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Flash Bang

Arthur was taken when he was at his weakest, struggling in a broken and derelict ship, the thrusters spasming and sending the small craft every which way through the near vacuum of space. He couldn’t remember much, just the loud noise of the metal of his ship ripping around him, the screech of his emergency alarms, the clacking of his life-support gear – and then there was the flash as the reactor core of a nearby cargo frigate exploded.

Perhaps it was his own fault for not properly shielding his eyes, for not realizing that the explosion was the next logical thing to happen after the two drifting ships collided just a scant few light seconds ahead of him. His shipped had already been ripped apart by the cascade of radiation and heat that the collision had created – he should have been grateful that he was even alive.

But that didn’t mean he was going to lie back and let himself become prisoner to an intergalactic terrorist group – even if he was blinded; temporarily, permanently – he didn’t know. They had come to salvage what they could from the two ships; metals, possessions, slaves, element E, whatever they could get their filthy hands on and could sell on the black market for even a single credit.

They had stumbled upon his small, ruined H.M.S. Navy craft while sailing towards the wreckage. Perhaps they thought he was a threat – although the state his ship was in, it was obvious that he was not; maybe they thought they could get their hands on military tech or information, but Arthur was running a solo drag, merely crossing the intergalactic highways and cross examining intel that was already public.

Unfortunately Arthur didn’t know that when they had cracked open his small vessel, pulling him from the destroyed ship and tending to his suit malfunctions. He didn’t know who they were, or their purpose. He was blind in the silence of space, able to hear only the sound of his own breath within his helmet. If he had known, he would have pushed against their attentive hands, throwing himself into the endless drift of space, floating until his oxygen ran out and suffocated. It would have been a more purposeful end, at least, so he thought.

His senses were mixed, confused and stunted as his vision failed him. He saw nothing, just a blurring bleakness that seemed indescribable, but felt so entirely real – as if he had stared directly into the sun until his eyes had withered and shut; but there was no relief.

“Free me this instant!” he shouted, his own voice startling him as it bounced off the walls around him. It was over-stimulating, and he shied away from absolutely nothing. “Tell me who you are. What do you plan to do with me?”

There was no response; nothing but a low mumble from somewhere and the groan of boots on the sleek floor. Arthur sunk to his knees, angry and confused. The fingers on his left hand still hurt – the sting of pain evident whenever he curled them. He had tried to feel his way from his prison, and in doing so, managed to move too far, explore too well, and someone had brought down the butt of a rifle on his searching fingers. There was the sound of clicking heels, gradually becoming louder and louder until they stopped altogether. Arthur snarled at the floor. “I demand to speak with whoever is in charge of this vessel.”

“You’re speaking to him now.”

Arthur shot to his feet at the deep, growling voice, swaying slightly as his balance tried to overcompensate for his lack of sight. He must seem the fool. “I want answers,” Arthur began, his arms crossing defensively over his chest.

A scoff. “Same here. And since you’re the prisoner here, I think I’ll be giving the demands, don’t you think?” Oh, and was this man arrogant. Even without his eyes he could see the smug grin that must have been on his face.

“You’ll find that I know less than you’d like to think. I wish to know what type of vessel I’m aboard. Registered? Civilian? Pirates no doubt.”

The man’s laugh was loud and rambunctious, echoing off the walls and making Arthur’s head reel as he tried to find out where exactly all the noise was coming from. There was a rustle of mesh fabric and the jangle of metal links. “Why don’t you look around and tell me for yourself.”

At first Arthur didn’t know how to respond. He could feel his eyes moving; wandering around the small room he was being kept in (or was it a room? Perhaps it had windows or plasma viewing bays – he wouldn’t know), but he saw nothing. He tried to angle his face to where he thought the man stood, pursing his lips before simply saying. “I could not tell you, even if I wanted.”

Silence engulfed them. Arthur wasn’t sure what was happening, but he kept his face angled firmly and his eyes straight ahead. “You. Leave us. I’d like to talk to the prisoner in private.” There was a huffed reply before the noise of squeaking boots moving down the room filled Arthur’s ears; the suction noise of an automated door, and then silence once more. “You’re blind?”

“You wished to speak to me in private?” he asked instead, allowing himself to reflexively take a parade rest stance, his hands behind his back and his chest pushed out.

“Why would the Royal Navy recruit blind soldiers? What was your mission? Did you have any comrades? When are you due to report in next?” Arthur had been expecting the barrage of questions. He twitched, biting the inside of his cheek as the man waited, and waited, and waited. “Why won’t you answer me?”

“I don’t know what kind of craft I’m on. I don’t know who I’m divulging information to. I may be blind, sir, but I am not stupid.” Oh and it hurt to admit that he was blind – saying it out loud, it was only confirming the truth in his mind. Arthur’s fingers wrapped around his own wrist, curling one at a time as he tried to remain expressionless, under his own mental turmoil.

And there was a sniff; an arrogant sound. “Well, you’re in my custody…” the man trailed off, beginning to pace back and forth, the metal click of heels resounding through the room. “I suppose I’ll go as far as to say you’re not on a civilian or merchant ship. We’re – oh, let’s say a splinter group.”

Arthur made an enlightened face. “Ah.” He reached out to his side, moving his fingers further and further until the touched a wall, and then he allowed himself to slide down, back pressing against the cool surface behind him. “I don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

“We’re not terrorists!” the man nearly shouted, making Arthur start in surprise. “It’s the opposite!” He paused and gave a long, hissing sigh of annoyance. “Not that I’d expect a career-man to understand that. You’re so pretentious. But, I’m sure you’ll be singing a different tune after a few weeks and you’re marked as AWOL. It’s alright. You military are all the same. You’ll see.”

He tried not to say anything; tried not to make a single noise or even raise a brow. He didn’t want to give this man any pleasure in knowing he had evoked any kind of emotion from him. But, as he heard the metallic click of heels begin to leave, he said suddenly, “Tell me your name.”

“You don’t make the demands here, soldier.”

Arthur let his head fall back against the wall, closing his eyes as he prepared for a long stretch of possibly starvation, torture, and maybe even a trip out the airlock. “Nor do you make them of me, terrorist.”

The footsteps started again, clicking twice but this time closer. “Tell me your name and I’ll tell you mine.”

“How immature.” Arthur paused. “Arthur.”

There was a long stretch of silence and Arthur wondered what this other man was thinking. “You can call me Captain.”

Very immature indeed, Arthur thought as the man left, cackling as he went.

------

Arthur had undergone rigorous training to be a member of the Royal Navy – it was an honor among the human dominated star systems, an earned privilege and not a right. He had been tortured before, had been interrogated until he wanted to confess to even the most heinous of crimes – just to be freed; all in preparation for moments such as these. He had expected the worst, but soon found that there was nothing to expect.

There was a tingling buzz of warm energy on the exposed skin of his neck and face as he sat next to an activated plasma wall. They had moved him to a more confining container – one that felt more like a prison, but had let sound travel far more freely than the last room. Arthur only had the company of a constantly silent guard, who shuffled and mumbled every so often, and the thoughts within his own mind. He wanted to speak with that ‘Captain’ again; wanted answers, wanted to know why he was fed regularly, why he was kept alive, why he wasn’t beaten and throttled as he should be. He couldn’t understand, didn’t grasp the angle that the man was trying to work from.

Days bled into each other, simply marked by when he grew tired and how often he was fed. Arthur was weary of the silence, finding himself tapping rhythms onto the floor with the tips of his gloved fingers. He wanted noise; conversation; a relief. He refused to break.

One day he heard the click of metal heels against the sleek floor once again. Arthur jumped to his feet at the sound, finding his balance much improved over the long days of moving about his plasma contained cell listlessly. He was hoping that his sight would have returned to him by now – it seemed like it had been gone for an excruciatingly long time, and he refused to believe that permanent damage had been caused to his retinas.

“I have something for you, Arthur.” It was the Captain. He could tell by the deep, insincere voice. By the jeer that was laced in the words and the bland lilt that made Arthur believe that perhaps the man was a defect of the American citizenry – an accent he had been highly accustomed to when he was younger.

Arthur let his nose rise into the air just slightly, hoping that even with his disability he gave an obvious air of superiority. Carefully he held out one hand, his fingers spread wide. “Give it here, then.”

“Ah, ah, ah. It doesn’t work that way,” the man said, laughing softly. “Besides, it must be read – I’m sure that might be a bit of a challenge for you.”

His fingers curled back to his palm as Arthur glared at nothing in particular, letting his hand fall back to his side. “I’m sure you’d delight in the honors the, Captain.”

“Very much, actually.” The words were too excited, sharp and dangerous. Arthur steeled himself as he heard the familiar beeping noise as the man began opening a data stream on a P.D.A. “Attention General Wilson: An AWOL has been issued for Petty Officer Arthur Kirkland. Petty Officer Kirkland has failed to attend his place of duty for thirty-four days. He is to be found and apprehended, followed by dishonorable discharge and confinement for a minimum sentence of one year in Helmsmith Penitentiary.” The man paused, the rustle of fabric the only indication that he was still moving, most likely watching Arthur with a severe eye. Arthur refused to let himself falter, despite the lump that had formed in his throat. “It goes on, mentioning something about possible execution dates and stuff like that. It wasn’t hard to track you down either. Once we were in the system, all we had to do was look for an active duty soldier named Arthur with a status change of AWOL – in case you were wondering how we did it.”

And with so much evidence piled up in his face, Arthur felt his will crumbling. “I don’t believe you,” he rasped out, through the growing lump of fear in his throat. “They have no proof I was avoiding duty… none at all…”

“Well, if we put you in a new ship and set you off – they won’t have any proof that you weren’t either.” There was an obnoxious tapping noise. “It’s your choice.”

“Choosing between what? Death and death? My, so many options.”

“I’m so glad you asked,” the man interrupted, ignoring the sharp bite of Arthur’s words. “You see, keeping you prisoner is really starting to put a strain on our rations. And if we run low, of course the working men are going to get the first meals. I hope you see where I’m going with this.”

Arthur tensed. “You want me to work.” He scoffed. “I refuse to help pirates benefit. I… I may not be a soldier any longer, you villain, but my morals are not that weak.”

He was expecting some kind of verbal backlash, had rooted himself and planted his feet sternly upon the floor. What he hadn’t expected was for the energy field before him to cool with a snap, only for the warmth against his face to be replaced by a cupped palm. “Well I’m sure you’d be garbage at mopping.” And those words were so strangely soft, caressing his ears sweetly. “There’s… Arthur – I want…” The hand fell from his face. “Okay, I know you hate the idea of working on this ship, but I want you to think about something. This ship – we, well, what we do is steal from the rich and give to the poor; kind of like those old Robin Hood ideals.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Maybe I am.” The man stepped back and the buzzing sensation of hyperactive energy tingled at his skin once again. “But then again, maybe I’m not. It’s up to you. I’ll be back tomorrow to hear your answer.”

Before Arthur could protest, the man left swiftly, the vacuum noise of the doors opening closing somehow giving finality to the action. He wasn’t sure what to do, or what to say. The guard to his cell probably thought him an idiot, standing about dumbfounded and confused. Eventually he moved to his cot on the floor, and lay inside the raggedy blankets. What were his options? Betray his country or die? Had he already betrayed his country? Arthur sighed, long and hard. Did he really have all that much of an option?

-------------

“Robin Hood,” he mumbled to himself. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed – hours, minutes, maybe even years. He couldn’t tell any more – didn’t care much. Where had he heard that before, though? Robin Hood…

He used to have a friend when he was a child; an obnoxious boy with missing teeth and a carefree smile. That boy… Just thinking about him Arthur wanted to roll his eyes. All the misadventures they had been on, the crazy stories and long, ill-drafted messages once they had been forced to part ways. That boy always spoke of becoming someone great, “Like Robin Hood!” he could suggest.

What idiotic ideals. Arthur’s fingers traced nonsense patterns into the folds of his blanket. Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor? He doubted anyone truly would be so charitable to go against the law, risking their own safety and lives, only to give away their hard earned spoils.

“Well, perhaps Alfred would…” The guard’s breath hitched, and Arthur turned his face to the unfamiliar noise. “What? Did I say something odd, dolt?” When no response came as anticipated, Arthur simply hummed to himself. He wished he could see if the man’s words were true or not.

---------

Arthur had been expecting the Captain. He sat on the ground, on knee propped up while the other leg spread out before him. When the clicking of footsteps stopped he simply said, “Evening.”

“Morning, actually.”

He shrugged. “Hard to tell, if I’m honest.” Arthur hunched forward, resting an elbow on his knee as his hand ran through his hair. At least they had been kind enough to allow him to strip before tossing buckets of lukewarm water on him every few days. “I’ve been thinking…”

An expectant pause washed over them. “You. Leave. I need to speak to him in private.” A huff, and once more the silent guardsman left with a squeak of boots on the floor. “So, you were thinking?” the Captain asked once the doors shut tightly behind the guardsman.

“I’m not sure what about.” He sighed. “This would be much easier if you had beaten me; tortured me and threatened to shove me out the nearest airlock. I was trained for that. Not… whatever this is.” He twirled his hand, trying to indicate the room, the situation, everything. “It’s right awful, it is.”

The Captain gave an unsure laugh. “I suppose. I’m not much for killing. I’m not a terrorist – I don’t enjoy that kind of stuff. Just because I don’t agree with everything the government does, doesn’t mean I’m some hardened… drug-trade boss or whatever. I mean I don’t mind selling to them… but that’s a different story – there’s a means to my ends.”

“I’m sure there is.” Arthur forced himself to stand up. “I don’t trust this operation of yours, not one bit, but… You remind me of – well, nevermind. Tell me, what would you wish for a blind man to do aboard your ship? Obviously I’m not of much use, as you’ve likely noticed.”

“You’re not helpless,” the Captain argued. He huffed and Arthur could hear the fabric of his suit brush together as he crossed his arms. “I’m sure you have useful intel, and well, maybe you couldn’t do a lot of simple things,” his voice dropped, suddenly suave and husky, “there is always a need for bed warmers.”

“That’s despicable. And you claim you’re the decent ones in the galaxy?” Arthur ran a hand through his hair, his face a broken expression. “But if I must… well, I doubt I’ll be good at that. I’ve never been had. It seems that I’m quite useless without the military. Give me my sight and a gun and I’m a valuable asset, take them away and I’m nothing more than scum on a pond.”

An upset sounding sigh wretched its way from the Captain’s mouth. “Don’t talk like that, it’s not attractive.” The plasma walls faded and two hands fell heavily onto his sagging shoulders. “Look, I’m not a bad guy or anything. But I can tell sitting in this cell has really got to you. It wasn’t my intention, but if you can at least tell me what you were doing by that wreckage where we found you I can –”

“I was simply monitoring trade and traffic along the intergalactic highways. Nothing more, nothing less. I’m only a Petty Officer, Captain. Perhaps you think I know more than I truly do – maybe a secret passcode or the whereabouts of some vicious villain. I do not.” Arthur’s chin dropped to his chest. “Do with me what you will.”

Arthur gasped in shock as the Captain slapped him across the face, the noise resounding in his ears. “Shut up! Just listen to yourself. Jesus fucking Christ, you sound like a girl. Shape up or ship out – remember that Arthur? Huh? Get a clue!”

“Shape up…” Arthur touched his cheek gingerly. “Well what do you expect me to do, you great oaf? I’d rather you toss me out the airlock than prattle on like this!”

“And there’s the Arthur I know. You gotta keep fighting.” The man pat him on the back, his hand slowly sliding down to the dip of his lower back and pushing him forwards. “Alright, let’s get you in a shower, and then we can worry about assigning you some chores – or roommate.”

-----------

The shower was heavenly, the hot water prickling at his skin as it cascaded down his back. Over a month’s worth of grime and emotions seemed to wash off him, disappearing somewhere down the drain along with soap suds and shampoo lather. It was odd, attempting to orient himself, moving slowly in the stream of water as his mood gradually improved.

He had to search for a towel, his hands ghosting over utility fixtures, silently familiarizing himself with the room until he managed to locate what he was looking for and dried himself off. Unfortunately he couldn’t find his clothing (hadn’t he left them on the floor?) and in his search blindly opened the bathroom door with only his damp towel around his waist.

“Well, hey there.” Arthur stood stock still, confused and leery. He knew somewhere in the back of his mind that the bathroom he was using was adjacent to the Captain’s quarters, especially since he had heard the groan of a bed being sat on just as the doors had vacuumed shut before his shower. A mess of cloth was pushed into his arms. “I brought you fresh clothes, but wow – I really don’t think you need them. It looks like the military did you good.”

Arthur stuttered, a feeling of burning embarrassment crawling across his skin. “Shut your slanderous mouth,” he barked. “You… you act like you know how I was before. Don’t you dare pretend to know who I am!”

“Pretend…” the Captain trailed off, leaving a pregnant pause in the room. “Oh my God, you’re so fucking dense!” he burst suddenly. “How do you not know – I mean Jesus! I dropped every hint in the book; Robin Hood, Shape up or ship out, fuck is all I have left is to tell you to keep a stiff upper lip and ask you to build spaceships with me!” Warm hands grasped his elbows tightly. “Did you really forget me, Arthur?”

At that moment Arthur violently wished he could see. He stared at the origin of the Captain’s voice, blinking rapidly and hoping against hope that his assumption was right. Arthur reached out, his fingers brushing against moist lips and he silently cursed himself before cupping the man’s cheek. “I… but it can’t be. Alfred…?” He let his fingers trail along the squared jaw, waiting to be slapped away. “No… Alfred forgot me.”

“No, no I didn’t.” Alfred’s hand enveloped his wandering one. “I had to stop messaging you – to protect you. I’m sure if your superiors found out that you were in cahoots with a… well a criminal by their standards. I didn’t want anything to happen to you.”

Arthur laughed, torn between bitter and joyful. “How did you find me? I don’t understand. How did any of this happen?”

“Well, I wasn’t expecting to find you. We were going for the element E from those frigates and we just found you drifting.” Alfred pulled him close and Arthur dropped the rumpled pile of clothes. “Oh God I was so heartbroken when you didn’t recognize me the first time we spoke. I mean… I know it’s been eight years since we saw each other last, but shit… Arthur I missed you so much.”

“This is just too much to comprehend.” Arthur shook his head, overwhelmed and stupefied. “I can’t wrap my head around it – there’s too much to think about.”

A hand came to rest on the jut of his hip. “Then don’t think about it. Not now.” Alfred’s lips hovered just above his own, and Arthur’s heart fluttered and stopped. This was the boy he left behind all those years ago to go his basic training. This was the boy with who he shared his first kiss, the boy he promised he would return to, the boy that left him and broke his heart. The very boy he still waited for. “Can I –”

Arthur stopped Alfred’s question, leaning forward to clumsily cover the American’s lips with his own, his fingers, greedy for some kind of sight, began to roam across Alfred’s suit – the padding and mesh hard under his touch. “You can do with me as you please, Alfred.”

That was the only encouragement Alfred needed. He swept Arthur up into his arms and carried him off to the bed, depositing the ex-soldier onto the soft blankets. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Alfred said breathlessly, the loud clunking noises of armor and spacesuit being shed loud in Arthur’s hungry ears. “After all these years.”

“Don’t think – remember?” Arthur said with a small smile. He could feel the bed dip to his side and he reached out, groping everything he could, touching Alfred’s body as if it were a canvas that could only be appreciated by feel. “I wish I could see you,” he mumbled, tracing the American’s now broad shoulders, allowing his fingers to dip in the contours of muscles and his palms spread over smooth plains of skin. “I’m sure you’re more handsome than ever.”

“The same could be said for you.” Alfred leaned over him, trailing open mouthed kisses down Arthur’s chest and stomach. “You’re fucking gorgeous. What happened to that lanky Brit that used to push me in the mud?” He laughed, breathless and happy. “Wow.”

“If I recall correctly, you said you never minded, due to the fact that your mother would simply call you her ‘mud-muffin’ and give you cookies for being adorable.” Arthur’s smile turned impish, his hands caressing Alfred’s hips before moving towards the apex of his legs, his fingers curling around the American’s erection and trying to determine exactly how much Alfred had grown. Alfred’s hot panting and whines were loud in his ear, sending shivers down his spine. He hummed and mumbled, “Impressive.”

Alfred groaned against Arthur’s throat, beginning to grind into Arthur’s hand. “I want you, Arthur. I really, really want you.”

Arthur let go of Alfred’s cock, instead taking one of the American’s hands and leading it down his body and to his entrance. “You have me.” Alfred’s fingers began to rub against the ring of muscle, the American’s weight tilting suddenly, accompanied by the noise of something squirting. A cold, gooey substance pressed against his entrance and Arthur opened his legs further, gasping quietly as Alfred’s fingers pushed inside.

“You’re so fucking tight.” Alfred kissed at Arthur’s earlobe, smothering the blond with erotic sensations and noises. He hadn’t been lying to Alfred earlier when he said he’d never been had, this pleasure was new to him, so intimate and hot – it was entirely unlike his own hands and fingers. “I want to go in bare.”

He nipped at Alfred’s shoulder, licking at salty sweat and smelling the man’s musky scent. “Then do it.” He was going to say something witty next, he was sure, but whatever it was completely wiped from his mind as Alfred did exactly as he was told. “Ohh, fuck.”

Alfred pushed in as deeply as he could, stroking the ex-soldier’s trembling thighs in rhythmic circles. He mumbled nonsense words to Arthur, leaning over him and kissing random patches of milky skin. The Captain waited until Arthur’s legs hooked around his waist, slowly rocking wantonly against his cock, before beginning to move, gently but assuredly, gaining momentum and pace as he went.

Below him Arthur mewled, his toes curling and his hands running across every inch of Alfred he could reach. He wished he knew what expression Alfred wore, what kind of haircut he had; if his eyes were still that intense shade of undaunted blue – staring at him with lust and passion. He moaned and sighed, listening to the sheets rustle and the mattress groan, Alfred’s garbled words and breaths unbelievably loud and erotic. A hand coiled around his cock, squeezing and beginning to stroke him as Alfred’s pace broke into frantic thrusts, trying to get deeper, trying to get more friction.

“Ah – Alfred!” Arthur cried as he came, twitching and shuddering as his climax coursed through him. Alfred bit down on his shoulder continuing to thrust inside of him until he came as well, his fingers digging into the muscles of Arthur’s hips before collapsing with a sigh.

“Oh shit, Arthur. Fucking oh my God.” Alfred’s hands were pushing back his sweaty hair, his lips leaving soft kisses along his neck and collarbone. “You’re fucking amazing. Fuck.”

Arthur chuckled, tired and sated. He waggled a finger as Alfred pulled him close, pulling a blanket over their naked bodies. “Language,” he teased. His mind was happily blank; the lovely feeling of Alfred’s arms around him made him feel secure and at ease, but there was one thing nagging at him, something that wouldn’t let him be too comfortable without an answer. “I’m AWOL,” he said, spaying a hand across Alfred’s chest. “If they find me, I’m dead.”

Alfred pulled Arthur closer. “You know where the best place in the whole universe to hide from the government is?” Alfred waited for Arthur to hum in indication that he was listening. “On my ship. In my bed. In my arms. I’ll never let you go ever again, Arthur. Never.”

“I have a feeling you’re right.” Arthur tucked his nose into Alfred’s shoulder. “I can be your bed-warmer, if you like.”

“More than that! You… you’re my lover.” And Arthur could hear the embarrassment in Alfred’s voice. He chuckled and nodded, silently agreeing with a missed kiss to Alfred’s chin.

He fell asleep easily enough that night, and he wished that when he woke up, he would be able to see his long lost love’s face, because someday he would see again, and he wanted the first thing he saw to be his lover’s face.



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