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Part of USS Arcturus: Epsilon Indi Calling

Chapter Fourteen: Respite

USS Arcturus, Lancaster and Sheppard's Quarters
Early January, 2399
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The senior-most officers had impressive quarters located in the superstructure under the bridge, which, unusually for a starship, each spanned two decks. Fleet Captain Hayden’s quarters took up the forward end of decks three and four, with Captains Lancaster, Anjar, and Okusanya each had suites on either the port or starboard sides of the same deck. Given the burdens that each of them had in leading the Arcturus’s long mission, the idea was that larger quarters might feel more like living on a planet. The rest of the crew could get that same feeling through the multi-story promenade that took up a portion of the forward quarter of the primary hull, as well as a large arboretum, and several expansive recreation decks, all of which put crew morale and wellbeing over space concerns, something that was only possible on such a large ship.

“Still grumpy?” Sheppard asked, as he came up the stairs from the living area below to their new sleeping loft, carrying two glasses of red wine, which he placed on the nightstand as he sat down next to Lancaster. Beyond him was the expansive viewport which had views out over the entire starboard saucer.  Another smaller viewport was above their bed looking straight at the shipyard frame—though in space it would just be stars. Thankfully, they were both also polarized on the outside, as workbees continued to scoot along by with trains of cargo modules in tow, seeming so close that one could just reach out and grab one.

“I’m always a little grumpy, Shep,” Lancaster quipped. “Aren’t these mine?” he asked, snapping the waistband of the sweatpants Sheppard was wearing that he was absolutely positive were his from the academy, as they were noticeably too tight on someone who was twelve centimeters taller and quite a bit more muscular as well.

“Communal property, Husband,” Sheppard replied, with a grin, before handing said husband one of the glasses. “It’s just synthehol, but the sooner we get to you feeling like you’re fully functional, the better.”

Lancaster chuckled in response. “Well, the reason I’m grumpy is because I am fully functional and I want to get to work,” he replied. He took a sip; it was a very good simulation of a light, bright, and cheerful beaujolais, though it lacked the slight bite that real wine would have had. He grabbed Sheppard’s hand. “I don’t mind getting to spend time with you, though.”

Sheppard chuckled. “You don’t mind it, huh? Ringing endorsement.”

“Fine. I like it, Shep,” Lancaster replied, shaking his head. He winced slightly when Sheppard’s finger tips brushed against his bare torso; though his bones had been neatly knit back together with an osteoregenerator, the flesh around them was still sensitive. Sheppard gave him an apologetic look and pecked him on the forehead before moving around the king sized bed to sit next to him, rather than risk kneeing him in his bruised torso.

“Can we talk about something?” Sheppard asked, putting around his husband’s shoulders, which so far had been the only position they’d tried that hadn’t left Lancaster doubled over in pain.

“That sounds ominous,” Lancaster quipped, taking an exaggeratedly deep drink from his glass.

“Evandrion. Was that… weird?” Sheppard asked, sounding sheepish.

“What do you mean ‘weird?’ It was definitely an unusual sensation.”

Sheppard let out the sort of half-chuckle he made when he was nervous about something. “This is not at all an enlightened medical professional’s opinion, but… he touched you and made you feel pleasant, which… seems odd,” he said. “Since I couldn’t, in that moment, comfort you.”

Lancaster stared incredulously at him. “Is that jealousy or insecurity speaking, if not ‘enlightened medical professionalism,’” he asked, after a beat.

“I suppose there’s not much difference between those two things,” Sheppard said, his olive-toned features now bright red. “Forget it. I shouldn’t have said anything. I’m making something out of nothing.”

“Oh, I quite like this uncontained anxiety coming from someone other than myself,” Lancaster replied, with a laugh that made him wince again. “You’re jealous that Lieutenant Evandrion touched me.”

“I get that it wasn’t sexual or anything like that. But it’s stil really intimate. He could access your emotions and your thoughts if he wanted to. I know that he didn’t, but he had the ability to,” Sheppard explained.

“We have been far closer and far more ‘intimate’ than that, Shep,” Lancaster reminded him.

“But we’ve never sensed each other’s thoughts. I wish we could do that,” Sheppard admitted.

“Sure we have. Maybe not literally, but we’re almost always in sync. Exhibit A: I didn’t even have to ask for wine,” Lancaster said, keeping himself from laughing at his husband’s line of thinking both to spare his feelings but also to avoid irritating his ribs. “So, maybe, it was ‘weird’ but I think our collective neuroses regarding our relationship show that we have a connection that’s a lot deeper than that, even without telepathy.”

Sheppard offered him a sheepish smile. “Collective neuroses is a good way of putting it. I’m glad Captain Hayden was understanding, back in sickbay.”

Lancaster nodded. “It did make feel rather foolish, though. I felt like we had to bring it up to let her make a decision, but the answer was so obvious it made me wonder if we’re a little… self-centered?”

“How so?”

“We’re both so focused on each other and us that we hadn’t even conceived that our exact situation is replicated hundreds or thousands of other places all around the fleet—people serving together while also in love. It’s not like we invented shacking up with shipmates,” Lancaster explained.

“Maybe our lack of self-awareness is due to how absolutely amazing we are together,” Sheppard suggested, before kissing him.

“Add collective arrogance to our collective neuroses, I guess.”

“About before. On the ship. Thank you, too. For us. There’s no one I’d rather be on this ride with, Michael.”