Ha-ya-to approached Salis quietly, trying to figure out a way to say that they could stay right now. How exactly do you comfort someone when they found out their way home was broken and couldn’t be fixed? The alien was still curled in a tight ball with their hands covering their head.
I hope They don’t mind hugs. He thought, flopping over the alien and wrapping his arms as far as he could in a hug. Good grief this alien was huge. He felt like a little kid hugging some massive dog.
“Hey.” He said to the alien, digging his chin into its shoulder. “Are you feeling okay?”
Salis twitched letting out a low whine. They moved their hand to look at him with one eye that looked like it was about to starting crying. “I am stranded. I am alone.”
“You’re not completely alone.” He protested, petting them behind the ear. “We’re here.”
Salis let out a teary giggle. “Funny little thing you are.”
“I’m not little.” He pouted, “I’m actually pretty tall.”
“You’re little compared to me.” Salis teased gently, booping his nose with a claw.
He had to giggle at that. The alien looked less like they were going to cry at his laughter.
“We talked about what we’re going to do about you.” He said after a while, “If you want to, we’d be fine with you coming with us.”
Salis looked smaller than. Like a child giving going to school for the first time. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. We talked about it and the other two said yes. Well Hikaru caved and Takeshi isn’t happy, but I don’t think he’s really thrilled about anything but breaking robots anymore.” He rambled on, “It beats just staying in this creepy jungle. Plus, it’s nice to have company. Even if it’s a bunch of squishy people who don’t know anything about you or your ways.”
Salis let loose a laugh at that. “It is. And how do you know my company will be nice? I might demand to fight your leader for control.” They said in a teasing tone.
“You won’t. We won’t let you.” He piped up, wrapping his arms around the alien’s neck in a head lock. “We will stop you, extraterrestrial fiend!”
Salis laughed loudly at that, and played along. “Take me to your leader, small fleshling. I must fight for dominance.”
“Never!” He yelled playfully.
Ryou walked in a few minutes later to find Ha-ya-to flopped over the aliens back with his arms wrapped around their neck and the alien gently squishing him against a seat, both laughing.
“Hello, Ryou.” Salis chuckled.
“Hi Ryou! The alien’s staying with us!” Ha-ya-to piped up.
“Okay? What’s going on?” Ryou said slowly.
“Playing.” They said in unison.
Ryou looked like he was going to said something, but closed his mouth and settled on another “Okay?”
“Well we’re kind of stopping for the night. Do you think we should move this thing, or something?” Ryou asked.
“Won’t this thing explode if we do that?” Ha-ya-to asked, worried. He remembered the engine crackling alarmingly.
“I had the ship in test mode. Some planets have stronger gravities than others, so we have a setting to test the force needed for leaving it. The ship can fly.” Salis explained to him.
“But you just can’t get into space.” He finished. That made sense. Everything seemed fine until the end.
Salis hummed in satisfaction. “Exactly.” They said, rocking forward, unpinning him from between their back and the chair. He was glad, the metal thing on the aliens back was starting to dig painfully into his stomach.
“I do not think it will be safe to move until I have done a check on the hull. I would rather not find there is another explosive attached to my ship.” Salis stood up with Ha-ya-to still hanging onto their neck.
Ryou muffled a laugh at Ha-ya-to dangling from the aliens back. “You have a cling on.” He choked out.
Salis hummed. “I am aware. He can come if he wishes.”
“Lead on, my furry steed!” He yelled.
“Do you not wish to walk?” Salis sounded amused. Good. Amused was better than about to cry.
“No.” He said flatly.
“Then hang on.” Salis purred.
He felt no shame in admitting he screeched a little- okay, a lot- when Salis leapt around the ship, checking for explosives. He also felt no shame in the way he hit the ground when it was officially bed time and just flopped back with no attempt to get in his sleeping bag. He was done. His arms ached. Salis wasn’t kidding when they said hang on. For once he was kind of glad he got stuck with third watch. He didn’t think he would be able to keep his eyes open.
A soft shuffling noise had him tiredly opening his eyes. “Apologies.” Salis muttered, settling down on her stomach next to him.
“Hi.” He said tiredly. “Feeling better?”
“Much.” Salis said softly, reaching out and petting his hair. “Thank you.”
“No problem.” He said, giggling a little. He was getting pet by a cat. Oh how the tables had turned.
Salis smiled a little and rested their head on top of their arms. “Tomorrow I can continue moving the ship out of the wreckage. What are the plans? Do you know?”
“Rescue Sensei. Find where that outpost is and strip it of everything, minus the floor boards. Don’t die.” He mumbled. “I don’t know any specifics; we’ve been kind of doing this day by day.”
“Ah.” Salis mumbled and looked at the fire. Ha-ya-to slowly reached out and scratched behind one of their ears. Salis closed their eyes and leaned into his hand, exactly like that stray cat that Tab found in a vent one time. The fur under his fingers was soft, helping him calm down and let go of any lingering thought.
They stayed like that for a while. Ha-ya-to was about to fall asleep when he felt a low rumble coming from the alien. He looked over slowly at the alien who still had their eyes shut. The low rumble continued, and he scratched down their neck, registering a vibrating feeling.
Oh. Oh. Holy mulch.
“Salis?” He whispered softly.
“Yes?” They answered, sounding like they were vibrating.
“Are you purring?” He asked incredulously.
“Hm? Oh.” Salis thought about it, the purring getting louder. “I suppose I am.”
“That’s adorable.” He said softly, scratching their ear harder. Salis chuckled softly, the purring making the sound garbled.
“How is this fascinating to you?” Salis asked softly.
“Humans can’t exactly purr. That’s a cat thing.” He explained, scooching closer.
“A small animal here. If we bring you back to the Golden City, I’ll have to show you. I think Felix and Tab managed to bring a few when we left the Tenchi bridge outpost.” He thought back. A very pregnant cat had had kittens before they left by the Hangar Tab had claimed as her own. He was pretty sure that was the same cat Felix had been feeding table scraps at the former base before they had to abandon it. He yawned. God the purring was calming.
Salis chuckled. “Sleep well.” They said, watching his eyes blink slowly.
“Night.” He said tiredly.
Tomorrow was going to be busy. It would be a good day though. He had a feeling.