Inspiration: March 14, 2019 (the Thursday Vignettes over on Rough Trade)
Chris rolled his neck and leaned forward to let hot water crash down on his mid-back, muscles along his spine releasing under the warm pressure. He lent into the wall and let it take his weight as he finally let his mind clear, the constant churn of worry and preemptive problem solving silenced by the knowledge that there was a whole team of people who had taken over from him.
The shower next door came on and went off a handful of times before he finally peeled himself away from the wall and arched his back, something deep inside popping, crunches following along in its wake as something released the tension that had kept him locked up tight for months. Pleasure tumbling along in the wake of it and some primal instinct to chase it kicked in.
A groan managed to slip loose from his lips and he fumbled back ago the wall to flip out the shower seat. He shut his eyes as he dropped down, he let one hand drop carelessly into his lap bit lifted the other to caress his chest. He tipped his head back to rest on the wall, fingers trailing over his nipple before dropping down to trace over his ribs, revelling in the way that his fingers caught and slid over his skin.
He let his mind wander, at first random images of old girlfriends and boyfriends but as he teased himself his mind pulled fresher images to the front of his mind. Beth came to him easily, the image of his hand sliding over her pale skin and pressing over the soft muscle of her stomach fitting easily with the sensation of his hand moving. He slid lower, over recently shaved skin and as he did his mind twisted the image and Mark took Beth’s place, his face full and his body well muscled.
Chris arched into his hand as he cupped his cock, only halfway hard his body still adjusted back to being on earth. He shifted his other hand to roll his balls and bit his lip before gasping wordlessly, water pooled in his hand and his brain jolted sideways. Mark dropping to his knees and taking him in his mouth, Chris rolled his head against the wall and stroked himself firmly, thumb running over the head of his cock, the mix of water, flesh and enough time the real thing making it seem like a tongue lapping at him.
He stroked himself a few times, tracing the fingers of his other hand back to brush over his ass. He slipped forward in the seat a little and spread his knees more before letting water run into his crack. He hissed out a breath as his finger slid in and he pressed against his prostate, massaging against it with constant pressure. His breath shuddered in his chest as he finally shuddered through an orgasm, water washing away cum as he blinked his way through the dizziness that followed.
“Fuck…” Chris hissed, easing his finger out and reaching out to press the soap dispenser, scrubbing the soap between his hands and then down over his stomach and thighs., motions sharp and frustrated. He pushed the images of his team from his mind firmly and slowly stood up, pausing halfway to let his blood pressure even out a little. He took a deep breath and rinse himself before shutting off the shower, pushing open the shower door and bracing himself on the wall as he waited for the air around him to cool. As he stood there he cursed himself and firmly reminded himself that they were his team, he was their surgeon.
He managed to get dried and dressed while only once reaching out to grab something that he had left floating only to find it on the floor. He cursed gravity as he tried to kick off through the doorway and almost fell over before remembering that he wasn’t on the Hermes.
“Doctor Beck, are you OK?”
“Yep, yeah, yes… I’m fine, just, err, gravity” Chris stuttered, hoping that the flush to his face would be taken for frustration or overheating.
“Yeah, that’s been tripping up astronauts since the ISS.” The technician laughed before carrying on down the corridor.
Chris took a breath and then took another to clear his mind, he turned left down the corridor and made his way back to the ready room that his crew had been assigned as they waited for NASA to decide that the extra time in space wasn’t going to make them drop dead as soon as they stepped out of the door.
The crew barely looked up as he stepped into the room and he almost managed to make his way into the small office he had claimed before Mark called,
“Beck, come play cards.”
Chris paused mid-step and without turning said,
“I can’t… I have files.” He hoped that the white lie sounded convincing enough to get them to leave him alone, needed to keep his distance.
“Come on, Beck,” Beth called, “we already did the debrief, nothing you have left to do is that urgent.” Her voice got closer and she laid a hand on his shoulder, speaking softly when she got close enough, “I know that we agreed that when happened on the Hermes stayed on the Hermes but we were friends before we shared a bed for a couple of months NASA is hardly going to accuse you of being inappropriate because we played cards once we got back.”
“They might not but I knew what I was doing… you were my patient”
“I’m your friend, mission doc is never expected to… the lines get blurry, everyone knows that and even if we were still dating, people couldn’t hold that against you. Besides you were monitoring me not treating me.” Beth muttered, resting her chin on his shoulder.
“I know, Beth.” He paused, the others in the room chatting in that determined ‘we are giving you privacy’ way that anyone who had lived in a confined space for any length of time developed. “I just…”
“Don’t know how you feel about it, out of the vacuum. No pun intended.” Beth finished for him. “That’s why we agreed to step back and see how things went.”
“I feel like I crossed a line and now I don’t trust myself, it’s stupid and I’m never going to be in that position again. But…I always looked at other doctors who had relationships with people that had treated like I had no idea where they came from and suddenly I’m that asshole.”
“Chris…” Melissa said from the sofa, Chris suddenly realised he was half shouting but now he had started the words just seemed to slip from his tongue without invitation,
“I don’t know who I am anymore, I have been going from one fuck up to the next. I told you we should leave, I said Mark was dead and there was no point in staying. I left my best friend on Mars and then not only did I break the fraternisation rules but I was sleeping with my patient. I disobeyed you and went off tether in space after stealing a fucking spaceship. And now we are on earth and I…” Chris ran out of breath and finally managed to stop the words before he confessed to all his sins. He shut his eyes and hung his head, back thankfully still to the room so he didn’t have to face his crew. His family.
“Beck, you need me to order you to go talk to psych? Because we all got to talk to you but you didn’t have anyone to talk to.” Melissa said, Chris knew that if he turned to look at her she would have that look on her face that always made her pure captain rather than friend. “And maybe NASA should have thought of that…”
“Maybe NASA should have thought of a lot of things because there wasn’t a plan. There wasn’t a plan for if one of us, fucking, died and all I could keep thinking was that I was in front of Mark and we were screwed up by losing him but what if it had been me, or Rick. No doctor, no pilot doesn’t matter which…” Chris snapped his mouth shut and stepped away from the tentative hand that Beth had on his shoulder. “I don’t want to do this.” He said into the stunned silence before striding across the room and slamming through the door to the office.
He leant against the door and took several shuddering breaths before sliding down to sit on the floor. The ache in the centre of his back returning, sharp and deep, his muscles back to knots.
Beyond the door there was hushed chatter, the rest of the team well aware that he would be able to hear anything said at full volume. He dropped his head forward to rest on his knees and listened to the various doors in the room shut as the team abandoned the game they had been playing before he arrived.
The roll of rubber on cheap carpet got close to the door and after a moment Chris heard Mark say,
“I was dead. By all rights I was dead and that isn’t anyone’s fault. You can’t plan for an unforeseen disaster, there should have been a plan for the aftermath and that is all on NASA but stress fucks us all up. I spent a year talking to myself and growing potatoes in my own shit, you screwed yourself into a ball of loneliness and self hate until you curled up with the one person who was available to remind you that you were lovable and took everything that she offered you.”
“I’m meant to be better than that.”
“Better than human? Because honestly if I hadn’t been a stinking mass of broken, I would have crawled right into bed with you and Beth the second you hugged me.”
“That’s different, you were completely alone and totally touch starved…”
“And you were on a ship with 4 other people and couldn’t tell any of them what you were going through because you were the only person with any psych training and your ethics kept you from putting that burden on them. From where I’m sitting it doesn’t seem all that different to me.” Mark said calmly, something bumped against the door and Chris considered moving himself off the floor to check that Mark was okay “You keep telling me that coping strategies are fine when you are still in disaster mode as long as you know that you have to deal with them eventually. “
Chris slid away from the door and reached up to tug the handle down. The door fell open and Mark rolled into the room a little. Chris looked up at him and found that Mark was just watching him. After a few moments, Mark rolled further into the room and span around before saying,
“You reached out for the one comfort you could take without causing someone harm, Beth’s a grown up and the way she tells it she made clear that she was interested in you for months before you made a move. You were breaking the rules in one way but at the same time, you could argue that you were very close friends forced to share a bed. No one got hurt, you both knew what you were getting into and you needed the comfort because you couldn’t seek it any other way.” There was a long silence as they looked at each other and then Mark grinned, “Besides I know for a fact that space fucked your dick up as bad as mine so it wasn’t like you were actually boning her.”
“Mark!” Chris glared up at Mark,
“Tell me that’s not true.”
“Well sure, if you can get it up.” Mark grinned, rolling just out of reach.