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meteorite rings and lost memories

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"Listen," Keigo says, slow, hands hovering over the starship's controls. "I know this looks bad, but I swear I can explain."

 

"Get to explaining then," the man, who he knows as Dabi, presses his knife deeper on Keigo's neck. 

 

And it does look bad. Real bad, considering this isn't Keigo's freighter, it's not his cockpit, and he hasn't talked to Dabi in years. Eight years.

 

And fuck, is that blood trickling down his neck? 

 

"Your ship let me on," Keigo tries. He gives half a wave to the space around them.

 

Blue eyes narrow. Blue like the star Rigel. Fire blue. 

 

Dabi lifts his jaw, and the pale scarring on his neck pulls with it, but he leans down, pressing into Keigo's space. "No fucking way my sentient ship let you on without my permission. The truth, Keigo, or I'm throwing you into the trash incinerator."

 

Keigo, his name, spat with vitriol venom through a clenched jaw. Once, Dabi said that name softly–he thinks. He can feel the pang of a memory calling his thoughts but he can’t place the exactness of it. Not with the knife right against his throat.

 

"Awe, really? In with the trash? Thought you'd be happy to see me." 

 

"Eight years ago, maybe," Dabi grouses. Okay. That stung a bit. "Tell me the truth."

 

"It is the truth, Dabi," Keigo sighs, raising his hands away from the controls. "Just as that sandstorm was hitting Planet-VOL, I saw you running to your ship. The door shut–but I said please like a gentleman and it let me on." 

 

If it were possible for Dabi's eyes to narrow even further, they did. He takes his eyes away from Keigo for a second, looking towards the ceiling of the cockpit. The lights in the cockpit flicker red and blue-communicating-before Dabi heaves a huge sigh. "Fucking traitor ship." 

 

"Your ship loves me," Keigo teases. "It always has."

 

It did. His memory is a fickle thing at the moment, but Keigo remembers that much. The ship humming under his fingertips wherever he walked, it lighting up when he walked into a room with a golden, warm hue that reminded Keigo that not all of space had to be a cold wasteland.

 

"No it doesn't," Dabi says. He drops the hand with the knife and steps away, "And it hasn't either. It hates you, just like me."

 

The lights flicker again, an array of blue from the crevices of the ceiling.

 

"Hmm," Keigo smiles. "Sure you do." 

 

Dabi rolls his eyes, then says, "Get outta my seat, Hawks."

 

"Ooh, code-naming me."

 

Dabi glares but Keigo knows this glare is more half-hearted than threatening. It has to be. His gut tells him that much.

 

"Fine, fine," Keigo says, standing from the pilot's seat. As soon as he’s up, Dabi takes the seat and Keigo mirrors him by sitting in the co-pilot seat. Eight years since he'd sat in this particular seat. It fits him just the same.

 

"Why are you here?" Dabi asks, beginning to look over controls. There's no need really, not when the ship has it handled from the back of Dabi's mind. 

 

It's a distraction for Dabi. This much Keigo knows too, remembers–a feeling that tickles the fact of his mind, familiar. Though more subtle and cool toned than it might have been in their late teenagehood.

 

"And no bullshit, cut to the chase," Dabi continues. 

 

Keigo leans back in his seat, placing his arms behind his head. "Planet-VOL had information for you."

 

"What's it to ya?"

 

"They had information for me too," Keigo continues. 

 

"And?"

 

"And I think the information both of us seek coincide."

 

Dabi grips the locked throttle. "You want to work together."

 

"Now," Keigo hums, "I didn't say that, but thank you for the offer."

 

"I'm not offering anything. I'm not working together with you, on anything, I don't care what the information is for."

 

The lights in the cockpit flicker orange and red like a flame. It could be a campfire friendly flame, or a burning building. Unfortunately, Keigo wasn't sure which, and no matter what––they both burned. 

 

Keigo waits a minute. He watches Dabi's fingers loosen from the throttle. Watches his once best friend, co-pilot, maybe-once-boyfriend as he settles in his own seat. 

 

Boyfriend doesn’t ring quite right, like the memories that were supposed to caress the name Keigo. He’s not in a space where he can question those thoughts though.

 

Dabi crosses his legs, heel over ankle.

 

"We've worked together before," Keigo says, voice soft, unsure. 

 

“You mean when you tricked me into thinking we were on the same side? I'm not making that mistake again. I'm not 20 and stupid."

 

It's Keigo then who fists his hands together in his lap, wishing he could latch onto something else. Wishing to know Dabi wouldn't notice. He did a lot of things under the guise of “protecting the universe” and under the law of the Star Alliance that he’s not proud of. Leaving Dabi– Touya, Touya, Touya, his name is Touya –is one he wishes he’d never made. It certainly would have saved a lot of effort and energy for him now. Likely would have kept his scrambled memories from looking like a shattered egg shell.

 

He holds the name Touya at the front of his mind. He wants to speak it aloud, sound it out, spread it across his tongue like syrup.

 

"Dabi," Keigo says instead, attempts to the man in front of him. Tired, exhausted. "I'm not on anyone's side right now."

 

Dabi looks back at him. Really looks over him. And Keigo hopes Dabi sees how honest he's being.

 

Keigo doesn't have a side to go back to now. 

 

"You're not dying, are you?" Dabi's features are pulled together–mouth turned down, eyebrows pinched.

 

"No," Keigo sighs, "not dying. Death is following me though."

 

Recognition flashes in Dabi's gaze. The cockpit lights go dim white as both Dabi and the ship seem to realize the same thing:

 

"The Star Alliance. You broke from them." 

 

"More like they found me going through documents and data they didn't want me to be going through–and I ran," Keigo shakes his head. 

 

He remembers flipping through the folders, plastic edged for preservation but it was still paper . The SA keeps their most important documents in folders, on paper, stashed into the deepest parts of their Class-V Dreadnought base. At least paper could burn if a situation went wrong. The SA hadn’t quite realized that things were wrong, allowing Keigo to sneak through the very information holds they’d tried for years to keep him out of.

 

He remembers the sounds of iron hot laser guns on his feet. The one shot that went straight through his abdomen, another grazing his ribs. If he hadn't found Rumi he would have died there. The Star Alliance would have made it look like an accident. Their best trained agent, tragically MIA after a mission. Now they just had an agent on the run, hoping to get him back, maybe wipe his memories and blow the whole thing over as an accident.

 

"Rumi brought me to Planet-VOL three weeks ago," Keigo continues. The twinge of his injury still thrumming despite his quick healing from the avian-alien blood sitting in his veins. Star Alliance agent? More like Star Alliance experiment. "I was planning on jumping another ship and leaving, hiding again somewhere else when I heard there were Star Alliance agents who'd recently docked–but then I saw you. Three days ago."

 

Seeing Dabi for the first time in eight years had done more to Keigo’s heart than he’d liked to admit. He’d missed him for years. Craved him, craved them. He saw Dabi docking off his ship, Eci-02, cloaked in black outfitting trying to blend with the crawling night of Planet-VOL, and familiarity had dropped in the pits of Keigo’s stomach. Arrhythmia surged from his chest through his throat and he hadn’t been sure exactly what to do, or say. Of course he had planned to find Dabi, but just like Dabi said–he’d turned over the revolutionaries main base over to the Star Alliance and left. Keigo had pushed off sending the location to the Star Alliance as long as possible, giving Dabi as much warning as he could through the note he remembered leaving.

 

Keigo thinks he had planned on going back too. But his memory after he left the revolution’s base remains fuzzy at best and thinking about it too long gives him a headache. Like there’s a locked door in his brain, and knocking on it, pounding on it, does nothing but frustrate him.

 

Dabi’s eyebrows are raised in thought as he listens. After a moment, he asks, "You've been watching me for three days?"

 

"Besides the point." 

 

"No, no," Dabi stops him, "Three whole days and I didn't notice?"

 

Keigo smirks. "I am the best SA-agent. You're losing your edge."

 

"You were their best, and I'm not losing my edge.”

 

"Oof," Keigo's smirk falls into a half-smile. "Look, if you don't want to work together–fine. I understand. Just, it looks like you're headed into the Southern Way, from the coordinates here. Take me with you, just this one thing, and afterwards you'll never see me again." 

 

The edge of Dabi's lips twitch in a moment of displeasure. "You're only looking for information?"

 

Keigo's eyes slid over the ship and back to Dabi: sitting more relaxed than he had in the past ten minutes. "Seeing you ain't so bad either."

 

Dabi rolls his eyes, high to the roof. He stares there, his blue gaze far away from Keigo.

 

"Fine,” he says eventually. “I’ll take you to the Southern Way. And that's it. You got it? No funny business or I will throw you in the incinerator."

 

"While I believe you'd do that to almost anyone, your ship wouldn't let you do that to me."

 

"Goddamnit," Dabi grumbles. "Well the ship isn't in charge, I am."

 

"Hot, except the ship is the one who let me on board."

 

"Yeah and it'll let you off board too if you touch anything you're not supposed to."

 

"Does that include you?" Keigo mumbles under his breath.

 

Dabi chokes on air next to him. 





Fuck , Touya thinks as he watches Keigo walk out of the cockpit, a bag slung over his jacket covered shoulder.

 

Shit, Touya groans into his hands. They’re going to give him the hardest fucking time when he shows up at the Revolution’s base and Hawks is with him. They would probably try to kill Keigo first, just like Touya had–thinks he should have. Then Touya would have to explain why of course he was bringing the traitor back when they had been at the precipice of tearing the Star Alliance apart, only for Keigo to wipe away their efforts in a single night. His sister especially.

 

That wouldn’t be a pleasant conversation.

 

Two whole fucking years up in flames because Keigo ran back to his master’s like an obedient dog on a leash.

 

Goddamnit . Touya pinches the bridge of his nose. He had only let Keigo stay because Eci-02 had let him on. 

 

Touya, really, has no clue what's going on. Which is unfortunate considering he's the type of person that prefers to have information and knowledge in his hands.

 

What he does know: Hawks, Keigo, is on his ship like a stowaway. Hawks, Keigo, is estranged from the Star Alliance. Hawks, Keigo, is running from them, needs information of some sort, and is headed to the Southern Way.

 

He knows that Keigo is hiding something. That even after so many years Touya can tell when the other is holding back information or unsure what to do in a situation. Eight years doesn’t erase body language.

 

He knows too: Keigo is as pretty as he was the day he left. Maybe a centimeter taller than he had been but his shoulders are broader, his hair is a little longer in the back but just as golden and wild as Keigo was in a fight. The marks around his eyes from the avian-DNA the SA decided to mix into his system were still the same, still made Keigo’s eyes gleam like molten gold. The only, big, noticeable difference was the jagged scar that ran under Keigo’s cheek and crawled under his jaw like someone’s hand. 

 

How unfair that Keigo leaves and Touya is like a sybarite child sucking on a peach as soon as he comes back.

 

"Left" is being generous for what happened between them eight years ago. Touya likes to chop that particular event up to the fact that he was 20, head over his fucking heels in love, and thought that Keigo was going to turn from the SA. Join the revolution. All that shit. Then Keigo turns out to be the Star Alliance's fucking star child trained from the day he was almost born to infiltrate the very revolutionary forces that Touya had left his previous “home” for.

 

Touya had his guesses when he first met Keigo. Assumptions, all that. 

 

He'd done his digging, his information gathering, and had come back with near-nothing. Keigo's name had been erased and everything else fell in line with Keigo's "I left the SA because they're a Big Bad Evil."

 

Two years later–a near year and a half of co-piloting in the revolution–and it went to shit. 

 

That night, Touya could tell something was wrong. He’d thought maybe Keigo’s nightmares had been stirring again with the way he held onto Touya as they went to sleep. Every thirty minutes Keigo woke up, shot up rimrod straight, grasping at the sheets, until Touya pulled him back into their bed. Touya remembers whispering You’re safe, we’re okay , against Keigo’s mussed strands of hair–then there were alarms blaring through the base camp, through Eci-02. 

 

Touya had jolted up, woken first by the feeling of wrongness streaming from Eci’s link, then from the coldness left on Keigo’s side of the bed. There was a note on his bedside table, folded. The truth written on the pages, Keigo lamenting what happened: That he was leaving. That he was a traitor. That an armada of starfighters were headed to the Revolution's main camp.

 

That he loved him deeply, despite knowing Touya would hate him after this.

 

Keigo was kind enough to leave his meteorite-engrained ring taped to the top corner of the note. 

 

Touya had hated him too. 

 

He simmered in hate but the ache the ring left on his necklace chain was deeper than the Dark Rings where two black holes had once converged. 

 

Here they are now, ten years after their very first meeting, and Touya can't begin to describe why he's allowing Keigo on his ship, taking him to the Southern Way, instead of dumping him on the nearest ice covered planet. 

 

Eci-02, the ship, thums at the back of his mind, whispers, tugs, and urges him to clutch at the ring sitting on his collar bones, hanging by its chain.

 

Ah, Touya sighs, that's why.  

 

Touya, through Eci-02 follows the feeling of Keigo walking the length of the ship. Feels where he pauses in front of the sleeping chambers, Keigo's fingers grazing the metal of the door. 

 

When Eci-02 had originally been built, it was used as a freighter for storing and transporting goods. When Touya met Keigo Eci-02 had already made leaps and bounds towards having its storage carriage and capabilities remodified for high speed flying. Because of this, the original four "bedrooms" or sleeping chambers, had been kicked down to one.

 

This is where Keigo stops. Touya feels the hesitation from Keigo's hovering fingers–questioning–then the door to the chambers open. 

 

Touya curses again, at the ship, rubbing his forehead with his index and pointer finger. 

 

"You're an asshole, you know that?" he asks to Eci-02 who only seems to hum back. "I can't believe you let him in there." 

 

Though, now that Touya thought about it, the trip to the Southern Way is a week's worth of travel, plus if they have to make stops. So where the hell else would Keigo sleep except in the same chamber the two of them once had shared on this ship? 

 

Keigo's boots on the ship's metal flooring echo through Touya's mind. He finds himself closing his eyes, honing in on the feeling, on feeling the ship, on the careful steps as Keigo crosses the threshold of what once could have been called the ship's stateroom. Now it was the only bedroom. 

 

The boots stop. They settle in front of the single bed in the room. When Touya and Keigo first started co-piloting, the room held two twin sized beds fitted against opposite walls. Eventually then shoved the beds together, and through some mechanics made sure they wouldn't slide. 

Then, that wasn't enough.

 

Then, they were using the bed for more than just occasional "nighttime activities." No, no. Then Keigo was whispering in his ear at night that he loved him, that he'd take down stars for him. Then Touya told Keigo he wanted to marry him.

 

Then, they replaced the makeshift queen sized bet and fit it with their own. 

 

Eci-02's quiet thrumming coats the cockpit and brings Touya back to where he's sitting, instead of the memories. He still feels where Keigo is in the ship–how he's sitting by the bed instead of standing.

 

Touya makes a decision. A stupid ass decision, but he makes it anyways.

 

He leaves the cockpit, and he heads towards the bedroom. 

 

Eci-02 isn't a huge ship, but it's definitely not small. It’s lined in dull metal that Touya only replaced if he absolutely had to. There’s lines of lights in the walls that brighten as he walks past them. Through the cockpit is the common room and mess area, connected to a small medical room. A short hallway later and Touya's in the central engineering room, where screens are alive with all of Eci's extra avionics,its major mechanical functions and details, non-biological acoustic ratings. The main lights of the room are off, letting the screens and their bluelight lead Touya past the escape pods where to his left is a short hallway. Two feet deep maybe.

 

Then the door to the bedroom. 

 

With a single thought the metal doors slid open. Under the dim blue lights of the room, Keigo's gold eyes are impossible not to notice.

 

Just where Touya thought he'd be, Keigo is sitting with his back against the bed, but the bag he'd brought along with him is open in front of him.

 

Touya pauses. Is he looking for a weapon? Touya’s not sure why he came down here in the first place besides finding Kiego, but now his suspicions are high. "What're you doing?"

 

Keigo blinks, startled, before looking back at his open backpack. "Not setting you up, if that's what you think."

 

It's exactly what he thought.

 

"Then what the hell are you doing here?" Touya grouses.

 

Here, meaning the bedroom. Here, meaning sitting by the bed. Here, back of Eci-02 as if he never fucking left. 

 

Keigo's fingers twitch. His index finger fiddles with the pad of his thumb. He's thinking. Even if his silence wasn't the tell of that, that little movement said all Touya needed to know.

 

"I was just going to clean a laser shot," Keigo says, pulling antiseptics from the depths 

of his bag.

 

"You were injured?"

 

"When I was leaving the SA. Handler sent a shot through my abdomen, then another got the edge of my ribs."

 

"You've always been a quick healer," Touya fills in his own question: how Keigo is even still standing after a laser gun got him–twice. 

 

Touya had seen cuts, bruises, fucking hickies, be healed overnight. The worst injury Touya had ever been around Keigo for had been a nasty blast that he'd been too close to. It took nearly two months to clear up, but left a large pale scar from the middle of Keigo's lower back to 

up his left side, settling above his midriff, right under his armpit. Touya was willing to bet the scar had still been left.

 

"Yeah," Keigo agrees. "My quick 'healing' is the only reason my organs mended on their own and Rumi didn't have to find some underground doc." 

 

Could have gone to our doc, Touya almost says, stops though.

 

He's supposed to be hating Keigo right now. Making sure he's not trying to weasel his way back in. Hoping that he won't destroy Touya's heart again.

 

"Unfortunately, for the last three weeks the one that went straight through has been giving me issues. Especially where the laser exited from my back–"

 

"Let me see."

 

Okay, Touya. What happened to hating Keigo?

 

Eci-02 gives a pleased trill at the edges of his mind. Keigo is staring at him, wide eyed–golden, sun shining–and Touya tries to keep his breathing steady. He looks so much like the 20-year old he once was 

 

"Why?" Keigo's eyebrows draw together, his confusion apparent as the churning in Touya's stomach.

 

"Just let me see it," Touya steps towards him, further into the room. Air hisses as the doors shut behind him.

 

"You're not gonna kill me, right?" Keigo's voice is half-joking but Touya hears the doubt.

 

"No, I'm not, but I still hate you," Touya says–a little for Keigo, mostly for himself. 

 

Keigo nods, pulling himself up off the ground. He looks at the edge of the bed for a minute, then watches as Touya takes a seat on the edge.

 

Touya pats the sheets for Keigo to sit, but Keigo still looks wary. 

 

"Keigo," Touya starts, breathing his name softer than he had intended, "I'm not going to kill you." He pretends to ignore the way Keigo stopped breathing as he said his name. 

 

"It's not that," Keigo replies. He shuffles his feet, his dark boots scraping over the floor.

 

"Then what is it?"

 

Keigo's eyes search over Touya, looking straight in his eyes–watching, studying–before his gaze is back onto the bed.

 

"You can have a seat," Touya huffs. "We may have fucked on this mattress but I have changed the sheets since then." 

 

A short laugh is startled from Keigo's chest. It's breathy, quiet, but it's a laugh that crackles over Touya’s ears and reminds him of the days they’d sit in front of a fire, surrounded by other revolutionary fighters under the sky of a binary system. People Touya still calls friends.

 

Touya doesn't know why he tried to joke about it–it's just–Keigo looked uncomfortable. Since he'd boarded the ship, since Touya found him in the cockpit, he'd appeared relaxed. At least Keigo pretended to. He’d even seemed at home as he'd leaned back in the co-pilot's chair, filling the space like no one else ever had.

 

Looking at the bed though, he still seems uncertain. Keigo blinks, eyes running over the curves of the bed, the couple of pillows and the sheets. 

 

“Really?” Keigo mumbles but it’s quiet and not directed at Touya. 

 

Instead of sitting, he looks away and peels off his bomber jacket, and he’a left in a black long sleeved shirt, the cut of it low under Keigo's collarbones. The fabric is thin, worn, like he'd worn it hundreds of times. 

 

Or maybe he'd just been wearing this particular shirt for a few weeks too long with the few minimal washes he could spare it. 

 

Touya shifts on the bed and leans over to where the antiseptics are, just as Keigo sits on the edge of the bed with him. He turns sideways and Touya tries really fucking hard not to stare as Keigo pulls the fabric from his back and then over his head. 

 

He can't help it though. He's helplessly stuck staring at Keigo's expansive back, the plains of trained muscle, the scar from the blast–each piece of tanned skin that he'd once kissed, delicately, trying to hold them both together in a universe that felt like it was falling apart 

He's entrapped by the skin. By having Keigo in front of him so close. Touya, really, never thought he would see him again. He'd learned to accept that––but now his fingers itch to trace Keigo's spine, mapping out the difference in his body from years before. 20 to almost 28 

did wonders between the two of them.

 

Touya stops his wandering thoughts, his eyes pause when they spot the exit wound from the laser shot raising an ugly red on Keigo's right side, opposite of the blast scarring. He reaches to touch it, and just as he does–just as Kiego takes in a sharp breath–Touya finds something else.

 

Between Keigo's shoulder blades there's a small tattoo.

 

This––this hadn't been there eight years ago. 

 

"A tattoo?" Touya asks in a low voice, leaning closer to peer at it. Keigo's skin radiates waves of heat, and Touya hardly notices the red blush making its way down Keigo's neck and across his shoulders. 

 

The tattoo itself is relatively small. Two star symbols, a larger one in the center and a smaller one angled above it but a little off to the side. Then from the space between the two stars bleeds the tail of comet colored blue. The comet itself looks as if it's slinging around the two stars.

 

Pretty as a comet, Touya hears Keigo's old self whisper.

 

"This–" Touya swallows. When did Keigo get this? It wasn't new, but it looked like the colored ink had been touched up recently.

 

Touya's fingers shook as he brought them to graze over the images. 

 

Blue as the tail of that comet–

 

"How long have you had this?" Touya whispers. "When did you–"

 

"I don't know," Keigo's voice is so quiet Touya thinks his heart is beating louder. "I don't remember getting it.”

 

“You don’t remember?”

 

“I don't remember.”

 

Inside Touya’s chest, his heart is tumbling and falling into an abyss.

 

He doesn’t remember.

 

He doesn’t fucking remember.

 

Keigo breathes in a shaky breath. He says, “I don't even know what it's about? I can't–they, the SA, as soon as I went back they decided to have some fun with my memories. I only really know it's for you, or us, but I don't know why this exactly. When I got it, where I got it from."

 

What else had Keigo forgotten if he didn't remember what this tattoo meant?

 

Shit.

 

"Do you remember this?" Touya asks. Keigo faces him, just as Touya pulls the necklace from underneath his shirt. He raises the ring on it into the air. 

 

Keigo's head tilts, his mouth parts into a little O-shape, something falling in his eyes. "Dabs, I don't–"

 

Touya clenches his jaw tight. "They really tried to erase me from you."

 

"But not all of you right?” Keigo questions hesitantly. “I'm here , I know I cared about you–I still–shit, definitely still care about you–that we were what? Dating? I want to remember everything about us–"

 

Dating.

 

Keigo didn’t know.

 

All at once, Touya’s chest burns with anger.

 

"You still left Keigo. You remember that though, right?" Touya asks and he can’t help the spite that slips from his mouth. He knows some of it is at Keigo. If Keigo hadn't left, actually joined the revolution, then the SA wouldn't have played doctor with Keigo's head. He's pissed, mad as hell at the SA though. For taking Keigo as a kid, for playing God. For taking away the meaning of that tattoo from Keigo, and the weight of the ring on Touya's neck. 

 

"I left, I know!" Keigo urges. He’s frustrated, Touya notes in his tone. 

 

Keigo takes the hand that holds the rock-smooth band, fingers more callused than Touya remembers. "I know I wanted to come back though.”

 

Touya’s chest aches. 

 

“I know I would have, except they threw me into their Recollection Chamber as soon as I arrived back and they decided to go through everything that happened between us. And I only know that because some of the files they found me looking through were my memory files. I have them," Keigo nods to his backpack, "but in the last three weeks since I've gotten them I've been terrified to read through the rest. Scared as shit to know how many other times they’ve thrown me in that chamber and how much of what I remember is real?" 

 

Keigo's eyes dig into Touya's own. His face is impossibly close but his bushy eyebrows are pulled down, his expression distraught. "I'm lucky as fucking shit they didn't erase all of my goddamn memories–especially of you, since I told them it was for the job. Why the hell did they listen to me? They could have replaced my entire image of you with hate but they didn’t and I have no idea why. After that, I was under extreme surveillance. They clearly knew you meant more than being 'for the job.' Didn’t believe me. So guess what? No more solo missions for me. Handlers on my ass like I was seven again. I had to wait a long fucking time for them to back off before I could ever do any of my own snooping, Dabi."

 

Keigo's fingers, warm on his own, pull his hands towards Touya’s face. "Please, Dabs,” and he says his name like a plea, “You can hate me all you want–maybe I didn't try hard enough. I was stupid and thought I owed them–but please know I wanted to come back. That much I'm sure of." 

 

Touya swallows, thickly. He stares at Keigo, unbreaking like soldered iron pulled from meteors.

 

“Turn around, Keigo,” Touya sighs, pulling the ring away from the man’s familiar hands and tucking it back into his shirt like the rest of his emotions. One thing at a time. “Let me disinfect and clean this, and then I’ll tell you about the tattoo.” And the ring.

 

Keigo’s eyes filt over him, looking as if he wants to speak again. His body turns enough to let Touya look at the wound without Keigo having to take his eyes away from Touya.

 

The process of cleaning the hole in Keigo’s side would have been fast if Touya didn’t have the need to touch Keigo. The smallest press of the pads of his fingers over Keigo’s side filled a partial gnawing in body, especially under Keigo’s sharp eyes. Touya wipes over the spot with an antiseptic wipe in tedious, near gentle, movements, listening to Keigo’s hushed breathing. 

 

Touya opens an adhesive bandage, before splaying one of his hands over Keigo’s side and using the other to cover the wound. He feels Keigo’s muscles shift, feels the beat of his heart under his ribcage, sees his shoulder blades roll like he wants to give a large stretch.

 

“What else do you remember?” Touya asks. He presses the adhesive around the wound enough to make it stick, but not enough to agitate the spot further.

 

"Well, I don't remember us fucking."

 

"What?"

 

"You said we'd fucked, in this bed," Keigo clears his throat and looks down at where his hands are sitting in his lap. "I don't remember. Vaguely, this room, sleeping, the night I left."

 

Every time they'd had sex? The first time? The last time, hours before it became their last moment? Just, gone from Keigo's memory like blowing out the flame of a candle. The SA had pinched Keigo's memories and likely not thought a damn about what that did to Keigo, only that they need their asset in top condition.

 

He's not sure what to do what that information. Knowing Keigo doesn't know how Touya whispered praises into his skin. How he gripped his hips, held his fingers in his own, tugged the strands of his hair like he could weave them into threads of gold. 

 

"Fucking christ," Touya grumbles. "How did they even–"

 

“Tell me about the ring, first,” Keigo says, meeting Touya's eyes head on. “And the tattoo.”

 

He’s not pleading. The honey in his gaze is desperate and grasping for information he doesn’t know, but he’s not pleading this time. “Touya, I deserve to know what the hell was so important that the Star Alliance deemed it unnecessary for me.”

 

Touya lets his hands fall from Keigo’s back, letting the warmth leave his palms. Keigo is the one filled with a thousand suns afterall. 

 

“The tattoo,” Touya says, wishing to touch the ink he spoke of, “those two stars are a binary system, where we–”

 

Eci-02 jabs his mind with a warning. The lights around them begin blinking successions of crimson red, bathing the bedroom like the surface of Mars.

 

The Star Alliance. There’s ships on their tail.

 

“Dabi, what’s that?”

 

“Looks like Star Alliance ships,” Touya jumps up, and Keigo follows him out the door as he tugs his shirt on.

 

“How many?” Keigo asks, right on his heels, keeping with his long strides.

 

Touya thinks. Counts the vibrations that Eci-02 detects outside its shield.

 

“There’s seven. All gunships.”

 

“Shit,” Keigo says as they make their way down the halls, then into the cockpit to take their seats like they had hundreds of times before. “Someone must have seen me leave VOL.”

 

Which makes sense. After the SA ships docked on Planet-VOL, Touya had every intention of leaving without being seen by them. On a planet like VOL the SA agents would have their hands full of top tier criminals, gamblers, and thieves. Though Touya’s alias as Dabi had found its way through the Alliance, he should have known that that many ships on VOL were there for something more than your run of the mill criminals.

 

Through the ship’s communication system they hear, “Come in Freighter Eci-02, under the Star Alliance you have been ordered to halt. Agent Hawks depart from the ship. If you do not comply we have orders to shoot and take you, and your partner, by force.”

 

Touya and Keigo both look out the window, seeing the straight line of SA ships pointing their noses at them like arrows.

 

Fuck, what are they going to do? Touya looks over the controls, the energy levels, the interfaces. He knows the blasters on the shooting deck have enough power to take a couple of these guys out but he’d not been focused on charging the blasters when he was on Planet-VOL.

 

“Agent Hawks isn’t aboard this ship,” Keigo says next to him and Touya jolts, realizing he’s speaking beach into the open comms, at the Star Alliance ships. “This is Takami Keigo and I’m politely declining the request.”

 

With a quick flick of his fingers, Keigo shuts off the direct communications.

 

Hot, hot, hot.

 

Eci-02 thrums in warning just before a round of shots rocks Eci’s risen shields.

 

Less hot now that they’re under open fire.

 

Touya groans as they lurch forward, pressing the start for the blaster’s charge, “Do you have a plan, or did you just hope they wouldn’t shoot at us?” 

 

“Do we have the energy for a warp jump?” Keigo says, ignoring his sass. He’s moving his fingers over the controls, flipping his fingers in an engrained pattern that Touya would think more on if they didn’t have SA agents crawling up their ass.

 

Touya scoffs, shaking his head. He can’t be serious, right?

Silence rings from both Keigo and Eci-02. Touya pulls his gaze from the visualisation controls and the charge sequence. Keigo is staring back at him with his eyebrows raised.

 

“You’re serious ?” Touya exclaims. He’s fucking crazy. “And where the hell would we warp to, Keigo? The SA can track our spacial matter through the warps–”

 

“The Dark Rings?”

 

“The Dark Rings,” Touya echoes, disbelief ringing in the air. The lights above them flash yellow.

 

Touya stares back. They don’t have the fucking time for all the staring but what the actual hell is Keigo thinking? The Star Alliance must have jumbled with more than just Keigo’s memories if he’s thinking of warping to the Dark Rings of all places.

 

“Well,” Keigo rolls his shoulder, “since you fucking refuse to update Eci’s hyperdrive and reactors, lightspeed isn’t–”

 

“We can’t go lightspeed–”

 

“I know we can’t go lightspeed, you unlit matchstick,” Keigo groans, and Touya can tell he’s trying hard not to slam his head into the control board. He can always see the rise of Keigo’s frustration the more creative the nicknames become. He sounds more like the Keigo Touya knew when they were younger, like when Touya found him in the cockpit. 

 

The charge on the blasters reaches its peak and Touya immediately sets the target for the SA ships, slamming his fist down on the blast knob. From the shooting deck Touya feels first the blasts leave Eci-02, then sees through the observation windows as they make impact on the other ship’s shields.

 

“Remember when we made that run through the Hexion moons?” Keigo asks. He flips the thrust indicators and turns the core temperature gauge to a lower setting. 

 

What the hell is he thinking? 

 

“You remember that but you don’t remember fucking?”

 

Keigo sputters, eyebrows pinched, “Sorry I didn’t exactly get to choose what memories the SA stole, Touya. Us in bed and our dicks out wasn’t a priority for them I’m sure.”

 

It’s the first time since being on the ship that Keigo has called Touya Touya and he realizes that maybe when Keigo got on the ship he didn’t remember that it was his name.

 

Then, Touya questions, “Wait, does that mean they’ve technically seen us having sex?”

 

Keigo pauses, giving Touya a horrified look that would have sent him into a fit of laughter if another shot to their shield didn’t have them both grasping for the control panel.

 

“Those were moons, Keigo,” Touya says, noting the shield levels are down to 60%. “They were consecutive warp jumps around the planet’s moons, you’re talking about a jump across part of the galaxy.”

 

“Well, we can’t make the jump to the Southern Way–like you said, they’d follow the spacial matter, we don’t want them doing that. But we can throw all the collective hypercharge into the Dark Rings through them around a bit because–”

 

Boom!

 

Shield levels: 48%.

 

“The energy matter in the Dark Rings isn’t traceable. The species and groups there use power nullifiers to throw off the tracers.”

 

“Right,” Touya says.

 

“And,” Keigo continues, “if we divert the energy from the shields, the blasters, and switch to manual, then–”

 

“We should be able to make the jump,” Touya finishes.

 

And Keigo is grinning at him like he’s won a goddamn prize. 

 

Touya wants to kiss him on his stupid, smartass fucking mouth. It’s a smart plan, even if they hadn’t done it before, but first time’s a charm, he supposes. Keigo could always convince him of anything at the end of the day.

 

“Fine! Shit, fine,” Touya groans. “Start diverting the energy. I’m gonna charge for one more blast and you can use the rest of the energy.”

 

Eci-02 groans as Keigo begins powering up the warpdrive, pulling energy from the mainframe and the shield reactors. The lights in the cockpit dim so the blue of the controls highlights their features.

 

“Sending the last blast in three,” Touya says. 

 

Keigo pushes the down the energy throttles, then says, “Following blast with dropped shields in two–”

 

“One–”

 

All at once Eci-02 whines under the shift of energy and the final blast hits its seven targets, momentarily giving them a second of pause.

 

“Warp, now!” Keigo shouts.

 

The shields drop. Touya shoves the warp throttle forward and they’re consumed in a concoction of light and darkness as the warp swallows them, leaving the Star Alliance ships in their rearview mirror.