The Freedom To Choose

Chapter 7 Freedom

Logan was lying in Harlock's bed, the two of them wrapped around each other, clinging tightly. They had stood in the engine room for awhile, just breathing in each other's space, but their exhaustion from the busy day got to them quickly and neither of them wanted to continue standing upright. In need of rest but not wanting to leave each other, Harlock had tentatively grasped Logan's hand and brought him to the captain's quarters. Logan, having hoped for the same thing but too nervous to ask, went along silently.

It had been rather nerve wracking, wondering what would happen once they arrived in the room. Logan spent the walk over fidgeting and anxious, not knowing if they were going to take things any farther than the heated kiss they had shared. But Harlock just pulled him into his room and shut the door, taking off his shoes before sitting on the edge of the bed. He had looked up at Logan after a minute and said, "I have some extra sleep pants, if you would like to borrow them." Logan had nodded, so Harlock had retrieved them from his chest, grabbing a pair for himself. The two men turned away from each other self-consciously and changed into the soft and loose pants before Harlock pulled back the covers on the bed and climbed in, pulling Logan in with him. The two had instantly curled into one another, entwining their limbs and getting as close as possible. Harlock was half on his back and half on his side with Logan's head resting against his chest. Their legs tangled together and the captain curled his head down and toward Logan's so he could bury his nose in Logan's hair. They had been lying there silently ever since, the lights out, warm and content but not sleeping.

It was Logan who broke the silence many long minutes later.

"You know, my brother died today. And we broke and revealed the biggest secret in the universe. And I have permanently left the only life and home I've ever really known and yet... And yet I am more relaxed, more content than I have been in a long time." He spoke slowly, softly, but with emotion and conviction.

Harlock seemed to mull it over in his mind for a minute before asking, "Why is that?"

"Because... Because I've found something worth believing in, worth standing up and fighting for. I thought I was paying penance for my mistakes, that I didn't deserve freedom so it was only right that I follow orders. Even ones I wasn't sure I agreed with, but... I think that the only true way for me to make up for my sins was by being free so I could use that freedom to help everyone else be free. I wouldn't admit it to myself but I was never really happy with the Coalition. Something always seemed a little... off. But I thought that obeying them would redeem me, would make me better. But I was just another slave, like cattle, and I wasn't doing anything worthwhile. Exposing the truth, though... Showing the world the lies of the Coalition and allowing people to think for themselves like you forced me to do? ...That was something worth doing, something good to make up for the wrong I've done. I think you said it right earlier, that this is what redemption must feel like. I think this is what it must be like to be free."

It was a lot to say and to process and Logan wasn't really sure he had gotten all of it right. He wasn't sure he had said it well. The problem was, he wasn't quite sure all his thoughts were straight even in his own head, let alone well enough to articulate them.

Harlock just laid quietly for awhile, thinking, and Logan waited, not in any kind of rush. Eventually, Harlock spoke, voice hardly above a whisper, quiet and uncertain, like he wasn't sure he should be saying anything at all. "What are your sins?"

Ordinarily, such a question would have seemed invasive and rude to Logan but he knew why Harlock asked. Logan knew the Captain's sins and there couldn't be anything much worse than destroying an entire planet. So Logan's sins wouldn't seem so bad by comparison. Not to mention, it seemed only fair that Harlock should know Logan's mistakes since he knew Harlock's. And if they were going to trust each other then they needed to know each other. This - their sins - was part of that, a big part of who they were.

So Logan began to talk. He told Harlock about his family, how his parents were botanists and how Ezra and he had made friends with their neighbor, Nami. He told him about his parents' deaths, how sad and lonely he had been for awhile, how Ezra had changed and become so cold and distant, only made worse when he began to realize that Nami didn't want him in return. He told him about the accident in the greenhouse, about his impulsiveness and foolishness, about his childish mind that couldn't think beyond now and how it had ruined two lives. How Ezra had gone from cold and distant to cruel and imperious, and the mission he had been given, the job that might just offer him a chance to redeem himself. How Logan had taken to it with fervor and hope, jumping at the chance to make things right, to fix the mess he had made. And maybe, just maybe, bring Ezra to love him again, even just a little.

He talked and rambled and vented, fighting tears sometimes, and trying to explain to Harlock just how much of a mess he had been when he had stepped aboard the Arcadia, trying to make him understand him a little better. Harlock listened intently and silently the entire time, unmoving and patient. When Logan finally ran out of words to say, Harlock waited a moment to be sure he was finished before simply pulling Logan in closer and tighter and murmuring gently, "And now you are free," and Logan squeezed him back, relaxing into the man's comforting arms.

For the first time in a long time both men felt content, they felt happy. Their troubles, their wars had ended for a time. They were among family and friends who cared about them and protected them. They had chosen this life, had chosen their path, not always knowing what they were getting into, but they had chosen freely. Things had not always gone the way they had predicted or wanted. Sometimes, some years, had been horrible and awful and they never wanted to go through such things again. But the experiences had made them stronger, wiser. And those choices had brought them here. To each other, to the Arcadia, to truth. To the opportunity to do with their lives what they wanted, whatever they wanted. They could go and do and say whatever they wished and no one could stop them, no one had the right to tell them otherwise. No one controlled them and nothing bound them. The weight of their sins and lies and mistakes had been lifted in their quest for truth and brought them wide-open possibility and the freedom to choose any option they liked.

They were free.

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