Time: Some weeks after Shax's War
Verin scowled at his boards. It wasn't that he needed the readings on them. The Brimstone was in fucking dock. He just had to scowl at something while he smacked his brain around for ideas. After an hour, the damn thing still wasn't coming up with anything.
This had never happened to him before. Sure, he'd had repeat lovers, ones he hooked up with when he was around, but Corny was his first…what? Live-in? Exclusive? His first love? Fucking hairy troll balls, he was turning into a sap. But he did love his cowboy. He couldn't help that. This new thing, this stupid urge to buy presents? Verin shuddered. What the hell was gonna happen next? Some stupid need to break into song?
Shaxy bought Ness presents all the time. Sure, he usually had a reason for buying them. Sucking up. Apologizing. Begging for kink. But sometimes the little fucker got presents for his angel twink just because. One of those had set Verin's not-equipped-for-this-shit brain buzzing. His highness had bought Ness a pair of bad-ass new boots, knee-high with silver studs up the sides. They looked good on him, of course, and Ness'd been so fucking pleased…
Yeah. That'd done it. The way Ness looked at Shax. But Verin couldn't buy Corny clothes or jewelry or shit like that. It was…different between them. Still the stupid itch stayed in his head, distracting him. Love or possible insanity. Probably not much difference.
Cowboy…what could he get a cowboy? Then the answer came to him and it was so fucking obvious, he wanted to bang a hole in the wall with his head. He powered down his boards and told Ivana he was going out planetside.
When he got back, carrying the box in both sweaty palms, the damn AI nearly pounced on him.
"Your cowboy's in the galley. What did you get him, oh big-horned one?"
"None of your fucking business," Verin growled out of habit. He let out some steam to calm himself. "Seriously, Ivana, it's between him and me, all right?"
"All right, Mr. Pilot Demon. My lips are sealed." She snickered. "I'll just ask Corny later."
Verin stomped up the hold stairs and into the corridors grumbling about smart-ass bit of wiring and transistors, but he managed to calm the smoke down to wisps by the time he reached the galley. Corny lounged on the one bench with his friction-sock covered feet up on the other, cup of coffee by his elbow and a frown on his handsome face as he read something on the table's holo screen.
"Hey yourself." Corny looked up to give him that slow sexy smile that made Verin's knees wobble. He nodded to the box that Verin clutched. "That something for the kitchen?"
"Uh. No." Verin caught himself actually scuffing a foot on the deck plates. "It's…I got…it's a fucking present. For you."
Corny's eyebrows looked like they were trying to fly off his forehead. "Yeah?"
"Well, give it here, big guy. Don't stand there like you've gone weak North of your ears."
"It's not a…not because…"
"Ver. C'mere. Set a bit with me."
The deep velvet of Corny's voice drew him, even though he was as uncomfortable as he'd ever been. He sat on the opposite bench and put the box on the table between them. Instead of reaching for the package, Corny took his hands.
"Thank you. Whatever it is, I 'preciate it. You ain't gotta explain it away or give a reason, you got me?"
"Yeah." Verin stared at their joined hands, swallowing a lump in his throat. "You gonna open the fucking box or not?"
Corny's smile returned. "That's better. Heck, yeah, I'm gonna. Too damn curious not to."
Corny opened the plastic box, then took out the sturdier composite box from inside. He lifted the lid and blew a soft, appreciative whistle. Reverently, he turned one of the weapons in his hands, the Barbary-shell handles gleaming iridescent in the light. "That's some fancy pistols there. Maybe you better at least explain what I'm lookin' at, so I don't go shoot some poor soul by mistake."
"They're, ah…" Verin had to stop and clear his throat. "It's a matched set of plasma pistols. They'll do thirty rounds apiece before you gotta charge again."
"Got much of a kick?"
Verin shook his head. "Not like your Colt. Though you should have something, 'cause those antique bullets of yours, they're, you know, antique and you don't have many. Something modern of your own. I'll…we'll schedule range time while we're planetside, yeah? I'll show you."
"Sounds like a fine idea." Corny replaced the pistol in its lined box and shut the lid. He half-stood so he could take Verin's face between his hands and plant a hard kiss on his lips. "Thank you, Ver. Couldn't have thought of a better present."
Sure, Verin's cock practically sat up and begged at the promise of that kiss, but there was a weird feeling, warm and kinda glowy, that started in the pit of his stomach and climbed his chest. Probably came from the way Corny was looking at him. "You're welcome?"
"C'mon. We're going to our room so I can thank you proper like."
"Yep. Get your ass up and moving, Hammer. Ain't waiting all day."
Verin moved. Sure, he hadn't gotten the pistols for any specific reason, but he'd sure as shit not turn down thank you sex. That would be insane.