One Month Later
The recruitment process was drawing to a close and the days training weren't nearly as hectic and long. Still, Shane was glad to be back in their room for the night. He was happy because of the man walking out of the bathroom through a cloud of steam.
Regrettably, he and Jalen didn't shower together, as the shower stall was too small to comfortably fit both an alpha of his size and his mate. But sitting on the bed while Jalen walked around the room clad in nothing but a towel wrapped around his narrow hips was a fine consolation prize.
Shane ran his gaze over his mate, admiring everything he saw. Drops of water sparkled on Jalen's smooth brown skin. He was slim, but his arms and chest were well-defined with sleek muscles. His stomach was flat, with a line of dark hair trailing below his navel. When he reached the dresser, Shane was treated to a view of his backside, with the damp towel clinging to the curves of his ass. Shane was borderline jealous of that towel. He grinned to himself at his foolishness, but he wanted his hands, his mouth, and his cock all over that ass.
Shane shifted on the bed, making a quick adjustment to his briefs as his cock started to harden. Soon. He would have that soon because Jalen was his. Shane managed to hold back the possessive growl that wanted to rise up but he couldn't control all of his body's reactions. The changes to his body that made him an alpha broadcasted his arousal, and he saw the exact moment Jalen caught the scent of it.
Jalen froze, hand still on the dresser that now held both their clothes. He ducked his head as he turned, but the sultry smile that curled his lips was still visible. As Shane's gaze lingered there, he saw that Jalen's lips were fuller, deeper in color. He'd also noticed Jalen's scent changing the past few days, becoming warmer, more alluring. And the frequency of his naps had increased. Shane thought it was adorable when he returned to the room and found Jalen asleep in their bed, full lips parted as he breathed softly, the constellation blanket tucked beneath his chin. And it was their bed, since Shane had all but moved into Jalen's room, spending every night there with him since their mutual confessions of love. All of the previously noted signs meant one thing: Jalen was about to go into heat again.
Shane was even more eager for it this go round because now there was no hesitancy or secrets between them. They knew where they stood and were honest with each other every step of the way. Jalen had admitted the intensity of an omega's arousal had unnerved him, and he wanted to ease into their physical intimacy. Shane didn't mind taking things slow. He'd do anything for Jalen. Plus, that meant they got to go back and enjoy all the stages that his heat had sent them hurtling past.
They’d started off with evenings spent cuddling beneath the blanket Shane bought for Jalen. Cuddling lead to kisses, which turned into exploring hands beneath shirts, which became bare chests pressed together as they kissed, then Shane on top of Jalen, grinding them both into orgasm. They hadn't gone farther than that yet, but the anticipation for it hummed in the air between them.
Jalen unknotted the towel at his waist and let it drop to the floor. Shane's eyebrows shot up in surprise at that. After years in the military, they were both fastidiously neat. But he quickly lost interest in wondering at the out of character move since Jalen was walking directly toward him, completely nude.
"You know what I've been wondering?" Jalen asked in a low voice.
Jalen kneeled on the foot of the bed and crawled up the mattress until he was at Shane's side before answering.
"You got bigger here, here, and here," he said as he brushed his hand over Shane's shoulders, chest and arms. "But did you get bigger here too?" His fingers trailed down to brush over Shane's rapidly hardening cock. "I can see that you're big. But are you bigger than you were before?"
Jalen's fingers dancing along his shaft, touching him there for the first time, drew all of Shane's attention. He had to concentrate in order to answer. "The growth was proportionate," he managed to say.
"Can I see?"
Shane's cock throbbed at that request. "Yes."
Jalen tucked his fingers into the waistband of his briefs and pulled them down, with Shane lifting his hips to help. Jalen's eyes were riveted on Shane's cock as it was revealed inch by inch, but Shane watched Jalen. And he saw the tip of his tongue dart out to slide over his lip and the flush that rose on his cheeks.
"Oh," Jalen breathed softly. "I didn't see you here before, but you grew about four inches in height, so if it was proportional..."
The breath froze in Shane's chest as Jalen's fingers hovered over his naked flesh, just shy of touching. He looked up at Shane from beneath his lashes, lip caught between his teeth. After glancing back at Shane's lap, Jalen slid down the bed until his face was directly across from Shane's cock. Warm breath blowing over his skin nearly set Shane off. "Baby, what are you doing?"
Jalen looked up with a smile dancing in his eyes. "Did you know you only call me baby when you're turned on?"
The delicate caress of soft lips brushing over his cock made Shane's breath hitch in his chest. "I... Uh. Yeah."
"I don't mind if you call me that at other times. I like it."
What were they talking about? He didn't know, but whatever Jalen wanted the answer was yes. "Okay, if that's what you want."
"Yes, I want that. And I want to suck your cock. Can I?"
"Fuck, yes." He cleared his throat. "I mean, yes. Sorry, I wasn't expecting that."
"I don't think I was either."
Shane gently cupped Jalen's jaw as he reassured his omega that his desire was welcome. "You can have whatever you want."
Jalen nodded, then bent his head and tentatively licked over the tip of Shane's cock, leaving it glistening and damp when he drew back. Shane held still, letting him go at his own pace. After a moment, he did it again, his eyes drifting closed. A soft whine slipped from him just before he closed his lips over the head and started to suck.
Shane groaned at the heat of Jalen’s mouth and the wet swirls of his tongue. He reached down and gripped his cock at the base, holding it steady for his lover. Jalen moaned and pressed down further, taking more of Shane’s cock each time his lips slid down. Shane was too big for him to take it all. Once he had as much as he could take in his mouth Shane gave him praise.
“That’s it, baby. You did good.”
Jalen slowly lifted his lashes to look at him. “Your eyes are glowing,” Shane said in surprise. He’d been aware that he’d picked up that trait from the Zareenians since Jalen had pointed it out, and he’d seen it in other Beals recruits as well. But this was the first time he’d seen the reaction on Jalen. His dark irises had changed to a shimmering silver, glowing softly. It was beautiful in an otherworldly way, reminding Shane that they were more than human now. Jalen blinked once before he lowered his lashes again and started sucking faster.
Shane inhaled on a sharp breath, stomach muscles pulling in tight. He cursed when Jalen pushed his hand away to replace it with his own so he could stroke the shaft as he bobbed on his cock. Shane’s balls drew up hard and full at his lover’s passionate enthusiasm. “So good, J. Your mouth is so perfect.”
Jalen sucked and stroked, taking Shane right up to the edge of orgasm. His shaft was pulsing with the urge to come, but Shane wasn’t ready for that yet. He lightly tapped Jalen’s chin, signaling for him to stop. Jalen pulled off with a little pop but he didn’t stop lavishing attention on Shane’s cock. A sound similar to his alpha growl came from Jalen as he licked his way down the shaft and nuzzled Shane’s balls, but quieter, softer. Almost like purring. The sound both filled Shane with tenderness and made him want to push Jalen down to the mattress and fuck him until he screamed with his climax.
With a low growl rumbling in his chest, he pulled Jalen up to straddle his lap. “Kiss me.” Jalen obeyed, and Shane tasted sweet omega and his own cock. It was intoxicating, and he licked into his lover’s mouth seeking more of the flavor. “You make me feel so good,” he whispered against Jalen’s lips. “Got me so hard.” He reached down to grab two handfuls of Jalen’s ass, squeezing, and then spreading him open. “Want you.” Jalen wiggled, brushing their cocks together.
“Let’s wait. My heat is close. Let’s wait,” he gasped between kisses.
Shane was disappointed, his body clamoring to be inside his omega. But the decision was Jalen’s and he would respect it. “I’ll wait as long as you need, baby.” Still wanting to give his mate pleasure, he gently rubbed the pad of his finger over Jalen’s entrance, stroking the soft skin. Jalen shivered, wrapping his arms tight around him.
Shane gave his mate what he asked for, slipping the tip of one finger inside him. Jalen trembled, his body tight and resisting at first. But Shane kept up with gentle, small thrusts, in and out until Jalen relaxed. His rim softened and Shane slid his finger in deep. He groaned as he delved into slick heat, imagining how it would feel on his cock. Jalen panted his name, breath hot against his cheek.
“Yes,” he answered with a nod. “I’m not in heat yet, but I’m already so sensitive.” He shifted, pressing a kiss to the corner of Shane’s mouth. “Did you ever think that we would be together like this?”
Shane pushed in another finger before answering. “I know I wanted it.”
Jalen pulled back, a wicked grin curling his lips. “Wanted what? Tell me everything you thought about doing to me during our video chats.”
Shane wrapped a hand around the back of Jalen’s neck to hold him in place. “I’ll tell you. But you have to get both of us off while I do.”
That soft whine came again. “Okay.”
Jalen lowered a hand between them and gripped both of their cocks. Once he started stroking, Shane began sharing some of the thoughts he’d had over the years.
“Thought of kissing you in dark corners and convincing you to come back to my room so I could have you in my bed. I thought of stripping you out of your uniform pants, throwing your legs over my shoulders, and pushing my cock inside you so I could fuck you nice and deep.” He traced his fingers down Jalen’s spine, making him shiver. “I get so turned on when I think about having this gorgeous little body beneath me.”
“I’m not that small,” Jalen pouted.
Shane smiled at Jalen pouting even as he rode his fingers. “Mmmm, you are to me. And baby?”
“I’m gonna do all of that real soon.” He switched from thrusting to sliding his fingers over the sensitive gland that made Jalen tremble and moan in his arms. “And you’ll be tight and hot and slick and I’ll fill you up with so much cum you won’t be able to hold it all inside you.”
“Oh! Shane, I’m… I’m… Right there! Gonna come!”
Shane held on just long enough to make sure Jalen came first. As soon as he felt his omega’s cum spilling against his shaft, his ass clenching on the fingers he had stuffed inside him, Shane cursed and let himself go. “Fuck!” He wrapped an arm tight around Jalen’s waist, grinding against him as his cock pulsed with pleasure. Jalen’s eyes glowed even brighter before he closed them and leaned in to press their lips together. They kissed, breathless, no finesse, just raw passion as they chased every ounce of pleasure until there was nothing left.
When it was over, Jalen sagged against him. Shane stroked his back as they both caught their breath.
“Mmmm.” Jalen hummed against Shane’s ear. “That was nice.”
Shane dropped his head back against the wall behind him and laughed with happy, post-orgasm exhaustion. Nice. This omega, his omega, would be the death of him.
The next day, Shane noticed the mood on campus was different. Another group of recruits had been released overnight. And all the instructors and staff seemed quietly excited during classes. When the remaining recruits received a notification on their data pad to meet in the front of the main building after dinner, rumors started to fly that tonight was the night they'd announce who was officially accepted into the Beal's space program.
It was a logical assumption, they'd thinned the initial crowd of applicants down to a number that made sense for the size of the ship. And everyone left had been converted to the alpha, beta, omega dynamics of the Zareenian people, and seemed to be handling the change well. In addition, although no official date had been given for the end of the program, they'd been there long enough for it to feel like it was ending.
Since he'd been on a different schedule than Jalen that day they hadn't eaten dinner together. But as he walked down the hallway towards the lobby, a now familiar sense of awareness hit him. He turned slightly to see Jalen headed toward him. Shane immediately smiled and held his hand out. Warm fingers slid across his palm as Jalen reached him and linked their hands together.
"You think this is it?" Shane asked.
They continued their walk outside. The fountain was on tonight and the entire area was lit with the golden glow of the spotlights. Servers strode around, offering the small crowd of recruits’ crystal flutes filled with sparkling, bubbling champagne. Shane and Jalen each accepted one. Just in front of the fountain, a small stage had been set up. It was currently empty, except for a microphone stand.
Shane and Jalen spent a few minutes chatting with the people they'd befriended during their time there. Lieutenant Wu and Charlie seemed happy together. The Marine from his first time in the zero-gravity chamber looked torn. Shane was willing to bet it was because it was hitting him that he was going to go into space and leave his wife behind. It was a tough choice; one Shane was glad he didn't have to make himself. Suddenly, a hush fell over the crowd. Shane turned and saw Vincent Beals stepping up on stage to grab the mic.
"Thank you for coming tonight everyone. And thank you for enduring the trials of Beals Corp. I know we put you through the ringer, and you were probably ready to mutiny at several points but if you're standing here that means you were more than up to the challenge."
Friendly laughter rang out as the recruits exchanged glances. The process had been rigorous. But hopefully, it was time for the reward.
"And now the announcement you've all been waiting for." Beals paused for effect, smiling over the crowd. "Everyone here has been accepted into the Beals Corp Space Exploration Program. Congratulations! You're all going into space." He threw his arms up to the star-filled sky with a dramatic flourish.
Cheering and whistles immediately split the warm night air. Shane remained quiet, but he grinned as a rush of excitement went through him. They'd done it. He and Jalen were officially Beals Space Explorers.
On stage, Beals's smile grew. "Enjoy all the champagne you want as you celebrate tonight. The buses will be here momentarily for us to take a little show-and-tell tour. After that, you'll have a few days to relax before we hit the next step in the program." He put the microphone back on the stand and applauded them before leaving the stage.
Once Beals disappeared into the crowd, Shane looked down at Jalen. His cheeks were flushed, his lips full and rosy. He hadn't had enough champagne for the alcohol to have such an effect on him. A sweet scent drifted into the air. His heat was getting closer. Shane didn't mention it however, wanting this moment to be about their achievement. "Congratulations." Jalen smiled up at him, dark eyes sparkling with excitement.
"You too. I knew we'd make it."
They exchanged a brief hug then broke apart to offer congratulations to their fellow explorers. After they'd spoken with nearly everyone there, the blond alpha from that day on the race track approached.
"Captain Morgan. Commander Thomas. Congrats on making the program." He offered congratulations to them both, but his eyes were locked on Jalen.
Shane's hackles rose at the other alpha's proximity to his mate but he tried to keep his cool. Unfortunately, that plan went to shit when the man not so discreetly inhaled the scent of Jalen's approaching heat, coming closer as he did so.
Shane stepped forward, blocking the other man's path. "Is there something I can help you with?"
A low, threatening growl rumbled from the blond's throat and his eyes started to glow silver. "I smell you on him but you haven't claimed him yet. Maybe he wants to get to know another alpha before he's locked down."
Shane lowered his chin, aggression rolling off him. This guy was a jerk, and Shane was willing to bet he'd been that way before the Zareen injection. Either way, Shane didn't like the way he was looking at or talking about his mate. "Jalen. Would you like to get to know this alpha?" Jalen pressed against his back, making it clear who he wanted.
"No. I know who I want to be with," he said in a hard voice.
At that, the obnoxious alpha finally stepped back and walked away. Shane turned to Jalen, his aggression immediately fading. "I'm sorry. It happened so fast."
Jalen shook his head. "Don't apologize. He should know. Everyone should know that I've chosen you as my alpha."
"I love hearing you say that," Shane said as he pulled his lover into a loose hug.
"My heat is getting closer. I'm sure that's what brought him over here."
"I know. But that doesn't give him the right to act like that." The buses started to pull up. "Will you be okay on the tour or should we go back to our room?"
"I'm okay. Let's go."
Shane released him but held his hand out. Their fingers linked again, they set their half-drunk glasses of champagne down and boarded the first bus.
Jalen sat next to Shane on the bus, his head on his alpha's shoulder. They drove along a slightly curving road, that took them behind the main campus. Soon, a large building with an arched roof came into view. Jalen sat up straight as he realized they were at a hangar, and about to see the ship they'd be taking into space. Excited murmurs swept up and down the aisle as others came to the same conclusion.
The bus came to a stop with a hiss of breaks. Vincent Beals waited for them in front of the hangar, Director Nelson and Tevoris at his side, the rest of his team behind him. The explorers filed off the bus still excitedly talking amongst themselves. Once they were all on the ground in a big group, Mr. Beals spoke.
"Now it's time for the big reveal. The ship that will take you to the stars, the Beals Explorer 9." Beals clicked a button on the remote in his hand and the hangar doors slowly slid open.
Jalen held his breath, muscles tense as he watched the reveal of the Beals space ship. Little by little it came into view. Sleek. Black. Red lights blinked and glowed at various points along the visible starboard side.
Once the doors were completely open, Beals waved a hand, inviting them to go inside for a closer look. Jalen moved into the hangar at the head of the crowd. The ship was massive, towering over them, three city buses wide and longer than a football field. Even with all the specs he'd studied, Jalen couldn't imagine the power it would take to get such a huge ship up in the air.
After a few minutes of their group walking around and admiring the ship, Beals got their attention again.
"If you'll follow me, I have something of interest to all of you in the fighter pilot class."
Their excitement renewed, the recruits followed Beals around the bow of the BE9 to the other side of the ship, stopping when they were in front of a black velvet curtain that hung from the ceiling to the floor.
"I present to you, the Beals Tech-One Screamer. BT-1 for short." Continuing on with the man's clear love for the dramatics, the heavy, black velvet curtain fell to the ground with a whoosh, revealing the space jet behind it.
Shocked gasps came from the group, followed by enthusiastic applause. Jalen himself was awestruck as he stared at up at the fighter. Looking at pictures and doing flight simulations didn't compare to standing in front of the real thing. It was painted a glossy black, with Z E A F in bright red along the side. The canopy bubble was a shimmering metallic gold, meant to bounce away enemy radar and shield the pilot from the burn of atmosphere entry. The BT-1 was comparable in size to the Air Force fighters Jalen had flown for years, but the angles and lines were different, sharper. More aggressive.
"This is gorgeous." As he walked around the jet, he noticed a partial wall off to the side. Behind it, he could see the tail wing of another craft. Jalen slowly walked over, trying to get a better view. "What's that one?" he asked the Beals staff member standing guard near the wall. The man held his hand up in a signal for Jalen to stop his approach.
"That's a proto-type for something we're adapting from Zareen mechanics. We won't be using it for this mission, however." He smiled, but he clearly wasn't going to let Jalen any closer to see the hidden aircraft.
Jalen was curious, but he turned his attention back to the one that he would be flying. He wondered if Beals would follow military tradition and allow pilots to personalize their jets with their names. An excited smile tugged at his lips as he imagined Captain Morgan emblazoned on the side of such an amazing machine. Even after all their training and hard work, he was still blown away by the fact that he and Shane were going into space, achieving their lifelong dream.
Still, something nagged at him, prompted in large part by the secretive behavior of the hangar guard. It reminded him too much of the Beals team keeping the ABO classifications and Zareen injection a secret.
As everyone continued admiring the two air crafts, Jalen pulled Shane to the side. "You know Beals isn't going to be satisfied with only one trip into space."
"You think he'll send more people up?"
"Yep. And I think he'll alter anyone else he brings on board, just the way he did us."
His firm lips pulled down into a grim frown, Shane nodded. "I'm sure he will."
"It worked out for us. But what about the people who didn't adjust? Or the people who did but didn't make the program? All of our lives are changed, and we should have had a choice about it."
"What do you want to do?"
Jalen huffed a quiet laugh. "I love that you know I want to do something. Normally, I'd fall in line, trust in our superior officers and carry out the mission. And I don't want to risk our place in the program. But what they did was wrong. I have to speak up about it."
"I feel the same way. We can request another meeting to speak with Beals and the program leaders and see if they have plans to be upfront with future recruits. But like you said, they might kick us out of the program for rocking the boat. Are you sure you want to take that chance?"
Jalen stared at the sleek, space-ready jet. He didn't want to risk his chance at flying among the stars when they were this close. But his conscious wouldn't let him ignore what was done to them, and what might be done to others in the future. He looked up at Shane. "I'm sure. We have to do what's right. But..." He went quiet as an idea started to form.
Shane arched a brow, waiting for him to finish.
"Maybe we can give ourselves a little safety net."
"What do you mean?"
Jalen looked around to make sure no one was close enough to overhear before he answered. "We get to contact our families now that the recruitment process is done. We can let them know what's going on and tell Beals we'll have them leak it if he cuts us."
Now both of Shane's eyebrows shot up. "You want to blackmail Vincent Beals?" he asked in a low but shocked voice.
Jalen scrubbed a hand over his hair. He didn't want to. He didn't want to do any of this. "They altered our DNA without our consent, Shane." After a moment, Shane sighed and pulled him into a hug.
"Okay. We'll do it."
"Hopefully we won't have to use any underhanded tactics."
"Hopefully," Shane agreed.
Oops, I did it again. Got off track with my updates. =( I thought I only had one more chapter, but it was getting a bit long so I broke it into two. So the real final chapter will post in a few days. After that, it will be available to download as a free e-book. Yay!
I hope things go well for our boys in the final chapter. I'm nervous for them! ;-)
Thanks for reading!
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