The next two days went by in a blur of activity. Shane and Jalen managed to move past their kiss and the resulting awkwardness by pretending it didn't happen. They had to. There was too much at stake to worry about interpersonal relationships. It was uncomfortable the first few times they ran into each other, or were in the same training, but with each meeting they relaxed until they were smiling and friendly once more. Of course, with the awkwardness gone, that meant they started spending time together again. Like now.
Shane, Jalen, an aerobatic stunt pilot named Charlie, and Aaron, the civilian teacher from Zero G, were all having coffee together as they waited for their first training of the day to start. The sky hung low and gloomy, the air damp with drizzling rain. Shane was fine hanging out with Jalen. Except for one small problem.
Whenever Shane wasn't focused on a task to be completed, he was focused on Jalen. He was drawn to Jalen's presence, wanted to pull the smaller man against his body and hold him close, shielding him from the rain while they waited for the instructor. He wanted to bring Jalen to his room so they could curl up in his bed and fall asleep together. Then he'd wake Jalen up with slow kisses and-.
Shane took a big mouthful of hot coffee, scalding his tongue in an effort to put a stop to that train before it could gather any steam. He swallowed the liquid down, still clueless on where these sudden lust-filled thoughts for his friend were coming from. He was starting to think they were brought about by exhaustion.
When he'd looked at his schedule two days ago, his eyebrows had shot up in surprise. Class after class after class was listed, with breaks in-between so short there was barely enough time to get from one training area to the next, and a short twenty-minute lunch. In addition, all of the pilots in the program had twice been pulled from their beds in the middle of the night for a flight simulation course, while others in different segments of the program were given their own late-night assessments.
Shane understood why the schedule was so full. It was Beals Corp's own version of Hell Week. Beals wanted to see who could handle the rigorous training and who would crack under the pressure. Because it was a sure bet if a recruit couldn't handle the pressure on earth under controlled conditions, they wouldn't be able to deal with it in space on a ship where help was beyond reach.
So far, Shane and most of his fellow recruits were holding steady. No one left on the first day of the packed schedule. But after two days of nearly non-stop training and middle of the night wake-up calls, three recruits had buckled and left the program. So, including the man who refused to accept the Beals enhancement that brought the total withdrawals to four. A small number considering there were close to three hundred people in the program. Cuts would probably be coming soon and Shane didn't want to be among those released.
"Look alive," Jalen said.
Shane looked down at Jalen, then followed his nod to see three people approaching from the direction of the main building. A bald, stocky man with a hard jaw, and narrowed eyes led the way, with two Beals staff members following close behind. The lead man had undoubtedly been a drill sergeant before he came to Beals as an instructor because the first thing he did was issue an order in a voice rough from overuse.
The four of them stood shoulder to shoulder in a short line and waited while one of the assistants verified everyone's ID badge. When she was finished, she stepped to the side for their instructor to continue.
"This morning, you're being trained and assessed for wilderness first aid. It will serve as the backbone for what you will do if you're ever on an uninhabited or hostile planet with a wounded team member. Gear bags with first aid kits are inside the tent. Get in there and grab one," he directed.
They all stepped into the three-sided tent, tossed their reusable coffee cups in the collection bin and selected a bag. They were small and black with a hard-shell cover. One of the assistants listed off the contents as the recruits went through their bags to verify they had everything: material for splints, emergency allergy auto-injector, a knife, hydration capsules, squares of material that looked like patches for a raft or air mattress, and more. After they finished their inventory, the instructor gave them the assignment.
"Your job is to find your assigned wounded dummy using your locator beacon. You will get them stabilized in the field, then bring them back to the tent using the gurney in your pack. However. This is not like regular wilderness first aid. Do not under any circumstances remove the wounded person's helmet. When you're out there on some random planet it might not have an atmosphere that you can breathe in and survive. We're building the habit now to always leave helmets on in emergency situations. Also, for the same reason, you are not to remove the wounded's space suit."
Shane frowned. How were they supposed to assess damage if they couldn't remove the suit?
Their instructor nodded at one of his assistants. "Show ‘em."
With an excited grin, the assistant stepped forward and dramatically whipped the cover off a draped object in the center of the tent, revealing a mannequin wearing a skin tight black suit and glossy black helmet. The suit lit up in several places, glowing yellow in some spots and red in others.
"This is the brand new Beals Space Suit. It is not a prototype. Those of you who are selected for BE9 will wear this gear on your mission. The suit is designed to function as an exoskeleton for your bodies, and it monitors your vitals. As you can see on the mannequin, it displays wounded areas. Minor injuries do not light up. Serious, but non-life-threatening injuries glow yellow. Red indicates severe blood loss. The only time you have permission to open an astronauts suit is over a red zone. To do so, you'll make an incision in the suit. Pour the blood clotting agent on the wound, then immediately secure the incision with the uniform patch. Any questions?"
The information and instructions were delivered rapid-fire, with barely enough time for them to absorb it. Still, the four of them shook their heads no to the instructor’s question.
"Okay, then. You'll be scored on sufficient treatment of your dummy's injuries and speed in returning it to base. Move out."
They all took off across the short expanse of grass before separating at the tree line. Shane headed into the forest at an easy jog, carefully watching the terrain in front of him while frequently checking the screen on his locator. The forest floor was soft and thick with wet pine needles that absorbed the sound of his footsteps, and the birds and other forest animals were quiet as they hid from the increasingly heavy rain. Shane heard nothing over the raindrops plopping on his head and shoulders, except for the sound of his breathing, and the steady beep-beep of the locator.
He followed the signal, staying on the course it displayed until he approached a small clearing. He'd just gained a visual of his wounded dummy on the other side of the clearing when an explosion went off with a loud boom. Smoke poured into the area, obscuring his vision. Shane hunkered down and waited. It wouldn't do him or his "team member" any good if he stumbled blindly into the smoke and inadvertently injured himself. He had to keep himself safe in order to help others.
Once the smoke cleared and he could visually vet the area was clear, he moved forward again. His dummy lay on the ground, right foot turned at a bad angle, the suit glowing yellow above the ankle. There was also a red glow on the dummies right side just above its waist.
"Okay," Shane muttered to himself as he decided on a plan of action. He nodded and got to work. Shrugging off his pack, he took out the supplies he'd need to address the more serious injury first. A small cut opened up the suit, and he ripped it the rest of the way so as not to risk cutting the mannequin's simulated wound.
Mindful of the fact that if they were in an atmosphere hostile to humans he'd be exposing the wound to possible harmful bacteria, he moved quickly, dumping on the clotting agent to temporarily stop the bleeding and close the wound, then applying the patch to seal the uniform. After that, he applied a soft splint to immobilize the injured ankle.
When he finished with the field dressings, he dug into his pack again for the portable gurney. It was a slightly heavy square of folded plastic about the size of a dinner plate, with a thick strap holding it closed. The first button opened it up like an automatic raft. Shane cursed at having to drag the inflatable gurney back to camp because it would probably be faster if he carried the dummy over his shoulders. But there was another button.
Shane pressed it and to his surprise, the gurney lifted off the ground a few inches, hovering just high enough not to drag on the ground. There was no way the instructor forgot to mention that piece of information, so taking the time to find out how the gurney functioned was obviously part of the assessment and training.
Shane set off, pulling the dummy behind him. He had to put a little effort into it, since the gurney wasn't self-propelled but the hovering ability made the task of moving his wounded much easier. He made it back to the base camp first. Upon his arrival, one of the assistants checked over his dummy. All areas had been properly treated and he was given the thumbs up.
"Good work, Thomas."
Once his score was recorded, the four of them turned to watch the forest and wait for the others to arrive. Shane wasn't surprised to see Jalen emerge next. He quick-jogged toward them, his face set with determination as he pulled the weight of the dummy behind him. It was several more minutes before Aaron showed up, with Charlie a few paces behind. All three mannequins were assessed, with all three receiving passing scores.
"Good job, men."
Charlie was red-faced and panting from exertion but raised a hand to get the instructor's attention. "Sir. I'm not..." Charlie paused to gulp in a deep breath. "We're not all men. I’m non-binary, sir."
"My apologies. Good job, everyone," the instructor corrected himself before moving on. "Your scores will be submitted shortly. Return your packs and move out for your next assessment."
At the dismissal, Shane turned to Jalen. Rain dripped down his nose and drops of water sparkled on his eyelashes. But he was smiling.
"Another assessment passed with flying colors." Jalen looked over his shoulder at the mannequin in the center of the tent. "I'm going to look good in that space suit."
Shane silently agreed. He ran his eyes down Jalen's slim build, picturing it encased in the skin-tight material. As he looked at his friend, Shane smelled the rain and the cut grass under their boots. But beneath those outdoorsy smells was the warm, elusive scent he'd first noticed in the hallway after his Zero G training. The scent that he knew came from Jalen. Although he hadn’t brought it up after his initial inquiry to Jalen about cologne, he continued to be teased by the elusive scent. It didn’t always show up when they were together, but when it did, Shane wanted nothing more than to pull Jalen close and breathe him in.
Charlie and Aaron approached, grabbing their attention and distracting Shane from thoughts of his friend. They all congratulated each other on passing the first aid assessment before heading back to the main building.
Inside, Charlie pulled out their data pad. "Wow. I literally don't have time to dry off before my next class."
Everyone else checked their schedules as well.
"Neither do I," Jalen grumbled.
Aaron shook his head, indicating he didn't have any spare time either.
"We'd better get moving then," Shane said. They went their separate ways after his informal dismissal, wet boots squeaking down the halls. Shane made his way to one of the research labs for more practice with the neural translator.
And so, the day went on.
Sitting in class learning the Galaxy BMS 4425 system.
Mock repairs of engine components during a water walk.
A high-level mathematics test.
Studying the schematics of the BE9 ship.
Then dinner, where he'd observed a few heads nearly nodding over into plates as the recruits ate.
Now, mentally and physically exhausted, Shane returned to his room. He stripped naked, placing his wrinkled uniform in the hamper because even as tired as he was, he refused to leave clothes on the floor. Then he trudged into the shower and turned it on. He let the water beat down on his tired muscles, thanking the stars above that the campus had excellent water pressure, and an apparently unlimited supply of hot water, since it was a good bet that nearly everyone else in the exploration program was showering right then as well. Including Jalen.
Shane groaned and squeezed his eyes shut tight. But that didn't stop the image blooming in his head of Jalen wet and naked in the shower, soap suds slipping down his back to slide between the round curves of his ass. The picture was so vivid, so enticing, he raised a hand, fingertips tingling as he imagined tracing them along the path the bubbles had taken.
Fuck. Shane swore as he dropped his hand. What was wrong with him? His constant thoughts of Jalen hadn't been this bad since he was a teenager, with hormones raging out of control, and secretly crushing on his best friend.
Cursing again, he abruptly switched the water to cold, shocking himself, and effectively scaring away the erection that was valiantly trying to get started despite his exhaustion. After a few seconds under the icy spray, Shane turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. He dried off, yanked on briefs and pajama bottoms on the chance they were pulled out of bed in the middle of the night for another test, then collapsed on top of the covers. Sleep would come easy tonight; his eyes were already closed as he lay his head on the pillow. But as he drifted off, one word ran through his mind... Jalen.
Shane opened his eyes. He looked around, unsure if he was awake or dreaming. His head was clear, as though he were awake. But the last thing he remembered was falling asleep. In addition, the area around him appeared oddly... amorphous. He stood in a dark, empty space but somehow, he knew if he went forward that would change.
As he slowly started walking, the darkness gradually lightened, revealing a moonlit bedroom. Shane recognized it as one of the rooms in the Beals residence tower but it wasn't his. The window was on the wrong side, and the dresser was dark wood instead of gray like the one that held his clothes. Also, there was someone in the bed.
Jalen lay there, face down, one knee drawn up. The sheets were tangled half off his naked body, and his hips rolled in a slow, hypnotic rhythm that mesmerized Shane. From his position, Shane could just see the curve of Jalen's balls hanging between his legs when he raised his hips, then plumping up when they pressed against the bed. It was a gorgeous sight, one he could have watched for hours. But even in his dream state, Shane knew this wasn't something he should watch without permission. He needed to make his presence known.
"Jalen," he said hoarsely.
Jalen stopped his movements, quickly turning onto his back. "Shane," he said in surprise.
Everything was so sharp; the colors bright, Jalen's face and expression in focus. Shane could even see the scar on his friend's thigh from when he'd fallen out of a tree when they were fourteen. He moved closer to the bed and reached out slowly, running his fingers over the old wound. The skin was soft, the texture different from that of the skin around it. "This is a really realistic dream."
"Yeah," Dream Jalen agreed. He raised a hand and held it out to Shane in an invitation to join him.
Shane looked down and saw that he was naked. Had he always been naked or had his clothes disappeared? It didn't matter. All that mattered was that Jalen was inviting him into his bed. Shane went gladly, first kneeling on the mattress, then easing on top of his friend. They both shuddered as bare, heated flesh slid together. Shane had never had a dream feel so real before, but he decided to roll with it.
He lowered his head, gently pressing a kiss to Jalen's full lips. When Jalen's lips parted beneath his, Shane softly sucked at the full bottom one before sliding his tongue inside Jalen's mouth. Jalen moaned and licked him back.
"This is just a dream," Shane whispered between kisses. "It's okay if we do this."
"Yes, it's okay," Jalen agreed again. "I like it."
Shane stroked a hand down Jalen's side to grasp his thigh, tugging him into place so their bodies fit closer together. "Me too." Their kisses and touches grew more heated after that, their hips rolling, silky hard erections rubbing together. That delicious scent came again, the one Shane had wrongly thought came from phantom baked goods. "You smell amazing," he said as he brushed his lips over Jalen's jaw and down his throat.
"So do you," Jalen panted. "I never noticed before but you smell so good."
More kisses followed. Soft, wet kisses that stoked their arousal to a fever pitch, the bed softly squeaking as their bodies rocked together. His thrusts made Jalen pant and moan. Jalen's thighs squeezing Shane's hips made him groan and thrust harder. He could come like this. He would come like this if they continued, but Jalen's next words made him realize he could have more.
"I want you inside me," Jalen whispered into Shane's ear.
Shane's cock throbbed at those words. That's what he wanted too, more than anything. He raised his hips slightly, so that Jalen could slip a hand between them and touch what he wanted.
Jalen gently grasped Shane's cock, guiding him to his entrance without hesitation. Just as Shane began to press inside, Jalen started to disappear, melting away into mist right before Shane's eyes.
"Don't leave," he begged.
His dark eyes wide, Jalen clung to him in a panic. "I don't want to go!"
Shane desperately tried to push forward again, to keep the dream going, but it was too late, Jalen was gone...
Shane jolted awake, eyes popping wide open. His cock throbbed and he didn't stop to think. He just shoved his pajama pants and briefs down beneath his balls, took his cock in hand and stroked tight and fast. Within seconds he was coming, with an unusually deep groan rumbling in his chest, and cum spurting hot and thick on his belly.
He kept stroking through the pulsing climax, hips rising as he frantically tried to push into the body of the man who should be there with him. To his frustration however, there was nothing for him to thrust into. He was alone.
The climax ended, his body stilled and Shane lay there with his softening cock in his hand, more asleep than awake. When sunlight eased into the room, clearing the lust haze and fog of sleep from his head, Shane sat up. That dream. It was more realistic than any he'd ever had and he remembered every second of it. Although he was tempted to blow it off as his subconscious manifesting his desires in a less than subtle way, he was more than a little unnerved by the tone and sharpness of what he'd just experienced.
Unfortunately, he wasn't sure what to do about it. Things were just getting back to normal between him and Jalen after their unexpected kiss. And how did one broach the topic of a sex dream about their friend without coming off as a total creeper? It didn't seem possible and he didn't want to ruin their friendship. Especially now when they were so close to achieving their goal of going into space together. Shane stared out the window at the slowly dawning day, wondering what he should do.
* * *
Jalen slowly drifted awake, becoming aware of things in stages. He lay face down, arms wrapped around his pillow. His body burned with heat. He slowly humped the mattress. And the front of his briefs were wet.
That last piece of information made Jalen still his movements and open his eyes. After a second's hesitation, he rolled onto his back and peeked beneath the covers in disbelief. What the fuck? He'd ejaculated in his sleep like a teenager.
While Jalen stared at the wet spot on the front of his underwear, the memory of just what and who had been the cause of his nocturnal emission hit his brain. Jalen shot upright in bed as he remembered that dream. The vividness of it. Shane's voice, the warmth of their skin pressed together, the startling coherence where they'd carried on a conversation with none of the meandering tangents of most dreams. Plus, the fact that he'd smelled Shane. And not in the way that something was in his room, influencing his senses. That scent was uniquely Shane and there was nothing in his room now that resembled it.
All of those details combined with the fact that he'd thought Shane looked bigger, and their out of character kiss had him wondering if these unusual occurrences could be traced back to the Beals Corp enhancements. The recruits still hadn't been told what they'd been injected with, or even what the classifications meant. Maybe it was time to find out.
Jalen threw back the covers, grimacing at the feel of his cold, damp briefs pressing against his crotch. He quickly stripped out of them, tossing them in the small hamper on his way to the bathroom. After a quick shower, he dressed in his uniform, made his bed with military school precision, and left the room.
He decided to go and talk to Shane first and see if he'd experienced anything suspicious too. If he had, they could compare notes and decide how to handle the situation together. But Jalen didn't make it to Shane's room. He'd just turned onto the hall with the elevator when it chimed to announce a car's arrival. Shane stepped out. He noticed Jalen and immediately walked toward him.
Jalen stopped and stared at Shane as he approached. He'd always thought the other man was attractive, but in a detached, this is Shane my hot friend, sort of way. More recently that aesthetic appreciation had turned into genuine attraction. But now...
Now, Jalen thought Shane was gorgeous, and the sight of that big body, with its bulging biceps, hard thighs - and god he could see the outline of a deliciously thick cock - coming toward him made Jalen want to fall to his knees and worship Shane from the ground up. With his mouth. Jalen shook his head, trying to dislodge those lust-filled thoughts from his brain.
"Hey," Jalen quietly greeted his friend, hoping none of what he was thinking showed on his face. "I was just coming to see you."
"You were? Why?"
Jalen cleared his throat. Embarrassed but determined to find out what was going on, he forced himself to be truthful. "This sounds really cheesy. But I dreamed about you. And it felt... "
Jalen frowned as an out of this world suspicion started to form. "Yeah," he said slowly.
"I dreamed about you too. And the whole time it felt like I was actually touching you."
Shock settled in Jalen's stomach as they stared at each other in disbelief. The electric charge and hyper awareness that seemed to appear whenever they were near each other returned, stronger than ever before. This time there was no mistaking the fact that it was heavily tinged with desire. Jalen could see it in the way those green eyes watched him, heavy-lidded but so intense as they focused on him. That same wonderful scent he remembered from his dream was in the air. It made him want to close his eyes and press his body close against Shane, so the scent would surround him, cover him.
Jalen swallowed hard, fighting back the urge to rub against his friend like a cat in heat. He was an Air Force captain and fighter pilot. He could control his body's physical urges, even ones as strange and new as what he was experiencing now. Still, his voice trembled when he asked his question. "Touching me?"
Shane nodded. He moved forward, guiding Jalen into a small alcove near the elevator bank.
Jalen took several steps backward, allowing Shane to tuck them away into the nook. Anyone who walked down the hallway would only see Shane's back if they deliberately looked to their left as they passed the elevators, but nothing else. Once they were in relative privacy, Shane continued.
"Intimately. In a way I've never touched you before."
"I was on my bed."
"And you came over and joined me and we kissed."
"Yes," Shane said with a nod. "And you... you wanted me inside you." His voice deepened. "Tried to guide me there."
Jalen's heart pounded, his body tingling with arousal as he remembered everything that happened in his head as he slept. He stared up at Shane - who was definitely bigger, there was no denying it when they were this close - completely shocked that they were describing the exact same dream. "How is this possible? People don't share dreams."
Shane braced a hand on the wall above Jalen's head. "I don't know, but I can't stop thinking about you. Not when I'm awake and apparently not when I'm asleep either."
He leaned down, pressing his face to Jalen's throat and breathing in. Warm breath gently blew over Jalen's skin as Shane exhaled, making him shiver in reaction. Before he could stop himself, he tilted his head to the side, allowing Shane to nuzzle in even closer. Two words whispered softly in Jalen's mind. Claim me. The words and the feeling behind them were strange, as though they came from a new part of him. But they felt so right, he almost parted his lips to say them out loud.
"Something is wrong," he managed to say instead.
Shane breathed in once more before he straightened. "Definitely. And even though you smell really good, and all I want to do is to take you back to my room to finish what we started in our dream, we should go find out what's happening to us."
Jalen licked his lips, his belly trembling with desire at Shane's blunt honesty. He felt the same way about continuing where they left off, but this wasn't like them, and they needed to find out what was going on. "I agree." Shane stepped back, giving Jalen room to move from the little hideaway.
"What do you think? Should we go to Doctor Bakshi or Doctor Oliver?"
Jalen considered a moment before shaking his head in response to Shane's suggestion. "No. We should start higher than that. Beals said the buck stops with Director Nelson, right? Let's go see what she has to say."
We're at the halfway mark! Now that they've been sexually frustrated by that mean old dream, I think it's time the found out what the heck is going on.
Thank you for reading and let me know what you think in the comments. =)
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