It had been too long since Steve had felt real gravity. Ship gravity was always heavier than earth normal, so it felt like he could walk on air. And the sunlight felt so damn good that he randomly stopped and lifted his face to the sky. It was summer on the northern continent and this shore leave was at a resort where he could shelve the responsibilities of being a Lieutenant on a ship of the line.
And the dress code is comfortable, he thought with a grin, glancing down at his pink and black swim trunks.
The pool area was empty when he arrived. Shrugging off the disappointment, he stretched onto a chaise and soaked in the UV rays that he hadn’t felt in a couple of years.
The shout startled Steve into bolting upright, battle-honed reflexes jump-starting his heart. He saw a blur through the air and the resulting splash when whoever it was canon-balled into the water. The waves were big enough to splatter over the edge of the pool and he grinned, relaxing back into the chaise.
A head popped up a few seconds later and the jumper spluttered and wiped at his face, exclaiming, “Shit! Cold!” and swam rapidly for the edge to pull himself out.
Steve angled the chaise up a couple of notches so he could watch unobstructed. The kid, and he was young, was probably there on his parents’ dime. Good looking, though, with a strong body and a ready smile that flashed in Steve’s direction.
“I didn’t get you, did I?” the kid asked.
Steve shook his head and smiled. “Still dry.”
Hopping lightly to his feet, the kid walked over and held out a hand. “I’m Jay.”
He took the hand and looked up into hazel eyes that seemed older than he’d first assumed. He also discovered a surprisingly strong grip. “Steve. The temperature controls are over there.”
Jay took the next chaise over and asked, “Here on leave?”
Steve grinned a little and said, “That obviously military, huh?”
Green-brown eyes sparkled a bit as Jay answered, “It’s the posture and always looking for escape routes that gives it away.”
“I could be a drug dealer raised by strict Catholic nuns,” Steve teased.
Jay laughed, a warm, light sound. “I suppose, if this were, you know, a multi-verse or something, sure. What ship are you on?”
Conversation turned out to be fun and distracting, exactly what Steve had been looking for when he’d come to the pool. He had to adjust his initial impression of the younger man as the topics ranged from physics to shipboard life to galaxy-wide politics. Finally, he said, “Okay, so are you some kind of child prodigy or something? You seem way too young to know all this stuff.”
Another of those happy laughs echoed through the air and Jay said, “Not really. I just look young for my age and moved around a lot growing up. I’m twenty-five, don’t worry. No jailbait here.”
Steve snorted and opened his mouth to say something when whoops and hollers echoed through the air as a group of young man ran and jumped into the pool en masse. There was a lot of loud cursing and Jay laughed before shouting at them, “Turn on the temp control, idiots!”
Multiple rude gestures flipped their way and someone shouted back, “C’mon, Jay! You can’t get out of it this time! You got someone right there!”
Jay rolled his eyes and asked Steve, “How are you at chicken?”
Steve arched an eyebrow at him. “As in feathered fowls?”
“As in, I get on your shoulders and we dunk some of my friends. I’ll warn you though, I have horrendous balance.”
Steve responded to those warm, changeable eyes in a way he hadn’t to anyone for a long time. The friendly innocence therein was exactly what he fought to protect, keeping the home-world and her people safe. As much of the world as Jay claimed to have seen, he was still young and whole at heart and that appealed so much to Steve that he found himself nodding without any real intent to do so.
“Great!” Jay exclaimed hopping to his feet.
Steve stood and watched as the others climbed out of the pool to grab towels and one of the young men ran to the temperature controls. The crystal clear water regained its empty, calm state if only for a few minutes.
He bent down and said, “All aboard who’s going aboard.”
Jay snickered. “That was terrible,” then paused before continuing, “Um, shouldn’t we do this in the water?”
Straightening at the nervous tone, Steve met Jay’s eyes with his own and held out his hand as he said, “I won’t drop you. Trust me.”
Jay searched his gaze for something and then a slow, warm smile spread over his face and he took Steve’s hand. Their fingers laced together and he whispered, “I do. I trust you.”
Steve knew it would be easy to pull the slightly shorter man in and kiss him, but decided to prolong the anticipation. He smiled brightly instead and said, “Good! Let’s kick some butt.”
Steve assumed the position and Jay straddled his shoulders. He took firm hold around Jay’s legs while the other gripped his head a shade too tight when Steve straightened. There were a few hairy moments as they found their balance, but then they were upright and in sync. It felt good, the trusting way Jay literally rested on his shoulders, like he could do anything.
Steve looked over to find one of the others holding a holo-corder at them. He faced front so the young man could take their pic, smiling as he thought, This will be a shore leave to remember.
Thank you, Nancy, for giving us a lovely story, and in an unexpected genre, too!
Nancy’s latest release is Eternal Investigations, available now from Torquere.
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Find it here!