Stiles’ everything was dripping. His clothes were spread out on a flat rock to dry, leaving him in nothing but a pair of drying shorts that would have felt too cold if the sun’s rays weren’t so generous. Liam napped barely a foot away, his head propped against Stiles’ bag, once filled with clanking metal but now only toting their treasures. Stiles had been discreet when he sold his wares, slipping away from his family with a hushed warning and a promise to return quickly. He recognized others in his trade with nary a second glance. There was only one who gave him pause, an older woman with an obvious distrust for foreigners, but as long as the Consortium didn’t come knocking, he doubted she’d give them trouble. By the time he was through, his backpack was lighter and pockets heavier.
Then - then they celebrated. There was no other word for it. They bought every flavor of fruit bun the local bakery had, splitting each tiny cake three ways so they could all have a taste. He and Liam had the time of their lives forcing Scott to try on every bit of clothing they could find, from a pair of shimmery soft shorts to a shirt that only covered half his chest, made entirely out of metal. The town welcomed tourists who weren’t afraid to spend a little cred, and the ladies at the tavern promised them an entertaining night if they dropped by after the moons rose. There would be three of them that night. If they stayed for a few months, they’d see all four in the night sky.
This wasn’t anything like Stiles had ever experienced. There was an innocence in their revelry, one they chose to keep rather than suffered. Scott lived like he had no secrets to tell, and Stiles wanted so badly to follow his lead. Everything else just seemed to follow. He closed his eyes, and the way Scott smiled when he first saw the river played through his mind again and again.
Stiles reached out, then, taking his partner’s chin in his hand and coaxing him closer for a kiss that lingered. The grass was soft beneath them, and Scott reminded him of all the things the bartender could hear that were probably taking this chance to crawl up their butts. That was cool. Stiles wanted to crawl up Scott’s but, too.
"Glad you float," he mumbled, tangling his fingers with Scott’s while he tired to figure out a way to move closer without actually moving because everything felt so right. "You’re a jerk."
He kissed each knuckle in turn, working his way down Scott’s fingers like there was still sweet jam to steal or maybe the last of their dinner. “I got something for you,” Stiles confessed, trying to distract himself by tracing the lines in Scott’s skin, following the green veins that lead up his arm. He reached behind him, barely turning as he fished out the trinket from his bag’s side pocket. The ring was made of a simple scoured grey metal that still managed to reflect they dying light.
"I kind of guessed…" He mumbled. "You’re my husband, right? And if it doesn’t fit, we can probably get it adjusted in town somewhere. There was a smith. Just."
He met Scott’s gaze evenly, smile languidly proud, and only Stiles’ racing pulse gave him away. “You’re mine now. Even if you are a jerk.”
Scott shifted slightly, grass prickling against his bare skin as he leaned into the kiss. Stiles’s mouth always sent a thrill through him and he shivered even in the warmth of the sun, smiling as the human kissed along his hand. The smile slipped as the ring caught the light and he reached for it carefully, metal already warm from the Terran’s skin. Scott hadn’t thought Stiles would be serious. This was a cover, there was no one who knew more about living with a disguise and pretending to be something you weren’t. He was created for this, but that didn’t stop his chest from tightening as he rolled the ring between his fingers. So many cultures considered this to be important, almost sacred. It represented a bond and even though he’d only known Stiles for a few days, he felt…he felt…
“How do you know if you’re in love?” He asked quietly, keeping his eyes on the dull silver of the ring. “I’m sure I could feel it, I just never have before. I know there’s different kinds too, the one between friends and the one that’s family and the one that’s about passion. How do you know if that’s what you’re feeling or what if you feel more than one?”
Scott looked up at the human, uncertainty written across his face. This close and he still looked like he was human. His skin was dark and flawed, scar resting under his eye like he’d been hurt as a child and a small mole adorning the side of his slightly crooked jaw. His eyes were liquid dark, no sign of the bright flare of red fluorescence or digital cameras that fed information back to his CPU. His lips were soft and an impossible pink, tongue darting between them nervously to wet them. He breathed, he smiled, he didn’t need to eat but loved the taste of sweets anyways. He was alive or it was a really good trick, no way to tell if there was a ghost in the machine or the people who had programmed him had been clever and subtle in what Scott would do for self-preservation.
“I look at you and I’m terrified, I feel it in my stomach. I don’t know if I’m scared you’ll leave or what’s going to happen to me if you stay. I want to make you happy, when you smile then I feel like I’ve won something. I think about touching you all the time and just being a part of what you do. All the things that aren’t important, like when you wake up or watching you work on some machine even if I have no idea what you’re doing, or just being there. Being a part of your life.” Scott slipped the ring onto his finger. “I’ve been with a lot of people, but I’ve never wanted to stay afterwards. Is that love? I hope it’s love, Stiles.”
Oh no that was his spleen. Stiles was 90% sure he was using it, but there it went, his spleen, bursting because he couldn’t stop laughing. He fell on his butt, landing on the ridiculously soft mattress of their bed, but he refused to give up his prize! Liam was part-fish, probably, or maybe all fish. He took to blanket burrito like a bird to the sky, and Stiles was going to drop him and not regret it. Scott took him away, and Stiles started wheezing, tears prickling the corners of his eyes, and he loved them. He loved them both so much oh fuck, it was perfect.
"What in the -" The question died on his lips, and he stared with unabashed shock as two deviously innocent smiles broke his heart. Stiles gasped, propelling himself to the middle of the bed. "This was your plan all along!" He roared. "Taking over the universe!"
He was never leaving them alone again.
"All right!" He gasped. "All right! One cake."
"TWO!" Liam howled, launching himself at his Dad. Stiles caught him in a hug, tumbling in a terrible battle of tickles until he had his kid pinned. He blew raspberries into his stomach, as Liam screeched, tiny hands pushing at Stiles’ shoulders the entire time. "Scott help! Scott HELP!"
When it was all over, Stiles may have lost that battle, but it was pretty damn worth it. He kissed the tip of Scott’s nose in surrender. Liam thought it was okay for adults to be gross as long as he got cake.
Scott wasn’t sure that ‘perfect’ as a concept existed. It was impossible in anything but mathematical theory, the real world didn’t conform to the same kind of logic that his mechanical mind sometimes craved. It was chaotic, impractical, a messed up mix of entropy and bad decisions that flawed existence and made it all that much more interesting to experience. But this backwater world, a haven after leaving everything he owned in the world behind and fleeing those who’d destroy him, this was perfect or as close as it could ever get.
The android loved every part of the market, sticking his nose in doorways and almost getting it bitten off by some furred creature with a beak that the merchant laughed and promised would make a good supper. He ate cakes until his face was dusted with powdered sugar and every kiss he stole from Stiles tasted sticky sweet. Scott tried on hats that jingled with tiny glass bells, he watched dancers practicing in the square with open mouthed fascination before swinging Stiles up in his arms and pulling him across the cobblestones to join in. He set Liam on his shoulders as the boy tugged on Scott’s short dark hair, pointing excitedly every few minutes as he spotted something new.
They spent a few credits on some strange spotted fruits with subtly sweet flesh, a few hearty sandwiches on fresh baked bread and giant bottles of some sort of fizzy drink that made Liam giggle and hiccup, bringing their treasures down to the edges of a sluggish river that wound around the outskirts of the village. The water was eddying in deep still pools, so clean that the smooth red and blue stones at the bottom could be seen clearly and tiny golden fish darted about like sunbeams. Scott and Liam stripped off, nudity meaning nothing when there was swimming to do, and the android lept straight in with a whoop. He grinned as he bobbed back up to the surface, glad to note that he did indeed float, and shook water from the ends of his hair. Liam kept to the shallow edge, trying to catch the golden fish and exploring beneath the rocks for brilliantly iridescent shrimp like creatures that scuttled backwards to hide from his curious hands. Scott coaxed Stiles over, face innocent and sincere until he managed to drag the Terran into the water with him with cursed promises of retribution that just made the android laugh harder.
After, as the late afternoon sun slanted through the fields, Liam curled in a sunbeam and let exhaustion take him. Scott stretched out in the warmth of the fading light to try off, body curved towards the man at his side and lazily tossing crumbs of bread to the fluffy red birds that sang for scraps. He searched through his memory files and made sure that everything about this day was backed up and saved. This was the best day of his life. This was perfection.
That shouldn’t have been enough for him. Years of experience in space had drilled caution into a mind that once believed it was unstoppable. Stiles still believed that on most days; it had just been a little modified. He’d be unstoppable if he involved laser fire or didn’t piss off a Freckleputz with a mace - again. He could be unstoppable if he kept his pretty bartender in his arms for the rest of his life. “… Kay.”
Stiles was so screwed.
He mouthed at Scott’s lips, shivering with the gentle drag of skin across skin. They shouldn’t have been able to be this chaste, not after everything they’d done. In the back of Stiles’ mind, something devious reminded him that there was still so much left that they had yet to do.
"Grossss!" Liam whined, wiggling from his little cocoon. Stiles laughed into his partner’s skin, before rolling off the couch and easily scooping up the blanket sausage that his son had become.
"Off to the market, dude." Stiles proclaimed proudly, as the kid shrieked. Stiles came way too close to dropping him for anyone’s frame of mind. "I got a couple of things I need to trade - and this one. Maybe we can find a family of moradukes who’ll take him in exchange for some cred."
Stiles already had a rough idea of where he wanted to go. Spotting fellow - mechanics, was the most polite term, was easy. You just had to know where to look, and there was always some guy with a blaster that wasn’t exactly store bought. Then he’d have to figure out what to do with their ship. It was too easy to push away responsibility when Liam wailed, wriggling like a lamprey. “Scott! Don’t let him sell me!”
“Oh no!” Scott threw his hands in the air in mock protest. “You’re going to sell him to be raised by moradukes? Don’t you know they’re going to give him big angry eyebrows and teach him how to frown?” The android put his fingers over his own eyebrows for emphasis, pulling a terribly grumpy scowl until Liam howled with laughter, trying to squirm his way free from his blanket prison.
“No, Scott please! I don’t want giant eyebows!” The boy wailed at the top of his lungs, trying to flop his body out of Stiles’s arms. “I don’t want big eyebrooooows.”
“Who knows? Maybe the moradukes would may a lot of credits for you. You’ll be able to run around in the nude while your Dad and I eat all the cakes ourselves.”
The boy wailed even louder. “I WANT CAKES! I DON’T WANT TO BE NAKED, I WANT CAKES INSTEAD!”
Scott gasped for air, laughing so hard he could barely stand. He finally managed to get control, rescuing the tiny Terran from his father’s arms and carefully unwrapping the wiggly blanket worm until Liam was able to escape and scramble away with an accusatory finger pointing at the two adults. “No selling, no eyebrows!”
The android put a hand over his chest like he was wounded and then winked. “I’d never let your Dad sell you, kiddo. I need your help convincing him that we need cakes and you’re the only one who can help. Remember that thing I taught you?”
Liam nodded, sneaky grin growing as he realized what Scott was talking about. As if they’d practice to be completely in sync, they both turned to Stiles and gave him the most heartbreaking sad puppy faces.
The tavern was small enough that they only had one price for all their rooms. They welcomed ‘tourists’ with open arms, happy to have fresh business, especially from people who seemed so harmless. It was amazing to think that all these people were refugees of some sort. They’d made something of themselves, and cobbled together as a community. A quick listen told Stiles that he was being overcharged for most that they’d already bought, but it was still so much cheaper than Consortium-grade prices. He’d even seen someone herd cattle at the edge of town, and that definitely wasn’t indigenous to Raken.
Stiles didn’t trust the room. It had wood for walls. They caught fire, and he had a long history of eavesdropping through similar walls. He still checked all its circuitry, looking for oddities in the wires and electric charges, without even putting down his bag. For the most part, the room looked fine. Liam was already swimming through the giant bed, and Stiles was pointedly aware of what he wanted to do on those sheets. He just had to remember that they were deep in Deucalion’s territory, and he gave Gerard Argent a run for Biggest Douche in the Galaxy. He dragged Scott away from the window, slipping a proprietary hand around his waist.
"Is the room clean?" He asked, tone carefully neutral as he took over the couch, draping long limbs in every direction. With a quick tug, he dropped Scott on top of him, ignoring Liam’s judgmental stare and even more judgmental groan. The kid refused to leave their bed. It wasn’t like he was in any position to complain.
Scott swallowed a squawk, settling in on Stiles with considerably less grace than a high tech war machine should have been capable of. He relaxed with a smile, finding all the best way their bodies fit together and still so surprised at how easy it was. There’d been some lovers that just didn’t work well with a humanoid form and for all he’d be willing to try, finding a way to work together could be a struggle. Just because a partner was humanoid or even Terran didn’t mean that it was any easier. Stiles just seemed to know how to follow the lines of his body, fitting sharp points and mirrored curves together like Scott had been made for this. It would have been better, he liked the thought that this could have been his mission instead of deception and murder.
The android tipped his head, listening intently before shrugging one shoulder. Everything was silent, though silence on Raken was a relative thing. Even through the walls, he could hear the sounds of the town and the bustle of people. He could even hear the inhabitants downstairs, picking out their heartbeats as he counted them off. “I thought I heard something, but it’s gone. I don’t know, I could have just been picking up feedback from something malfunctioning. It’s hard to tell?” There wasn’t a reason to be concerned, he didn’t want to ruin their idyllic vacation with worrying about nothing.
He watched Liam roll around the bed, pulling the sheets up until he’d knotted himself in a burrito made from the crisp, white fabric. “Everything’s fine.” Scott murmured, twisting himself around to press a chaste kiss against the human’s lips. “No one knows we’re here and no one is looking for us on Raken.”
"Dude," Stiles protested, drawing out the syllable. He was trying to be the voice of reason. Mostly he did a good impression of the voice of make-Scott-strip-now-please. They might have been safe at Raken, arguably at least, but the task of getting off the planet was a lot more difficult without a ship. Normally, Stiles’ main focus would have been finding an alternative means of transport, but that was back when he had three other criminals watching his back and deep space was the safest location for all of them.
He was a free man now, and as long as they kept a low profile deep in rebel territory, no one would have to know anything about his husband. Husband, fuck, his stomach had too many knots. They could spare a few days (weeks, months, was he thinking that far?) to do - everything. He pinched Scott’s side and they nearly walked into a bush.
"Room first, then market - gotta see what sorta market this place’s got. Then I’ll buy my husband pretty junk. Dude, I can’t believe you said you weren’t my concubine." Stiles laughed, and the town was just as he’d expected it to be. On the bigger side, with more people lining the streets than it maybe should have for somewhere so far out. The city center was barely a few blocks, and even if all the stores were small, there were a lot of them and they were teaming with business. Raken might not have had a lot of infrastructure, but it had abundant natural resources that made life all the easier; infrastructure could come later - if the rebels won. "And then… Then we can take better pictures cuz you’re really here."
Stiles’ face was doing something. He was pretty sure it was something embarrassing.
Despite that, the moment he saw someone selling dollop cakes, he dragged Scott in and tried to stuff his face.
“Well, I’m not your concubine.” Scott said with more innocence than could possibly be true. “Some cultures appreciate honesty, Stiles. Besides, it got him to trust us.” He didn’t say anything more on the topic, leaving it up in the air if he’d meant every word or if the machine was more devious and calculating than anyone expected. He did his best to try and keep his gawking to a minimum, letting Liam be the one to run ahead and openly stare, though he wasn’t quite able to keep himself from pressing his face against the glass of the bakery right next to the little boy. The people here were happy, that was odd to see after so many years where everyone was doing their best to leave the overcrowded and run down asteroid. This place was a home, these people were building a place where they wanted to stay and improve. It was…it was hopeful.
The android laughed as he tried not to choke on the cake, savoring the taste of fresh cream. Food was a pleasure, not a necessity, something to be enjoyed when he could just because it made him happy. The hotels catered to a local population, travelers and traders instead of intergalactic tourists and that was fine with Scott. The character of the place was rustic, built with local materials and even with its connections to the net and standardized communication and entertainment equipment, the floors were made of real wood. There was paint on the walls in soft pastels and the sheets smelled like soap. The bathroom had a shower and a bathtub, he’d never seen one before. The bedroom was almost as big as his entire apartment and Scott crawled across the bed to throw open the curtains and look down over the bustling streets and the mountains surrounding the village in the distance, a few high enough that their peaks were white with snow.
Scott twitched, sensitive hearing picking up a burst of static in the upper frequencies most organics couldn’t detect. Odd. Maybe there was some sort of malfunctioning equipment? He tried to dismiss the sound, rubbing behind his ear and doing his best to ignore the fact the burst had been in a discernible rhythm like some kind of covert communications wavelength. It wasn’t his problem, they were here to explore and find a safe haven away from those who were hunting them. “Hey, so shopping first? Are you sure we have enough credits for something like this?”
The moraduke’s words were lost to the roar of rushing wind, and Liam’s unashamed shriek of pleasure. He raised his hands to the sky, like he could reach for the magnificent creatures. They were the top of their corner of the food chain and hardly ever troubled humans. Killing them was also more trouble than they were worth, what with the metal-like scales that coated their broad wings and bellies, which was probably why they survived for so long even after the natural flora and fauna of the planet was beat back more and more.
When they finally disembarked, it looked like Liam’s heart was going to break. Stiles grabbed the kid under his armpits and blew a raspberry into his cheek. It was the worst idea ever. The kid had elbows for miles, and he was pretty sure he got two in the face before he could drop him. And if Stiles copped a feel as he helped Scott down, no one would be surprised.
"Thank you, Ranger," Liam grinned, rushing around the craft so he could wave at Derek from the passenger’s side. The moraduke chose to focus on that goodbye, instead of the lanky one’s demand for a morning pick up.
"Hey, so are you gonna be here?" Stiles asked, just as the hovercraft clunked to life and left him coughing in the dust. If Derek was lucky, maybe they’d forget all about it.
"Jerk," the pilot coughed, turning into Scott’s side. He scowled something fierce, but he couldn’t keep it up when he laced his fingers with Scott’s, and started down the road. With his free hand, he tugged off Liam’s normalizer, figuring that they didn’t need more to identify them as outsiders now. Stiles had a plan, an itinerary to follow. It involved buying Scott pretty things and trying all the cheap food they could.
He tapped on Scott’s cheek, coaxing him closer so he could kiss the corner of his smile. Liam groaned dramatically ahead of them, but he was walking with his eyes to the sky, hoping to see another flock.
"Better than the pictures?" Stiles murmured, squeezing the bartender’s hand gently, and completely ignoring that they were taking this newlywed thing a little too far. After all, Stiles wanted to take it farther.
Scott waved farewell at their grouchy tour guide, still so surprised that a moraduke knew how to drive. The universe was full of strange and wonderful things. In the morning, they would get a tour from a real native of this world who could show them things that outsiders would never know about. He had a million questions he wanted to ask Derek, but the moraduke’s attitude had put him off. Perhaps he’d be in a better mood in the morning, Scott couldn’t wait to learn all about him and his people. It wasn’t much of a surprise that the Consortium hadn’t bothered to classify them as sentient. Worlds with sentient populations were banned from terraforming projects or Terran colonization in order to protect indigenous species. Habitable worlds were rare enough and worth more credits that he could compute. Misfiling a native species as nothing more than a local predator paved the way for expansion, legal or no. It was hard to fight against it when the people breaking the laws were the ones who were supposed to be enforcing them.
The android leaned into Stiles, joined hands knocking against their thighs as he smiled into the kiss. Liam stuck his tongue out at the grossness and keep his eyes on the purple tinged sky. Maybe the birds turned into people too. Maybe everything did! With robots and moradukes being people now, who knew what else could be?
Scott managed to keep control of his excitement better than the boy, though it was no less intense. “So much better than a picture. I didn’t realize it would be so loud. I knew that animals made noises, but I didn’t know it would be all at once. And the smells, it’s nothing like the station. It was either closed in and stuffy with too many unwashed people or it was disinfected to the point it almost burned to breathe. This is…clean. It’s so bright too, I didn’t know a sun would be like that! I don’t have words for this, I’ve never experienced anything like this before. There’s just so much of everything all at the same time. A picture doesn’t do it justice.”
He squeezed the spacer’s hand, leaning close to return a quick kiss to the edge of the Terran’s jaw. “I want to do everything. Is that too much?”
"No!" Derek protested, an uncomfortable thrill of panic dancing up his spine. These Terrans were bizarre, and they made his house too loud, and they wouldn’t stop smiling. "You will get a room," he repeated, insisted rather. "I will make sure of it."
The idea of them on his lands without his supervision was terrifying in a completely different way compared to what he was used to dealing with hunters and poachers. They may actually be more bothersome. Derek would build them a blasted shelter if he had to.
"Keep your mask," Stiles ordered, even if he was pretty sure all the ways Liam was squirming about didn’t help keep the normalizers on. Whatever, he was trying okay. What he wasn’t try to do was hide his smile, but he was spread all over Scott, and they’d just - coerced a grumpy moraduke into helping them find a place for the night. Everything was awesome. Stiles didn’t even care.
"Are we going to run again, Ranger?" Liam beamed. Derek stared long and hard, like he could figure out which backwater rock they’d come from, or maybe make his headache go away.
"I have a hovercraft." Derek didn’t understand how that could disappoint the pup.
They made Liam sit, sandwiched between them in the back, when they piled into the ship. Derek must have purchased it about the same time the Silverback was made, but the hovercraft ran considerably smoother. The wind whipping his hair and sun warming his skin, Scott never looked happier, and Stiles couldn’t stop staring. Pretending to be married wasn’t going to be hard at all.
Scott closed his eyes, face tipped towards the sun like he was reaching for the light. A ship hurtling through subspace faster than lightspeed sounded exciting in theory, but it was nothing compared to the open air hovercraft and the alien landscape buzzed by. The smile was permanently etched across his face and it was only the barest good sense that kept him from standing up in the speeding hovercraft and throwing his arms out wide. This was amazing, there weren’t words for it. His heart was racing and the wind bit into his skin and he felt alive. It charged him like a battery, he could almost feel the energy crackling through his body. There was just so much to experience, so much information overloading all of his systems and he wanted more.
He wrapped his arm around Liam, fingers trailing across Stiles’s shoulder as he grinned. The wind stole the words from his lips, whipping them back before they could be heard, so he just settled on grinning, saying everything he wanted to say in the way his hand caressed the side of his human’s face. There would never be any gift he could ever give that would rival what Stiles had given him and the pilot would never know how much it meant. Not for the first time, Scott wondered how organics knew they were in love. If he could pick anyone to share that feeling with, it would have been Stiles.
Liam gave a muffled yelp, waving wildly above them as giant birdlike creatures with iridescent wings dipped and soared as they rode the thermals in the sky. Long tails trailed behind them, shimmering in blues and purples that left the boy staring in awe. Derek just grunted, adjusting his course and slightly amused at the obvious wide-eyed delight of the off-worlders. Tourists might be annoying, but at least they could appreciate things without trying to destroy his home.
"The town is just up ahead." He shouted back to his passengers. "You will stay there tonight."
This was the Consortium’s most technologically advanced piece of equipment, designed specifically to blend with organics and travel undetected in foreign lands. Oh no, Stiles might be in love.
He choked on a snort, doubling over and draping himself across Scott’s back, shoulders shake as he stifled laughter. Liam looked like he wanted to say something, probably something across the line of ‘marrying robots is bad,’ but Stiles couldn’t give a rat’s ass. “Not my concubine,” he repeated, patting Scott’s belly. He kissed the bartender on the cheek, blatantly. ignoring both Derek and Liam’s equally disapproving faces. “But husband works, too.”
The moraduke wondered how he could possibly convince them that he really didn’t care. A terrible thought dawned on him. “Are you camping?”
"Can we? Dad can we? It’ll be just like back home," Liam asked excitedly, and Derek buried his face in his hands. Spacers - why were they always so strange?
"There are rooms in the village." Derek insisted. He did not plea.
Stiles snatched up an opportunity with both hands. “If you show us, we’ll go? I mean, if we can’t find anywhere, we can always come back here and pitch a tent. It looks safe here.”
"We will go now. You will get a room,” The ranger snapped, but it wasn’t enough to deter their pup from approaching. It held out its tiny, pale paw, chin jutting out with a brazen determination, and Derek recognized the Terran greeting. “I’m Liam. Are their more moradukes, sir? Can we meet them?”
Something flickered across Derek’s face, lightning fast and just as harsh. But he tapped the center of Liam’s paw, and grumbled, “Return tomorrow for your tour. And move your damn ship.’
Liam whooped, grin wide enough to almost split his cheeks. “We’re gonna see more moradukes, yay!” He pumped his tiny fists in the air and wiggled in an excited little dance. Derek was sure it must be some sort of alien celebratory ritual. At least now he was sure they didn’t pose any risk to him, but the sooner he could get these people off his land the better if only to spare his sanity.
Scott let himself be distracted by the arms around his body and the weight against his back. It was dangerous how easily Stiles could override his natural programming to be careful, to focus on self-preservation and maintaining a low profile. He wanted to grab his Terran and roll around in the soft grass outside and see exactly what the warm sunlight would feel like with all of his skin exposed. Nope, decidedly not thoughts that would keep any sort of profile under the radar. He leaned back against his human, taking what liberties he could and making sure that his cover as a newlywed was believable. Scott didn’t have to fake the crooked grin or the way his eyes lit up when Stiles laughed or the dopey fond expression that he couldn’t seem to shake. The moraduke was thoroughly uncomfortable.
“Thank you so much for your help, Ranger. I’m really sorry about the um, the crash and everything. We’ll try to do something about the ship as soon as we can. And we really appreciate the tour, it means a lot to me. C’mon Liam, let’s get our stuff and see if we can get a room. Beds would be a good idea for tonight so we can get up early for our tour, but maybe afterwards we can camp outside if you like?” Sex under the stars seemed just as appealing as the sun. Scott wondered how many moons this planet had.
"You were looking at the wrong pictures," Derek huffed, but Stiles wasn’t sure if it was just him, or if the hound sounded less disapproving than he had seconds ago. He wasn’t the greatest judge of annoyance though, for all that he understood people didn’t tend to agree with his understanding of ‘nice.’
He dropped a pair of worn cloth boots in front of Scott, crossing his arms over his considerable chest like he intended all of them to cower at his might. Stiles was probably taller than him (if anyone disagreed with that, they could shut the fuck up). “What business do you have on our land?”
Stiles tactfully kissed their researcher cover goodbye. ”We wanted to know if formal tours were offered? Or something of the sort - for civilians. Who are wearing your pants.”
Derek decided he appreciated the situation the most when only the pup was talking.
"No." He replied dryly, and when the small Terran’s face crumbled, he felt something uncomfortable that he refused to admit was remorse.
"We can offer you services?" Stiles suggested, and the moraduke was stricken with disgust at the idea of sexual favors. He was also blushing bright red, but hopefully they would view that as anger. "Stop talking. It is uncalled for."
He turned to Scott, eyeing him slowly, and looking down at the small one in his grasp as the spindly one squawked. “Why do you want a tour?”
“I don’t…think he’s old enough for the other kind of pictures?” Scott looked from Derek to Stiles, genuinely confused. If there really were other pictures of moradukes in their human form, they would probably be marketed on the xenoporn collections. “He’s only six.” Derek stared at the bartender so intently that Scott thought he must be malfunctioning. “I’m just saying…” The android muttered under his breath as he tugged on the boots and wiggled his feet to test the fit.
“I wanted to see the moradukes.” Liam said mournfully, the glowering man not at all what he’d been looking forward to. It was super cool that they could change shape, but far less exciting when they talked about boring grown up things like boots.
Scott offered Derek his most charming smile. “Thank you so much for the boots, they actually fit pretty well. You don’t have to worry about us, we’re just…” He glanced at Stiles. Lies were always more believable when they were built on the truth. “I spent my whole life on a space station. This is my first time planetside and I kind of wanted to see someplace that hadn’t been built up in giant cities or terraformed so thoroughly it lost its unique character. It was a…honeymoon present.” Liam looked up at his father and gaped as Scott slipped an arm around Stiles’s waist. “We don’t have a lot of money and the whole crash thing wasn’t planned, but I am not his concubine.”
Derek choked on air.
Stiles did not appreciate naked Scott walking around Terra as much as he should have. For one thing, first class seats to the bartender’s junk were all sold out. For another, too many people would get ideas just by looking at Scott’s face; they didn’t need more incentive. Stiles had always acknowledged that he was a greedy asshat, but wanting to stamp ‘MINE’ on Scott’s forehead was a little much. The more common custom was buying a ring.
Then he tripped over a rock, nearly fell on his face, and had to deal with his kid giggling.
Derek was coming out from behind a large trunk when they caught up, thankfully clothed, and he shoved a pair of (too long, and equally faded but ridiculously soft) pants at Scott’s face. “Take it up with your Consortium.” He barked, and it legitimately sounded like a bark. Animals didn’t require health and welfare privileges after all. They could be taxed, too, without the issue of providing official settlements beyond the bare minimum. The Consortium thought it generous to ‘let’ them keep their land. “Credits, no trade.”
Stiles got out his wallet easily enough, before shooting Scott’s wiggly toes a glance. “And boots?”
"You have a nice home, Mr. Hale. Thank you for inviting us in," Liam piped up, winded from their sprint, his rounded cheeks bright with color, but he was grinning so wide his face threatened to split. Derek decided the pup must have been kidnapped.
“Thank you very much!” Scott said brightly, taking the pants and rubbing the soft material against his cheek. This was nice, much more durable than his thin pajama pants and would probably leave more to the imagination. If this was a society that did value pants over nudity, it would probably be appreciated by the local population. Years on X-RD5 had taught him not to say a word about the Consortium, even when people complained about their oppression. Drink loosened tongues and bartenders received confession more often than a priest. He knew everyone’s secrets, the ones that chafed under the Consortium and supported the rebels, the ones that wanted the Consortium’s brand of safety to sweep through the galaxy, a thousand personal details his patrons had never shared with another living soul. Scott always kept his mouth shut, smiling generously and offering a shoulder and another drink. Agreeing with the wrong person was a good way to end up dead.
The android looked down at his feet, already covered in dirt from this world and grinned. “Yeah, boots too.” He ruffled Liam’s hair affectionately, pleased the boy was so polite. It must have been something he learned before Stiles. “He’s right, we really appreciate all of your help. We’ve never been here before and with our ship damaged, we’re a tiny bit stranded.” They had to be careful, showing that they were harmless and needing help without seeming vulnerable or easy prey. Scott might have worn his sweet smile, but he was watching their host intently for any sign of hostility towards his family.
“Well, kiddo. You did want to see a moraduke.” He gestured at the scowling man.
Liam chewed on his lip thoughtfully. “You don’t really look like the pictures.”