The Interplanetary Guild of Human Affairs sends out dozens of delegations to planets all around the galaxy. Four of the Guild's employees -- Star, Nate, Fara, and Josh -- grew close on one such delegation, and over the course of five years on assignment, developed a comfortable, happy relationship.
When the assignment ends, the group returns to the new human homeworld, Reyhan, where they receive new orders. For the first time in years, they are going to be separated. Between the far-flung locations and length of assignments, there is no way to know when they'll be together again.
But Star is not one to simply take what the world throws at them. As a respected bodyguard and security officer, Star's existence revolves around protecting precious things. Nothing in the galaxy is more precious than their partners' happiness. With countless variables to consider and dozens of ways it could all fall apart, will it be possible for the group to stay together?
Working for the Interplanetary Guild of Human Advancement was a prestigious career for any human. A career with IGoHA meant adventure, seeing the world, the solar system, the galaxy! It also meant housing, meals, and uniforms were often provided. It was a stable career with room to grow. Leaving IGoHA would be foolish.
But leaving my partners would be foolish, too. They made me happy, and true happiness was rare. I sighed again. With my skillset, I could find work anywhere I could communicate. I wondered how long it would be before the Lthiam translators were commercially available. If I got my hands on one of those, I wouldn't have to worry about communication, and I could get security work anywhere my lovers happened to be stationed.
Except ... then came the question of who to follow? Nate, the man I'd had a squish on for years before we got together, who I'd always wanted to hold and caress and talk to for hours on end? Fara, whose smile comforted me, who could serenely take control of a situation at a second's notice and only let her ruffled feathers show when we were alone? Or Josh -- assuming he ever got separated from Fara -- whose enthusiasm and beautiful way of seeing the world gave me hope and peace?
I couldn't choose. Even if I quit IGoHA and made a living as ... what, a merc? Bouncing from planet to planet for a chance to see my lovers once in a while? That was a bad decision. Fara would kill me. And I wouldn't be able to choose between my three partners. I wouldn't have any level of control as a mercenary, like I did now -- IGoHA had a structured hierarchy of authority and orders came through documented channels. If I went merc and bailed on a contract when my lovers got new orders, I'd be blacklisted pretty quickly. Besides, I liked the safe work I did here. Escorting dignitaries around and looking businesslike. I was too old to crave the uncertainty of adventure anymore.
"I have vacation time," Nate said after a while. "Maybe I can come back and visit you."
"That'd be lovely." I kissed the side of his head. The water was cooling, and my fingers were wrinkled. "I could put in for a reassignment."
"I don't know. Pelona 4? You're going to a planet that's about to go to war. I'm sure you need a bodyguard."
Nate scoffed and leaned forward to get up. The water rushed in to fill the space he'd occupied against my chest and I shivered at the chill replacing his warmth.
"What's the scoff for?" I asked, standing. His hair clung in a wet sheet along his soft brown skin and I stood behind him and gathered it up to squeeze some of the water out before we got out of the tub. My lips pressed to his shoulder, tasting the clean skin as water cascaded down my belly from his hair. "I don't want to go years without seeing any of you. Josh and Fara will have each other. You'll be alone."
Nate sighed and reached back to pat my thigh. "It won't be years without seeing us. We can still talk. We can video call." He turned around and hugged me, pressing his soft chest and belly against my muscular front, resting his cheek on my shoulder.
"Will that be enough for you?" I asked.
"It'll have to be, Star."
I wasn't sure it'd be enough for me.