Fandom: Jupiter Ascending
Summary: Fill for a Jupiter Ascending Kink Meme prompt.
Disclaimer: The characters and situations in this story belong to the Wachowskis, Dune Entertainment, Village Roadshow Pictures, and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any. The opinions expressed by characters in this story may or may not be those of the author.
The prompt: Jupiter finds out that because Caine's a splice he's never had a real birthday (cue horrified gasp). With Stinger and Kiza's help Jupiter throws an epic birthday party for Caine with cake and gifts galore. (basically a crack fic prompt). Birthday sex is optional, I just really want Caine to be happy and embarrassed/shy about how much people love him.
This is very slightly modified from the original; I took out about five or six words. Long-time readers may notice that I just can't let a good title go, but hey, that was another fandom and another angle. :P
Cincoflex told me I was doing it right, and made me several gorgeous banners. It was so hard to choose!
Production notes on some chapters can be found on my LiveJournal.
Also: cloudlake recorded a gorgeous podfic of this story! Go, listen, be amazed! And tell her how wonderful it is. *grin*
Her Majesty was...tipsy.
That was Caine’s amused conclusion when she nearly tripped coming out of the Bolotnikov household’s back door. He caught her, of course; just a hand under her elbow was enough to steady her, but her giggle and the sharp smell of alcohol would have been signs enough even if she hadn’t already mentioned the party.
“Wow. Let me tell you, my family can be a ginormous pain in the ass sometimes--a lot of the time, actually--but they do know how to party.” She grinned up at him, eyes sparkling in the twilight, and he had to smile back. The music and not-entirely-harmonious singing coming from within was enough to prove her assertion; they weren’t hitting many notes straight on, but the enthusiasm was clear enough, and in fact it sounded a lot like a Legion post-victory bash.
“Are you ready to leave?” he asked. It was protocol that the Queen not go anywhere unescorted at night, even on her own planet, and he’d volunteered for that duty--he always did. Not a hardship on such a mild night.
“Nah, not quite yet. Sure you don’t want to come in? At this point nobody’ll notice your ears.” Jupiter reached up to fondle one, and Caine ducked his head to make it easier for her, holding back the sigh of pleasure.
“I should stay out here,” he said instead. Protocol again, but aside from that he wasn’t sure he wanted to face her Majesty’s entire family at once, drunk or sober.
“Spoilsport. Okay, but--huh, where’d I leave it?” Jupiter looked around, then shook her head a bit blearily. “Duh, I had to put it down to open the lock.”
She turned around to reopen the back door and reach inside, coming out with a plate that held a large chunk of some sweet-smelling confection. A fork was stuck jauntily in the top. “Here you go.”
Bemused, Caine took the plate. The confection was coated with a colored paste, and smelled...actually, pretty enticing. “Thank you, your Majesty. Um...what is it?”
“Birthday cake!” Jupiter said. “It’s traditional. And it’s really good, plus the bakery has someone who can write in Cyrillic, so everything’s actually spelled right.”
Caine could see that the paste was decorated with writing, but the alphabet wasn’t part of his translator package. “What does it say?”
Jupiter peered at it. “Va. I think Moltka got the ssily.”
She sat down on the stoop and patted the cracked concrete next to her. “Come on, have a seat and eat your cake. I won’t stay too much longer, I promise.”
Caine obeyed. The cake was intensely sweet, but tasted nice, light and almost fruity. Jupiter leaned up against his side as he ate, humming along to the music still filtering out of the house, and part of him wished the moment would just go on forever--peace in the gathering dark, and his Queen content beside him.
He was just licking the fork when she spoke. “So when’s your birthday?”
“I don’t have one.”
He felt her twitch. “Hm? Of course you do, everyone does. You have to have been born.”
“I wasn’t.” Caine set the plate aside, planning to ease an arm around her, but Jupiter sat up straight to look at him.
“Am I missing something? ‘Cause you’re right here,” she said, a bit indignant.
“Splices aren’t born.” He wondered how she’d missed the information; surely someone had explained it to her? “We’re gestated. In artificial...”
He trailed off in confusion at her look of astonishment. “Let me get this straight,” she said, still sounding indignant. “You’re test tube babies? Like, start to finish?”
“Of course.” Though he wasn’t quite certain what a test tube was. “Artificial wombs provide much more control over the process.” And pack Splices like himself were gestated in litters, which would be difficult to accommodate in a human body, but that was a mere detail.
Jupiter closed her eyes, muttered something about a swift kick, and then waved both hands as if clearing a surface. “Okay, right. Got it. Don’t like it, but got it. So--when were you, um, de-gestated?”
“I don’t know the exact date. It’s in my records.” He’d seen it, probably, but it wasn’t something he’d bothered to memorize. In a large splicing facility like the one he’d been raised in, milestone examinations and tests happened based on development, not an arbitrary date.
“So...you haven’t ever had a birthday party? Or is that not something they do up there?” She gestured upwards.
“Pure humans do it, on some worlds.” Some of the Legionnaires he’d worked with had celebrated birthdays, but since it usually consisted of going out and drinking, there wasn’t much to distinguish it from other celebrations.
Jupiter frowned. “That is just wrong,” she said after a moment. “Everybody should have a birthday.”
Caine shrugged. “Not Splices,” he said simply.
Jupiter opened her mouth, then closed it. “Not going to lecture when I’m toasted,” she muttered. “Bad things will happen.”
She took the empty plate from him and stood, only wobbling the slightest bit. “Fifteen minutes, then I’m out of there. Sure you don’t want something else?”
Caine shook his head, and his Queen disappeared into the house, still muttering. Caine shifted off the stoop and resumed his watch, licking his lips to savor the cake’s lingering flavor.
Nobody ever brought me cake before.
Jupiter was a lot of firsts.
Something was going on, and it was making Caine nervous.
It wasn’t that anyone’s behavior had changed; it was the way they smelled. Particularly Jupiter. Every time she saw him, she would give off a burst of excitement and tension, and once when he’d come up behind her without her noticing she actually panicked, stuffing the note she was writing into her pocket as if he couldn’t see it and giving him a bright grin.
Stinger and Kiza were the same way. Both of them were hiding something from him, and pretending that they weren’t. Kiza in particular was pleased about it, but when he broke down and asked her what she wasn’t telling him, she just gave him an innocent smile and wafted out.
Normally it would have made him downright paranoid. Not being in on whatever was going on was an excellent sign that nothing good was going to happen, and loners like himself were all the more attractive as scapegoats or targets. But--
But this was Stinger and Kiza, old friends who’d never meant him harm. And it was Jupiter, his Queen, who made him feel worthwhile every time she smiled at him.
So he gritted his teeth and tried not to feel left out.
Fridays were the last days of Earth’s work week and Jupiter was always pleased when one arrived. She usually spent the weekend at Stinger’s place, giggling with Kiza and studying some of the endless things she needed to know to handle Entitlement; it was Caine’s privilege to escort her from the city to the farm, and he liked Fridays too. It meant more time with Jupiter, and not having to guard against someone noticing that he wasn’t actually from Earth.
This Friday, though, Jupiter was so excited that she almost couldn’t sit still. She usually let Caine drive the little vehicle she’d purchased, and he was equal parts curious and baffled to watch her bounce in the seat next to him, tapping her fingers on her knee and humming.
“Is there something I should know about, your Majesty?” he asked at last.
“Hm? Oh--no,” she said, giving him that bright grin. “I’m just--thinking.”
“All right,” Caine said dryly, and she laughed and patted his arm.
“I know we’ve been driving you crazy. Just be patient a little while longer, okay?”
Caine bit back a sigh. “As your Majesty wishes.”
Jupiter patted him again, then pulled out her phone and started texting busily. He couldn’t quite read the screen out of the corner of his eye, but he could see her lips moving as she tapped, and was pretty sure part of the message was almost there.
Which was even more puzzling, because he’d called Stinger when they’d left the city.
Usually either Kiza or Stinger came out when a car pulled up, but this time no one emerged when Caine shut off the engine. Jupiter dashed out of the vehicle and rounded it before Caine had gotten out of his seat, hurrying up the steps and then halting in front of the door. Caine perforce halted too when he reached her, raising his brows and waiting for her to tell him what she wanted him to do.
“Close your eyes,” Jupiter ordered, and he obeyed, despite a prickle of unease. A quick kiss landed on his lips, and he heard the door creak open; her hand took his and guided him forward.
He could smell Stinger and Kiza both, and a jumble of new scents overlaying the familiar dust-and-honey odor of the farmhouse. Jupiter laughed, and he heard Kiza chuckle too. “Okay, you can look,” Jupiter said.
Caine opened his eyes...and stared in astonishment.
The big front room was different. The corners were still full of clutter, but the table had been cleared off and now held an array of bright objects and a large decorated pastry. The ceiling was hung with streamers and those round Earth toys called balloons, and a banner stretched halfway across the room, spelling out Happy Birthday in shiny letters. Kiza and Stinger were standing next to the table, Kiza grinning as widely as Jupiter and Stinger with his arms folded, trying unsuccessfully to smother his smirk.
“Happy birthday!” Jupiter said, beaming. “Or, decanting day, I guess.”
Caine blinked, and blinked again, trying to process what he saw. “I...what?”
“Dad looked it up,” Kiza said. “We had to tweak the timing a bit, it was actually yesterday, but close enough, hm?”
“It...it’s for me?” He couldn’t quite believe it. People didn’t celebrate Splices, they just didn’t.
Jupiter squeezed his hand. “Every bit,” she said. “Dinner, cake, presents, and we’ll even let you choose the movie tonight.”
Heat rose under his skin. Something was swelling in his chest, it almost felt like panic, and part of him wanted to bolt out of the house and away, because it had to be a mistake, or a joke, or--
But Jupiter’s fingers were tight around his, and all he could smell was excitement and--and--
“I think you broke him, your Majesty,” Stinger said, voice wry.
Maybe she had; maybe that could explain the surge of unfamiliar feeling inside him. Caine squeezed his eyes shut and pulled in a long breath. “I--it’s really for me?”
“Really.” A warm hand cupped his jaw, and he opened his eyes to see Jupiter smiling up at him, though her lips were trembling the slightest bit.
And he wanted to howl, just to let out whatever the feeling was, but instead he managed to smile back. His throat was closed anyway.
“So what do you want to do first?” Jupiter asked. “Dinner? Presents?”
Caine gulped, and tore his gaze from hers long enough to focus on the table. The smell of chocolate came clear, and it made his mouth water. “Cake?”
“Aye to that,” Kiza said immediately. “I’ll get the lighter.”
“Come and sit down,” his Queen said, and Caine let her tow him to a chair. Kiza was lighting the tiny candles stuck into the cake; Stinger sprawled in another chair, still smirking.
“I won’t make you all sing since I’m the only one who knows the words,” Jupiter said cheerfully. Her hand was warm on his shoulder. “But the tradition is, close your eyes and make a wish, and if you blow out all the candles at once it’ll come true.”
That was clearly a superstition on the same order as “never whistle passing through an airlock”, but Caine didn’t care. Kiza finished with the candles and pushed the cake in front of him, and he closed his eyes and--
I wish that I may always be hers.
The flames danced in his vision, a living light, and he named the overwhelming feeling at last; and of course he hadn’t recognized it, because he’d never known it until he’d met Jupiter.
He blew, and the candles flickered out.
Kiza applauded, and Jupiter cheered. Stinger snorted, and leaned over to pluck a candle from the cake and suck off the icing. “Slice it up already,” he said, but he was still grinning.
The cake was a cylinder set on end, and had “Happy Decanting Day Caine” written on its coating in curly script. Kiza promptly took it back and began removing the remaining candles.
Jupiter crouched down next to Caine’s chair. “Are you all right?” she asked, a little anxious. “I didn’t mean to knock you for a loop.”
Caine still couldn’t come up with any words, but he leaned over until his forehead was pressed against hers, sliding a hand up to the nape of her neck just to hold her there for a moment. “Yeah,” he managed finally.
Her exhale was relief. “Okay then.” Her fingers stroked his cheek briefly, and then she straightened. “Ice cream’s in the freezer, right, Kiza?”
“Mmhm.” Kiza was cutting the cake with mathematical precision. Caine tried to calm himself, glancing warily at Stinger, but instead of an eyeroll he got a sympathetic look.
“It’s just a stress reaction,” Stinger said in a low voice. “Deep breaths.”
It was more than that, but Caine took his advice, regulating his breathing as Jupiter returned from the kitchen with the ice cream. Caine shortly found himself with a plate heaped with confectionary, and applied himself to it with the same single-minded dedication Stinger was displaying. Food, to Legionnaires, was always important, and doubly so for those with combat-Splice metabolisms.
And it was good. It was much richer than the cake he’d had at the Bolotnikov house, made in layers with a chocolate filling between; the ice cream, which was a food unique to Earth, set it off nicely, though Caine had to eat it quickly before it melted.
A click made him look up. Jupiter gave him a cheeky grin and lowered her phone. “Just documenting,” she said. “I’m not even going to ask if the cake’s okay.”
Kiza laughed. “Trust me, your Majesty, that cake isn’t going to survive the night.”
Caine’s mouth was too full to protest, but he wouldn’t have anyway--she was right.
When their plates were clear, Stinger took them away into the kitchen before the bees could help themselves. Caine moved to help, but Kiza pointed him back into his chair. “Oh no you don’t. Presents next, since no one’s hungry after all that.”
“Speak for yourself,” Stinger called back, but came back out smiling and spun his chair to straddle it backwards. “Go on, then, pick one.”
Caine looked doubtfully at the paper-wrapped bundles. They ranged from something shrouded in the brown stuff used for carrying groceries to a box done in blue and silver paper with ribbons on top. Finally he chose the plain one.
“That’s from Stinger,” Jupiter said, sitting sideways in her chair. “He didn’t want to use a tag.”
Stinger snorted. Caine picked gingerly at the tape holding the paper together, not sure what the procedure was, but Jupiter nudged his knee with her foot. “You can just rip it if you want.”
He...didn’t. Caine managed to get the tape off and unfolded the wrapping, revealing a familiar-looking kit case. He opened it just to confirm the contents; a feather-grooming set like he’d had before the court-martial.
He hadn’t had time to get himself one yet. It was perfect, and Caine felt his throat closing again at the evidence that his commander had thought about what to give him.
When he looked up, Stinger was distinctly red around the neck. “Figured it’d come in handy,” he said, waving vigorously at a passing bee.
Caine licked his lips. “Thank you,” he managed, feeling his own ears heating up.
“Oh, just punch each other and get it over with,” Kiza said from her perch on the edge of the table. “Here, open this one.”
She tossed another package at Caine, who caught it automatically. Its paper was decorated with stylized balloons and it bore a small tag tied on, that said “To Caine From Jupiter”.
A gift from his Queen. It felt like too much, but when he looked up at her whatever protest he might have summoned fled. She looked so pleased, and a little shy, and something in him loosened--spread its wings--basked.
She wanted to please him. And if that was what she wanted, then it wasn’t his place to argue.
He unwrapped the package carefully, smoothing the paper as he went. The contents was a small paper-leaf book--a style now considered antique in the wider universe, but not unknown. Caine had seen books before, but never handled one.
The cover looked like a child’s drawing. Caine ran a finger across the title. A Wrinkle in Time.
“It was my favorite book as a kid,” Jupiter said, and he looked up to see her turn pink. “It’s a fantasy, kind of out of date but it still works. You don’t have to read it…”
She was babbling, a sure sign that she was nervous. Caine wanted to hug her, but settled for shaking his head. “I’d be honored, your Majesty.”
Her smile was blinding, and he would have started reading right then, but she reached over to snag another present and hand it to him.
It was from Kiza, a set of the small target-bots he used for scent-tracking practice. He’d never actually owned any, they had always been provided by the Legion, and the notion of being able to program them the way he wanted to was new.
Then there was a top-quality chronometer, also from Jupiter--the sort that would set itself automatically for any locality and was resistant to nearly any environment, including hard vacuum. Kiza gave him a holobox of Sala Kingdom 10, his favorite VR series; like all his personal gear, his copy had been lost when he’d been imprisoned.
The last package was large and squashy and turned out to contain a heavy thermojacket in a dark brown that just matched his wings. He recognized the brand as a company known for high-quality clothing in the local arm of the galaxy, and it had seams for his wings in the back.
“Stinger helped on that one,” Jupiter said, ignoring Stinger’s disclaiming grunt. “Here, try it on, see if it fits.”
Caine obeyed, shrugging into it and pushing his wings carefully through the slits. It fit perfectly, and the controls in the collar were well-placed; he’d be able to turn the temperature up or down without even having to look at the buttons. Jupiter immediately took another picture.
“Here, let me,” Kiza said, and leaned over to take the phone. “Both of you together, Majesty.”
Caine stiffened, not sure what was expected, but Jupiter laughed and came over to lean against him, and he automatically put an arm around her. “Smile,” she directed, wrapping her arm around his waist, but the phone clicked before he could muster one.
But then Jupiter wanted one of him with Kiza, and Stinger refused categorically to be imaged but was inveigled into taking one of the three of them together, and somewhere in the laughter with his Queen on one side and his friend on the other, Caine found himself smiling without hesitation.
The joy was still there, still bubbling inside him, and it was buffered by the feel of the two women pressing against him, the sound of his commander snickering as they made silly faces. He smiled because there was no need to conceal, to guard himself or to hide his oddities. They loved him despite them.
Or, maybe, they just loved him.
That night, after watching The Dark Crystal with Jupiter’s feet in his lap and a dinner of some Earth delicacy she called steak, Caine sat in the little upstairs room he had claimed for his bunk at Stinger’s and looked at the small pile of gifts. It was still hard to believe that they were all his, even though they were all chosen to fit him.
He ran a hand across the fabric of the jacket, read the text on the holobox, checked the settings on the chronometer with careful fingers, and finally picked up the little book.
It was hardly larger than his hand, and smelled of paper and a touch of acrid glue. He thumbed the pages, trying to imagine a young Jupiter reading it.
Footsteps in the hall made him look up, but Jupiter’s scent curled in ahead of her to announce her presence before she reached his door. Before she could knock, he spoke. “Come in, your Majesty.”
She slipped inside with a wry smile, dangling a small silver bag in one hand. “I can see I’m never going to surprise you.”
Caine shook his head. “You already did.”
Her smile widened, and she raised her brows. “May I?”
Caine slid hastily up towards the head of his bed, still a little baffled that she would bother asking, and Jupiter sat down next to him, nodding at the book. “I’m serious, you don’t have to read it. I just thought you might like it.”
Caine shook his head. “I do want to.”
“Well. No obligation.” Jupiter held out the bag. “Brought you one last thing.”
He set the book aside and took it from her, unable to imagine what else she might want to give him. The contents were wrapped in thin paper the same shade as the bag, and he smoothed the paper out carefully as he undid it.
It was a frame of wood, holding one of the still images Jupiter called photographs--one of the pictures Stinger had taken. Kiza had her tongue stuck out, and Jupiter’s nose was crinkled in a silly grin, and they both had their arms around his waist. He towered over them, teeth showing in a smile that normally would have embarrassed him, but--it looked right.
Like he belonged.
“Kiza has a photo printer,” Jupiter said quietly. “It’s no hologram, but--”
Caine shook his head again, and set it oh so carefully next to the chronometer, where he could easily see it from the bed. The effervescence of earlier had subsided, leaving a steady glow in the center of his chest--a tiny star, where there had been only darkness before.
He lifted his hands to cup Jupiter’s face, to stroke that soft skin and watch her eyes kindle. “Thank you,” he said. “Nobody...ever did this before.”
“Yeah, that’s what you said.” A touch of sadness crossed her face. “Long overdue, if you ask me.” Her hands slid up his chest, making him shiver.
And he didn’t know how to explain, that she’d unlocked the last door inside him, made his heart rise up with joy and awe, so he just leaned forward until he could touch his lips to hers, to worship her mouth and hope that it might do in place of words.
She whimpered softly and melted into him, and the rest of the universe disappeared.
Later she sat with her back against the wall and coaxed him to stretch out and put his head in her lap; she immediately buried her fingers in his hair and started petting him, and Caine all but groaned in pleasure. Fumbling a little, he picked up the book and held it up to her.
Jupiter laughed and took it, and he heard the pages turn briefly before her hand was back in his hair. “It was a dark and stormy night,” she began.
He closed his eyes, and smiled.