The Freedom To Choose

Chapter 8 Epilogue

EPILOGUE

Logan woke slowly, awareness seeping in. First, that he was warm and comfortable. Second, he wasn't alone. He shifted a little, remembering the night before and wanting to snuggle deeper into the arms that were wrapped around him, basking in their safety and warmth. Harlock's hands reached around him farther, holding tighter and pressing Logan closer into his chest. The movement made Logan aware of a third thing: pain.

He had kind of forgotten about all of his injuries in the rush of the day before and had been too happy last night to stop and think about it. Now, though, he was reminded. As he turned into Harlock's body, Logan let out a low groan, sore muscles tensing. His face throbbed across his nose and cheek, as did his arm from where bullets had grazed him. His chest ached and any turning of it sent sharp twinges up his side - probably some cracked ribs and definitely bruising from Ezra's chair slamming him into a wall. His eye, or lack there of, was the worst though, a violent and powerful pain something like a throb and a sting.

He had taken the eye patch off before sleeping the night before and now he brought his hand up to his face and covered the empty hole gently, flinching a little when it sent sparks of discomfort dancing through his head.

Harlock pulled back and brought his own hand up to Logan's head, resting his palm across the younger man's cheekbone and temple. His eyes turned sad but his voice was teasing. "We match."

Logan huffed a laugh. "Yeah. Did yours hurt this bad?"

"Probably. Hard to remember. It was so long ago."

"Oh. Right. God, I keep forgetting you're over a hundred years old. Do you think... Will you die? Can you die?"

"I'm... not sure. But something feels different now, since Mimay merged with the ship. I don't know, it's just... Before, we were all bound together, to each other, so it was like two parts of the same body coming together. Like... if the soul left the body and then went back into it. But the Arcadia took her in, the black matter joined with her, and that changed the nature of our bond, even more so when Mimay came back. And the Arcadia... she let you control her, let you act as the captain. I'm not sure, but I don't think I'm bound to her or to Mimay anymore. Maybe... maybe I'll be back to normal now, age and die just like any other human being. I don't know, just a theory."

Logan laid silent for a moment, thinking out his response. "Well... I hope that's true. I... I don't want you to live forever, it's too lonely. I know it sounds bad, but I want you to die. Someday. I want you to have that ability."

"It doesn't sound bad. It sounds nice. I've already lived more than a lifetime, nearly two long lifetimes and it looks like I have at least one more left. That's plenty for me. And... I don't think I would want any more, especially if you weren't around to live them with me. I, I've only had you around for a short time but I'm already starting to wonder how I ever made it this long without you. I need you Logan, need you here with me."

Logan's felt a lump forming in his throat, sadness over the terrible loneliness this man before him had gone through, the pain of having no one around besides a ship and an alien for so long. How awful must it have been to continue watching his human crew mates die, one after the other, year after year, knowing his day wasn't coming, that there was no escaping, no end to his own grief and pain. His plan, his mission and desperate need for redemption had obviously kept him going, kept him sane, but the sadness in Harlock's eyes was so powerful. There was steel there, a strength that couldn't be ignored and was certainly not faked. Logan had seen it when he first boarded the Arcadia, again when Harlock had rescued him from the canyon, and many other times, but behind that bravery and ambition was a horrible loneliness, the kind that was only seen in the eyes of the old. It was strange and horrible to see eyes like that on a face that seemed so young, only a few years older than Logan himself.

Logan never wanted to see that sadness ever again. He wasn't even sure if he had ever seen the man with a smile, at least one that wasn't laced with bitterness or irony. "Well. I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying right here, with you, as long as you want me."

Harlock smiled at him gently, closing his eyes and leaning forward to press their foreheads together. "Thank you, Logan."

They lay like that for a few minutes, neither wanting to leave the warmth of the bed or each other's company, but eventually they knew they needed to rise. They had a ship to run after all, only it wasn't duty that put them in motion. It was Logan's stomach complaining about the lack of food it had gotten recently. He felt his cheeks flush with embarrassment and buried his nose in Harlock's collarbone.

Harlock chuckled, stroking his hand down the younger man's spine. "Perhaps we should get breakfast? I have not eaten in at least a day and I am rather certain you haven't either. You're going to need nourishment if you are to heal properly. And I would rather like you to be as healthy as possible. I have plans for you."

Harlock sat up and slid to the end of the bed, walking over to his chest to pull out clean clothes. Logan pushed himself up slowly, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and bracing his hands on his knees. "Oh, plans? What kind of plans?"

Logan looked up to see Harlock grinning at him, a bigger smile than Logan had ever seen on his face, and mischievous glint in his eye. "We were both exhausted last night and wrung out in more ways than one. And you are injured and in pain, even if you seemed to have forgotten it until you had a chance to rest and be still. But I did not bring you to my room for entirely innocent reasons. I plan to keep you here and I do not intend to spend each night only sleeping." His eyes had gone dark and focused on Logan with intensity.

Logan's mouth went dry and his face went hot, palms sweating and heart rate picking up. He barely managed to squeak out a tiny "Oh?" before his throat closed again.

Harlock walked back to the bed, standing in front of Logan, a stack of clothes in his arm. He reached down with his free hand and grabbed the man's chin between his fingers, tilting Logan's face up. Harlock leaned down, their noses bare inches apart, his breath washing over Logan's face. "Yes. I have spent much time considering this and as soon as you are healed I plan to make my imaginings into reality. If you are not okay with this make it clear to me now. When I told you I needed you, when I said I wanted you, I meant more than just your presence and your companionship. I wantyou."

Logan swallowed hard. He had known that Harlock bringing him back to his room was likely more than just an innocent desire for company or a means for emotional comfort. But hearing the words out loud was sending liquid heat coursing through his veins. He stumbled over his words, hardly able to think straight enough to form a sentence.

"I... I want you, Harlock. I've always wanted you. I want everything. I'm not going anywhere."

Harlock's eyes roved over Logan's face, searching, ensuring the man's honesty. Seemingly satisfied with what he found, his eyes turned from intensely curious to just plain intense before they slid closed and his brought his face down the last few inches to press his lips to Logan's. Their lips met gently, oh so gently, barely a whisper of touch as they brushed over each other, once, twice, a third time. Then Harlock turned his face slightly and pressed his cheek against Logan's and whispered softly. "I'm not letting you go, Logan. Never."

Logan just reached up and twined his arms around Harlock's shoulders, pulling him into his chest and holding tightly.

~~~

Life wasn't perfect. Sometimes the men were so alike that it spurred the most horrible of fights. Running a ship and a crew was stressful and chaotic and tiring and some days they could barely even get a glimpse of each other in all the business. They were in danger sometimes - some diehard members of the Coaltion were still trying to find them and never hesitated to attack if they spotted the Arcadia. They got injured, they got hurt, which usually left the other upset and emotional, ridiculously overprotective in the weeks following to the point of exasperating the other. They got irritated over little things and fought over them more than they needed to and from time-to-time one of them was just in a bad mood for no reason and couldn't keep their mouth shut. And sometimes they just needed a break from each other and Logan would go back to his old quarters.

They always came back to each other, though. They could only take so many sleepless or nightmare-filled nights alone in an empty bed before one of them would walk through the dark corridors and climb into the other's arms, whispering apologies. Nothing was ever more important than the other person, nothing was ever so serious that they couldn't forgive one another eventually.

Logan learned how to be Captain and Harlock left many of those duties to him, especially as they got older. Eventually they let someone else take over as captain, continuing to live on the ship as advisors and friends to the crew. But the Arcadia was where their hearts lived, where they both had found happiness, found each other, and they couldn't leave that. The Arcadia was home and it was freedom and they would never sacrifice their freedom. Only one thing was more important to them than that - each other. They had fought and bled for each other, to have each other despite all of the obstacles that had stood in their way, but had defeated them all, even the ones within themselves and that was worth protecting, worth keeping no matter what happened or how flawed and messy and hard it was sometimes. They had chosen what they wanted and they were never going to let go of that.

~~~

"Maybe we wanted to believe it - in a perfect home - one that existed just out of reach... We'll never see tomorrow if we're blinded by lies today. We searched throughout the universe for answers. It's time we searched within ourselves."


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