nods and curls into Michael when he returns to bed.

And so Michael starts to talk, telling Alex stories of the adventures Isobel would get him and Max into when they were little. He only stops when Alex’s breathing evens out and he’s finally asleep again.

Chapter Text

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, Michael and Alex slowly move into another property the Antaran royal family owns. Somewhere far smaller. More private. Michael has had it outfitted with human, more specifically, American, furniture and appliances, as well as the usual Antaran things for himself, taking special care to add measures to make things easier and more accessible for Alex.

Alex fights back tears when he sees it, completely unused to anyone thinking this much about his needs and his comfort, much less someone who has only known him for about a month.

Michael gets back to his usual work and Alex, well, he’ll be the first to admit he’s getting restless. He’s trying to figure out where, exactly, he fits in with Antaran society. He’s committed to spending the rest of his life here, so he’s hoping to find something that he feels comfortable doing, at the very least.

At first, he spends his days with Isobel, if only because he’s comfortable around her and her cutting sense of humor. But planning events isn’t exactly his forte. So, when Rath invites Alex to join a training session with his soldiers, to give them some tips on fighting without their abilities, he jumps at the chance.

Alex is surprised to see that Rath’s army is majority women, some of the women in it far smaller than most of those he’s met in his time in the Air Force. He supposes he shouldn’t be surprised. Size doesn’t reflect their powers or abilities, after all. So he decides to start with some basic self defense, as well as things he knows from being the smallest and youngest of four boys.

When he asks for a volunteer to demonstrate with, he’s surprised by the number of soldiers who offer. He selects the smallest of them, a woman who introduces herself as Jess. He quickly explains to her what he’s going to do, asks if she’s comfortable with it, and, when she says yes, he explains to her, and the group, what she’s going to do in response.

Then he grabs her, careful not to hold on too tight, making it look like he’s attacking her from behind, arms around her arms, pressed against her back.

She surprises him with her strength, freeing herself from him quickly. And then she takes him by surprise when she knocks him to the ground and moves to straddle his hips, looking very proud of herself. And she should be. She clearly has good instincts, even in physical battle.

Soon, all the Antarans are practicing what he taught with each other.

Most of them seem excited to be learning new things, talking about how the yellow powder the humans used had caused their powers to stop working, about how this might help them in future fights.

But he can hear a few people grumbling in the background about humans staying in their place and in their own world. He hears one use what he assumes, based on a tone he’s far too familiar with, is a slur.

He’s used to it, used to ignoring it and pushing it down, forcing himself to let it go, no matter how hurtful it is. He’s a biracial, disabled, gay man. He’s heard slurs all his life. So he’s surprised when Rath instantly heads over there and starts to speak to them, arguing with one of the soldiers.

And that’s also a surprise. That the Antaran soldiers fight so freely with their leader, that they tell him exactly what they think.

After it’s over, the soldier storms out and Rath moves to Alex’s side. “I’m sorry you had to overhear that, Captain. Kivar has been told that he can either treat you with the respect that we owe you as a courageous and honorable warrior, or he can leave. Unfortunately, he has chosen the latter. But, I promise, most of our soldiers will treat you with respect.”

“You really didn’t have to-” Alex starts.

“You are both a soldier and a member of the royal family. I know Kivar and some others will respect you even less for that. Not all of them approve of Antaran and human marriage or the peace we’ve found between our worlds. Some still harbor anger over lives lost. But I know you’ve seen many lost as well. And know the cost of continued war.”

“I do.”

“You are a part of my family, Alex. And, even if you weren’t, you have been good for and to my son. I haven’t seen him this content in years. My soldiers will treat you with the respect owed to a fellow warrior and a member of the royal family.”

Alex doesn’t know how to accept the kindness from Rath, so he simply gets back to work.

Michael is glad that Alex has something to do, having seen how much he was struggling without a purpose, even if it’s just continuing to work with Rath and his soldiers, teaching them how to fight without their abilities.

It doesn’t seem to really be fulfilling for Alex, but it’s something and Michael won’t complain about the things he’s seen when he’s popped in to see Alex during the day. He’s sure he’ll never forget the image of one of the soldiers swinging at Alex and Alex using his force against him, swinging him around and knocking him on the ground. Watching Alex above the other man, holding him in place easily with just his hands and his thighs, leaves Michael hard and aching.

He tells Alex as much when he gets home that night and it’s not long before Alex has him in bed, hands above his head, pinned by just one of Alex’s own hands. He slowly sinks down onto Michael’s length until he’s taken Michael all the way in. And then he starts to move slowly, torturously, holding Michael still the whole time.

He slowly picks up the pace, moving harder and faster, riding Michael toward his own release and Michael is entranced. He’s never seen anything as beautiful in his entire life as Alex on top of him, flushed, eyes dark, mouth slack. He’s letting out these desperate moans as he moves harder and faster and Michael is certain he’s letting out similar sounds, but all he can see, all that matters, is Alex.

And then Alex is coming and Michael is following close behind, pushing up against Alex’s hand, desperate to hold onto Alex while he comes. But Alex is still stronger than him and he doesn’t let go until he’s collapsed on Michael’s chest, catching his breath.

Michael runs his hands over Alex’s back, mindlessly tracing his spine. He’s gotten used to the scars he feels there. He’s never asked what caused them and, really, if Alex doesn’t want to talk about it, he doesn’t need to know. He’s just glad that his husband is with him, here and now, safe from whatever has hurt him in the past.

Eventually, they’ll have to move, both to clean up and find something to eat, but, for now, he’s content to hold Alex, to feel his warm, strong body against his.

“If you weren’t a prince and you didn’t have all these obligations, what would you want to do?” Alex asks, voice sleepy.

This is a bit of a ritual for them. After, when they’re both sated and warm, when they’re not quite ready to rejoin the outside world, they’ll ask each other questions they both answer honestly. It’s helped them get to know each other better. It’s brought them closer. Sometimes it’s as simple as a favorite book or favorite type of dessert. Other times, it’s more serious, though both of them are careful when they ask those questions.

“I’m not sure,” Michael answers. Truth be told, he doesn’t particularly enjoy his job, especially now. Building weapons of war, causing destruction and death… It’s something he’s good at, but not something he wants to do. And lately he can’t help but wonder if it was one of his creations that injured Alex. That could have killed him. “I guess I’d like to build things that help people? I never really thought about it when I was young. My dad wanted me to be part of his army.” He notes the way Alex stiffens at that, but he continues. “I had more aptitude in other areas. I don’t know whether or not that’s a good thing.” He pauses, trying to focus on what Alex asked, “Yeah, I’d like to build things that help people. Prosthetics, for one,” he admits. He can practically feel Alex’s blush. He has been thinking about ways to improve Alex’s prosthetic leg for a while now. It’ll take some time to examine it, some research, and understanding of any differences he needs to be aware of between human and Antaran needs, but he hopes to figure something out. He doesn’t like seeing Alex in pain.

“What about you?” he finally asks. “What did you want to do before you became a soldier?”

“I wanted to make music,” Alex tells him softly. He listens closely as Alex tells him about playing the guitar and singing. And he starts to plan.

Alex leads Michael through the door carefully, glancing back to make sure his eyes are still covered, their usual protective detail trailing behind them. He hopes this will be a good surprise. He hopes he can provide Michael with some of that feeling he’s given him. That Alex is cared for. That he matters. That Alex has a home in a way he never has before. Alex just wants to be able to give a little bit of that feeling back to Michael.

“Okay,” he finally says. “You can look.”

His eyes are on Michael’s face as his eyes open and he looks around, taking in the room. He’s nervous, hopes Michael gets what it is, hopes it means something to him.

And he watches as realization sinks in, as Michael’s eyes light up and a smile spreads across his face. “How did you…?” he asks, looking around.

“Turns out soldiers have some connections,” Alex shrugs. He had spent the past week working on this, talking to people, persuading them. He hadn’t wanted to use his connections, hadn’t wanted to drop Michael’s name or promise anything connected to the Antaran royal family, even though, of course, everyone knew who he was.

“You got me a tour of the med tech facility?” Michael asks, hopefully.

“Nope,” Alex grins at him. “I got you full access to the med tech facility.” He had shown them some of Michael’s designs and explained that he wanted to help people, not continue what he’d been doing. “You can work here as much as you want, ask the scientists here whatever you want. I know you wanted to-”

He’s silenced by Michael pressing a kiss to his lips. It’s only when he pulls away that he sees the tears in Michael’s eyes. “How did I get so lucky?” he asks, thumb gently stroking Alex’s cheekbone.

Alex has so many things he wants to say. So many things he wants to tell Michael. But he’s not sure he’s ready yet for that. So he just shrugs and says, “I’m the one who got lucky.”

And Michael pulls him in close again and presses his lips to his and Alex feels like he’s finally where he belongs.

Alex is trying not to be hurt by Michael’s absence. Ever since Alex got him access to that lab, Michael had stayed out all evening, waiting to come home until Alex was in bed. Alex is trying to remind himself that it doesn’t matter. This is what he had expected out of a marriage to Isobel, so why should it hurt if he gets this from Michael?

He tells himself he doesn’t miss the way Michael hums off key when he’s working on something or the way he always leaves their kitchen a mess when he cooks. He doesn’t miss the way Michael always makes sure he has his medicine and a glass of water by the bedside table or the way that, when he woke up from nightmares or couldn’t sleep because of pain, Michael was right there. He’s never had that before. He shouldn’t be relying on it now.

Of course the med tech lab is more interesting than coming home and greeting Alex with a very thorough kiss before telling him all about his day. Alex hates himself a little for hoping that wouldn’t be the case.

No, what matters is that Michael is happy. He’s enjoying himself and his work. He deserves that. He does. He’s kind and gentle and he deserves something fulfilling. Alex knows Michael isn’t made for destruction and now he has something that counteracts that. And it makes him happy. Alex should be happy for him.

He’s just a bit lonely, that’s all.

So he spends more time helping to train soldiers and then going to the palace to visit Isobel and Mara.

He ignores Isobel’s sad glances at him and the guilt in Mara’s eyes. He doesn’t want their pity. He’s fine. He’s married an alien to help with the peace between their two worlds. It was never meant to be anything more than that.

Chapter Text

Michael has spent a lot of his free time at the lab for the past few weeks, trying to learn everything he can about everything out there. Both for Antarans and for humans. But tonight he’s taking a break.

He’s been trying to force himself to get some distance from Alex and it’s making him miserable. He’s feeling things he’d never imagined he’d feel, even for his soulmate,and it’s terrifying. So he’s keeping some distance. But he just misses Alex. He misses his smile and the way his nose crinkles when he laughs. He misses the way Alex’s fingers feel in his hair and the way Alex always makes him feel so safe. He misses everything about his husband. So he’s finally decided to stop being miserable and give in to his feelings.

He makes his way into their bedroom, surprise hidden out of sight behind the door.

Alex is curled up on their bed, looking absolutely delectable, hair damp, wearing a sweatshirt and a pair of shorts, prosthetic, cane, and crutches all within reach of the bed. He’s got a book open and he’s biting his lower lip as he reads.

“Hey,” Michael finally says.

Alex looks wary, but he closes his book and sets it aside. “Hey. You’re home early. What’s going on?”

“I brought you something. A gift.”

Alex’s expression darkens. Anger. But he’s not saying anything.

“I’m sorry. I know I haven’t been around much lately. I’ve been -There’s a lot of things I want to learn. But you deserve better.”

“I don’t want you to buy me off,” Alex says, tone firm. “I don’t own you. You can spend as much time at work as you want. But please don’t try to buy me gifts to appease me.”

Michael nods. “Got it.” He reaches around the corner, pulling out his gift and then holding it out to Alex.

His face softens at the sight of the guitar case. Michael watches as he starts to smile and tears fill his eyes. “I know you wanted to make music. And it took a while to get this in from Earth. If you don’t want it, I-”

“Thank you,” Alex responds. “It’s-” Alex seems to be searching for the words.

“Maybe you can teach me?” Michael asks.

“I’d like that.”

Alex’s smile is the most beautiful thing Michael has ever seen. And he couldn’t have stopped the next words to come out of his mouth if he had tried. “I love you.”

Alex freezes, eyes wide, smile fading. “You what?”

“I’ve tried not to. That’s why I’ve been gone. I… I never thought I could ever feel like this about anyone. And you scare me. But I love you.”

Alex is clearly uncertain. He watches as his husband goes through countless thoughts and responses before settling on, “Are you sure?”

Michael crosses to the bed, leaning down so his face is mere inches from Alex. “Alex, I’m in love with you. I love the way you challenge me. I love how you outsmart everyone we know. I love the way you look at me when you’re thinking that I’m being an idiot. I love you.”

Alex’s face breaks into a smile, tears starting to fall, “I love you too.”

“You love me too?” Michael can’t help but ask for confirmation, moving in closer.

“Yes, Michael. I love you too.”

Michael moves forward, pressing his lips to Alex’s, setting the guitar aside and settling his body between Alex’s parted thighs.

Alex licks into his mouth, hands already exploring, fingers tangling with his curls. Michael slides his hands under Alex’s sweatshirt, feeling that warm skin, tracing over the muscles.

“I want to feel you inside me,” Michael whispers against Alex’s lips. He can feel the smile.

“Are you sure?” Alex asks.

It’s not like this would be the first time Michael’s done that, though this will be the first time with Alex. He’s been thinking about it for a while, wanting to feel Alex inside of him, but he hasn’t wanted to push. “Please,” Michael breathes against his lips.

Alex easily flips him over until Michael is laying back on the bed, Alex in between his legs and, oh fuck, it’s hot how he can do that with almost no effort at all.

Alex rocks his hips against Michael and he can feel him, hard and right, grinding into him.

Alex’s hands are gentle, his mouth and his touch so distracting Michael doesn’t even notice when his clothes disappear. And then Alex’s hand is on him and his lips are on Michael’s and, oh fuck, it’s been too long since Alex has touched him.

“Shh, baby,” Alex breathes and it’s only then that Michael realizes he’s let out an embarrassing whine against Alex’s lips. “Let me take care of you.”

And Alex does as he promises, lips on Michael’s, distracting him from the sound of the bottle of lube opening.

He can feel one finger slowly tracing around his entrance, teasing him, and he whimpers, pressing against Alex’s hand, objecting when Alex pulls away, even though he can feel Alex’s smile against his lips.

So he holds still and waits, lets Alex slowly tease at his entrance until Michael is desperately moving his hips, letting out a pleading whine for more. It’s only then when he feels Alex ease one finger inside him. And Michael is rocking against him, trying to get more, all the while desperate for touch anywhere else.

“Shh… I’ve got you,” Alex reassures him, already teasing with a second finger. “Let me make this good for you.”

Michael doesn’t argue that it’s already good, it’s already better than anyone else. He just lets Alex work a second finger into him, fingers scissoring, opening him up.

When he slides a third finger into Michael, Michael lets out a keening noise, hips rocking desperately, in need of touch elsewhere. But he knows by now that Alex will take as long as he wants.

By the time Alex has worked a fourth finger in, Michael is babbling and practically crying with need, sure he’ll come with a simple touch to his cock.

He curses when Alex’s fingers leave him, but then he’s careful to show Michael what he’s doing. Michael watches as he coats his dick with lube, licking his lips at the thought of that inside of him.

Alex slides a pillow beneath his hips and settles between his legs, slowly guiding himself into Michael.

It’s too much, overwhelming, and Alex is reminding him, “Breathe, baby.” And, once he’s all the way inside of him, his lips are on Michael’s.

Michael feels like he’s surrounded by Alex, inside him and all around him and it’s more than he’s ever felt before. It takes him a minute to remember to urge Alex to move and, after only a couple of thrusts, he’s taken by surprise at his own orgasm being ripped out of him.

Alex keeps moving slowly through it, keeps touching him and whispering reassurances and promises of love.

Finally, he feels Alex coming inside him. And then Alex is pulling him with him as he moves onto his back, holding Michael close and on top of him, hands soothing over his skin, again telling him he loves him.

Michael has spent most of his life dreaming about what it would be like to fall in love. He’s read all the great soulmate stories and seen all the plays. He’s imagined the feeling so much he thought he knew what it would be like. But his imagination paled in comparison to the reality of being loved by Alex Manes. When he’s with Alex, everything else seems to fade away, all his worries, all the racing thoughts. Alex is the only thing that exists. He outshines the brightest of stars.

Alex interrupts his thoughts, pressing a kiss to his curls, “Thank you, Michael. For the guitar. And everything else.”

“You’ll play something for me? I’d really like to hear it,” Michael asks him. He can feel Alex nod, so he asks again, “Do you really think you could teach me to play the guitar? I know I’m difficult to teach, all my teachers always said I annoyed them with-”

“You won’t annoy me, Michael,” Alex smiles. “I’d be happy to teach you.”

Alex’s hands are gentle on his own as he guides Michael’s fingers into place, explaining all the basics. He explains everything as he goes through it, from teaching Michael finger placements to teaching him to read music. And he’s endlessly patient, answering questions in a soft and even voice and encouraging Michael.

Alex plays for him a few times and it leaves Michael speechless. Especially when he sings. Michael didn’t know anyone’s voice could sound that good, so warm and honest and full of emotions. And, yet, it does.

One day, when Michael is having an especially hard day, when it feels like he’s all thumbs and Alex doesn’t once raise his voice or even sound irritated, Michael asks him about it.

“Why are you so calm with me? I’ve fucked up this entire time. If I did this in one of my classes when I was a kid, my teachers would have rapped my knuckles by now.”

Alex flinches at that, but his voice remains even when he says, “Why would I be upset with you, Michael? You’re learning. You’re trying. And, by the way, you don’t have to. You’re doing this by choice.” He pauses, “I learned long ago that…fear isn’t going to help you learn how to do something right. It’s just going to teach you to hide your mistakes. Or fear doing anything that could cause you to make them in the first place.”

Michael thinks about Alex’s father, about the way he treated Alex, about what he’d tried to do to Alex. And he thinks he gets it. That was the whole point of what Alex’s father had done to him. Not to help him grow or learn, because he didn’t want him to. No, his dad had wanted him to fear what would happen if he was himself. To hide who he is. And he almost succeeded. Alex had almost married Michael’s cousin and hidden himself away from the world.

He sets the guitar aside, placing it gently in its case before turning toward Alex and pulling him in for a kiss, “I love who you are, you know.”

Alex’s smile is wide and brilliant, “I love who you are too.”

Alex has gotten messages from Earth during his time on Antar. Maria emails him pretty much daily with all the Roswell gossip, which usually just consists of the ups and downs of Rosa and Jenna’s relationship and who made a mess of the Wild Pony the previous night. He’s certain Maria is also emailing Isobel, though she never mentions it. She’s just far more aware of the Antaran gossip than Alex himself and only one person could be informing her about it. Liz sends him weekly updates, scheduled and organized. He knows she’s also emailing Max, as she regularly gushes about how romantic he is. Kyle emails him constantly, what feels like a few times a day, checking up on his pain levels, how his relationship with Michael is going, not that Alex usually answers him in much detail. And Rosa is sporadic, messaging a lot some weeks and disappearing entirely on others.

But he hasn’t heard from his family much. Or at all. His father and his brothers had left shortly after the wedding without so much as a goodbye and Alex can’t say he’s sorry about that.

So he’s surprised to see a letter, printed and mailed through the weekly shipments of supplies and messages to and from Antar. His father’s handwriting is painfully neat on the envelope.

Alex considers just setting it on fire. But he knows it could be important. So he slides one finger under the edge of the envelope, easing it open, wincing at the way it slices his skin, drop of blood welling. He finishes tearing it before absentmindedly sticking his finger between his lips, sucking the blood away. And then he’s unfolding the letter, opening it in front of him, and skimming the contents.

He can’t make sense of it. It’s filled with faux concern for Alex, comments about hopes Michael is treating him well and memories that have been completely distorted to make them sound happy. It’s talking about how proud Jesse is that his son has helped to bring peace to both worlds. He knows it can’t be meant for him. It has some other purpose, something he’ll need to take the time to figure out.

But it can wait. He has a training session to get to. So Alex sets the letter down on the desk in his and Michael’s bedroom and heads out the door, promising himself that he’ll think about it later.

It seems like all the Antarans want a chance to spar with the one lonely human. They’re so used to fighting with their powers that they enjoy the opportunity to fight without. With someone who knows what they’re doing.

Alex waits, ready, as Stef throws a punch, quickly blocking it, followed by blocking a kick. He knows she’s going to incorporate one of the more complicated moves he taught all of them at one point and, sure enough, she does moments later, sweeping his legs out from underneath him and instantly getting the higher ground, putting all her weight on his chest, legs straddling him. He could easily move her if he tried. She’s still far smaller than him, but he doesn’t, instead letting her revel in her victory as he swipes his sweaty bangs out of his eyes.

And then, all of a sudden, with no warning, she’s clutching her side and searching around the room with wide, hopeful eyes.

“Beka!” she shouts over the sound of people fighting. “I felt that!”

“You what?” the other woman shouts. “You’re my-”

“Soulmate, yeah!” Stef replies.

Beka’s running over and tackling Stef with a hug on top of Alex and he should be in pain or irritated, but the joy on their faces, on everyone’s faces, is infectious.

Michael is still examining the prosthetic leg he’s made for Alex as he walks into their house. He wants it to be perfect, though he knows it won’t be. He’s taken everything he’s learned from studying human prosthetic designs, Antaran prosthetic designs, and Alex’s own prosthetic and hopes that will be enough. That and the knowledge of specific things that bother his husband about his own.

He’s surprised to find Alex isn’t home, even though his husband usually arrives before he does. He walks up the stairs to their bedroom, surprised at the silence in their house. He’ll find a place to hide the gift before Alex comes home. He wants to be able to surprise him.

He’s just heading toward the closet when he sees it on the desk. A letter, laying open.

And he knows he shouldn’t look, but he can’t help what he sees. It’s from Jesse Manes, Alex’s father. And now Alex is gone.

He only knows bits and pieces of the damage Alex’s father has done to him, but he worries that this will have done more. So, yeah, he knows he shouldn’t. But he picks it up and reads it anyway.

He reads Jesse’s comments about his pride in Alex and his hopes for their marriage, can see the lies for what they are. This is not the same man who attacked Alex at their wedding. He knows without question that every word of this letter is a lie. But he also can imagine what it’s doing to Alex, the doubts these words could have placed in his head, the damage this letter could have caused.

Michael drops the letter to the table, staring at it like it’s bitten him. He knows that Alex wouldn’t have left it here, open on the table, if he were worried about Michael reading it. If he thought Michael would believe a single word of it.

No, Alex is good and kind and nothing like his family. But he still worries. He has seen the way Alex’s father has hurt him, only bits and pieces, but still. He has been there when his husband has woken up from nightmares, shaking and scared of the man who left him with so many scars, both internally and externally. He’s worried for Alex, for how this is affecting him, for how the praise from a man who has treated him like he wished he didn’t exist has harmed him further. He just needs to see Alex, to hold him, to know he’s okay.

But Alex isn’t home, so Michael sets the prosthetic aside by the desk and walks toward the door, determined to wait on the porch until his husband returns.

Alex is surprised to find Michael waiting for him when he returns home. And he’s even more surprised when Michael runs to greet him, pulling him into his arms and holding him tight. He doesn’t know why Michael reacted like this, but he just holds him, one hand stroking his curls, hoping that he can give him some comfort.

“I found the letter from your dad and I was worried,” Michael mumbles into his shoulder.

Alex pulls away, just enough to look Michael in the eyes, “I know what it looks like, Michael, but, I swear, I’ve only told you the truth about what he’s done.”

“That never even crossed my mind,” Michael objects instantly. “I just… He’s your dad and I know how he affects you. I don’t want him anywhere near you. I don’t want him writing to you or talking to you. Not ever again.”

Alex frowns, trying to find the right words to explain that he has to deal with Jesse Manes. “He’s my father, Michael,” Alex says softly, taking Michael’s hand and leading him toward the house. “And he’s powerful. He has a lot of far more powerful people listening to what he has to say. This situation is delicate. I don’t want to risk another war. So, if that means I have to play nice with my father, I can do that.”

He glances back to see that Michael is shaking his head, “We’re doing well. We’re happy. I don’t want to risk that.”

Alex leads him all the way to their bedroom, sitting down on the bed, holding both of Michael’s hands in his. “You won’t, baby. I can handle my father. I can play his games to keep the peace.”

“He’s hurt you and I don’t want him to get in your head and hurt you more,” Michael tells him.

And Alex can’t help but melt a little at Michael’s concern for him. “He won’t,” he promises. “I know my dad. I know what he’s capable of and that none of the things he’s saying are real. I know he’s playing a part. And, until I figure it out, I can play a part too.” He pauses, “Michael, I survived a childhood of this. Of abuse one day and manipulation and lies for his image the next. But now it’s so much easier. Because, this time, I have you. And I have your family. And so many people who I can trust.”

He watches as Michael walks over to the desk and picks something up, “I’ve been working on this for a while.” And then Michael turns enough that Alex can see the prosthetic leg he’s holding in his arms, “And I don’t know if it’ll work for you, but I’ve been looking into how they’re made and, if there’s anything about it that bugs you, I’ll try to figure out how to fix it so you can-” Michael cuts himself off, setting the prosthetic down on the bed next to him and reaching for Alex, gently brushing under his eyes with his thumbs. It’s only then that Alex realizes that he’s crying.

Michael kneels on the floor, taking both of Alex’s hands in his own, brushing his lips over Alex’s knuckles. Alex’s breath catches at the tenderness of the gesture. Michael is too good to him, too kind. He treats Alex like he’s precious. “I’m sorry, love,” Michael whispers against his hands. “Whatever I did, just let me know and I won’t do it ever again.”

It takes Alex a minute to realize that Michael thinks his crying is a bad thing, that Michael has hurt him. Alex feels his throat tighten, more tears escaping his eyes. He can’t believe this wonderful man, this man who is too good for Alex, much more than he could ever imagine having before, believes he’s done something that has hurt him. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Michael. I don’t know what I did to deserve being loved by you.” He pauses, extricating one of his hands from Michael so he can trace Michael’s jaw with his fingers, so he can guide his face up until Michael’s eyes are on his, “I know I don’t have a soulmate. But, if I did, I think it would be you.”

That’s when Michael’s tears start. “If I could choose my soulmate, I would choose you.”

Alex doesn’t know how to respond to that in words. So he just pulls Michael toward him and presses his lips against his. Their faces are both wet with tears and Alex can taste the salt as he kisses him, but he just pulls Michael closer, sinking into the feeling that he’s only ever felt with Michael. Like he’s home.

Michael joins Alex for his next training session. Alex isn’t certain if Michael wants to watch or if Michael doesn’t want to let him out of his sight after the letter his father sent, even knowing Alex has his own protection detail. Either way, Alex doesn’t particularly mind Michael’s need to stay close.

He sends Michael to work with Jess, trusting that the tiny woman will keep him on his toes.

And he grabs Beka, asking her to work with him today.

It’s not long before he’s sweating. Beka is a capable fighter, all the women are, and she has given him quite a workout today.

He glances over as he gets a drink of water to see what Michael and Jess are up to and his husband looks so adorably lost, but, oddly, like he’s enjoying himself.

He turns his attention back to Beka, who gives him an amused look before starting to fight again, taking him down and grappling with him until her thighs are tight around his neck, showing him how easily she could knock him out with the pressure there.

When they’ve finished, everyone looks happy, if tired and maybe a bit sore, and Michael runs over to him eagerly. “So, you gonna demonstrate some of that on me when we get home?” Michael asks.

Alex blushes, but nods, pulling Michael with him to the showers, reminding him to focus. They’re having lunch with Michael’s mother. They can do other things later. If Alex wraps his hand around Michael’s length and works him quickly until he’s coming all over the shower stall, well, it’s not like he’s wasting too much time.

In all of Michael’s years of dreaming of his soulmate, of imagining someone who was made to love him and understand him, he never could have dreamt how it would feel to have someone like Alex tell him that he wants to be Michael’s soulmate. That he’d choose to be his soulmate if he had the choice at all. Michael thinks that, maybe, just maybe, they could make that choice. And he’s ready to make it.

So, when Alex is sitting next to Michael, after Mara has caught them up on Isobel and Max’s lives, as well as what’s going on in her own, Michael takes Alex’s hand and asks, “Do you think I could build a new soulmate bond?”

She shrugs, “I’ve heard of it happening when a soulmate dies. I suppose you could try. Though it may prove difficult, as Alex is human.” She smiles kindly at Alex, clearly trying to take away any pain she may have caused with her words. “You’d have to unblock the connection first. And deal with the pain of that loss,” she continues.

Before Alex, Michael wouldn’t have even imagined doing it. But Alex… Michael has never imagined he’d feel this way about anyone. Not even his soulmate. Michael would give so much to be able to feel that connection with Alex, to be aware of him in his head all the time, as if he’s not always aware of Alex anyway. To know when Alex needs him or is in pain. To be able to show Alex how much he loves him. He wishes he could give Alex that certainty that he is loved the way Michael loves him.

“I want to try,” Michael says to his mom. “Can we try right now?”

“Are you ready?” Mara asks.

Michael glances over at Alex, waits for his nod before he focuses on that place in the back of his mind, opening the connection slowly.

He expects nothing. He expects to feel that aching emptiness. But he doesn’t. He feels sudden pain in his back and hip, mild, but manageable. He feels that reassuring presence in the back of his mind.

His soulmate is alive.

Michael’s soulmate is alive and he has left them entirely alone for more than a year.

Alex waits with Michael, sitting next to him, watching the emotions play over his face, waiting to support Michael however he can through his grief.

“I felt them die,” Michael says finally, voice devoid of emotion. “But they’re here. In my mind. They’re alive. My soulmate is alive.”

Alex’s ears are ringing. It’s too hot in here. He needs air. He stands, stumbling backwards, feeling his chest tightening. The room around him is starting to spin. He needs- He needs to sit down. He needs to sit down somewhere where he’s alone. He needs to catch his breath. There are too many people.

He rushes away, ignoring the noises he thinks may be shouts of his name. He doesn’t know. He can’t-

He remembers a spot that was small and dark and hidden and moves as fast as his leg will let him, pain radiating in his hip as he rushes through the halls.

He opens that small hidden space and steps behind, closing it up behind him, leaning against the wall and sinking to the floor, not thinking about how he’ll get up when he’s ready. Not thinking about anything but how it feels like he’s going to pass out.

Chapter Text

Alex is finally able to breathe normally. He had a panic attack. He knows that. He knew that when it was happening, but that didn’t take the power of it away. He knows he should get up and go talk to Michael. He knows he should be supportive.

But he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say. He should bow out gracefully. Let Michael have what he’s always wanted. Alex has only been a placeholder for something that the universe designed for Michael’s happiness. And, clearly, he’s no longer needed.

He swipes at his tears, wishing he hadn’t been so stupid to feel safe loving Michael, to believe that someone as wonderful as Michael could possibly choose him. That fate wouldn’t have other, better plans for someone like Michael. Michael isn’t meant for him because how could anything so good be his after all the things he’s done, with all the blood on his hands?

No, he’ll stay with Michael, maintain the marriage for now. He made that commitment. Not for himself, but for two entire worlds. He’ll stay until Michael is ready to cast him aside for his soulmate. Earth may take offense, but they’ll find a way to avoid another war. And then, somehow, Alex will survive it. That’s what he does, after all. He survived his father. He survived a war. He can survive this.

When Michael finds him, huddled on the floor in the dark, he’s calm. He’s ready to do what he knows he has to.

Michael surprises him by sitting down next to him, so close that both of them barely fit, shoulders pressed together in the small space. Michael takes his hand and, in that moment, Alex is absolutely certain Michael is going to end things with him. Maybe that’s for the best. Maybe that will give Alex time to let go.

“My soulmate is alive,” Michael speaks. “And I need you to know that doesn’t change anything between us.” Alex opens his mouth to object, but Michael continues. “It doesn’t. You know Beka and Stef. That’s how it is for lots of soulmates. It’s entirely platonic. It’s actually incredibly rare for it to be romantic. For so many reasons.” He pauses, “You are my husband. You are the love of my fucking life, Alex. I choose you.”

Alex shakes his head, pulling his hand away from Michael to clasp both of his hands in his lap. He stares at them, stares through them. “You say that now but. You’ll meet them and they’ll be perfect for you. You’ll love them easily. That’s what soulmates are, Michael. And you can try with me, but it won’t be the same. It won’t be this fated fucking cosmic connection that you have with them. I’m just a fucked up human. And I love you even more for trying, but…” Alex takes a deep breath and swipes away tears. “If you don’t just let me go in the end, you’ll be staying out of guilt or obligation and I can’t ask that of you. I can’t be that for you.”

“Alex, love, please look at me,” Michael’s tone is gentle, but Alex can hear that he’s crying. And he can’t resist him or deny him. So he does as Michael asks, meeting his eyes. “I love you easily. I will close that connection again. I don’t care about any of that, okay? I choose you. I don’t care what’s fated, you’re my fucking cosmic connection.” Michael’s voice is becoming frantic, “Please, Alex. Let me choose you.”

Alex won’t be the reason Michael cuts off a part of himself. Not even if that part hurts Alex. Not even if that part leads to Michael leaving him. So, instead, he nods and says, “Don’t shut it off, Michael. It’s a part of you. Just promise me one thing?”

“Anything love,” Michael’s face is so open and honest.

“Don’t stay with me out of guilt or obligation? If you find them and you want them instead, choose them.”

“Never gonna happen,” Michael dismisses his concerns like they’re nothing.

“I’m serious,” Alex replies.

“I know you are. You just… Really don’t know how I see you. If I could choose you to be my soulmate, I still would.”

“Promise me,” he insists.

Michael nods, “I promise.”

Alex smiles at him then. Maybe Michael is right. Maybe this person will never really be anything more than a friend to him.

“Ready to go home?” Michael asks softly, getting to his feet.

“Fuck yes,” Alex replies. He takes Michael’s hands when he offers, lets his husband help him back to his feet, lets Michael pull him in close. He’s not certain this will last, in fact, he’s sure it won’t but, until it ends, he’s going to enjoy every last second of being loved by Michael.

It’s been a long day and Alex is tired, so he goes to bed early, Michael insisting that he’ll take care of cleaning the kitchen. He can tell Michael is still worried, trying extra hard to be careful with him. Like Alex is going to break. Or leave.

He’s not planning on it. He’ll stay as long as Michael wants him. But maybe he’s preparing his heart for when that day comes. When Michael walks away from him for someone better. For someone whole.

He glances up when he hears footsteps in the hall and then Michael is standing in the doorway, looking uncertain.

“Come here,” Alex smiles at him, holding a hand out, reaching for him.

Michael does as he asks, letting Alex take the lead. And Alex is content to take it, grasping at the mere hint of distance it gives him.

He undresses Michael, pressing him into the bed, hands and mouth exploring bare skin. Michael’s touch is so gentle and reverent that Alex can barely hold back tears. But he pushes them back, pushes them down, tries to keep his distance as best he can.

He grabs the bottle of lube, coating his own fingers with it, laying back on the bed and starting to open himself up, carefully, but quickly, getting himself ready for Michael.

He’s surprised by the gentle hand on his wrist, stilling him, stopping him. “Let me?”

Michael takes the bottle of lube, leaning over him, sliding a pillow beneath his hips carefully before coating his own fingers with lube, circling his hole with one gentle finger, eyes on Alex’s face as he eases it in.

They’ve done this before, but Alex feels exposed now in a way he’s never felt. He’s not sure how to feel about it, to feel about the fact that Michael can read his face, is looking at him with such tenderness. “You are the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen,” Michael breathes as he starts to ease another finger in, “Have I ever told you that? Not just this gorgeous face,” his free hand traces Alex’s jaw, thumb brushing over his lips. “Or this fantastic body,” his hand gliding gently down Alex’s neck and over his chest, as he eases another finger into Alex, starting to work him open more earnestly. “But you.

Alex’s breath catches on a sob and he fights to hold it together.

“Fuck, Alex, I can’t believe how lucky I am to have you, love. You’re the best thing that has ever happened to me. And, as long as you let me, I’m going to spend every day of the rest of my life showing you how much I love you.”

“Michael please,” Alex begs, desperate for Michael to just fuck him, to stop breaking him open like this. He moves his hips against Michael’s hand, trying to urge him on. He’s so used to control. It lets him keep himself together. And this time, Michael has all of it. And Alex is breaking apart, certain he’ll never be able to put himself back together again.

“Come for me, love,” Michael breathes.

And Alex hasn’t even realized until now how very close he is to the edge. But Michael’s free hand wraps around his length as he works his fingers inside of him, driving him relentlessly over the edge, watching him as he comes apart.

Alex reaches for Michael then, wrapping his hand around Michael’s length, surprised when Michael’s hand stills his own. “Let me take care of you tonight, love.”

That’s when Alex finally breaks apart. And Michael just holds him through it. And after, when Alex tries to piece himself back together.

Michael holds him until he’s drifting off. It’s only then that Alex feels the bed move with Michael leaving, feels Michael cleaning him up with a damp rag through the haze of sleep, and feels Michael pull him into his arms again.

Alex wakes to a sound outside. He tells himself it’s nothing. They’re safe, him and Michael, warm in their bed. Their security detail is right outside the house, making sure that they’re protected.

But then it comes again. The slight creaking of their back door.

He slides out from under Michael, kissing his curls and whispering “Go back to sleep,” when his husband mumbles his objections to Alex’s movements. He doubts Michael actually will go back to sleep. He’s always so concerned when Alex wakes up from nightmares or pain in the middle of the night, but he hopes he can deal with whatever is going on before Michael fully wakes and tries to get involved.

He slips on his sock and his prosthetic, not bothering with anything more than them and a pair of boxer briefs, before reaching for his cane.

“Wha’s goin on?” Michael slurs, pushing himself up on his elbows.

“Nothing, baby,” Alex whispers. “Go back to sleep. I’ll be back in a minute.” He knows that won’t work long, so he has to move.

He makes his way quietly out the door, carefully skipping every floorboard that makes any noise, and closes the door behind him.

He can hear someone easing onto the fourth stair, the one that creaks especially loudly, so he hides himself against the wall at the top of the stairs, waiting, listening, ready.

Just as they’re reaching the top of the stairs, the bedroom door opens and Michael starts out of it and all Alex can do is throw himself at the intruder, hoping to catch them unaware enough to keep Michael safe.

Michael stretches and stands, yawning and heading toward the door. He knows Alex is probably fine, but he also knows he has nightmares and, if he thinks he’s not going to sleep, he’ll probably go downstairs and end up falling asleep there. And then he’ll be in far more pain than usual tomorrow.

So he’s just going to sit with Alex until he’s ready to sleep again.

He walks out the door, heading toward the stairs when suddenly Alex flies in front of him and he can hear him hitting the floor and, oh, he can feel it, a sharp blow to the ribs, a crushing pain against his throat, cutting off his air.

And he’s frozen for a moment. Maybe a moment too long. Remembering when he was seventeen and felt that exact same pain. Remembering not so long ago, when he saw Alex with Jesse’s hand around his throat. Realizing that all those scars on Alex’s body, he can remember when he got them, can list what he was doing when he felt them the first time, as if they were imprinted on his own body.

And then he hears a loud bang and feels another pain, unbearable, in his shoulder. And he knows he has to move.

He reaches out with his power to shove the attacker off of him, to free Alex, but nothing happens. It’s not working. They must have that powder the humans weaponized with them.

So he throws himself at the person, forgetting about the things he learned at that training session, uncaring, just knowing he needs to do whatever he can to keep Alex safe.

And then there’s a cracking sound and Jesse Manes is slumped over on top of him.

Alex’s voice is tight with pain when he speaks, but it’s still steady. “Michael, I need you to go get your father and some of his soldiers. We need to make sure my father is locked up properly by the time he comes to.”

Michael wants to object, gestures at Alex’s shoulder, dark with blood.

“I’ll be fine,” Alex reassures him, already pulling himself to his feet and walking toward their bedroom, grabbing something to press against his wound. “Just go, Michael. Please.”

It’s the please that does it. Michael runs as fast as he can, past his and Alex’s security detail, laying still on the ground. He hopes they’re just unconscious, but he doesn’t have time to check. He runs all the way to the front gate of the palace, telling the guards there what’s happened and to bring his father and enough soldiers to keep Jesse Manes subdued. “And bring a medic!” he calls after them as they turn, before turning around and running as fast as he can toward their home.

Alex is slumped against the wall when Michael arrives, face pale. But Michael can feel him still. His presence is strong and steady in Michael’s mind. He wonders how he spent so long completely unaware that it was Alex he had felt.

“Alex, love,” he whispers, taking over for Alex, holding the bloody t-shirt against his shoulder. “Stay with me, okay?”

“‘re you okay?” Alex slurs, voice weak.

“Yeah, Alex, I’m okay,” Michael presses a kiss to his temple, cursing that yellow powder for impeding his powers. He’s not a good healer on the best of days, can barely do a fraction of what Max can do. But he could keep Alex alive. He could keep him from getting worse. Instead, he can’t seem to do anything to stop his husband, his soulmate, from bleeding out in his arms.

Michael waits in the medical bay as they perform surgery on Alex’s shoulder. Jesse had coated his bullets with that yellow powder and none of their healers could fix it. None of their telekinetics could move it. So they ended up contacting Alex’s friend, Kyle Valenti, to walk them through the surgery, uncertain about the differences between Antaran and human anatomy and unused to manual surgery.

Finally, the medic steps outside to speak with Michael, telling him that the bullet hadn’t done too much damage, but then there was the time and difficulty for them to remove it, as none of them were used to it. And there was an adverse reaction Alex had to the only sedative they could find that was similar enough to a human sedative. Or possibly Alex had a bad reaction to the yellow powder.

His heart had stopped twice during the procedure and Michael had felt it both times, exactly the same as he now knows he had felt it a year ago when Alex lost his leg and almost his life. His mother and Isobel are at his side through it, holding both of his hands, but it’s not what he needs. What he needs is Alex’s hand, warm and strong in his own to help him hold himself together.

When the surgery is over and Kyle talks to Michael through the video link, he insists that Alex will be fine. But the tightness around his mouth belies his words, as does the concern of the medics.

All Michael knows for certain is that Alex is unconscious and not waking up quickly. That he may have some brain damage. That he may be gone for good.

Michael tells himself that’s not the case. He can feel Alex through his soulmate connection, maybe a bit weak, but he’s not in pain. And he’s there. He’s Alex. And, again, Michael wonders how he didn’t know this was Alex in his mind. It feels like Alex. Feels like his strength combined with his kindness. When he focuses on it, it feels exactly the way Michael does when he’s in Alex’s arms. It’s right.

So he tells himself Alex is fine. That he’ll wake up soon.

His mother and Isobel don’t leave the hospital either, determined to be there for what Michael needs. Max stops in for a moment, checking on Michael, but he has other duties. And Michael’s father stops in, reassuring Michael that Alex is a fighter, that he’s strong and stubborn and capable. As if these were things Michael didn’t already know. He knows exactly what his husband survived. Or, well, more than anyone but Alex himself. He felt all of it and saw all the marks of it on Alex’s body, though he knows he will never fully understand what it was like for Alex to grow up in a home where he was never safe.

It’s about twenty-four hours later, Michael rubbing his face into Alex’s chest as he wakes, not wanting to return to the waking world, when he hears Alex say, “You know, you’re pretty cute when you do that, Michael.”

Michael bolts upward, nearly falling backward off his chair.

“You look like shit,” Alex says. Something in his tone tells Michael he’s teasing.

“You’re still the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen,” Michael breathes, tension slowly bleeding out of his body.

“You’re okay?” Alex asks. Of course he asks that. Michael is certain he’s going to have to give Alex a talking to about this. A little less concern about other people, a little more concern about himself.

“I am now,” Michael answers easily.

“Our security?”

“They were incapacitated with the yellow powder and then knocked unconscious. They’re fine.”

“And my dad?”

“Last I heard? Locked up and being charged with attempted murder of a member of the royal family.”

“You got that threat right,” Alex smiles.

“Yeah. He’s getting charged with that, among other things. And Kivar, he used to be a soldier here, he’s been charged with conspiracy to commit murder. He was working with your dad. Seems they thought if they could kill you and frame me, they’d be able to get their war back. Almost succeeded too.”

Alex shakes his head, “They didn’t. I’m here. And I’ll be back to kicking ass in no time.”

Michael can’t help but grin at that.

“Now, I need more sleep,” Alex says. And he’s not lying. He sounds exhausted, “And I need you right here, okay?” he pats the bed next to him on his good side.

Michael nods, kicking off his boots and climbing in next to Alex, wrapping an arm around him, careful of his injury. He’ll explain the soulmate thing to Alex later. When he’s not so tired.

Alex is safe at home and in their bed when Michael tries to tell him. He wanted to wait until they were alone, until there weren’t medics coming in to check on him all the time, until he didn’t have to worry about being interrupted.

“When your father attacked… Alex, I felt him hurt you.”

Alex looks over at him, an eyebrow raised, clearly waiting for a further explanation.

“And I… I figured it out. I felt you when you were a kid too. When your dad, when he…” He sucks in a breath, not able to say the words. “All this time, I know you’ve been worried about my soulmate coming and me choosing them over you and I have spent this entire time saying it’s always going to be you. And it is you, Alex. You’re my soulmate.”

Alex shakes his head, pulling away, “Please, Michael, don’t say stuff like that. I know you just want to help, but-”

Michael grabs Alex’s hand, holding it gently in his own, “I’m not just saying it, Alex. I know it. I felt your dad with his hand around your throat on the floor like I felt him with his hand around your throat when we were seventeen and I wish I could kill him for that, I wish I could have protected you then, but I- Fuck, Alex, I have been waiting for you my entire life. And you still managed to sneak up on me. I fell in love with you without feeling that soulmate bond and all it changed is I know more now. I love you.”

Alex is shaking his head, denial or shock, Michael isn’t sure, but he knows he needs Alex to feel it the way he does. So he focuses on that connection in the back of his mind and pours all the love he feels for Alex into it, focusing all of it on showing Alex exactly how loved he is.

Alex’s eyes water, his jaw tightening like he’s fighting off tears and Michael keeps focusing on it. He watches as emotions flicker across Alex’s face. Pain, fear, love, wonder. And, finally, Alex settles on that last one. “You love me,” he breathes, like he finally sees it, even though Michael has been telling him so for a while now.

“With every bit of me, Alex.”

“I felt you,” Alex breathes, looking right past Michael, staring into nothing. “I felt you when I was seventeen. My dad, he… He caught me with this boy. From the football team. He was closeted and it didn’t really mean anything and he ran off when my father showed up, but-” He takes a deep, shuddering breath. “I was sure my dad was going to kill me. He choked me. And he beat me. Worse than he ever had before.” He pauses, “He was so angry and I was so scared. But then I felt you. In my mind. Like I wasn’t alone. Like it would all be okay, if only I survived it. So I did. I kept surviving, even when I stopped feeling you at all.”

“I’m so, so sorry, Alex, for leaving you all alone,” Michael starts, pulling Alex closer.

Alex shakes his head rapidly, fingertips tracing down Michael’s jaw, “You didn’t know, baby. And you’re here now. That’s all that matters.”

“I fucking love you so much,” Michael says, leaning in and pressing his lips to Alex’s.

They spend the rest of the night kissing and touching, holding each other close. And Michael falls asleep with Alex safe in his arms.

Chapter Text

“Marry me again,” Alex says, unsure where the thought came from, but certain he wants it. He’s on the couch with Michael, leaning against his husband, both of them just enjoying being with each other.

“Hmm?” Michael leans in and presses a kiss to his hair and Alex leans back against him further.

“Our wedding was for everyone else. Everyone but us. Marry me again. Just us, the people we love, what we want.”

“Is this a human thing?” Michael sounds amused.


“Alright,” Michael nods. “We’ll do it on Earth.” He pauses, “I always wanted to go there. And I’d love to see where you grew up.”

“Roswell isn’t that interesting,” Alex objects.

“It had you, didn’t it?” Michael’s hand slides into his. “Marry me there.”

Alex takes a deep breath and holds it for a moment before letting it out. Michael stills against him, waiting for what he’s about to say next. “After that, maybe we could talk about having kids? If you want?” Alex isn’t certain he’ll ever be ready to be a father, that he’d even be suited for it, but the thought of a little kid or two with Michael’s curls and that crooked smile he loves so much? He wants that. And he’s ready to try to figure the rest out.

“Deal.” Alex can hear the smile in Michael’s voice and he relaxes. There’s no rush. They’ll figure this out together. And he’s certain Michael would be an amazing father.

Michael collapses on their hotel bed at the end of a long day of meeting so many of the people who had been in Alex’s life when he was young.

They had started the day at The Crashdown Cafe, Alex introducing Michael to Arturo and reintroducing him to Rosa and Liz. Max had actually already been there when they arrived, just staring in awe at Liz. And they had both met Jenna, who was just there for coffee before work. Michael had seen how happy Alex had been to see Jenna with her arm wrapped easily around Rosa and the soft smile on Rosa’s face when she looked at her.

Arturo was kind and overly affectionate, insisting on feeding the both of them until they could barely move.

From there, they had gone to see Mimi and Maria at their bar, where Mimi read his palm while Alex caught up with his friend.

He had particularly enjoyed the tour Alex gave him of the UFO Emporium, shuttered now, but, well, Michael could easily unlock it and Alex had worked there. He loved laughing at the ridiculous artifacts that the humans made up, the stories they told. Seeing the fake autopsies had been horrifying though. But he had enjoyed the opportunity to kiss Alex beneath the ridiculous glow-in-the-dark stars.

He’s interrupted from his thoughts by the sound of Alex in the bathroom, humming along to the music in his head. This town may be small and quaint and he might not get it, but it’s the place that Alex came from. And he is well aware of how lucky he is that that man loves him.

The door opens and Alex comes out, looking utterly delicious, as always, though it looks like he may have put a little extra effort in tonight.

“There’s this tradition here during bachelor parties,” Alex starts.

Michael nods, “You’ve told me of them.”

“Yes. Well, a lot of people take their friends to strip clubs… When I had mine, Kyle insisted on stripping for me.” Michael idly ponders ways he could properly terrify Kyle out of even considering doing that again. “Don’t worry,” Alex says. “It was awkward and uncomfortable. But I thought maybe… Since tomorrow we’re renewing our vows?” Alex raises an eyebrow at Michael and he can’t help but shift in his seat in excitement at the thought.

“So, if you wouldn’t mind sitting over there,” Alex gestures toward a chair by the desk. “And, just so you know, the usual rule is that you can look but you can’t touch.” Michael doesn’t miss the evil glint in Alex’s eyes.

He watches as Alex goes over to his phone, taps the screen a few times, and the music starts.

“Is it me who makes you sweat? Am I who you think about in bed?” the song starts. And Alex is stalking toward him, slowly removing his shirt, revealing inch after inch of beautiful skin.

The low light in the room makes Alex’s already golden skin glow and Michael doesn’t know how he’ll be able to do this without touching him.

Alex moves his hips, dancing seductively for Michael.

“A hotter touch a better fuck than any boy you’ll ever meet,” the singer continues. And Alex continues to stalk closer, eyes on Michael the entire time.

As the music changes, he tears his pants away and moves to straddle Michael’s lap, hips easily moving to the music, grinding against Michael, hands moving from his shoulders down his chest. And Michael is clinging to the back legs of the chair behind him to keep from reaching out and gripping onto Alex’s hips, to keep from moving with him, from pressing back into him every time Alex moves against him.

He tries so hard, certain he’s going to break the chair first, but Michael eventually gives in, hands gripping Alex’s hips.

The way Alex looks at him, gaze heated, smile triumphant, Michael thinks that might have been the intention all along.

Michael stands, holding Alex to him, lifting him up and carrying him the short distance to the bed as the music plays on.

Michael wraps his arms around Alex, holding him steady on his lap as they watch their friends celebrate.

Mimi was kind enough to offer to host their reception at The Wild Pony and it had been a lot of fun for Michael to watch as Isobel reacted to the space while at the same time trying not to offend Maria.

They’re talking and flirting right now, and isn’t that a surprise? Michael knows his cousin well. She avoids commitments, avoids anything more than casual one night stands or friends with benefits, as she’s certain she’ll have to marry for political reasons, rather than love. But Isobel watches Maria like, well, like Michael is well aware he watches Alex, whether or not Isobel is even aware of it. He’s noticed her eyes following Alex’s friend around the room all night.

Max is less subtle with Liz, practically gluing himself to her side since they landed on earth. He’ll be surprised if Liz doesn’t end up with a ring by the time the weekend’s done.

Alex’s friend, Kyle, is busy flirting with a couple of the soldiers who had come to earth with them as bodyguards.

And Rosa and Jenna are just dancing, entirely wrapped up in each other.

Michael’s parents had left early, as had most of the other parents, so now it’s just them and Alex’s friends.

He takes Alex’s hand in his, playing gently with those long, elegant fingers, delighting in the fond smile he receives from Alex in return.

“I’m sorry your mom didn’t show,” Michael says softly. He’s angry on Alex’s behalf. Angry that his father treated him the way he did, that all his brothers stood by and either participated or ignored it, that his mother couldn’t even be bothered to drive what the internet said was fifty miles to come see her son get married. Again. Alex deserves so much better than that. And Michael is determined to do everything in his power to make sure Alex is loved like he deserves to be.

Alex stands, getting off Michael’s lap, but not releasing his hand, just looking down at him with so much warmth in those beautiful eyes. “Dance with me?”

Michael grins and lets Alex lead the way to the dance floor.

He is still awed every time he looks at his husband. When they got married on Antar, Alex had worn his dress blues and been every bit the stiff Airman in public, but now? Now he’s dressed in a suit that fits him perfectly, highlights those broad shoulders, and those strong arms. He knows that, when the jacket isn’t hiding it, those pants do an amazing job of showing off Alex’s perfect ass.

And he just looks free. Happy. There’s a lightness to him that Michael hadn’t seen before he knew they were soulmates. He turns toward Michael, grin spreading across his face, reaching his eyes.

Alex pulls him close, one hand on his lower back, the other taking Michael’s hand, guiding him as if Michael hasn’t been taught all the steps to various Earth dances. Not that he learned them particularly well.

This close, Michael could count each of Alex’s eyelashes, can see the way the black eyeliner Alex is wearing is fading in places, though that doesn’t ruin the effect. “Can you imagine if you had married Isobel?” he jokes, enjoying the sound of Alex’s surprised laugh.

“She and I would have both been miserable,” Alex smiles.

“But you married me instead,” Michael grins.

“I never knew I could be this happy,” Alex replies.

Michael leans in and gently presses his lips against Alex’s, both of them smiling too much for more than a gentle peck.

Alex isn’t lying when he tells Michael he never knew he could be this happy. He thought love and joy were meant for other people. People more deserving of it.

But now he has Michael, holding him close, looking at him like he’s the most wonderful person he’s ever met. And he can feel Michael in the back of his mind, now that he knows what he is looking for. He can feel that love Michael has for him. He never has to doubt it again.

Maybe his mother hadn’t shown. Maybe his family doesn’t want to even acknowledge him. But he’s realized he has a better family. Arturo, Mimi, and Jim, who had all fought over who was going to walk him down the aisle until Alex had fought off tears and told them all three could do it. Liz, Maria, Rosa, and Kyle, who had all fought over best man duties and had all shown up for him time and time again. And now he has Mara and Rath, who had instantly embraced him as if he was their own. Isobel, who treats him like he’s her best friend, insisting on coming to him with her frustrations as well as her gossip and supporting him, even when he won’t tell her about his own frustrations. And even Max, who he’s reached a kind of grudging respect and understanding with. They’ll never be friends, but they both have the family’s best intentions at heart.

Most importantly, there’s Michael. The man who, somehow, treats him like he’s something precious, like he’s worth more than what he came from, who gives him all the tenderness and care Alex had never known, had never understood someone like him could be worthy of. But Michael sees him that way, just for being himself.

Alex wishes he could show Michael how much he loves him, give Michael even a fraction of what Michael gives him every second of every day. He’s certain it won’t work, but he tries, focusing on pouring all the love he feels for Michael, how he sees his husband, how he wants him, into that space in his mind where he can feel Michael.

He watches in surprise as Michael’s whiskey colored eyes widen and then fill with tears. He watches as Michael works through it in silence.

And then Michael takes him by surprise, hand leaving his shoulder to cup his head, fingers in his hair, pulling him in for a bruising kiss.

“Ready to call it a night?” Michael asks as he pulls away, eyes dark, grin filthy.

“Fifteen minutes to say our goodbyes and then I expect to see you in that rental car,” Alex tells him, tone firm.

Michael practically growls in return. “See you in ten.”

Alex watches as his husband rushes off toward his friends, practically tripping over his own feet in his haste. And then he turns toward his own friends, thinking about what he’s going to do to Michael when they reach their room. If they even make it that far.

Michael hadn’t even made it until they got back to the hotel. He hadn’t made it out of the parking lot. He had needed to get his mouth on Alex, to taste him, to swallow him down.

Alex, as always, was more patient. He made Michael wait until they reached their hotel room, slowly undressing and watching as Michael scrambled to do the same.

Alex lays back on the bed and Michael just takes him in. He’s well aware of how lucky he is to have this. He can feel what Alex is sending him over their bond, the desire and the love and it, combined with his own, is overwhelming.

He quickly moves to join Alex, reaching for the bedside table and handing Alex the lube.

Alex looks back at him with a raised, questioning eyebrow, and Michael knows he’s asking for confirmation, so he nods, laying back on the bed and waiting.

Alex’s lips are on his in a moment, soft and gentle, his tongue sliding into Michael’s mouth and Michael can’t help but get lost in the familiar feel and taste of Alex’s kisses. He knows for certain he’ll never stop wanting this. This man in his bed, in his arms, in his life.

Alex’s hands are exploring, tracing over his shoulders, down his chest, one teasing a nipple while the other slides slowly down toward his length.

Alex takes him in hand, touch gentle and teasing, not quite enough for Michael to get anywhere, as much as he whines against Alex’s mouth and rocks his hips against his hand. Alex pulls away long enough to breathe, “Patience, baby,” before returning his lips to Michael’s.

Michael presses into Alex’s mouth further, pushing until Alex is on his back beneath him then lifting up to look at him.

Alex’s lips are swollen and red from kisses and his eyes are dark and Michael just wants to screw patience and spend the entire rest of the night making Alex come until he begs Michael to stop. But he reminds himself that there will be other nights for that and tonight he wants to feel Alex inside of him while he feels Alex in the back of his mind.

So he returns to kissing Alex, letting him push him back on the bed.

Alex slides a pillow beneath his hips, lips never leaving Michaels. And he can hear the lube open, can feel Alex’s fingers gently touching him, circling his entrance, not quite starting anything.

And then one finger slowly works its way in and Michael can’t help the noises that escape him. It feels even better than he remembered and they’ve barely even started.

“Shh, baby, I’ve got you,” Alex breathes against his mouth.

Alex takes his time, slowly moving that single finger in Michael until Michael is desperately rocking his hips against Alex’s hand and pleading for more. And then Alex waits just a little bit longer, until Michael is certain he can’t take any more of this torture.

He feels Alex add another finger, making soothing noises against Michael’s lips as Michael whines and reaches out for anything to hold on to, finally getting one hand in Alex’s dark hair, the other clinging to the sheets next to him. “I need-” he whimpers against Alex’s lips. But he doesn’t even know what to say. He just needs more. More Alex. In him, around him.

Alex smiles against his mouth, “Let me take care of you.”

And, with those words, Michael is utterly powerless to stop himself from giving Alex whatever he wants, not that he’d been able to do that to begin with.

Alex slowly eases another finger into him and Michael almost screams as Alex brushes against his prostate, gentle, but deliberate.

He’s not sure how much longer he’s going to be able to hold on. And, yet, he needs more. He’s so close to the edge he’s certain one more touch will send him rocketing over it but, just as he rocks his hips into Alex’s hand, trying to get what he needs, Alex withdraws his hand.

His husband pulls away, leaning above him, hair falling all around his face. He can feel Alex’s clean hand brushing back his sweaty curls. He can feel Alex in his mind, focusing on all the love he holds for Michael and it distracts him from the sound of the lube bottle opening.

And then he can feel Alex pressing into him and he can feel what Alex feels as he does. It’s too much and not enough and then, when Alex is in him to the hilt, it overwhelms him and he comes. Everything around him fades away and it’s just him and Alex and the earth-shattering pleasure he feels as Alex holds him through it.

Michael collapses against the bed, moving his hips tiredly. So Alex continues to move, still gentle and slow, murmuring praise and words of love for Michael.

Michael wraps his legs around Alex as best as he can, urging him on, prompting him to pick up his pace. He can take it and he wants to feel Alex come inside of him.

When it happens, he can feel Alex in his mind as well, can feel the pleasure and the love Alex feels and it sets off another orgasm of his own.

Finally, Alex collapses against him, long fingers soothing through his curls, swiping at the tears Michael hadn’t been aware he’d been crying.

Michael just grabs Alex’s hands, kissing his fingertips before pulling Alex closer, one hand on his back, the other in his hair. Alex tucks his head beneath Michael’s chin, kisses his chest, and lets out a contented noise.

They fall asleep there, messy and sticky, but safe in each other’s arms and secure in the knowledge that they are loved and that they love each other more than either ever imagined they could.