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Chapter 466 Packed
Khan woke up a few hours before dawn, and the scene that unfolded in his eyes made him frown. That wasn't his bedroom's ceiling. He was in the living room, and his naked back soon noticed how cold the floor was.
Memories flowed into Khan's mind as soon as he tried to recall the previous night. Madam Solodrey, the dinner, and the chaotic time in his flat became clear and filled him with a sense of exhaustion that didn't match his actual state.
A loving smile appeared on Khan's face when he peeked at his chest. Monica was sleeping on him without a single blanket covering her naked beauty. The couple had tried to reach the bedroom the previous night, but their location proved their failure.
Khan caressed Monica's hair and left a kiss on her head, which earned him a cute moan. Monica even snuggled closer without waking up, and he made sure to keep her stable on him.
The rest of the room caught Khan's attention at that point. He lifted his head to search for his stuff, but only chaos awaited him. Monica's skirt hung from a couch, his s.h.i.+rt lay next to the elevator, her heels stood in different parts of the room, and his shoes were nowhere to be found.
The scene turned Khan's smile into a shameless grin, and his eyes lit up when he found his pants. Surprisingly, they were within his legs' reach, and he used one foot to pull them closer.
Monica complained through a sleepy cry but didn't wake up. Khan could seize his pants and retrieve his phone to check the time and other notifications. The lessons were many hours away, but the device carried something able to keep him awake.
'Lauter, Lauter,' Khan sighed. Lucian had sent a message with all the mission details, and reading through them would take a while.
Khan opened the message before getting distracted by troublesome thoughts. A lot had happened during the dinner, and Khan recalled Lucian's explicit a.s.sistance. Still, he remained unable to explain that behavior.
'It can't be just this,' Khan thought while skimming through the message. 'It's not important enough to deserve favors.'
s.h.i.+ps didn't run on simple synthetic mana. Their tanks had additional materials that increased the efficiency of that energy, and Lauter had one of them. The special gas on that planet was actually a key ingredient in the creation of fuel.
The market couldn't get enough of that gas, but its incredible demand didn't make it rare or precious. Owning an outpost for its extraction was profitable, but that business couldn't have much value in the eyes of the Hencus family.
Khan could use the Harbor to justify the Hencus family's interest in building the outpost, but doubts remained. The job wasn't special. Khan only needed to open the network to find available positions for similar tasks in the quadrant, so Lucian's behavior had to have different explanations.
Going over the dinner didn't bring the answers Khan hoped to find. Lucian definitely had something in mind, but only an open talk might reveal his intentions.
Khan's attention returned to the message, but he couldn't remain focused for too long. Lucian had sent multiple reports filled with details, and some even included potential candidates for the team. Khan couldn't get over everything in those hours, especially since he wanted a second opinion before considering the offer.
A quick search through the network brought Khan to the Harbor's menus. Shops' catalogs and much more opened on the screen, and he browsed them to reach areas where his rank had some value.
The Harbor and the emba.s.sy mostly had descendants, but they were structures of the Global Army. Khan could obtain a series of doc.u.ments and reports about Lauter for free due to his rank, and he planned to compare them to what Lucian had sent.
A sigh escaped Khan's mouth once the process was over. He let go of his phone and stared at the ceiling while his mind wandered. He had yet to absorb all the previous night's events, and that peace gave him a perfect chance.
Monica was the first thing that came to Khan's mind, not only because she was sleeping on him. The expression of their feelings had been an important event for both of them, and its conclusion had brought something Khan didn't experience in a long time.
Khan's free hand joined the cuddles while he watched Monica sleep. He almost couldn't believe he had reached that point. The very universe seemed to be against him, but he had managed to find some happiness, and Monica was an important part of it.
Thinking about Monica inevitably made Khan review every word uttered by her mother. Madam Solodrey had been a real pain until the very end, but her goodbyes had given hope, which almost felt unreal after everything Khan had witnessed the previous night.
Lucian was an issue Khan had already given up on figuring out now, but his father was another important variable. Lionel had worn the role of a friendly figure, but Khan didn't miss Madam Solodrey's comment about him. She had called him "loud snake", which wasn't hard to translate.
'He could keep up with everything without knowing the context,' Khan realized. 'Maybe I've spoken too much.'
In hindsight, Khan realized how reckless he had been. He had exposed relatively secret information to a potential enemy party, and the stuff about his family wasn't exactly safe either.
Khan didn't know what had happened to his family. He had hypotheses approved by Monica's knowledge, but there was no certainty in any of them. The matter could involve dark secrets that powerful parties would stop at nothing to suppress, and Madam Solodrey might be one of them.
Of course, that was Khan's paranoia at its worst. He couldn't help but consider terrible scenarios, but there was some truth in them. He didn't regret his behavior, but he realized he had to be more careful, especially as his fame increased.
A doubt made its way onto Khan's mind and brought his attention back to the phone. He browsed the network but found no articles about the previous night. The reporters had yet to hear from Lionel and Madam Solodrey, and Khan took that as good news.
The tremor that ran through the symphony broadened Khan's smile, and his gaze went to his chest when a hand covered the screen. Monica had woken up, and her loving expression added warmth to her following words. "You aren't looking at me."
Khan let the phone go and tried to take Monica's hand, but she moved it to his chest to climb closer to his face. She even partially straightened her back before voicing a sensual order. "Carry me to bed."
The idea of refusing the order didn't even cross Khan's mind. He straightened his back, and Monica slid her arms around his neck to prepare. Khan then took her waist and planted his feet on the floor before standing up.
Monica wrapped her legs around Khan's waist while her gaze remained fixed on him. Khan also looked only at Monica while carrying her to their usual bedroom. Their eyes could tell entire stories, but neither spoke during the walk.
Khan eventually approached the bed, and Monica let go of his waist to make her feet touch the floor. She even took the lead, pus.h.i.+ng Khan onto the mattress before slowly crawling over him.
Monica ran her hands over Khan's torso until she sat on his waist. Khan could feel everything, and Monica knew it. She was also in the same situation, but her teasing expression hinted at something different.
"Say it," Monica gave another order while her palms remained on Khan's chest.
Khan didn't need to ask any questions. He knew what Monica wanted to hear, so he complied. "I love you."
Monica's smile broadened, but she didn't let that reaction ruin her plan. Some playfulness made its way into her expression as another order left her mouth. "Say it again."
The desire to tease Monica became impossible to ignore, so Khan straightened his back to sit on the mattress. Monica bent forward to make their foreheads touch, and her eyes closed as she waited for those beautiful words.
"I love you," Khan whispered, and genuine happiness replaced the playfulness on Monica's face. She couldn't help but deliver a slow kiss that allowed her to savor the entirety of the moment.
Monica retracted her head during the kiss, and Khan soon moved to her neck. A gasp left her mouth as she reached for the Khan's nape. She couldn't express how blessed she felt, and burning pa.s.sion filled her, making her push Khan back to the mattress.
Khan chuckled, but any plan to tease Monica disappeared in front of her intense gaze. She never stopped looking at him, even while she adjusted her position on his waist. Her face told Khan that the madness from the previous night had yet to disperse, and he welcomed it with open arms.
George barged into Khan's flat during the afternoon, and the scene that welcomed him explained why he didn't receive any answer. The clothes lying around the rooms and furniture cleared his doubts.
The mess didn't scare George away. He merely nodded in approval and dived into the living room to search for a few bottles. Once he found them, he approached one of the couches and waited for the inevitable welcome.
A door eventually opened, and steps resounded. George finished filling a second gla.s.s before lifting his gaze. He had a joke ready, but his friend's state made him change it.
"And my women are violent," George commented.
Khan rubbed his eyes and followed George's gaze to understand what he meant. His military uniform was mostly open, which revealed the nail marks on his chest. Hickeys were also there, and their presence told Khan that his neck couldn't be any better.
"I knew you wouldn't miss cla.s.ses unless something happened," George pressed on while handing the second gla.s.s to Khan. "You always make me proud."
"Are the cla.s.ses already over?" Khan groaned while taking the gla.s.s and inspecting the room. He looked left and right until he found his phone lying behind a couch.
"d.a.m.n," George exclaimed. "It must have been quite the experience."
Khan ignored the comment and sat on the opposite couch. He took a sip from the gla.s.s while his phone made him aware of the time and many messages. Only a few hours separated him from dinner. The couple had basically spent most of the day in bed.
"Your girlfriend sure wears interesting underwear," George continued while eyeing the clothes in the corner of the room.
"Jealous?" Khan joked.
"Monica and Anita should talk more often," George suggested, "Especially about style."
"Don't let her hear you saying that," Khan chuckled, but the images on his screen cut his voice short. He was using his phone as a mirror, which confirmed the messy state of his neck.
"It's Nitis all over again," George teased.
"Except for Madam Solodrey threatening to remove my t.e.s.t.i.c.l.es," Khan cursed. "Do you have the notes from today's lessons?"
"Anita is bringing them over," George revealed. "I read about Madam Solodrey cras.h.i.+ng your dinner. How did it go?"
"Read?" Khan questioned before realizing what George's words meant. A short search on the network revealed many new articles, and a few claimed to have Madam Solodrey's direct quotes.
"How bad is it?" Khan groaned again and closed his eyes. He didn't want to deal with those problems now.
"Bad?" George scoffed. "You received nothing but praises. The others even thought you skipped cla.s.ses to let things calm down."
"What?" Khan asked.
"You attended a dinner, man," George explained. "The gates are open. You can't avoid invitations anymore, and there is a mountain of them. I had to act as your secretary today to calm those spoiled brats down."
"I don't know how the Colonel expects me to attend all of them," Khan admitted.
"Look at the bright side," George exclaimed. "Your b.a.l.l.s should be safe with the other descendants."
Khan shook his head and emptied his gla.s.s. Half of George's drink had already disappeared, so Khan seized the bottle and refilled it before taking care of himself.
"I guess you guys said it," George announced, searching for Khan's eyes to perform the Niqols' traditional toast. Of course, he met his gaze without needing to think about it.
"It slipped," Khan explained after his sip.
"How does something like that slip?" George questioned.
"I don't know," Khan sighed. "I was tired, and something came out. Everything got messy afterward."
"I can see that," George chuckled.
"Shut up," Khan snorted. "Don't you have your relations.h.i.+p to think about?"
"A gentleman like me doesn't need to think to make things go well," George claimed.
"Please," Khan snickered. "I can hear you dying inside."
"We are almost there," George promised. "We must be."
"George Ildoo in a serious relations.h.i.+p," Khan joked. "It's quite a sight."
"A true friend would have stopped me," George scolded.
"I only have your best interests in mind," Khan promised.
"When is the marriage again?" George rebuked.
"We don't talk about that today," Khan replied, "Or ever. That word is officially illegal in this flat."
"It must have been quite the dinner," George laughed.
"You have no idea," Khan sighed while finally mustering the resolve to dive into the network again. He had gotten the hang of browsing through articles in the past weeks, so he quickly reached the important sites.
'Captain Khan obviously is a figure worthy of his fame,' Khan read one of Madam Solodrey's quotes. 'My daughter, the current best student in the Harbor, acknowledged his talent even before his heroic deeds on Milia 222 and Nippe 2, and I didn't hesitate to provide my support.'
'Is she for real? Khan thought when he discovered that the other articles had similar quotes. Madam Solodrey had used the dinner to bring more fame to Monica and herself and had even stolen some of Khan's words in the process.
Lionel was also part of those articles and corroborated Madam Solodrey's praises. Still, differently from her, he kept the focus on Khan, even claiming that his talents stretched past what the network had managed to record.
'I really can't understand her,' Khan eventually closed the network and disregarded the matter. Madam Solodrey's methods were annoying, but she had said good things about him, and that was enough for now.
"I told you it went well," George stated when Khan lowered his phone. "Now you just have to repeat last night two hundred times."
Khan couldn't find the strength to curse. He had promised Madam Solodrey he would be in the top five by the end of the semester, which required more study, and that was only one of his tasks.
The flights didn't occupy much time but took hours away from the free days. Khan also had two more auctions to attend to complete his unwritten contract with Pandora, and some dinners had to happen in the meantime.
Khan couldn't forget his training either, and Lucian had just added another task to that mess. Refusing the mission felt like a reasonable choice when he reviewed everything, but missing the chance to acc.u.mulate more money and fame couldn't be the right path.
'War is so much easier,' Khan cursed while moving to Lucian's message. His schedule was so packed that even those seconds mattered.
A tremor in the symphony made Khan interrupt his reading. He lifted his gaze, and a sleepy Monica came out of the corridor to enter the living room. George also glanced at her, and his eyebrows arched in surprise.
Monica had always minded her appearance, but her current state was the total opposite of that. She had worn one of Khan's pullovers, forsaking her pants since the piece of clothing reached her thighs. Her hair was also a mess, but she didn't care.
"Morning, George," Monica yawned while walking directly toward Khan.
"It's almost dinner," George muttered, but his voice disappeared when he inspected the scene.
Monica usually sat at Khan's side, but he instinctively pulled himself back and opened his legs. Monica sat between them and cuddled in the hug that followed.
Of course, George didn't mind that intimacy, but the evident indifference in Monica's actions was stunning. Anyone would understand what the couple had just done by looking at the couch, and she seemed proud of it.
Monica ignored George's surprised face and wrapped an arm around Khan's head as soon as he put it on her shoulder. A loud kiss on his cheek followed, and she even whispered a cute "I love you" in his ear.
Khan rubbed his face on Monica's shoulder before turning to face her. The two exchanged a quick kiss and shared a giggle when their lips separated. The surprise abandoned George at that point, and only a genuine smile remained.
"We skipped cla.s.ses," Monica exclaimed as she made herself more comfortable between Khan's legs.
"Apparently, it was for the best," Khan revealed. "Now I can pretend I foresaw the storm."
"What storm?" Monica wondered while accepting Khan's gla.s.s and taking a sip.
Khan soon replaced the gla.s.s with his phone and led Monica to the various articles. She took even less than him to inspect them, and understanding dawned upon her mind.
"My mother knows no shame," Monica snorted. "At least she praised you."
"Instead, Lucian and his father are unknown problems," Khan added. "I need to talk with him."
"Do it before the mission," Monica suggested. "I'll worry otherwise."
"You'd worry anyway," Khan pointed out, trading the gla.s.s for his phone again. "So, you think I should go."
"You want to go, right?" Monica commented while holding the gla.s.s with both hands. "It's money, social credit, and rank. It's perfect for you."
"And Lauter isn't too bad," Khan continued, reopening Lucian's message.
"What's the matter with Lauter?" George questioned.
"Lucian offered Khan a mission," Monica summarized while Khan was busy reading. "He would also need to make his own team."
"Why didn't I get my invitation yet?" George complained.
"Do you want to come?" Khan asked. "From what I'm reading, Lauter sounds beneath you."
According to Lucian and the Harbor's reports, Lauter had a welcoming atmosphere. A calm sea occupied most of the planet, with only small islands disrupting that blue spectacle.
The valuable gas filled the islands' underground caves and made them devoid of life. Only the sky and sea had threats due to the high number of Tainted animals and monsters roaming them.
Khan would love to have George at his side on the battlefield, but mere Tainted animals couldn't be a problem. Khan would rather leave George in the Harbor than take away time from his studies over a mission with no dangerous variables.
"I'll see it as holidays," George announced, "And Anita won't be able to say anything if I use you as an excuse."
"Hey, don't lie to her," Monica scolded.
"Khan truly needs my help with…," George tried to crack a joke, but a realization made him opt for a question. "What exactly do you have to do there?"
"I'm still reading," Khan responded. "Short version, Lucian wants an outpost in a tax-free area. I don't know the specifics yet."
"Keep me updated," George voiced. "I'll practice calling you sir in the meantime."
The walls lit up and warned the group about Anita's arrival. The elevator didn't take long to bring her into the flat, and the same surprise that had hit George filled her when she noticed the mess.
"Anita, thank you," Khan called once Anita entered the living room, but she remained silent. Seeing Monica wearing nothing but a pullover while sitting between Khan's legs was too embarra.s.sing for her.
"She brought the cla.s.ses' notes," Khan explained while Anita approached the couches.
"Oh, thank you, Anita," Monica exclaimed. "I'm sorry I didn't warn you."
"It's okay," Anita finally snapped out of her amazement. "I worried your fever had returned, but you look fine."
"The dinner was exhausting," Monica responded before showing a meaningful smile to Khan, "And we lost track of time."
Khan couldn't refrain from kissing Monica, which only made Anita more embarra.s.sed. Yet, the intimate gesture ended quickly, and she used that opening to reach the couple's couch.
A tinge of shyness spread inside Monica when Anita bent toward the couch, but she suppressed that feeling and began playing with her curls. Khan noticed that reaction, but the situation didn't allow him to question her.
"It might have been for the best," Anita revealed as she and Khan established a connection between their phones to begin the exchange of notes. "The articles caused quite an uproar. Everyone wanted to get a piece of you."
"I'm sorry you and George had to deal with it," Khan said, going through the various authorizations required to receive the notes. "By the way, tell me if your family wants to meet me. You'd be on the top of my list."
"Is this favoritism, Captain?" Anita teased. "I'm not humble enough to refuse these offers."
"I'm only glad I can prioritize a friend," Khan stated before peeking at the other couch. "The same goes for you. I don't believe that your parents never asked for me."
"I planned to postpone it until the very end," George revealed, "But you had to go all politician on me."
"We could plan something for the same night," Anita suggested, "To save Khan some time."
Anita forced herself not to look at George, but the two smirks coming from the couch were no better. Khan and Monica had understood Anita's intentions. She wanted to use that chance to meet George's family.
Monica pulled Khan's sleeve, and he showed a sorry expression to George before playing along. "That's a good idea. We should definitely do a joint dinner."
"If that's what you prefer," Anita added, and George didn't hold back from glaring at Khan. Still, the eager look that Anita showed to George made him give in.
"I'll contact my parents," George sighed. "You win this one."
Anita turned to hide her happiness and mimed a "thank you" with her mouth. The scene was cute enough to remind the couple of their feelings, which made them snuggle closer, uncaring of the audience.
"Well," George announced and stood up since the situation was getting dangerous, "I actually had plans to study with Anita. We'll take our leave now."
"We just-," Anita frowned.
"Anita, Anita," George interrupted and seized Anita's waist to keep her at his side. "Let's go study."
Anita understood the hidden meaning of that second statement and let George push her toward the elevator. However, she managed to voice a warning before the two could leave the flat. "Don't use this for nasty purposes. We will study."
Khan and Monica exploded into a laugh when the elevator closed, and she dived deeper into his embrace now that some privacy had returned.
"Anita is so cute," Monica commented. "I hope George treats her well."
"He is the best once he gets serious," Khan praised, "And you are cuter."
"And you are the best," Monica corrected. "The very best of the best in the entire Global Army."
"You meant universe," Khan teased.
"That's me," Monica claimed. "I'm the best girlfriend in the world, and you are lucky to have me all for yourself."
"I am indeed lucky," Khan left a kiss on Monica's curls. "Incredibly lucky."
Monica immersed herself in that affection, but the disappearance of her shyness forced another statement out of Khan. "I thought you'd be comfortable around Anita by now."
"Oh, that," Monica gasped before showing a playful face to Khan. She took his free hand and guided it toward her exposed legs before pus.h.i.+ng it under the pullover.
Khan didn't initially understand what Monica had in mind, but everything became clear once he reached her lower waist. He had committed those areas to memory, so he didn't miss the absence of underwear.
"You naughty girl," Khan snickered, and Monica giggled when he threw away his phone to push her onto the couch.