These days, Lokin was slower on his feet, tired more easily; he was losing weight. Use of his rakghoul form, from observation, put strain on his body Sanewso wasn’t willing to be party to – but having the doctor with him in dangerous places was sometimes essential. Sanewso’s acquired brain injury from two sets of Castellan restraints meant a score carved across his prefrontal cortex and arcuate fasciculus; the rest of his brain tried to balance it out, but the miswiring had unavoidable consequences. He had trouble with speech and executive functioning, which he could have taken Vector’s help with, but he also had seizures, which were often frequent and lengthy enough to require professional medical attention – especially when he injured himself by falling or hitting himself.
Vector was, nevertheless, a blessing. His ability to sense auras meant he often knew a seizure was coming before Sanewso did. His close friendship with both Sanewso and Lokin (friendship was certainly not the limit of his relationship with Sanewso, but the friendship was there nonetheless) made the three of them, together, as efficient a team as any variety of two of them had once been.
It also led to moments like these, gazing up at a meteor shower, his head pillowed on Vector’s lap, Lokin lying on the grass by them, all three enthralled with the display. To Sanewso and Lokin, the display was a beautiful show of lights, colours and physics. To Vector, it was more, and his soothing voice described what he perceived to the other two; scents, emotions, physical sensations.
Vector knew that his perception was appreciated – cherished – by the other two, so Sanewso didn’t need to say it. “Science,” he said instead, to rile up Lokin, “could not improve on that.”
“Science,” said Lokin, knowing his line, “can improve on everything. But I’ll admit, there’s no need for intervention on this view.”
It was cool, in the growing night. Sanewso was Chiss, and liked the cool; Vector could manage the temperature shift. Lokin likely could, as well, but Sanewso sat up, Vector’s hand on his shoulder supporting him as he took it slow, and he shrugged off the fur cloak he’d taken from Aristocra Saganu’s base and passed it over to Lokin anyway.
Lokin took it with fingers less deft than Sanewso recalled from their early days working together. “My thanks,” he said, and draped it over himself. “Did you know, I didn’t realise I was cold.”
Sanewso saw no need to reply, but Vector murmured “We did not know for certain, but we did assume as such.” In response to Sanewso loaning away his cloak, Vector removed his killik silk outer garment, and unfolded it into a blanket. Sanewso nestled back down into him, lying down again, and Vector arranged it over them both, dropping a kiss to his forehead, under his hair the same colour as the almost-black blue sky they were watching.
Another comfortable silence fell, before Lokin seemingly decided it was time for another experiment. “It’s none of my business,” he started, and Sanewo interrupted him, shifting in Vector’s lap.
“Not like… you let that… be a barrier.”
Lokin listened until he’d gotten the words out, then snorted quietly. “I suppose not,” he admitted. Sanewso felt Vector’s chest expand and contract in his own huff of amusement.
“We know not,” said Vector.
There was silence, for a few moments, in which Sanewso pictured Lokin rolling his eyes. He didn’t repeat himself, rather continuing from what he had been going to say regardless of the fact that it was, apparently, none of his business. “Have you considered marriage?” he asked.
Sanewso lifted his arm up, and Vector’s hand found his; the two hands, one brown and one blue (to Sanewso’s limited eyes; Vector saw them both in ever-shifting multicolour), folded together. Sanewso ran his thumb along the back of Vector’s palm. “We have,” said Vector. “We regretfully decided that being formally registered as one another’s husbands would likely lead to work difficulties.”
Sanewso huffed a soft laugh; of course Vector would phrase it as ‘work difficulties’.
Lokin, however, seemed serious, albeit genial in the same way he usually presented himself. “Oh, not to the Empire, certainly,” he said, dismissing this, “but… oh.” He grimaced, his head still, and one arm curled protectively around his abdomen. Vector placed a palm on his shoulder, a simple weight of ‘we-are-here’. “Ah.. thank you, Vector. I was about to say that that I would be most surprised if there were not Chiss wedding traditions.”
Sanewso didn't know why he hadn't seriously, truly contemplated that until now, but now that it had been broached all he could imagine was the two of them in the traditional clothing - the shoes on snow, the embellished ends of their sleeves, the gold and white - their hands being bound together, eating their food together, the rite spoken - perhaps by Saganu, who had made him a Merit Adoptive of his House - in Cheunh, and both of them singing the Song of the Universe that Vector heard. “Vector?” he said, reaching up his other arm, as well, for Vector to take; he did so, moving his hand from Lokin’s shoulder to take his love’s.
“Yes, darling?” responded Vector.
As he often did when he said something that diverged from what most in the Empire would deem acceptable, Sanewso broke his sentence down into small pieces that were innocuous on their own. “I would like to,” he said, then paused, running his mind through other things to avoid mentally phrasing something he wouldn’t be able to speak. “Be.” Vector was listening raptly; Sanewso didn’t have to look away from him to know that Lokin was smiling. “Your husband.”
“We would like to be your husband also, Miurani’sanewso,” said Vector, and Sanewso sat up again to kiss him.
Lokin politely watched the last of the meteor shower fade past the horizon. Then, when he decided that the interspecies mating ritual was not fascinating enough to pointedly ignore when it was two of his travelling companions right next to him, cleared his throat. It turned into an unfeigned gasp for oxygen, and Sanewso and Vector broke apart immediately, both turning to face Lokin. Lokin propped himself up on his elbows to make breathing less arduous for his respiratory system. “Now that you’re getting married,” he said, speaking past a slight hoarseness, “you shall need a chaperone until the day.”
Sanewso threw Vector’s over-tunic-blanket at him. Vector watched on indulgently as joking conversation devolved into a play-fight, as if Sanewso and Lokin were both children. When both other men rolled away from each other, Lokin no longer snarling and Sanewso no longer reaching for his knives and blasters, Vector waited patiently for their attention.
“Gentlebeings,” he said, “as enjoyable as this evening has been, perhaps it is becoming time to… what is the phrase? ‘Turn in’.”
“Alright,” muttered Sanewso, who didn’t have to be told twice, and promptly rolled back onto his fiancé and fell asleep.
“Children these days,” said Lokin, clambering to his feet and returning both of the others’ warm outer layers to them.
Vector carried Sanewso into their lodgings, walking at a comfortable, slow pace that Lokin easily matched. Despite his earlier threat to chaperone, he made no token attempt to separate the two lovers. “Good night,” he said, fondly, as he closed the door to their room to head towards his own.
“Good night,” returned Vector, and started to wrangle his sleeping Chiss into sleepclothes and under their bed’s covers.