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The Kids Aren't Alright

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It was a quiet day at the library, as it often was - visitors were few and far between, so Jocasta knew in the Force right away if one was there. She couldn't help smiling when she felt her bondmate's Force signature - a beachside volcano leading out to a sunset sea.

The New Force Order had been able to preserve a few relics from the old Jedi Order Temple on Coruscant, and Sifo-Dyas was looking at one of them now - a bust of Count Dooku, that had been put in the Jedi library with busts of the other Twenty after they left the Order.

"He's got a striking face, hasn't he?" Jocasta asked him, much as she'd asked Obi-Wan Kenobi that same thing many years ago.

"Aye. It should be struck more often."

Jocasta couldn't help laughing at that, and Sifo laughed too, and she gave him a playful swat.

Then she put on her "serious librarian" face, though there was a mischievous twinkle in her eye. "And what brings you here, Master Sifo-Dyas?"

"Well, Madame Nu... I require your assistance with research."

"Do you?"

"Yes." They began walking towards her desk. Jocasta sat down at her desk and produced her tablet. Sifo began to rub her shoulders.

"What subject are you interested in researching, Master Sifo-Dyas?"

He got on his knees and began to kiss and nibble her neck. "The female orgasm."

"Oh, my." Jocasta cleared her throat, but leaned in so he could have better access. "That's a rather extensive topic of research, Master Sifo-Dyas. I think you will have to be more specific than that. Any particular techniques?"

Sifo kissed her hard, reaching to caress her breast and stroke the nipple standing at attention... then he crawled under the desk and lifted up the skirt of Jocasta's Jedi robes. He pulled down her panties and got between her legs, and Jocasta cried out as his tongue stroked her cleft.

"Madame Nu," Sifo said, "you are in a library. You should keep the noise down."

Jocasta grabbed Sifo's hair - it was one of the nice things about him having shoulder-length hair, she could pull on it - and she shoved his face in her pussy. Sifo groaned into her and Jocasta moaned - but softly - as his clever tongue teased in all the ways she liked. As she got closer to orgasm he sucked her clit and fingered her G-spot. Jocasta had heard that older women frequently needed additional lubrication for sex, but Sifo got her so wet that had never been a problem. She liked hearing the sounds of her wetness, accompanied by the sounds of him sucking, slurping, sighing... savoring her. She loved his mouth on her, knowing that secret rhythm that drove her wild with pleasure.

Sifo loved it too. He was devouring her now, and she was right on that edge, higher and higher, tension winding tighter and tighter...

She squirted and Sifo drank her. She held back the scream threatening to echo through the entire Temple, and not exploding with sound just seemed to intensify the implosions of her climax, throbbing so hard it almost hurt. She was gasping for breath, not able to help it; the library seemed to spin.

Sifo took a few last slow licks, giving her aftershocks, and then he came up - his face was glistening and his beard was drenched, and there were wet spots on the collar of his Jedi robes. He licked his lips and Jocasta laughed. Then she laughed again at the very obvious bulge in his robes - it said something that the bulky Jedi robes couldn't conceal his erection.

"And what are we going to do about that, Master Sifo-Dyas?" Jocasta asked, giving him an expectant look.

"I think we need further research," Sifo said. He picked Jocasta up out of her chair and sat her down on the edge of her desk. He undid his belt, and Jocasta watched as he undid his trousers. Then he undid enough of the top of her Jedi robes to expose her breasts, which were still quite firm and shapely for someone her age.

It was one thing to be eaten out with him under her desk... it was another thing to be fucked on her desk. Anyone could walk in at any time, and see the display.

It was just so naughty. It had been thrilling in the days of their youth when they risked discipline or possibly even expulsion for carrying on this way - there were few surfaces in the old Jedi Temple library where they hadn't fucked, someway, somehow. She still got a thrill out of somewhat public sex, even though the New Force Order's Jedi Council was more likely to give her a CONGRATS ON THE SEX cake if she got caught.

People thought she was this stodgy old librarian - she loved proving them wrong.

Her legs were on his shoulders, and her hips bucked in the same frenzied rhythm as his. The fingers of one hand worked her clit, as the other hand roamed over her body to rub her breasts, pinch and pull and twist and flick the nipples, fuck them between his fingers as he fucked her clit between his fingers. The lewd, obscene sound of sloppy wet pussy and his grunts, her moans, got louder and louder, echoing in the stillness of the library. The look of lust on Sifo's face was almost angry, so fierce was he in his determination to bring her off. Her hand covered the hand working her clit, and she almost sobbed as she felt herself rushing towards climax. "Sifo," she cried out. "I'm going to-"

"Yes, Mistress. Let me please you."

Jocasta shrieked as her orgasm overtook her, and a moment later Sifo cried out as he gave a few hard thrusts, spending his release. Jocasta moaned as she felt his hot cum spray inside her sensitive pussy, which clenched and throbbed again in response. "Ohhhh, Sifo..."

"I love you."

They held their position and then Sifo helped Jocasta sit up, and they kissed. Sifo pulled Jocasta off the desk and sat in her chair, holding her on his lap. She rested her head on him and he cradled her, and they rested together, cherishing that moment of peace, the calm after the storm of their passion.

"I'm so glad you're back," Jocasta told him, finally.

He kissed the top of her head. "Yeah... the Galaxy's a mess, but at least we have this."

Darth Malak chose that moment to walk into the library, looking around nervously. Jocasta got the impression the young Sith Lord had heard them, and waited until the noise stopped to make his entrance. Still on Sifo's lap, she sat up. "Hello there, Lord Malak," she said. Four years at the New Force Order and she still felt strangely about peaceful co-existence with Sith, but that Malak seemed like such a nice boy. It was hard to believe sometimes he was a Sith Lord, and had been one of the most fearsome during his time.

"Greetings, Madame Nu."

"Is there something I can assist you with, Lord Malak?"

"Actually... I heard Sifo-Dyas might be here."

At the way Malak's lips quirked when he said the words "I heard", Sifo cackled, and Malak laughed too.

"Well you know, one of the perks of being Grandmaster is I can't get in trouble," Sifo said.

"Oh, you're always in trouble," Jocasta said. She stood up, and when Sifo rose from the chair, she playfully swatted his bottom, which made Malak laugh harder. "I've no doubt you had me indulge in such naughtiness because you want to be punished later."

"Would I do that?" Sifo leered at her. He turned to Malak. "So what can I do you for?"

"Well, I have a couple things I need to talk to you about. Is there somewhere private we can have this discussion?" He looked at Jocasta and said, "No offense. One of those matters involves the Sith Order and they're a bit particular about who it's discussed with."

"None taken, and I understand." Jocasta smiled, and then she waved them off. "Run along, before I decide to fuck my bondmate again, this time so hard he has to go respawn in the infirmary."

"Promises, promises."

_

Sifo-Dyas had his own office, as Grandmaster, and it had a nice view of the Temple Gardens. After Sifo and Malak walked into the office and Sifo closed the door behind them, he offered, "Coffee? Tea?"

Malak nodded. "Coffee."

Sifo put on the coffee pot and they sat down at opposite ends of the desk. Sifo gestured for Malak to speak.

"Well, as you know, two days ago I met with the Sith Order to let them know things would be changing. I ran the Sith Academy on Korriban and we had very rigorous standards - to be blunt, we were a bit elitist. We weren't a Sith factory. I told the Council that we would recognize those who had been Darthed most recently, including my brother Severin - Vader doesn't get to say no anymore, not about that - but from this point forward, the policy of 'kill the right person to become a Sith Lord' is going to stop. Because there's more to being a Sith Lord than killing people, and I don't approve of someone theoretically being able to end their apprenticeship in two days if they accidentally kill their Master." And then Malak frowned. "I also really don't like how cheap death is here. The respawn feature at the Temple, and having the Restorers within an hour's drive - sure, it makes things convenient - but convenient isn't always better. People will be more sloppy with their training if they know a mistake that costs them their lives isn't going to kill them permanently. I'm also not really sure it's a great idea for Sith to become more desensitized to death and killing than we already are."

Sifo took a deep breath. "I'm really relieved to hear you say that."

Malak nodded.

Sifo said, "Dooku and I talked about this very same thing, recently. Apparently when Dooku and Severin came back from Serenno, your brother raised the question of if the Knights of Ren had been sent here to the New Force Order precisely because the autoregen function means one can kill and it doesn't mean anything and it makes it easier to kill. I myself just killed Vader like it was nothing, when he interrupted my welcome back party. And I was a Jedi at the time. If someone who's been with the Jedi Order since they were two can go off on someone and kill them for the hell of it... well, does the Supreme Leader want to train killing machines? That's what it seems like."

Sifo knew he was taking a chance by saying this to the Lord General of the First Order - its second-in-command, ranked only below Kylo Ren. He also knew that Malak was a fair and reasonable person - especially in contrast with most of the other Sith - and would not kill someone just for speaking their mind.

And he'd invoked Malak's brother. He didn't know Malak well but one thing he'd observed was that Malak seemed particularly close to his two brothers and a bit protective of them.

The coffee was ready, and Sifo poured it as Malak considered his response. Sifo took his black, and Malak took his coffee with cream and two sugars, standard on Corellia.

Malak took a sip of his coffee and then he said, "To be honest, I've wondered the same thing myself."

The sigh of relief from Sifo was audible. Malak raised an eyebrow before taking another sip.

"So," Sifo said, "I've got to ask, and I hope you won't get pissed off at me for asking this."

Malak gave him the "go ahead" gesture.

"How the hell did you wind up in the First Order? I mean, you're on the Dark Side of the Force, and the New Republic has a tremendous amount of problems. But is bringing back the Empire really the solution to that?"

Malak took another few minutes to evaluate his words, and then he said, "Our parents were killed when we were six. My Echani father had two sisters. One of them was a Senator who was killed before we were born. We were sent to live with his other sister, who lived on Corellia with a Corellian husband. My Corellian uncle blamed the Empire for everything that had gone wrong with his life. He drank. It became clear as I grew up that my uncle's problems weren't because of the Empire, they were because of him. He chose to drink. He chose to gamble."

"...okay."

"My brothers and I grew up in poverty because of them. But we found ways to entertain ourselves that didn't cost money. My brothers read a lot. I, on the other hand, was physically active. I was the jock, they were the nerds. I was actually a bit of a nerd myself, but I learned to keep this a secret from most people. In fact, it was sometimes to my advantage for someone to think I was dumb, so they'd underestimate me and that would be their undoing. Anyway... after grade school, my brothers got accepted to a prestigious university. I myself used my muscles and went into construction. I had a little business going for awhile. But then Dennis got into some trouble with a loan he'd taken out, and it was next to impossible for them to maintain their academic schedule and try to work - they'd tried it - and this was around the time the First Order started recruiting outside the Unknown Regions. When I found out how much they paid enlisted soldiers, and had a GI Bill that would pay for your college education or that of one family member of your choice, I said 'hell yes.' And you know, if a Mandalorian warlord had found me first and hired me to fight on their war band for the same price, I would have gone that route."

"So what you're saying is you're a mercenary."

"I prefer the term pragmatist."

Sifo couldn't help laughing at that. "I like you," he said, and meant it.

Malak grinned. "Feeling is mutual. Anyone who stabs Vader at a party is all right in my book."

Sifo laughed some more.

Malak went on, "But even as a pragmatist, I have a conscience. Don't think for a minute that I wasn't conflicted as hell when the Hosnian system was destroyed. But I've gotten to know Kylo Ren over the last few years. He is my best friend for a reason. He is not the monster the Galaxy thinks he is. Yes, he murdered the New Jedi Order staff and his classmates - because he was being bullied, and felt that these Jedi would do more harm than good if they were allowed to continue. Yes, he destroyed the Hosnian system -because it harbored the New Republic headquarters. The New Republic has labor camps around the Galaxy. They have also been exponentially increasing their military, while claiming before the Hosnian system that they didn't take the First Order threat seriously. So if not to fight us, why did they need all that manpower? Kylo had Force visions of genocide. Of occupations. Enslavement. The New Republic being worse than the Empire ever was. So he struck a crippling blow. He couldn't just take out a few targets, because the Republic had structures and operatives all over that entire system. He was willing to kill billions to spare quadrillions. One might think that extreme, even distasteful. So I ask you, if you had the power to go back in time and murder Sheev Palpatine as a child, knowing what he would grow up to be, knowing that if you spared his life - even if you tried to raise him yourself and educate him on the straight and narrow, he would inevitably become Darth Sidious, the Emperor - would you? Would you be able to live with yourself if you spared the child, and knew billions would die and trillions more would suffer, and the suffering would continue decades after the Empire fell? And would you be able to live with yourself for killing a child? It's the same principle at work here, with the choices Kylo Ren has made. These are the questions that Kylo Ren wrestles with daily. Making the difficult decisions that need to be made, and will vilify him in history, and will wound his conscience and haunt him forever, because the alternative is something far worse than Sidious and Vader, far worse than even the Mandalorian Wars four thousand years ago."

"And yet, the lesser of two evils is still evil. You were born after the fall of the Empire, but surely you know your history?"

"I do. I also know that history is written by the victors and not everything presented in history is the accurate truth of what happened - and you can look no further than what history says about myself and Revan back in the day, or what it says about Dooku and the Clone Wars, to see that demonstrated in action. The Empire made mistakes, and suffice it to say Kylo Ren and the Supreme Leader are aware of those mistakes, and should we accomplish our goal of restoring the Empire, it will not be an identical carbon copy of Vader's Empire, or even the Sith Empire I had long ago. It will take the best of the old, while attempting to avoid its more problematic elements. But the Empire was also presented in history as being far worse than it actually was, and I'm not sure the Galaxy has been better off since the Empire fell."

"How do you condone Stormtroopers being trained from infancy?"

"The same exact way you condoned Jedi younglings being taken as infants or small children, and authorized a clone army for the sole purpose of breeding soldiers who would age at an accelerated rate and not even have a proper childhood." Malak sat back in his chair.

"Point taken."

"So that... is how I got caught up with the First Order. I joined for money, I stayed for my conscience."

Sifo nodded. "And you came here to talk to me about two specific things and we got a bit derailed. My apologies."

"No need." Malak smiled. "So as I was saying... I had that meeting with the Sith Council and informed them things would be a bit different, starting with doing away with the policy of 'you kill your Master to be Sith Lord'. I said that apprenticeship should now last at least one year, and ideally closer to three, where the acolyte graduates after being given an assignment from their Master. In the old days, there was something called the Trial of Blood, where the acolyte was assigned to kill or otherwise destroy all the Master's enemies."

"Otherwise destroy? Aren't killing and destroying the same thing?"

"...there are sometimes worse things you can do to someone than killing them, Master Sifo-Dyas."

Remind me to never get on this guy's bad side. "All right."

"I also made a bit of a change to the lineup of the Sith Council. Unfortunately I have to keep Vader as a Council member, because he's the New Force Order's founder, and it just makes the transition a bit less..." Malak gestured, searching for words, and couldn't find them, but Sifo got the gist of it. "But I knew that changing the policy would create enough opposition that it was going to be necessary to make an adjustment with who sits on the Council. So I removed Darth Malgus and Darth Bane, and put Kylo Ren and Severin in their place."

"So Tyranus and his bondmate now sit on the Sith Council."

"Yes."

Sifo nodded.

"And this wasn't just a strategic move to take out the loudest voices of opposition, but also because my brother... well... if I'm seen as Kylo Ren's toady, some even more unflattering things have been said at the Sith Order. 'Dooku's fuckboy' is one of the epithets given to my brother Severin."

"Classy," Sifo said, sipping his coffee.

"Sith are the classiest." Malak shook his head. "It was a problem then, as now. So I thought that by putting my brother on the Council, it might give an opportunity for the Sith to see for themselves that my brother is a force to be reckoned with."

Sifo nodded.

"But naturally, I'm still running into opposition. Some of the other Council members don't like the changes to the apprenticeship policy and they don't like the changes to the Council. They're going to like it even less when I tell them I want to have a more formal educational structure on the Sith side, with classes just like there were at the Sith Academy, like there would be at a university. It's bullshit that the New Force Order is producing Sith Lords who don't know how to do basic Sith alchemy."

"I assume however you're not facing opposition from the entire Council."

"Well, no. Obviously in addition to the new Council members, Dooku and Obi-Wan have no problem with the proposed changes. Dooku himself tried to run a Sith Academy after he left the Jedi Order. With Sidious. Sidious called the students 'badawans'."

Sifo almost choked on his coffee. "Badawans."[1]

"Yes."

Sifo shook from laughter, his brown face turning red. "I can't..."

"Badawans."

"Badawans..."

When Sifo pulled himself together, Malak said, "So that first point of business was letting you know that I'm going to be working on a structure for a Sith Academy... and when I have a basic outline for the curriculum and share it with the Council, there may be a bit of a bloodbath." Malak made a Wookiee noise. "You know, I hate saying this, but it would be so much easier to have a Sith Order without... well, the Sith in the Sith Order, with a few exceptions, obviously the Knights of Ren, Dooku, and Obi-Wan as those exceptions. Possibly Maul, also. But beyond that, it feels like pulling teeth to get anything accomplished. It's frustrating enough that I've half a mind to say 'fuck the Temple' and start my own Sith Order somewhere else."

"I understand." Sifo nodded. "The New Force Order was a nice idea in theory, but its execution leaves things to be desired. I'm not entirely happy with the obligation to be here the next four years, even as its Grandmaster. If we want to avoid the mistakes the Jedi and Sith have made in the past, maybe the answer to that is not to bring back the Jedi and Sith, but do something new."

Malak knew that was also taking a not-so-subtle shot at the idea that another Empire would clean up the mess of the New Republic, but he did not respond to that; he just sipped his tea. He respected Sifo-Dyas for being so forthright with him, even if they didn't see eye to eye on everything.

He was like that when he was Atton Rand. ...the other Atton. The one I didn't fuck.[2]

Malak wondered what Han Solo was up to.

"The second point of business," Malak said, "I need your help with something."

Sifo nodded. "I'm listening."

"Dooku tells me you have Force visions, and that your visions have a tendency of coming true."

Sifo took a deep breath. "Yes."

Malak nodded, and folded his hands. "That's a very difficult gift to live with."

"You have no idea."

"Actually I have every idea." Malak's eyes met his. "Sometimes I see things. Sometimes I know things."

Sifo remembered being a bit of a pariah in the Jedi Order - seen by some as a madman. Seers had been few and far between in the last days of the Jedi. Sifo often wondered if there was a direct correlation between the lack of visionaries and the emotional castration, rigidity, and near-fundamentalism of the last generations of Jedi. He wondered if more seers would have made a difference and kept the Jedi from...

"So," Malak drank the rest of his coffee. "A few days ago, you were introduced to the concept that the universe you live in is one part of a multiverse. I imagine you have a lot of questions."

"My questions have questions. I have questions I don't even have the words for."

Malak nodded. "Well, instead of me telling you... I'm offering to show you. This is what I need help with. The arrival of Ben from wherever it is he came from, is a sign that I need to check in with my pet project."

"Check in...?"

"I need to scry... uh, flow walking." Scrying was the Sith term, flow walking the Jedi term. "I need to see what's going on with the universes Revan and I created, both to try to figure out what the deal is with Ben - where this is potentially going - and to see if there are any other surprises we should be aware of the potential for, so we're not blindsided by them. And I can't do this alone. It's dangerous to one's sanity to attempt this visionary work by oneself."

"Why don't you have Kylo work with you, since he created the universes with you when he was Revan?"

"Let's just say I have reasons to not completely trust Kylo." Malak thought of the conversation he had a few mornings ago with Kylo, where he was given a warning that they would become enemies and fight each other - like they had four thousand years ago - to bring about the necessary change to the Galaxy.[3]

"So that implies you trust me. You barely know me."

"I know you, Atton Rand. Or should I say Jaq." Their eyes met, and Sifo had a brief flash of mental images of being trained as a Sith assassin, by Malak himself, a long time ago, before he found his way to the Ebon Hawk, the Exile, that bitter and cranky old hag Kreia, and his Brianna.

"Ah, shit."

"Yes. You remember." Fuck, I wonder if Han remembers. Force, that's gonna be interesting.

"...a little." Sifo closed his eyes. He opened them, and shook his head. "I'm a seer, but I have no experience with flow walking."

"It's intentionally triggering visions. You'll be a natural at it. And I really, really need your help."

"So I'd be doing you a favor."

"Yes, you would."

Sifo sat back in his chair and steepled his hands. "It's only fair if you return a favor in kind."

"...OK, so..."

"Whatever the First Order is paying you now, I will match it, if you will leave the First Order and work full-time at the Temple."

Malak laughed. "Leaving the First Order isn't as simple as that. When you're in, you're generally in for life unless there's a serious circumstance that necessitates a discharge."

"Well, the Supreme Leader sent you here. If he were made to understand that it was your destiny to run a Sith Academy... you can't exactly do that and fly around space on the Finalizer or your own flagship."

Malak took a deep breath. "Basically, I'm here to whip the Sith Order into shape until I get my assignment to leave here, probably to command a base or a fleet. I'm not spending my life working with Malgus and Bane and Marr and Exar Kun dick-waving over who was the most awesome thousands of years ago and not wanting to move forward with progress for the changing times here and now."

"That's really a damn shame. I'd dismiss them from the Order in a heartbeat if I knew I could keep you here on staff."

Malak pinched the bridge of his nose.

"Think about it, at least, is all I ask," Sifo said. "You're gifted, and the Force needs you more than the First Order does. Soldiers are a credit a dozen. Force-sensitives - and ones with your level of insight, focus, drive, and determination - fewer and farther between."

Malak knew it wasn't false flattery, and Sifo-Dyas meant what he was saying. "I'll think about it."

"All right. When do you want to get started with the flow walking?"

"I would suggest we take three days to prepare ourselves with extra meditation, maybe some cleansing rituals. Then in three days' time I'll have you accompany me in the Sith alchemy lab to see what we can see."

Sifo nodded. "Will do."

_

"Well, this is the mancave."

Han Solo led Severin Yusanis into the garage of his apartment house. Han, Finn, and Chewie spent a fair amount of time out there.

C3P0 woke up and said, "Hello there," and R2D2 booped acknowledgment.

A portion of the garage had been fixed up like a small living room, including a holoscreen on the wall, and there was a mini-fridge and hot plate off to one side. Han went into the fridge. "Can I get you something?"

"What do you have?"

"Corellian ale, soda, juice..."

"Oh, man, a Corellian ale sounds good." Sev nodded.

Han handed him a glass bottle and took one for himself. He sat across from Sev, and Sev used the Force to pry the bottlecap off his bottle.

"You make it look so easy," Han said.

"It's easy once you've done it enough times. First few times I struggled."

Han concentrated on the bottle sitting on the small table between them, focusing on the cap - Sev felt him pushing.

Then the bottle exploded, and ale foamed everywhere.

"Ah, shit." Han facepalmed.

"Actually that was pretty fucking cool," Sev said. "Imagine if you could do that to an enemy's head."

Han looked at Sev through his fingers. "You know, it's wrong to kill people..."

"...and yet, I've done it, and so have you." Sev took a swig of his ale. "It's like this - it's wrong to kill people for no reason. If you're in the jungle and a rancor decides you're lunch, are you going to take the high road and say 'well it's wrong to kill', or are you going to shoot it?"

Han nodded.

"The key to mastering the Dark Side is understanding not everything that looks at you funny is a rancor, and discerning between the rancors and fairly harmless things that don't need to be shot. And unfortunately when you have the Force at all, others pick up on something different about you and some people respond to that difference as a threat, whether you are or aren't. So the other key to mastering the Dark Side is to be willing, ready and able to shoot that rancor when it comes for you."

Han reached for a towel and a dustpan to clean up the ale and broken glass, and then Sev said, "This is your first lesson: clean it up using the Force."

Han sighed. He closed his eyes, and Sev felt a push, and then watched as the brush of the dustpan swept up broken glass from the table and the floor, by itself, and then the towel moved by itself, wiping up the table and floor. Then he leaned back in his chair. "Fuck. Just even that little bit felt like I was trying to move a kriffing mountain."

"And some of that is because you've been suppressing it for so long. When Kylo started making me use the Force to do things like that... for the first few weeks I had never been so exhausted in my life."

"Ben really pushed you, huh?"

Sev frowned. "His name is Kylo."

"No... his name is Ben."

Sev folded his arms. "Mkay. Han? I know you and your son aren't on the best of terms. But one of the reasons why he has a problem with you is because you won't call him by his preferred name."

"...A name he took because we were having problems. I call him Ben because he's still my son whether he wants to be or not."

"I get it. But the thing is, it's not just some random thing he called himself because he had a problem with you and his mom."

Han gave Sev a look, and then looked off to the side, also folding his arms, mirroring Sev's posture.

Sev said, "Have you even bothered to ask him why he calls himself Kylo Ren?"

"...No, I haven't."

"It's a name of spiritual significance to him." Sev unfolded his arms and folded his hands instead, leaning forward a little. "If your child came out to you as transgender and called herself Kylie, would we be having this conversation right now?"

"...No. I'd call her Kylie."

"How is it less disrespectful to keep using a name your son no longer wants to be called by?"

"Well for starters, he's not transgender, so this argument doesn't apply."

"OK, then let me put this another way." Sev took a swig of his ale. "If you're going to hope to get anywhere with your son, at all, ever, you need to meet him halfway, and that includes calling him by the name he wants to be called by. It's not that hard... Sarah."

"Sarah?"

"Yeah, Sarah." Sev took another swig of his ale.

Han made a disgruntled sound. "Could we not talk about my son now? It's a sore subject."

"OK, Sarah."

Han glared at Sev. Sev glared back.

Then Sev pulled out a glass pipe and a small bag of weed from his pocket. He packed the bowl, lit it, puffed, and passed. Han took a hit, and his face softened.

"This is the really good shit," he said.

"Yes, it is. There's weed at the Temple. It's not just a better grade of pot, but it's been heavily infused with the Living Force."

Han handed the pipe back to Sev, and Sev puffed and passed it, and Han puffed and passed it back.

"Do you know how to meditate?" Sev asked him.

"Do I look like the kind of guy who meditates?"

Sev grinned. "I really don't meditate as much as I should. Dooku gets on me about it. Now I have to set a good example for my apprentice."

"Yes, you do."

They finished the bowl, and then Sev said to Han, "Here." He held out his hands. Han took them. Sev took a deep breath and closed his eyes, and Han did as well.

Sev pushed into Han's mind and showed him darkness. Be one with the darkness. The Dark Side of the Force knows all your hurts, all your fears, all your secrets. Let it cover you, let it shield you... let it comfort you. And then Sev's voice was quiet, and they were there, in the stillness and the dark.

Han itched. His legs got restless. Worries at the back of his head began to crawl out to the front, loudly. What the hell am I doing, I'm learning this shit from a guy who hangs out with the guy who killed me-

Empty your mind, Han. Han felt a little smirk from Sev. Excuse me, SARAH.

FFFFFFF.

Every time something comes up, hit it away with the dark. Empty your mind. Let the darkness take it all.

The intense urgent bodily discomforts and panicked feelings eventually subsided, and Han felt like he was taking a warm bath in black water. At last, Sev spoke aloud. "You can open your eyes," he said.

Han did.

"Twice a day, I want you to do that," Sev said, "in addition to the meditations we'll be doing when I'm over here."

"Twice a day? Isn't that excessive?"

"Dooku meditates five times a day, so... no." It was a holdout of Dooku's Jedi training, in fact. Dooku credited meditation for some of why he was so powerful.

Han let out a low whistle.

Sev nodded.

"So," Han said, getting another bottle of ale for himself, "you said that today you'd be making an assessment of what I need to work on."

"Yes. And just in this short span of time, I've made a few observations." Sev finished his bottle, and Han said, "Help yourself," and Sev used the Force to open the mini-fridge and bring over another one.

"And what have you observed, Darth Lev... uh..."

"Levitas." Sev smiled. "Darth Levitas, the Lord of Levity."

"...you're a Sith troll."

"Sure am, Sarah." Sev opened his bottle of ale and took a swig.

Han made a Wookiee noise.

"What I've observed is that you are exactly in the very same spot I was in, when I was recruited into the Knights of Ren. I had been suppressing my Force abilities my entire life, because when I didn't shit happened, and Kylo made me work past that. So I spent some months just working on telekinesis, telepathy, and Force kinetics, before we got sent to the New Force Order. That was when the Sith training began - I was apprenticed to Count Dooku. I'm still his apprentice. So congrats, you're in Dooku's Force lineage now."

"Force lineage?"

"Yoda trained Dooku, Dooku trained Qui-Gon Jinn, Qui-Gon trained Obi-Wan Kenobi, Obi-Wan trained Anakin Skywalker, Anakin trained Ahsoka Tano. Obi-Wan and Yoda trained Luke. Luke trained Leia. Obi-Wan trained my brother Dennis, and Dennis is training Leia and Qui-Gon is also training Leia. So we're all connected to Yoda and Dooku in the Force, like they're our ancestors."

Han nodded.

"So anyway..." Sev took another swig. "I would normally start you off slow like I did, but because you're in the situation you're in, we're going to have to work on the martial side of your training sooner than I started mine. That means that thing you did with the bottle today, I'm going to be teaching you to do deliberately rather than accidentally. There's some other stuff I can show you. And we'll need you to build a lightsaber."

Han swallowed hard. He'd always been a little envious of Old Ben, of Luke and Leia, getting to swing those shiny swords around. He felt like it would be too dangerous to put one of those in his hands. Not simply because he didn't know the first damn thing about sword fighting, but because if he was wielding a weapon like that... well, he might be tempted to go on a bit of a rampage. A lot of people had gotten on his bad side over the years. Especially that Snoke fucker for what he did to my son.

"It's not just time to learn how to shoot the rancor, but it's time to stop apologizing for wanting to shoot it. You're not a bad person for wanting to protect yourself and your family, and right the wrongs done to you and your family. You have a lot to be justifiably angry about, and it's time to blow the lid off that anger." Sev sipped his ale. "Ask me how I know."

"I can see why it was suggested you be my Sith teacher."

"It seems we have a lot in common." Sev smirked. "Except I know how to call people by the name they prefer... Sarah."

"OH, DAMMIT, OKAY FINE, HIS NAME IS KYLO. KYLO REN. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?"

"...Sure thing, Sarah." Sev's smirk became a grin. Sev ducked when Han used the Force to throw a couch pillow at him.

"Fucking hell." But Han laughed. "You're just as much a shit as I am."

"I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship."

They clinked bottles.

Han frowned. "So..." He scratched his head. "About that. I'm surprised you're willing to do this at all. I know Be- uh, Kylo... must have told you some things."

Sev nodded. "He did. But I only know one side of the story. Kylo isn't a saint either. And it looks like, from here, that you're making an honest effort to change for the better. Kylo has a right to not forgive you and not want anything to do with you, though I think him killing you was a bit excessive, and yes, I wish you guys could work things out. But you also have the right to not be beat up for the rest of your life. People make mistakes. Shit happens. As far as you and me are concerned, I'm coming into this with a clean slate." Sev took a sip of his ale.

"I appreciate that."

Sev looked at the time. "Dooku's gonna be at Yoda's for awhile, so do you have plans for dinner?"

"Well... do you want to order a pizza? Finn's out with his Jedi Master, and Leia and Dennis are... busy."

Sev smirked - he knew exactly what kind of "busy" Dennis and Leia were, and so did Han. "Yeah, that sounds good. Do you want to play dejarik while we eat?"

Han nodded. "It's on."

_

"Oh, Dennis, fuck me, fuck me..."

Dennis and Leia had been making love for hours - they completely bypassed her Sith lesson and went directly to bed, practically tearing their clothes off as soon as they got in the door - and they were still going strong, not anywhere near finished with each other. More than anyone else she'd been with, Dennis Yusanis made Leia feel insatiable... a bottomless pit of sexual hunger. She couldn't get enough of the Echani Sith Lord's gorgeous body, his touch, his cock, his kiss... and even more than the sight of him and his skills with pleasing her, there was a feeling of completeness with him on her, in her. A part of herself she never knew was missing... and she ached, craved, was fucking addicted to feeling it fuse with her in every kiss, every stroke, every thrust.

Leia was on her back now, one of her legs propped up on Dennis's shoulders, with him straddle-fucking her, holding her leg up with one hand, running the other over her. Working her clit the way she liked it - oh, those fingers were magic.

Dennis leaned in to kiss her again. "Mmmmmmmm...." He stroked her face, pure love in his grey-green eyes. "Oh, babygirl..."

She was old enough to be his mother, but she still loved it when he called her that. She raked her nails down his chest and Dennis gasped, shivering with pleasure at the sting across his flesh. "Dennis... Dennis, fuck me, fuck me, FUCK ME..."

"Oh, baby." Dennis rubbed her clit harder and faster. Thrust into her harder and faster. She could hear his balls slapping against her, matched by the wet squishing, suctioning sound of him driving in and out of her. Pulling out almost all the way, and slamming back in, each time. He fucked hard, when he got going - their naked bodies were glistening with sweat, and more sweat was dripping down his chest now, the sight of which she found utterly delicious. He found her sweat-drenched body just as delicious, the wetness accentuating every angle, every curve, every bit of definition on her trim, lithe petite frame. He took the hand that had been holding up her leg and used it to rub in slow circles up and down her sensitive wet flesh, stroking almost reverently. She was his hot fuck goddess, and he wanted to worship every delectable inch of her, and make her body sing with pleasure and excitement.

Her hands trembled as she reached up to caress his hairy chest. He trembled too, groaning at her touch. Her fingers brushed his hard nipples, and Dennis cried out as she pulled them, rubbed them, teased them.

He came down again, to return the favor, cupping her breast, drawing her nipple into his mouth. Sucking it hard, pulling it with his lips, fucking it with his tongue. She arched her back, clutching his head. "DennisDennisDennis..." The way he licked and sucked her nipple was like pure electricity, and his fingers on her clit had brought her to frenzy, she was about to explode... "I'm gonna come..."

Dennis growled, and tugged her nipple between his teeth. His voice was thick with lust as he rasped, "Yeah, baby, come for me... come fuckin' hard for me..."

"Dennis! DENNIS, ohhhhhhhh, YES!" Leia shuddered as her orgasm ripped through her. "YES!"

"Guhhhh..." Her clenching pussy triggered Dennis's own release. He screamed as he climaxed, and she screamed too as she felt his cum shoot inside her. "Leia! LEIA! Fuck!"

He collapsed onto her, and she wrapped her arms and legs around him. They rocked back and forth gently as they rode the waves of their climax, and then drifted off into that blissful afterglow.

They had both come at least seven or eight times now, each orgasm stronger than the last. Leia was surprised by the young man's stamina - she'd never known a man who could keep going like that. Clearly, this was one of the gifts the Force had given him.

When they kissed, it stirred Leia's lusts again. She couldn't believe how sex-crazed she felt, how completely wanton and depraved and out of control... and she loved it. That out of control, animal-in-heat awareness just made her even hornier for him.

Dennis sensed her arousal and laughed softly between kisses. He kissed his way down her neck, and spent time adoring her nipples with his talented mouth before kissing down her stomach. When his tongue traced her cleft Leia climaxed right away, exquisitely sensitive from her prior orgasms. Dennis laughed again and waited until she was a little less sensitive to resume, kissing her labia, lapping her clit... pushing his tongue inside her. I want to eat my cum out of your pussy, he told her in the Force.

"Nnnnnnnn," Leia moaned, grabbing his head, arching as his tongue lashed her G-spot and his fingers vigorously massaged her clit.

"Mmmmmmmmmmmm." We taste so good together, baby. He took a few more licks and then he came up to let her taste their combined flavors for herself - and he was right. It was absolutely divine, like a nectar made from strawberry, pineapple, musk and spice.

After a few more kisses, Dennis buried his face in her cunt again, slurping and making contented noises as Leia moaned and rolled her hips, fucking his mouth. It wasn't long before he sent her flying yet again, and Dennis made a little sob as she gushed on his face... fuck, he loved that.

He was hard again, and without being asked, she got on all fours. He admired the view before kneeling behind her, pushing in deep. His fingers lovingly stroked her spine as he began to thrust. Leia cried out, fisting the sheets, bucking her hips against his. "Oh, fuck," she whimpered. "Fuck me... fuck me, Dennis..."

"Nnnnnnnggg. Guhhhhhh, fuck, you feel so good." Dennis raked his fingernails down her spine, making her shiver. He gently pulled her hair and growled, "You're addicted to this cock, aren't you?"

"Yes..."

Dennis reached around to rub her clit, the other hand massaging her perfect ass before giving it a playful smack. "Yeah, you're a nasty girl."

Leia's response was to work her hips harder, making an inhuman noise as the lewd, sloppy sound of his cock pumping her cunt got louder. "More," she begged. "Don't stop... don't stop..."

His nails lightly scratched down her spine again, over her ass. He was sweating again; they both were. The hand on her clit pressed harder, worked faster, in circles. "Don't stop, don'tstopdon'tstopdon'tstop!"

_

It was late when Dooku and Sev got back to their apartment. Dooku was emotionally exhausted - his eyes were still red-rimmed from crying. A wound had been lanced, and cleansed, and now it could start to heal.

Sev fed the cats and gave them fresh water as Dooku changed into his pajamas. Sev then changed into his.

"I hate to disappoint," Dooku said, "but I am tired enough this evening that I would just like you to hold me."

Sev nodded. "I love holding you."

They crawled in bed together and Sev pulled Dooku into his chest and wrapped his arms around him. Dooku cried a little more, and Sev pet his hair, pet his whiskers, and made little soothing noises.

At last the tears subsided and Dooku listened to Sev's heartbeat, comforted by the rhythm and by Sev's arms holding him tighter, pulling up the blanket to make a little cocoon around him.

Dooku found his words. "Yoda asked to adopt me, as my father."

Now it was Sev's turn to cry, deeply touched and happy for them. Sev squeezed his bondmate. "You accepted, right?" When Dooku didn't answer right away, Sev cupped Dooku's chin in his hand and made him look into his eyes, giving Dooku a mock stern face. "RIGHT?"

Dooku laughed. "Yes, my own."

Sev kissed the top of his head. "Good."

Dooku let out a little sigh. "This is going to be a formal, legal adoption, so it will have to be done on Serenno."

Sev nodded. Then he said, "You know, this is going to sound strange since we haven't been back all that long, and I've only been the one time... but I miss Serenno. I feel... kinda homesick."

Dooku raised an eyebrow... and then he smiled a little. "It seems that the land is calling you home, little one."

"But I'm not even from there."

"It doesn't matter. Serenno knows its own. The Living Force is very strong there, as you felt - and that was but a taste." Dooku let out a wistful sigh. "It's the one regret I don't have from my childhood. I was there. It's why I came back there after I left the Jedi Order. It was like a piece of me had been missing the entire time I was away."

"Has Yoda ever been to Serenno?"

"He has not, believe it or not." Dooku closed his eyes, thinking of the forests, and especially the Great Tree of Serenno. "I have a feeling he would like it there."

"I know that you have a job here at the Temple, and so does Yoda and Qui-Gon and Sifo and everyone... but I have this crazy wish that we might all... like... live there, someday. As a family."

"...I have that same wish."

They kissed. Dooku wished then he weren't too tired to make love to his bondmate. So did Sev.

"Yoda also wants to give me away at our wedding... when that eventually happens. Which I would also like to do on Serenno."

Sev grinned. "On Corellia it's customary for the father to give the bride away, but you were my wife, once."

"Yes, I was." Dooku had a memory of the wedding of Arren Kae and General Yusanis - performed in secret, in her Jedi robes and his Republic uniform. Because you make me a better Jedi, and I make you a better soldier, she'd told him. Of course, the Jedi Order hadn't seen it that way, when they eventually found out. It was too bad.

As if Sev knew Dooku was thinking bitterly about the Jedi, he said, "So... Yoda's OK with this, then, I assume."

Dooku nodded. "We had quite a conversation and it got into his admission of the shortcomings of the Order... and his own mistakes. As well as my own, of course." Dooku sighed. "And one of those mistakes has been avoiding him these last four years. Suffice it to say, Master Yoda - Father - is about to become a fixture in our lives."

"You need it," Sev said. "I think you are an incredibly lovable person, and it's time you understood you are loved. In different ways by different people... but still loved."

Dooku rolled Sev over onto his side, so he could wrap his arms around Sev, as Sev continued holding him. "Your love has made all the difference in my life."

Sev kissed the tip of his nose, and then his mouth, gently. "My feelings for you are even deeper than love. You are my breath."

Dooku kissed him hard, and once again regretted how much his body ached and felt leaden after all of the crying he'd done at Yoda's. Sev groaned a little as they pulled apart.

"I'll make it up to you tomorrow," Dooku assured him.

"Yeah, you better, or I'll have more pictures to show the Temple."

Dooku swatted Sev's ass. "Brat."

"And I've got the tiara to prove it, bitch."

Dooku bitchfaced at Sev, and Sev cackled at him. Dooku swatted his ass again. "Go to sleep, brat," he said.

_

That night Severin dreamed - not of a past life, in another time... but of a parallel life, in another place... another self.

OtherUniverse!Sev has shoulder-length wavy green hair, and is clean-shaven. Dooku's first name is Yan, and he's younger - late fifties, early sixties, maybe.

A small boy with short, shaggy brown hair and haunted brown eyes is sitting on the couch of the great room, looking scared and confused.

"Hi there!" Other!Sev says. He sits in an armchair across from the child. "How did you get here?" "Here" is the Green Hills of Corellia, a place that is just myth in Severin's universe, populated by "elves".

"Walked," the boy says.

"Are you from the city?"

The boy nods.

"Well, we should probably bring you back so your mom and dad don't worry about you."

"Ain't got none."

Yan Dooku asks the boy, "What's your name?"

"Han," the boy says. "Solo."

Solo is an orphan's name on Corellia.

Yan Dooku and Other!Sev look at each other.

"How old are you?" Yan asks.

"Six, I think." The boy shrugs. "Don't remember."

"Well," Other!Sev says, trying not to cry, "you can stay here with us, OK? You're safe now."

After Han has been with them a month, Other!Sev sees him using the Force and says, "So, Han, do you know what the Force is?"

Han shakes his head.

"I've seen you move things with just your mind before. That's using the Force."

Han frowns. "I'm not supposed to do that."

"Why not?"

"I did something real bad."

"What did you do, son?" Yan asks.

"Uh, nothing. Forget it." He waves his hand, but mind tricks don't work on them.

"You can tell us. I promise you whatever it was, you won't get in trouble," Other!Sev says.

"There was a guy who found me and he was nice to me like you were. Except he was nice to me because he wanted to... touch me and stuff. I got real mad and scared and I... hit him with my mind. Hard. He stopped breathing."

"Han, you didn't do anything wrong," Other!Sev says, gently. "That wasn't bad."

"Murdering people is bad."

"It wasn't murder. You were protecting yourself. That man was bad, not you."

"You're not gonna kick me out, are you?"

"No, sweetie, we're not." Other!Sev hands Han a cookie, and Han nibbles it.

After awhile Other!Sev and Yan build a pillow fort, and Other!Sev picks up Han and puts him in the pillow fort. "See, you're safe now. Nobody is ever going to hurt you again, like that awful man did. This is your home. The Force brought you here, to us, so you could have a family, like you deserve. We asked the Force for a son. If you want to be our son, we would like that."[4]

Sev woke up crying, shaken to his core... but with a fierce determination to train Han Solo, to help him to protect himself. Sev got the sense Han was going to need all the help he could get.

Chapter Text

It was almost afternoon when Dennis woke up, and his first words were, "Oh shit." He had a Knights of Ren meeting to go to within the next two hours - if he'd slept any later he'd be in danger of showing up late again or missing it entirely, and he knew he was already treading on thin ice with Kylo - and he didn't want to go. He ached all over. It was a good ache - he smiled as he remembered yesterday, and why he was sore and exhausted - but if he could just spend some more time in bed snuggling up to his memories, that would be super.

Dennis staggered to the kitchen, where his new roommate, Ben Skywalker-Solo, was sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee, looking surly.

The only thing worse than dealing with a pissed-off Kylo Ren was dealing with two of them. Ben had barely spoken to him since the New Force Order had given them an apartment together on the student campus and Dennis had been assigned as Ben's "minder". Just a lot of cold, creepy staring. It was understandable: the entire reason Ben was even in this universe was tragedy, and it seemed like his sole purpose for continuing to exist - his crusade against his counterpart Kylo Ren, and the First Order - had been flushed away. Dennis suspected it would have been easier for Ben if Kylo had decided to have him executed, instead of saying "well if I had to kill my wife I'd be fighting Snoke too" and sparing him.

In the meantime, Ben's eyes followed him across the kitchen.

Dennis finally said, "Hey."

"Hello."

Dennis poured himself the freshly made coffee and fixed it Corellian-style - cream and two sugars - and then he gestured to the table. "Mind if I sit?"

"Whatever."

Dennis sat down and took his first sip of coffee. He sighed a little.

Ben raised his eyebrows. "You were gone late last night."

Dennis nodded. "Yeah, it was after midnight when I got back and you were already in bed."

"So, hot date? Shooting babies? Blowing up planets?"

Dennis slammed his cup on the table, and gave Ben a death glare. Ben gave him a little smile before sipping coffee.

Dennis sat back in his chair and folded his arms. "Mkay. If we're going to live together peacefully, I'm gonna tell you a few things."

"There is nothing you could tell me -"

"-Actually, you'd be surprised." Dennis took a deep breath. "I'm going to assume that whatever I say here, isn't being repeated to Kylo Ren."

"Yeah, we're just the bestest friends and talk about everything." Ben rolled his eyes. He shook his head. "I have nothing to say to him. So..."

"OK then. The first thing you need to know. Where I was last night? Was with his mom. Ah... I guess she's sort of your mom too. But not. She's not like the Leia from your universe, from what I could tell from the pensieve."

Ben nodded. "If I'm not like Kylo Ren, it stands to reason his mom isn't like my egg donor. So...?"

"So... I don't know what the deal is in your universe, but his mom was, until more recently, leader of the Resistance."

"What?"

Dennis raised an eyebrow. "You mean to tell me that when you came here, you were looking for information on Kylo and where you could find him, and not in any of those conversations did the Resistance come up."

"Ah, they might have once or twice, but I pushed it off to the side mentally because I was interested in taking him on myself."

"So you're going up against a dude with a hundred million soldiers behind him, and that's a conservative estimate, and it didn't occur to you to look for backup beyond the skeleton crew on your ship. Mkay, seems legit." Dennis sipped his coffee. Ben glared at Dennis, and Dennis glared back. Dennis went on, "So I assume that where you come from, the Resistance isn't a thing."

"As far as I know, no."

"Well... the Resistance was formed to fight the First Order. So, in the interest of disclosure, it isn't simply that I'm dating Kylo's mom and he doesn't know about it, I'm dating his mom who started the military faction dedicated to stopping him. And she's been trying to recruit me, and some of why I was out late last night is because I finally said yes, I would work for the Resistance as a double agent. Everything I'm telling you right now will get me executed for treason with the First Order, and I'm taking a risk by telling you because if you wanted to fuck me over, you could run to Kylo and tell him everything. But I'm telling you so you understand - I am not the enemy. We are on the same side, insofar as our goal is to prevent the First Order from taking over the Galaxy."

Ben took a deep breath. "...Wow."

Dennis nodded. He finished his coffee. "Wow, indeed."

"So how did you wind up in the First Order to begin with?"

"Long story short - my brother Malak, before he was Malak, enlisted via their recruitment campaign, to put me and my brother Sev through school after the Hutts got... aggressive... with a loan I'd taken out. Malak's Force-sensitivity was discovered, and Snoke assumed - and rightly so - that if he was Force-sensitive, any family members would potentially be Force-sensitive, so Sev and I were hauled off to be midichlorian tested and when it came back at 11k, we were installed in the Knights of Ren. I never really got a choice about any of this, and over the last while I've been on Arcturus, I've been thinking about how I can finally take back some of my own agency in this situation. Kylo has caused his family a tremendous amount of pain and suffering, he killed his own father, and he destroys furniture when he's pissed off, so I have misgivings about him being Emperor someday. I also have kind of a problem with things like conscripting small children as Stormtroopers, or, you know, holding suspected Force sensitives at blaster point and requiring them to serve the First Order for the rest of their lives. I don't want to see this happening on a Galactic scale."

"...He killed Han Solo?"

"Yeah."

"Did Snoke make him?"

"No."

"That's fucked up." Ben shook his head. "As bad as my relationship was with my father, I never wanted to see him dead. Really, if he got some help for his drinking problem..."

"And that's a difference between your Han and this one. As far as I can tell, from what Kylo's told us, his problem with Han is more that Han didn't really get it, called him a 'monster', and Han and Leia sent him to the New Jedi Order to try to fix his alignment which Kylo compared to conversion therapy... and they do regret that. It turns out Han is a Dark Sider, and Leia is a dark shade of grey. But anyway, there was none of what you went through - Han drinks moderately, he never hit Kylo. Verbal abuse can hurt just as badly, and I know Han put his foot in it a few times, but he didn't deserve to be killed for it."

Ben shook his head again. "Is it too early to drink?"

"Well, my Sith Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, would say no. But unfortunately I have a Knights of Ren meeting to get ready for - being a Resistance agent means I'm still going to be involved in the Knights of Ren for awhile - and I need to not show up there shit-faced, and you shouldn't drink alone." Dennis thought of his past life as Meetra Surik, the Jedi Exile, drinking alone in space in the years before his crew assembled.

Ben sat back in his chair and folded his hands in his lap. He looked down for a moment, in deep thought, and then he looked at Dennis. "Thank you for being honest with me about... all of that."

Dennis nodded. "I don't think it's a coincidence you were brought here. I will help you stop Kylo but we have to be smart about it. It's not anything that's going to happen right away. Did Sifo-Dyas tell you about the Restorers, and the autoregen function at the Temple?"

Ben nodded. "He also told me the resurrection alters your DNA and you stop aging."

"So trying to kill him while we're all on Arcturus isn't going to work. He also has troops he can call at a moment's notice and they can be here within hours. Leia told me the reason why the Resistance hasn't come to Arcturus for a big showdown with Kylo Ren is because the First Order is expanding into the Outer Rim and the Resistance is struggling to keep up - the Arca system is a few systems away from the nearest First Order base, in fact. We have to plan very, very, very carefully. You were brave, but you were foolish, and I'm being blunt with you because it may save your life... or even the Galaxy. We cannot give even the slightest hint that we're plotting against him. Therefore it is in your best interests to get really gung-ho about the Temple, even if you're not, and give the appearance that that is your great destiny. That will be your mask." Dennis raised an eyebrow. "On that note, you don't have a mask, do you?"

"I do actually have a mask," Ben said. "When I started remembering being Revan, I made it. I just never called myself Kylo Ren." Ben bit his lip, holding back a grin. "That's a fucking stupid name."

"Well, don't ever let him hear you say that. He says it's of deep spiritual significance to him."

"It's still fucking stupid."

Dennis smiled at Ben. He was starting to like him. Ben gave a little smile back.

"So," Dennis said, getting up from the table, "I'm going to take a shower and get ready for my meeting. When I get back, do you want to grab a bite to eat?"

"OK."

Dennis nodded acknowledgment.

He spent longer in the shower than usual, just letting the hot water soothe his aching muscles. He observed in the mirror before he stepped in the shower that Leia had clawed his chest and back pretty thoroughly, and he had bruises over his neck and shoulders, stomach and hips, from her kisses and bites. Thinking about last night aroused him - he was surprised he wasn't too spent - and he brought himself to climax, shuddering as he came into the drain.

Dennis had a growth of stubble so he shaved - he preferred to shave with a straight razor, and he did so with a towel wrapped around his waist. The 'fresher was steamy enough after his shower that it fogged up the sink mirror, so Dennis opened the door. As he was shaving, Ben walked in, making Dennis startle, and almost cut himself badly.

"Oh, shit," Ben said. "I'm sorry. The door was open and I didn't know -"

"Yeah." Dennis rolled his eyes. "That was my fault. I couldn't see with all the steam."

"I also should have realized people usually shave after they shower." Ben ran a hand over his beard. "I don't, so I forget it's a thing others do."

"It's all right." Dennis smiled. "Usually it's the evil twin who has the beard."

"I never said I was good." Ben smiled back.

Dennis's smile turned into a grin, revealing dimples. Ben couldn't help staring at Dennis for a moment - Dennis, wearing only a towel and the evidence of rough sex, fresh out of the shower, glistening wet, with beads of water clinging to his chest hair - and he felt a little flutter in his stomach. Oh, shit, no. Come ON. Ben glanced off to the side, feeling awkward. "Uh, I came in here because I have to take a piss."

"Well," Dennis glanced in the direction of the toilet. "I'm pretty engrossed in what I'm doing so I won't even notice, but we're both guys here so if my eyes accidentally wander it's not like I'll see anything I haven't seen before."

"OK." Ben walked to the toilet. He felt even more awkward, especially when holding his cock - we're both guys here and now he was wondering what Dennis's looked like under the towel. He was starting to get hard.

This is like the Force's idea of a cruel joke. Fucking stupid... sexy... Dennis. Ben sighed. Think of something unpleasant, for fuck's sake. Like Snoke's 'nads.[1]

When he was done, he excused himself without a word.

A little while later Dennis came out in his First Order uniform, clean-shaven, a little bit of gel in his unruly short dark hair - hair that would be curly if Dennis grew it out. Ben hated the First Order, but he thought Dennis looked pretty dapper in his uniform and I need to stop ogling him like this, what the fuck is wrong with me? This is your roommate, Ben. And this is dishonoring your wife's memory. Not to mention he's practically your stepfather?

"All right, I'm off," Dennis said. "So think about what kind of food you'd like to have - there's a map of the city and a list of what's available - and when I get back, we'll get dinner."

"Sounds good." Ben gave Dennis the First Order salute mockingly, putting up his middle finger at the end. Dennis returned the gesture.

_

Sev made it right on time to the apartment house shared by Kylo, Valyeris, Malak and Reine, on the New Force Order Temple campus. He'd met with Han Solo, and they smoked a bowl, meditated, and worked on telekinesis, with some banter back and forth. So far, things were going well with Han. He and his apprentice seemed like they had the beginnings of a friendship.

Of course, this was an incredibly awkward position. Sev shielded his mind harder than usual as he walked through the door. "Hey, everybody," Sev said.

Only Kylo, Malak, and Dennis were there. "Where's the ladies?" Sev asked.

"They're recruiting. We're going to go meet them," Kylo replied.

They were recruiting... at the mall. Sev couldn't get over the surreal ridiculousness of it - the Knights of Ren, the elite of the feared First Order, scourge of the Galaxy... hanging out at the mall. He of all people knew Sith and military officers did "normal people things" like grocery shopping and going to restaurants and the like, but Sev hadn't done the "hanging out at the mall" thing since he was in his teens.

Which was rather the point. The recruitment campaign seemed directed at disaffected youth, looking at their life and their choices, and the First Order was prepared to offer them a guaranteed income, job training, and free education, if they put on a uniform and carried a blaster. And since the Knights of Ren - who were becoming the First Order's face - were all under thirty except for Kylo and Valyeris, who were in their early thirties, it made the First Order look... well... sexy. It was not lost on Sev that all six of the Knights of Ren were photogenic and could have had a modeling career if circumstances had been different.

As the four male Knights approached the recruiting booth, Valyeris and Reine were just finishing up talking to some young people, none of them a day over twenty, giving them business cards and a promise that the recruiter would be in touch.

"How many today?" Kylo asked.

"Two hundred twenty-seven," Reine said with a grin. "That's people who've given us contact info for the recruiter, not counting people who asked a few questions and walked away."

Kylo nodded. "That's less than I would have liked, but it was just the both of you here, and perhaps they will tell their friends."

"Dude, I used to run a kiosk at the mall," Malak told him, "back on Corellia, before I started the construction business. Two hundred twenty-seven interested people on opening day is insanely good."

"All right." Kylo folded his hands. "It's time for you to take a break."

They closed the booth, and the six Knights of Ren walked through the mall together. Sev and Dennis convinced everyone to come with them to a toy store, and Sev and Dennis spent the next while activating talking toys and singing and dancing toys, hitting each other with balls and foam bats, cuddling stuffed animals and driving and flying remote-controlled miniature vehicles around the store until Kylo cleared his throat and death glared.

Valyeris led the group into a store that selled mostly scented body washes, scented soaps, candles, and perfume, and Sev, Reine, Valyeris, and Dennis all wound up buying scented bath products. Sev also bought a new cologne that smelled like cherries with a touch of spicy musk, thinking about the night on Serenno where he and Dooku covered each other in dessert.

Then Valyeris, Reine, and Sev all wanted to go into a lingerie store. Kylo stopped complaining when Valyeris had him pick out things for her to wear. Malak and Reine also discussed ideas for her wardrobe. Dennis and Sev looked at each other and Sev said, "You know, you'd look hot in some lacy panties."

Dennis grinned. "The texture feels nice. I suppose I could try it."

Sev splurged on some panties for himself, and Dennis bought a few pairs, and when Valyeris and Reine were finished checking out, they headed back into the mall. Dennis, Malak, and Sev simultaneously squeaked and ran to an Orange Caesar, a beverage franchise they hadn't seen since they'd left Corellia. They got the rest of the group to try the drink that was the establishment's namesake, and Reine declared it her new favorite.

"I can't believe Orange Caesar is expanding galactic now," Sev said. He pretended to wipe a single tear.

"A lot of things are expanding," Kylo replied, somewhat ominously.

They finished their drinks before going into the one store Kylo was interested in - a place called Heated Subject, that sold clothing in all black, with rather macabre-looking accessories. "This pleases my aesthetic," Kylo said, as he went through a rack of shirts.

Kylo bought some clothes, and at last he decided it was time to return to the New Force Order.

"So do we have any actual business to discuss?" Sev asked on the way back.

"Not today, except to say that your promotion - and yours, Dennis - have been recognized and your pay grade is being adjusted accordingly. You are also each now eligible to command your own Battlecruiser, something the Supreme Leader will discuss with you at a future date."

"Can we name it?"

"Yes."

"Can we name it anything we want?"

Kylo Ren glared over his shoulder at Colonel Severin Yusanis. "Within reason," he said icily.

"Aw, so I can't name it, like, the Pimpmobile or the Really Big Triangle?"

Malak, who was driving the speeder car, had to pull over because he was laughing too hard. Kylo shook his head, and Sev couldn't tell if he was trying not to laugh or trying to keep from murdering everyone, or maybe both.

"No, you may not," Kylo said.

"Can I name it Steve?"

Dennis spat his drink. Malak covered his face with his hands, shaking. Valyeris laughed out loud and Kylo glared at her and she stuck her tongue out at him.

"Looks like someone's getting spankings later," Sev said. "Speaking of... fly this thing so we can get home already."

Malak saluted, and resumed flying the car.

_

When Sev got back to his apartment, Dooku wasn't home yet, nor was Sev expecting him home for a little while - Dooku was working in the Temple Gardens with Yoda and Qui-Gon, which Sev thoroughly encouraged. He was happy to see his bondmate spending time with his soon-to-be adoptive father and the man he considered a son. Obi-Wan was handling Leia's lessons for the day in Qui's place, as Qui said "it would do them good to spend time together on their own."

Sev was also glad he was alone for a little while because he wanted his new panties to be a surprise, when he decided to debut them. He put his items away, and when he brought his new bath products into the 'fresher, he decided a shower was in order since he felt what he could only describe as psychically dirty after being at a place frequented by so many people. So after giving the cats food, water, and obligatory skritchings and cuddles, Sev removed his now-cat-hair-covered uniform, and stepped into the shower to try out his brand new bath gel... or one of them, anyway.

The scent of roses reminded him of Serenno... and Dooku. As he lathered himself, he began to ache for his beloved's touch. He didn't at all mind just holding Dooku last night - Dooku needed to be held, and Sev needed to comfort him - but Dooku stirred his libido like no one else ever had. It was, truthfully, getting pretty bad. It felt like an addiction... an addiction Sev didn't ever want a cure for. Going without making love to his bondmate for a day, or a little less than that, made his body hunger. And of course, he was going to have to wait awhile - Dooku would want to make dinner when he got home. "After dinner" felt like an eternity.

When Sev got out of the shower he was hard as a rock, his mind replaying various sex scenes, as well as creating new fantasies. Sev decided since he had a little while, he wasn't going to wait - a little "appetizer" to take the edge off for the "main course".

When Dooku got home, he had a couple of bags of fresh vegetables from the Temple Gardens, and there was a spring in his step and a song in his heart - the Living Force energy of the Gardens was surging through him. As he stepped in the door, he heard a moan, almost like Severin was in pain. He hurried inside. Before he could ask if Sev was all right, he heard it again.

The sight from the bedroom made Dooku drop the bags; a tomato rolled out on the kitchen floor, which prompted Drogo to trot over, bat it around, sniff it, and then walk away with his nose in the air.

Sev was laying on the bed, completely nude, and from the looks of it, fresh from the shower. His knees were raised, legs spread, back arched. His cock was in one hand, and he was playing with his balls with the other, as he used the Force to move an object that looked like a prosthetic penis, in and out of his ass. He was also using the Force to tease his nipples with a vibrator.

It was the most erotic thing Dooku had ever seen in his life. His ability to make words left him; his ability to think went straight to his cock, standing almost painfully at attention. Twinging, almost leaping, when Sev moaned, "Idis..."

Sev's eyes were closed, and he seemed completely lost in what he was doing. Sev jerked his cock harder, fucked himself faster. "Oh, Idis... Tyranus... fuck me..."

Dooku heard himself moan, and Sev's eyes flew open and he sat up with a start. Then Sev laughed, nervously. "I didn't know you were there," Sev said.

So it hadn't been an act - and in the Force, Dooku caught a glimpse of Sev's fantasies. He kept control - his instinct was to take Sev right then and there, but he knew if he could master that impulse, it would be quite rewarding.

"By all means, continue," Dooku said. "I am... enjoying the performance."

Sev pouted. "I'd rather the real thing." He held up the prosthetic. "This dildo isn't curved like your cock."

"This what?"

"Dildo." Sev grinned. "I see I'm going to need to expand your sexual vocabulary, Lord Tyranus."

"In the meantime..." Dooku said, "I do like watching you... play."

Sev bit his lower lip. After a moment, Sev resumed stroking himself, and then using the Force to push the dildo in and out of him, as he was before. But then Sev looked at Dooku through narrowed eyes, just before Dooku could come in the bedroom, and Sev said, "I really do wish I had something curved to play with."

Dooku quietly walked into the kitchen, and Sev closed his eyes to better focus on his fantasy. When he opened them, Dooku was undressing, and Sev smiled, thinking Dooku had come around to the idea of giving him his cock.

Dooku sat on the bed, and then Sev saw what he had in his hand - a squash from the Temple Gardens, about the same size as the dildo Sev was using, but it had a slight curve upward like Dooku's cock... and his lightsaber... and unlike Dooku's cock, which was like smooth velvet but veiny, the squash had a bumpy texture on the outside. The squash was also a bright shade of yellow striped with green.

Sev's eyes widened. "Wow."

Wordlessly, Dooku replaced the toy Sev was using with the squash, and Sev cried out as Dooku pushed it into him. "Oh, fuck..."

"Better?"

"Nnnnnnn..."

"Stroke yourself for me, pet."

Sev grabbed his cock tighter and Dooku watched as Sev masturbated furiously - his cock rattled in his hand - and Sev bucked his hips, fucking himself on the squash. Dooku worked it in and out of him faster, sensing Sev was close. Sev trembled, gasping, whimpering - his free hand gripped the headboard with white knuckles, and he bit his lip.

"That's it, my love." Dooku ran his free hand over Sev's naked body, admiring his wiry, sculpted soldier's physique. "You are so beautiful..."

"Idis..." Sev looked at Dooku with desperate, feral eyes. "Idis, I need to come... please let me come, Master..."

"Just a little more..." Dooku's hand worked the squash as hard and fast as he could, and the delicious texture felt even more delicious at that speed. Sev writhed and howled, the pleasure-tension at fever pitch, ready to explode...

...and then Dooku let out a growl, and gave Sev a stern, commanding look. "Come, my pet." He used his free hand to guide his precum-slick hard cock towards Sev's. "Come on your Master's cock."

"IDIS!" Sev shrieked, shaking violently. They watched as Sev shot thick ropes of cum onto Dooku's cock, thoroughly coating it. Dooku groaned at the intensely erotic sight, and the feeling of Sev's hot cum bathing his cock. It was almost enough to bring him off as well. Sev cried out, and moaned "Tyranus..." as the last few shockwaves of orgasm ripped through him.

Dooku groaned again. He reached out to caress Sev's chest, and Sev whimpered, almost too sensitive.

"Well," Dooku said, "now that I am properly lubricated, it's time to give you the real thing."

Sev's eyes widened and he spread his legs wider. He grabbed Dooku's ass, pulling him in. "Please," Sev breathed.

Dooku guided his cock into Sev's ass and they both cried out at that first exquisite moment of connection, Sev stretched and filled, Dooku sheathed and held.

When Dooku began to thrust, Sev rolled his hips in time with Dooku's, and Dooku growled at Sev's nails digging into his hips. "Oh, Idis, fuck me, Daddy, yes..."

"You are a very naughty boy," Dooku told him, "touching yourself while I was away. I shall have to punish you... but I could not resist this, right now."

"You loved watching that." Sev's nails raked down his thighs, and then around, over his ass. Dooku gasped and trembled, loving the sting of Sev's feral passion.

"Yes, I did." Dooku growled. "And you love being punished."

"I do." Sev bit his lip and smiled.

Dooku leaned in to kiss him, and slowed down his thrusts, teasing them both.

Dooku fucked Sev slowly for what felt like an eternity - as much as the sight of Severin pleasuring himself had inflamed Dooku with lust, he also knew that building the lust and tension and pressure would create quite the explosion. As Dooku slowly thrust in and out of Sev, they kissed again and again, petting, touching... sweet and sensual, love expressed through their palms and fingertips. The Living Force energy had transferred from the Gardens into the squash and now into their play, and their Force bond was stronger than usual - like they didn't know where one ended and the other began. Dooku could feel what Sev was feeling, and Sev could feel what Dooku was feeling, and not just in terms of penetrating and being penetrated, touching and being touched... but the emotions. The love. The desire.

They kissed hard and hungry, breathless, drowning in passion. Dooku had never felt this way about anyone, and the way he felt for Severin was terrifying in the way it made him completely vulnerable, but also exhilarating. Touching Sev was like touching fire... and mastering it. Dancing with it. And what a beautiful dance it was.

"I know you asked me to marry you," Sev said at last, "but I never asked you to marry me." He kissed Dooku again. "Marry me."

"Yes." And then Dooku gave in, driving into Sev as hard and fast as he could.

Sev shrieked with delight and raked his nails down Dooku's back, and Dooku bit the sweet spot where Sev's neck and shoulder met, soothing it with his kiss.

Dooku fucked Sev hard enough that the bed rattled beneath them, rocked against the wall. Sev screamed again and again as his fingers stroked over Dooku's back and ass, and nails scratched lightly then harder. They got closer, closer...

...and then Dooku felt Sev reaching in the Force, and then, he felt something wet poured into the crack of his ass, dripping into his rectum. His eyes widened, knowing what Sev was about to do.

"Yes?" Sev asked.

"Yes," Dooku said, and kissed him hard as the squash entered him. Then he shuddered at the deliciousness of knowing that squash had been inside his beloved... it felt so intimate, to share a toy... well, maybe not a toy... between them.

Sev used the Force to fuck Dooku with the squash, as he was fucked by Dooku's cock, and Dooku took Sev's cock into his hand as tightly as he could, pumping it harder and harder. After another hungry kiss, Sev bared his throat, and Dooku's teeth grazed... and then there was that moment of truth, where the squash hit his prostate just the right way, as Sev's tight channel gripped around his thrusting cock... and their eyes met.

"Come with me," Dooku gasped out.

"Idis," Sev cried out, raking his nails down Dooku's back as he climaxed, shooting cum everywhere. Dooku erupted inside Sev, and the rubbing of the bump-textured squash against his prostate sent his orgasm as high as it had ever gone. He collapsed onto Sev, shouting his pleasure, shaking uncontrollably.

They rode the spiral together, drifting out to deep bliss, their own little private pocket of the Force where everything was love and nothing hurt. Dooku looked into Sev's wondering green eyes, like green fire, and their noses rubbed. Sev giggled, and they kissed one last time, so sweet it brought tears to their eyes.

They held each other for awhile, and finally Dooku said, "Well, that was different."

"Yes, it was." Sev grinned. "I didn't know you could be so... creative and spontaneous, what with the squash and all."

"Neither did I." Dooku gave a small smile. "I feel like I accomplished something."

"You did." Sev gestured to the extreme amount of cum all over their sheets.

Dooku laughed aloud, shaking with his laughter. Force, it felt good to laugh like that. "Oh, dear..."

_

Ben and Dennis decided to go to a place that served breakfast all day, and Ben said, "Man, I haven't eaten pancakes like this since I was a kid." The way Ben smiled and indulged his inner child made Dennis smile too.

As they ate, they talked, about everything, and nothing. The earlier hostilities and tensions went away, now that Ben knew he had at least one person on his side.

One very sympathetic, understanding person. Dennis opened up about his own background to Ben - his alcoholic, abusive aunt and uncle, and the way they'd beaten the Force sensitivity out of their wards. The way Sev and Dennis had been bullied in grade school, and the three Yusanis triplets had banded together, them against the world. Dennis even told Ben about his ex-girlfriend, Joxa Shihai, who he'd shared with Sev - and had shared Sev with her, as well - and Joxa's downward spiral into making death sticks and stalking them after the breakup. Ben felt a sense of solidarity - two abuse survivors trying to gather something from the ashes of their lives.

They also talked about music they liked - bands and artists common to both universes, as well as things present in one universe but not the other. Same with holofilms and holoseries. Dennis and Ben had both grown up with a children's show called Caraway Place, and just like Sev had a Big Bird doll, Ben had Oscar, who lived in a garbage can, hated everyone, and complained about everything. "I related to him," Ben said.

"We have to introduce you to Dooku," Dennis said.

Ben closed his eyes. The name rang a bell. He thought about it. Then he said, "Wait, the Clone Wars guy? He's dead."

"Uh... you forget where you are. He was resurrected just like the rest of them." Dennis smirked. "Actually, you already met him."

"...Oh. My. Force. That old dude?" Ben shook his head. "The most badass old dude I've ever seen, too."

Dennis nodded. "He's going to be my brother-in-law."

Ben's eyes widened. "No way." He laughed. "Which brother?"

"Severin. The other one who fought you on the ship."

"Shit. Those two are a force to be reckoned with when they team up."

"Spoiler alert: they might also be on our side."

"I wouldn't have been able to tell, from the way they were coming at me."

"Well... they had a job to do." Dennis sat back in his booth and steepled his hands. "You mentioned you remember being Revan."

"Very vividly."

Dennis raised an eyebrow. "What if I told you the gang's all here?"

"Besides Malak?"

"I'm the Exile." Dennis pursed his lips. "Well, an Exile."

"Oh." Ben nodded. He had a Force vision of the Sith alchemy Malak had done with one of the Revans, back then. "Yeah, we'd made two of you, and two Attons, as extra insurance with Valky Boy."

What Ben didn't tell Dennis, was that he now had additional context for his moment of lustful ogling in the 'fresher. In his iteration of the Revanchist timeline, after he'd killed Malak, he met back up with Meetra Surik, his old friend from the Jedi days who he had not seen since Meetra left in his own crisis of conscience following giving the orders to activate the Mass Shadow Generator at Malachor V. He'd known about Malak and Meetra's relationship, and not wanted to get in Malak's way. But he'd always loved Meetra, and the years had not diminished that love. Meetra Surik was the first man Revan had taken to his bed, and Meetra helped Revan finish what he'd started, the two taking on Valkorion together. It had ended in Meetra's death, and Meetra's Force ghost had stayed with Revan during a long imprisonment.

Ben wondered if Dennis remembered any of that, and he decided now was not the time to bring up Oh hey so we used to fuck. He was especially glad they weren't having pizza - one night "please, Meetra" had somehow turned into "pizza" in the heat of passion and Meetra had teased him about this - his dying words had been "you can put my ashes in a pizza box."

Ben sipped his soda, not sure of what to say next.

Dennis went on. "So we've got a Dark Side Revan, and a Light Side Revan..."

"...I'm not sure you could really call me Light Side."

"Lighter than Dark Side Revan..."

Ben made a Wookiee noise.

"...and we've got Malak, and Dooku is Kreia, and Sev is Yusanis, and Valyeris is Bastila - well, the Bastila to Kylo's Revan..." Dennis pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling Ben's cringe in the Force. "Shit, I'm sorry. You know, let me just shut up..."

Ben shook his head. "Not your fault. You're not the fucker who asked me to kill my wife." Ben sighed. "I would have let him kill me, too."

"You did what she asked you to do. And that's why you're here now." Dennis gave him a small, sad smile. "As you can see, it seems like the Force sent you here for a reason. You said Dooku's dead in your universe. I don't know if there's counterparts of me and the others... but we're all gathered here in this place, in this time, for a reason. And I suspect that reason is to stop Dark Side Revan from joining forces with Valkorion." If he hasn't already done so. A chill went down Dennis's spine. He had a very bad feeling about that.

"Be careful about saying his name," Ben told him.

"What? Valkorion?"

Ben gave Dennis a look. Then he said, "Yes. That."

"Dude. It's just a name."

"No." Ben shook his head. "Look, I don't remember how much you remember of your life as Meetra - but he was scary powerful. Using his name is like... pinging his radar. It's why I call him Valky or some variant of that. It's not just me being a little shit. If in fact what you say is true, you especially want to avoid using his full name. I know I sound superstitious and maybe even crazy, but I have my reasons."

Dennis nodded. "OK. I'll try to abide by 'the rules of the game.'" He made air quotes.

"That game is cosmic, high-stakes chess," Ben said. "Winner takes the Galaxy. If we're the loser..." Ben looked out into the starry night sky and shivered. "We probably end up in the Star Forge."

"I thought that was destroyed."

"It wasn't destroyed in every universe."

"Oh. Shit."

The two finished their breakfast-dinner, and Dennis paid, and left a nice tip. Dennis was feeling shaken up enough that he needed a bit of a distraction. Before they got on the two-seated speeder bike, Dennis turned to Ben and said, "You want to see something pretty?"

"Sure, why not."

Dennis took Ben to the bridge over the river that separated the main city of Arcturus from its suburbs. The city was lit up, and so was the bridge. The lights reflected on the river, and from the top of the bridge, they could see for miles.

"I like the colored lights," Dennis said, "and I like watching the water. I like rivers, in general."

"It's peaceful." Ben nodded. "I guess it doesn't entirely suck here."

"I'll have to show you some other places during daytime," Dennis said. "I'm going to assume you've been in space so much the last few years that you haven't seen much land."

"Not only that, but I grew up on Corellia, and if our Coronet City is like yours, well... I don't have to explain."

"No. It was pretty urban. Not as bad as Coruscant, but that's not saying much." Dennis smiled. "I really like nature, and there's enough of it here to make it worth being stuck here for awhile."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

"Do they have, like... forests and stuff?" Ben let out a little wistful sigh. "I used to read about them in books when I was a kid."

"There's a big redwood forest here." Dennis scratched his head. "I have lessons with your mom tomorrow... I mean, um, Kylo's mom..."

Ben laughed. "It's OK."

"...but maybe day after tomorrow, we can go up there? Go over grey Force curriculum in the presence of the Living Force?"

"Sounds good."

They stayed up there for awhile, and then they drove back to their apartment in companionable silence. Dennis made them some non-caffeinated tea, and then Ben said goodnight, and Dennis sat in the living room, reading a fantasy holonovel about the elves of Corellia's Green Hills called Lord of the Bling, one of his old favorites. His eyes got heavy, and he was just about to fall asleep on the couch when he heard Ben yelling.

He ran into Ben's bedroom, panicked, ready to draw his lightsaber in case of an intruder or something else... and it was just Ben, shaking and crying.

"I had a nightmare," Ben said.

"Flashback nightmare?"

Ben nodded. He mumbled, "Don't worry about it. I didn't mean to bother you," and he slumped down, pulling the covers over him.

Dennis paused a moment, and then he sighed. He climbed on the bed beside Ben, and he poked Ben through the covers, until Ben pulled them down to glare at him.

"If you want, I'll stay in here with you."

Ben felt like telling Dennis to piss off - he was angry with the multiverse - but he was still shaken, and Dennis made him feel safe. Just being in the same room, and feeling Dennis's presence in the Force - a river of light running through shadows in a forest - was immensely soothing.

So Dennis stayed there, through the night. Both men kept their clothes on. Dennis meant to keep to his side of the bed, but in the middle of the night they found themselves spooning, and they woke up tangled together, and Dennis felt a little flustered as he woke - it was the most natural feeling in the world, and it weirded him out at how natural it felt. He and Ben mumbled awkwardly to each other as they got ready to start their days - Ben was meeting with Sifo-Dyas, and Dennis would be going to Sith train Leia... and probably do more than just Sith training.

But before Dennis headed out the door, he gave Ben a hug. "I hope you slept better."

"I did." Ben returned the hug. "Thanks for being there."

Dennis patted his back. "No problem."

They smiled at each other shyly, and then Dennis was off, and Ben slid against the wall, his heart racing. Force, what is my life...

_

At the New Force Order, Sifo-Dyas was playing chess against Jocasta, with the very same pieces that the Sith Council had used to represent the Knights of Ren and select them, months ago, as apprentices.[2] Sifo didn't know this, or he would have remarked on the symbolism: Kylo's king and Valyeris's queen had been black, and the rest of the pieces had been white - Dennis's rook, Severin's bishop, Reine's knight, and Malak's pawn.

Jocasta got Malak's pawn to the end of the board, and it became a queen. She grinned at Sifo, who groaned as he awarded her the token.

Chapter Text

Kylo and Malak watched the sunrise together, as they often did, smoking a bowl. When the pipe was just ash, they decided to start the day off by sparring - Kylo's Niman against Malak's Juyo/Ataru hybrid.

The duels were more aggressive than usual - in addition to using their lightsabers, Kylo and Malak also attempted to Force throw and Force choke and hit each other with Force lightning. Of six rounds, they each won three and lost three, and each time they were evenly matched enough that the round lasted for quite awhile.

Finally they sat to catch their breath and shared a bottle of water.

"You fought well," Kylo told him.

"As did you."

A moment of silence passed, and then Malak said, "So, hey."

Kylo turned and looked at his best friend.

"I've been thinking a lot about what you said a few days ago." Malak ran a hand through his sweat-damp closely cropped dark hair, before taking a long swig of the bottle. "About you thinking it's necessary for us to pretend to be enemies, except it's not going to feel like pretend when it happens."

Kylo nodded. "It's weighed on me heavily, too."

Malak sighed. "Do you think this is really and truly necessary? We make a good team. We're better working together on the same side. I mean, if you actually hate me, that's one thing, and I'd like to know instead of you bullshitting me -"

Kylo put up a hand. "I don't hate you, brother. It is precisely because I do not hate you, that what is coming down the line for us, must be."

"I don't get it."

"No, you don't."

"Maybe if you explained it to me, I might be able to help you in a way that doesn't involve us attempting the same shit we did four thousand years ago and worked super well when Tyranus tried it with the Republic."

Kylo took a deep breath. "Actually, Tyranus is part of the reason why things are going to happen the way they do. He is bound up in this just as much as we are."

"And if the three of us worked together, we'd be invincible. Really." Malak put his hand on Kylo's. "I'm not just trying to spare us from a really messy war that could potentially cost millions of lives on both sides. You're the first real friend I've had outside of my brothers, not to mention our history together, and I don't want to lose that."

"Nor do I." Kylo patted Malak's hand. He met his best friend's eyes, and Malak could see sadness in them. "You're also the first real friend I've had... my wife and I have a different sort of relationship... and in the last few years we've known each other, you've been nothing but loyal and steadfast and hard-working. You will never know how much I appreciate you, and enjoy your company, different as we are. And you don't know how much doing what must be done, is causing me tremendous pain. If there were any other way..."

"There's always other ways."

"Again. You don't understand."

"I'm not understanding because you're not telling me."

"I'm not telling because I can't." Kylo folded his hands. He looked up at the early morning sky, and shivered even though summer was becoming fall and it wasn't quite chilly at this time of day, yet. "There is too much, and telling you would possibly put you in danger worse than you already are."

"You underestimate my ability to protect myself."

"No. It is because I do not underestimate those who want you dead." Kylo gave Malak a stern look.

"Well, tell me who they are and I'll kick their asses. We'll all kick their asses, together."

"It's not as simple as that. Again. You don't understand."

Malak glared at Kylo. "What I'm understanding, is that you're telling me you value my friendship and don't want to lose me... and yet you're about to push me away. Again. And like last time, it might result in death. You know? Doesn't this shit get old? Do we have to do this again? Not only do I not feel like possibly dying... but I don't want to kill you. I don't want to fight you, even if we were planning everything out for it to be a nudge nudge wink wink scenario where either way we both win... what Tyranus thought would happen with the Clone Wars, and he got dicked."

"I know you don't want to fight me. And that is precisely why I said it's going to feel like a real war when it happens. Because I'm aware the only way I can get you to comply with what absolutely must happen - for all of our sakes, especially the future of my unborn child - is to push you into action. And it breaks my heart." Kylo looked close to tears. "I am about to lose my only friend, to save the Galaxy."

"And I'm telling you, we don't have to do this."

Kylo looked away.

"Why do you have to be so stubborn?" Malak asked him.

"Why do you? If you accept now that this is the way things are going, it may... make things easier to take, when we come to that turning point in the road."

"I'm not accepting shit, because it ain't over till it's over. Until what's done is done, you have every opportunity to choose a different path. The path of walking together. The ancient Je'daii had a saying, 'Live together, die alone.' You don't want to hear this but I'm going to tell you anyway - if you're doing this to protect us from Valkorion, there's strength in numbers. We are all that much more vulnerable if -"

"I had more experience with him than you do," Kylo hissed. "Believe me, you are not safer if we don't do this. Again... you don't know. You don't understand."

"You keep telling me this," Malak said. "I know more than you think I do."

"If that were true, you would know why this is necessary, and you would be more compliant with preparing yourself and making the necessary arrangements. The more this takes you by surprise because you are holding out hope for this to not be an option, the harder it's going to be for you to keep up on your end, and this isn't going to work well if you're not working in anticipation of my next move."

Malak facepalmed. "Kylo..." He gave him an aggravated look. "What can I do to convince you to not do this?" Malak shook the bag of weed. "If I'm not around, who are you going to wake and bake with?"

Kylo laughed, and then he cried. "I'm going to miss you, meatbag."

"Yeah, fuck you," Malak said, affectionately.[1]

Kylo pulled himself together - he hated crying. There was an awkward pause, and then Malak said, "So if this is inevitable... do we at least get some more time?"

"Some." Kylo nodded. "You'll know when it starts. It's not time yet."

"And up until that moment... you can always decide to go another route, and I will be right there with you."

"I know. But even when we are fighting each other... you will still be right there with me, always. As we were before. You will never stop being my brother."

_

Malak cried in the shower, and he had mostly calmed down by the time he got out of the shower. Reine was finally up, and ogled her husband wearing nothing but a towel. "Morning, beautiful," Malak said, leaning in to kiss her.

Reine kissed him back. "You look good enough to eat."

"Well... you got time?"

Reine looked at the clock. "Oh, shit. I have lightsaber practice with Master Windu today, and I'm helping him with his apprentice. And I have to be there in forty minutes."

Malak sighed. "Fuck."

"I can give you a blowjob, though."

"Sixty-nine?"

They got into position and feasted on each other, coming together, grabbing each other's hands as they came, feeling the Force flow between them, binding them together as one. For what was a "quickie", it was still a powerful experience - it was even more powerful when they made love for hours, as they often did.

It was through that intensified connection in the Force, that Reine picked up on her husband's distress, but before she could ask him about it, Malak said, "So you're helping Windu with an apprentice?"

Reine nodded. "He's a really nice guy. His name is Finn."

Malak's eyes widened. He tried to pull together a poker face, but Reine knew him too well and raised an eyebrow. "You know him," Reine said.

"Ah, shit." Malak took a deep breath. He began to put his clothes on.

"Mah-lahk, you got some 'splaining to do," Reine said in a thick fake accent.

Malak made a face. "Oh, Reinie," he replied in a high-pitched voice, which made Reine giggle.

Then Malak made a Wookiee noise, and Reine watched as he waved his hand and the air around the door seemed to shimmer - Malak was using the Force to put a temporary sound blocker on the door, and keep their conversation from being listened to by others. "OK, Reine... what I'm about to tell you is classified info."

Reine nodded. "Ooh, official military business. Give it to me, Mr. Military Man." She also started putting on her clothes.

"Yeah, so classified that not even Kylo can know about this."

"But he's the Commander. And your best friend."

"Yeah." Malak scratched his head. "And I know you're... loyal... to him. But I really need you to not breathe a word of this to him."

"Why?"

"You're about to find out why."

Reine raised her eyebrows and continued dressing.

Malak went on. "Finn was a Stormtrooper. One of ours. You know that whole business with Jakku and the Hosnian system and Starkiller Base and that hot mess?"

Reine nodded.

"...That's Finn."

"Ho. Lee. Fuck." Reine gasped. "That...?"

"Yes."

"What the fuck?"

"It gets better. So guess who Finn is living with?"

"...No clue?"

"Han and Leia."

"I remember Leia came to visit Kylo when we first arrived here and she said she had Han resurrected... they're still here?"

"Yep." Malak nodded. "I went out to meet them a few days ago."

"Why?"

"For Kylo's sake."

"But he wants nothing to do with them."

"Well... that isn't necessarily good for him. People can change. His parents have changed. They just want their son back. They'd be a lot more accepting of how he is now, than they were when he cut ties with them, and I speak from personal experience." Malak took a deep breath. "They might even be persuaded to join the First Order instead of fighting us."

"Are you fucking serious?"

"His parents are both Force sensitive and it turns out Han is a Dark Sider and Leia is a dark grey. So being on our team is in their best interests and I think sooner or later they'll see that."

"Wow."

"But in the meantime, until more of this is worked out... Kylo can't know. And I need you to not stir the pot by telling him."

Reine raised an eyebrow and pursed her lips. "Is this why Dennis has been gone so much?"

"...Yeah."

Reine nodded. "I knew something was up with him, especially when he showed up late for the Darthing party that didn't happen, unless you count raiding a ship and killing Rebel scum to be a party, which I do."

"This is why I love you." Malak kissed the tip of her nose. "And really wish you didn't have to run right off... 'cause I have a party in my pants."

"I think you should see a doctor for that," Reine said.

"Yeah, maybe my brother the doctor will give me a prostate exam."

Reine doubled over laughing. "Can I watch?"

"Sure! You might even get holovideo footage to enjoy again, later."

When they were both fully dressed, Malak picked Reine off the bed and scooped her into his arms, twirling her around. "So thank you for not freaking out," Malak told her.

"I expect to be paid for my secrecy." Reine grinned. "Guess how I want you to pay me."

"Oh noes, you mean I have to give you extra orgasms?" Malak shook his head. "That's a real hardship. I don't know how I'll manage."

"I'm sure you'll figure it out. But there is one thing... what about Finn?"

"I gave him a pardon." Malak put Reine down on her feet.

She put her hands on her hips.

"Look... you said yourself he's a really nice guy. He was following his conscience. He didn't even get a choice about being conscripted into the First Order. He was taken from infancy to be a Stormtrooper. He's the same age as you. That could have been you. I know your loyalty to Kylo stems from being found when you were a homeless street urchin and he gave you a better life with the First Order. But it hasn't been like that for everyone. Let Finn live his life. I mean, your opinion of him before you found this out was favorable, right? Remember that. He's still a good person. It's why he risked what he did to do what he thought was right... even if the First Order doesn't see it as right."

Reine sighed. "OK. Truthfully, I'd feel bad if I had to act like his enemy."

"Well, you don't have to be. He's been pardoned. I would prefer Kylo not know Finn is being trained by Mace Windu, just the same - he might think Finn is planning some kind of action against him, but from what I was able to tell when I met him, he's just trying to get a handle on his Force sensitivity before it runs away with him."

Reine nodded. "Gotcha."

Malak patted Reine's butt. "Thank you for understanding."

Malak decided he'd wait to tell her about his history with the Atton Rand who was now incarnated as Han Solo. Or maybe wouldn't say anything at all, because that history would not and could not repeat itself. He was already playing with fire, and even acknowledging his attraction to his best friend's father would be exploding a tank of gasoline at the fire site. He and Reine were in an open relationship so she might understand, if she could see past her present loyalty to Kylo... but Kylo sure as fuck wouldn't understand.

Force, why does everything have to be so complicated all the time.

Something told him all of this was going to look simple when things got to wherever they were going.

_

Reine hesitated before she knocked on Mace Windu's door. Mace opened it right away, and while he smiled at her, his eyes were still troubled whenever they looked at her. Reine didn't understand. She had heard that Mace could see shatterpoints, and she hoped he wasn't seeing that in her. Her life was interesting enough.

Finn was already there - he and Mace had breakfast together and Finn was just finishing up. He looked like a big kid, eating cereal, and Reine couldn't help smiling a little. She felt conflicted - he was a traitor to the First Order, and the First Order was her life... but Malak was right. He left because he was following his conscience, and he'd never had a choice about his involvement in the Order - she did. Malak did. She grew up in an orphanage where there had been a lot of strict rules and harsh punishments; she imagined growing up as a Stormtrooper would be even worse.

When everyone was ready, they went to the Temple Gardens - a place that, thankfully, Kylo did not go, because he said the energy gave him a headache. Reine didn't understand why - it was so pretty there.

After Reine, Finn, and Mace meditated together, Mace led Finn and Reine through Juyo drills, and then he had them spar each other. Finn had made his own lightsaber and it was in fact purple when activated - Reine was a little jealous. She had a crossguard hilt lightsaber like Kylo's - he'd helped her make it - and Finn always looked a little nervous when she first turned it on. Now she knew why. It reminded him of Kylo.

Finn was getting good at this - according to Mace, Finn practiced for a couple hours every day when he got home, and according to Finn, he liked to holocall his boyfriend and show him his lightsaber practice "because it gets him hot". But Finn's talent with a lightsaber seemed to go above and beyond practicing a lot. It was like the Force was helping him to absorb information, or he had some ancestral or genetic memory that was flowing through him.

Reine couldn't help noticing, as Finn and Mace sparred, how much they looked alike when they were concentrating intensely, with the same facial expressions. They were like that outside of duelling, as well - they had the same smile, and the same body language.

Reine was sparring with Mace when Dooku and Sev showed up at the Temple Gardens. Dooku and Sev gave each other the Makashi salute and began duelling, and after a few rounds, Finn duelled with Sev, and Mace duelled with Dooku. And then Finn duelled Dooku, and Reine duelled Sev. Of the Knights of Ren, Sev was the hardest to beat in sparring. Sev didn't think of himself as that good with a lightsaber, but that was because he had Dooku as his teacher and Dooku had been known in his day as one of the greatest lightsaber combatants of all time. Sev's fighting style was very much like Dooku's, but with a lightsaber staff or two lightsabers, and he was faster and more aggressive than Dooku... but otherwise, Dooku's influence was obvious. Sev was a terror. Reine could tell when Sev fought Finn that he was throwing the match every three or four rounds, to give Finn a boost of self-confidence about beating someone. Sev showed Reine no such mercy, and he was showing that mercy to Finn less often, also observing that Finn was improving.

When Reine fought Dooku himself, she felt like it was an exercise in futility, but she gave it her all anyway, and he gave her both compliment and critique after each round. Watching Sev and Mace spar was intense, and Finn was at the edge of his seat.

Finally, they split into two teams - Sev and Dooku against Finn, Reine, and Mace. Of three matches, Sev and Dooku won two, and Finn, Reine and Mace won one, and that because Sev started to have an asthma attack and Mace took that as his way in.

The five went out to lunch, and Sev kept checking the time, like he had to be somewhere. Reine thought that was curious, but didn't say anything about it, until Finn slipped and said to Sev, "So when am I going to get to spar Ha-...?" He cut off his sentence and swallowed hard, looking around the table.

Sev gave Finn a death glare.

Reine's eyes widened. She looked at Sev. Sev looked away.

Reine took a sip of her juice and then she cleared her throat. "I know who Finn is," she said, "and I know Malak has met with Han and Leia."

Sev let out a little sigh. Then he said, "Does Kylo know?"

"No. I'm not going to tell him." Reine pursed her lips. "So... Malak told me Kylo's parents are Force-sensitive. That his dad is a Dark Sider."

"His dad is my apprentice," Sev replied.

"Holy shit."

"We didn't like keeping any of this from you, but we had to be sure you wouldn't tell Kylo, because it could end very, very badly for all of us if he's told before it's time for any of this to be talked about, and Kylo is still feeling very... stabby... where his parents are concerned."

"Maybe he'd feel less stabby if he knew his dad was a Sith too."

"Or maybe he'd feel more stabby, because he might interpret Han's Sith training as plotting revenge against him." Sev sipped his iced tea.

Reine turned to Finn. "You know, being that you're Force-sensitive... if you wanted to stop hiding from Kylo, you could ask him if you could join the Knights of Ren. I think he'd let you. And you'd be treated much better than you were as a Stormtrooper."

"With all due respect," Mace said to Reine, "he's not joining anything. Sifo-Dyas is still making his decision about whether or not New Force Order members can be part of political factions, but between all of us here, he's likely to decide against it."

"Even without that," Finn said, "I... can't be in the First Order again."

"Well," Reine said, "if you change your mind, let me know. I could help you talk to Kylo." She let out a little sigh. "I'm just trying to look out for you." That protective feeling towards him again. It wasn't quite maternal - they were the same age. But it was sort of like Finn was family.

Dooku accompanied Finn and Sev to Han and Leia's, and had tea with Dennis and Leia before heading back to the Temple on his own. Sev and Han went to the garage - Han's "mancave" - and they started the day's lesson their usual way, by smoking a bowl together, and meditating.

Han had a dartboard, and Sev instructed him to use the Force to throw the darts and hit specific targets on the board. Han excelled at this, which pleased Sev - "you could become a Sith assassin with some training," Sev told him.

"Yeah, I think I'll pass on that," Han said.

They had a couple bottles of ale, and then Sev produced a blindfold, which Leia had given him by request. Han gave a little look of alarm.

"You're going to put this on," Sev said, "and then you're going to throw the darts at the targets again."

"How in the fuck am I supposed to do that when I can't see?"

"The Force will guide you," Sev said, "if you open yourself to the Force."

Han glared at Sev, and Sev glared back, and then Han said, "ALL RIGHT, FINE," and Sev tied the blindfold on him. Then Sev watched as Han took a couple of moments to ground and center, pulling the Force around him and into him, and he began to pick up the darts one at a time with the Force and send them to their targets. Hit, miss, hit, hit, miss, hit, hit, hit, hit, miss, hit, hit, hit, hit, hit, hit.

"How'd I do?"

Sev took the blindfold off him and Han looked at the board. He'd missed three targets.

"Put it back on. You're going to repeat this until you hit all the targets."

"I only missed three. Fucking seriously?"

"Yeah?"

"Shit." Han put the blindfold back on. "It's like you got trained by a real hardass."

"Me? Nah..."

Han missed five targets his next attempt, and cursed when he saw the dartboard. He gave Sev a pleading look, and Sev said, "Again." So Han put the blindfold back on. He missed twice. And then when he did it again... he hit them all.

"What was different this time?" Sev asked when the blindfold came off.

Han took a minute to go over his steps, and then he said, "I stopped thinking about it. It was like I was getting in my own way. I just... trusted... the darts to go to the right places."

Sev jumped up off the couch and raised his arms. "You've got it, EXACTLY." Impulsively, he hugged Han.

The look on Han's face made Sev feel self-conscious about hugging him... and then Han hugged him back. It had been too long since anyone other than his wife, Finn, or Chewie had hugged him. He'd felt lonely. He needed a friend.

Before he could get too caught up in emotion, Han smirked. "OK, hotshot... let's see you try."

Sev nodded. He used the Force to clear the darts off the board, then he took the blindfold, put it on, and Han watched as Sev hit all the targets on the dartboard the first try.

"Shit," Han said. "How the kark do you get it like that the first time?"

"Dooku encourages me to practice telekinesis." He thought of yesterday's fun with objects, and blushed.

Han caught the blush, and cracked up laughing. Sev did too.

"So on that note," Sev said, "it's a skill you might impress Leia with, sometime."

Han's eyes widened as he considered that possibility. "...Well."

Sev nodded. "See? And you were running from the Force like it was a bad thing."

"Well, it's still pretty scary."

"I still have moments, even after all this time, where it's overwhelming. But it becomes less scary when you use it, and learn to master it." Sev used the Force to put a bottle of ale in Han's hands. "This should be our last one."

Han nodded. He used the Force and managed to get the cap off the bottle without exploding it. He and Sev clinked bottles. "To mastering the Force."

They drank, and Sev said, "Tomorrow you're building your lightsaber. Dooku is going to supervise me supervising you."

"Where are we building it?"

"Here is fine. Sifo-Dyas is going to give me the requisite parts to bring here, and my brother Malak has a few bloodshine crystals from his old holocron, one of which he's giving to me to give to you, so you'll have to thank him properly at some point."

Han knew exactly how he'd like to thank Malak... and I really need to stop lusting over that kid. "I've done some mechanic work but I've never built a lightsaber."

"It'll still be easier for you than it was for me because you have experience with that stuff." Sev sat back on the couch. "I would suggest spending some time this evening looking at different lightsaber models, though if you want my advice, since I'm teaching you Makashi, a curved-hilt lightsaber is ideal for the form."

"What do you call the kind of lightsaber my son has?"

"Crossguard."

"I want that."

Sev took a sip of his ale. "Any particular reason?"

"Because if I ever have to duel him, I want to see the look on his face when he finds out I don't just have a lightsaber, but mine is just like his."

Sev grinned. "Spoken like a true troll."

"Like Master, like apprentice?"

Sev laughed. "The Force definitely knew what it was doing, guiding you my way."

"You were a good teacher before." Han swigged his ale. He was referring to when he was Atton Rand, and Sev was General Yusanis, teaching him the Echani martial arts - which made it easier for Rand to be trained as a Sith assassin.

"I will do my very best to do right by you now." Sev thought about the dream he'd had where it seemed like he was in another universe, but at an earlier point in time, and Han was his and Dooku's adopted son. If he had anything to say about it, Kylo Ren would never hurt a hair on his father's head again.

_

While Sev and Han were practicing telekinesis, Dennis and Leia sparred with lightsabers for the first time, in the backyard. Up until now Qui-Gon had handled the lightsaber end of Leia's training, but she was at a place in remembering how to use the Force that Qui suggested she begin sparring against a real Sith. So they duelled, Leia's Ataru/Djem So hybrid against Dennis's Soresu. Leia had made her own lightsaber very recently, and the blade glowed orange - a more unusual lightsaber color, but not unheard of.

To make things interesting, they also tried to use the Force against each other, in addition to lightsabers. By the end of the match, they had abandoned lightsaber duelling altogether and were rolling around in the grass. Dennis finally pinned Leia on her back, holding her wrists.

He decided to make this more like a real fight with an actual enemy and Leia watched as Dennis used the Force to grab his lightsaber off the ground, re-activate it, and maneuver it in the air, hovering with the blade across her throat.

"Surrender," Dennis said, "and we'll call this a day."

Leia glared at him. "I will never surrender." She kneed him in the chest, and when he got knocked over, she grabbed his lightsaber and held it across his throat, climbing atop him, pinning him with a combination of her weight and the Force. "I've got you now, Imp scum."

Dennis reached out in the Force and began to Force choke her, and when her hold broke on him, he rolled her onto her back, kneeling between her legs, locking her in a submission hold with one of her legs on his shoulders. He stopped Force choking but he kept pressure on her, and now her lightsaber was crossed with his, where if she moved just a little, she would get stabbed. "Checkmate, Rebel scum."

Leia's eyes locked with Dennis's and then he was subjected to the most powerful Force throw he'd ever felt -even harder than Kylo could throw, at full strength - and when he landed hard on the ground, Leia charged him with his lightsaber and hers in either hand. Dennis threw a Force shield, and then after rolling out of the way, sent a volley of Force lightning. Leia held out Dennis's lightsaber to deflect it like it was a lightning rod, and in that moment he reached to grab her shoe and inflicted Force Pain, sending her to her knees as the spasms racked her body. Dennis took back his lightsaber, using the Force to take Leia's and throw it out into the grass.

"Now are we done?" he asked.

Leia punched him in the gut, and then she fell on top of him, grabbed his wrists in her hands... and leaned in to kiss him, passionately. When Leia let go of Dennis's wrists he wrapped his arms around her, sliding his hands down to cup her buttocks. Leia began to grind against the growing bulge in Dennis's pants.

"I think I won," Leia said, nipping Dennis's lower lip.

"I think so too." Dennis kissed her back. They kissed again, open-mouthed, tongues rubbing and playing, before Leia claimed Dennis's lips with hers, her tongue pushing inside his mouth. "Mmmmmmm...."

Leia pulled on the collar of Dennis's shirt. "So now I'm gonna claim my prize."

Dennis grinned at her. "Mmmmm... I think you won a whole sweepstakes, babe."

Leia laughed and got up, and helped Dennis up. "Come on, you."

They went to the bedroom, and when they got undressed, Leia looked at Dennis and her eyebrows raised. "I did that, huh?" she asked, surveying her handiwork from the day before yesterday - scratches all over his chest and back, bruises on his neck and shoulders, stomach and hips.

"You sure did." Dennis grinned.

"I almost feel like I should apologize."

"Well, you better not, because I had the time of my life."

They kissed, and Leia laughed when they climbed on the bed together. "You bring out the beast in me," she told him. "I've always been highly sexed, but... as much as I love my other bondmates, I've never been like this with anyone." She kissed him again. "The only one who's come close is..."

"Han?"

Leia shook her head. "Not even Han." Then Leia sighed, and Dennis recognized it as a sigh of regret.

"Someone from your past?"

Leia nodded.

Dennis reached up to stroke her hair and her face. "You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to, but if you need to talk..."

"Well..." Leia looked down, and then she looked at Dennis, with sadness in her eyes. "When I was sixteen, my family hired a personal trainer to teach me skills that they thought were going to come in handy in my political career, and that didn't just include things like how to behave in court, and basic diplomacy as well as psychology... but also included teaching me how to fight.[2]"

Dennis nodded. "I was wondering where you got your chops from."

"Yeah. It's fighting with the Force, against another Force user, that's new to me. Give me a blaster, or put me in a cage match, and I don't have to worry about the Force, and I am as badass as a Mandalorian."

"Which is hot as fuck." Dennis kissed her, smiling.

Leia smiled too, and then she went back to looking sad. "My personal trainer was from Alameen -"

"Ah, that's my mother's homeworld."

Leia nodded, and then got back to her discussion. "My personal trainer was an Alameenian woman. She was tall, like you - about six feet or so - had pointy ears, like you, dark hair, like you, and the same color eyes as you. Really, she looked rather like a female version of you."

"Hmmm."

"She was to die for." Leia bit her lip. "I fell for her hard. She was my masturbation fantasy. I would bring myself off four or five times a day thinking about what it would be like to make love to her."

"Oh, fuck." Dennis's cock almost leapt.

Leia responded by taking it in her hand, stroking slowly. "So... my teacher was aware I was attracted to her, and she was conflicted about how to act on it. She wasn't that much older than I was and she was unattached, but she was aware I was Force-sensitive - most Alameenians are. I don't know what you know about your mother's people -"

"-Next to nothing..."

"-but the Living Force is a big deal to them, and they take Force bonds and bondmates very, very, very seriously. She didn't teach me anything Force-related because of Alameenian culture - I would have to go through one of their priestesses and my family wasn't about to have me leave Alderaan long-term and deal with all of that - but because we were still Force bonded in a sense, she was cautious about escalating that further."

Dennis was feeling the hair on the back of his neck and arms stand on end, and not just because he was getting excited hearing Leia discuss her own bisexuality, or from the way she was gently playing with his cock. He had a gut feeling this conversation was about to be a game-changer with their relationship.

"Eventually she came around to the idea of being with me - we loved each other, it wasn't just lust, though there was plenty of that - but we waited until I was of legal age, my seventeenth birthday. She took me to Alameen for a week. We took marriage vows to each other - they were not legally binding on Alderaan, and could not be, because I was expected to find a husband and produce an heir - but they were binding to her people, and the Force itself. And if I could sum up that week in one word, it would be 'wet.'"

Dennis laughed, and Leia did too.

"So what happened?"

Leia sighed. "Alderaan happened. She was killed in its destruction." She closed her eyes, and when she opened them, they were filled with tears.

"Oh..." Dennis stroked her face. He leaned in to kiss her tears.

And then Dennis was hit with a vision in the Force.

Mound slapping against mound, then pressing together, making a wet suctioning sound. Labia kissing labia, clit licking and slurping clit, the pressure increasing the pleasure of their drenched, dripping pussies rubbing together.

"More, Leia, more, give me more, more... give me that cunt!"

"Mmmmm, ohhhh, Arwen, your clit feels so good on my clit."

Rubbing, rubbing, frantic, frenzied, so close to that explosion.

"Leia! Oh, Leia, yes, fuck me, fuck me!"

"Nnnnnn, Arwen... your pussy's gonna make my pussy come..."

Dennis pulled back, his eyes wide. "Was her name Arwen?"

Leia gasped a little. Then she nodded.

Dennis closed his eyes, then he opened them. Another Force vision, of the last moments before Alderaan was destroyed... screaming at the sky...

"So she died a few years before I was born," Dennis said.

"Kylo was born five years after the destruction of Alderaan and you're... three years younger than Kylo? Three and a half, maybe? So that's eight years."

Dennis gave Leia a deadly serious look. "I think I was her."

"Well." Leia stopped stroking Dennis's cock. Then she wrapped her arms around him, holding him as tight as she could, and she broke down crying. So did he. More Force visions flashed before him, moments with Leia, some as her teacher, some as her lover. Moments of lovemaking, moments of just holding each other.

"When we got married," Leia said, "Arwen told me the vows she took, in Alameenian culture, would bind her soul to mine. So if ever something happened... she said she'd find her way to me again."

Dennis smiled through his tears. "Surprise. I guess we're not just both Jedi Exiles and twins in a sense, but I was your wife, too."

They kissed hard and hungry, and Leia said, "You're still pretty enough to be my wife."

"I... bought lacy panties yesterday. Sev convinced me. I bought them thinking you might like to see me in them, but I forgot to put them on today."

Leia gave him a mock stern look. "Young man, you had better have them on the next time you see me."

Dennis kissed her. "Yes, ma'am." Then he said, "So um..." He cleared his throat. "Do you still have a strap-on? You were pretty ferocious with that thing."

"I do." Leia looked off to the side, and said, "I use it on Han pretty regularly."

Dennis laughed aloud. "Wow, he really is like Sev, he's a bottom and everything."

Leia snickered.

They kissed again, and Dennis said, "So how weird would it be if I asked you to fuck me?"

"With the strapon?"

Dennis nodded. He looked so much like an excited puppy that it made Leia laugh, petting him.

Leia said, "Well... I clean it thoroughly between uses, so if you're not bothered by the fact that I've used it on my husband, but it's been sanitized since the last use..." And if the Force has its way, that won't be the only cock you're sharing. Leia shivered at the delicious mental image of Malak fucking Han. "And if it bothers Han, you can buy us a new one and the one I use today will be yours. Deal?"

"Deal." Dennis grinned.

Leia reached for the lube, and Dennis said, "No." Leia gave him a curious look. Dennis cleared his throat, looked off to the side, and then he said, "I want... you... to lube me."

"How do you mean?"

Dennis bit his lower lip with a little mischievous grin. "Can you make yourself squirt?"

The thought of squirting into his ass almost made Leia come without touching herself. "You delicious fucking slut..."

"Since you told me you masturbated to my former self... well, I'd love to watch you pleasure yourself."

Dennis spread his legs, and Leia knelt between them, spreading her own. Dennis watched with worship in her eyes as she played with herself, rubbing her pussy harder and harder, until she was trembling, having to steady herself with her free hand to not fall over, gasping for breath. Dennis leaned up to kiss her breasts, in between open-mouthed kisses, their tongues playing together much as they did when he was a she and was her wife. Dennis couldn't help stroking himself to the sight of his fuck goddess bringing herself to the edge, the sound of her sloppy pussy and her panting, whimpering, moaning. Watching Dennis masturbate just fueled her excitement, and the way he licked and sucked her nipples, one hand roaming over her body... she felt like she was going to explode, but it was so delicious she never wanted to stop...

...and then Dennis's hand was working her clit, as she had her fingers inside herself, fucking herself furiously. Dennis was close too. Leia watched as Dennis pulled back his hand from her cunt, his fingers soaked with her cream, and he sucked it off, giving her a smoldering look as he savored the taste of her. Then he reached to massage her clit some more, and just before his fingers could bring her clit to climax, he pulled his hand up again, and rubbed her juices onto one of her nipples, then the other. He suckled each nipple hard, lapped and lapped to get every last bit of her flavor.

It was too much. When he resumed pleasuring her clit, Leia took the hand steadying herself and grabbed Dennis by the throat. "Come for me, slut," she growled. "Come on my tits. Worship my tits with your cum like the fuckslut you are."

He did as she commanded, bucking his hips and crying out as his cock sprayed cum onto her breasts. The sight of her lover climaxing, and the way the hot cum teased her nipples, sent her off. She screamed as her pussy clenched, and she moved her hips just in time so she could squirt on and into Dennis's ass. Dennis cried out again, coming some more as he felt Leia's pussy juice fill him, like a man's cum, teasing his sensitive prostate. Readying him for her fuck.

Force, she needed another. She couldn't get the strap-on harnessed around her waist fast enough. This particular model had an attachment that would vibrate and suction her clit as she fucked. The harder she worked her hips, the harder the friction against the part designed to stimulate her - the clit-fucking and the power trip of fucking her bottom would produce an amazing orgasm.

Dennis continued to lay supine, and Leia fingered him to ready him for the dildo. After a few minutes she was fisting him, and the sounds he made and the way he writhed underneath her were quite encouraging. "You want this, baby boy?" she asked.

"Please..."

She pushed it into him, and then she began to fuck.

She loved the way he rolled his hips, urging her on. "Harder," he panted, stroking his cock. "Harder, give it to me..."

"Such a slut, taking cock like this."

She fucked him harder and harder, until he was grabbing the headboard for dear life. His cock was in her hand and she jerked it as hard as she could, making a wet rattling sound to accompany the wet slapping, suctioning of her dildo in his ass. They were both getting close, and when Leia felt herself about to come, she locked eyes with him and growled. He'd liked having his throat grabbed, so now she grabbed him with the Force, choking just a little. "Who owns this manpussy?"

"You do..."

"No matter who else you're with, you're mine. You're always going to be mine." She thought of Arwen, and Alderaan, and the way their love had brought her back... different body, different sex, but still her. Still the teacher she fell in love with, and had fallen in love with all over again - she loved Dennis and would love him even if he hadn't been her wife decades ago.

The emotional intensity of the moment made them both feel like they were going to shatter.

"I love you." Dennis's eyes were too bright.

"I love you, you fucking slut." Leia rubbed Dennis's balls with one hand, stroking madly with the other, pounding into him as hard as he'd ever been fucked. "Come with me, bondmate."

Dennis sprayed her again, and she shrieked as her own orgasm racked her. She knew it was going to be good, but Force... she wasn't going to be able to keep going for hours like she'd done the day before yesterday. She collapsed onto Dennis, screaming silently - shuddering gasps, her body spasming again and again as her cunt gushed and throbbed and her bones seemed to liquefy and her mind felt like it was made of bacta.

"Holy fuck," Dennis laughed when he caught his breath.

"Yes, indeed." She kissed him. "Sacred fuck."

They kissed deep, and rolled onto their sides so they could hold each other. They never wanted to let go.

_

Dennis and Leia finished just as Han and Sev were getting ready to call it a day. The four had coffee in the kitchen, and Han asked Leia about what she'd worked on with Dennis, and after being told about their lightsaber sparring, Han nodded and said, "I'm making my lightsaber tomorrow."

"Dooku is going to be observing its construction," Sev said.

"Where are you getting the parts from?" Leia asked.

"Sifo-Dyas is donating most of them."

Leia sat back in her chair and steepled her hands. "I'd like to meet him, finally."

"He'd like to meet you too." Then Sev and Dennis looked at each other and Sev said, "There's somebody else you should probably meet, at some point."

Leia cocked her head to one side.

Dennis said, "...You know how we were both Meetra Surik in different universes, and somehow we both wound up in this one?"

Leia braced herself. "Yes."

Dennis took a deep breath. "I moved out of the Knights of Ren apartment a few days ago because I've been asked to keep an eye on one Ben Skywalker-Solo."

"Wait, what?" Han almost dropped his coffee cup.

"Another universe's version of your son wound up here," Dennis said. "It's a long story, but he came here to stop Kylo... and he still intends on doing so." He looked at Sev, and Sev patted his hand understandingly, and Dennis said, "I think Ben can be talked into joining the Resistance."

Han and Leia both had open mouths. They looked at each other, and then Leia said, "Yes, please..."

"I'll have to wheedle him a little bit. His relationship with his parents in his universe was worse than yours with Kylo, and he may be too triggered by the mere concept of another Han and Leia. On the other hand, he's in a lot of pain, and maybe having less dysfunctional versions of his parents to support him is what he needs right now."

"My son is my son, no matter where he's from." Han nodded. "Please tell him I said that."

"I will."

"So," Leia said, "that settles that. I'm having another dinner party tomorrow. Bring Dooku, Sifo-Dyas, yourselves, and Ben."

"You should also invite Sifo's bondmate Jocasta," Sev said. "She's a nice little old lady. Jedi. Librarian."

"Done." Leia scratched her head. "Anyone else we should invite?"

"Malak, maybe?" Dennis asked.

The look on Han's face made Leia want to snicker.

"So, Dennis," Sev said, "Reine knows."

"Oh, really?"

"Yeah. She doesn't, um, know about the Resistance angle of this - neither does Malak - and it would probably be a good idea that they don't know, as yet, but Reine knows about Finn and she knows Malak was here some nights ago. Reine and Finn are getting to be friends, so," Sev turned back to Leia and Han. "Maybe Reine, Malak, and Mace Windu - Finn's Jedi Master - should be on the guest list?"

"OK. That's a full house, so no more than that," Leia said. "We don't have enough chairs."

I could just let you sit on my face, Dennis told Leia in the Force, and she grinned and kicked him under the table.

_

As Sev was out with Han, Dooku spent some down time relaxing with a holonovel and a glass of wine. When the time grew closer to his bondmate's return, Dooku began to reach out with the Force to feel when Sev was on campus. He wanted to be ready.

When he sensed Sev's presence in the Force at the parking lot of the New Force Order Temple, Dooku went to the bedroom and quickly undressed. He turned down the covers on the bed and climbed on.

Sev walked in to what seemed like an empty house. "Hello? Idis?" Maybe he was in the 'fresher...

...Sev heard a deep basso groan from the bedroom.

Sev stood in the bedroom door and found Dooku naked, on their bed, stroking himself to the holopictures he'd taken of Sev tied up, wearing only the Brat tiara and their cum.

Sev's cock strained against his trousers. "Oh, fuck," he moaned.

Dooku smiled a little as his eyes met Sev's. "Hello, my love." He glanced down at the bulge in Sev's pants, and then back up at his bondmate's look of lust. "Happy to see me?"

"Fucking hell." Sev stripped as quickly as he could, and then he pounced on Dooku, who laughed as he swatted Sev's ass.

Sev ran his fingers down Dooku's chest, lingering on a nipple, before continuing their trail down to his perfect abs. "So... can I help you with that?" Sev looked down at Dooku's cock, which was just beginning to leak precum.

Dooku collected it with the finger of his free hand and stuck his finger in Sev's mouth. Sev sucked it greedily, with big eyes like the cats had when they saw their can of cat food being opened.

"I have plans for it," Dooku said. "And a bit of an appetite."

"Mmmmm..."

Dooku used the Force to retrieve the leash, and hooked it through the O-ring in Sev's collar. Sev watched as Dooku attached the end of the leash to clip around one of the slats in the bed's headboard. Dooku gently but firmly pushed Sev's head down, and Sev swallowed Dooku's cock to the hilt, sucking it with a hunger that surprised both of them.

Dooku grabbed Sev's curls, moaning as he enjoyed the feel of Sev's mouth wrapped around him, massaging his cock. Sev was talented, and he had the enthusiasm to match his skill. Dooku felt absolutely worshiped by Severin... and he loved it. As self-conscious and downright prudish as he'd been about his own body and its automatic responses over the decades, he was getting more comfortable in his own skin. Sev sure made that process easier - he treated Dooku like he was a sex god. Dooku felt the same way about Sev. The most beautiful man in the Galaxy loved him, and was making him feel ways he didn't even think were possible.

Sev cupped Dooku's balls, working on him more vigorously, bobbing his head, moving it in circles. Dooku groaned, not able to stop the roll of his hips, slowly fucking Sev's mouth. Sev hummed encouragingly, sucking harder.

When Dooku felt himself climb to that edge, he pulled out of Sev's mouth, and Sev made a whimper of protest. Dooku fingered the O-ring of Sev's collar. "Turn around," he told him.

There was just enough give on the leash for Sev to maneuver, positioning himself on all fours, his ass in Dooku's face. Dooku took a few loving licks as he stroked his cock, and at the point of no return, he aimed.

The bed was across from a full-length closet mirror, and Sev moaned as he watched his bondmate climax. He cried out when he felt Dooku's hot cum coat his ass... and shoot inside, teasing his sensitized prostate. "Oh, fuck," Sev gasped.

There was enough of it that he wouldn't need lube. Dooku took a moment - he was horny enough for Sev that he didn't need long to recharge, this time - and then he knelt behind Severin and took him from behind.

Sev gasped, fisting the sheets. "Idis..."

Dooku slapped Sev's ass, hard, and began to thrust. Sev rocked his hips back at him, moaning.

After a few minutes Dooku grabbed Sev's torso and pulled him up, so they were both kneeling. Dooku wrapped an arm around Sev, and his free hand took Sev's cock, playing with it. Sev moaned, and cried out as he watched the scene in the mirror - Dooku's arm around him, his hand tilting Sev's face so they could kiss, and then he was kissing Sev's neck and shoulder. His fingers lazily rubbed Sev's nipples, and caressed his stomach. "You're beautiful," Dooku husked before licking Sev's pointy ear, sucking the tip, making Sev shiver.

Dooku kept the pace moderate - neither slow nor fast... just enough to excite, not enough to send them over the edge, not yet. He further teased Sev by continuing to hold and touch and kiss, and the hand on Sev's cock tightened, with Dooku's skillful fingers and thumb working the sensitive places - the slit, the frenulum. Dooku drank the sound of Sev's moans, craving them like a drug. Savoring every movement of their bodies, every act of their mating together, every little bit of pleasure, going deeper and deeper into intoxication.

But there was only so long they could hold out, and soon enough Dooku took Sev's leash from the headboard and wrapped it around his hand, pulling on Sev's collar. Sev whimpered, working his hips harder against Dooku's, urgently guiding Dooku's hand on his cock. They edged until they were both gasping for breath, hearts pounding, hips slapping together obscenely, the rattling of Sev's precum soaked cock too obscenely delicious for them to bear any longer. "Come for me," Dooku growled, biting Sev's shoulder. Sev screamed, wordlessly, his body convulsing as he came over Dooku's hand, over the sheets. Dooku spent inside Severin with a hoarse shout, calling Sev's name, and they collapsed together, trying to catch their breath. Sev wheezed enough that he needed his inhaler, pulling it over with the Force.

"I'd apologize for giving you an asthma attack..."

Sev laughed. He panted, "I'm not sorry." He took a few deep breaths and then he laughed again. "Fuck, that was hot."

Dooku turned Sev's face so they could kiss, and then he tugged on the leash, rolling off of Sev's back, and Sev found his way into Dooku's arms. They held each other in companionable silence for awhile, too lost in bliss to speak, and then, finally, Sev said, "I really, really like the way you've been exploring lately." He stroked Dooku's face and his whiskers, smiling adoringly.

"I am... having fun."

Sev's jaw dropped. "HOLY SHIT, DARTH TYRANUS IS HAVING FUN."

"Yes." Dooku's lips quirked. "Don't let word get out."

"Dude, I think we were loud enough that the entire Temple knows." Sev's smile became that mischievous grin Dooku loved.

When they were recovered a bit, Dooku made dinner. As he worked in the kitchen, humming to himself, Sev told Dooku, "So hey, tomorrow night, we're having dinner at Han and Leia's."

"All right," Dooku said. "I'll make something extra to bring and be a good guest."

"...You're always extra."

Dooku bitchfaced, and Sev stuck his tongue out at him, and then squeaked when Dooku used the Force to throw a small couch pillow at Sev from the side.

"So, might I inquire as to the guest list?"

"In addition to Han, Leia, and Finn... You, me, Sifo, Jo, Malak, Reine, Dennis, possibly Ben... and oh, they invited Mace Windu also." A light seemed to turn on in Sev's head. "Oh, that reminds me."

Before things had gotten a little crazy with the arrival of Ben, Sev had meant to check the Holonet for information on his aunt, Raskta Yusanis, who Mace admitted to having a secret relationship with when she was a Senator and he had been assigned bodyguard duties as a Jedi, in the last days of the Republic. Sev's aunt Raskta had died decades before he was born - within a few years of the Clone Wars ending - and he'd never even seen so much as a picture of her. His Echani father had died when Sev was six and too young to be interested in the extended family, and Sev's other aunt, the one who raised him on Corellia, didn't like talking about the family on Eshan, saying no good could come of associating with them.

After a few minutes, the Holonet completed Sev's search. What Sev found made him gasp and almost drop the tablet computer.

He was looking at a picture of Reine... if Reine had pale skin (hers was light caramel brown), grey eyes (her eyes were brown), and silver-blonde hair (her hair was dark and curly). But otherwise it was the same face, same build.

"Dear Force, I am not a religious man, but please help me see the connection here," Sev said aloud.

"Hmm?"

"Uhhhhh." Sev showed Dooku the picture. "This is my aunt Raskta. You know... Mace's old girlfriend?"

Dooku dropped the spoon he was using. "What."

"Yeah."

According to what biographical information was available, Raskta Yusanis took a leave of absence from the Senate not long after Mace Windu's death - citing health issues - and about a year later, she returned as one of the two Senators from Eshan. It had been reported that she'd went back to Eshan during her leave of absence to stay with her parents - the grandparents Sev had never met.

Raskta Yusanis was assassinated approximately two years later; Sev knew that part.

"Well, let's see if there's any info on Grandma and Grandpa."

Sev's grandparents had died about nineteen years after Raskta's death. Rikal and Kaniri Yusanis were private people, and Sev didn't expect to find much about them on the Holonet, but he did find a few pictures from the first few years after Raskta's death. And in those pictures, was a small boy, with black skin.

Sev had the Holonet identify the boy, and the Holonet returned that the boy's name was Teodor "Teddy" Yusanis, a ward of Rikal and Kaniri Yusanis. Reading between the lines, Sev had a feeling this was Raskta's son by Mace Windu.

A picture of Teodor Yusanis as an adult - who had joined the Rebel Alliance and was then a Senator of the New Republic. He looked quite a lot like Finn, but with a goatee.

"What. The. Fuck."

Teddy Yusanis had married a Mandalorian woman named Baraka Synjat, and about a year into their marriage, they were killed in what was officially listed as an accident. A detective had suspected foul play, and that case was suddenly closed and ruled an accident. On a whim, Sev searched for the detective on the Holonet, and found that he too was killed in an accident, approximately three months after he'd launched an investigation into the death of Teddy Yusanis and Baraka Synjat.

"Hey Idis, honey..." Sev showed Dooku the tablet again. "Does this guy look a lot like Finn, or am I completely insane?"

"No, he looks a remarkable amount like Finn."

Sev did the math - Teddy Yusanis and Baraka Synjat were killed when Finn and Reine would have been less than a year old. Reine grew up in an orphanage and didn't know her parents; Finn was taken as a Stormtrooper in infancy and never knew his parents. They were both strong in the Force, which was rare and ran in families; they were both natural adepts at Juyo, Mace Windu's lightsaber form of choice. Sev mused aloud to Dooku. "I mean, it's a huge Galaxy... what are the odds they could be Mace Windu's grandkids?"

"Honestly?" Dooku put down the knife he was using to chop vegetables, and put his hands on his hips. "It's worth a DNA test."

Sev took a deep breath. "You think I should show all this to them tomorrow night at the party?"

"Yes, I do. If it turns out to be nothing - well, they at least know you were trying to be helpful. But something tells me this isn't nothing." Dooku resumed chopping. "I don't think it's nothing, not at all. And if it's not nothing, then it is very much a piece we need of whatever puzzle the Force is trying to put together, here."

Chapter Text

It was a beautiful day - this part of Arcturus was in the transition from late summer to early fall and there was still enough warmth to not require layers of clothing, but the somewhat shorter days created a golden glow through the trees of the redwood forest that Ben Skywalker-Solo and Dennis Yusanis were hiking through. It was an idyllic afternoon, a moment of peace in a time when much seemed uncertain and fraught with hidden danger.

They'd brought lunch with them, and after hiking for awhile in companionable silence, enjoying the beauty and wonder of nature, they stopped by a waterfall and spread a blanket to sit, eat, and talk.

Dennis and Ben were both working on the program at the New Force Order for grey Force users - something it currently lacked, and desperately needed. Sifo-Dyas had given them the task of researching the Je'daii, an ancient order of Force users who were the predecessor to the Jedi. The Je'daii Order had been based on Tython, a planet in the Deep Core rich in the Living Force. Tython had two moons, Ashla and Bogan - Ashla was a light moon, Bogan a dark moon. Tython reacted to imbalances in the Force with Force storms, and it was through studying the moons and the way the Force worked on Tython, that the Je'daii developed their Force philosophy of balance. They worked with both the Light and Dark Sides of the Force, seeing them as two necessary sides of one Force. After over nine thousand years, the Je'daii came to an end following the Force Wars, initiated by the invading Rakata, who worked exclusively with the Dark Side of the Force - the brutality of the Rakata led Je'daii Master Rajivari to believe no good could come of the Dark Side, and so he founded the Jedi Order, exclusively focused on the Light. Grandmaster Ketu disagreed bitterly with this decision, and asked Rajivari to kill him - Ketu was seen as the avatar of Exile, one of the Seven Light, a group of advanced Force-sensitive beings who were said to take physical form when the Force was out of balance; Exile was so named because the Exile was always there, watching and waiting for the time to call the others again. With Ketu's death, Exile went back to their siblings to call them forth.[1]

The more Dennis read about the Je'daii, the more he was convinced that Ketu was yet another past life of his, and Malak had mentioned the Seven Light more than once. He didn't like the implications of it, and the responsibility that went along with those implications. One of those responsibilities apparently seemed to be bringing back the Je'daii - the Force had been at war with itself since the Je'daii was disbanded and the Jedi took its place. And yet...

"A lot has happened in the twenty-five thousand years since the Je'daii Order has been gone," Dennis mused to Ben, "and bringing it back seems easier said than done."

Ben put another cube of cheese in his mouth and chewed it as he considered his response. Then he nodded and said, "For starters, the Je'daii understanding of the Force was shaped by their experience of living on Tython, with its Force storms, and the way the cycles of the two moons affected the planet - without Bogan, Ashla would make it too bright at night, and without Ashla, nobody would be able to see a damn thing. Bogan and Ashla both affected the tides, the gravity..." Ben scratched his beard before turning his attention to the fruit plate. "When someone being too far to the Light or the Dark Side of the Force would make Tython react with Force storms and the plant and animal life would act all freaky... well, it made a stronger case for why balance in the Force was a good thing. We're going up against twenty-five thousand years of Jedi teaching that only the Light Side is correct, and with a very few exceptions the Sith haven't done much to prove them wrong." Ben munched on a grape. "The First Order sure as fuck hasn't done much to prove them wrong."

Dennis nodded solemnly. "It's why I finally agreed to join the Resistance. And it's sad, because I think deep down Kylo is a good person who truly wants to do the right thing, and believes he is doing the right thing."

"As they say on Corellia, the road to hell is paved with good intentions." Ben popped another grape into his mouth. "And there is a difference between righteous, justifiable anger and hatred. When Tyranus set off the Clone Wars, he was acting out of righteous anger. He didn't want a bloodbath, he wanted reform. When things got out of hand, he felt a tremendous amount of guilt that he's carried around since his resurrection. When I killed my classmates at the Jedi Order, I could tell myself I did it so we wouldn't have bullies strong in the Force swinging their weight around the Galaxy to treat more innocent people like the way I was treated. But really? Ultimately? It was revenge, pure and simple. The massacre was done in the spirit of hatred. Not a day goes by that I don't regret what I did, and feel like I'm being punished for doing what I did. Maybe I would still have Alyssa if..." He swallowed hard.

Dennis gave him a sympathetic look. Ben looked away, and pulled himself together. "I wish," Ben said, "I'd found another way to deal with what I was going through other than killing people. And it bothers me that Kylo doesn't feel that same regret. He feels like what he did was perfectly all right. And it wasn't all right." Ben took a deep breath and gave a little shudder. "Anyway, back to the Je'daii..."

Dennis sighed. "You're not being punished, Ben."

"Yeah. Whatever." Ben looked away again, and then looked down.

Dennis reached out and cupped Ben's chin in his hand, making Ben meet his eyes. "I promise you," Dennis said, "things will get better."

"Not without Alyssa."

Dennis closed his eyes. He could feel Ben's grief - the way he'd loved her, and the way he'd missed her since Snoke forced him to kill her. The way Ben cried himself to sleep every night, aching for Alyssa like she was a phantom limb. The only thing keeping Ben alive was his crusade against Kylo Ren. And as much as Dennis supported that crusade, he felt like Ben needed something else, and he was hoping that focusing on this grey Force tradition would give him an additional sense of purpose. He was hoping that in time, their friendship would also be a source of emotional nourishment. He hadn't known Ben long, but he already cared for Ben deeply, and he felt a little protective towards Ben as well, even though Ben was three years his senior.

"Things will get better," Dennis told him, "because I say they will. The Force didn't just send you here to take down Kylo... the Force sent you here so I could look out for you. Like I did before."

If only you knew. Ben was tempted to ask Dennis what specifically he remembered about their past history as Revan and Meetra Surik. He had a feeling either Dennis didn't remember they were lovers, towards the end, or Dennis was trying to not remember.

Dennis shoved a cheese cube in Ben's mouth then, and leaned back. "So," Dennis said, "as we were. Yes, the Je'daii philosophy of balance in the Force was forged on a planet where imbalance was lethal, and some will have a harder time understanding that philosophy without understanding where it came from, how it was developed, how it works in action. And there are customs specific to the ancient Je'daii that will be harder to replicate outside of Tython - for instance they had nine Temples around Tython, and to graduate from Padawan to Ranger one had to complete the Great Journey which took two years. I don't see us being able to recreate this on Arcturus. There are also some things they did, views they had, that are problematic now - anybody who leaned too much to the Light or the Dark Side of the Force got exiled to one of the two moons of Tython, Ashla for the Light, Bogan for the Dark, and they were supposed to meditate on the other moon in the sky to help bring themselves back into balance. Just like I think the New Force Order made a mistake in not acknowledging that some people are neither Light Side nor Dark Side but a bit of both, and there needs to be an option for them besides Jedi or Sith because otherwise it's like that pair of pants that doesn't quite fit, I think that if we do something with the Je'daii we have to understand not everyone is in the middle and some people are Light Side oriented and some people are Dark Side oriented and the Jedi and Sith should thus keep continuing."

Ben nodded. "I agree."

Dennis went on, "But even as we can't do everything exactly as it was done, there is still a lot we can do, and having a tradition for people in the middle of the Force is long overdue. We can't do a strict reconstruction, but we can do a revival. Taking elements from the old, and adapting them to the present set of circumstances. I think if Ketu were here, he'd agree with me."

"I think it's worth a try," Ben said. "If nothing else, for ourselves."

"We'll be the prototype," Dennis said. "And that means we need to start somewhere... and we might as well start now, today."

Ben took a deep breath, looking nervous, but he nodded again. "So how are we going to do this?"

"I was thinking about some kind of small ritual, ending with reciting the Je'daii Code. It's one of the reasons why I decided we should come here. It isn't just that it's pretty here and I thought you finally getting to see what a real forest looks like would do you some good. This is as close to Tython as we're going to get while we're on Arcturus. The Living Force is strong here." Dennis gestured to the nearby waterfall. "That's a Force nexus."

"What are we going to do?"

Dennis had a memory of when he was Ketu, and became the Temple Master of Akar Kesh, which was famed for its waterfalls - the waterfalls where the eight rivers of the continent met. Ketu had pledged himself to the Temple by cutting himself with his Force-imbued blade - a sword that was the weapon of the Je'daii, before lightsabers existed; the swords were set with Force crystals, making them glow different colors, and Ketu's sword glowed deep cerulean blue - and then the sword was thrown into the waterfall and Ketu had to go in and retrieve it, cleansing himself and his sword in the pure Living Force energies that ran through the water. Dennis held Ben's hand to show him the mental images, and their fingers lingered for a moment before Dennis pulled his hand away. Ben's hand felt tingly.

"Isn't it a bit late this time of year to go swimming? Not to mention I didn't bring any fresh clothes since I wasn't exactly expecting this," Ben said.

Dennis shrugged. "Part of being on this path is being in tune with the flow of the Force. Being able to be spontaneous."

Dennis stripped down to his boxers, and stood before the waterfall and the little pool it ran into. After a few minutes he said to Ben, "You coming?"

If you keep looking sexy like that, I just might. Ben wanted to smack himself. He not only barely knew this guy - yes, he knew him from before, when they were Revan and Meetra Surik, but Ben and Dennis had only known each other in their present lifetimes for less than a week - but Ben felt a pang of guilt, like he was dishonoring Alyssa's memory to even notice Dennis's body like this. Not to mention that Ben had never been with a man before - he'd never been with anyone but Alyssa, in thirty-two years of life. He'd always been attracted to both men and women, and fantasized about both, but his social anxiety and awkwardness had gotten in the way of doing anything about it.

Ben stripped down to his briefs, and the two men stood with lightsabers in hand. Dennis used his lightsaber to wound Ben just enough to draw blood and require either stitches or Force Heal, and then Ben activated his own lightsaber to wound Dennis the same way. Then they both deactivated their blades and threw their lightsabers into the water - lightsabers were designed to be waterproof - and Dennis jumped into the pool, which was deeper than it looked.

After hesitating for a moment, Ben jumped in also.

Finding the lightsaber in the water was easier said than done, and there was a minute when Ben thought he'd like to Force choke Dennis for suggesting this ridiculousness - the water was ice-cold, the depths of the pool were dark, and the waterfall flowed so hard it stung whenever they passed by or through it. Then Dennis said, "We're thinking about this too much. Let the Force guide it to you."

Ben tried to center, which was difficult to do with the freezing water and Dennis's distracting physique and his overall physical discomfort... but he was able to quiet himself enough to let the Force take control, and at last, his lightsaber hilt flew into his hand, and so did Dennis's. When they came out of the pool together, soaked to the skin, Ben watched as Dennis activated his lightsaber and drove it into a nearby boulder that came up to their waists and was thicker than a tree trunk. Ben gave a little shrug and did what Dennis did, his lightsaber impaling the center of the stone.

Dennis closed his eyes, and Ben knew he was about to recite the Je'daii Code. Ben's voice joined his as they spoke the ancient words:

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no fear, there is power.
I am the heart of the Force.
I am the revealing fire of light,
I am the mystery of darkness.
In chaos and harmony.
Immortal in the Force.

The invocation was simple yet powerful. Dennis felt like a bolt of lightning hit him in the base of his spine, sliding up to the crown of his head. His hands radiated. The forest had already been glowing golden in the afternoon light, and now the immediate part of the forest they were in seemed to glow silver. Dennis looked at Ben, and could tell by the expression on Ben's face he felt it too. They had just awakened something in the Force.

They withdrew their lightsabers from the stone, wordlessly made their way back to the blanket where they'd left their clothes, and got dressed. "We should head back," Dennis told Ben, "since it takes awhile to drive home and we have that thing to go to."

Ben nodded. "I can't believe I agreed to come with you to Han and Leia's. I mean, they're not my parents, but still."

"Well, Han had said to tell you 'my son is my son, regardless of where he's from.' I think it would be good for you, as well as for them." Dennis frowned a little as he said, "And honestly... if we're going to take Kylo Ren down the non-violent way, or at least with the minimal amount of bloodshed, we have to get his parents involved, and you building a relationship with them would be a training ground for them to deal with him."

Ben snorted. "This dude killed his father. I don't think he can exactly be reasoned with."

Dennis had observed within the last almost-week that Ben wasn't just from a different universe than Kylo, but he was... different from Kylo, period. It wasn't just that Ben had a more dysfunctional relationship with his parents than Kylo did, while still had refrained from killing his father; it wasn't just that Ben had been ordered to kill his bondmate and Kylo was still with Valyeris; it wasn't just that Ben had never called himself Kylo Ren; it wasn't just that Ben had a beard and shorter hair. Kylo wore all black all the time and tended to dress in layers even during the summer. Today Ben was wearing a steel blue T-shirt and a pair of dark blue denim jeans.

And that simple difference in dress told so much about them that revealed itself in other ways. Kylo was quiet, not prone to swearing, not prone to using colloquialisms or slang, especially Corellian slang like "dude". Ben was a lot snarkier, much less formal in speech, and more free with his opinions in general. It was hard to tell what Kylo Ren was thinking or feeling at any given moment, even without the mask, unless he was displeased in which case it usually meant a person or inanimate object was going to be targeted for his wrath. Ben was given to crying openly as well as acting like an excited little kid when he was happy. It was almost like Ben and Kylo were twin brothers instead of being different iterations of the same person.

In truth, Dennis found Ben easier to get along with. He had tried to like Kylo, and he still didn't dislike him, per se, but Dennis frequently felt like Kylo was politely tolerating him and Severin, and it had made Dennis and Severin feel like the odd men out of the Knights of Ren, a group that they'd never signed up for to begin with. Malak was very different in personality from Kylo also, but Malak got a pass on it, perhaps because Kylo could handle having exactly one opposite in close space, or perhaps for other reasons - Dennis pondered again Dooku's observation that the Sith Order thought Malak was Kylo's toady or pawn. Despite his enjoyment of severity when severity was called for, Malak was otherwise a very good-natured, friendly person who genuinely wanted to be helpful, and Dennis had wondered more than once if Kylo played up the "brother from another mother" angle with Malak because he could get Malak to do what he wanted if Malak thought it would make his best friend happy.

Dennis really hoped Kylo wasn't in fact using Malak, because he'd have to have a word with Kylo Ren about that. Possibly involving the business end of his lightsaber. He was tired of his family getting hurt by outsiders.

Ben raised an eyebrow at Dennis. "You all right, man?"

Dennis nodded. "Just have a lot on my mind."

"I would too, if I was doing the double agent thing. I do not envy the position you're in."

"Well, yanno. Galaxy isn't going to fix itself, and all of that." Dennis gestured, and he and Ben began the hike back through the forest, to where they'd parked the speeder. It would be a couple hours yet before they were back at the Temple, with just enough time to get ready for the dinner party. Dennis felt almost reluctant to leave the forest - he could still feel the Living Force energy from the waterfall, and their invocation had created a sort of sacred space.

But if Dennis had his way, they'd be back, and it wouldn't be just them, next time.

_

While Dennis and Ben were in the redwoods, Leia and Qui-Gon were in another forested area, a park that was different from their usual meeting spot, a bit farther out from Leia's home, but not as far out as the redwoods.

They had spent the afternoon working on skills with the Living Force - "feeding" the land with Force energy, stimulating plant growth. A portion of the park was near a series of tall, drab-looking industrial buildings surrounded by a tall barbed wire fence, and the grass and shrubberies here were wilting a bit, so they gave the land extra attention. Qui-Gon looked a bit troubled as they worked, not simply because he was acutely sensitive to the Force energy of plant life and could feel the flora suffering as it was beginning to die slowly, but he felt a disturbance in the Force itself at the series of buildings.

Leia noticed Qui-Gon's distress, and inquired about it. When he told her, she said, "That explains the bad feeling I got every time I looked over there. It's not just me."

"No, it is not," Qui-Gon said. "It is the Force telling you that something is wrong there. You should always heed these feelings when you have them."

Leia pursed her lips and furrowed her brow before she spoke again. "So... if something is wrong, shouldn't we do something about it? Can something be done?"

"Well..." Qui-Gon took a deep breath. He had a look on his face like he was being asked to do something distasteful. "The Sith are in charge of policing Arcturus. Any suspicious activity... or any suspicions of suspicious activity... should be reported to them."

"OK, well... the Jedi and Sith co-exist now, and you're on good terms with Dooku, right?"

"The person to report this to is Maul," Qui-Gon said. "The man who killed me."

"Oh." Leia frowned. "Maybe you could ask Dooku to tell Maul?"

"I could, and he would understand why going to Maul myself is awkward, but Dooku would want to verify the disturbance in the Force himself. And more than that, he would ask me if I had done anything to try to counteract the negative Force energy from spreading to affect the rest of the park. Rather like building a dam in a river."

Leia nodded. "So perhaps we should do that, then."

"Yes. But just shielding alone won't work with this kind of energy. It needs to be met with something... raw, and primal. And joyous." Qui-Gon smirked at Leia, and she smirked back. Qui-Gon gestured. "There is a place a few meters from here, deeper into the trees, where Obi-Wan and I enjoy visiting."

Leia looked incredulous when she saw the hammock in the trees. Qui-Gon noticed and he assured her, "The hammock can hold both our weights. Obi and I have tested it many times. The hammock is made from cortosis fibers."

"Ah, all right." Then, as Leia began to slowly undress, she said, "I've never..."

"...Had sex in a hammock."

"Correct." Leia took a deep breath. "I'm a little nervous..."

"Just hold onto me," Qui said. "If you decide it's too much, we can always finish on the grass. But if you'd try it..."

Leia nodded. "I'm willing to try just about anything once."

"That's the spirit." Qui smiled.

When they were completely naked, Leia watched Qui-Gon use the Force to leap up into the hammock, which began to swing wildly as soon as he stood in it. He dropped to lay on his back, grinning as the hammock swayed back and forth.

Leia still felt like Force kinetics were not her strong suit, but now was as good a time as any to practice. She took a deep breath and jumped, and then landed on all fours on top of Qui-Gon, like a cat pouncing on its prey. Qui smiled at her and cupped her chin in his hand. Leia gasped as the hammock swung violently, and Qui's hand moved from her chin to her hip, the other hand holding her other hip.

"I've got you," Qui-Gon said, softly.

The hammock continued to swing back and forth, and they were high enough in the trees that it made Leia dizzy... but she also felt dizzy from Qui-Gon's touch. The strength and tenderness in the way he held her, assuring her that he would not let her fall. She reached out to stroke his face, his hair, and leaned in to kiss him. He kissed her back, hard. Oh yeah. Leia shivered as their tongues played together, and Qui's hands slid from her hips to cup her breasts, his clever fingers stroking her nipples. He moved his head to draw one into his mouth, and the fingers that had been playing with that nipple were now playing between her legs. Leia reached in to stroke Qui-Gon's cock, which was well on its way to full erection.

It wasn't long before they were both gasping for breath, cunt and cock dripping with the nectar of their desire. The hammock wasn't swinging as hard now, but was rocking more gently back and forth, and the way the hammock rocked provided a feeling of excitement and exhilaration, adding to the element of wildness in the act of mating outdoors. When Leia sank down on Qui-Gon's cock, the hammock gave another lurch, and Qui-Gon's hands steadied her. His arms held her tight.

"You're safe," he whispered. "I will keep you safe."

Tears burned Leia's eyes - the words were like a punch in the heart. She hadn't truly felt safe since her son killed his classmates at the New Jedi Order, joined up with Snoke in the open, and Luke ran off in despair; she had felt even less safe since her son killed Han, and there had been an attempt on her life at his funeral. She frequently questioned her judgment with staying on Arcturus with her son so close by, and why she was even bothering one last time. But she had begun to realize, she wasn't just here for him - the Force had brought her here for Qui, for Obi, for Dennis. She needed to protect them from her son. But Qui-Gon was protecting her, too. She'd always felt at ease in his presence - despite him having almost a foot and a half on her, he was as gentle as he was big, like a giant tree that just wanted to provide shade and shelter. But in these moments, it went far deeper. She was putting her life in his hands, up here in this hammock, and he was honoring the gift of her trust, showing her that he could take the seed of her love for him and turn it into something marvelous.

Qui-Gon thrusted slowly, and Leia moaned, as the slow rubbing against her G-spot teased her just right. The usual languid quality of their lovemaking was especially potent up here in the hammock, and the slow rhythm of their hips and slow, gentle rocking of the hammock created a sort of trance-like feeling, taking them deeper and deeper. Strengthening their connection in the Force. After awhile they both were brought to tears, feeling safe, feeling loved, feeling alive here among the trees, as naked as the sky, bodies fused in an act as old as time. There was a disturbance in the Force close by, but here, now, was life. Every thrust of Qui-Gon into her, every stroke of their hands, kiss of their lips, was the promise of what life had to offer.

Leia was trembling - the slow teasing of Qui-Gon's cock sliding back and forth across her G-spot, and the slow teasing of his finger rubbing her clit in lazy circles, was almost too much to bear. She whimpered, trying to urge him on faster, but he just chuckled at her and kept it slow, savoring the buildup. "There is nowhere I'd rather be in this moment but here with you," Qui told her. "Inside you. Loving you."

They kissed, and then Qui-Gon tipped his head to suckle a nipple, again, making Leia cry out; her cry echoed into the sky.

Slowly, slowly, they loved, until Qui-Gon could hold back no longer, and rasped, "Ride me, my own." Leia rode him hard, and the hammock began to swing, and Qui-Gon gripped her tightly. Leia was so far gone in the heat of passion that the swinging of the hammock was just a rush now, an additional thrill. Their moans of pleasure got louder and louder, the sound of her wetness and the slap of their flesh louder still, Leia riding harder and faster until her breasts were bouncing so hard it almost hurt, and the way Qui-Gon matched her rhythm, bucking his hips wildly, made the hammock shake, not just rock.

His fingers fucked her clit, and she felt the orgasm begin to surge. "Qui-Gon," Leia gasped. "Qui, I'm gonna come..."

"Come with me, my love."

They screamed as the climax overtook them, and the hammock swung like never before - Qui-Gon's hands steadied her once more, but the ride just made her orgasm climb higher. "Fuck," Leia sobbed.

"I love you," Qui husked. "I love you, love you, love you..."

Leia broke down weeping. It was so good. It was so damn good.

Everything seemed to glow.

_

While Leia and Qui-Gon were experiencing the joys of hammock sex, Han Solo built a lightsaber.

Han felt even more nervous about it than he normally would have because it wasn't just him and his Sith Master Severin - he had Dooku and these strangers, Sifo-Dyas and Jocasta, in his mancave. Dooku had also tried to talk Han into making a curved-hilt lightsaber, and Han managed to shut him up by saying, "Nah, 'cause a person can already make enough dick jokes about it without it actually looking like my dick." The look on Sev's face was priceless, and the blush on Dooku's bitchface told Han way more than he wanted to know about the old guy's anatomy.

Malak was the first of the dinner party guests to arrive. His wife had been invited, too, and Malak explained that she'd be coming with Mace and Finn. Malak pulled up a chair - he was just in time, as Han had finished his lightsaber construction and was about to turn it on for the first time.

Sev and Dooku stood back, and Han flipped the ignition switch. He gasped a little as the lightsaber hissed, and he watched a fiery orange-red upside-down cross emerge from the hilt. He took a few swings, and the lightsaber hummed as it was supposed to.

"Be careful with that thing," Sev warned.

"I know what I'm -" Han accidentally hacked a corner of the counter behind him, which fell to the duranoleum floor with a thud. "Doing."

Sev and Dooku exchanged glances, and then Dooku said, "Has my bondmate taught you any of the form yet?"

"No," Han replied. "He said we would work on that once I had an actual lightsaber."

"Well then," Dooku said, "if I may do the honor of showing you how to perform the Makashi salute."

Sev couldn't restrain the cackle - "the Makashi salute" was Sev's euphemism for Dooku getting an erection. Dooku glared at his bondmate, and Sev winked at him, and Dooku let out an exaggerated sigh.

"I love you," Sev told him.

"I know." Dooku's eyes rolled, but he still gave a little smile.

Dooku spent the next half-hour showing Han how to give the Makashi salute, and making Han repeat it over and over again until he got it just right. Finally Han said, "Why the fuck do I have to do this?"

"It is a show of respect to one's opponent," Dooku informed him. "It tells them that you will fight with honor."

"See, that's your problem," Han said. "I fight dirty."

Dooku gave Han a knowing look. "When you learn more about the Makashi form, you will discover that there is a certain element of trickery involved - feints, and surprise attacks, which can include utilizing Force-based attacks. There is a difference between 'fighting dirty', as you put it, and not fighting with honor."

"Oh yeah?"

Dooku raised an eyebrow at Sev. "Shall we demonstrate, my own?"

The group went out into the backyard. Sev and Dooku produced their lightsabers, Makashi saluted each other, and then proceeded to duel. Lightsabers hummed and hissed as the bondmates fenced, practically dancing together across the small yard. Han's eyes were riveted - he had to admit it looked pretty cool, and he got to see what Dooku was talking about - when Sev pulled apart his lightsaber staff into two smaller lightsabers to dual-wield, his technique was to feint with one, attack with the other. Dooku frequently anticipated this, but it didn't stop Sev from trying, and sometimes succeeding. After they'd been sparring with just lightsabers for their first round, they brought some Force-based attacks into the second round, attempting to Force throw each other, blast each other with Force lightning, and at one point Sev's foot caught Dooku's foot and Han watched with an open mouth as Sev used that point of physical contact to inflict painful spasms on Dooku, bringing him to his knees. Sev won that round, having lost the previous, and they went for a third round as the tie-breaker, continuing to use a combination of lightsaber work and Force attacks. Dooku and Sev also started trash-talking - Sev called him old, Dooku called him sloppy, Sev retorted with "you like it when I'm sloppy", Dooku blushed, and Sev took advantage of his fluster to give him a lightsaber burn. The third round lasted longer than the others, both men fighting as hard as they could, but finally Dooku bested Sev once more, with Sev on his back in the grass, Dooku straddling him with his lightsaber held to Sev's throat.

Jocasta elbowed Sifo-Dyas. "We should work on sparring sometime," Jocasta told him, with a wink.

Dooku helped Sev up, like a gentleman, and they Makashi saluted once more before de-activating their lightsabers and clipping them back into their belts. Jocasta and Malak applauded enthusiastically, Sifo whistled, and Han said, "Wow. You're gonna teach me to do all that?"

"It will take time," Dooku told him. "I have decades of experience; Sev has but months."

"And for but mere months of experience I can still fuckin' keep you on your toes, old man," Sev said.

Dooku swatted Sev's ass with just the Force, and then he looked at the grass and mud stains on Sev's clothes and arms. "Child, you are simply filthy," Dooku said. He grabbed Severin's hand. "Would you excuse us?" He marched Sev into the house.

Sev started to protest as Dooku followed him into the 'fresher and then as soon as the door was shut behind him he stopped protesting, once he saw the heat in his bondmate's eyes. Dooku slammed Severin against the wall and reached for Sev's belt, unbuckling it hurriedly. Their mouths met with hunger, tongues duelling as their lightsabers had.

"Fuck," Sev panted. "Do me..."

Dooku's impulse was to bend Sev over the sink and take him, with their clothes otherwise still on, but Severin was in such a primal state of mind from their battle that it was all Sev could do to not rip Dooku's clothes off - the only reason why Sev didn't tear them was because they hadn't anticipated needing to bring a change of clothing to the dinner party. Feverishly, they undressed, and their clothes puddled on the tile floor.

Sev habitually carried a small bottle of lube in his pocket, and Dooku watched as the bottle floated in the air, into Sev's hand. The look of lust in Sev's eyes electrified Dooku so much that he decided instead of bending Sev over the sink, they would use another position. Dooku picked Sev up, and held him up against the wall as Sev slicked Dooku's cock with the lube. Sev had already been stretched and had a coat of cum in his ass from the morning, so he didn't need preparation, he just needed cock. Dooku pushed into him, and Sev cried out, wrapping his arms around Dooku, digging his nails into Dooku's back.

They resumed kissing, moaning and crying out into each kiss as Dooku fucked Sev against the wall, harder and harder. It was so wild, urgent and passionate that it wasn't long before they were both trembling, gasping for breath, on the edge of the point of no return.

Sev's eyes were desperate, pleading with his Master's. "I love you," Sev husked.

"I love you, my own." Dooku kissed him passionately. "Mine."

"Yours," Sev breathed, and then he raked his nails down Dooku's back.

That did it. A few last violent thrusts, and the two men climaxed together, screaming with the intensity of their release. They kissed and kissed, and the universe seemed to stop just for them, Sev's ass clenching Dooku's cock, pulsing around it, wringing every last bit of pleasure from the hard curved tool until Dooku was breathless and he felt like his limbs were made of bacta. Somehow, he still managed to stand and hold up Sev in his arms.

They kissed again, and Sev smiled. "Fuck, that was hot," he said.

"Mmmmmm, indeed." Another kiss.

The 'fresher door opened, and they heard Han Solo's voice. "OH, SHIT, NO."

Dooku gave Han an aggravated look over his shoulder. "Do you always customarily open the 'fresher door without knocking when it's closed?"

"I didn't realize you guys were in here. I thought you'd, uh, maybe gone and used the bedroom."

"What kind of manners do you think I have, that I would use my host's bed for such purposes without even asking?"

"I don't know, but it seems like the kind of manners that would be preferable to me opening the door and finding... ahhhh... abrupt and non-consensual Tyranus ass."

Sev laughed so hard he howled. He reached to grab Dooku's ass and squeeze it. "This ass is plenty consensual," Sev said.

"To you," Han snapped.

Dooku cleared his throat. "Give us but a moment to adjust our garments, and then the refresher station is all yours."

"Thanks. I don't need to see Dooku dong, either," Han said. "Bad enough I already know that fucker is curved."

Sev couldn't stop laughing as he put his clothes on. "Tyranus ass. Dooku dong."

Dooku bitchfaced at Sev. "Could you not."

"Nope." Sev grinned.

Dooku shook his head. "Brat."

"Maybe I'll get some spankings later?"

Dooku smacked Sev's ass right there and Sev moaned, "Oh, fuck yeah."

They were dressed and out of the 'fresher a couple of minutes later, and Han walked past them without even saying a word. Once Han closed the door behind him, they heard him yell again: "OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE IT SMELLS LIKE CUM IN HERE."

_

When the entire group had assembled - Leia, Dennis, Ben, Mace Windu, Finn, and Reine arriving at the appointed time - they were out in the backyard again, with Han firing up the barbecue grill. It would probably be the last time they got to use it this year, now that colder weather was about to set in. Han donned a "Kiss the Cook" apron and grilled chicken, steaks, nerfburgers and sausage, while Dennis helped Leia toss a salad.

Dennis would have liked to toss Leia's salad in a different sense, but Ben was sitting right there in the kitchen, watching them. Both Ben and Leia felt awkward about initiating conversation, but it was also getting awkward for Ben to keep staring, and Leia to keep glancing at him nervously. Finally Leia told Ben, "I have something for you."

Ben raised an eyebrow.

Leia went to the kitchen counter and came back with a covered box. "For you to take home."

Ben looked inside and saw cookies and not just any cookies, but his favorite - vwellu nut and chocolate chip cookies, freshly homemade as of that morning. They smelled delightful. Ben felt like he'd been punched in the gut; his eyes stung. "Thank you," Ben told her.

Leia's eyes were also too bright, and then she walked away from the salad - Dennis took over - and wrapped her arms tight around Ben. "I don't care where you're from," Leia said. "You're my son. The Force sent you here so you could be with your family. I'm sorry for what that... other... one... did to you. I'd be lying if I said I had a great relationship with Kylo, but I'm not like her, and I'm trying. I want to do right by you, if you'll let me."

Ben didn't know what to say. His throat felt like it had closed up, and he couldn't stop the tears.

"Here." Leia handed him a handkerchief. "Dry your eyes, baby. Go out there and ask Daddy to pack a bowl for you."

When Ben had pulled himself together a bit, he headed out to the backyard. Han was using the Force to assemble the finished grilled meats onto different trays, including putting the nerfburgers and sausages in buns. "Hey," Ben said, "uh... Leia... Mom... says pack a bowl."

"I'll do it," Malak said, producing the weed he carried everywhere.

The Solos and their guests smoked and ate, as sunset became dusk. When dinner was finished, Dennis and Ben helped with cleanup, and Han brought out ice-cold Corellian ale for those who wanted it.

"It's good to see you getting more comfortable with the Force," Sev told his apprentice.

Han nodded. "I don't know that I'm comfortable all the way, but I'm getting there." He took a swig of ale and rolled his eyes. "There's still some shit about the Force that weirds me out, man."

"Such as...?"

Han took a deep breath. "Do any of you have weird dreams? Visions?"

Sifo's hand shot up, followed by Malak's. Dooku conceded, "I do from time to time, but not as frequently as Sifo does." Sev and Mace nodded to concur this was their own experience.

Han sat back in his lawnchair. "I keep having this dream over and over again. I'm back on the Millennium Falcon except it's not the Falcon. It's a ship called the Ebon Hawk, and I'm me but I'm not me... my name is Atton Rand, or Jaq if you know me."

Sifo's eyes widened. "How curious. I have those same dreams."

"We can't both be Atton, though, right? That's not how the Force works." Han frowned.

Malak cleared his throat. "Well, actually..." He started packing a second bowl. "You're gonna need this," he explained.

Han waited, and once Han had taken the inaugural puff of the new bowl, Malak went on. "About four thousand years ago, give or take, most of us knew each other, or our paths had crossed or connected in other ways. We are what the Whills call a ka-tet, a group of people who incarnate together and find their way to each other to work together for a specific purpose. It's like being part of a big cosmic family. The problem is, it also means you have a great big fuckin' cosmic target sign on your back. People in a ka-tet have a tendency of being killed, one by one, and with each loss, the ka-tet grows weaker, making the people therein more vulnerable."

"OK, so..."

"So..." The bowl was making its way around the yard. Malak steepled his hands, waiting. "I knew both Atton Rands. I was responsible for why there are two."

"...what."

Malak nodded. "To make a very long story short, Revan and I did a Sith alchemy experiment to outsmart our enemy. It involved making multiple universes, which you've seen demonstrated by the arrival of Ben. It also resulted in making separate iterations of Revan, Meetra Surik, and Atton Rand, because the three of you had the greatest influence of our ka-tet in the outcome of our little story, which would in turn influence the history of each universe and set the stage for when we were coming back. By making different Meetras and Attons in particular, it was a form of insurance - you were harder to kill with the same old tricks our enemy was using. And then we arranged for the reincarnated Meetras and Attons to double up where the universes were the most fucked up, so we wouldn't have to keep reincarnating over and over again to try to fix the same shit over and over again and keep going through the same shit over and over again. What we went through four thousand years ago is bad enough, what we're going through now is going to get even worse before it's over, hell no, I'm not doing this another time. So you and Sifo are both here in this universe to help us achieve our objective." Malak puffed hard as soon as the bowl came back to him.

"OK, you're talking crazy fucking shit," Han snapped. "I was frozen in carbonite once, so I know what I'm talking about. There is a line of crazy, and you, sir, have just crossed that line."

"...You were frozen in carbonite?" Sifo-Dyas smirked. "Funny, so was I."

Han's jaw dropped, then he closed it. "Really."

"Yes. Dooku here killed me under order from his Sith Master, Darth Sidious. He then froze my body, with the hopes of eventually resurrecting me. Since Dooku is my best friend, I forgave him for this once I was resurrected."

Han's eyebrows went up. "Darth Vader blackmailed my best friend, Lando Calrissian, into using his carbonite facility. Lando always felt responsible for me getting frozen."

Jocasta, ever the historian, poked Han gently and said, "You mean Baron Lando Calrissian."

"Yeah. Baron is like a Count, right?" Then Han grinned at Dooku. "Does that cape come in gold?"[2]

Dooku bitchfaced so hard Sev thought it was a wonder his face didn't fall off.

Malak nodded. "If you dig, you'll find a number of parallels between you, just like there are parallels between Meetras, though it's a bit different with the Meetras that would take an entire evening to explain and would get even more awkward to explain than this conversation has, so let's not go there right now."

"So, I know my wife was one," Han said. "Who's the other?"

"Who wants dessert?" Dennis asked, poking his head out the patio door.

Sifo gestured at Dennis.

The bowl came back around, and Han felt like he needed to smoke an entire bowl to himself, or maybe even two or three bowls. Really, there was not enough weed in the Galaxy for any of this. "So can I ask a stupid question?" Han asked.

"It's probably not stupid," Malak said. He made the "go on" gesture.

Han took a deep breath. "If there's different Revans, and Atton Rands, and Meetra Suriks, but everyone else is the same... uh... are our relationships all the same?"

"I don't think so," Sifo said. "Your wife was your iteration's Meetra Surik, yes?" Han nodded. "Were you involved then?" Han nodded. "What gender was this person, if I may ask?"

"Female," Han said.

"The one I travelled with was male," Sifo said, "and I was heterosexual then, as I am now."

"Sifo's the token straight friend," Dennis quipped. Since nobody had replied to the dessert inquiry, Leia just brought out brownies for people to take as they would.

"So who were you with, then, if anybody?" Han asked.

Sifo cocked his head towards Jocasta. "Brianna."

Leia took a hit of the pipe. "I remember you," she said, "but you were... um... you had a female partner, in our worldline. A Mandalorian bounty hunter named Mira."

"Yes, I also remember that." Jocasta blushed.

Dooku wanted to hide somewhere; Mira had reincarnated as his sister, Irina Dooku-Fett. It was already bad enough Brianna was Kreia's daughter and he remembered giving birth to Brianna in vivid, excruciating detail.

Ben made a little Wookiee noise and he said to Leia, "You weren't... with... Revan... I hope?"

Leia also made a Wookiee noise. "No. Dear Force, no."

Dennis's eyebrows shot up. He had in fact remembered being in a relationship with Revan in the last years of his Meetra incarnation, and he'd dismissed it because he assumed that Revan was Kylo Ren and he was not remotely interested in Kylo, nor did Kylo feel quite like the Revan he remembered, and the disinterested feeling seemed mutual. It had in fact been this lack of pull towards Kylo's Revan that made Dennis question whether his past life memories were legitimate or not. But now... oh shit, really? If Ben was the Revan he'd travelled with, that explained... a little too much. And this is incredibly fucking awkward.

"So you were straight?" Han asked Sifo.

Sifo nodded solemnly. "As an arrow."

That means he didn't fuck Malak. Han found himself weirdly relieved by this. He didn't understand why - he and Malak weren't in a relationship, they were just acquaintances right now, barely even friends this time around, and Malak was married, to boot, it wasn't like he owned the kid... but the relief flooded him just the same. Han cracked open a second bottle of Corellian ale.

Ben felt a panic attack coming on, triggered by the sight of Han Solo drinking. He understood logically that this Han Solo was not the same as the one who had raised him in his universe, and he understood logically that this Han Solo was a moderate drinker, not the alcoholic he'd grown up with... but trauma responses had a tendency of overriding logic. Ben tried to fight it and stay put, but the internal pressure got too much, and he bolted.

"Ah shit," Dennis said. "I gotta go after him."

"Remember the cookies," Leia said. Dennis gave her a quick kiss, and then he was off to make sure Ben didn't wander off into trouble.

Ben's abrupt departure, and where he was clearly upset out of nowhere, created an awkward, tense silence in the group. Han was just about to call it a night, and then Severin said, "Well, since we've been talking about connections and such, there's something that I think a couple people here need to see." He turned to Mace Windu. Mace felt his stomach drop into his knees.

The Restorers were only able to resurrect the dead with a midichlorian count of 5k or higher, and then, only if there was some form of remains, or an item like a holocron where a part of the soul had been hidden. Mace knew when he was resurrected that he had no hope of Raskta being returned to him - she was gone. He'd thrown himself into his work on the Jedi side of the New Force Order, not even so much as looking up what had become of Raskta Yusanis after his death during the Clone Wars.

Reine's jaw dropped when she saw the holopicture of Raskta Yusanis, who looked just like her in terms of facial features and build, but the Echani Senator had pale skin, eyes, and hair, while Reine's was all in shades of brown. Reine had learned enough about Echani biology from Malak to know that Echani tended to bear strong resemblances to parents and grandparents, and the Echani DNA was malleable enough that if they produced children with non-Echani, the non-Echani traits tended to be dominant - like the dark hair and pointy ears that Sev, Dennis, and Malak had inherited from their Alameenian mother.

Finn also looked perplexed as he studied the picture.

"This is Raskta Yusanis," Sev said, "my aunt. She was the Senator from Eshan during the last days of the Republic, and had a relationship with Master Windu over there, which the Jedi Order didn't know about. After Mace was killed during the Clone Wars, Senator Yusanis returned home to Eshan on medical leave, to stay with her parents for awhile."

Sev pulled up another picture, of the grandparents he'd never met, who had a small, dark-skinned boy with them who Sev had also never met. "This is Teodor Yusanis, aka Teddy, who was the ward of the Senator's parents following her death."

Another picture, of a young man who looked a lot like Finn but had a goatee and was dressed more formally. "Here's another picture of Teddy Yusanis, all grown up. Now he's Senator Teddy, in this picture."

Finn gasped. "What. The. Fuck."

Sev sat back in his chair. "Teddy married a Mandalorian woman, and they were killed a year into their marriage. This was also the same year that Finn and Reine were born; they would have been a few months old when this happened." Sev turned to Reine. "You said you have no memory of your parents, right?"

Reine shook her head. "I was told I was brought to the orphanage when I was still a baby."

"And I was still a baby when the First Order took me to be a Stormtrooper," Finn said.

Sev steepled his hands. "There's enough coincidences happening here that I think the three of you need to have a comparative DNA test done to determine if this - and your paths crossing - is truly coincidence or not."

Finn and Reine looked at each other, and then back at Sev, and nodded.

Sev pulled out the medical kit he carried with him. "I can take a blood sample from you now, bring it to the lab, and you guys will know in a few days -"

There was a sharp intake of breath from Mace. "I didn't agree to this," Mace said.

Sev put his hand on his hip. "Come on, don't be that guy," Sev said. "It's pretty damn obvious my cousin Teddy was your son, Uncle, and if so, you have a responsibility to any grandchildren you might have."

Mace closed his eyes. "And you're right. But I've been spending the last four years trying to..." He shook his head and let out a shuddery sigh. "Raskta isn't coming back, and I didn't want to feel any of this..."

Finn and Reine both hugged him, and Mace broke down, crying.

"You've never had a chance to really mourn her, have you?" Leia asked Mace.

"No," Mace said. "Jedi don't mourn the dead."

Dooku grunted. Mace shot Dooku a glare. "Yeah, don't get started on the 'this is what's wrong with the Jedi' bullshit, pal," Mace told his old friend.

"I don't need to," Dooku said smugly. But then his tone softened and he patted Mace's back. "If the problems of the Jedi Order would be corrected, it needs to start somewhere. It is time the Jedi stopped seeing normal, natural emotions as a direct path to the Dark Side. Expecting a person to be serene in the face of tremendous pain is not the healthiest attitude to cultivate. Malak and I are trying to restore honor to the Sith; maybe the Force is calling you to restore humanity to the Jedi."

Mace nodded, and then he said, "I'd also be mourning her alone, if I did. Nobody else around here knew her."

"No," Sev said, "but she was my aunt. I'd never met her, but that doesn't change the fact that she was my blood. My brothers and I, if no one else, would stand with you if you wanted to hold a small memorial... and I think you should, for closure."

"We'd be there too," Finn said, "regardless of what the DNA test says."

"But I think we all already know," Sev said.

"Let's get this over with." Mace rolled up his sleeve. "How soon will we have the results?"

"Four days."

"It's gonna be the longest damn four days of my life."

_

Dennis's speeder bike got in Ben's way, and Dennis gestured. "Hop on," he said.

"I'm not going back to the party," Ben said. "I can't."

"I know. I'm gonna take you home."

Ben got on the speeder. They rode back to their apartment in the New Force Order Temple housing complex, in silence. After a few minutes Ben broke the silence with, "I'm sorry."

"Why did you leave?"

Ben took a deep breath, and showed Dennis, in the Force. Dennis pulled the speeder over and climbed off to hold Ben tight. Then Dennis took Ben's face in his hands and he said, "Look. I still think it would be a good idea for you to reach out to this Han and Leia. They would like you to be their son, and they're good people. If they weren't good people, I wouldn't be fucking Le-." His voice trailed off and he looked away; Ben didn't need to be reminded of that just now. Then Dennis looked back at Ben again. "But, if you're not ready, you're not ready. You just got here, we can take a little time if you need to."

"I'm gonna need time for... a few things." Ben let that sentence hang there, and Dennis had a pretty good idea of what Ben was referring to.

"Yeah, I get it." Dennis nodded. He climbed back on the driver's seat of the speeder.

Ben took a shower when they got back, and when he came out of the 'fresher in his pajamas, he poked his head in Dennis's bedroom - Dennis was curled up in the fetal position, looking sad.

"You all right?" Ben asked him.

Dennis didn't know how to answer that. He felt like a group of wild bantha was pulling him in different directions and he was going to break.

"So uh, I can't eat these cookies Leia made all by myself. There's too many of them."

Ben and Dennis had cookies and chocolate milk at the kitchen table in their pajamas, "because we're grown-ass motherfucking adults," Dennis said, and then he made an awkward face and said, "Well, I'm the motherfucker, anyway."

Ben almost sprayed cookies on the table. He shook his head, laughing.

They didn't finish the entire box of cookies - there were enough to have a few more tomorrow. Ben felt a little better, and before they headed to their respective bedrooms, Ben paused, and said to Dennis, "Thank you for today."

Dennis hugged him. "You're welcome."

"Today, for the most part, things stopped feeling like all hopeless bullshit, all the time."

Dennis nodded. "Like I said earlier - it will get better. It won't change the past, but you're still here and that means you have a future."

"...Yeah." Ben gave a small, sad smile. He turned around to walk towards his bedroom and then he said, "Good night, Dennis."

"Good night, Revan. I mean... Ben."

Ben looked at Dennis over his shoulder, but Dennis had already turned his back, shutting the door gently behind him.

Chapter Text

The following day, Qui-Gon reported the site with the disturbance in the Force to Dooku, and gave him the coordinates so he could verify the claim for himself before telling Maul. While Dooku was investigating, Sev had his lessons with Han Solo, and Dennis had his lessons with Leia. There was a Knights of Ren meeting scheduled for late that afternoon, and Sev made sure his brother was on time. As they rode together on a speeder bike back to the New Force Order Temple, Sev felt a strange sense of foreboding that he couldn't explain.

Before Sev and Dennis arrived, Kylo Ren and his wife Valyeris had a private word in their bedroom.

"Are you planning on finally telling them about my condition today?" Valyeris asked him. Of the Knights of Ren, only Kylo, Valyeris, and Malak knew that Valyeris was pregnant; Kylo had originally planned on announcing it before the Darthing party for Sev, Valyeris and Reine that got interrupted by Ben's arrival.

Kylo shook his head. "No," he said.

"Why not?"

Kylo looked out the window for a moment, before looking at her. "In light of recent circumstances and the way they are altering the landscape, I have decided against telling the others until such time as your condition can no longer be concealed, or one of them senses it in the Force and inquires, or revealing the information is necessary to your life."

Valyeris set her jaw. "May I ask why?"

Kylo took a deep breath. "There is potentially a strategic purpose to withholding this information."

"Very well."

They returned to the living room, and a few minutes later, Sev and Dennis walked through the door.

Sev's eyes widened, and then narrowed, when he saw Anakin Skywalker sitting on the couch.

"Hello," Anakin said, casually.

Sev looked at Anakin, and then he looked at Kylo, and then he looked back at Anakin, and then back at Kylo. "What's he doing here?" Sev asked. "This is a Knights of Ren meeting. He's not a Knight of Ren...?"

"Grandfather is not officially in the Knights of Ren or the First Order, no," Kylo explained, "but I have asked him to serve as a consultant to our group."

"I see." Sev looked at Anakin again, and then he raised an eyebrow at Kylo. "May I have a word with you, Commander?"

Sev walked Kylo into the kitchen, and then Sev leaned against the sink counter, his arms folded. Kylo's facial expression remained neutral, while the ire was obvious on the face of Severin Yusanis.

"Let me be really real with you," Sev told him. "This is bullshit."

Kylo's tone was also neutral as he replied. "I find that a curious response, Colonel Yusanis. You know Grandfather's history with the Empire. We are in the Empire business. We need his expertise on board."

"Well, about that." Sev's hands went to his hips. He squared his shoulders. "First of all, if you want to make that argument, Sidious would have been a better choice for consultant because the Empire was his. He was the Emperor. He planned and orchestrated everything. All Vader did with the Empire, was ultimately under his orders. But obviously, Sidious is not here with us." The fucking womprat bastard can eat shit in Corellian hell hung almost audibly at the end of Sev's sentence. "I mean, this is like having a Kermit the Frog puppet as our consultant but the guy who puts his hand up Kermit's butt and makes him talk isn't here."

Kylo bristled, but he waited for Sev to go on, and he did.

"The other problem with this logic is that your grandfather has already demonstrated more than once that he is incapable of conducting himself in a professional manner. You know, for example, that he objected to my Darthing, a title that I earned per the rules of the New Force Order Temple as they stood at that time. You yourself had to have a word with him, as you said. And this unfortunately was not an isolated incident. Before I went to Serenno, before the original Darthing party for you, Malak, and Dennis, your grandfather took me into his office to speak to me about a 'concern' of his." Severin made air quotes. "That 'concern' turned out to be my relationship with Tyranus, and Vader telling me that Tyranus is just using me and doesn't really love me, and blah, blah, blah. He was trying to fucking manipulate me into not being with Tyranus. My bondmate. Who is sacred to me. I also know all that 'Dooku's fuckboy' shit on the side of the Sith Order is from your grandfather, or at least most of it is. Which is super classy."

Kylo paused for a moment to consider his response, and then he said, calmly, "Part of being a mature, reasonable adult is learning to work with people you dislike, and with whom you disagree from time to time."

"And part of being in a military operation is being on the same page with your fellow soldiers and allies and trusting them to not stab you in the back because they're being a whiny little bitch over something that didn't even involve you, decades ago. I don't know why Anakin has it in for Tyranus so bad - the 'he cut off my arm' grudge stops being valid with all the shit Vader did - but I know Anakin has been taking it out on me, and I'm not really in favor of him 'consulting' me in life-or-death military operations such as the term 'Empire business' suggests, when he's actively worked to sabotage me." Severin folded his hands, looked down, and then looked up, meeting Kylo's eyes. "In an adult, real-world job setting, if a co-worker is behaving like an obnoxious shit to other people in the office, it's the boss's job to do something about it because it does in fact disturb the functionality of the office. You don't reward bad behavior, such of the kind that your grandfather has repeatedly demonstrated. And look - I know he's your grandfather and you idolize him, but he's your blind spot and this is the point where your blind eye to his bullshit has compromised operations. He is not professional enough to work with us, and if you're going to insist on it anyway after me trying to address concerns with you like a mature, reasonable adult, then tonight I'm going to have a bit of a chat with the Supreme Leader and see what his opinion is about all of this."

For the first time since Severin Yusanis had been recruited into the First Order, Kylo Ren finally saw the face of Severin's ancestor and prior incarnation, the General he had been during the Old Republic, four thousand years ago - the warhawk who had been so crucial in guiding the Revanchists to victory against the Mandalorians. That Yusanis was a jokester, with a casual, jovial, irreverent, flippant attitude unnervingly similar to the one Severin had in his present incarnation. But General Yusanis had moments where the "I don't give a fuck" attitude gave way to moments of terrifying seriousness - enough that it was suspected some of the trollishness was an act designed to disarm others so when his warhawk nature did manifest itself, it made more of an impact. Kylo Ren was seeing this in Severin, now. That smile hid teeth. Very sharp, carnivorous teeth. And of course Tyranus saw this in his bondmate more clearly than anyone else did, and had been subtly, gradually sharpening those teeth with his influence. Kylo almost felt like congratulating Tyranus.

Almost.

Kylo and Sev just looked at each other, and the temperature in the kitchen began to rise; Sev's green eyes were rimmed with gold. After a few moments of silence passed, Malak stood in the doorway. "Is everything all right in here?" Malak asked.

"No, it's not all right," Sev told his eldest triplet brother. "It's not all right at all."

"Whoa, damn," Malak said when he saw Sev's eyes. Before Malak could inquire further, the alarms went off. "Oh, what the fuck," Malak yelled.

"This better not be another fucking Kylo counterpart," Sev quipped, referencing the very dramatic arrival of Ben Skywalker-Solo the last time those alarms sounded.

The automated voice came over the intercom from the sidewalk: "ALL STAFF MEMBERS, JEDI KNIGHTS AND SITH LORDS ARE TO REPORT TO THE NEW FORCE ORDER TEMPLE IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

"Son of a bitch," Malak said.

On their way out of the apartment, Kylo turned to Dennis and said, "Ben needs to be brought to the New Force Order Temple. He serves the Temple now, he has to help with whatever is happening here."

Dennis nodded and broke off into a run down to the apartment he and Ben shared.

Once at the New Force Order Temple, the reports came - a dirty bomb (regular explosives mixed with radioactive material) had been set off in the center of the city. Unlike a full nuclear bomb, the scope of radiation from a dirty bomb was more limited, and as such the death toll would be smaller and evacuations less likely to be needed outside of the immediate range of the blast. The dirty bomb was a form of psychological warfare first and foremost, intended to cause mass panic by those who feared widespread lethal doses of radiation, and also intended to disrupt normal functions within the city and cause chaos. Most of downtown would have to be decontaminated, requiring a partial shutdown of the city, and there were those who were killed and seriously injured in the immediate vicinity of the blast. The Restorers could only resurrect the dead with a midichlorian count of 5k or higher, so minimizing the death toll was a priority.

Droids were being sent into the city for decontamination. The Jedi were being dispatched into the city to use the Force to calm the panic and provide emergency services as necessary - rescuing people from fallen structures, using the Force to assist with things like putting out fires caused by the explosion - and the Sith were being assigned as extra security and riot police if necessary. The Knights of Ren were being assigned to hunt for the culprits who set off the bomb - there was surveillance footage and they also had the use of the Force to aid their search, like a dog going after scent. To cover as much ground as possible they were being split into teams, and Ben was being assigned to the hunt even though he was not a Knight of Ren. The teams were Kylo and Valyeris, Malak and Reine, and Dennis and Ben, which left Severin as the odd seventh person.

Sev spoke up. "I'm a combat medic. They're going to need medics out there to handle the injured."

Sev was given the location of the triage facility set up in the city, and quickly embraced Dooku before taking off on a speeder bike.

On the way into the city, Sev's ass smarted against the vibration of the speeder's engine. Dooku had given him quite a lot of spankings last night for being so sassy to him at the Solos', and then Sev had been bent over and plowed to climax after climax. It was wild, and Sev felt himself hardening just thinking about it. He and Dooku had definitely unleashed a monster inside themselves - it was a little frightening how hungry they both were, how intense their lust for each other... lust fueled by love.

Sev reached out to Dooku in the Force, and Dooku reached back. Stay safe, my own, Dooku spoke into his mind.

You too.

When Sev arrived at the triage tent village, he was just in time to see a med evac speeder unload more patients. Sev hopped off the speeder bike and approached the first doctor he saw. "Colonel Severin Yusanis," he introduced himself, "First Order combat medic. Where am I needed?"

The doctor, a Twi'lek, sniffed in distaste at the mention of the First Order, but directed Sev to the supervisor. Because Sev's background he was assigned to triage classifications, greeting emergency medics with new arrivals at the door and given a brief clinical report of each case where he would determine how to tag the injured. When the triage facility slowed down and stopped processing so many new arrivals, Sev would be assigned to the team working on those in the Immediate category.

There were four classifications for the wounded - Immediate, Delayed, Minimal, and Expectant. Immediate was given a red tag - they were the most severely wounded who still had a chance of survival. Delayed varied in severity of injuries, but were of less urgency than Immediate, and were given a yellow tag. Minimal were injuries that might be serious but were considered non-life-threatening - something one might go to the emergency room for in normal circumstances, like a broken arm or a wound requiring stitches, but was further down on the list of priority care when all available medical staff were being pushed to their limit working on those closer to death; Minimal cases were tagged green. Expectant cases were mortal wounds, where death seemed imminent unless complicated and prolonged treatment was offered, and there were no available resources for that at present; Expectants were tagged Black. Expectants got palliative care, only.

While Sev understood that someone would want to escort their family to emergency medical treatment, he hated dealing with family members of Expectants given the black tag and if he had been running the triage facility from the beginning he wouldn't have had the waiting room in the first place, knowing it would be a problem. That night he was screamed at no less than three times for "condemning them to die". One of those Expectants he was screamed at about was a small child. It was hard enough to make these judgment calls without being guilted and shamed by people who didn't work in the medical profession and didn't understand that everybody was doing quite literally everything they could. At one point Sev had to get security to escort a belligerent husband who tried to pull someone away from the Immediate team to operate on his Expectant wife already starting to die - Sev would have taken care of it himself, but he didn't want to create even more panic by demonstrating aggressive Force use - and from then on Sev closed the waiting room and family members were sent away. He was yelled at about that, too, but he wasn't going to have his operating rooms interrupted again and couldn't take chances with making exceptions for the "no visitors" rule.

By the time the intake load had slowed enough that Sev was called to scrub in and join the surgical team working on the remaining Immediate and higher-priority Delayed patients, he was badly shaken. He spent an extra moment in the 'fresher to splash cold water on his face and take deep breaths. Now is not the time to choke, he told himself - freezing up while he had to operate or participate in some other intensive care would be disastrous. He thought of Dooku, and his quiet strength - he thought about what Dooku would have been like as a Jedi on missions, handling catastrophic situations, the calm in the eye of the storm. Now is the time to follow your Master's example. And you've done this before. He had not practiced medicine since arriving on Arcturus, but the knowledge was all there. He used to get in "the zone" when he had simulation tests in med school, and again during training sims when he was a new recruit in the First Order, and the few times he'd been on the field before being brought to Arcturus. It was time to get in "the zone". Time to put your game face on. Sev looked at himself in the mirror, used some more water to slick his hair back, set his jaw, and walked out into what felt like a whirlwind.

Sev was up all night, working into the morning, on patient after patient - severe burns, amputations, major wounds, major fractures. In addition to conventional medical treatment, he spent a few minutes pushing Force energy into each patient. There was only so much he could do, as one person, and only so much he could give without exhausting himself and shorting his staff a necessary doctor, but he had to try.

As Sev worked on the injured, he was reminded of why he'd chosen to go to medical school, a decade ago. When you had hurting people on the table, and the balance of life or death was in your hands, it didn't matter what species they were, where they came from, what their background was. They were someone's mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, friend, lover, someone who did something somewhere that kept that corner of the world together, running the way it was supposed to. Sev knew what it was like to lose someone, having lost his parents at age six. If medics had arrived at his parents' home sooner, they might have been able to be saved; if Sev had been older and knew emergency medicine, he could have done something. His life had been permanently altered by the loss of his parents - not just the immediate shock and grief, but the way it had changed everything, with him and his brothers having to move from their estate on Eshan to a poor district of Coronet City on Corellia. Being near-human off-worlders on Corellia, where a lot of people were xenophobic and Sev got the occasional slur about being pointy-eared, and was bullied in grade school for being different. If he could save one life, he could prevent the chain reaction of disaster that would rip apart another family and fit pieces where they didn't belong.

On assignments like this, staff took nap shifts - Sev was getting a four-hour break for food and sleep; another wave of casualties was being brought in as Sev scrubbed out, and one of the doctors explained to him that there had been two copycat attacks with regular explosives at opposite ends of the city, the city was now under martial law, and there was rioting. Sev shuddered and took a deep breath, reaching out to Dooku in the Force, desperately hoping he was all right.

Are you all right, little one? was Dooku's response.

Force. Sev restrained a bitter laugh. I'm gonna be here awhile.

Dooku informed Sev via their Force bond that one of the suspects of the dirty bomb had been apprehended and taken into custody, and was being interrogated. The people responsible for one of the two copycat attacks were also in custody.

Get those fuckers, was what Sev had to say about it.

And then as Sev tried to sleep, he made a noise of disgust. He no longer minded being Sith - he accepted being of the Dark Side, that what made him tick was righteous anger at injustice; he accepted that severity was necessary when dealing with those whose language was brutality. But he had come to hate the First Order. He'd tried to give the First Order a fair chance, but many things about it were not sitting well with him, least of all the lack of choice it inflicted on people like Finn, like him and Dennis - you couldn't clean up the Galaxy and bring about reform and talk about "the greater good" if you were treating your own like slaves. And Vader being brought on as a consultant bothered Sev. If Dooku had lived, Order 66 would not have happened. Dooku was not a saint, and he had a lot of blood on his hands, but even at his worst there were lines he would not cross; Vader murdered younglings, Vader destroyed Alderaan. Whatever Severin's personal feelings towards Vader, he felt Vader was very much the wrong person to have on board if the First Order wanted "a different kind of Empire", as Kylo Ren had so often claimed. But Sev's personal history with Vader just made it more intolerable. Kylo didn't even care that Vader had disrespected him like this, and that didn't bode well for civilian subjects of the First Order being treated with respect and common decency.

So his path was quite clear - he needed to go back to medicine full-time. He hated losing patients - the death he'd seen last night weighed heavily on him. But even more than he hated the occasional patient dying, he hated being part of a military junta that looked like it was on its way to causing more death and destruction than Vader's Empire ever had.

And he knew if he left the First Order, he was signing his own death warrant. He would be on the run for the rest of his life, to be executed on sight if caught... and in a Galaxy where Kylo Ren might become Emperor, there was nowhere he'd be safe, not even the Outer Rim. Severin had dreamed, when he was in med school, of starting an organization called Doctors Without Frontiers, physicians going to emergency situations across the Galaxy... rather like a medical version of what the Jedi had been. That dream might be closer to becoming reality if he had to run from the First Order.

Sev wondered if Dooku would be on board with this. He knew Dooku wanted to go back to Serenno - and he would like nothing better, himself, to live there with him. But he didn't know if that was going to be a possibility, and he wondered if Dooku's sexual and romantic interest would fade if he accompanied Sev on the run.

Sev was too exhausted to mull this over much further - he slept, and was woken by the alarm to scrub in again. More casualties were pouring in, and he went back to triage assessments until he was called back to deal with the Immediates and Delayed cases.

Word came that night - the rioting had stopped, though martial law would remain in place until the government of Arcturus declared otherwise. The incoming med evac arrivals were less frequent, and it looked like Sev might be able to go home tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.

After another meal and nap cycle, Sev worked on a few more patients, watching as transports were beginning to be made from the triage tent village to the hospital in the city. One of the directors at the hospital pulled Sev over to thank him - the same Twi'lek doctor who'd sniffed with disdain when Sev arrived and mentioned his First Order affiliation - and gave him a business holocard, which would dial his holophone if activated. "We could use another doctor on staff," he said, "and I couldn't help but notice you're Force-sensitive. We really, really need a Force healer to give us that little extra touch."

"So you're offering me a job," Sev said, incredulous.

The doctor nodded.

Sev took a deep breath. "As you know, I'm with the First Order. I'd love to take the position -"

"Name your price."

Sev smiled. "It's not just money. I can't resign without consequences."

The doctor astutely read through the lines of what "consequences" meant. "The medical care system here is managed by the government. If the government of Arcturus offered you full political asylum and its protection for you to do what is essentially working for them... would you take the job?"

Well, that solves my problem. However, Sev felt he had to at least try to get Snoke to understand Kylo Ren's judgment lapses meant him as potentially the next Emperor was a bad idea. So Sev gave a short nod, and then said, "Probably. I need to consider a few things, but I will be in touch with you."

The doctor shook his hand. "Thank you."

After a couple more cases, Sev was finally given leave to go back home. He'd been at the triage tent village for two and a half days. The first thing Sev noticed when he got on his speeder bike was how much he ached. The second thing he noticed was how much he stank - his hands were washed frequently as sterile procedure demanded, but the rest of him...

The third thing was a wave of panic about whether or not the cats were all right. He drove the speeder bike faster, and didn't even bother to park it in the parking lot - he hopped off at the door of his and Dooku's apartment, and practically flew inside.

Mercifully, Dooku had been able to return home for brief periods of time over the last two and a half days to take care of the cats - and Sev knew that the cats were Dooku's precious babies too and he wouldn't forget about their needs and would have arranged for someone to come in and tend to them if he couldn't - but still... Sev couldn't help worrying. The cats were in fact eating at their food dishes when Sev walked in, and continued to eat as Sev called out, "Hello? I'm home..."

Sev walked towards the cats. "Babies!"

Drogo, Pookie and Pumpkin turned around, noses in the air, and marched away to show Sev they were pissed off at being ignored for "forever". Sev knew soon enough they'd come around for pettings, especially if he bribed them with treats to show he was sorry.

Sev heard the shower running. Oh, good... Sev stripped off his funky First Order uniform, and let himself into the 'fresher, joining his bondmate in the shower.

Dooku pulled Sev close, and held him tight. For a few minutes they just leaned on each other, holding each other underneath the shower's warm rain - it had been a very long two and a half days, and they were exhausted, not just physically, but emotionally. The crisis in the city had taken its toll on both of them.

They were both so exhausted that as sensual as their touch was when they lathered each other, they were too worn out to turn it into anything more. Dooku helped Sev out of the 'fresher when they were finished, and Sev collapsed onto the bed.

"Sweetheart," Dooku asked him, "what and when have you eaten?"

Sev told him. Dooku made a sound of disapproval, and after they changed into pajamas, Dooku marched into the kitchen. Sev was half-asleep when the door chime rang, and then a few minutes later Dooku came in with a tray and a couple of large food containers, dishes and utensils.

"I ordered out," Dooku said. "I would have cooked, but..."

Sev nodded groggily. "Yeah. Neither of us are in that kind of shape right now."

Dooku climbed in bed with him, and they ate there - Dooku usually frowned on that sort of thing, but Sev looked so completely shattered that Dooku didn't want to try to transport him to the kitchen or the living room. The seasoned rice, nerfsteak and vegetables of one of the entrees were particularly appetizing to Sev, and Dooku took pleasure in seeing his enthusiasm with the food; Sev ate with gusto, just like he made love, just like he fought.

Dooku waited for Sev to get mostly through his meal before he informed him, "We have to be at the Temple bright and early tomorrow."

"...All right."

"There was another suspect apprehended in the first bombing. It is looking like the Bando Gora is behind the terrorist attack."

"Ah, shit."

Dooku nodded. "They are a very, very dangerous cult, not to mention delusional. They believe that non-Force-sensitives will be awakened to the Force through crises such as the situation they caused with the bombing - that people seeing death and destruction, suffering through chaos, will somehow 'open their eyes' and channel the Force into them."

"Do these fuckers not understand how science works? Force sensitivity or lack thereof is determined by midichlorians. Little bugs that live in your blood. You don't magically get more little bugs in your bloodstream from living through hell."

Dooku groaned, pinched the bridge of his nose, and gave Sev a look. "Yes, dear, but that's such a..." He gestured. "Indelicate... way of putting it."

"I'm a doctor, Dooku, not an aesthetician."

Dooku's glare intensified. "On that note..."

"Oh boy." Sev took a deep breath, and told Dooku about the offer from the hospital.

Dooku said, "While it would mean a delay in us returning to Serenno to live, I would rather have this as your transition out of the First Order, truly."

"Well, it's a bit more complicated than that." Sev proceeded to tell Dooku about the business with Vader, and the threat he made to Kylo Ren... which was not an empty threat.

Dooku's eyebrows went up and he took a moment before he replied. "I'm proud of you for standing up for yourself," Dooku said, "especially standing up for yourself to someone like him."

Sev nodded and set his jaw. "I am getting really done with allowing people to walk all over me." He leered at Dooku. "Only you get to boss me around, and you make that... enjoyable."

Dooku stroked Sev's face, smiling at him fondly. Then he used the Force to clip the leash into the O-ring in Sev's collar, wrapping the leash around his hand.

And then Dooku went on. "However, you should realize that Snoke put Kylo Ren in the position he's in, and Snoke has known Kylo Ren for a very long time. That includes knowing Kylo's issues."

"Yes, but I think Snoke sent us here not just so we could become desensitized the concept of killing people, but also so Kylo could learn better people skills. Sheev wasn't a good guy, but he knew how to play the game of politics. Kylo doing stuff like this with Vader, where he's alienating the very people Snoke put in the Knights of Ren to help him or perhaps even keep an eye on him and keep his temper tantrums in check... well..."

"I'm simply saying, I do not think you should be optimistic about Snoke taking complaints about the Commander under advisement. And you also should understand that your life may very well be in danger now from what you said to Kylo. If he cannot be reasoned with, questioning his authority the way you did was a very dangerous thing to do. Brave, but foolish. It was like telling an animal you're hunting you're going to shoot it before you do so. This particular animal is a predator."

"Well, I guess we're lucky the Temple has autoregen and the Restorers are an hour away," Sev quipped.

"Child, that only applies if you're on Arcturus. Now that I know the other half of the situation, I don't even know that their offer of asylum can help you."

The silence hung heavily between them, and then Dooku tousled Sev's curls. "You haven't slept much in almost three days," Dooku said. "You should get some rest."

Sev looked at Dooku and tugged on the leash. "What about this?"

"What about it?"

"I'm sleeping on the leash?"

"Why not?"

Sev curled up in Dooku's arms and they fell asleep together, like that. Sev's dreams were troubled.

Sev's parents being murdered by two figures in hooded black robes wielding red lightsabers, like they were when Sev was six. Adult Sev runs to the hooded figures, and one of them turns to him - Sheev Palpatine.

Then Sev is standing at the ruins of the old Jedi Temple on Coruscant. He isn't alone.

Ben and Kylo duel on the steps of the Temple. Kylo beheads Ben, and Sev watches Ben's head roll, in horror. Dennis screams "NO" and runs after Kylo, and Kylo Force throws Dennis and when he goes down, Valyeris buries her lightsaber in his gut.

Then Malak steps out of literally nowhere and waves his hands, and there's a flash of white light and Sev's head hurts, and then the flash goes away and Dennis is standing and Ben's head is intact... and Han Solo steps forward on the other side of Malak. Han is wearing a black hooded robe, and activates his crossguard hilt lightsaber.

"Hello, son," Han says, just before he shoots Kylo with Force lightning.

Sev woke up with a start, screaming. His heart hammered in his ears.

Dooku's arms went around Sev. "Darling," he said, his voice husky from sleep.

"Idis..." Sev broke down crying.

"You had a nightmare, didn't you?"

Sev nodded. "We were all on Coruscant, except... we were fighting Kylo."

Dooku held Sev tight, petting him. "Sweetheart," he said. "You've been under a tremendous amount of stress the last few days."

Sev nodded. "It was probably just a nightmare..."

"...It may have been, it may not have been. It's important to recognize the effects of stress on the subconscious while still allowing room for the fact that the Force sometimes tells us things through dreams." Dooku took a deep breath. "I would suggest talking to Sifo-Dyas about the dream you had."

"It was horrible, Idis." Sev shuddered. He started crying again, harder.

Dooku held his bondmate as tightly as he could. When Sev's sobs got louder and more broken than Dooku had ever heard, Dooku tugged on the leash and took Sev's chin in his hand, tilting his face up so Sev could look at him. Then Dooku leaned in and began to kiss Sev's tears.

The unexpected show of tenderness from the elderly, still-somewhat-stuffy Sith Lord touched Sev and he wept afresh. Dooku rubbed noses with Sev before kissing him softly, and then more insistently. Their lips parted and tongues met, and they both groaned into the kiss. They had gone for close to three days without sexual release and the hunger overtook them both. With a growl, Dooku rolled Sev onto his back, and their hard cocks rubbed together as they kissed again and again.

"Fuck," Sev gasped. "Fuck me..."

Dooku kissed Sev's sensitive neck, down to his chest, to draw a nipple into his mouth. He nibbled on it and then soothed it with his tongue; Sev cried out, arching to him.

It wasn't long before Dooku was buried inside him. Their hips rolled together slowly. Sev's arms and legs were wrapped around Dooku, and they rocked gently back and forth. "I've got you," Dooku husked between kisses. "You are mine. I will always, always keep you safe."

"Daddy," Sev moaned.

"Yes, sweetheart." Dooku nibbled Sev's shoulder. "Papa's right here, little one."

Dooku had never minded Sev's kink, and in fact had been strangely aroused by it... but it was the first time he'd "played back", fully embracing the roleplay. The strangled sob Sev made at his response was promising.

Dooku played with the leash, but their lovemaking was sweet and sensual this time, rather than rough and fierce. They both needed that tender loving care... to take refuge in each other. That little word "Daddy" was Sev offering Dooku his brokenness, trusting him. You are my hero, Sev had told him more than once, and that was the ultimate fulfillment of that statement. Dooku had felt like such a failure, and it felt like they were approaching yet another mess that the Clone Wars had given birth to... but Sev believed in him, and Dooku was watching a transformation happen in his apprentice. Sev had come to him afraid of his own shadow, the "monster" that lived within, afraid to fight back after a lifetime of bullying. The fierce military leader Sev had once been, four thousand years earlier, was still in there, and was starting to wake up, with Dooku's guidance and example. Dooku could feel that fire in Sev, and he was drawn to it. It was awakening something inside him, as well, something that he thought died with him aboard the Invisible Hand. Here, now, they were yielding to each other, finding safety in each other's arms, a safety that seemed impossible to find in these troubled times. They were finding their strength, two male warriors worshiping, consecrating each other's swords.

"I love you," Sev whispered.

"I love you, my own." Dooku kissed him hard.

"Daddy..."

"Yes." Dooku kissed Sev again. And again.

"Mmmmm...." Sev kissed Dooku back.

"Nnnnnn." Dooku kissed the sweet spot where Sev's neck and shoulder met, and Sev gasped, digging his nails in Dooku's back. Dooku growled, loving the sting of Sev's nails in his flesh. How he'd missed that. He began to thrust just a little harder and faster; he took Sev's cock into his hand and began to stroke.

"Oh, yes, Daddy..." Sev scratched his nails down Dooku's back again, slow... deliciously slowly. Dooku shivered, feeling like fire and ice were running through his spine.

"My sweet boy." Dooku tugged on Sev's leash, claiming his mouth again, trailing kisses down Sev's throat, to pleasure Sev's peaked nipples.

Sev clutched at his head, bucking his hips. "More... Daddy... oh, fuck, more... yes..."

"So beautiful." He sipped at a nipple, lapped it, sucked it harder, before turning his attentions back to the other one. "Exquisite."

"Fuck..." Sev whimpered, shuddering. "Hnnnnn... mmmmm... ooohhhh..."

Kisses over Sev's chest... over his heart... nibbles on his collarbone. Dooku growled again. "I need you," he said.

Those words stabbed Sev in that deep place of love he held for his Master. He knew admitting that need was not an easy thing. His nails dug into Dooku's back once more. "I need you to need me," Sev told him.

"I will not lose you again." Dooku bit Sev's neck. "My precious, darling boy..."

"Daddy..." Sev raked Dooku's back, hard.

Dooku could feel the blood drawn, and he gave Sev a look almost like he was angry... before kissing him hard, and driving into him with abandon, pounding Sev into the mattress. They had made it last, loving, savoring, and now he needed to fuck. Needed to take what was his.

Sev screamed, raking Dooku's back again and again, bucking his hips against Dooku's, matching his rhythm. "Yes, yes, yes, fuck me," Sev cried out. "Fuck me, Daddy..."

Dooku growled into Sev's neck. "You little slut."

"FUCK!" Sev loved that. "I'm Daddy's slut..."

Dooku loved that too. He had no idea where that came from - probably the same primal, animal place that was making him plow Sev without mercy, fucking his bondmate's hot, delicious ass. Dooku groaned, kissing Sev's neck before nibbling some more. Continuing to thrust into Sev's tight wet heat, sheathing him perfectly. It was too good, and he wasn't going to last much longer. Neither of them were. Dooku licked the shell of Sev's ear, drawing the sensitive point into his mouth. Sev screamed, raking Dooku's back once more. "Daddy," Sev moaned. "Daddy, I'm so close..."

Dooku stroked Sev's cock as hard and as fast as he could, his own cock hitting Sev's prostate again and again. Sev felt like he was rising and expanding, pressure building and building, about to explode gloriously, but oh, he couldn't get enough of the frenzied rubbing, and the way Dooku was taking him like this, claiming him, his body completely under his Master's control...

Dooku was gasping for breath now, and their eyes met. "Severin," Dooku panted. "Now..."

"OH, IDIS, FUCK, YES," Sev roared, his cock blasting both of them with thick jets of hot cum. Dooku cried out as he let go, spending into Sev's contractions, the grip-and-release of Sev's insides drawing out his orgasm almost painfully. Dooku collapsed onto Sev, burying his face in Sev's shoulder, gasping, panting, moaning, shuddering. Sev held him tight, and cried again - this time with the intensity of his release, the overwhelming combination of passion, love, and joy as the Living Force sang with ecstasy through his body.

They held each other as they watched the sunrise. The cats joined them on the bed, basking in the first light of dawn. Things almost felt back to normal. But Sev and Dooku knew everything was about to change.

Chapter Text

Mace Windu was in a bad mood.

It was the day he'd be finding out the DNA test results that would either confirm or deny his biological relationship to Finn and Reine. He had a strong feeling that the DNA test would in fact confirm that Finn and Reine were his grandchildren, and he wasn't displeased by this - but it was also bringing up feelings that he'd been trying to avoid for the last four years, and it was as if the Force was telling him You can't run from your pain anymore. And he was terrified by that prospect. Not simply processing his grief for his beloved Raskta, but what that process would do to him. He was no Sith, but he already walked too close to the Dark Side for the comfort of the Jedi, and had for some time - his fighting style of Vaapad was chosen for that reason. It was not a coincidence that Sifo-Dyas was starting a program for those in the grey middle of the Force, at the same time when Mace was beginning to feel the anger, grief, and fear of the unknown that would make it hard to stay strictly in the Light.

And he had additional reason to talk to Sifo-Dyas.

When he'd attended the cookout at the Solos' a few nights ago, he felt welcome - indeed, he felt like he was part of a family - but he also felt like the odd man out. Everyone in the group had some kind of history with each other four thousand years ago, whether they were part of Revan's Revanchists, or, later, the Jedi Exile's crew aboard the Ebon Hawk. He did not remember a past life from that period of time, and he was absolutely sure he would remember if he did, considering that he saw shatterpoints - this ka-tet was a rather large shatterpoint - and he sometimes had Force visions, not with the frequency and intensity that Sifo-Dyas did, but enough that by now, being around people who were remembering, he'd also remember. He'd felt almost envious of the shared history, tragic though it was, and he'd wondered where he fit into everything... if he fit in at all.

And then he had a dream, last night... a dream that suggested this ka-tet and everyone's history with everyone went even further back than four thousand years.

He is called Xesh.[1] He is a Force Hound of the Infinite Empire, a slave to the Rakata. He is sent to planets to cull Force sensitives from their native population.

His ship crashes on Tython, and he is greeted by three people.

"You meet me with blades drawn and expect me to believe you mean no harm? Liars. You are the enemy! I will fight and die as a warrior! You will not feast on my bones!"

Xesh ignites the Forcesaber, which glows purple.

There is a battle, and a Force storm, reacting to Xesh's Dark Side energy. He is taken into custody and brought to someplace the Tythans call Mahara Kesh, the Temple of Healing, and tended by a Selkath named Calleh, who runs the Temple with her husband.[2]

"Will you kill me now?"
"No, child."
"Oh…"

The Force within her is strong, and the Selkath bondmates who run the Temple are so kind to Xesh it hurts. Calleh's eyes are sad as she works on Xesh. "All of these old scars. You have led a brutal life. More than the Abyss did this to you. Poor child."

Xesh is with people who call themselves Je'daii, and they decide to have him exiled to the moon of Bogan so he can meditate on the light of Ashla and bring himself to the balanced middle of the Force. The decision is given by the Grandmaster of the Order, a man named Ketu, whose presence in the Force feels like that of Dennis Yusanis's presence now.

While Xesh is on Bogan, he has a confrontation with another exile - a man named Daegen Lok. Daegen Lok is quite mad. He explains to Xesh that he was sent to Bogan after he had a vision of a dark army wielding blades of fire - he shows Xesh a carving he made on the wall, which Xesh recognizes as his Forcesaber. Lok wants to know if Xesh can make more Forcesabers. They escape, go off to retrieve Force crystals, and construct Forcesabers together. Xesh doesn't trust Lok, however, and when there is a confrontation between Lok and the Je'daii, Xesh helps the Je'daii fight Lok.

Xesh is brought back into custody. Some Je'daii believe Xesh is to lead the coming war against the Infinite Empire of the Rakata... not Daegen Lok, as Lok had foreseen.

Ketu says, "Xesh has agreed to accept help remembering what he can about his former masters. And because his actions show he is ready to begin a new life in balance with the Force, he will be trained as a Je'daii. But lead us? Perhaps Master Rajivari is right—all we are shown is glimpses. It is up to us to discern the truth."

The Sith were going to have a meeting at the New Force Order Temple about the terrorist attack on the city, and information that had come out during interrogation of the two suspects. While Sifo-Dyas was not a Sith, he was still going to attend this meeting, as the Temple's Grandmaster. The meeting was scheduled for as soon as the Temple opened for its usual hours of business, which meant Sifo-Dyas would be there earlier than that.

Mace found himself feeling nervous as he approached Sifo's office, even though he knew Sifo of all people understood Force dreams and visions. It wasn't judgment he feared - it was confirmation.

Sifo was sitting in his office with Dennis Yusanis and Malak, drinking coffee. Sifo gestured for Mace to come in.

"This is probably a bad time," Mace said. "I can come back."

Sifo took a deep breath. "I can feel the weight on your shoulders, my friend. Now is the right time."

Mace took a seat, and Dennis sipped coffee - Mace felt like Dennis already knew what Mace was going to say.

"I had a very strange dream," Mace said last night.

"About..." Sifo folded his hands on his desk, waiting.

Mace rubbed his bald head. "The Je'daii Order."

Malak's eyebrows raised; Dennis's expression remained neutral.

"Well," Sifo said, "that is very relevant to present interests."

"Yeah." Mace frowned. "I remember being somebody named Xesh."

Dennis finally reacted, with a sharp intake of breath. "Ah." Dennis and Sifo looked at each other, and then they looked at Mace.

"He had a purple lightsaber, like mine, but it wasn't quite like the lightsabers we use now. It was a prototype. Actually, I got to see how they were made," Mace said.

"I take it you remember everything? Like the exile to Bogan?" Dennis asked.

"And that crazy Daegen Lok guy."

Dennis and Sifo looked at each other again, and Sifo said, "Yeah, Dennis and I have been talking about this and we're pretty convinced that Daegen Lok was a prior incarnation of Revan."

"I asked Kylo about his name once," Dennis said, "and he said it contained a key to who he had once been. That was all he'd say about it, but... Lok is three fourths of Kylo. Daegen and Ren both mean 'dawn' in different languages. So not only does Daegen feel like Kylo, and there are some unnerving parallels between them - Kylo's Force visions of the great war come to mind - but the entire name Kylo Ren is a cryptograph of Daegen Lok."

"There's an additional component of this," Malak said. "The war you were in, Mace, as Xesh, was against the Infinite Empire of the Rakata. The Rakata are the ones who made the Star Forge. The Rakata are in the Unknown Regions, which is where the First Order started their expansion. It's almost like Kylo named himself to send a message that this..." He gestured, making a face. "Whatever it is. Is something that has been going on for twenty-five thousand years, if not longer."

"The ancient symbol of the Je'daii was an eight-spoked wheel," Dennis said. "It was, specifically, the wheel of incarnation. The ancient Je'daii believed, as the Whills do, that Force sensitives reincarnate, and they cross paths with the same people over and over again across lifetimes. The Whills' secret of 'immortality' is also something some Sith alchemists can do - deliberately guiding your next incarnation, or that of someone else, and apparently it's something the Je'daii did also. The Jedi concept of 'becoming one with the Force' when you die is a later belief, and seems to be formed as a reaction against the belief in reincarnation. When the Je'daii disbanded and the Republic was formed, the Republic adopted the Je'daii symbol as theirs, to honor the memory of the first protectors of the Galaxy. I don't think they knew the deeper symbolism of the symbol. Palpatine later on modeled the Empire symbol on the Republic symbol, but as a six-spoked wheel. In other words, he broke the wheel of the Je'daii. One has to wonder, in light of knowing all we know, if that breaking the wheel was deliberate. If it had been done as a form of Sith magic to try to keep all of our paths from converging. If he knew Tyranus was one of the Seven Light, then it sure looks like that from where I sit. The way Sidious fucked over Tyranus looks a lot more ominous in hindsight."

Mace's head was spinning. "...Fuck," was all Mace could say.

Someone used the Force to push a cup of coffee at him. Mace accepted it, and drank.

"Also," Sifo said to Mace, "you and Dennis weren't the only two people in this room with a past life among the Je'daii on Tython, twenty-five thousand years ago." He sat back in his chair and sighed. "I was Rajivari, Ketu's Je'daii Master."

"Yeah." Dennis rolled his eyes. "And that whole business ended super well."

"As you know," Sifo said, "Rajivari founded the Jedi Order."

Mace nodded.

"They didn't, of course, tell us the whole story at the Jedi Academy. Malak and Dooku had access to the other part, via the forbidden history texts of the Sith. The Je'daii recognized a group of advanced Force beings called the Seven Light and the Seven Shadow... who they called upon to teach them how to use the Force, on Tython. They did rituals where some of the Je'daii would allow themselves to be possessed by the Seven, temporarily. The Seven were said to incarnate, to take flesh, when the Force was pushed out of balance, so they could directly intervene with their actions and put it back into balance. Ketu was said to be the avatar of one of the Exiles[3], He Who Binds, whose specialty was knowledge," Sifo explained. "He Who Binds was always present with the Je'daii in different incarnations, to keep an eye on things so he could let the others know if it was time to take flesh and help him."

"That's a little weird, but... OK," Mace said, sipping coffee.

"Well," Sifo said, "the Seven Light and Seven Shadow were all siblings. The children of Ashla and Bogan, Ashla and Bogan the names of the moons on Tython but named for the beings who represented the Light and Dark Sides of the Force, respectively. Ashla and Bogan were also... drawn down at these rituals. Rajivari was the one who carried Bogan, the Dark Father. So when the Rakata showed up, focused only on the Dark Side, and they killed his wife, who had carried Ashla, Rajivari in particular was stricken with guilt about the Dark Side, and that, my friends, was how the Je'daii Order went away and the Jedi Order was formed."

Mace's jaw dropped.

"But then... we know how the rest of the story goes. Some time after the Jedi Order was formed, Rajivari did another turnaround, killing almost all of them. He was said to be the first fall to the Dark Side." Sifo smiled bitterly. "Of course, it could be said that the first fall was not to the Dark Side, but to the Light. Rajivari's decision to focus only on the Light without the Darkness... well, he was a seer, as am I. I saw what he saw, after the Jedi had been around for awhile. He saw into the future, and that the Light without the Dark would do more harm than good... and so his Jedi purge was to keep the cancer from spreading. Of course, he was too late."

"I warned you about the imbalance, bro," Dennis told him. "I told you, dog..."

"It keeps happening," Sifo said, nodding. Sifo folded his arms. "Of course, I met up with Ketu again, when he reincarnated as Meetra Surik. Aaaand that particular incarnation as Atton Rand, the Sith assassin, the Jedi killer... well, in light of my history as Rajivari, that's a little unnerving."

"Though you did marry Brianna, who went on to become a Jedi historian," Dennis said.

"Yes. I was somewhere in the middle of the Force at the time of my death. But it's not lost on me that the clone army I commissioned to protect the Republic was used to purge the Jedi at Order 66. It's like history keeps repeating itself." Sifo shook his head.

"Well," Malak said, "if I have anything to say about it, this will be the last time. We're going to get it right this time. And then we're going to retire and sip fruity drinks on the beach with our bondmates, no more of this saving the Galaxy shit. It's really old the umpteenth time around."

Sifo nodded.

"So," Dennis turned to Mace. "You remembering your life as Xesh is... significant. I'd say congrats and welcome to the group, but I don't know that being a part of this ka-tet is cause for celebration."

"We've got quite a mess to clean up," Mace said.

"Understatement of the millennium," Malak replied.

_

The meeting on the Sith side of the New Force Order Temple was smaller than Dennis and Severin anticipated - Maul, as the chief of security, limited it to just himself, Sifo-Dyas, Anakin, the Knights of Ren, and Tyranus; it was also requested that Ben Skywalker-Solo be present for the meeting. Ben showed up five minutes late, and sat in a corner of the room, back against the wall. Dennis decided to sit next to Ben.

"We have a confirmation that our suspects were part of the team that performed the bombing," Maul said, "and that they are members of the Bando Gora cult."

Dooku groaned.

"We also know, via the memories collected during interrogation, where the bomb was produced." Maul clicked on a holoscreen, and Dooku's eyes widened when he saw the very same set of industrial buildings where Qui-Gon and Leia had detected a disturbance in the Force, and had told him to tell Maul about it.

"This building is a factory," Maul said, "and the Bando Gora have been utilizing it for different projects of theirs, including the production of death sticks. And because the Sith routinely perform surveillance on the city, and this escaped previous notice, I believe we may have at least one person in the Sith Order who is cooperating with them... hence why from here on out, this job and the information surrounding it is classified with access given only to those presently in the room."

"So," Anakin asked, "what to be done about this?"

"This building needs to be raided," Maul said, "the sooner, the better. Because the perpetrators have been in our custody for the last three days, the Bando Gora are likely to move their operations, and possibly destroy this factory and its evidence on the way out. We need to shut down whatever the factory is producing, round up its employees, and interrogate them for further information, as well as to determine appropriate sentencing for their crimes. Then with the information we have from the interrogation, we can work on finding and raiding other facilities, bringing in others working with and for them, until we have cleaned our way to the top."

"When you say the sooner, the better, how soon do you mean?" Malak asked. "Like, now?"

"You will need several hours to prepare for the mission, make sure you're fed, rested," Maul said. "Ideally, I'd like it to get underway tonight, so you can use the cover of night to assist you."

Sev was still exhausted from being on his feet almost continually performing surgery and other medical procedures, for two and a half days. "And you're getting all of us involved," Sev groaned.

"Sifo-Dyas is the Grandmaster and as such, he has to stay behind," Maul said, "and I have to handle security which requires me to be present here. But as far as the rest of you, we need all of you working on this. It's a large facility, with a lot of employees, some of whom are at least mildly Force-sensitive."

Dooku looked at Anakin, made a face like he had swallowed a lemon, and Sev made a small growl without thinking about it; his reaction surprised him.

Kylo stood up. "We'll meet back here at 2200 hours."

"Fuck," Sev muttered under his breath. He stormed out of the room.

Dooku caught up with him, gently putting an arm around his bondmate's waist. Sev put his head on Dooku's shoulder for a moment, and then Dooku reached down to grab Sev's ass, giving him a little smile.

"So, what to do between now and then?" Sev asked.

Dooku waited until they were out of earshot. "I would suggest you visit your apprentice," Dooku told him, "because you've not seen him since before the bombing."

Sev nodded.

"...And also, because I'll be too tempted to spend the day in bed with you doing something other than resting," Dooku said, "and we need to save our strength for tonight."

Sev gave him a little grin, biting his lower lip. Then he said, "So what will you be doing in the meantime?"

"I think I'm going to visit Father," Dooku said, referring to Yoda.

Sev gave him a hug and a kiss. Dennis poked his head in the door of the empty room they were in and gave a little clear of his throat, then.

"Are you going where I'm going?" Dennis asked his brother.

Sev nodded. Then he asked, "Where's your pet?"

Dennis bitchfaced at Sev, and Sev pinched his cheek, kissing the tip of Dennis's nose, which made Dennis blush. It had been over two years since the brothers had been intimate, and Sev had not done anything like that since those days, which made Dennis wonder if they were finally at the point where they were ready to be "siblings with benefits" again.

Then Dennis said, "Ben's gonna talk Je'daii stuff with Sifo-Dyas for awhile."

"OK. Just didn't want him to feel left out. I didn't think his folks would mind if he tagged along, yanno?"

"Yeahhh, Ben's still having a hard time with that whole 'his folks' thing."

"I get it."

_

"So, where are you off to?" Valyeris asked Reine, on their way out of the meeting.

"Oh, I've got stuff to do," Reine said. She didn't want to tell Valyeris oh, you know, I'm going to hear the results of a DNA test to find out if my brother's the guy your husband calls a traitor!

"Yeah, she's got very important stuff to do," Malak said, saving the day with innuendo that was neither truth nor was it a lie; they most likely would be doing that other "very important stuff" later. He put his arm around Reine and led her off, giggling.

Malak and Reine made the short walk off-campus to the testing lab the Temple infirmary and other medical facilities used. Mace and Finn were waiting in the waiting room; Mace looked stoic, and Finn looked nervous.

They didn't have a long wait. One of the office staff led them to a conference room, and gestured for them to sit.

"It's a match," they were told. "You are fraternal twins, and Mace Windu is your paternal grandfather."

Reine started crying. Finn broke down crying too. He and Reine hugged each other.

Mace couldn't cry, not there - but he was choked up. Finn and Reine pulled him into the hug. "Grandpa," Reine said, kissing his cheek.

"And this makes you my second cousins. We should go out and celebrate," Malak said.

Finn and Reine dragged Mace. "You guys can wait outside while I grab a speeder car," Malak told them, breaking off into a run.

Several meters away, Valyeris was watching from behind a shrubbery. She took out a holocamera, and snapped a few pictures.

_

Han Solo had finally indulged his curiosity about his lifetime as "the other Atton Rand", aka "the Exile's Atton" (as opposed to "Brianna's Atton"), and had found some pictures of his old self on the Holonet. He'd even managed to find pictures of himself when he was in training as a Sith assassin, with Darth Malak as his teacher. None of the pictures were at all risque, but it didn't matter. It woke up Han's memories, and that woke up... other things.

Atton was in his late teens when he met Malak - just coming of age. Malak was a little older, like an older brother rather than a father, but that didn't stop them from playing certain games...

"Do you like that, baby?"

Malak is rimming him, something nobody's done to him before. Malak's tongue on his prostate feels incredible, and he's so close to orgasm...

"Here, baby. Get on Daddy's cock."

Atton shudders. The big Sith Lord has a way of making him feel safe - Malak is teaching him to kill, building on Yusanis's martial arts training... and yet Malak is still protective of him. Atton doesn't remember his parents; "Daddy" slipped out once during sex and Malak went with it.

Atton rides Malak slowly. Malak watches with hunger and appreciation in his eyes, running his hands over Atton's body.

"That's it, baby. Take Darth Daddy Malak's cock..."

They try to keep it slow and sensual, but it isn't long before Malak is fucking him hard and Atton is holding on for life, like he's riding a wild bull...

Malak slaps his ass, hard, and Atton cries out, "More, Daddy!" Malak growls and fucks him harder, slapping his ass again...

Han couldn't contain the scream as he climaxed, hard enough that not all of it was collected by the handkerchief.

Leia heard the noise and opened the bedroom door. Han gave her a guilty grin.

"Were you... touching yourself without permission, Han Solo?" Leia asked.

"Yeah." Han's grin got bigger.

Leia knew sometimes Han did things for the sake of being punished for it... and she did enjoy punishing him, and he knew that, too. Leia's pussy twinged a little. "Get all of those clothes off, then, and assume the position."

Han undressed, and then he got on all fours on the bed, face down, ass up. Leia went into their toy chest and retrieved the spanking paddle.

"I'm going to give you forty," Leia said, "but as I spank you... you're going to tell me what you were fantasizing about, as you stroked yourself."

Han took a deep breath. The stinging slap of the paddle went straight to his cock, and with each blow it became more difficult to think - he was ready to go again, and he was somewhere in that animal place where "me want fuck" seemed to be the first words available to him. But he tried. Somewhere around the tenth spank, he ground out, "Malak was fucking me."

"Oh, was he?" The thought of that made Leia's pussy twinge more. "How was he fucking you?"

"I was riding him."

"Mmmmmmmm..." Leia whacked Han's ass especially hard for that. "Was he fucking you hard, slut?"

"Not at first, but we got there."

"When you say not at first..."

"It was slow." Han shuddered. "A lot of touching. A lot of kissing. It felt really good, his cock slow rubbing my prostate..."

"Yeah? Did he have a big cock?"

"...Was Yoda a Jedi?"

Leia whacked Han's ass as hard as she could, once for the smartassery, the second for invoking Yoda when she least wanted to think about that little green man.

"Did you like taking his cock?"

"Yes... and I liked the way he spanked my ass when he fucked me..."

Leia shuddered. Ohhhhh, yesss. "Did you beg him for more?"

"Fuck, yes..."

"How did you beg him, you dirty slut?"

"I said 'More, Daddy'..."

Leia grabbed Han's hair and delivered the remaining blows as quickly as possible - whap-whap-whap-whap - making Han scream with the pleasure-pain. His ass was beautifully red when she was finished. Leia threw the paddle down on the floor and got out her strap-on. The mental images burning through her mind were so delicious that she couldn't take it anymore. She poured lube into Han's ass, and he whimpered, knowing what was about to happen.

"You're going to take this cock," she growled.

"Please, yes..."

Leia pushed it into him, and proceeded to fuck him hard and furious. Han fucked back at it, as vocal as Leia had ever heard him. She loved it. She used the Force to touch him, caress him all over, play with his cock. Within a few minutes Han had caught on and he was now doing the same to her, fingering her in the Force...

They came violently together, Leia collapsing onto Han's back. They laughed, and Leia reached out to take Han's hand.

"I love you, babe," Han told her.

"I love you so much, you delicious slut." Leia tilted Han's head, and they kissed. The way they kissed got Leia worked up again.

Of course, the door chime rang.

"Oh, for fuck's sake," Han groaned.

"Put clothes on," Leia said. She hurriedly put her clothes back on, and walked out into the living room to answer the door like nothing had just happened.

Severin and Dennis Yusanis were standing on the other side of the door.

Leia hadn't had lessons with Dennis in a few days - she knew about the terrorist attack in the city, in fact, she'd gotten some food and water from the emergency supply vehicle making the rounds. Dennis had finally holocalled her last night, after he had a chance to catch his breath, and that holocall had turned into a game of "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" and mutual masturbation. Since Han would be occupied with his Sith Master, that gave Leia a chance to show Dennis how much she missed him. And Force, she missed him. It had only been three days without him, but it felt like forever.

"Would you like anything to eat or drink?" She gave Dennis a mischievous look, and watched his eyes twinkle.

Sev sniffed the air. "Something smells really good, if you have whatever that is..."

I don't know if I'd be your type, honey. Dennis had called Sev "the gay brother" more than once (they were all technically bisexual, but Severin strongly preferred men even more than his brothers did). But it might have been something other than the smell of sex that his nose picked up on. "I made cinnamon rolls this morning. Would you like a cinnamon roll?"

Dennis and Sev looked at each other and both nodded enthusiastically, like two excited kids. Then Dennis asked, "Can I have a cinnamon roll to take back to Ben? Ben loves cinnamon rolls."

"Absolutely."

Han finally stumbled into the kitchen to find Dennis and Sev eating cinnamon rolls and drinking juice. Sev smiled at him. "Hey there," Sev said.

"Hmph." Han frowned, and shuffled past Leia to the fridge.

"Hmph? Is that any way to greet your Sith Master?"

"Well, you don't show up or call for three days..."

Sev let out an exasperated sigh. "You know there was a bombing in the city, right? I'm a doctor. I spent the last two and a half days tending people who got their arms blown off and shit like that."

"I knew about the bombing," Han said. "I didn't realize you were... ah, shit." He scratched his head.

Sev sat back in his chair.

Leia looked at Dennis. "Maybe we should let these two talk?"

Dennis nodded, and Leia walked over to pull Dennis to his feet, practically dragging him off.

"So you thought I was just ignoring you?" Sev asked Han.

"Yeah." Han sighed. "I thought maybe Kylo had gotten to you."

Sev folded his hands on the table. "We went over this. As far as you and I are concerned, we're a clean slate. I only know Kylo's side of the story with you and him. I know you said some shitty things to him, like calling him a monster before the New Jedi Order massacre, before the Hosnian system. I know you had a problem with his alignment until very recently, but I also know it was because you were afraid of your own Dark Side tendencies. I am in kind of a unique position of being able to understand both sides of this story because I was raised by my aunt and uncle who beat the Force out of me and said some similar things to me that you said to Kylo while he was growing up... and yet I myself was scared shitless of my own Force sensitivity not just from having it beat out of me but what happened the few times I let it come out full strength, before my training - I put someone in the hospital, once - and if I had a kid who was reminding me of myself before I knew what I know now... well, I'd probably have fucked their heads up, thinking I was doing the right thing by keeping them away from the Force altogether or at least on 'the right side' of it. You have the additional excuse of Jedi-curated Republic propaganda which paints the very black and white picture of Jedi versus Sith, Light Side versus Dark Side, where all of us on the Dark Side are seen as being as bad as Vader; the more nuanced grey understanding hasn't gotten a voice until more recently. So you fucked up, but it's an understandable fuck up. Kylo has a right to be pissed off at you and you're going to have to work on a relationship with him, if he decides that's what he wants - you cannot expect automatic forgiveness, and you cannot act like you're entitled to his forgiveness. But I don't think you deserved to get stabbed over what happened, and it's clear you're trying now to make things right, and you know, nobody put a blaster to my head to make me accept you as my apprentice. I chose that, and so far, I think we have a really good working relationship - dare I say, a friendship. I didn't think I'd be getting an apprentice this soon, and I didn't know how it would ever be if I had an apprentice, but I like spending this time with you. I am really, really, really sorry that I didn't get a chance to call you over the last few days and that you worried I'd decided to, like, friend-dump you. My only time off until last night was to eat and take a nap, and I was so frazzled by seeing injured people screaming in pain that I just didn't think."

Han nodded. "I'm not mad. I feel kind of stupid that I didn't realize you'd be a first responder and have your hands full out there."

"Well now you know. If ever there is a period of time where you don't hear from me for a couple of days, it can be assumed that something happened. But you can also dial my holophone. I had to turn my holophone off while I was operating, but if I'd found voice mails when I got back home last night I would have answered them."

"OK."

"To give you fair warning, also, I'm not going to be able to come over tomorrow because I have an assignment tonight and I'm going to be too exhausted by the time it's over."

Han nodded.

"And one more thing... for the record? I don't friend-dump people without warning, for no reason. If there ever comes a point in time where I think it's not working out and I don't want to see you anymore, I will actually talk to you about it first, in-person, and before it gets to that point I will try to work things out with you like reasonable adults." Sev thought of the current situation with Anakin as the new "consultant" to the Knights of Ren, and the way it seemed Kylo was being completely obstinate about how disrespected Sev felt and Sev's concerns about this possibly even endangering him - Kylo couldn't ever say that Sev hadn't tried to talk to him first.

"All right."

"So then..." Sev ate his last bite of cinnamon roll. "It's time to teach you some Makashi."

_

As soon as Dennis and Leia stepped into the bedroom, Dennis pushed her up against the wall, lifting up her arms against the wall and pinning her wrists as he leaned down to kiss her - he had a foot on her, and the bending was a little awkward, but their kiss was too hot for either of them to care.

After a few minutes of intense, passionate kissing, Dennis dropped to his knees and hiked up Leia's skirt. She wasn't wearing panties. She was also creaming. "Mmmm," Dennis said appreciatively before taking his first lick.

"Oh, Dennis, yes..." Leia clutched her younger lover's head, grabbed the points of his ears.

"Oh, baby, I've missed you so much." Dennis licked fast, and then slow. He reached to spread her folds, and dug in, his lips massaging her as his tongue fucked. He was rewarded by Leia's shout - fuck, he loved hearing her. He breathed in her scent. "I've missed your beautiful pussy. I've missed the way you taste, mmmmm..." He slurped at her, groaning into her cunt. Leia's knees shook.

Dennis could tell it was getting hard for Leia to stand, so he picked up the petite General and carried her to the bed. He could tell in the Force, as well as through scent, that the bed had just been fucked in, but somehow that just added to the feeling of hot, slutty wrongness. He stripped out of his First Order uniform, and Leia ran her fingers down his hairy chest. She reached to grab his cock, and they kissed again. She could taste herself on his mouth.

"We have to take it easy," Dennis said, "because I've got a mission tonight..."

"Mission?"

"Classified," Dennis said, and then he looked off to the side and back at Leia. "Related to dealing with the people who did the bombing. Shouldn't even tell you that, but."

"Ah." Leia kissed him hard; the thought of her Dennis fighting and kicking ass aroused her. "My sexy soldier man."

"Nnnnnng." Dennis nipped her lower lip before kissing her open-mouthed, his tongue playfully fluttering and flicking hers, before he kissed along her jaw, down her neck. "And you're my hot warrior princess."

"In general," Leia teased.

"In general." With that, Dennis slipped his fingers inside her.

Dennis spent a long time eating and fingering her pussy, making her come that way, over and over again. He couldn't get enough of her taste, or the close-up sight of her pretty pink flower, the way her clit swelled like a ripe, delicious berry begging to be sucked, the way her cream dripped down her folds. He loved the way she fucked his mouth, fucked his fingers, completely lost herself in passion, bucking against him, grabbing his hair, his ears, screaming as he brought her over the edge the way she liked, as much as she wanted. He was hard, and aching to be inside her, but he knew his patience would pay off. When he finally took her, she was so, so, so wet, and he cried out as he felt her wrap around him, a perfect fit, like they were custom-built for each other.

They made love slowly, to keep from wearing Dennis out too much before his mission... but he also had ached for her so much that he just wanted to savor her. Leia knew, too, that he'd been in danger the last few days and he was about to go back out into more danger... and he had become so precious to her. His guidance, his wisdom, his patience, his courage... the thought of this potentially being their last time, if something happened to him, made her cling to him. They could fuck like wild animals when he got back safely. Right now, she wanted to feel him, every moment, every little last detail of kissing, touching, thrusting, rubbing, teasing, moaning, every subtle nuance of pleasure building on pleasure.

As he thrusted into her, played with her clit, keeping the pace of their sex tormentingly, deliciously slow and sensual, it felt like they weren't just making love with their bodies, but their souls. They looked into each other's eyes, lost in an entire world of grey-green and brown.

Their orgasm was as drawn-out as their sex had been, feeling like it would never end, one long note of love so deep there were no words for it, just sensations.

They held each other, crying together. "I've lost so much," Leia whispered. "You have to be OK out there. You have to come back to me."

"I will, baby. I always will." They kissed. "No matter where I go, no matter what I do, who I'm with, I'm yours. You've got me."

Leia was about to find out those weren't empty words, even when it caused Dennis a great amount of confusion and inner conflict.

Chapter Text

Dooku and Sev arrived at the Temple early. Dooku liked to be punctual, but also, between having Anakin Skywalker inflicted on the team and the tensions mounting in the Knights of Ren, he felt it was a good idea to be the first to arrive so he wasn't walking in to anything.

Sev was tense, and in the moments before the others arrived, he leaned on Dooku and the old Sith Lord pet him. Dooku had been feeling a bit ill at ease that day himself, though the visit with Yoda helped. Yoda had given him a strand of nine graduated meditation beads on a loop, which he fingered now, a tangible anchor to keeping calm in the eye of the storm.

Malak and Reine were the next to arrive - they were wearing great big "just got laid" grins. If Dooku wasn't eighty-three and had to conserve his strength for the mission, he would be wearing one as well; he hoped this Bando Gora business would be over soon so he could return to a normal sex life with his bondmate.

"So," Sev said, "tell me about the DNA test."

"It confirmed that Mace is my grandpa, and Finn is my brother," Reine said, "and that makes you, Malak, and Dennis my second cousins."

Sev hugged Reine. "Welcome to the family," he said.

Dennis and Ben arrived then. Dennis had heard the conversation. "Congratulations," Dennis said, giving Reine a hug and then a noogie; Reine put him in a headlock and flipped him, which made everyone laugh but Ben, who just gave a small, shy smile.

"So you're married to your cousin?" Ben asked Malak.

"I guess so," Malak laughed.

"That's not weird to you?"

"Not even a little. You know why?" Malak pulled Dennis into his arms and the two brothers kissed, tongues swirling. Malak ran his hand down Dennis's chest and Dennis grabbed Malak's ass and rubbed.

Then, on impulse, Dennis turned to Sev, pulled him to his feet, and kissed him - the first time Dennis and Sev had done so in over two years - and Sev welcomed the kiss. They kissed again, open-mouthed, tongues playing, before their mouths met again and Dennis kissed him deep. Then there was a moment when they looked into each other's eyes, noses rubbing, and Dennis smiled at him tenderly.

I've missed you, little bro. I've missed us, Dennis spoke into Sev's mind through the Force.

They kissed again.

"WOW," Ben said. He couldn't believe what he was seeing, or the way it was making him hard.

Dennis and Sev stopped for air, laughing, and Sev sat back down next to Dooku, who was also strangely aroused by watching Sev and his brother.

Malak grabbed Dennis and kissed him harder than before. Reine made a fanning motion with her hand. "Fuck, that's hot," she said.

"Reine likes to watch us," Malak told Ben.

"You guys... um...?" Ben's eyes widened.

"Oh yeah." Malak kissed Dennis again.

There was no way Ben could disguise his hard-on, and he felt like he could die of embarrassment. Dooku was tenting a little too, now that Sev was kissing him, but Dooku had the excuse of being turned on by his bondmate - Ben wasn't dating anyone in the group.

Ben once again internally berated himself for feeling that tug of attraction to Dennis. Alyssa.

When Kylo Ren walked in with his wife Valyeris - who seemed to be this universe's counterpart of Alyssa - that stab of irrational anger was enough to kill Ben's erection. I thought I had been punished when I lost Alyssa, and this fucker does even worse than I did and he has his bondmate. Ben glowered.

Anakin Skywalker arrived a moment later, and now it was time for Dooku's own erection to subside. Dooku began to stroke the meditation beads, without thinking about it. It kept him from acting on his impulse to start Force choking Skywalker.

"We need to suit up," Kylo said.

Because they were raiding a factory that had a full staff round the clock, and they would be outnumbered - their collective strength in the Force made up for the lack of numbers, but it was still a risk - the team was being required to don protective gear such as vests that would absorb blaster bolts. Dooku looked at it disdainfully - he didn't like being encumbered by such items, preferring his agility and shielding in the Force, but he also understood it was a practical necessity.

As Sev and Dooku changed and spent a moment shirtless, Sev ran his hands over Dooku's chest, his fingers playing in the silver-white chest hair. "Fuck, I want you," Sev growled.

Dooku took Sev's hands and guided them, spending a moment savoring the delicious teasing.

"I just want you to know," Sev told him, "you're still number one. Even if I go there again with Dennis, which you said was all right... you're the one I'm with."

"I know." Dooku didn't doubt Sev's feelings and devotion. He kissed Sev's hand.

"I really appreciate how... cool... you're being about... that. I know it freaks most people out."

"I'm not most people." Dooku squeezed Sev's hands. "And truthfully, I enjoy watching you."

"Really." Sev grinned.

Dooku gave a little nod. "When we make love, I only get to see things from a certain angle. When you were kissing your brother, I got to look at more of you. To watch how you kiss. I rather enjoyed the view."

"I'll have to keep that in mind." Sev kissed Dooku. "We probably shouldn't get too worked up right now."

"No." Dooku fastened the bolt-proof vest. "We need to be at our utmost state of alertness. Even though we're wearing these protective vests, a blaster bolt can still fracture ribs."

"Yeah I already went through fractured ribs once this year," Sev said, thinking of his fight with Malgus. "Not fun."

When they were ready, Sev and Dooku joined the others. Kylo showed schematics of the inside of the factory and laid out the plan for getting inside the compound, and what would be done once they got inside. "We'll be splitting up into two teams," Kylo told them. "I will command one team, and Grandfather will command the other. Severin, Tyranus, and Dennis, you will be on my team. Malak, Valyeris, Reine, and Ben, you will be on Anakin's team."

Sev noticed that Kylo deliberately did not put him and Dooku on Anakin's team, taking orders from him, and he conceded internally that was a step in the right direction, but he didn't like Anakin being involved in this at all, and he had a bad feeling about the mission that he couldn't shake.

They were going to the factory compound in a speeder jet - since the compound was surrounded by a barbed wire fence that was also electrified, and manned by security guards and droids, they couldn't get in on-ground, and going below ground to get in wasn't happening unless they wanted to wade through the sewer, which nobody felt like doing. They were going to do an aerial drop, take out the door guards, and then Kylo's team would work on the main level, while Anakin's team handled the lower level.

The words "aerial drop" filled Sev with dread. "You mean we're going to be jumping out of the plane?"

Kylo gave Sev a look like he was a very slow child. "...What else would I mean?"

When they were all in the jet, a demonstration was given on how and when to pull the parachute on one's gear once out of the drop door, after the free fall. "Or you can land with Force kinetics," Kylo explained, "but it would be best to use both, and be on the safe side."

Sev looked a little green.

"You jumped off a bridge," Dooku told Sev.

"Yeah. That bridge wasn't at ten thousand feet."

The speeder jet would be coming back around with reinforcements ninety minutes after the drop, to round up whatever prisoners were being taken. The orders were to kill as few as possible and incapacitate instead of kill, but if killing someone was unavoidable, then people could do what they had to do. Everyone was armed with Force suppression darts to use if they suspected an enemy agent was Force-sensitive. The Bando Gora was a Force cult, but not all of its members and allies were Force-sensitive - many of them were non-Force-sensitives who thought that their "acts of devotion" would awaken them to the Force, not understanding how the Force actually worked.

Kylo and Valyeris jumped first, followed by Malak and Reine. Dooku decided he would jump next, and just before he took the leap, he grabbed Sev's arm, taking Sev with him - he knew if he didn't, Sev would choke and even a moment's delay would jeopardize not just the operation itself, but the safety of the rest of the team. Sev wanted to scream on the way down, and Dooku used the Force to mute him.

Hold onto me, Dooku told Sev, as their parachutes went up. Then, as they made their descent, more slowly, Dooku leaned in to kiss Sev, to try and soothe him.

Sev wrapped his arms tightly around his bondmate, and kissed him back, hard. It was the most romantic moment of Sev's life to date - there was something beautiful about them dropping out of the sky together, holding onto each other, kissing, the rush of passion mixing with the rush of adrenaline.

I love you, Sev told him in the Force. I love you, love you, love you...

They landed on their feet, like cats, and Sev watched as Reine shot down droids and human guards when she hadn't even dropped out of the sky yet. The Knights of Ren, Anakin, and Dooku began running towards the front entrance of the factory, with Malak, Reine, and Dennis sniping more guard units on the way there.

Once inside, Anakin's team rushed on ahead, to take the stairs down into the basement level of the factory. Kylo made the "follow" gesture and Kylo, Sev, Dooku and Dennis ran after him, down a hall. They used the Force to throw open the first door, and then Force threw the people inside. Dooku used the Force to stun them in place, and then the four worked to put Force-lock restraints on the captives. The four then did a brief touch in the Force to see if anyone in the room was Force-sensitive, and when it was determined no, they left the captives there for the police to collect when the mission was complete, and Dennis plugged in a device to hack the computers in the room and download all of their information for later investigation purposes, while Kylo took a lightsaber to the equipment in the room; Dennis watched with some degree of amusement, having seen Kylo demolish many inanimate objects in a fit of rage before... finally he was doing it for practical reasons.

The next three rooms proceeded similarly, and in the fourth room they encountered their first Force-sensitive, who used the Force to throw vials of chemicals and various sharp projectiles at them. Dooku distracted him long enough for Dennis to aim with a Force suppression dart, and once the man was restrained, Dennis collected the necessary electronic data, and they moved onto the next room, which was at the end of the first hall, completing the first of six sections.

As they made their way down the hall, an alarm sounded. They knew it would be inevitable that someone would sound an alarm, but they had hoped on a little more time. Droids flew out of the walls, firing at them; they ducked, and then shot back. Dooku hated blaster guns, but Severin was right - getting shot or killed was more uncivilized. A few armed guards were running, and as soon as they were in sight, they were gunned down. The four stepped over their bodies - injured, not killed - to get to the last room of the first section.

Their Force senses had them get out of the way just in time, as one of the people in the room opened fire. Sev used the Force to throw the gunman and confiscate his blaster, and then Kylo and Dooku worked on subduing the other people in the room as Dennis hacked the computer and Sev took pictures of the motherload of death sticks. If I sold these, I would have trillions of credits and I'd never have to worry about money again. I just wouldn't be able to live with myself and I'd probably commit suicide sooner rather than later. Sev wondered if it would be possible to light things on fire with just the Force, and as he wondered, he watched a flame dance on the tip of his index finger. He knew from his dealings with his and Dennis's ex-girlfriend Joxa Shihai, maker of death sticks, that they were extremely flammable, which made fire an ideal way to destroy them. Sev let the flame on his fingertip grow to a fireball - he was immune to his own fire - and when he'd pushed Dennis out of the way and Kylo and Dooku were at a safe distance, dragging the prisoners out of the room with the Force, Sev threw the fireball and watched the glass vats of death sticks explode.

Oh, that's beautiful.

"That's a neat trick," Dennis said.

Sev blew his fingertip, and they fired at more incoming droids as they ran to the next section of the factory.

Meanwhile, in the basement, Anakin and his team had taken care of three of the eight rooms, which were larger and much more spread out, through a series of labyrinthine hallways. The fourth room would have to be handled by the police - there were blast doors marked with a radioactivity symbol, and they knew that was where the dirty bomb had been manufactured. Ben had been feeling increasingly uneasy as they walked through the dark lower level of the factory compound, and he hoped that uneasiness wasn't because somebody behind those blast doors would think it was a great idea to detonate another dirty bomb right there.

There were fewer attack droids in the basement, but also more armed guards, and the group was getting better at anticipating just before another set was approaching, to Force throw and restrain them on sight.

They turned a corridor, and everything was even darker. The group had been given night vision goggles, which Ben put on now, but his didn't work. Oh, fuck.

He felt Malak poke him in the Force. Yours don't work either?

Nope.

There was just enough light that Ben could make out the shadows of the four people with him, and occasionally some of their facial features and limbs, and he could see shadows of approaching droids and guards.

"Follow me," Anakin said.

And of course, they had come to a crossroads section of the factory - Anakin had obviously taken a different turn, and not bothered to check if the other four were following behind. Other three - Valyeris was wherever Anakin was.

Reine turned to get on the right path, and the moment she walked past what seemed like an empty corner, there was a flash of eerie blue light and Reine was gone.

"REINE!" Malak yelled, and Ben grabbed his arm - they had thus far tried to keep quiet down here, and Malak's voice carried even when he wasn't projecting it.

POP-POP-POP... Ben felt the impact in his back and chest, and went down on the duracrete floor, hard.

Malak tried to use the comm device. "I have a man down, repeat, I have a man down," he said. He ducked before the next volley of blaster bolts - from the opposite direction - could hit him, and used the Force to find the sniper and shoot him. The comm device wasn't working either, just like the night vision goggles. Isn't that a very interesting coincidence. It wasn't like the New Force Order didn't have the funding to get their equipment up to par. The goggles and comm devices for Anakin's team had been handed out by Anakin Skywalker himself.

Malak was stuck in a conundrum. If he stayed here, the team was short another pair of hands for the mission. If he took off and left Ben unshielded, he'd be finished off, and yes he could be resurrected at the Temple - if the Bando Gora nutjobs didn't hide his body to take off-world before he could be brought back there - but that respawn would permanently halt his aging process and Malak didn't think Ben was in the mood for near-immortality right now. He also didn't know where or what had taken Reine, and he felt like he needed to be close by to... anchor her way back? What?

Malak lay on top of Ben to shield him with his body, and waited, blaster in one hand, lightsaber hilt in the other.

_

When Reine was a small girl, at the orphanage, one of the workers liked to tell the children stories, and one of the stories that stood out in her mind was about a man named Jonna who went to sea and was swallowed by a giant sea-snake, and survived in its belly for three days before he cut his way out.

Reine had always had a morbid curiosity about what being swallowed by a giant sea-snake might feel like, and what it might feel like to be in its guts. Well, now I know.

It was very strange. She was, as far as she could tell, still in the factory. In fact, she was still in the exact same hall - she activated her lightsaber and in the red light she could see the blast doors with the radioactive symbol down the other end - but...

She was tempted to call out "Hello?" but she had a feeling that her life depended on her keeping quiet. So quiet that she used the Force to cover herself... something she learned how to do as a kid at the ultra-strict orphanage, so she could sneak around and do things like get a little extra food or go outside without being punished for it.

She walked back and forth. There were no battle droids, no guards. The same factory, but everything was different... and not just in that she seemed to be alone down here, sans teammates, sans people and robots trying to kill her teammates, but there was that sea-snake stomach feeling. Like she was in some kind of vacuum... and it was starting to suck. Not just sucking in the "this sucks" sense, but it felt like wherever she was, was being... compressed.

I have to get the fuck out of here, wherever "here" is, or I am going to die.

Reine reached out in the Force for Malak. It was like trying to reach past a thick glass wall, and then a series of thick glass walls, but at last she felt his signature in the Force, burning embers rising into the night sky, up to the North Star. His Force signature was always so pretty. She would have to ask him about that someday. Someday, when I'm not about to get eaten by What The Fuck Bizarro World.

Reine reached into Malak's Force signature, and pulled, pushing herself towards it at the same time. Her feet directed her, and she was heading into a different part of the factory. She could hear ominous chanting. She saw a room - the Bando Gora Temple, where Bando Gora monks were kneeling, raising the same eerie blue energy that had taken her to wherever the fuck this was, spinning in a wheel against the wall of the Temple, in front of them, the wheel spinning in time with their chants. And as they chanted, the more it felt like whatever vacuum energy there was around wherever she was, was sucking harder, about to crush her if she didn't get out of here.

Now. The orders had been to only kill if necessary - the only way she was going to stop whatever sorcery they were doing was to kill them. Her life or theirs. As fast as lightning, Reine lopped two heads off, and then two more. The other monks rose, continuing to chant as they tried to Force throw her - there were nine of them, to make thirteen altogether - and she pushed, shoved, as hard as she could.

"I am not playing with you," Reine snarled at them. She put out the index finger of her free hand, and did what she'd done to her Sith Master, Exar Kun, when it had come time to kill him - ice shot out of her finger, and each monk was quickly frozen to death, white frost turning them into human ice sculptures.

Reine took a deep breath and ran into the blue light. She came out on the other side and saw Malak laying on top of Ben.

"Go get help," Malak said.

"Where's Valyeris and Anakin?"

Do. Not. Get. Them.

"What?"

They fucking sabotaged us.

"Wait, what?" Reine laughed a little. Valyeris is so kind of... useless and just... there. She wouldn't do something like this, would she?

What Reine could see of her husband's face in the lightsaber glow sent a chill down her spine.

Listen to me. Malak's voice in the Force was a hiss. I don't know what the fuck is going on here, but Kylo told me someone was after having me killed and I was in danger from them. If that someone is his wife, it means she's far more than you think she is - that useless just-there-ness is an act - and we have to pretend we're dumb and we think this is all just a coincidence until we've figured out how to deal with her.

Reine looked down at Ben, who was groaning in pain. Chipper shredder?

Get help, honey. Please. Seriously.

Reine broke off in a run... in the opposite direction of wherever Anakin and Valyeris were.

_

Reine came back with Sev. "Take my place on the team," Sev told her, and handed her his night vision goggles. They worked. Hers hadn't.

"He's still breathing?" Sev asked Malak.

"Yeah," Malak said.

"Uhhhhh...." Ben groaned.

"Ben. Don't move," Sev said. "You might make whatever injuries you have worse." Sev had an emergency combat medic pouch on his belt, and he took it out and ran a diagnostic with a tricorder. "OK, he has a few broken ribs. Blaster didn't make any lacerations, far as I can tell, but he's still got impact trauma."

"Fuck," Ben moaned.

Sev looked at Malak. "How did this happen?"

Malak took Sev's hand and showed him in the Force. When he was finished, Sev let out a low growl.

You're very sure a direct, balls-to-the-wall, let-it-all-hang-out confrontation isn't our best course of action? Sev snarled in the Force.

Do you really think Kylo is going to stand against his wife and his grandfather? Especially if he might be in on it somehow?

Sev wanted to bang his head against the wall. FUCK, he almost screamed out loud.

At this point, Malak said, I'm hanging in there long enough to see how deeply Kylo is involved with this shit... and if there's a way we can get him out of it.

And if he's just as guilty as they are?

Then I understand why he said it was going to feel like a real war.

What?

...Ah, shit. Malak facepalmed.

Sev did what he could do with Force Heal on Ben, but he was still going to need to have his ribs set, and Sev wasn't going to attempt to do that here in darkness. The Force Heal did ease Ben's pain, and put him in a trance-like state.

The police finally came in a little while later. Most of the factory workers had been taken care of, and the few that weren't restrained or badly injured enough that restraint wasn't necessary, were easy enough to subdue. Medics came to take Ben out on a stretcher, and Dennis went with Ben in the med evac speeder.

"Go home and get some rest," Kylo told everyone, "and we'll convene at the Temple for debriefing at 0900."

Malak and Reine rode back with Dooku and Sev in a private speeder taxi. Sev leaned on Dooku, half-asleep, and Dooku looked out the window at the Arcana City skyline, lit up in an electric rainbow, reflecting on the river. He stroked his meditation beads, gently.

"What are those, anal beads?" Malak asked him.

Dooku's eyebrows raised. "What?"

"Ah." Malak gave a small, tired smile. "I see this is another new subject for your continuing education."

Dooku looked down at the beads he was holding, and then he looked at Malak, and then he looked back at the beads, looking confused.

"I'd normally be happy to explain this to you," Malak said, "but I'm kind of fried right now, so if you're curious... it's on the Holonet."

"Everything's on the Holonet," Reine said. "If you can think of a kink or a fetish, it's out there. If you think there's a kink or fetish you have that nobody else does... it's out there."

"If you think there's a toy you'd like to invent... somebody else already did." Malak and Reine looked at each other, and then they looked off to the side in separate directions, and then back at each other, laughing.

Malak squeezed Reine. "I'm so glad you're OK. Scared the shit out of me."

"Me too," Reine said.

"I wouldn't be able to take it if I lost you." Malak kissed Reine, his eyes warm.

"Indeed, that may have been part of the plan." Dooku looked at the couple seated across from him, as he stroked Sev's curls. He thought of when he was Arren Kae, and Sev was General Yusanis, and they had been ripped apart by the Mass Shadow Generator at Malachor V - Arren stranded on the planet, presumed dead, left to go mad, while Yusanis returned a broken shell of a man, grieving his bondmate, willing to commit suicide by duel against Revan. It all felt so deliberate now - one's bondmate was sacred, one's greatest source of strength in the Force... so of course the way to take someone out, was to go through their bondmate. When Ben's universe's Snoke had forced him to kill Alyssa... he knew exactly what he was doing.

"I hope not." Reine shuddered. "I really, really hope this is just a series of unfortunate coincidences."

"Milady," Dooku said, "if there is one thing over eight decades of life has taught me, it is that where Force users are concerned, very little to almost nothing is coincidence. And if - 'if' -" he made air quotes, a habit he'd picked up from Sev "- that is the case here... we are all in grave danger and must proceed with extreme caution."[1]

"I just don't understand why Valyeris, and even maybe Kylo, would want us... well..." Reine didn't finish that statement, and she didn't need to. "I mean, Kylo made this big deal about how we're the Seven Light, we're in this ka-tet and we were all brought together for a greater purpose... it was like getting the band back together..."

"...perhaps to break up the band before it could start its reunion tour," Sev finally spoke up, groggily.

The rest of the trip back to the Temple was spent in uneasy silence.

Chapter Text

Dooku and Sev were both so exhausted by the time they got back home from the mission that they went right to bed and Dooku did nothing but set the alarm clock; when it went off, Dooku pushed the clock onto the floor with the Force and a big "FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF." His entire body ached, and he was in no mood to deal with this Knights of Ren schism or be assigned to more ridiculous nonsense like jumping out of planes at eighty-three years old.

He and Sev meditated together, showered, dressed, and went to the Temple; Sev ate a breakfast bar on the way there, looking surly. Dooku made a mental note to plug "anal beads" into the search engine of the Holonet when they returned home.

Ben could not be present at the de-briefing - as it was, Dennis showed up late, because he was having to help take care of Ben, who could not overexert himself and had limited mobility with fractured ribs. Dennis sat next to Sev; Sev leaned on Dooku, and Dennis leaned on Sev. Maul gave them a disapproving glance before he began.

"We're still not finished with interrogating the new prisoners or analyzing the computer data taken from the factory," Maul said, "but the interrogations and downloaded data did confirm an important piece of information... pointing in the direction of where to go and what to do next."

Maul clicked on the holoscreen, and Sev and Dennis's jaw dropped. Sev gasped. "What the -"

"This is Joxa Shihai," Maul said. "She is one of the higher-ups in the Bando Gora cult, working her way up from an independent seller of death sticks to one of the chief distributors, as well as one of the high priestesses of the cult."

Maul noticed Sev and Dennis's reactions. "You know her."

Sev and Dennis looked at each other and Sev said, "Without getting into too much detail, my brother and I have a personal history with her."[1]

"Good," Maul said.

Sev and Dennis wanted to smack him for saying that. So did Dooku.

Maul went on, "Your personal history with her will make it easier for you to help us to scry her location. She changes safe houses every few days, and she will no doubt go even deeper into cover following last night's raid, which was well done."

Malak frowned. "I wouldn't quite call it well done. We had one casualty and a major equipment failure that contributed to said casualty. We need to be a lot more careful next time."

Valyeris gave a small, sympathetic smile in Dennis's direction. "How's Ben doing, Dennis?" she asked.

Dennis had yet to touch base with his siblings about what happened, but he'd heard enough from Ben in the infirmary that he felt suspicious, and it was a struggle to keep his face and tone neutral. "Well, you know, he's injured, but it could have been worse. He'll be kind of a handful to take care of the next few days."

Valyeris nodded. "Please tell him I hope he feels better soon."

Sev felt like he could spit.

"There will be enough time between now and the next mission for very careful planning of mission protocol and procedure," Maul said. "Your assignment for today is to get what rest you can - tomorrow you will begin scrying to try to locate Joxa Shihai. We are hoping to acquire a personal affect of hers or something she's touched recently, between now and then, to make the job easier."

They were dismissed, and Sev was the first to leave the room, storming off ahead so he wouldn't be pulled into some awkward group conversation where Valyeris was inviting them all somewhere. Dooku caught up with him, and took Sev's hand. He could tell Sev was upset, and not just because Sev was itching for a fight that couldn't happen yet. "I imagine that you have a lot of feelings about your path crossing with that of your ex partner," Dooku observed.

"Yeah." Sev gave a little growl. And then a bitter smile. "If I didn't know better I'd say her crazy ass followed me here to Arcturus."

"Remember what I told you." Dooku squeezed Sev's hand, and Sev recalled the conversation they'd had about Joxa in his office. "You are mine. She'll have to get through me to get to you... but if she does find a way, all I have been teaching you - especially the difficult lessons - has been for this moment."

"I know." Sev leaned in to give Dooku a quick kiss. "I love you."

"I love you, my own."

Sev and Dooku were heading to Sifo-Dyas's office, and so was Malak. They arrived from opposite ends of the Temple, and after Sifo-Dyas had let them in, Malak put a Force barrier on the door to block sound in case anyone was eavesdropping.

"We have a situation," Malak said, taking a seat.

"We always have a situation," Sifo said, sipping coffee.

"Well, this is a new one." Malak told the story of what happened on the mission last night. "Very interesting series of coincidences, is it not?"

"Extremely." Sifo's eyebrow went up.

Malak took a deep breath. "So Kylo has told me, a couple of times now, that he needs to push me into a position to fight him, in order to make some kind of plan work... I guess, involving the First Order's conquest of the Galaxy. He says it's going to feel like a real war, where he will lose me as his best friend, and when I tried to talk him out of this and to let me help him another way, where he and I are on the same side and aren't, you know, hating each other, he said it has to be like this and that some of why he's doing this is to protect me because apparently someone wants me dead. After last night, I am very sure Valyeris and Anakin Skywalker are prime suspects in that department."

"But either of them on their own, or even both of them together, would not be reason for Kylo to be so alarmed he'd think you needed an entire army to back you up," Sifo-Dyas said.

"Also," Sev said, "'I love you and I'm just doing this because I care about you' is something way too many people have used as an excuse or as a way to cover their asses and keep someone loyal while continuing to heap fuckery at them. My ex-girlfriend - the very same one we're going to be scrying to find and ostensibly have some sort of confrontation with - stalked me because she loved me, you see. At the very least, it's a convenient smokescreen for Kylo to claim to be on your side when he really isn't."

Sifo leaned back in his chair. "My first instinct, hearing all of this, is to tell you all to leave, right now, and go to Serenno. Forget about your careers in the First Order, forget about the consequences of being deserters with a price on your head for leaving. And I believe that is going to be the ultimate outcome of whatever is going on here. But before you do that, you need to know for sure what is happening. You need to know for sure who is truly on your side and who is working against you, and in the case of the latter, who is behind it and how deep it all runs. Valyeris and Anakin seem involved, but I highly doubt it's just them, and learning how and where the lines connect... that requires standing by just a little longer. See this operation with the Bando Gora through to its end. I have a feeling it is connected to all of this somehow, and in the time it takes to handle the Bando Gora situation, we can work together on piecing the evidence we do have... things we do know."

Dooku nodded. "Agreed," he said. "Whatever conspiracy is happening, has been very carefully hidden until now. That means a great deal of planning... and the more we know about those plans, the better we can protect ourselves when we leave."

"Yeah." Malak ran a hand through his short hair. "I just really fucking hate this."

Sev rubbed his brother's knee. "I know."

Malak looked at Sifo. "So on the note of scrying, if you have some time today, I'd like you to come with me to the Sith alchemy lab so we can take another poke at the multiverse."

"All right," Sifo-Dyas said, nodding.

"In particular..." Malak sat back in his chair and steepled his hands. "I think we need to look at the universe where Ben came from."

"You don't think Ben is...?" Sev's eyebrows went up.

Malak shook his head. "No. What I do think is he was intentionally targeted last night, and I want to know why, and I think whatever's going on with where he's from is a clue to why."

_

After meeting with Sifo-Dyas, Malak went grocery shopping with Dennis, and came back with him. Ben was laid up in bed, hopped up on painkillers, but still grouchy. Malak decided to stop in the doorway of Ben's bedroom and say hello as Dennis put the groceries away.

"Hey," Malak said.

"Hey." Ben attempted to smile, but it just looked like a frown.

"Mind if I come in and sit down for a few?"

"It's a free planet."

Malak walked in, and sat in a chair near the foot of Ben's bed. Ben rolled onto his back, wincing.

"Hurts like a bitch, huh?" Malak asked.

"Uh, yeah? Breaking ribs kind of does that." Ben shook his head. "I'm on the really good shit and I can still feel it. It burns, and it's like being stabbed every time I move."

Malak nodded.

"They offered to kill me." Ben laughed, and then he grimaced - the laughter was aggravating his pain. "When you respawn, it heals your physical wounds. But it also stops your aging. Which is something I'm very not OK with right now. Bad enough I'm still alive, I don't want an abnormally long life span on top of that."

"I get it."

Ben turned his face to look at Malak. "So... I suppose I should say thank you for shielding me last night."

Malak nodded. "'S what I do."

Ben took a deep breath, and winced again. "I know that your bad history is with my Revan, and your good history is with Kylo's..."

"...well, up until the end..."

"...but I never stopped caring, even when we were on opposite sides of the Force, fighting each other to the death. I always regretted that it came to that. I missed your friendship."

"I know."

"I know you're Kylo's best friend, but... I could use another friend while I'm here."

"You got it." Malak reached out to pat Ben's knee.

Then Ben cracked a grin. "Thanks, meatbag."

"If I didn't think it would hurt more than is fair, I'd throw a pillow at you."

There was a pause, and then Malak said, "So... I didn't just come here as a social call."

"Yeah, I know." Ben rolled his eyes. "Here we go."

"After what happened last night, I have reason to believe your life is in danger. Kylo Ren may have spared your life, but that may be a 'for now' rather than a 'for good'. I don't know quite what's going on, and I won't know for a little while yet, but even if you start to feel better in a few days, don't go on any more of these missions. Play up still being in pain, if you have to."

"I didn't want to go on them anyway. You think I want to work for the Knights of Fucking Ren? No offense, bro."

"None taken." Malak scratched his head. "To be honest, I think my days in the Knights of Ren are numbered, too."

"Good."

"Meh." Malak scowled. "I hate that it's all coming apart like this."

"Well, you know... Sith happens."

Malak laughed. Then Malak got serious. "I need to ask you a few questions about where you're from, if you don't mind."

"OK."

"So the opener is the really obvious one. You don't have a twin brother named Kylo where you're from, do you?"

Ben looked at Malak like he'd grown a second head. "...No...?"

"It was a legitimate question."

"...Yeah I know." Ben took a deep breath. "You know how I know?"

Malak waited.

"So," Ben said, "you saw this in the pensieve. When I was trying to kill myself, I flew into a black hole, or what I thought was one. I found myself approaching Tython. When I landed on Tython my ship was greeted by a bunch of people with blasters and lightsabers."

Malak nodded.

"Turns out I'd crossed into another universe, one where people had started the New Je'daii Order on Tython, and most of the older generation had wound up there because they were fleeing genocide... caused by the Republic."

Malak nodded some more. "Kylo's had Force visions of the genocides. He's been convinced it will happen here."

"Well..." Ben tried to fold his hands over his chest, winced, and moved them lower. "I was there for awhile, and the Luke Skywalker from this universe was also there, with some chick named Rey. And that's how I found out about Kylo in this universe. But I also met... oh shit." Ben laughed, and winced, and laughed again, and winced harder. "Oh man. So... I met Kylo and his brother Ben, which is to say, that universe's version of me. And they told me that this universe's Kylo needed to be stopped."

"Seems legit."

"Yeah. That entire fucking place was weird. Weird in a good way. I came close to just saying 'fuck it' and staying there because the people were so warm and the parts of Tython I'd seen were nice... I didn't get to see all of it, like the forests, I was in the desert most of the time... also, fuck sand... but it also felt like I... didn't belong there. I don't really belong anywhere."

Malak felt like hugging Ben, but he didn't want to risk it with Ben's injuries.

Ben went on. "You're there, you know. Your name is Claer, and you run Anil Kesh, the Temple of Science. You were tracking the space-time rifts when universes intersect. When I arrived here, and Dooku and I were duelling, I knew he looked familiar to me but I didn't immediately place it because the Dooku I dealt with was... younger, but he wasn't. Like he was old as this one but somehow he'd stopped aging in his fifties. Also everybody called him Yan."

Malak nodded again. "Revan and I made so many universes that we had to use a marker system to keep track of people. When Dooku is Dark Side, his name is Idis, and when he's Light Side, or not strictly Dark Side, his name is Yan. The names mean 'wolf' and 'yew tree' in Serennian, respectively, which symbolize the differences in his alignment. He's still dangerous, not a man to be fucked with, but one alignment shows that side of him more obviously."

"Well the other big mindfuck is Yan Dooku is Ben and Kylo's grandpa, because he and Sev adopted Han, so that universe's Ben and Kylo's surname is Dooku-Skywalker. Sev over there has green hair and he's... less stabby? I didn't have a lot of interaction with Yan and Severus, but they were nice. Everybody was nice, but Yan and Severus were like this nice old mellow gay hippie couple."

"Yeah, that's Jenth... so named because it was the ninth universe. Jenth is a very special universe."

"Special would be one way to describe it."

Malak took a moment before continuing. "The reason why I asked you about having a twin brother named Kylo is because the situation in Jenth, where Ben and Kylo are brothers, is not a fluke. It happens that in every universe I've found but this one and the one you're from, you and Kylo are twin brothers. Kylo Ren isn't just a cryptograph of Daegen Lok, the Je'daii he was a long time ago, but Kylo is a family name on his Naberrie side. I think one of the reasons why Kylo really resents being called Ben is because on some level he's aware he isn't Ben, most places - that's his brother. He doesn't want to be called by his brother's name."

Ben's jaw dropped. He closed his mouth, and then he opened it again. "Holy shit."

"Yeah."

"I am tripping BALLS. I AM TRIPPING ALL THE BALLS." Then Ben grinned. "In Jenth, Kylo's name is Kylo-Dyas. Grandpa named him, I take it?"

"I think so, then." Malak grinned back. "It makes sense though, doesn't it? You really are more like his brother than another him, from what I can tell. Your personalities are different, the way you dress is different..." You have better taste in partners... Malak's eyes followed Dennis as he walked in Ben's bedroom and handed Ben a drink before sitting down.

"Thanks, man," Ben said, smiling at Dennis. The way Ben smiled at Dennis made Malak smile.

"So a few more questions," Malak said, "and then I'll be on my way. I have an appointment with Sifo-Dyas."

"OK."

"You said you met another version of me, named Claer, when you were in Jenth..."

"...and another version of Sev... and another version of Dennis." Ben looked at Dennis. "Your name is Dougras, over there."[2]

Dennis's eyebrows went up.

"I didn't interact with you... uh, other-you, a whole lot, just briefly," Ben said, "but you were good people. Quieter. Kind of sad."

I bet there's a story behind that. Dennis's curiosity was piqued, but he had a feeling it would lead down a very painful path and he had enough to deal with at present.

"So," Malak said, "where you come from... did you meet any versions of us along the way?"

"Actually, no," Ben said, "and knowing what I know now, that seems really weird, doesn't it?"

"Extremely. Our paths don't cross in every single universe, but they cross more often than not."

And then that awkward silence, and Ben said, "There was Alyssa, if she was who Valyeris is here."

"You guys met at the New Jedi Order, like how Kylo and Valyeris met?"

"Yes."

Malak looked off to the side, and then he spoke with hesitancy. "Did Alyssa tell you to kill your classmates at the New Jedi Order?"

Ben made a face. "Uh, no. What?"

Malak let out a long sigh.

Dennis also made a face at Malak. "What the fuck?"

"...Yeah." Malak sighed again. "I know some things about Kylo, being his best friend. Valyeris didn't just help him kill everybody at the New Jedi Order... it was her idea. And she introduced him to Snoke."

"WHAT THE FUCK," Dennis yelled. "And here I was thinking over the last while that she was just Kylo's useless sidekick girlfriend."

"I'd fell into thinking that too," Malak said, "because after that whole business, Kylo took charge of the decision-making, or at least it looked that way. But she has, or at least had, more influence on him than anyone realizes - it's why I want to stick around for a little while and see if Kylo is being manipulated by her and needs my help to get out of it - and it's why when shit went down last night, I had a very bad feeling she was responsible or had helped Anakin with it, anyway."

"Let me make this abundantly clear," Dennis said. "If I find out Miss Thang was responsible for hurting Ben, Kylo won't be able to protect her."

Malak's lips quirked. So, when are you and Ben getting it on?

Fuck you.

The Force ships it, you know.

Could we not talk about this right now?

I'm just saying, you're protective of him like he's your mate. You might consider there's a reason for that.

Dennis looked away from Malak, while Ben lay there, stunned that his compassionate, conscientious roommate had more or less threatened homicide... over him.

Ben finally spoke. "Alyssa didn't tell me to kill anybody... and I didn't meet Snoke through her... But she wasn't useless. The entire reason I fell in love with her was because she was strong, courageous, a real warrior..." He broke down, crying.

"Ohhh..." Dennis sat on the edge of Ben's bed, and used the Force to pass over tissues. He stroked Ben's hair, without thinking about it.

"I miss her so much," Ben sobbed.

Malak waited a few minutes before continuing. "My final questions are about your parents, and I'm really sorry I even have to ask this considering you're... upset."

"Whatever," Ben said. "I'll live. Just hit me."

"OK. So I know from the pensieve that your relationship with your universe's version of Han and Leia is a lot more dysfunctional than Kylo's. Your iteration of Han drank and was occasionally violent towards you when drunk, yes?"

"Yes." Ben frowned. "Which is another thing that doesn't really make sense, if things stay somewhat consistent across universes. My interaction with this Han has been limited but I can tell he really does care about Kylo and he's... not a bad guy."

"Your Leia drank and got abusive too?"

Ben nodded. "It was verbal rather than physical, but yeah. She was a sloppy drunk."

Dennis's eyebrows went up. "Wait, what?" Dennis gave Malak an incredulous look. "I know that variables change with universes but it wouldn't change this radically, would it?"

"Usually not. It's complicated, as everything always is." Malak folded his hands. "As I was saying to Ben before you came in, Dooku's alignment will change depending on the universe - sometimes he stays Jedi, sometimes he goes Sith, sometimes he goes Sith and then back to Jedi, and in the Jenth universe he's Je'daii - we all are, in this ka-tet. But whether Dooku is Light Side or Dark Side, he's still himself and there are consistent ways he'll behave, including adhering to the personal code of honor he has. Even at his worst, there are lines he doesn't cross. If someone is a serial killer in four out of five universes, more often than not, they're not suddenly going to be a swell person in the fifth universe. Jenth Kylo probably isn't a bad guy, but he's an idealist here too... it's just that Snoke got to him here, and it seems that Snoke either isn't around over there or his path hasn't crossed with Kylo's."

Dennis and Ben nodded; Dennis also noted this was the first time Malak had ever admitted his best friend might be "a bad guy".

Malak continued. "Not everything is always the same, but in general, the more things change, the more things stay the same. We could only change four variables per universe with the Cross of Changes, and changing things like age or Force alignments will change the course of history, but it's a lot harder to change the core of who someone is, especially someone who keeps reincarnating with certain consistencies to their personality and things they do, across lifetimes. So Han and Leia being such a radical departure from their usual selves is really... it's a cause of concern. It's yet another red flag that somebody, probably with a knowledge of Sith alchemy, deliberately tampered with Ben's universe, possibly even to fuck with Ben. And so, my final question is... was your mom with your uncle Luke? She'd been discrete about it here, to not traumatize Kylo, but there was a point when that information came out, and it seems like the sort of thing you'd know about if it was happening there."

"No, it wasn't."

"OK. That was the final confirmation I needed that something's up. Leia and Luke's relationship is... important. Bondmates are pretty consistent across universes, so them not being involved is another warning sign." Malak got up from his chair. "Thank you for answering my questions."

"No problem," Ben said.

Dennis walked Malak to the door.

"So, take care of him," Malak said.

Dennis nodded. "I'm about to call his mom... um... well, you know, not his mom..."

"...I get it..."

"...to let her know what happened." Dennis pressed his forehead against the wall and made a Wookiee noise. "What a hot mess this is all turning out to be."

Well, maybe you and Ben can make the fun kind of hot mess when he's feeling better.

COULD. YOU. NOT.

That guy Dougras? Your other you, from Jenth? Has a few bondmates, and one of them is... well... he's married to that universe's Ben. They didn't want to be obvious about it in front of this Ben because he was raw from grief over Alyssa, so he doesn't know, but...

YOU CAN GO NOW.

Malak hugged Dennis and gave him a kiss. "We should schedule a time for me to come over and have some 'brother quality time.'"

"Yes, we should. I'll be able to think about that when things are a little calmer and I'm running on more than fumes." Dennis kissed Malak back and then he opened the door and pointed outside, a mock stern look on his face. "Get your ass out of here."

"Love you too." Malak blew Dennis a kiss, and Dennis caught it, laughing. Then he closed the door behind him and leaned against it, making another Wookiee noise. He really didn't need or want that information about his other self and Ben - he cared about Ben more than he felt he had a right to - and what about Leia?

What the hell kind of pervert am I, being attracted to both the mother and the son?

...Apparently, the kind of pervert who fucks his own brothers.

_

Dennis took a longer shower than usual - not only did the hot water feel good on his sore muscles, but he felt dirty after last night's mission. He hadn't simply worked up a bit of a sweat running around the factory complex and getting prisoners rounded up, fighting off guards and attack droids, but the energy in that place was bad, even for a Dark Sider, and he felt like even if he sloughed off a few layers of skin, the ick wouldn't come off.

Dennis wrapped a towel around his waist, went to his bedroom, and dialed Leia's holophone. When she answered, he smiled at her, and his smile got bigger as she ogled him, shirtless, dripping wet from the shower.

"Hello, sailor," Leia purred.

"Hey, baby." Dennis kissed his fingers, and then touched them to Leia's hologram. Leia beamed at him, and Dennis bit his lower lip. "I miss you."

"I miss you too." Leia took a deep breath. "I appreciate you calling. I've been worried since last night, knowing you were out there..."

"I would have called sooner than this, but." Dennis sighed. "Some shit went down that you should know about."

Leia frowned. "Did Kylo get hurt?"

"Not Kylo. Ben."

Leia closed her eyes, and opened them with a shudder. "I felt it."

"I had a feeling." I felt it too, when he went down.

Hurr hurr, came Malak and Sev's voices in the Force, in unison.

SHUT UP, YOU TWO. Dennis gave them a shove out of his head. Those moments of sibling telepathy-eavesdropping didn't happen often, but when they did...

"How... how bad is it?" Leia's eyes widened.

"Not too bad. It would have been worse if we weren't wearing protective gear. He got shot with a blaster, fractured a few ribs. He's in a lot of pain."

The noise Leia made was almost a hiss. "I want to see him."

"He's not exactly in condition to be driven or walk over."

"No. I can come there."

When Dennis didn't respond immediately, Leia said, "I am his mother and I'd like to see him -"

"Baby, I normally have no objection to you coming over. It's just..." Dennis took a deep breath. "...Something's going on. Malak thinks there was sabotage on the mission last night. We have to be really careful if you come by. There can be no risk of exposure."

"I can wear a hooded robe like I did last time. You think that would help?"

"...I'd also suggest taking a bit of detour there and back, in case you're being followed."

"You seriously think someone's going to follow me around?"

"I have no idea. I hope not, but... I'm just paranoid right now."

"Well, let me tell you something, honey - I am a mother whose son has been hurt. Whoever's out there, trying to fuck with him... and you... they have more to be afraid of from me, than I do from them."

Dennis gave a little growl. "You know you get me hot, right?"

Leia smirked. "I hadn't noticed."

"Yeah. It gets me all... hot and bothered... when that tough side of you shows itself." Dennis bit his lower lip again.

Force, I love it when he does that. "Well, hold that thought for later. Do you guys have plans for dinner?"

"I bought some groceries, I was going to cook -"

"-I'll cook for you guys."

"You don't have to..."

"I insist. Ben needs that special mom magic."

"OK. 1700 hours sound good?"

"Sounds perfect." Leia blew him a kiss. "I love you."

"I love you."

"Thank you for looking out for him."

Yeah... there's been a bit of looking. Dennis felt a pang of awkwardness and conflicted guilt. He wanted both of them - not at the same time, that would just be weird - but he didn't know how either of them was going to feel about that, and he worried about losing them both. As it was, he and Ben hadn't had The Talk yet, they'd been dancing around it, and Ben being on painkillers was not the time to ask, "So, fancy a shag?"

Dennis heard a cry, and he said, "Ah shit, that's Ben. I gotta go. See you in a few hours."

Dennis was still wearing only a towel, and it didn't register until he was already in Ben's room - his first concern was to Ben's safety, or any pain he was in. Ben had taken a nap after Malak left, and had another nightmare. He was also due for his next dose of painkillers, even though he was still groggy from the previous dose.

"Here," Dennis said, giving Ben a pill with a glass of water. "I know you're not very alert right now, but your mom... um, this universe's Leia... is coming to make us dinner later."

"Oh. OK." Ben's voice sounded sad and far away.

"I'm sorry you keep having nightmares." It felt trite, but Dennis felt like he needed to express some kind of sympathy.

"Yeah, me too."

"Want me to tuck you back in?"

"Please."

Dennis tucked Ben in, and spent a moment stroking his face, not able to help it. Ben smiled at him, and Dennis skritched the beard on Ben's chin like he was a cat. When Dennis pulled his hand away, Ben grabbed it, and then Ben ran his other hand down Dennis's chest, fingers playing in the chest hair... making Dennis shiver.

"You're really beautiful," Ben slurred, just before he passed out.

Dennis didn't know what to make of that - he was in just a towel, Ben was high as a kite - but it still made his face flush anyway, and he almost walked into the wall on the way out.

_

Mace Windu was making shrimp gumbo for himself, Finn, and Reine.

As he cooked in the kitchen, Finn opened up about his time in the First Order, when he was the Stormtrooper FN-2187. He was not only treated terribly by his fellow Stormtroopers, who got to bully him without superior officers intervening, but he was the best shot in his class, and had been assigned to janitorial duties aboard the Finalizer.

"So your talents were wasted," Reine hissed.

"Yeah."

Reine facepalmed. "Ever since Kylo found me a few years ago, I've been hearing nothing but how horrible and awful the Jedi are, and how the First Order is going to be so much better than the Republic. But this?"

"Granddaughter," Mace said - that word still felt strange on his tongue, but it fit - "I could tell you some things about the Jedi, since I am one."

"I bet you could."

"We were not perfect. The very corruption in the Republic, and specifically in the Senate, was what allowed Palpatine to maneuver into power. My... Raskta, your grandmother, was one of the few good Senators left. In fact, she wanted to secede Eshan from the Republic to join the Confederacy of Independent Systems because of how corrupt the Republic was. Considering what happened to the Separatist worlds once Palpatine became Emperor, though, I'm glad she didn't, because you wouldn't be here... your cousins wouldn't be here."

Reine and Finn looked at each other and cringed. They had the same cringe face.

Mace stirred the pot and went on. "The Jedi Order, in its last few decades of operation, was also rotting from within. They became a lot more inflexible and intolerant with its members, much more willing to punish severely for smaller offenses... and they sent us on some questionable missions. Ask Dooku about the Battle of Galidraan sometime, if you've got something that needs a lot of salt." He added some seasoned salt to the gumbo pot. "One of the worst offenses of the Jedi was insisting that all strong emotions were a path to the Dark Side. We're not even talking about the anger and fear that everyone automatically associates with the Dark Side. We're talking about excitement. Even love. Especially love. The Jedi had long since outlawed intimate relationships but they were even stricter about that in my day. Didn't stop me from falling in love with your grandma, but it did mean I struggled with feeling like a failure as a Jedi, like I was doing something wrong for something I couldn't help."

"It makes me glad I didn't meet Malak at the Jedi Order," Reine said.

"Yeah. When you have these people who think normal emotions are bad, and relationships are bad, it makes them less sympathetic to... well... folks who aren't like us. The same folks we were supposed to be protecting and serving. We were less sympathetic to the fear they lived with in lawless, chaos-torn parts of the Galaxy... the pain they felt at losing family or seeing the ones they love suffer. Oh sure, we had a basic universal compassion, but it's not the same thing as empathy. Very few of us felt real empathy. It was something Dooku and I talked about a few times. He felt bad because he loved Yoda like a father, and Qui-Gon like a son, and not even that was something the Jedi Order permitted. He felt like a piece of his heart broke every time he went out there and there were people he couldn't save, or he walked into the aftermath of something horrible and had to help folks clean up the mess... and there was nobody he could talk to about this. The so-called 'mind healers' would just tell him to meditate more."

"That's bullshit."

"Yes. It is." Mace stirred the pot again, and added some fresh herbs. "But even with all of our flaws... we were still the guardians of the Galaxy. We still tried to help people. There was none of that, after Order 66. The Empire preyed on people. The First Order wants to bring that back. I don't fault you, or your friends, for being dragged into all of that. But I think you were sent here because the Force is giving you a chance to get out. Maybe even a chance to stop them."

The gumbo was at a point where it could just boil; Mace joined them at the table and poured himself a glass of water. "Sifo-Dyas, Dennis, and Ben are working on a program at the Temple for grey Force users. I told them I'd be interested in joining it when it's up and running. Even though the Jedi aren't as strict as they used to be, they had their time, and they still emphasize not feeling anger... shoving pain away rather than dealing with it." And with this last sentence, Finn and Reine saw the pain in their grandfather's eyes. Haunted by the Clone Wars, haunted by coming back after the end to a half-life without the woman he loved, killed by an agent of the Empire.

"It's time for me to deal with my pain," Mace said.

Finn and Reine hugged him at the same time. "You don't have to deal with it alone," Reine told him.

Mace nodded. "I want to hold a memorial service for Raskta. Not a big thing, just... family and friends... and be able to say goodbye to her, properly. And mourn the son I never..." Mace broke down, crying.

Reine started crying, too. "All I'd ever wanted, in the orphanage, was a family. We never knew our mom and dad... we never even knew each other..." Reine reached out to Finn, and they squeezed each other's hands.

"And we went through a lot," Finn said. "The orphanage was really strict... and mean, from what you told me... and so was the First Order, when I was a child soldier..."

"It just doesn't seem fair." Reine looked like she was in pain. "Our parents were in that accident so young..."

And then Mace scowled. "You know," he said, "there's something that's been bothering me about all of this."

Reine and Finn leaned back, and Mace sat up in his chair, squaring his shoulders. "Your parents - my son and his wife - were killed when you were just a few months old. In an... accident." Mace's scowl got angrier. "Your cousins' parents were murdered when they were six. Raskta was assassinated within a couple years of my death. I notice the Yusanis family has this tendency of dying. And according to the reports I read, when your parents died, one of the detectives thought it was foul play... and then he ruled it an accident in concordance with the others... and then that detective died, in an accident." Mace turned his head a little to the side. "You don't think that's all a coincidence, do you?"

"...So you think Mom and Dad were murdered?" Finn asked.

"Yeah, I do." Mace sat back in his chair, and folded his hands on the table. "I know they were murdered. It's one of the shatterpoints." Mace narrowed his eyes. "In that same series of coincidences, you," - Mace turned to Reine - "were put in an orphanage... and you," - Mace turned to Finn - "were conscripted by the First Order." Mace turned back to Reine. "There were boys at your orphanage, right?"

"Yes, sir."

"And there were female Stormtroopers," Finn said.

"So it wasn't because Finn was a boy and you were a girl." Mace's folded hands turned into fists. "It's like someone intentionally tried to separate you." Mace turned back to Reine. "You say Kylo Ren found you a few years ago?"

"...Yes."

"...Were you on the same planet where you'd been in the orphanage?"

"...Yes. I didn't have anything like money to travel off-world."

"That's another really interesting coincidence."

Reine stood up. "You're not saying Kylo knew about all of this all along, did you?"

"I didn't say that... but he might know something... and I guarantee you someone in the First Order, maybe even Snoke himself, knows all of it."

Reine activated her lightsaber. "I AM GONNA KILL THAT LYING-ASS MOTHERFUCKER."

"Reinie..." It just slipped out of Finn's mouth, and when Reine glared at him, Finn let out a "meep" and ducked, even though Reine hadn't taken a swing at him.

"Now, Reine," Mace said, "I know you're upset... and you have a right to be... but you can't just..." Mace took a deep breath. "So long as we're all on Arcturus, he can be resurrected. He can also call the First Order down here to... deal with you. We have to have a plan about how this is all going to go down."

"His head is gonna go down," Reine snarled. "It's gonna roll."

"...You're a lot like your grandmother." Mace chuckled. "Echani women, they are FIERCE..."

Reine turned off her lightsaber and sat back down. She made a Wookiee noise. Mace patted her hand.

"The day of reckoning will come," Mace said, "but not for a little while yet. We have to be smart about how we do this."

"I feel like someone put a lightsaber in my back," Reine growled. "The level of betrayal... if this is true..."

Mace nodded. "Believe me... I'm angry about it myself. Whoever's behind this, went too far, and it's personal now." Mace sipped his water. "But we'll plan. And in the meantime... I'll have to set a date for that memorial service."

_

Meanwhile, Count Dooku was learning about anal beads.

His immediate reaction to what came up on the Holonet was to cringe - the meditation beads, which very clearly could double as anal beads - were a gift from Yoda, and Yoda had smiled especially hard when he said, "Have a set, do I. Borrow them, Chewie does. Relax you, it will."

But then his mind was filled with mental images of what he could do to Severin - or what Severin could do to him - and he stopped cringing, and started plotting.

Sev was taking a nap - sleep had been at a premium for him lately - and Dooku's fantasies and plots were interrupted by the sound of Sev waking up crying. He calmly made his way to the bedroom.

"Are you all right, my love?" Dooku asked him.

Sev shook his head.

Dooku sat on the bed and pulled Sev close.

"I had a nightmare," Sev said. "Joxa. Kylo. The First Order."

"You're here now." Dooku stroked Sev's curls, his face, his beard. "You're here, safe in my arms."

"I will never be safe," Sev said. "Not until this is over. You know... we already have evidence shady shit is going on. I don't know why we can't just set off this explosion. The longer we draw it out, the more chances there are for another situation to happen like what happened to Ben..."

Dooku put his index finger to Sev's lips. "Yes and no. We were not prepared for what happened last night, because we went on the mission acting in good faith, assuming that Kylo, his wife, and his grandfather were all on our side. The next time we go out there, we will not be operating under that assumption. We will be prepared."

"I'm not just talking about missions, though," Sev said. "I told you how I was recruited into the First Order. Dennis and I had the day off from school. We were at a skate park, skateboarding. General Hux shows up with Stormtroopers and hauls us off at gunpoint. I'm lucky he's a cat person and he let us go to our apartment - with armed escort - and get Pookie." Sev shuddered. As if on cue, Pookie headbutted him, and Sev began to pet the black-and-white cat, who settled into Sev's arms with a smug look on his face and the "paw of ownership" on Sev's arm, purring loudly, kneading. "I'm worried that sooner or later there's going to be a knock at the door, and we're gonna open the door, thinking it's one of our friends or family... and it's going to be someone from the First Order, with blasters again, but this time here to shoot us, and haul our dead bodies away, before we can be brought back."

There was a silence, and then Dooku let go of Sev, and climbed off the bed, rising to his full six feet five inches, squaring his shoulders. Pookie hopped off the bed and trotted out to the kitchen.

"Child, do you know who I am?" Dooku asked.

"My sexy old man?"

Dooku smiled a little... and then he bitchfaced. Hard. "No. I didn't ask what. I asked who. Who am I, Lord Levitas."

Sev understood the prompt. "Darth Tyranus."

"You're goddamn right."

Their eyes met, and Sev raised his eyebrows.

"And now," Dooku said, "you are going to understand. I led the Separatists in the Clone Wars. I built the foundation of the Empire. It went in a direction that I never intended for it to go, but nonetheless, there wouldn't be an Empire if I hadn't built it. If the First Order, led by the Knights of Ren, is in the plotting, infiltrating, and backstabbing business, I was playing that game, Confederacy against Republic, when Kylo Ren's mother was not even a gleam in his grandmother's eye. If the First Order thinks they are going to bring back the Empire, it isn't theirs to bring back. It's MINE. MINE BY RIGHT. I was STOLEN from, and I am taking back what is mine. ALL OF IT. If Kylo Ren, his wife, or anybody in the First Order - even Snoke himself - thinks they are going to get one over on me, seeing what I see now, they are sorely mistaken. They are about to find out very soon that my path is all too clear now, and if they want war, it is a war they will get, above and beyond what they asked for, above and beyond what they planned for, what they can handle. In the Clone Wars, I did not have the added motivation of a family to protect, a bondmate to protect, and I do now, and you had better believe I will not fail this time. The sins of Sidious and Vader will rain fire and blood upon them, and I will cleanse the corruption from the Galaxy once and for all. NOTHING, NOBODY, is going to get in the way of our future together, and take you or any of my family away from me again. You worry about opening the door and getting shot? I am the danger. I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS."[3]

Sev's jaw dropped. Dooku looked away; he was breathing a little hard, riled up... a fire that he rarely demonstrated. A touch of Severin's fire.

When Dooku and Sev looked at each other again, Sev whispered, "Fuck me."

They quickly got undressed, and Dooku climbed onto the bed, leaning over Severin, his body like a living shield wall hovering over him. Sev reached up to wrap his arms and legs around Dooku, pulling Dooku's body against his, shuddering at the deliciousness of Dooku's chest hair, arm and leg hair teasing his smooth, sensitive skin.

"My protector," Sev husked.

"Always." Dooku kissed Sev hard, and then kissed along his jaw, down to his neck. "I protect what is mine."

"Mmmmm. I love seeing you like this. You're so... wolfy."

Dooku's response to that was to nibble on Sev's neck, growling as his teeth grazed Sev's flesh. "You bring out that side of me, little one."

"So... is my wolf going to eat me?"

Dooku smiled. Wordlessly, he used the Force to tie Sev's wrists to the headboard of the bed with the length of black rope he'd bought at The Black Lotus. Sev bit his lower lip, looking at Dooku expectantly.

"I'm not going to eat you," Dooku rasped, kissing and nibbling down Sev's torso. "I'm going to devour you."

He swallowed Sev's hard cock down to the hilt, making Sev buck his hips, crying out. The way Dooku's mouth felt, sucking his cock, working his tongue as he sucked... the look of heat in Dooku's eyes as he watched Sev's responses... being bound to whatever Dooku wanted to do to him... so good. Sev trembled, moaning as Dooku's head slowly moved up and down, nodding, then circling, the wet velvet heat of his mouth suctioning Sev's cock as good as anything had ever felt. Sev was in ecstasy.

That ecstasy was about to go deeper. Dooku used the Force to produce one of their vibrators, and lubricated Sev's ass before pushing the vibe inside. Dooku continued sucking Sev's cock as he slowly fucked Sev's ass with the vibe, in and out, in and out, keeping the vibe on its lowest setting to tease him. Dooku loved to tease Sev - twice the buildup, double the release.

Sev writhed and howled and Dooku had only just begun. He waited a few minutes before turning the vibrator to its next setting, and as the vibe pulsed harder and faster, Dooku's tongue licked up and down the length of Sev's cock, from the head to the sensitive ball sac, down to the exquisite place where balls and ass met, and back up. Kissing, lapping the head of Sev's cock, savoring the lightly sweet taste of the precum starting to flow.

"Please, fuck me," Sev moaned. "Please..."

"Mmmmmmmm." Dooku took Sev's cock back into his mouth, sucking slowly. His free hand cupped Sev's balls, and he used the Force to caress every inch of Sev's body in time with the slow rhythm of the vibe in and out of his ass.

"Fuck, Idis..." Sev was thrashing against the restraints now. "Daddy..."

"I am enjoying this thoroughly." Dooku took a few more licks at Sev's shaft, his head. "A beautiful cock like yours deserves to be worshiped." He kissed the head of Sev's cock, took just the head into his mouth to swirl his tongue around it, suck and suction it, making Sev crazy with sensation and lust. "And a beautiful arse like yours deserves worship also."

"Please, give me your cock..."

"I am giving you something else first." Dooku gave him a wicked smile.

Sev watched as Dooku used the Force to bring over his meditation beads - there were nine of them attached to a loop, and they were graduated. Sev's eyes widened. He knew what anal beads were, but he'd never played with them - Malak and Reine had, and had highly recommended them.

"Where did you get those from, Malak?" Sev asked.

"No." Dooku cringed. "Father."

Sev couldn't help laughing, so hard he gave himself a cramp. "Yoda... gave you... anal beads..."[4]

"They're meditation beads." Dooku bitchfaced. "Though yes, I do think he gave them to me knowing they serve an additional purpose... because I guess a father wants his son to be happy."

It's no worse than anything Other!me has suggested to son!Han Solo. Sev got the mental image of his green-haired alternate universe counterpart telling a grownup Han, at his wedding party with Leia, "And this is why I told you to eat your yogurt without the spoon." Wow, am I really this bad in every universe?

Sev grinned at Dooku. "Giving your adult children adult toys isn't normal, but in this family, it is?"

"I suppose so." Dooku sighed, and then he laughed, too. Then he asked Sev, "Have you used these before?"

"No," Sev said, "but I'm open... ha, ha, I'm really open, at the moment... to trying them."

"Good." Dooku withdrew the vibrator from Sev's ass, and then pushed the strand of beads inside, slowly, holding the loop. "Let me know when you're close to coming." Dooku had been doing research on how to use them. With that, he took Sev's cock back into his mouth.

The anal beads just stayed inside, for the next few minutes, but Dooku made up for the lack of fucking stimulation inside of him by sucking Sev's cock harder and faster, massaging his balls. And then Dooku's tongue was on Sev's frenulum, licking just the way Sev liked as his mouth continued the kiss, and Sev felt his balls tightening, the beginning of that surge.

"Almost there," Sev panted.

Dooku took Sev's cock out of his mouth and his tongue lapped at the slit, collecting the precum, tasting it. He began to pull the beads out of Sev's ass, one bead at a time, slowly. "Who do you belong to?"

"You..."

Dooku sucked the head of Sev's cock for a minute, before taking a few teasing licks and asking, "Who owns you?"

"You do..."

"Your life is in whose hands?"

"Yours..."

"And that means your pleasure is in my hands." Dooku got down to the last bead - Sev was shaking from head to toe now, making inhuman noises. He pushed the strand back into Sev and pulled it out again slowly, as he sucked Sev's cock for all he was worth. I love pleasing you. Love taking care of what is mine...

"Daddy..." Sev whimpered. "Daddy... oh shit... I'm so close..."

"Mmmmmmmmmm." I can't wait to taste you, my own. To savor every drop of my delicious little brat... swallow you like the wolf I am...

The beads went in and out of Sev's ass then faster and faster, like Dooku was playing a musical instrument, and Sev shrieked as he let go, coming in Dooku's mouth. Dooku groaned as his mouth was flooded by Sev's thick, hot cum, which always tasted a little like fruit with a hint of spice and musk. So good... so him.

Sev felt like he couldn't stop coming. It was one of the hardest orgasms Severin Yusanis had ever known, if not the hardest. The combination of Dooku's oral skills - which he'd learned from Severin himself - the play of the beads on his prostate, and the surrender of being tied up... the vulnerability of trust, trusting his wolf to protect him, to please him... it was too much. Sev sobbed, pleasure shattering him to his core.

Dooku drank Sev as much as he could, and used his tongue to clean the rest, giving Sev delicious aftershocks. "Delightful," he said.

"Fuck..."

Dooku was ragingly hard, his cock flushed almost red, leaking so much precum the entire shaft was slick with it. "And now, my own, you will get what you asked for."

Dooku produced the leash with the Force, hooked it into Sev's collar, and then pushed into Sev, and fucked him hard. He gripped Sev's cock and it hardened again right away, and Dooku stroked it in time with his thrusts, harder and harder. The intense look on Dooku's face - close to anger - and the sight of his powerful, sculpted, white-furred body moving, excited Sev like never before. "Yes, Daddy, yes, fuck me, fuck me, fuckmefuckmeFUCKME," Sev cried out, bucking his hips in time with his Master's.

"I am taking what is mine. MINE."

"Yours, yours, YOURS... YES..."

"Come for me, my pet. Come for the one who owns you. Let us come together, as one."

They did. It was glorious. Dooku had never been so vocal during orgasm before, moaning, shouting Severin's name over and over again as he spent and spent and spent into Sev's contractions and Sev painted him with cum.

Dooku used the Force to untie Sev, and Sev wrapped around him once more, the two rolling onto their sides so they could hold each other. Dooku wrapped the leash around his hand, giving it a little tug. Dooku was still resting inside Sev, and it felt cozy and sweet. "I've got you," Dooku whispered, pulling Sev into his chest, stroking his curls. He kissed the top of Sev's head. "Now and always. I will never let you go. I will never lose you, ever again."

The beads had served their purpose: they were both deeply relaxed now.

_

Leia made homemade chicken vegetable soup with biscuits, for Dennis and Ben. The three ate in Ben's room.

"This soup is, like, the best soup," Ben said.

"It was made with love."

Ben put his bowl down, and Leia came over to gingerly give him a hug around his shoulders, not wanting to aggravate his ribs. Ben cried into her, and she rocked him, and Dennis found himself rocking both of them, and crying with them. The three hugged and rocked and cried until Leia said, "Eat your soup before it gets cold."

When they had finished a few helpings of soup and polished off the light, fluffy, buttery biscuits, Leia made homemade ice cream - vanilla with fresh sliced strawberries. Ben was once again like a big kid, enjoying it, and Dennis felt that tug at his heartstrings.

Leia saw the way Ben and Dennis looked at each other, and she knew, They love each other. They should be together. And as long as neither of them were offended, she still wanted to be with Dennis. They were all consenting adults. But now was not the time to have that conversation with them - she could sense they were both conflicted about their feelings for each other, especially with the future being so uncertain.

After dessert they played a board game, and Ben told Leia, "So a little bird told me the Resistance could use another member."

"You might have heard that correctly."

Ben nodded. "When the Je'daii program gets off the ground here, I'm not sticking around. Give me an assignment, and I am down for kicking First Order ass." He turned to Dennis. "You shouldn't stay here either."

"Well, I do have to see what happens with this Bando Gora business," Dennis said. "My Forcey sense tells me we're going to find out something - a piece of information we need, and that we shouldn't leave here without."

"Yeah, it fucking sucks," Ben said. "I don't think I'm up for another round of being shot, and the longer we're here, the greater the likelihood of that happening."

Dennis squeezed Ben's hand. "Not if I can help it."

"And son?" Leia set her jaw. "My door is open day or night, if you need me. If you need a safe place to go."

"Well, Mom..." The word just came out, and Ben went with it. "...I am a grown man. I can fight for myself."

"Yes, but. Strength in numbers. Don't let pride and the need to 'prove yourself' get in the way of common sense. And since you're joining the Resistance, you can consider that an order, young man."

Ben gave her a mocking salute. "Yes, ma'am."

Leia saluted back, stuck up her middle finger, and then so did Ben, and they laughed together. Dennis laughed too, his heart warmed to see that little moment of bonding between them.

After they finished their board game, Dennis and Leia worked on the dishes in the kitchen, and then Dennis pushed Leia up against the wall. "I could use some more dessert," Dennis said.

Leia kissed him, and then she said, "Ben..."

"...isn't up and around a whole lot right now. So we'll be quiet." Dennis dropped to his knees, hiked up Leia's skirt, pushed aside the crotch of her panties, and his tongue worked its sweet, sensual magic, bringing Leia to a knee-shaking, wall-sliding climax, more intense for having to stifle her cries.

Dennis sat on the couch for Leia to give him a blowjob, and when he finished, Leia sat on his lap, kissing him hard. "I could ride your cock all night long," Leia whispered in his pointy ear, before nibbling and sucking on the point.

Dennis kissed her. "You could, but..."

"Ben." They said it in unison. Leia nodded. "So I'll go home, and we'll... plan that activity for another time." She licked the shell of his ear, and then down along his jaw, her tongue fluttering against his before he claimed her mouth again. "I'll be thinking about it, though. I might make myself come thinking about it."

"Mmmmmm. Me too." Dennis kissed her again.

Leia put on her Sith robe, and Dennis walked her to the door. They paused on the doorstep, holding each other, not able to resist a last kiss. And another. And another.

"I love you so goddamn much," Dennis said.

"I love you too." Leia's arms tightened around him. "And thank you for..." She wanted to use the word "loving", but didn't. "Caring about my son."

"I care about both of them," Dennis said - what was happening with Kylo was hurting him, he didn't like to see the bad in people. "But yeah, I have a soft spot for Ben."

They kissed one more time, and then Dennis said, "Oh shit, put on your hood."

Leia did, and walked down the steps, out to the sidewalk, out to the New Force Order Temple campus parking lot, to take the long way home.

Valyeris Ren smirked from behind the shrubbery several meters down from Dennis and Ben's apartment, where she had taken over a dozen holophotos of the exchange. "Dennis Yusanis, you are a dead man," she snickered.

Chapter Text

Just before the scheduled meeting at the Temple to begin scrying for Joxa Shihai, Valyeris said to Kylo, "Honey, can I talk to you for a minute?"

She had Kylo sit next to her on the couch, and she said, "I have something to show you."

When she produced a phototablet, Kylo smiled a little and asked, "Sexy pictures?"

Valyeris laughed. "Not exactly."

The first set of holophotos were taken at the medical lab near the Temple - Malak and Reine were outside of the lab, and Kylo's first impression was She got a pregnancy test. But then he noticed a third person in the pictures, being friendly with them. A young dark-skinned man who Kylo would recognize anywhere. FN-2187. The traitor.

Kylo's eyes narrowed.

"What are they doing with the traitor?" Kylo spat.

"I don't know," Valyeris said, "but it might be connected to this."

The next set of holophotos were of the First Order's Colonel Dennis Yusanis, passionately kissing General Leia Organa-Solo of the Resistance, on the front steps of the apartment Dennis shared with Ben Skywalker-Solo.

Kylo didn't know what angered him the most about those pictures: that it was one of his Knights of Ren fraternizing with the enemy... or that it was one of his Knights of Ren making out with his mother. And either would have been bad enough, but together...

Valyeris purred as she watched Kylo's eyes shift gold. "Wait, honey, there's more."

Valyeris had taken pictures at Dennis's living room window. There was a series of pictures of Dennis Yusanis sitting on his couch, Leia kneeling between his legs, her head in different positions with each photo, as Dennis's face contorted with ecstasy. If it wasn't very obvious Leia was giving him a blowjob, the last picture was taken at an angle so Kylo could see Dennis's thick cock in Leia's mouth, with Leia giving him a naughty, wanton look, obvious heat in her gaze.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO," Kylo bellowed.

Valyeris ducked out of the way; Kylo took his lightsaber to the living room coffee table, screaming wordlessly as he hacked it to pieces.

He sat, then, and turned off his lightsaber, seething with rage. Gasping for breath. Visibly shaking.

Valyeris waited a few minutes, and then she gingerly sat back down next to her husband and put an arm around him.

"You see, honey," she said, "this is why I told you to execute Ben."

Kylo gave Valyeris an annoyed look. "What does this have to do with Ben?"

"You say keeping Ben alive fits into your plans. Having Malak and the others leave the First Order on bad terms and start their own military faction to protect themselves from us, and then the New Republic comes after them because thanks to history, they see Tyranus and Malak as a bigger threat than you... and between Tyranus and Malak's army and ours, the New Republic is eliminated. OK, that used to sound like a good plan. But now? From where I sit, well... this doesn't quite look like fighting the New Republic. This doesn't look like anything compatible with your plans. Things haven't even started yet and they are already coming apart. So I'm asking you, once again, to kill Ben. Kill them all."

"Ben will be seen by the New Republic as another me, if he is even acknowledged as a separate person from another universe. Ben will once again fall to the Dark Side, when he loses a second bondmate in a row, and his thirst for revenge will be insatiable. As such, Tyranus, Malak, and Ben are all necessary to this plan - the New Republic has good reason to fear each of them on their own, and moreso the three of them working together. The others are expendable." He sneered at the holopicture of Dennis Yusanis before turning off the phototablet in disgust. "He will die." He looked at Valyeris. "But not today."

Valyeris stood, her hands on her hips. "Once again... this?" She turned the phototablet back on, deliberately to the picture of Leia's mouth full of Dennis's cock. "Is not in accordance with your plans. These people who you think will behave in a predictable manner, are already behaving unpredictably. And that is a problem, where you and I are concerned. We cannot fail in this objective, and there is already more margin for error here than I like."

Kylo pinched the bridge of his nose, and took a few deep breaths. "I know what I'm doing."

"Yeah..." Valyeris tapped the holopicture. "It sure looks like your mom knows what she's doing, too. Damn, she can deep-throat."

Valyeris smirked as the phototablet hit the wall, Kylo's eyes blazing gold again, and even though the phototablet was damaged as it bounced off the wall, Kylo still needed to finish the job, his lightsaber drawn once more, stabbing the phototablet over and over again. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO," Kylo roared. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO."

Kylo finally dropped down and sat on the floor, next to the broken pieces, making Wookiee noises.

"Let me be the one to remind you," Valyeris said, "I recruited you to the First Order. And why? Because Alameen was an Imperial stronghold. My people lived in luxury when the Empire reigned. And we no longer had to worry about the Jedi coming after us for our Living Force traditions, where they were too willfully ignorant to learn and understand the difference between what the Alameenian Force priestesses and shamans do and what the Sith do. Once the Empire fell, the New Republic punished us... including sending many Alameenians away to labor camps. Our economy has suffered under sanctions. So naturally, we were one of the first territories along the Unknown Regions/Outer Rim border to welcome the First Order, with its promise of bringing back the Empire... liberating us. All I have done, I have done for my people. For the love of you, yes... but also for the love of my people. My home."

Kylo looked at the floor.

Valyeris paced up and down. "So, for my people, I joined the First Order, I became a Sith, and I was sent to the New Jedi Order as an undercover enemy agent. I had experience with infiltration and covert ops when you were still a Jedi, trying, and failing, to be a goody-goody Light Sider. We have done things your way since we killed the Jedi, and there is much I can commend you for - such as the destruction of the Hosnian system, where the New Republic has been struggling to rebuild since its headquarters and many of its resources were lost, and they were shown just what we are capable of. It sent a message. It struck fear into their hearts. You are surely a strong, competent military leader - I recognized that in you when I met you, before you saw that in yourself. But I think you would do well to let me take the reins on our way off Arcturus. This has already dragged out too long. I am tired of pretending to be bland and dull and useless and harmless, just the Commander's wife, when I could be the bloody Commander myself. I am tired of pretending I know less than I do about the Dark Side - do you know how difficult it was for me to exercise restraint and be the last one Darthed in the group, a title I'd already been given by Snoke years ago? How difficult it was for me to pretend to know less about lightsaber combat than I do, where I had to realistically put up a beginner's fight against Maul in our Kaggath, when I could have finished him in minutes? And I am tired of being here. I am tired of associating with these Knights of Ren who don't know what being a true Sith is about, who are more Jedi than Sith. Let me finish them. We don't need them for you to conquer the Galaxy."

Kylo closed his eyes, and remained silent, with his eyes closed, for a few minutes. Valyeris could tell he was meditating, possibly even trying to scry on the situation. When Kylo opened his eyes, they were their usual dark brown, almost black. Rage still lingered on him, but not with the intensity of before - he had a clearer head now.

"We are proceeding according to plan, until I say otherwise," Kylo said. "And those plans are to be executed at the time I appoint, and not a moment sooner."

"So how much longer?" Valyeris spat. "Days? Weeks? Months? Do you realize how many months we've been on Arcturus, now? You reading Sith grimoires in between us going to coffee shops... us doing a lot of nothing while Hux is out there subduing the Outer Rim one system at a time? The Outer Rim would already be ours, all of it, if we weren't stuck here playing this bullshit game."

"It's nice to know you think my plan is bullshit."

Valyeris folded her arms. "Being your wife, and the mother of your as-yet-unborn child, does not mean I have to agree with you on everything. If you can take criticism from Hux, you can take it from me."

"You have already said enough."

"Well... fine. But could you give me a timetable, at least, so I can start counting down the days till we can get out of here? It's driving me mad."

Kylo took a deep breath. "If all goes exactly according to plan, Tyranus, Ben, and Malak will be departing for Serenno in approximately two weeks, give or take a couple of days."

"That long?"

"Two weeks isn't a long period of time, love."

"It is when one has been stuck on this shithole for months."

Kylo got off the floor, and began to walk away from Valyeris, towards the 'fresher. Before he could go too far, he paused mid-step and looked over his shoulder. "Is there anything else you need to tell me before I excuse myself?"

"...I took matters into my own hands and shot Ben on the factory raid."

"I know."

There was a moment of silence, and then Kylo turned his back, and said, "Do not attempt to assassinate him again. That is an order. Wife or not, I will have you court-martialed if any further assassination attempts are made on anyone in the group before the explicitly appointed time." Then Kylo walked to the 'fresher, while Valyeris began to clean up the broken coffee table and phototablet before Malak and Reine could find out what she'd done.

_

Kylo and Valyeris were about ten minutes late for the meeting at the Temple - they'd had make-up sex. Valyeris strolled into the meeting with a big grin on her face. "Helloooooooooooo," she greeted everyone.

"Well," Reine said, "you're looking awfully chipper." Malak let out a guffaw, and then he elbowed his wife.

"I love my husband," Valyeris said, and proceeded to kiss him over and over again, until Maul cleared his throat, glaring at them with exasperation. At least Tyranus and his pet are professional, Maul thought to himself, annoyed.

"OK, Chippy," Reine said. "Time to start the serious business." Malak covered his mouth to restrain the snickering.

"The employees at the factory have small storage lockers," Maul said, "and it so happens that Joxa Shihai had a personal storage locker and some items were found inside of it." He gestured to a collection of random objects on a table. "Each of you will take one, and use Force psychometry to try to get a lock on her presence in the Force and where that presence is currently located. When we find out where she is, we will assemble a team and bring her into custody for interrogation - the people at the factory know they are employed by Joxa Shihai, but Joxa Shihai is being employed by somebody, and when we find out who, we can work on a plan to bring the organization down altogether."

"Where are we doing the scrying?" Sev asked, with a frown.

"Each of you can take an object back with you. I would prefer that the scrying be done individually, so mental noise from others does not interfere, and also because it is a skill each of you should already be working on if you are not already in the habit of doing so. I would recommend clearing some time in the Sith altar room, where there is a dedicated scrying chamber, but the scrying could be performed at your homes. And I would like this to begin as soon as possible - work on it tonight, and if any of you have a lead, contact me as soon as you know, otherwise we will reconvene tomorrow."

"What if nobody finds anything before this time tomorrow?" Kylo asked.

"We will allow one more day of working on it individually before other methods are implemented," Maul said.

"When you say other methods..." Sev raised an eyebrow.

Dooku took a deep breath. "Maul and I both had Sidious as our Sith Master, and he was fond of inflicting pain - flagellation, specifically - for this kind of work. The pain was said to shock one enough to get one out of one's head and help 'open one's eyes'."

While Sev liked pain in a sexual context, and wouldn't be opposed to Dooku whipping or caning him for Sith ritual purposes either, he was not into the idea of it being administered by Maul or one of the other Sith, especially not when everyone was having to watch their back more than usual. Sev made a face. "Hopefully, my Force connection with Joxa is still strong enough that it won't be too hard to find her," Sev said.

"Do be careful with that," Maul cautioned him. "In your particular case, if you look for her and you find her, she will also be able to find you."

Well, that's one more person I have to watch out for, I guess. Sev and Dennis were allowed to make the first selections because of their history with the subject. Sev chose Joxa's hairbrush, which had a little of her hair in it, and Dennis chose a half-empty bag of individually wrapped hard candies, mints by the look of it.

The others picked off the table one at a time, and the last item was Dooku's, who approached the table reluctantly - it was a clean pair of underwear and socks, presumably there for emergency purposes. The underwear was a bright blue thong, trimmed with ruffles, and the socks were a pale blue with pink owls on them. It seemed like an unusual choice for a drug kingpin, but then, it didn't seem like an unusual choice for someone who had been intimate with Severin, if she hadn't been his total opposite.

Dooku grunted disapprovingly on his way out. "I really did not want the thong," he said.

"At least it wasn't Yoda's?" Sev grinned.

Dooku bitchfaced.

When they were a safe distance away, Dooku put a shield around them and he told Sev in the Force, I will be accompanying you to the Solos' this afternoon.

Sev nodded. All right.

I feel in light of our situation... escalating... I need to touch base with General Organa about a few matters. Also, I feel that until we are off Arcturus, you will need to mask your presence in the Force going to and from their house, and today I can show you how to do that.

They stopped at the apartment for Sev to change out of his First Order uniform - he was at the point where he wanted to burn it - and put on civilian clothes. After spending a few moments with the cats, Sev and Dooku were off on a speeder bike. Instead of going directly to the Solos', Dooku took a detour to a park, and once they were at the park, Dooku demonstrated to Sev how to use Force Stealth.

"It's not strictly a Sith skill," Dooku informed him. "I learned this from Master Yoda when I was a youngling."

"You got into mischief with it, didn't you?"

Dooku gave him a small smile. Then he said, more seriously, "I had nightmares when I was a child. Flashbacks. I was afraid the Force ghost of the man I killed when I was six, who was... inappropriate... was going to come back and haunt me. I was afraid my mother would find her way to Coruscant from Serenno and have me executed as she had planned, just before the Jedi Order took me. So Yoda taught me how I could hide myself."

Sev hugged Dooku tight, his eyes burning with tears of pain for the small, hurt boy inside his bondmate... and love for the man he became, with a passion for justice and a strong protective streak born in what he had endured in the first six years of his life. He also felt something like love towards Yoda as well - for all the failings of the Jedi, Yoda did what he could with what he had to work with.

_

When they arrived at the Solos', Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were also there, helping Leia in the garden. While Sev went to Han's "mancave" to work on Makashi and Force skills, Dooku helped Qui, Obi, and Leia bring in the last vegetable harvest.

Han noticed Sev was troubled, and he waited until after his lightsaber lessons - he was already a natural - to bring it up, as they smoked their usual bowl together.

"I know something's up," Han told him.

"OK, well... you know Ben got hurt on the mission we went on. I mean Other Universe Ben, not Kylo, Sarah."

Han bitchfaced at Sev, and Sev bitchfaced back, and then they laughed together, and Han nodded. "Yeah, Leia told me... and I felt it. I knew something was wrong."

"Well, a lot of something is wrong." Sev gave Han the basic overview of what he knew about the situation thus far. "And I know you're going to say 'well, what do you expect with the First Order', but I really don't need platitudes over my involvement in a military junta I didn't sign up for."

"I'm not gonna preach at you," Han said. "I'm a smuggler. I'm not exactly a paragon of upstanding morality."

Sev nodded. "I've had a lot on my mind, and that's why. It looks like we're going to be leaving for Serenno in the very near future, to save our asses. And I know you had a hard time when I was stuck doing triage for almost three days, so I figure I ought to let you know now... it really fucking sucks that I'll be leaving you behind just as soon as this got started. I'm going to miss you."

Han scratched his head. "What's Serenno like?"

"I was only there for a week, so I'm not the best spokesperson on this subject, but it was pretty. Perfect mix of city and rural, in Carannia. Picturesque. People are polite. Food is amazing. Lots to do."

"After I was resurrected, Leia wanted us to stay on Arcturus for awhile to have some stability... something approximating a normal life for awhile... but we could do that on Serenno."

"Yes, you could." If Sev had a tail, he would be wagging it, but he tried to keep calm.

There was a pause, and then Han said, "That's not the only thing bothering you."

"No." Sev sighed. "Two other things."

"Lay it on me."

"OK, the first." Sev pulled out Joxa Shihai's hairbrush. "This operation we're doing... my ex-girlfriend is one of the people involved -"

"-I thought you were gay-"

"Mostly. I make occasional exceptions. She was one." Sev went on. "My ex-girlfriend and I had a messy breakup. To make a long story short, we met in med school, and when she started to flunk out she decided to use the lab to make death sticks. So thaaaaaaaaaaaat was a dealbreaker for me, and she went psycho and stalked me after I got her in trouble."

"Yikes."

"Now she's a drug kingpin, and I'm not entirely sure it's coincidental that our paths are about to cross again... and that feels... how do I put this... the implications of that bother me. It feels like that is somehow tied in with this other fuckery, and I'm not sure how or why, but it's not just me who thinks so. My brother Dennis does too, and he's got a good nose for bullshit."

"Yeah, I heard he has a good... never mind."

Sev laughed. "Yeah, he does," he said. Then he continued, "We're supposed to be scrying to track her location, and Maul told me if I get a lock on her, because we have a Force bond thanks to our past intimate history, she can find out where I am too. So I... had this crazy idea, that if I scry for her here, that might mask my location so if she shows up here looking for me, then you and Leia and maybe even Finn can kick her ass."

"It's worth a shot," Han said. "But won't Kylo find out if the cops show up here to pick her up?"

"...Yes, but I think we're getting to the point where Dennis and I are going to have to come clean with him about us helping you, and also make him understand that we're doing this for his own good, and maybe some understanding might be able to be worked out between you and him. Leia had talked to Dooku about him possibly joining the First Order and trying to influence Kylo towards a more moderate position. That isn't going to happen now, but if his parents were involved... you guys stand a better shot."

"I am not now, or ever, joining the First Order. Fuck that shit."

"Don't you want your son back?"

"More than anything in the world."

"This may be the way, Han. You can save your son and the Galaxy, at the same time, maybe."

"Or maybe I could get stabbed again." Han made a Wookiee noise.

Sev shrugged. "Well, you're a grown-ass adult, and I may be your Sith Master, but I can't tell you what to do. I do know this - everything is unravelling now, and sooner or later, Kylo is going to find out about all of this. It's less likely to end badly if you look like a hero who's helped him with a common cause like shutting down the Bando Gora."

"That's part of the problem." Han took a swig of ale and leaned back on the couch. He gave Sev a look that said I can't believe you haven't already thought of this, you're a smart guy, you're a frickin' doctor. "You mentioned that you think the Bando Gora stuff is possibly connected to this other stuff. That feeling is probably right, in a way you're not expecting it to be. You may want the Bando Gora shut down... that doesn't mean my son does."

Sev's jaw dropped. "What."

"I'm just sayin'." Han took another swig of ale. "Back in the Empire days, there were a few groups trying to overthrow whoever the Empire put in charge of their planet. You know how most of them funded themselves?" He made a smoking gesture, and then rubbed his thumb and index finger together. "Death sticks are a multi-trillion credits industry. You ever wonder who funds the First Order and all those state-of-the-art ships and weapons and fancy uniforms they got?"

"Oh, come on. The First Order isn't some guerrilla unit trying to take a banana republic's dictator out of power. They're professionals."

"Even professionals get their hands dirty. Especially professionals." Han sipped his ale. "So, what do you want to bet if I'm right?"

"Oh, we're taking bets on this now?"

"I only bet on sure things." Han grinned.

"Well, you're going to be WRONG." Sev rolled his eyes. "That's just fucking crazy." And yet, something told him it might not be all that crazy... but why would the Knights of Ren be assigned to take down an organization providing a major source of funding for the First Order?

Han replied in the Force. To clean the evidence, and provide a smokescreen for the Bando Gora to move their operations somewhere else.

...Fuck, I hope that's wrong.

"If you think I'm so wrong," Han said aloud, "then what I win should be really special. Something you wouldn't do under normal circumstances."

"In that case..." Sev leaned back and steepled his hands. "If you win, I'm going to tell my brother Malak you have the hots for him and set you guys up on a date."

Han's jaw dropped. "How did you...?"

"Hello, Force bond? But it's also kind of obvious the way you look at him and drool when he's around... and you seemed way too relieved that Sifo's Atton wasn't a thing with him back in the day, which suggests your Atton was."

"Shit."

"I'm taking that as a yes to that end of the bet," Sev said. "If you're wrong, and I win, I claim the Millennium Falcon."

"I'm only agreeing to that because you won't win."

"Mkay."

"So, you said there were two other things bothering you. What's the third?"

Sev took a deep breath. "Yeah, so... like I said, it looks like we're going to Serenno sooner rather than later."

"OK, and?"

"Dooku and I are getting married when we go back to Serenno."

"Do you not want to marry him?"

"Oh, I totally want to marry him. That's not the problem." Sev sipped ale. "So on Serenno, there's this wedding custom. On Corellia, the father gives the bride away, to demonstrate he's not going to kill an unworthy suitor, which goes back to ancient times. On Serenno, both parties are given away to symbolize that it isn't just the partners joining, but the families are blending and making one larger extended family. Aaaaand, Yoda is giving Dooku away."

It took a moment to register with Han. "Oh."

"Yeah. So... you know, I've always been sensitive about the subject of my dead parents and the fucked-up way my aunt and uncle raised me, but that got kicked up a bit lately because..." Sev closed his eyes, made a face, and opened them; Han could see Sev was close to tears. "I see how much you still love Kylo even after he killed you, and you even love Ben even though he's not your son in this universe... and..." Sev broke down.

Han let Sev cry for a few minutes, and then he gave the younger man a hug... and then a noogie.

"I'll give you away," Han told him.

Sev cried harder. "Thank you," he wept.

Han stroked Sev's hair and gently rocked him, a paternal instinct. "Ben and Kylo could use a little brother," Han told him.

Sev cried even harder. He was getting boogers on Han's shirt, and Han used the Force to bring over a box of tissues.

When Sev calmed down, he finished his ale, and then Han said, "So about this... looking at your ex-girlfriend business."

Sev nodded.

"I think, just because of how unpredictable things are getting, it might not be a good idea if she shows up here looking for you and the police come here and Kylo finds out. Yeah, OK, I get it that sooner or later he's gonna find out. But something tells me that setting that off right now this minute is just... a bad idea."

"OK," Sev said.

"What I can do," Han went on, "is... shield you? You're going to be focused on that vision stuff, so it's going to be harder for you to mask yourself - it's why that Sith guy -"

"-Maul-"

"- was concerned... but if you do it here, I can be that shield for you. You just have to show me how."

"It happens that Dooku taught me how to use Force Stealth on our way over here," Sev said, "so I can show you how to use it while it's fresh in my mind."

"See? It's an educational opportunity."

Sev and Han laughed at that, and then Sev took Han's hands and in the Force, gave Han a "replay" of Sev and Dooku's trip from the park, where Dooku had shown him the mechanics of Force Stealth and had Sev try it. When the mental movie was done playing, Sev then demonstrated for Han, and Han watched Sev disappear almost completely - a very thin transparent layer shimmered on the air before him - and Han couldn't feel anyone else on the couch or feel Sev's presence in the Force.

Then Sev popped back. "You try it," Sev said.

Han got it right away - as he'd spent a lifetime as a smuggler, and had been a General in the Rebel Alliance, learning how to hide and sneak around was second nature to him. The harder part was Han projecting that out to mask both of them, but after a few tries he got it, and when he was able to hold it for longer than a couple minutes at a time, Sev held the hairbrush in his hands.

Sev stroked the bristles of the hairbrush and his mind replayed memories of Joxa, including memories of them being intimate together, with and without Dennis. Sev felt pain at the memories, but the mental images helped to make the visualization of Joxa stronger, which in turn made it easier for Sev to feel Joxa's energy on the hairbrush. Once he began to feel Joxa's Force signature - a crystal cave with a river of volcanic lava flowing through it - he grabbed.

At first it was just a little touch, like pulling on the hem of a shirt. He could feel Joxa was elsewhere on Arcturus... she was in Arcana City, still. He could feel her anger about the factory raid, and fear of being caught - she was planning on another move. But before Sev could see where, he felt a pair of eyes on him, and then a giant shove and slap, making Sev's head hurt. He was thrown off the couch, the hairbrush falling out of his hand.

"Shit," Sev said.

Han popped back, and made a disappointed sound. "What happened?"

"She knew someone was poking at her. I don't think she knew it was me, but she knew it was someone." Sev sat up and rubbed his temples. "Fuck, my head hurts."

"Well, I don't think you should try that again right now, then."

Sev nodded. "I just hope someone can find her before she gets away. She's gonna move safe houses again."

_

While Sev and Han were in the garage, Dooku sat at the kitchen table with Leia, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.

"So it is rather a fortunate coincidence both of you are here today," Dooku addressed the gentlemen.

"Oh?" Obi cocked his head to one side, like a curious cat.

Dooku sat back in his chair and steepled his hands. "To make a long and complicated story short, there are some internal conflicts presenting themselves within the Knights of Ren... enough that it paints a picture that looks like sabotage from within the First Order itself, and possibly with some help from outside." Dooku turned to Leia. "I know you had asked me awhile back if I would be willing to join the Knights of Ren as a double agent, or try to mentor Kylo and influence him. Neither option is possible at this point in time, I am sorry to say."

Leia nodded. "I understand."

Dooku turned to Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. "There is a very real possibility that things will continue to escalate and it will necessitate Severin and I leaving for Serenno on a moment's notice. But you should be aware that if Severin and I have to flee for our safety... a Kylo Ren on the warpath may target those close to us, out of revenge. That means you. That means Master Yoda."

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan looked at each other, alarmed, and then they looked back at Dooku.

"When we leave for Serenno," Dooku said, "I want you and Master Yoda to come with us. In fact, I insist on it. Your very lives may depend upon it."

"The Temple -" Qui-Gon said.

Dooku put up the palm of his hand. "I have to talk further about this with Sifo-Dyas, but I think our gifts are being wasted at the New Force Order Temple, and once on Serenno, a project of ours could be building a Temple of our own... to teach a more balanced Force tradition, one with both Jedi and Sith influence."

Qui-Gon nodded. Then he said, "But there's something else you should know."

Dooku gestured for Qui-Gon to speak.

Qui-Gon reached, taking Obi's hand in one hand, and Leia's hand in the other. "As you know, the three of us have started a relationship. We love each other very much."

"I know." Dooku smiled. "I am happy for you."

"When Obi-Wan and I were reunited, following our resurrection, we'd talked about taking a lifebond vow, finally, because neither of us want to exist in a universe where the other isn't. But we'd held off on that, because it felt... like we needed to wait." Qui-Gon gestured to Leia. "We understand why, now."

"I have loved Leia since she was a young woman," Obi-Wan said, "and her being with both of us... completes us."

"So," Qui-Gon continued, "with Han's blessing... Obi and I are going to be marrying Leia, at some point, and taking the lifebond vow with her. If we leave Arcturus..."

"I was about to suggest that Leia, Han, and Finn should come with us to Serenno," Dooku said.

"That's good," Qui-Gon said, and then he smiled at Dooku and took Dooku's hands in his. "Because when we discussed our plans, we wanted you to be there at the ceremony."

"I would be honored," Dooku said, feeling like he was being stabbed in the heart... in a good way. "But I will take it one step further. It is Serennian custom for the father to give their child away, to symbolize families coming together, blending together as a larger, greater whole. I think of you as my son, and I would give you away." He turned to Leia. "But I know you are not on terms with your father, and he would not be able to stand in that role for you. And moreover... you have pointed out we are a lot alike. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for you. If I'd had a daughter, I imagine she would be a lot like you. And when I was Kreia, and you were the female Jedi Exile I remember, I did indeed think of you as my own. I would have destroyed the Galaxy to protect you. So... instead of giving anyone away, I'd like to perform the ceremony that binds you all together." Dooku cleared his throat. "I'd like to adopt the three of you as my legal heirs."

Dooku found himself smothered by Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Leia hugging him together. "Yes", Qui-Gon said, simply, and then he began to cry, openly, and that triggered Dooku's own tears. Soon Obi and Leia were crying also, and Leia planted a kiss on Dooku's forehead. "Thank you," she said, followed by, "Father."

Dooku reached out for Leia and pulled her close. "Thank you." Dooku closed his eyes and opened them, full of fresh tears. "In the last days of the Clone Wars, I remember feeling as alone as I'd ever felt in my life. Walking along a beach, crushing a seashell in my hand, thinking to myself, In the end, all we ever are, is alone. But I know now, that is not true. There is always somewhere we belong, someone somewhere who will care about us, if we are open to finding our way and letting ourselves love and be loved. The Force has, over the last while, been giving me the family I never had. Never thought I deserved."

When Leia sat back at the table, Dooku pulled himself together and said, "There is another thing, which is related to the current escalation with the Knights of Ren."

Leia nodded. "OK."

Dooku took a deep breath. "When you sat on my couch and asked me to join you... I'm reversing that offer. I would like you to join me."

Leia raised an eyebrow. "How so?"

"When we leave here, Serenno is going to be in imminent danger. The First Order is conquering the Outer Rim, one system at a time. I do not want the Serenno system to go the way of the Hosnian system. I am not interested in asking the Serennian government to petition the New Republic for membership... because that involves having to play by the New Republic's rules, and as you know, those rules don't really work against these kinds of people."

"No." Leia sighed. "They don't."

"I have been doing a lot of thinking," Dooku went on. "It is apparent that neither the Empire nor the Republic is the solution to what's wrong with the Galaxy. We need a third option. And now that things are escalating with the First Order, my path has become clear. I am seeing the real reason why I was resurrected - besides being joined with my bondmate from prior lifetimes, at long last." Dooku squared his shoulders. "I am going to be in touch with some of the government officials from worlds that were member states of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, and see if they are interested in banding together to protect themselves against the First Order, in a way that does not involve having to rely upon the Republic." He gestured to Leia. "We need a military. If you give me the Resistance, I will fund them. Every soldier will get a raise. You will have state-of-the-art vessels and weaponry on par with the First Order, if not better. I will order the construction of droids, to pad out numbers. I will set up a Resistance base on Serenno."

Leia gasped.

Dooku sat back in his chair, and sipped his tea.

"As far as I'm concerned, the answer is yes," Leia said, "but as you know, I am on medical leave, so I am not the head of the Resistance anymore. The decision isn't mine to make. I can talk to the Resistance about it, but that communication won't be secure while we're still on Arcturus, and I can't run the risk of that conversation being intercepted."

"I understand."

"However, the moment we are on Serenno, I will bring it up to the appropriate parties." Leia frowned. "And you should understand, there are people in the Resistance who are not going to like the idea of us joining a faction that not only isn't the New Republic, but is against the New Republic just as much as it's against the First Order. There are people who are going to have a problem with working with 'the Clone Wars guy', someone who is openly a Dark Lord of the Sith."

"Yes, I know." Dooku nodded. "But money talks."

"Yes, it does." Leia sighed deeply. "I'm... shocked. In a good way. If we can get this done, we stand a real chance of defeating the First Order."

Qui-Gon raised his hand, like a schoolchild. "If I may make a suggestion."

Dooku nodded at Qui. "You may."

"When you talk about this with the Resistance... it may help grease the proverbial wheels if you can demonstrate somehow that this isn't going to be like the old Confederacy of Independent Systems. Maybe... modify the name a bit." Qui-Gon stroked his chin and then he said, "Commonwealth?"

"Commonwealth of Independent Systems," Leia said. "I like that. It implies that we're all working together for the common good."

Dooku smiled. "Indeed, we are."

_

When Dooku and Severin returned to their apartment later that evening, Dooku set aside time to attempt the scrying. He went into their bedroom, alone, and lit candles and incense at the small Sith altar he had on a dresser table. He poured water into a black bowl used for visionary work, and then he knelt before the altar, holding the thong in one hand, the pair of socks in the other... feeling ridiculous about it.

Dooku used the Force to shield himself, and then he felt for the energy on the items he was holding. The energy began to knit and weave together... and he could feel the Force signature.

A Force signature he was all too familiar with.

He looked into the bowl, and he saw the face of Komari Vosa.

Dooku, her voice spoke into his mind. I knew our paths would cross again.

And then there was a sensation like being slapped in the face, and Dooku was pushed over. The candles on his Sith altar were out.

Dooku must have cried out in pain, because Sev opened the bedroom door - even though he knew Dooku was doing a scrying ritual, he was still concerned. "Is everything OK?" Sev asked.

Dooku's jaw was open, and he stammered.

"Idis. Are you all right?" Sev's eyes widened, his eyebrows raised. "Did you see anything?"

Dooku stammered some more, and then he found his words. "Joxa Shihai is the reincarnation of Komari Vosa. My last Jedi padawan."

Chapter Text

Sev woke up feeling hungover. He and Dooku had spent a lot of time last night crying together - cleansing old wounds.

Dooku grieved for the downfall of Komari Vosa, his padawan who had been infatuated with him, and when he didn't return her affections she acted out, resulting in her dismissal from the Jedi Order; subsequently she wound up abducted and tortured by the Bando Gora, and then began working for them - she was their leader when Dooku was ordered by Sidious in the years before the Clone Wars to take down the Bando Gora, and he killed her, Force choking her to death. Even after the way she'd behaved towards him in her last days at the Jedi Order, he still had compassion for her - like all of his Jedi padawans, she had been like his child. She had been traumatized in her early childhood, before being brought to the Jedi, and like Dooku, she had been "the gifted one", the top of her class, which created difficulties with her agemates - even with Jedi conditioning, kids were kids, and awful to each other - and she carried around self-worth issues, anger and depression. Dooku had wanted to help her, but she was too troubled. In a better universe, he might have helped her find a suitable young man or young woman to redirect her affections towards, and trained her as a Sith, for her to have a productive way to work through her pain. Dooku knew that his willingness to apprentice Asajj Ventress, despite his misgivings about her, was motivated in no small part by how much Asajj reminded him of Komari. He thought he was getting a second chance to help someone put their broken pieces back together. Instead, Asajj had tried to break him.

And Dooku had visions of another universe, where Severin was his agemate at the Jedi Order, and they had carried on a forbidden relationship, and Komari Vosa discovered it and killed Severin out of jealousy. Those recurring visions troubled him. They troubled him even more now that he knew Komari Vosa had reincarnated as Severin's ex-partner, and their paths were about to cross again. He couldn't lose Sev, like he had lost Yusanis four thousand years ago. Not again.

Sev had grieved with Dooku - Dooku's compassion and sorrow rather than hatred for the broken girl he couldn't save, made Sev love him more - and Sev had grieved for what he'd loved about Joxa Shihai... the good in her that had drawn him to her, had opened his wounded heart and let her in. The way it hurt when his trust in her was shattered, and she quite literally made him fear for his life with her stalking behavior. She had in the almost three years since their relationship ended, gone from making death sticks in a lab, to become one of the major kingpins of the Bando Gora drug cult - even more profitable than they were in the days before the Empire and New Republic had left many without hope. To hold such a job required a certain amount of ruthlessness, heartlessness - something Sev had seen in the final act of their relationship, but never thought it would run quite that deep. Sev was of the Dark Side; Joxa was of the abyss.

And if there was even a small percentage of truth in what Han Solo had suggested - that the Bando Gora was somehow tied to the First Order and this whole business of "taking them down" was in fact just a false flag operation meant to cover evidence and distract them while something else was going on - the idea that anyone in the First Order, especially Kylo, might possibly have known about Sev's history with Joxa, and this seeming coincidence of their paths about to cross once more on Arcturus might not be a coincidence... it bothered Sev. A lot. He was filled with a terror he had not known since he'd left Corellia on the Finalizer at blaster point.

Dooku saw the fear in Sev's eyes - he felt the fear on Severin - and it was his turn to hold Sev, after Sev had been holding him through the night.

"Remember," Dooku told him, "you are mine. I am protecting you. Very soon, we will be going home, and you will be safer there."

"Will we really?"

Dooku raised an eyebrow.

"I mean..." Sev sighed. "There's regen at the New Force Order Temple. The Restorers are an hour away. If we're not on Arcturus and we die..."

Dooku sat up, with an arm still around Sev. He paused a moment, considering his words before he spoke. "The problem with staying here is if and when the final confrontation - whatever that may be - happens, we do not want to be on the same planet as Kylo Ren, when he can command a fleet from just a few systems away. Serenno is further out, and the First Order is not anywhere near the D'Astan Sector at present. Furthermore... I am already in the process of preparing for our arrival, to ensure our safety... so what happened to the Hosnian system, does not happen to Serenno."

"Oh?"

"Yes. I talked with Leia while you were meeting with Han. When I told you the other night that I would be taking back what is mine... I am reforming the Separatist Army. But this time, it will be different. Leia has to speak with the Resistance, but if all goes according to plan, the Resistance will belong to CIS."

Sev let out a low whistle. Then he threw his arms around Dooku and kissed him hard, laughing. "I fucking love you," Sev said.

"I know." Dooku smiled. "And I love you. And I will protect my own. I am even more fiercely determined in this fight, than I was decades ago with the Clone Wars. There is more at stake here." He stroked Sev's face. "Our future is at stake."

They kissed, softly. Then Dooku pulled Sev back into his arms, laying down with him once more. "Sleep now, my love. I will satisfy you tomorrow, but we need our rest if we are going to attempt scrying once more."

"Pfft." Sev made a face. "I've half a mind to say 'fuck it, find her your damn self.'"

"Oh no. We need this piece of the puzzle. It is as Sifo-Dyas said - if we are going to be safe when we arrive on Serenno, we need the full story, or as much of it as we can get. There is clearly much that has been happening behind our backs. It is necessary to determine how much there is, so we can arm ourselves accordingly."

"Meh."

And so, they had slept, and Sev was troubled by more nightmares. After he had been awake for just a few minutes, before he could have coffee or anything, his holophone rang. Sev saw it was Han Solo calling him, and answered it immediately, in a panic about whether Komari Vosa aka Joxa Shihai had traced the scrying and paid him a visit. Or if he'd gotten a visit from someone else.

"Hello," Sev rasped.

Han glared at him. "Where the hell is the Millennium Falcon?"

"What?"

"Well, considering our bet... when I went out to where she's parked this morning, and she wasn't there, I thought maybe you'd actually won the bet and collected the wager without telling me first."

"The Falcon's gone?"

"What did I just say?"

Sev's jaw dropped.

And then Han's jaw dropped. "You don't know where it is," Han said.

"Uh, no."

"Oh. Fuck."

Sev facepalmed. "Oh my fucking Force, I hope Kylo didn't find out you're still here and have it towed so you can't escape from him."

"FFFFFFF -"

"Is he asking about the Falcon?" Dooku yelled from the kitchen.

"...Yeah?"

Dooku walked over to the holophone, still in pajamas. "I sent Chewbacca and Master Yoda to Serenno in the Falcon."

"You did what." Han bitchfaced at Dooku.

"Yes, I was going to call you this morning to inform you. On our way out yesterday I asked Leia to put Chewbacca in touch with me. Chewbacca is performing a special assignment for me. He needed a ship, and I thought him borrowing my solar sailer would be too obvious, and he came here in the Falcon, so..."

Han facepalmed. Then he glared at Dooku through his fingers. Then he took his hand away from his face and scowled. "So you think you just call the shots around here?"

"Han, you'll be thanking me for this later when you're still alive. I've already said too much over the network. Any further discussion can be had with me in person, do you understand?"

"Yeah. You better bring your ass over to explain, later."

"I will." Then Dooku cut off the feed.

Sev put his hands on his hips. "Idis, what the fuck?"

Dooku sat on the bed. "Do you recall when I told you last night I was taking steps to prepare the Serenno system to defend itself?"

"Yes."

"I sent Chewbacca to Serenno with a list of contacts within the Serennian government and special instructions from me, for those contacts. All the spaceport knows is that the Millennium Falcon departed the port late last night. They don't know its destination... and as an added bonus, Father is now safely away from here, and if Kylo Ren decides to inquire to see if the Falcon is still at the spaceport, he will hear it left, and he will assume Han Solo is no longer on Arcturus."

"You're a fucking genius. You also should have told Han."

"Yes, because I really wanted to argue with Han Solo about borrowing his ship when I needed to just borrow his ship, time being of the essence." Dooku folded his arms. "Child, I am telling you now, over the coming weeks and months, and possibly even over years depending on how long this drags out, once in awhile I am going to be making executive decisions that I have to make without consulting anybody, and may even be unpopular once made. This is not going to be a dictatorship - I will be employing advisors, including you - but nonetheless, there are times when I just have to act and not have others stand in my way. This is something you must understand, and must accept, about the situation we're in. If I'd spent last night arguing with Han Solo, that would be hours taken away from Chewbacca's flight to Serenno, and I'd have even less energy today."

Sev nodded. "OK."

Dooku gave him a kiss, and then a swat on the rear end.

_

At the meeting at the Temple, it was determined that nobody, thus far, had been able to get a lock on Joxa's location. Maul was allowing them one more night, before the Knights of Ren and Dooku would be subject to a Sith ritual to beat them into a more altered state of consciousness. This alarmed Sev - he didn't trust Sith Lords like Malgus or Vader as far as he could throw them, and the idea of them being allowed to inflict pain sounded like potential for a trap.

Before the meeting was over, Kylo Ren stood up to make an announcement. "Tomorrow morning we will be meeting here regardless of our findings," he said, "on official business. The surviving soldiers that came with Ben from his universe - the New First Order - are going to be brought into the First Order. In light of the present concerns with the Bando Gora committing acts of terrorism in Arcana City, these soldiers will be staying on Arcturus as military police. I will be hearing their oath of allegiance, and you should all be there, as my Knights of Ren."

Sev struggled to keep his reaction neutral - he looked at Dennis and could feel him bristling.

When the meeting was adjourned, Dooku took Sev and Dennis aside, and shielded them before telling them in the Force: You go on to look after Ben. I will be going to the Solos' myself, to work on Makashi with Han and explain to him about his ship.

Dennis gave Dooku a confused look, Sev said, "I'll tell you on the way," and Sev and Dennis went back to Dennis and Ben's apartment, arm in arm.

Dennis and Ben had spent a lot of time together since they'd become roommates, and over the last few days since Ben's injury, especially. Ben was still largely confined to bed, in pain, but he was tapering down from the painkillers and he was also getting restless, which was a good sign. Dennis and Ben had done a lot of talking, and played board games, and watched holofilms - Ben remarked it was the first time he'd been able to really relax and just be in several years.

Sev gave Ben a once-over, to check the progress of his fractured ribs setting, and then he performed Force Heal on Ben for about an hour, which would help to alleviate pain as well as speed mending time. When Sev was done with the session, he gave Ben a small Force crystal point on a silver chain, to wear around his neck - the point fell over his rib cage. "It will continually push a small amount of Force energy into you to help with pain and setting the ribs," Sev said, "so it'll knock a few days off recovery time."

"I appreciate it," Ben told him.

Sev nodded. "Well, it's not just me being a physician, or trying to be friendly to my brother's new bestie." Sev wanted to say "boyfriend", but he knew Ben and Dennis hadn't had that talk yet and were both nowhere near ready to have that talk. He recalled Dooku's words earlier that morning. "Time is of the essence here, and the sooner you can get back on your feet, the better."

Ben raised an eyebrow. "What now?"

Sev and Dennis looked at each other, and then Dennis sat back in his chair, letting out an exasperated sigh. "So, you know all those people you recruited and brought with you? People who were just as fed up with Snoke and business as usual as you were, and wanted to help you fight Kylo Ren here, before his fuckery spread like a cancer across the multiverse?"

Ben nodded. "I know they've been in custody since they arrived. What's happening to them?"

"The First Order is happening. They're taking an oath of allegiance tomorrow."

"...Are you fucking serious?"

"I'm deadly serious."

Ben covered his face with his hands, made a Wookiee noise, and then he climbed out of bed. He winced as he got up, but he was clearly too angry to stay in bed. Ben grabbed his lightsaber.

"Where are you going?" Dennis asked.

"To finish what I started." Ben scowled, and began marching out of the bedroom.

Sev and Dennis got in front of him. "Now, now, Ben... Ben." Dennis put his hands up. "Don't make me... like... tie you up."

Sev grinned; Ben bitchfaced, and Sev looked away, biting his lip to keep from grinning harder.

"We can't go there right now with trying to kick Kylo's ass," Dennis said. "Especially not when we now have a First Order presence right here on Arcturus, never mind a few systems away."

"I just." Ben shook his head. "I can't fucking believe this."

They sat in the kitchen, and Dennis made tea, because that seemed like the thing to do. Ben continued to make Wookiee noises, and punched the table a few times. Finally Ben was able to articulate it. "Doesn't this seem, like, fucking off to you? These are people who came with me to help me fight Kylo Ren and the First Order. Now they're suddenly loyal to him? What the actual fuck is this shit?"

As if on cue, there was a knock at the door. All three men froze - they all had a wave of panic about the same thing, the possibility that Kylo Ren or someone else from the First Order was on the other side of the door, here to kill them. Dennis opened the door, blaster in hand, and when Malak was on the other side, Dennis almost fell over from relief.

"I didn't want to come straight here with you guys because I thought that might arouse too much suspicion," Malak said. "Reine says she feels like we're being watched and possibly followed."

Sev nodded. "Dooku told me I have to start shielding myself when I go to and from the Solos' for that same reason. If Reine and Dooku are agreeing on something like that, then something is up."

Malak nodded. "I also talked to Sifo-Dyas for a bit."

"Well, pull up a chair, tea's almost ready," Dennis said.

"We were telling Ben about the thing we have to go to tomorrow morning," Sev told Malak.

Malak nodded. "I take it you're not happy about that," Malak said to Ben.

Ben glared. "Um, no. Like I said to the others - doesn't it seem off to you? Because when I recruited these people, they were willing to pay with their lives to achieve the objective of defeating Kylo. In other words, these are people who would not be taking an oath of allegiance because they were told that or die. They'd rather die. So I don't know, were they brainwashed? Programmed?"

Malak took a deep breath. "Well... this ties directly into what I spoke to Sifo-Dyas about."

"Oh, Force."

Dennis brought over tea, and then he sat at the table. All eyes were on Malak.

"So," Malak said to Sev, "a couple days ago I was over here asking Ben some questions about his universe. After Ben arrived, I thought it would be a good idea to finally check in with my Sith alchemy project and see what was going on in the different universes I made with Revan, and a few with Traya, back in the day, to see if there was any other imminent weirdshit we ought to prepare for. And I noticed some consistencies across universes, that didn't line up at all, whatsoever, with what we know about where Ben came from. For example, Ben and Kylo are twin brothers everywhere but here and wherever it is Ben is from."

"Fascinating," Sev said.

"So something about that just felt really wrong. I decided to poke more intensively at it. Sifo-Dyas is helping me because he's a seer and this is the sort of thing you really need two people for, so you don't go completely fucking nuts, and right now, I trust Sifo more than I trust Kylo."

"Dude, right now I trust Malgus more than I trust Kylo," Dennis said, "and that says a lot."

"Yeah." Malak went on. "Well... we can't find Ben's universe."

"What."

"It literally does not exist."

Ben's eyebrows went up. "I'm not lying about where I came from. I couldn't be lying, with the way the pensieve is done."

"Nobody thinks you're lying," Malak said. "There is, however, clearly some form of foul play happening... which seems to be directed against you. You were shot at during the factory raid, which I don't for a minute believe was just coincidence with how it happened. And your universe is missing. Somehow, those two things are connected. I'm not entirely sure how, but they are. It's like somebody is trying to destroy evidence of something."

"You think my universe was destroyed?"

"...When you saw Reine disappear, just before you went down... I talked to her about it, and she described being in the same factory building on the other side of that blue light thing, but it was just her and some Bando Gora monks in there, instead of the rest of us, and it felt like she was in a vacuum cleaner and being crushed slowly to death. I have reason to believe that she got sucked into your universe as it was being destroyed."

"How does one exactly destroy a universe?"

Dennis grimaced. "Scientifically, there are a few ways it could be done, like a massive singularity event and galaxies colliding together as the singularity got bigger, but it would happen slowly. Another is with superweapons, destroying a universe system by system, like the Hosnian system was destroyed."

"And then there's Sith alchemy," Malak said, "but of the historical Sith, only a very, very, very few have ever mastered alchemy on that level."

"When you say few..."

"Myself. Revan. Traya. The old-timey Sith Emperor, whose name starts with a V. And Darth Plagueis was said to be the most adept Sith alchemist of all time. Darth Plagueis being the Sith Master of Sidious."

There was an uncomfortable silence. The question of whether Valkorion, or perhaps Plagueis or even Plagueis and Sidious, together, were somehow involved in this, hung unspoken in the air... and did not need to be spoken.

"So," Ben said, "how exactly does this tie in with my people suddenly becoming Kylo's people?"

"Well," Malak said, "I don't know, but I'm going to try to find out. I need to look into how your universe was destroyed, and, just putting it bluntly, if it was even one of the ones that Revan and I made back then... and if not, who made it, and why. That's gonna be a big scrying job, and unfortunately right now all of those resources have to be pooled into this bullshit with Sev and Dennis's ex..."

"...and doesn't that just seem like an interesting coincidence," Dennis grumbled. "Right when we have very clear proof of some kind of fuckery going on with Ben's universe, and Ben being targeted like he's living evidence of something... this whole deal with Joxa is suddenly our biggest priority. It's like we're being asked to look at one hand while the other hand does something dirty."

"Oh, it's exactly what it is," Malak said, "I just want to find out how dirty."

"That sounded wrong," Sev said.

"Yeah, it did."

Then Sev got serious. "If Reine got sucked into Ben's universe as it was being destroyed... one has to wonder if Reine is being targeted, too."

Malak nodded. "Well, Mace Windu said he's convinced Reine and Finn's mom and dad were murdered, and he thinks Reine and Finn were separated deliberately and it's a really interesting coincidence that Kylo found Reine on that same planet she was left, all those years later. If he doesn't know about her lineage, somebody does... like Snoke."

"Oh, I'm positive Snoke does," Dennis said. "That right there means there's fuckery going on."

"A lot of how I handle Kylo is going to depend on how tangled up he is in this," Malak said. "When he gave me that whole speech about how he's going to have to make me fight him to save the Galaxy and blah, blah, blah, and I told him we'd be better off on the same side, he told me it has to be like this in part because there are people who want me dead. So if he's in over his head with Snoke and that wife of his, I want to be able to try to get him out, you know?"

"Malak, don't hate me for saying this," Ben said, "but Kylo's a big boy. 'I'm doing this to protect you' is exactly the same line of bullshit my parents gave me in my universe when they sent me off to the New Jedi Order for my head to get all fucked up. 'I'm doing this because I love you' and 'I'm doing this to protect you' are lines very often used by manipulators to manipulate. Kylo is the Commander of the First Order. Yeah, he's under Snoke's thumb. But he's not that much of a pawn. If he really wanted to, he could intervene with whoever it is who wants you dead... if that's even a thing. From where I sit, it looks like you're not people to Kylo. You're chess pieces. And a lot of the game of chess is sacrificing pieces to make certain moves."

"He's right," Dennis said. "Kylo's been taking advantage of your friendship and your loyalty to him. You don't need that shit anymore. Your wife almost got killed the other night. If that were MY best friend, and I were truly innocent of any wrongdoing, I'd be freaking the fuck out and looking in to what went wrong on that part of the mission and how it set the stage for things to happen the way they did, and Anakin and Valyeris would be on a grill, under a microscope, right now. Instead, he's acting like nothing out of the ordinary is happening here."

Malak set his jaw. There was sadness in his brown eyes. "Yeah, well." He got up from the table. "I can't stay long, I gotta go meet Reine."

Dennis reached out to hug Malak, but he brushed past, and was out the door.

_

Not long after Malak left, Ben decided to go back to bed. Dennis tucked him in, and Sev smiled from the doorway as he watched Dennis's tender loving care, and the way Ben smiled at him.

"Everything's gonna be all right, somehow," Dennis said, taking a moment to tousle Ben's hair.

"When you say that, I almost believe it."

Dennis and Sev went to Dennis's room and sat on his bed.

"You gonna see Leia later?" Sev asked him.

Dennis nodded. "I could use the stress relief." He ran a hand through his hair and laughed awkwardly.

Sev put an arm around him, and Dennis leaned on him with a sigh. "This whole situation is a royal clusterfuck," Dennis said.

"You can say that again."

"This whole situation is a royal clusterfuck."

Sev rolled his eyes and laughed, and Dennis laughed too. Then Sev said, "Dooku is making plans for us to go back to Serenno sooner rather than later."

"How soon are we talking about?"

"Don't know. He thinks we need to stick around till this Bando Gora business is resolved." Sev took Dennis's hand in his. "Han, Leia, and Finn are coming with us, and I think it goes without saying that you're coming too. I'm not leaving you behind."

Dennis squeezed Sev's hand. "Ben will also need to come with us."

Sev looked at Dennis. "You care a lot about him."

"...Yeah, I do."

"But you haven't had The Talk with him."

"Not yet. It's not the right time. As it is, it's been almost three years since Joxa and all of this... Ben... Leia... hit me like a ton of bricks."

"Well, the Force has a way of opening the heart. Just ask Dooku."

Dennis reached out to stroke Sev's face. "I'm glad you have him." Then he leaned in, and the brothers kissed. "I love you, Sev."

"I love you, Dennis." Sev kissed his brother back. "I'm sorry it's taken this long for..."

Dennis put his index finger to Sev's lips, and then kissed him again as his finger traced down to Sev's chin. "We just needed time, after what happened with her. And you know... now that she's popped up again, it feels like we can finally close this wound and move forward from her." He kissed Sev again. "Move forward together, if you still have room for me."

"It's a tight fit," Sev snickered, "but I'll manage somehow."

They kissed again, and again, and again. Hands roamed, and they found themselves falling back on the bed, spending the next while kissing, caressing, moaning and sighing as they awakened old feelings in each other. To Sev and Dennis, the most tragic part of their relationship with Joxa Shihai wasn't that she had hurt them and betrayed their trust in such a spectacular way, wasn't that she had made grown men fear her with radically unstable behavior that had created an eternal paranoia, but that the relationship being a triad meant that when Joxa was no longer part of it, it was difficult and awkward for them to seek the comfort in each other that they'd had since they'd come of age. Here, now, it was like those years apart were falling away, their bodies remembering that hunger and passion.

When they began to undress, Dennis hesitated. "Are you sure Dooku won't mind?"

Sev nodded. "We talked about it." Sev grinned. "He liked watching us kiss the other day."

"Oh, did he." Dennis smirked. "So he likes to watch you."

Sev bit his lower lip. "He made a video of us awhile back."

Dennis raised an eyebrow and grinned. "Well... in that case... maybe we should make something for you to take back to him. A little present."

"Oh, myyyyyyyyyyyyy."

Dennis turned on the holorecorder. "Besides, this is a momentous occasion. Our first time together in almost three years."

They continued undressing, kissing with each piece of clothing removed, and once they were completely naked, they climbed back on the bed. "What does my baby brother want?" Dennis asked, petting Sev's face and hair.

Sev ran his hand down Dennis's chest. "You."

They kissed, and then Dennis began kissing his way down Sev's body, paying special attention to the nipples, and lingering on all the places he knew his brother was sensitive - he knew his brother's body very well - stomach, hips, thighs - before taking Sev's cock into his mouth, swallowing to the hilt. Sev groaned, tugging on the points of Dennis's ears, rolling his hips gently, losing himself to sensation and desire.

After a few minutes Dennis took Sev's cock out of his mouth and licked it all over, from the head down to the shaft, back up to lap and lap at the head, teasing, exciting the sensitive glans. "I've missed your cock," Dennis husked. "I've missed the way you taste." He lapped at Sev's precum, making a big show of the way the precum trailed from the slit to his tongue, making Sev gasp and shiver. Then he took the cock back into his mouth, his head moving up and down, round and round, slowly, then faster, mouth suctioning harder, tongue flicking and rubbing like a kiss.

When Sev got close, his hips bucked, fucking Dennis's mouth. Dennis encouraged him, humming "Mmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmm," rubbing Sev's balls with one hand, finger-fucking his prostate with the other. When Sev cried out, "I'm gonna come," Dennis urged "Mmmm-hmmm, mmmmm-hmmmmm," with a final big "MMMMMMMMMMMMMM" as Sev screamed "Oh, Dennis, FUCK!", shaking violently, making a strangled sob as he erupted in his brother's mouth.

Dennis swallowed what he could, and then licked up the rest, coming up to kiss Sev with his mouth full of cum, making a show for the camera of their tongues rubbing together, sharing the cum between them. Then Sev grinned at Dennis and pushed him onto his back, and returned the favor.

Sev spent a lot more time licking Dennis's cock, knowing it drove him wild, loving the way Dennis trembled, whimpering as he was teased and teased into a frenzy. When Dennis was practically sobbing for release, Sev sucked hard and fast, fucking Dennis with his mouth, his fingers furious inside him. Dennis shrieked Sev's name over and over again as he climaxed, shuddering as he made such a huge cum mess Sev couldn't get it all, almost choking on the load.

They shared Dennis's cum in the kiss, and then Sev grabbed Dennis's hand and lowered it to his cock, aroused again by the sex act he'd performed on his brother. "Top or bottom?" Sev asked.

"Yes?"

They kissed again, laughing. "Both?" Dennis bit his lower lip with a little hopeful smile. "I've got enough in me for two more rounds, I think."

"And you're still seeing Leia later."

Dennis nodded. "This is the appetizer, she's the main course."

"Damn, you've got one hell of a sex drive." Sev kissed him.

"This is a bad thing how, exactly?"

"It's not." Sev grinned before nipping Dennis's lower lip. "I've got plans for my old man, myself."

"Yeah let me tell you, if I live to be eighty-three and I fuck half as often as you guys do, I'd consider myself fortunate." Dennis kissed Sev again.

Sev turned to the camera and said, "You see that, Idis? Even my brother the stud is acknowledging you da man."

Dennis laughed and then he said, "Well, you know... you can't spell Tyranus without anus. Clearly there's something to that."

Sev laughed so hard he teared up. "I can already feel the bitchface."

"I can feel the Brat tiara."

Sev laughed some more and then Dennis kissed him hard, and gave Sev's ass a hard slap. Sev moaned, and Dennis spanked him again.

"Get that bratty ass on my cock, baby brother."

Dennis and Sev kissed as they lubed Dennis's cock together, and then Dennis lay supine and Sev straddled him, impaling himself on Dennis's cock, with the holocamera getting a full shot of Dennis's cock stretching and filling Sev's ass... and the expression on Sev's face as he felt his brother inside him for the first time in close to three years.

"Oh, Dennis..." Sev moaned. "Oh, you feel so good..."

Dennis ran one hand up Sev's torso, and the other hand slapped Sev's ass. "Mmmmmmm, baby. I missed that hot little ass of yours."

Sev leaned in to kiss him, and then they smiled at each other, and Dennis slapped Sev's ass again.

Sev rode him slowly, their hips rolling together like the tide. Their hands roamed, exploring to the rhythm. Every now and again Dennis sat up or Sev leaned in for them to kiss... every now and again the kisses trailed lower to necks, nipples, down the rib cage. With every caress, kiss, lick, stroke, moan, and sigh, they lost themselves in sensuality, in pleasure... in intimate, loving connection, vulnerability and surrender. For that first time in years, that reunion, they kept it slow and sweet for as long as they could, drinking in the relief that things were OK between them again, that as much as so many things had changed, including them finding other primary partners, they still loved each other, they still had it.

When neither man could hold back any longer, Sev bounced on Dennis's cock and Dennis stroked Sev's cock to a frenzy, the two moaning together louder and louder, moans accompanied by the slap of their flesh, the bed creaking and rocking. There was a hazy moment when Dennis wondered if they were being too loud, but it sounded too delicious and the animal part of his brain once again took over, wanting to rut, wanting to fuck. They climaxed together, screaming, Sev's pearly cum visible in Dennis's dark chest hair.

They rolled onto their sides, holding each other and kissing, laughing softly at the mess Sev made. Dennis wiped the cum with his fingers and stuck his fingers in Sev's mouth, and the look of sensual enjoyment on Sev's face stirred Dennis's lust again. With more hungry kisses, they stroked each other to readiness once more... and Sev asked Dennis, "How do you want it?"

"I want to see those pretty eyes of yours," Dennis said, stroking Sev's face.

Sev lubed his cock and Dennis's ass, and then, with Dennis on his back again, his hips propped up with a pillow underneath, Sev pushed into him. Sev went slow at first, both to avoid causing his brother pain and also so he could savor the feeling of his cock being gripped by Dennis's channel... but lust overtook him more quickly than it had the previous time, and Dennis fucked back at Sev for all he was worth, gripping the headboard as he grunted and whimpered and moaned, louder and louder. "Fuck me, Sev, fuck me, fuck me, fuck me, oh, Force, Sev, fuck, fuck I love your big fucking cock..."

"Nnnnnnnnnnnngggg, your ass feels so fucking good," Sev growled. "Fuck, I've missed fucking you."

"Mmmmmmmm, fuck... you fuck me so good..."

Sev grabbed Dennis's cock, gripping it as hard as he could, stroking it faster and faster. They fucked and fucked, and the filthy sounds of their moaning and their bodies slapping together, the bed violently squeaking and slamming the wall over and over again, aroused them just as much as the sensations of each thrust, each play of their fingers over each other's bodies, the look of lust on their faces as they lost control together.

At the end, neither of them could make words, just animal sounds. When Sev heard that telltale catch of breath, he jerked Dennis's cock as fast as he could, and when Dennis gasped, shuddering as his cock sprayed Sev with cum, Sev orgasmed hard, crying his brother's name as he spent deep inside him.

Sev collapsed onto Dennis, and Dennis wrapped his arms around him, petting Sev's curls. He kissed the top of Sev's head. "I love you, baby brother," Dennis whispered.

"I love you, big brother."

They came hard enough that they fell asleep, waking up a little over two hours later. They took a shower together and stroked each other's cocks in the shower, finishing off by Sev gripping both their cocks in his fist, Dennis's hand over his, kissing as cock rubbed cock in the tight space, bringing them both to a powerful orgasm.

Sev grabbed a soda on his way out - Ben was up and around, and Sev avoided Ben's eyes, wondering if Ben had heard any of that. If Ben did, he wasn't showing it.

And then Dennis handed Sev a small data stick. "Your present," he said, grinning.

_

Ben did, in fact, hear Sev and Dennis. It was impossible not to hear them. He wondered if the whole Temple campus could hear them.

Ben had tried to ignore it at first - he'd been in that muzzy half-asleep place when the noises started, and he tried to get back there, so sleep could help him escape the stress of worrying about what his soldiers joining Kylo Ren's army meant, now and for the future.

Then when it was apparent he wasn't going back to sleep, he tried to zone out through meditation. But what kept coming to mind was Dennis.

He envied Severin. He didn't begrudge their relationship - he knew the brothers loved each other. It was also titillating in a taboo way... Dennis had a wild side, and he liked that.

He liked it too much, was the problem.

Ben still hadn't told Dennis about his attraction. He was still plagued by guilt about it, not simply because it was his mother's boyfriend, but the memory of Alyssa haunted him. He had come here to defeat Kylo Ren, to defeat Snoke - Snoke, who seemed to have several universes in his chokehold, and this was one of them. He had come here to avenge his wife and keep innocent people from experiencing the same fate he and his wife had, under the tyranny of the First Order. Nobody could be to him what Alyssa was. And yet, his friendship with Dennis made him crave something more. He genuinely liked Dennis as a person - a man of conviction, an unlikely warrior. They had a history together, as Revan and the Jedi Exile, but they were also building something new.

And Force, why did Dennis have to be so attractive.

Knowing he was good in bed didn't help. Ben hadn't been with anyone since Alyssa died. Ben hadn't been with anyone but Alyssa, while many had drawn his eye over the years, both male and female. Ben hadn't even masturbated since Alyssa died...

...and without thinking about it, that was changing. With every moan from Dennis's bedroom, Ben's cock got harder, until he couldn't help himself and he took his cock into his hand, stroking to the sounds of Severin and Dennis making wild, passionate, incestuous love... wishing that it was his body on Dennis's. Dennis made him feel safe, after not feeling safe in the years since Snoke had recruited him. More than even wanting to be touched, to be pleased, he wanted to be held in those strong arms, held in the gaze of those grey eyes, a river of peace.

He felt self-conscious about masturbating to his roommate, his friend... he felt guilty for even feeling this way... but he ached. He had been starved for touch, pent-up for release. Hot, raunchy fantasies overtook him of the different ways he'd let Dennis fuck him, the way he'd eagerly devour his cock, the way Dennis would take care of his need...

When Ben climaxed, he let out a little cry of "Dennis," not able to stop himself. Dennis and Sev were still noisily going at it, so he doubted either of them heard him. For not having brought himself off in so long his orgasm was shattering, and sleep claimed him soon after.

As he slept, he dreamt of making love to Alyssa, but before he could finish her off, she disappeared, and he chased after small lights like fireflies, trying to grab what was left of her Force ghost, and she was gone, and he fell to his knees, screaming, and Dennis picked him up and carried him through fire, into the forest, a Force shield keeping the fire from entering the sanctuary.

After Ben had been awake for awhile, he felt Malak poking him in the Force. Malak had been Revan's best friend a long time ago, and now that there was another Revan around, of course he would make overtures of friendship, but Ben wasn't used to having friends, and he was feeling moody.

What is it, meatbag, Ben replied.

You really ought to tell Dennis how you feel.

I will when you tell Kylo how shady his wife is, how about that?

Malak stopped poking.

_

When Dooku arrived home, Sev was wearing lingerie - black lace panties, garters and thigh-high transparent black silk stockings, trimmed with lace. Sev was also wearing the Brat tiara, and a wicked grin.

Dooku felt himself hardening immediately. After a few hungry kisses, Sev said, "So, I have something for you."

"Oh, do you now."

"Mmmmmm." Sev kissed him again. He produced a data stick, and put it in the holoscreen. "You know how you got turned on watching me and Dennis kissing?"

"Yes."

Dooku's eyes widened at the scene playing on the holoscreen.

"How's the view?" Sev rubbed the bulge in Dooku's trousers.

Dooku turned his face to look at Sev, and stammered, unable to make words, and then he turned his attention back to the debauchery playing before him. They continued watching together for the next several minutes before Sev made his next move.

"I had an agenda when I made this," Sev husked, beginning to kiss Dooku's neck. "I wanted to show you that as much as I love my brother and he turns me on, I come back to you. I wanted to incite you to punish me for being a naughty boy who fucks my own brother... make my bratty ass raw... and reassert your ownership of me. Show me Daddy can fuck me the best." He continued kissing Dooku's neck, until Dooku seized his face and kissed him hard, with a growl.

"You are," Dooku rasped between kisses, "an evil boy."

"Is that a compliment, Lord Tyranus?"

Dooku smiled. "Yes." He was starting to leak now, in his underwear, which would embarrass him if he hadn't been too turned on to care. His mind was running wild with all of the delicious possibilities of disciplining and claiming his bondmate.

Sev kissed him again and then resumed kissing Dooku's neck. "My brother helped me get ready for Daddy's big cock. I love showing you how naughty I am, how kinky I am, what a sex-crazed bitch in heat I am, who can introduce you to things you never thought possible, make you want things you didn't know you wanted."

"I know what I want." Dooku nipped Sev's lower lip, hard enough to draw blood, that he tasted. "You."

"And I want you." Sev kissed him. "I want to see you in your full powerful, dominant glory."

"In that case..." Dooku saw an opportunity presenting itself. He rose to his feet. "We won't be doing the Sith ritual tomorrow for pain to open the mind. We'll be doing it now. Just you and me."

"Where, at the Temple?"

"Yes."

Then Dooku grabbed Sev's First Order issue trenchcoat, to go over his lingerie, so he wouldn't have to get fully dressed. "You can put that on," Dooku told him.

Sev did, and once he was covered up and had his footwear on, Dooku clipped the leash into Sev's collar. Then they retrieved Joxa's items and carried them to the Temple, Dooku walking Sev there on the leash for all to see they were Master and pet.

Chapter Text

In all the months that Severin Yusanis had been a member of the New Force Order Temple, he had not seen the wing of the Sith Order portion that contained several rooms used for ritual purposes.

Unlike the Jedi who had a consistent schedule of meditations and holidays in between missions and continuing studies, the Sith path was more individualized, and how often a Sith performed Dark Side rituals, and what kind of rituals they were, would vary wildly from Sith Lord to Sith Lord. Since Sev had begun his apprenticeship to Tyranus, he had only been shown Makashi and Force skills, such as Force choking, and inflicting severe pain by touch. Sith alchemy and Sith sorcery were not something Sev had been shown yet, and not without reason - Dooku had been apprenticed to Sidious for thirteen years before his death, and there were things Sidious did not show him until they had been working together for almost two years; it took a certain amount of mastery of the Dark Side to be prepared for various types of Force manipulation.

The Sith ritual rooms were behind a series of durasteel blast doors, to contain the Dark Side energy behind them. When Sev and Dooku stepped through the blast doors, Sev felt the temperature drop to something approximating fall nighttime air, even though he was wearing a trenchcoat. Dooku nodded. "Yes, it's colder in here," he said.

The room they had reserved was on the far end of the hall. When they walked in, it was dark, but there was just enough light to cast shadows and reveal the presence of something that immediately caught Sev's attention - an X-shaped stand like the one Dooku had in his dungeon on Serenno.

Dooku found his way through the darkness, and by the light of his lightsaber, he examined a selection of implements. He chose four, and carried them into the center of the room, laying them down on a stone table in front of the X-shaped stand.

"There is a ring embedded into the floor, of flammable liquid," Dooku said, "that will create a circle of fire, confined to the ring in the floor, when the liquid is lit. Once we have stepped over the ring and are in the circle, I will ask you to use the Force to set it on fire, as you used the Force to conjure fire a few nights ago at the raid."

"OK. What's the purpose of the fire?"

"Purification and protection," Dooku said, "although more honestly, it is probably because the energy in these spaces runs cold."

They walked over the ring - the circle they were in was big, more than enough room to move around. Sev removed his trenchcoat and footwear before he stepped through, so he was just in his lingerie, and he stooped to do the honors. Sev gasped as he watched the circle of fire ring around them, waist-high flames.

Now that the room was lit, Sev could see that the X-cross and table was on a magnetic rail on the floor, and could be moved in one of four directions around the circle.

Dooku presented a Sith ritual knife that he usually kept on his altar at home. He put the knife on the stone table, and had Sev pick up a silver goblet that he also kept on his altar, and had brought with him. He produced a bottle of Serennian wine. He had Sev hold the goblet as he poured the wine into it, and then he put the wine down and picked up the knife, unsheathing the blade. He locked eyes with Severin. "Do you want to do this?" he asked him.

Sev nodded.

"Use our safeword if it gets to be too much. This is going to be intense even by our standards." He showed Sev the implements he'd picked out - a riding crop, a flogger, a whip, and a cane. The whip was a barbed cat o' nine tails, and the cane was made of cortosis, which would make it more severe than anything Dooku had used on him before. "You will receive fifteen lashes each, one in each of the four directions. Then I will bring you back to the center and use the knife."

"You're not cutting anything off, are you?" Sev grimaced.

"No, dear. You will be wounded but they will not be serious wounds."

"All right."

Dooku put a neurotransmitter on Sev that would record the memories of the session, including images the Force revealed.

Dooku cleared his throat. He held the knife in both hands. "Do you consent to this rite, Lord Levitas?"

"I do, Lord Tyranus."

Dooku brought the blade to Sev's lips for Sev to kiss, and then Dooku cut his own index finger, letting it drip into the goblet of wine. He gestured for Sev to hold out a hand, and he cut Sev in turn, their blood mixing together in the wine. Then Dooku dipped the blade into the wine, to consecrate it, before cutting a sigil onto Sev's chest, "so your heart-bond with our subject may be made manifest." The blood ran into the goblet, and Sev then brought the goblet to Dooku's lips for him to drink, and then Dooku had Sev drink, and then Sev watched as Dooku placed Joxa's hairbrush, underwear and socks into the black bowl he'd used to try to scry for her yesterday, and poured out the remaining wine over the items.

Dooku walked Sev to the X-cross, and had him step onto the platform just in front of it, with his back to Dooku. Sev stepped into the ankle shackles, and Dooku used the Force to cuff his ankles tightly. Then Dooku positioned Sev's arms so they were in the usual position on the X-cross, and shackled the wrists. "Open your hands," Dooku told him.

The bowl of Joxa's items was on a tray that had two poles attached; Dooku had Sev grab onto the poles, so he was holding the bowl on the tray.

"Do not drop the tray," Dooku said.

Sev almost dropped it as the X-cross began moving across the circle, to the center-right position. Dooku brought the tip of the riding crop to Severin's lips, for him to kiss, and then he said, "As I strike, push your consciousness into the bowl. Feel Joxa's energy. Grab it."

And then he struck. The riding crop was a sharp, stinging slap. Dooku alternated between hitting Sev's back and hitting each of his buttocks, to the count of fifteen. It took Sev to the count of seven before he could do what Dooku instructed and think about the bowl, touching the wine-drenched items inside with the Force, feeling Joxa's residual Force energy still on them. Feeling Joxa's Force signature, that cave housing a volcanic river. Seeing memories, good and bad. Missing her, loving her, loathing her, fearing her. She was so close, yet still so far.

The X-cross moved down, to the bottom-center position of the circle. Dooku brought the tip of the flogger to Sev's lips, and Sev kissed it, and Dooku said, "Keep touching her Force energy."

The flogger was a hard, deep impact, perhaps harder because Dooku was a heavy hitter. He flogged over Sev's back, buttocks, and upper thighs. With each stroke, each ache seething through him down to the bone, Sev pulled on Joxa's Force signature, reliving certain memories, until he got a clear mental image of Joxa in the here and now - in a speeder car going over the bridge of Arcana City, out to the far end of the suburbs, in the direction of the Restorers' Temple.

The X-cross moved to the upper-left position of the circle, across from where they'd started. Sev kissed the whip, and then he screamed with the first lash of the cat o' nine tails. He almost dropped the tray. It was a pain like Sev had never known - like being slapped, punched, and cut all at once. The pain went straight to Sev's already-hard cock, and he thought of sex with Dooku, being under Dooku's control and domination... and he thought of Komari Vosa's infatuation with her former Jedi Master, the way Joxa Shihai would probably loathe and resent Sev for having what she never could.

And it was at that moment, that Joxa's eyes turned on Sev. Sev could feel Joxa's awareness that someone was watching her... and now she knew who it was. Severin.

Sev almost dropped the tray again. Stinging, stinging, stinging... he could feel blood down his back. He was either going to need his lingerie dry-cleaned or replaced, probably replaced. He felt a twinge of fear, that old fear Joxa had struck in his heart.

"Focus," came Dooku's voice. "Do not fear her. She cannot take what is mine." With the word "mine", Dooku whipped Sev's ass, and Sev screamed as the leather tails and metal barbs attacked his already-sensitized flesh. It was almost too much - for a brief instant, Sev thought about safewording - but he was going to do this.

"Mine," Dooku said, whipping Sev's ass again. Sev screamed louder.

Then Sev pushed on Joxa, drinking in every detail of what he could see of where she was.

What are you doing, Severin?

Paying my debts, Sev sneered at her.

...What's that supposed to mean?

Ha. Hahahahahaha...

"Good. Gooooooood," Dooku encouraged. He could feel it, through their Force bond. He could feel Komari - Joxa, now - reaching for him, and he made a very deliberate show of striking Sev again with the whip, before rubbing Sev's ass and his back, tenderly, making Sev moan at his touch. He'd had compassion for Komari before now, but knowing she'd reincarnated as the woman who'd hurt his bondmate so... well, now those feelings changed. She had made her bed, and she could lie in it.

Sev could feel Joxa's anger bristling, and the stronger her anger, the more Sev could see of her and where she was located. It was like Joxa's emotions were turning up the brightness and sharpness on a dark holoscreen, and Sev paid attention to details - street signs, house numbers, types of trees and how many, house build and color.

The whip was done, and the X-cross moved up the circle, to the top-center. Dooku presented the cane for Sev to kiss. "This is going to be the worst one," Dooku said.

"Bring it on, milord."

Sev almost dropped the tray again when Dooku struck - he wasn't kidding. It stung and thudded at the same time, pain pulsing through Sev's ass into his spine and back down, like a circuit. If Sev hadn't been shackled to the X-cross he'd have fallen over.

Do the two of you think you're funny?

No... we think we're fucking hilarious. Sev moaned. "Oh, Idis."

"That's right, little one. She can't hurt you anymore. Only I get to hurt you." Dooku struck with the cane again, and Sev cried out, in both agony and ecstasy.

"Daddy," Sev whimpered.

You call him Daddy?

Dooku struck again, and Sev wailed, "Daddy," again, humor and lust thickening his voice.

Dooku sensually caressed the welts forming on Sev's back and ass, before striking again. "That's right, my own. We are settling this once and for all. She has no more power over you. Only I do."

"Oh, yes..."

So if I hold no more power, then why are you taking time to look at me?

So I can laugh.

Dooku struck again, and again. The pain became pleasure, the fear of Joxa Shihai replaced with trust of Darth Tyranus. Old, festering wounds were being re-opened, and bled out - Sev was bleeding quite literally - so they could be cleansed and healed properly, once and for all.

With the final few strokes of the cane, Sev did a pan out so he could see nearby landmarks. Joxa could feel Sev pulling back, and she taunted him. You can run, but I'll find you. And then I'm going to kill you. I'm going to sacrifice you, and make sure you don't come back.

I'd tell you to eat my dick... but that's Dooku's job.

"And one that I enjoy," Dooku quipped.

The X-cross was brought back to the center of the circle, and Sev was unshackled, the bowl put down. He turned around to face Dooku, and Dooku made small cuts along his throat down to his chest, on each of his forearms and calves, the "fivefold kiss" cutting the Force connection, bringing Sev back to himself.

Sev leaned against the X-cross, shaking.

"Breathe," Dooku told him. "Take a deep breath... hold it... let it out. Good. Take a deep breath... hold it... let it out. And another."

Dooku took the neurotransmitter off Sev. "We'll be stopping at Maul's office on the way out," he told Sev.

"Are we leaving now?"

"No." Dooku cupped Sev's chin in his hand. He hooked the leash back into Sev's collar. "You said before we arrived here that you wanted me to re-assert my ownership of you."

"Yes," Sev said. "I was naughty and fucked my brother, and I want Daddy to show me he fucks me the best."

Dooku growled. Since his youngling days at the Jedi Order, Dooku was determined to be the best at everything. His sex life with Severin had not been lacking to this point, but now he had a challenge - it was a new game they were playing, one of conquest. One of proving himself the alpha male, the champion. He liked this game. He liked that Severin knew him well enough to know he liked this game.

"Get down on your hands and knees," Dooku told him, and tugged the leash.

Sev did as he was told, and Dooku quietly undressed. Then he knelt on the floor, in the ring of fire, behind his bondmate. Sev's back and ass were bleeding - less so than before, but still a bloody mess. Dooku leaned in and began to clean Sev with his tongue. The feeling of Dooku's tongue licking his back was erotic anytime, but now there was a whole new potency to the sensation and the excitement of the act itself. With each trail of Dooku's tongue over his flesh, Sev gasped and shuddered, almost falling over with the intensity... like Dooku was licking fire into his sore, sensitive skin. Sweet, delicious fire.

Dooku removed Sev's panties with his teeth, as he had done once before. The thigh-highs stayed on. Sev felt Dooku's hand slap his poor ass, and then again.

"Naughty boy," Dooku husked. "Naughty, bratty, deviant boy."

"Daddy," Sev moaned.

Dooku spanked him again and again. In between each spank he lovingly caressed the welts left by the riding crop, flogger, whip, and cane. Sometimes he traced a fingernail around them, making Sev cry out. He spanked Sev a good dozen times before putting his tongue in Sev's ass, and then spanked him another dozen times as he readied Sev to be fucked by fucking with his tongue, making Sev buck against him, howling with tormented pleasure. "Please, Daddy, take my ass," Sev wailed. "Take my slutty ass... make me your slut..."

Dooku gave Sev's ass one last hard slap for good measure. He used the Force to bring over the bacta, and he spent the next few minutes coating Sev's wounded back and buttocks with bacta, his touch loving and sensual... teasing Sev further. When Sev's wounds were treated, Sev felt bacta poured directly into his ass, and the sensation made Sev's knees buckle. He felt like he was about to explode from sexual need.

Dooku grabbed Sev's hair and took him from behind. "Yes, yes," Sev panted as he felt himself stretched and filled. Dooku slapped Sev's ass again and showed no mercy, fucking him hard, almost harder than Severin could bear. Sev grabbed onto Dooku's cape on the floor, gripping it with his fists, almost hard enough to rip the sturdy fabric... he needed something to hold onto, as Dooku gave him the hardest fuck he'd ever had, mastering, claiming him with every thrust. There was something so deliciously primal about their position and the way they were mating like this in a ring of fire, in a Sith ritual circle, that Sev began to edge sooner rather than later. Dooku could feel Sev's response in the Force, and slapped his ass again.

"You don't get to come until I tell you to come," Dooku growled.

"Please, Daddy..."

Dooku slapped Sev's ass again. "I am going to have my way with you, and you love it because you are mine."

"Oh, fuck, yes..."

Dooku fucked him and fucked him, continuing to pull Sev's hair and spank his ass, keeping Sev on that edge of orgasm until Sev's entire body was shaking and his gasping whimpers were louder than the slap of their flesh, which was itself obscenely loud. "Please, Daddy," Sev begged. "Please let me come for you..."

Another hard slap of his ass. "Spoiled brat." There was warmth and affection in Dooku's voice.

"Please..."

Another moment of furious, hard fucking, and then Dooku commanded, "Come for me, little one."

Something like a roar came out of Sev as he let go, climaxing harder than he ever had before, his prostate throbbing, pleasure surging from his prostate through his cock, erupting in thick ropes of cream over Dooku's cape on the floor. "Daddy, Daddy, DADDY," Sev screamed, shaking.

Dooku let out a deep grunt of satisfaction as he spent into his bondmate. "Severin," he rasped. "I love you. I love you, my darling Sith brat."

"Fuck..."

They collapsed together, gasping for breath. Sev felt like he was falling through the floor, and somehow Dooku's presence in the Force caught him, and they were flying. In truth they were laying on the floor of the Sith ritual room, within the circle of flame, barely able to move, let alone fly, but the feeling of euphoria carried their minds and hearts.

Dooku took Sev's hands in his and nuzzled and kissed the back of Sev's neck.

"I love you, Idis," Sev said softly.

"I love you, my own."

Sev felt Dooku's arms wrap around him from behind... and then Dooku adjusted himself, so Dooku was laying on his back on the floor, and Sev was laying on his back on top of Dooku. Sev could feel Dooku hardening inside him again.

"Ohhhh," Sev moaned.

"Yes." Dooku bit the sweet spot where the neck and shoulder met, and began to thrust again, slowly, stroking Sev's cock in his fist. "You said you wanted me to claim you... show you I can fuck you the best..."

"Oh, fuck, yes..." Sev shuddered. "Daddy..."

Dooku growled and began to kiss and nibble Sev's neck. "You want this..."

"Yes, please, more..."

Dooku held Sev tight with one arm, his other hand working Sev's cock harder and harder, as Sev lay on top of him, bouncing on his Master's cock. The old man knew how to use his hips, and Sev worked his own back at him as hard as he could, their moans rising and falling to the rhythm of their fuck. Sev was still on the leash, wrapped around Dooku's hand on the arm holding him, and Dooku tugged it, whispering in Sev's ear: "You're mine. Mine. The Force brought us together, and I would burn cities to the ground to keep you safe with me, punish any who tried to harm you."

"Yes..."

"Nobody gets to hurt you but me... and I will only ever do what causes you pleasure." Dooku bit Sev's neck, and Sev whimpered, urgently guiding Dooku's hand on his cock.

"I need to come, milord..."

"Not until I say so." Dooku nibbled Sev's neck again, kissed it, kissed up to the shell of Sev's ear, licking it, suckling the sensitive pointy tip. "Bratty boys like you don't get what they want right away."

"Fuck..."

"And you are a brat, are you not? You live to tease and torment me..."

"Yes. I'm your brat..."

Dooku nibbled Sev's ear, and sucked on the point again. Sev shivered, crying out. "Please, Daddy," Sev gasped.

"I am going to enjoy your sweet, delicious velvet arse some more... and you want that, don't you, my pet?"

"Fuck..." Sev nodded, and gave a sobbing gasp. "I love your cock..."

"Do you?"

"Yes... it's my favorite..." Sev sobbed again. "I love my brother's cock, but I love Daddy's cock even more..."

"Such a naughty boy." Dooku's thrusts got harder, and Dooku's hand sped up on Sev's cock. "Such a naughty, deviant, debauched little harlot."

"Fuck. Me. Oh, Force, fuck me, Daddy..."

Dooku growled, and nibbled on Sev's shoulder as he did just that, fucking Sev harder and harder until they were both panting, not able to make words, only animal noises, their orgasm building at fever pitch. At last Dooku ground out, "Now. Come," and Sev let go. The feeling of Sev clenching around him brought Dooku off, and he cried out wordlessly, making Sev come harder with the sensation of cum flooding deep inside him.

They lay still. Dooku let go of Sev's cock and both arms were holding Sev now. Sev started to cry, shattered by two powerful orgasms and the scene that led up to them. "Sweetheart," Dooku said, nuzzling Sev's neck. "Are you all right?"

Sev nodded, smiling through his tears. "Everything's shiny," he said... and it was. The room seemed to glow beyond the firelight. They had touched the Force, together, and it sang through their bodies with joy.

_

Somehow, they made it back to their apartment. Dooku had put out the ring of fire with the Force, and they had gone to Maul's office to deliver the neurotransmitter. Then Dooku carried Sev back from the Temple, and at some point, Dooku put Sev in a warm bath. He was in the bathtub with Sev now, washing his wounds with tender loving care, so gentle it made Sev cry again, in a good way.

Sev leaned on Dooku, enjoying the steam and the bubbles, the scent of lavender, roses, and oakmoss in the bath oil. Dooku was massaging Sev's feet now, which carried a surprising amount of tension. He'd brought in a bottle of wine and two glasses, and used the Force to pour them each a glass. It reminded Sev of when they were visiting Serenno... what felt like ages ago now, even though it had only been a few weeks since their return.

Before they drank, Dooku used the Force to raise his glass in a toast. "To the scrying work done tonight... and to further revelations once Joxa is brought into custody. May we find the last pieces of this mystery that we need in order to arm ourselves properly."

They used the Force to clink the glasses together, and drank deep. The wine was the color of blood, which seemed symbolic of the bloodbath to come.

Chapter Text

When Dooku and the Knights of Ren assembled at the Temple the next morning, Maul showed them that the safe house seen in Severin's Force visions had been located, and there was currently activity suggesting that it was still being inhabited by Joxa Shihai and some of the Bando Gora.

"You will be departing this evening," Maul said, "at 2100 hours. It does not matter if she is taken alive or dead, she is Force sensitive and can be resurrected if necessary."

"So when you say you, referring to us..." Malak sat back in his chair, and folded his hands. "I am going to be very blunt here - after what happened on the last mission, I don't want Anakin Skywalker coming with us."

Kylo turned to Malak, and his usual neutral tone and expression held a distinct hint of annoyance. "Are you accusing my grandfather of something?"

Malak looked Kylo in the eye. "Oh, I'm not accusing him of anything."

Sev wanted to laugh out loud. No, because accusation implies there's a chance the person isn't guilty as fuck.

"Well," Kylo said, "we can discuss... this... at a later time, but it is irrelevant for this evening. I'm surprised that you hadn't heard - after the mission, Grandfather suddenly fell ill. He is not in a condition to accompany us on this mission. And as Ben is still recovering from his injuries, that makes the six of us. And Tyranus. Which seems fitting, as we were the Seven Light."

"Vader's sick?" Sev raised an eyebrow.

"Quite."

Sev and Dennis briefly exchanged glances. That's not suspicious whatsoever, nope, not at all, NOT ONE TINY BIT, Dennis said to Sev in the Force. One of the two people who was in on what happened to Ben, and probably to Reine, falling ill like that...

Yeah, something is rotten in the state of Arcturus.

With that ominous note lingering in the air, the Knights of Ren went to the auditorium for Kylo Ren to hear the oath of allegiance from the New First Order soldiers Ben Skywalker-Solo had brought from his universe... the very same ones who had pledged to fight Kylo Ren and the First Order even if it meant their deaths. Sev barely paid attention to what Kylo was saying. He felt restless. He felt like he wanted to vomit, or punch something, or both. Dooku put his hand on Severin's, feeling his tension in their Force bond.

Are you quite sure I can't go off on him? Does he think we're fucking stupid?

It isn't time yet, my love. Dooku squeezed Sev's hand. And this is most certainly not the place. Even though the Force fights with us, we are outnumbered in this auditorium. The numbers were as great at the factory, but they were also divided by rooms, and they were not all armed with blasters and other weaponry.

I hate this pretending everything is all right game. None of this is all right at all, whatso-fucking-ever.

No, it's not.

On their way out of the assembly, Mace Windu walked towards Sev and Dooku, and the three men stepped aside. Dooku put a shield around them to prevent eavesdropping.

"Are you going to the Solos'?" Mace asked Sev. Sev nodded. "Can you ask Leia if I could hold the memorial service for Raskta at her place tomorrow?"

"Yeah, I can do that," Sev said. "You're feeling ready?"

"As ready as I'm ever gonna be."

Dooku stopped in Sifo-Dyas's office. "We will need the items I asked you to make, before 2100 hours."

_

Ben was feeling well enough to attempt grilling some nerfburgers on their patio - his reference to "ash pit barbecue" in light of Kylo Ren's ash pit amused Dennis to no end - and they watched the sunset as they ate.

"I'm worried about you going on that mission," Ben said.

"Yeah, I know."

"After your ex-girlfriend is brought in, how much longer do you have to stick around and do pretendy funtimes with the Knights of Ren?"

"According to Dooku and Malak, until we know what the Bando Gora is funding, and anything else that comes out in the wash that will let us know how all of this is connected. We all have a pretty good idea that it is connected, we just don't know how, and how deep it goes. It's how deep the rabbit hole of fuckery goes, that has us all concerned." Dennis ran a hand through his hair. "I'm guessing it won't be longer than a week and a half, though, and then we can get out of here."

"And go to Serenno."

Dennis nodded.

Ben took a deep breath. "It's gonna be like having a normal life for awhile. Well, you know... we're not normal, being Force users."

"Yeah, our problems are not the problems normal people have, for sure."

"It just feels... weird."

"Well... Ben." Dennis turned to him. "Let's assume we achieve our objective and we eventually subdue the First Order, keep Kylo Ren from becoming Emperor, and set up a non-shitty form of Galactic government. You came here to this universe with that purpose in mind. But what do you do when that's all done? What do you do between battles, in getting there?"

Ben didn't answer that. He looked away, into the blazing sky.

"I mean, it's important to have something worth fighting for. And I don't just mean vengeance, or abstract concepts of justice. Sith fight better when it's personal. It's already pretty personal because of Alyssa, but if you're fighting with a death wish, you're more likely to have all of us be granted that wish. If on the other hand you're fighting to hold onto a new life you've built... to protect what's yours..."

Ben turned back to Dennis, glaring at him.

"I'm just saying. The Force didn't just bring you here so you could kick Snoke's ass. The Force seems to want to give you a second chance at life. You have a family, if you'll let them in. Friends, if you'll let them in. People who love you, if you'll let them in."

The look in Dennis's eyes made Ben want to cry, but he held it in. He wanted to yell at Dennis... he wanted to tell him how he felt... he wanted to tell him to not bother loving someone like him, he couldn't save Alyssa... and he couldn't make words. He got up, wordlessly, and cleared their dishes, bringing them inside.

Sunset was becoming twilight. Since childhood, Dennis Yusanis had a nightly ritual of greeting the first stars as they rose in the night sky. Now that fall had come to Arcana City, the sun set earlier, and it was dark before 2100 hours. Dennis watched the sky change, and when Ben came out, the sky was a chocolate brown, and the first star was twinkling in the sky.

"You're still out here," Ben observed.

Dennis nodded. He gestured for Ben to sit back down. "I knew from the time I was a little kid that I wanted to be a scientist. I was fascinated by nature and how it worked - how the seasons changed, how plants and animals grew... and I was especially fascinated by the stars. I wanted to study them. Sev and I were tied for class valedictorian, when we graduated grade school, and I was accepted to Sagan University. Over the last while that I've been here, I've started to speculate if the real reason Snoke brought me and Severin into the First Order wasn't simply our Force sensitivity, but we had certain skill sets that could be exploited. In Sev's case he's a physician. I could see the First Order pushing someone who'd become desensitized to death and killing and violence, into doing controversial, ethically questionable medical experiments."

"Ye Force."

"Yeah. Sev hasn't done any of that, and he won't - Sev's got a strong conscience - but I think the First Order thought he would be more malleable than he actually is. And in my own case, I have an astrophysics degree, and there's all this research I was doing on quantum physics, chaos theory, and dark matter. My doctorate dissertation was about the possibility of alternate universes. It was all just theoretical science to me until you showed up. I hadn't studied Sith lore until more recently so I didn't know about the Cross of Changes working and what Malak had done. You are the living fulfillment of my studies. My lifelong belief that there was a certain order in the random, and that everything was connected somehow."

"...Wow." Ben felt like an idiot for saying it. Wow? This guy's a scientist and all I can say is "wow"? I sound like a fucking moron.

"When the First Order recruited me, they had me working as an engineer. They've been interested in developing certain things - wormhole generators as one example, that wouldn't just make faster travel than hyperspace, but could make intergalactic travel possible."

"So they could conquer the entire fucking universe instead of just the Galaxy. Or possibly even the entire goddamn multiverse."

"It seems that way, doesn't it?" Dennis sighed. "They didn't get very far. Projects like that need funding, and they need trained staff besides just one nerdy guy... and that staff takes funding. So yes, if any of the Bando Gora money is going to the First Order, we need to know about it. We need to know what kind of projects they're developing. Just the stuff I know they were working on, because I helped, scares the shit out of me."

"Well," Ben said, "I can tell you exactly one reason why you'd be brought in... perhaps the most important reason."

"Oh boy."

Ben took a deep breath. "You remember the Mass Shadow Generator from the Battle of Malachor V."

"Yep. I was the one who gave the order to activate it. I mean, Bao-Dur built it, but..." I wonder if Bao-Dur is around, in our little band getting back together. Poor guy. He'd been so conflicted about it, haunted by it years later.

"You also remember the Star Forge, because you were with my Revan when we destroyed the thing."

"Yes. But you said it hasn't been destroyed in every universe."

"No. And where it has been destroyed... well... they'd need someone with your particular set of skills to bring it back online."

Dennis covered his mouth to muffle the scream.

When Dennis calmed down, Ben went on. "So from where I sit, it looks like Snoke made a bit of a gambit. Either you and Sev would be pushed so far to the extreme end of the Dark Side that you'd be willing to do this heinous shit like medical experiments and making another Mass Shadow Generator and rebuilding the Star Forge... or if you weren't able to be corrupted, he'd have you taken out of commission before you presented a threat to the First Order, as part of the Seven Light. Either way, he wins."

"You know," Dennis said, "since we started studying the Je'daii..."

"Hm?"

"...I've been wondering about this business with the Seven Light and the Seven Shadow. Why the two respective groups got their names. And I think I finally figured it out."

"Yeah?"

"The Je'daii were all about balance. Both Light and Dark, co-existing, working together as two halves of a whole. I don't know anything about the Seven Shadow other than the fact that they have another Exile - your mom's Exile, my twin from way way back, before we ever started this incarnation business... but I'm guessing it involves at least some of her bondmates, like Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. Well... I think the Seven Light got our name because we're all Dark Side inclined and we come towards the Light - not turning to the Light Side per se, but the grey middle. Like me, you, Sev, Malak, Reine, even Tyranus... we're all Dark Siders or we lean towards the Dark Side, and are also dissatisfied with Sith business as usual, where we see the corruption, and are coming to a more moderate place in our alignment. And the Seven Shadow got their name because they started off on the Light Side and they necessarily had to get darker to protect themselves and their loved ones. Like Obi-Wan going from Jedi to Sith. Like Leia getting Sith training. Like Han struggling with his Dark Side alignment because he thought only the Light Side was good, for the longest time. Like Mace going from Jedi to... Je'daii, I guess."

"You know, you might be onto something. But..." Ben made a face. "Hasn't Kylo said he's one of the Seven Light?"

"Well, that's the thing." Dennis folded his arms and frowned. "How can we be part of the same group working together if two people in that group - Kylo and Valyeris - are working against us? There's a stronger case to be made for you holding that position of Lord of the Dead, the Heart of the Force."

"There's just one thing. There's only six of us, if it's not Kylo and Valyeris. And Alyssa's not coming back - I don't have anything the Restorers can use to resurrect her, especially not if my universe has been destroyed and if..." Ben didn't want to finish the sentence if she wasn't what I thought she was because my universe was something else entirely.

"So there's a seventh out there." Dennis uncrossed his arms, and folded his hands. He looked up into the starry night. "When this calms down - after Joxa is brought in, and before we leave for Serenno - we'll do a ritual to call the seventh to us, and if our theory is correct... we'll find them."

"And if our theory is correct, then Kylo definitely got the band back together to shut it down, so we're not in his way."

Dennis made a Wookiee noise. "Yeah."

Ben stood up, and then he dragged Dennis to his feet, facing him. "I need you to come back from this mission."

"I will."

"If I'm gonna fight Kylo... if I'm going to have something worth fighting for... I need you there with me."

Ben put his arms around Dennis, and Dennis returned the hug. There was a moment when both men thought they were going to kiss, but shyness overtook them.

_

Before Dooku left with Sev for the Temple, he made a holocall to his palace on Serenno.

Neryt Dooku-Fett, his half-Togruta sixteen-year-old niece - bastard daughter of his brother Istrell by a Togruta paramour, adopted by his sister Irina and her late Mandalorian husband Aran Fett, raised on Mandalore in Mando culture - answered the holophone. "Hi, Uncle Idis," she said, cheerily.

"Hello, dear. Is your mother around?"

"Yes. She's in the 'fresher. You mind waiting for a few minutes?"

"Not at all. How have you been?"

"Good. I've been practicing martial arts with an instructor, but Mom says it'll be even better when I learn how to use a lightsaber and she said you're coming back to Serenno soon, yes?"

"It seems quite soon, within the next couple of weeks if not sooner."

Neryt smiled. "So maybe I can finally get a Force teacher. I haven't wanted to apply for membership to the Temple you're at because... well... you know... Vader." Vader had killed Neryt at age twelve, at the Cleansing of Serenno. Deceased children who could be resurrected by the Restorers aged normally, which was a curiosity about the resurrection process nobody quite understood, but here was Neryt, now an adult under Serennian law.

"I know." Dooku nodded. His blood boiled every time he thought of how Vader killed his sister and her children.

"Actually, can I pick your brain about something Force-related, since we have a little bit before Mom gets out of the 'fresher?"

"Yes, what is it?"

"You ever have weird dreams?"

"Sometimes, yes."

Neryt frowned. "You ever have weird dreams about being... someone else? A long time ago?"

Dooku took a deep breath. "Yes, I have."

"Kay. Well, I have these dreams where I'm a Twi'lek, so ha ha I still have lekku... and my name is Mission. Mission Vao, I think it was? And Isha's in them too, but I'm calling him Big Z - I'm still combing his fur and stuff though, and he hates that - and I meet some guy named Revan."

Dooku's eyebrows went up.

"Sounds crazy, right?" Neryt shook her head.

"Far less so than you might think. We'll talk about this more when I arrive on Serenno, after I've had a few days to destress from what's happening here."

And then Irina called out, "Neryt, are you on the phone?"

"I'm talking to Uncle Idis. He wants to talk to you."

Irina practically ran to the phone. "Well, hello there," Irina said.

"Hello, dear sister. How are you?"

Irina pursed her lips. "Running around like a chicken with its head cut off, thanks to you."

Dooku's lips quirked, and he steepled his hands. "So I take it plans for our... restaurant... are going accordingly?" Because Dooku didn't know how secure the transmission channel was, he was speaking to Irina in code - it had been part of Chewbacca's list of instructions.

"Yes, everything should be all set up before the time you arrive for your visit."

"So you've had no trouble ordering that shipment of tea? I want to make sure we have several varieties. I can't have our competitors thinking they can outperform us."

"Oh, yes. The shipment of tea is on its way. The distributor was very excited about such a large order."

"I want to make sure our customers are thoroughly satisfied. Demonstrate Serennian hospitality, and all of that."

Irina looked like she was going to bust out laughing, and Dooku had to restrain himself also.

"I also want to make sure the grills are ready," Dooku said, "in the event that there is a demand for barbecue from off-worlder tourists. I know it's a bit late in the year, but we need to be prepared to cater to whatever our customers demand."

"I will make sure the grills are up and running before your arrival and the opening of the restaurant," Irina said. "Is there anything else you would like me to check on?"

"If you could get in touch with the current head of the Intergalactic Banking Clan, I will have a job for him within the next two days or so... researching certain economic trends and how they are likely to impact the business of our restaurant, especially against our competitors in the catering industry. He can contact me on an encrypted channel for more information. Tell him I will make this investigation more than worth his while to conduct."

"I can do that."

"All right." Dooku nodded. "I would talk some more, but I have some business to attend to here... and I will be seeing you soon enough, so we can catch up then."

"I understand." Irina smiled at him. "Stay safe, Idis."

"You also."

Dooku turned off the feed, and took a deep breath. At least that's one less thing to worry about.

_

After Dennis left for the Temple, Ben found himself feeling lonely... and horny.

He remembered masturbating to fantasies of Dennis yesterday, and feeling guilty about it... but it had also felt really good, the first time he'd orgasmed outside of wet dreams, since before Alyssa died. He was worried about Dennis, and he needed to take some of the edge off before he gave into an impulse to follow the team to their destination, when he still wasn't in optimal fighting condition.

Ben went on the Holonet, to look for porn... specifically male/male porn, as an inspiration. Sometimes watching it was good, but he was in the mood for reading erotica, so his mind could fill in the details and perhaps even change appearances of the partners to his taste. Ben went to a site he hadn't been on in awhile, that was very hit-or-miss - some erotica was very well-written, and some of it was just awful, snark-worthy stuff...

...and on the page of male/male selections, the latest offerings to the site had the following titles:

-Seducing Mom's Boyfriend
-Rekindling An Old Flame
-Sharing Him With Mom
-Moving On From the Pain
-Do Me Stepdaddy
-My First Cock
-Mom's Bi Boyfriend Makes Me His Sex Slave And I Love It

"Dear. Force. I. Am. Not. A. Religious. Man. But. Please. Help. Me. To. See. The. Connection. Here." Ben's jaw dropped and he blinked at the screen. It's like the Force is shipping me and Dennis in a very obnoxious, aggressive way.

Ben took a deep breath and he clicked on the last title, and thought of Dennis dominating him, the way his Meetra Surik had dominated Ben's Revan in their last years, to keep his destructive tendencies at bay...

_

Earlier that evening, Finn had holocalled his boyfriend, Poe Dameron, which turned into mutual masturbation, as it often did. Finn was looking forward to going to Serenno so he could finally see Poe - it had been too risky for any of the Resistance to come to Arcturus, especially when the First Order was getting more territorial in the Outer Rim and they had their hands full. Finn missed Poe - he missed Rey, too - and his orgasm had been good enough that he took a nap after the holocall.

He'd had another round of intense dreams. Once again, he was a Zabrak named Bao-Dur... an engineer of some kind... making the Mass Shadow Generator. Once again, he was haunted by what the Mass Shadow Generator had done, and his path crossed years later with the General - call me Meetra - who'd given the order to use it. In some of his dreams the General was female, and in some of the dreams the General was male. Either way, the General carried around the same amount of guilt, and they were kindred spirits, two friends trying to fix the mess they'd made. Eventually he met a nice man named Carth Onasi - so much like Poe - and they'd settled down - in one of the timelines with a female Revan, in a triad with her.[1]

And sometimes, those dreams showed him that happily ever after, where he finally found the peace that eluded him for most of his life. But tonight, it was reliving Malachor V. It was reliving the Ebon Hawk, as part of the General's crew, fighting the Sith who were so Dark Side they were something beyond the Dark Side. Finn had woken up with a start, heart pounding, in a cold sweat.

It was starting to rain, and thunder rolled, as it too often did when he was upset or afraid... enough that Reine had suggested it wasn't a coincidence.[2] They'd even made a joke about it since Reine, pronounced "Rain", had a brother who had been a Stormtrooper - the Rain and the Storm. The Force seemed to like bad puns, and Han's dad jokes.

Tonight it was really coming down.

_

When the Knights of Ren and Dooku arrived at the Temple, Kylo presented a schematic of the safe house. They would be doing another aerial drop, and this time First Order Stormtroopers would be handling the guards on the outside, as they busted in and took different wings of the house - Joxa Shihai would be in one of them, somewhere, and Force-sensitive members of the Bando Gora in others.

"We will be going in smaller teams," Kylo said. "I will go with Malak, Dennis will go with Valyeris, Severin and Reine will go together, and Tyranus will be on his own."

Dooku cleared his throat, and then he spoke up. "Commander, if I may."

Kylo gave Dooku an annoyed look, but it was clear Dooku was going to speak whether or not Kylo gave permission - Dooku had never officially joined the Knights of Ren or First Order, so he wasn't bound by their protocol.

"Severin tells me that when he was beginning to remember our prior history together, it was you who pointed out that people need their bondmates. Severin and I have discovered a few times over that he and I work better as a team. People are more powerful when they are partnered on these sorts of tasks when they're with their bondmates, combining their strength in the Force through their Force bond. So I would strongly suggest restructuring the teams so people are with their partners. That would leave Dennis as the odd man, rather than myself." Dennis was of course involved with his brothers, but it was more casual than his involvement with Leia.

What Dooku didn't say, and didn't have to, was that he smelled more potential for foul play with the teams Kylo Ren had suggested. Dooku's alternative of people pairing off with their bondmates didn't just make practical sense, but it was presented in a way where it was too reasonable to argue against and if Kylo did try to argue against it, it would make an even stronger case for sabotage from Kylo and Valyeris. Indeed, the look that Kylo and Valyeris exchanged was pretty damning. But Valyeris nodded, and Dooku breathed a small sigh of relief, knowing they had averted yet another disaster.

"Also," Dooku went on, "in light of the equipment failure that contributed to a casualty on the previous mission, I took matters into my own hands."

Sifo-Dyas stepped out, pushing a cart with seven boxes on it.

"When I first met Sifo-Dyas at the Jedi Academy," Dooku said, "our paths crossed because I had a droid that needed repairing, and he was very good at fixing things... as well as making things."

"I've been studying the Jensaarai," Sifo-Dyas continued, "as a third option to the Jedi and Sith... a tradition that Dooku influenced, in fact... and the Jensaarai wore special armor." He opened the first box, and threw Dooku a helmet. "So Dooku asked me if I would be willing to forge you guys a set of Jensaarai Knight-style Force-enhanced armor."

"That is very generous of you," Kylo said, in a flat monotone that suggested he did not think it was generous at all.

"We're just doing our part. I would rather we avoid something like what happened to Ben a few nights ago, no?" Dooku gave Kylo a small, predatory smile.

When Dooku and Sifo-Dyas had talked about the construction of the armor, they had talked about the possibility of creating poison armor or otherwise trapped armor to assassinate Kylo and Valyeris... and they had decided against it for two important reasons. First, the possibility that the two could distrust the armor given them and force a swap with one of the other Knights of Ren, which would end badly even if an intervention was done before the armor could be donned. Second and just as importantly, now that there was a continual First Order presence on Arcturus, and indeed, Stormtroopers would be accompanying them to the safe house, such obvious sabotage ran the risk of the other team members being killed by the Stormtroopers, as Snoke had that sort of policy in place with an attempt on the Commander's life. They were outnumbered, Force or no Force, and the idea of being resurrected just to be brought before the mysterious Snoke - whose very existence gave Dooku and Sifo-Dyas pause - was a less palatable option than simply waiting two weeks and then seeing if they might be able to blow the Finalizer out of the sky some months from now.

So, the Knights of Ren and Dooku put on their protective armor. Each box had unique items in it - Severin had a large polearm that served as a stun pike, if stunning someone outside of Force Stun was necessary, for example, a Force user shielding themselves against Force-based attacks; Dennis had a device that looked like a large keyboard and would be used to disable the grid the safe house was powered from, and then hack into any and all computer systems to download all of their files... which hopefully would contain Joxa Shihai's personal records, including bank information and money trails. Since Dennis was the engineer of the group, he had a better familiarity with how the device would work, than the others did, and it seemed fortunate he'd be assigned to his own space on the team.

"Force go with you," Sifo-Dyas said on their way out.

_

If Idis Dooku never jumped out of a speeder plane again, it would be too soon. Jumping out of a plane in fair weather, in just his usual garments with a few pieces of protective gear like a blaster-proof vest, was quite enough. Jumping out into the pouring rain in a suit of armor was ridiculous.

Unlike the factory raid, there was no barbed wire fence around the safe house - the aerial drop from a few hundred meters away was so they didn't pull up to the safe house on speeder bikes and get shot at immediately, they had more to work with as far as ground cover. It was raining hard enough that Dooku could barely see the Knights of Ren as they charged forward.

When they got within a few meters of the safe house, the Stormtroopers opened fire on the patrol guards around the parameter, and Kylo Ren activated his lightsaber, taking out the guards immediately stationed at the entrance. Then they were in. Dennis ran into the kitchen, and sat down at the table - all casual-like, he thought to himself with amusement, using his device to disable the power grid of the safe house.

As Dennis sat at the table, the other three teams moved into position. Malak and Reine took the stairs to the second floor, Kylo and Valyeris headed to the opposite end of the safe house, which led out to a small backyard patio and had a few rooms on the way such as a study. Dooku and Severin were left to explore the living room, and a nearby bedroom.

After Dennis had been working for a few minutes, he heard footsteps. With his lightsaber in one hand and a blaster in the other, he turned around.

A small boy and girl wearing matching owl pajamas looked up at him. They were, Dennis guessed, not older than three. The girl was carrying a pastel blue teddy bear.

They each had a mop of curly dark hair, grey eyes, and... pointy ears.

Dennis's jaw dropped when he saw the ears.

"Hi," the boy said.

"Um. Hello."

"Can I have a glass of milk?"

"I'm kind of busy here."

"Please?"

Dennis growled, and went into the fridge. He poured the boy a glass of milk. The boy and the girl sat at the table with him.

"Whatcha doin'?" the girl asked him.

"Stuff," Dennis said. Then he narrowed his eyes. "You shouldn't talk to strangers. Where's your mommy or daddy?"

"Mommy's sleepin'," the girl said. "Don't have a daddy."

Dennis wasn't too sure about that, and that bothered him, a lot. The coloring and the pointy ears were bad enough, worse that they appeared to be fraternal twins - triplets, such as Dennis was, had a higher-than-average instance of producing twins or triplets themselves - but worst of all, the age was just right.

It's just a question of whether they're mine or Sev's.

_

Joxa Shihai was meditating cross-legged, floating approximately six inches off her bed, when Dooku and Severin found her in the bedroom of the wing they were covering. There were two small twin-sized beds in a corner of the room, empty, and Sev found that curious, but he couldn't dwell on that - here she was.

Joxa was a petite woman, five-four, slender build. When Sev and Dennis had been in a triad with her, she had hair to her waist, naturally silver-blonde, as most Dathomiri women were. Now it was cropped short. Her dark brown eyes flashed open, and she smiled. "I've been looking forward to this," she said.

Immediately, Dooku began to Force choke her.

If it seemed too easy, that was because it was. Joxa had been using the Force to project an illusion of herself. The Joxa that Dooku was Force choking vanished, and the real Joxa came up behind them - just before her lightsaber could go through Dooku, it met Severin's lightsaber, Sev's eyes blazing gold.

Sev and Joxa duelled back and forth from the bedroom to the living room, below the balcony of the stairs. Once they were in the living room area, Sev turned on the stun pike, but before he could aim it at Joxa, another illusion of Joxa used the Force to grab the pike away from Sev and stun him with it. Now it was Dooku against the real Joxa, lightsabers swinging. Dooku reached out to Force choke Joxa again, and she, in turn, put a Force choke on him. Sev tried to move, but lay on the floor paralyzed, helpless to do anything but watch them fight.

Dooku managed to break Joxa's hold in the Force. "It's finished, Joxa," Dooku said to her. "Or should I say, Komari. As it was before, so it is again."

"That's what you think," Joxa rasped back. "It's only finished for you."

Dooku made a feint with his lightsaber, and then instead of a surprise lightsaber attack, he threw Force lightning at her. Joxa went down, and then Dooku threw Force lightning at Sev, to break the effects of the stun pike. Sev leapt into action, lightsaber drawn, and Joxa Force threw them both, then her illusion came up behind Sev...

...and just before she could thrust her lightsaber through Sev, Reine took a flying leap off the balcony, activating her lightsaber as she dropped, spearing Joxa through the gut as she tackled Joxa to the ground. Sev aimed with the stun pike again, to make sure Joxa couldn't make another illusion and attack from behind, and Dooku Force choked Joxa again. Meanwhile, upstairs, Malak was lightsaber-duelling two Bando Gora adherents, and with a Force throw, sent them both crashing over the balcony, onto the floor.

Joxa drew her last breath, and then the bedroom exploded.

"OH, SHIT," Sev yelled. "Dead man's switch."

The upstairs began to explode, one room at a time. Dennis had taken out the grid, but Joxa or one of the other Bando Gora had done something else. Malak and Reine dragged Joxa's body, to make sure the Restorers would have remains for resurrection, necessary for interrogations. Sev ran towards the kitchen, to grab Dennis, but Dooku shoved Sev until Sev was out the front door. The kitchen exploded, and Sev screamed, about to run towards the explosion, and Dooku held Sev back. Sev, Dooku, Reine and Malak watched as Dennis's keyboard flew through the air, and then Dennis himself came crashing through a window... carrying two small children.

Two small dark-haired, pointy-eared children.

Sev's jaw dropped. "What. The. Fuck."

Dennis brought the kids over. The police were arriving, now.

Kylo and Valyeris were of course unscathed - Dooku wondered if Kylo and Valyeris had deliberately chosen the back rooms and adjacent yard as the safest distance from the explosions. "Is everyone all right?" Kylo asked.

"Well," Malak said, gesturing to Joxa Shihai's body, "she's not."

The police were keenly interested in the two small children Dennis had rescued. "What are your names?" a female Chiss officer asked them.

"Owen," said the boy. "Lysa," said the girl.

Then Lysa watched as Joxa was taken away. "Mommy," she cried out, running towards her. The policewoman stopped her.

"Where's your daddy?" she asked the girl.

"Don't have one," Lysa replied.

Dennis was about to speak up, and the policewoman said, "OK, you're coming with us."

"Where are you taking her?" Dennis asked.

"To an orphanage. They'll eventually be fostered out unless claimed by a biological parent with proof of maternity or paternity."

Dennis facepalmed. "OK, no... they can't go to an orphanage."

"Are you a biological parent or legal guardian? Can you provide proof?"

Dennis took a deep breath. "I need a paternity test done to confirm that. How soon can we...?"

"I can have the lab expedite the results for sometime tomorrow," the policewoman told him.

Dennis and Sev looked at each other and nodded. "This is a big, long, complicated story," Dennis said. "Crazy mother, bad breakup..."

The policewoman nodded. "I've seen a lot over the years, sir."

"Do they have to go to the orphanage while the DNA test is done?"

"Unfortunately yes, it's protocol. I could lose my job, sir. But I'll give you the contact info and once the paternity test results are in, you can go there tomorrow to claim them."

Dennis watched as the children were led away - Lysa waved to him sadly. Dennis waved back until it was too hard to see her in the rain. Lightning crashed, and thunder rolled.

Chapter Text

"Still haven't heard from the lab yet, huh?"

Dennis shook his head. Ben sat down at the table with him, using the Force to pour himself a cup of coffee. "They'll call me or Sev with the results as soon as they know," Dennis said. "Though I'm pretty sure it's going to be me, because they have my eyes."

Ben nodded. "Still can't get over the fact that you might be a father."

"Yeah." Dennis rolled his eyes. "Last thing I expected, especially right now with everything else going on. And you know, when Joxa was stalking us, not once did she say she was pregnant."

"Well, this is the same woman who's had her kids around while she's in the organized crime business and was going to blow her kids up with the safe house. I highly doubt she had too much concern for their welfare."

"No, that was apparent when they came in the kitchen and started talking to me, even though I was a total stranger." Dennis made a Wookiee noise. "At least they're still young enough that whatever bullshit they've been subjected to, I can try to undo the damage." Dennis set his jaw. "I swear to the Force, if she or anyone in that fucking cult laid a hand on those kids... or worse..." He cracked his knuckles.

"I guess one of the nice things about autoregen at the Temple is you can kill someone over and over again for fun."

"Till it gets old. Really, death is too good for her if anything happened to those kids." Dennis facepalmed. "Fuck. I'm reacting like this and they may not even be mine."

"Ohhhhhh, I'm pretty sure they're yours." Ben sipped his coffee. "In which case... what are we doing about sleeping arrangements?"

"We have a two-bedroom, and I figured I'd put them in one room and I'll take the couch."

"No, you're not sleeping on the couch."

"Well neither are you, still recovering from broken ribs."

"I'm mostly on the mend, thanks to your brother's mad Force healing skills, but I wasn't suggesting that, either. My bed is big enough to fit two people and still have room left over. It's more comfortable than sleeping on the couch, provided neither of us snores like a chainsaw and hogs all the covers, and it isn't like we're going to be living in this apartment all that much longer anyway."

Dennis nodded. "OK." He took a deep breath. "Fuck. I need to get them stuff. Clothes. Toys."

Ben nodded. "It'll be easier to go shopping for all of that once they're here and you know what clothing sizes they take and what kind of toys they like. In the meantime, you have an appointment with Leia, right?"

"Yeah, I do." Dennis rubbed the growth of stubble on his face. "I gotta get ready. I don't want to give her rug burn." Then he looked at Ben and blushed. "Sorry, man. I have no brain to mouth filter."

"It's all right." Ben laughed. "I mean, she's not my universe's Leia but even if she was the one who gave birth to me... she's a consenting adult and has the right to have a sex life. Just make her happy."

Dennis patted Ben's shoulder. "Thank you for being cool about it." Dennis cringed. "The few times anyone even suggested Kylo came from someplace other than a cabbage patch, brought by the stork, he lost his shit. He doesn't want to hear about the mere concept of his mom having sex with anyone. Not Han, not anyone during their separation, not before she and Han met... he can't deal with it. I can see how the subject of one's parents' sex life can be weird to some people but he reacted to it above and beyond normal squick. So it's the reason why I haven't told him about me and his mom. Well that and the whole her being leader of the Resistance thing. Telling him I bone his mom would go over like a lead balloon."

"Yeah, put me on the next system over when that discussion goes down."

"Anyway. Gonna take a shower, and then I'm outta here. You coming to Mace's memorial service tonight?"

"It means not having to cook, so yeah." Ben smiled.

Dennis smiled back, and then Ben watched Dennis's ass as he walked off to the 'fresher.

_

"So you have kids," Leia said, smiling.

"Might have kids."

"And they're twins."

"It seems that way."

Leia frowned. "I always felt like Kylo should have been a twin. My brother and I were twins. Twins - and triplets, like you - usually have twins."

Dennis nodded. "Malak said that in every universe but this one and the one Ben comes from, Kylo and Ben are twin brothers. Which makes sense, considering how opposite they are in a lot of ways."

"Yes, that makes a disturbing amount of sense." Leia's frown deepened. "It also makes you wonder why Ben and Kylo aren't twins here and where Ben is from."

"Malak suspects foul play. And as of late, there seems to be a lot of it going on."

"Yeah, I worry about you." Leia kissed the tip of Dennis's nose. Then she began to unbutton her blouse. "There should be more of the fun kind of play."

"Oh yeah. That I can get into."

When Leia's blouse was unbuttoned all the way, she pushed it back to give Dennis an eyeful - she'd deliberately not worn a bra. Before he could move closer and take a nipple into his mouth, Leia said, "So since the probability that you'll have two small children living with you is high... I imagine that's going to impact our schedule somewhat."

"Somewhat." Dennis sighed. "I've been thinking about that too. I still want to keep seeing you and making time for you, but even if Ben and other people volunteer to babysit - and I don't want to foist my kids on other people all the time - my free time is going to be in shorter supply than it once was. And you're at a place in remembering how to use the Force where you don't really need me to give you lessons every other day, three or four times a week."

"No. Sometimes you could bring them here when you visit - or wherever here is when we're all on Serenno - and I'd be happy to ply them with cookies and help you put them down for a nap, and then we go to bed for non-nap purposes while they're napping."

Dennis nodded. "That sounds good and I appreciate it."

"It's no trouble. Honestly, I miss the days when Kylo was small, and I don't just mean because he's a holy terror now. Having kids gives you an opportunity to do kid things and not have to apologize for it. Like color in coloring books. You'll see what I mean. After what we've been through, we could all use a little childlike frivolity in our lives."

Especially Ben. "Yeah, I think when we get to Serenno, we really need to try to have fun as much as possible."

"And as far as grown-up fun goes... I think Ben or the extended family would be fine with you making childcare arrangements one night a week for date night with me, yes?"

"Yes."

"It'll work out. The Force brought us together again." Leia pulled Dennis close, and moaned as he suckled a nipple. She pet his unruly dark hair, and he sighed into her breast, savoring the comfort of her touch. "I love you."

Dennis looked up into her eyes. I love you.

It wasn't long before they were expressing their love with every part of their bodies, entangled in a rhythm as old as the Force, two Exiles become one, the Force at one with itself in one long pulse of screaming joy.

_

Following Makashi lessons and a small duel, Han finally got Sev to open up about what was bothering him today.

"So you might be a father, then."

Sev nodded. "The odds are more in Dennis's favor - the kids have his eyes, and it's worth noting that the kids found him in that safe house and he rescued them, and none of that seems like a coincidence - but I stuck my dick in that crazy too, so yes, there is a distinct possibility those kids are mine."

"What does your old man think about this?"

Sev took a deep breath. "We talked about it last night. A lot, actually. It's one thing for Dooku to adopt Qui, Obi, and Leia as his heirs when we're on Serenno - they're all grown-ass adults. It's another thing entirely for him to become guardian of two children just under the age of three. If the paternity test shows that I'm the father, Dooku is prepared to accept it - they'll live with us, and we'll deal. He's not completely new to dealing with kids that age, anyway - he rescued Qui-Gon when Qui was just a baby, and Qui spent the next few years of his life toddling around after Dooku. It's why even though they're only ten years apart in age - well, they were till Qui-Gon died - Dooku thinks of him as a son."[1]

"I could see Dooku being all stern and parent-like when he was twelve, sure."

Sev nodded, grinning. Then Sev got serious again. "But Dooku's forever in his eighties now, and he's got energy and stamina that puts men in their forties to shame... but he's still old. If those kids are mine and they come live with us, we're going to need help."

"Whether they're yours or Dennis's, you should have help with them anyway. You know the old Corellian saying: it takes a village to raise a child. This whole... family... is that village."

"Yeah, I just don't want to get in the habit of continually pawning my kids off on other people, and neither does Dennis."

"No. But if you need help, you need help, and half of how anyone in this family gets into trouble is because we're too fucking stubborn to learn how to ask for help when we're in over our head. Ask me how I know."

"I know how you know."

"So, we still smoking, or are you not doing that any more to set a good example for the kids?"

Sev snorted. "Dude, if those are my kids, I'm going to need to smoke weed every day. And really, as a doctor, I just think of it as medicine. Kids are less likely to abuse that sort of thing if the thrill of it being forbidden is gone and they see it as serving a specific purpose, and that purpose happens to be making their parents look like dorks." Then Sev glared. "And those kids have seen worse. I don't think Joxa was ever using death sticks herself - she was in way too good a shape for that, death sticks eat a person alive[2] - but if you shit where you eat, don't think the kids won't know what shit looks like, yanno?"

"That's fucked up." Han packed a bowl, and when it was ready he lit it, puffed, and passed. "So what's going on with your crazy ex now that she's in custody?"

"She's being interrogated, which is slower going than usual because she was very, very, very highly trained to withstand interrogation. Her computer files are being cracked and that's also slower going than usual because everything is triple-encrypted and at least some of the files use bio-encryption on top of that so you can't open them unless you're her or an identical twin or clone. Whatever's in those files, she was very thorough about protecting them..."

"...which means they're hotter than a supernova." Han took the pipe back from Sev and puffed again, and then Sev had a puff. "Whatever you find, when you crack them... get ready, is all I can say."

"Ready for what?"

"Shit's gonna hit the fan."

_

Over the encrypted holochannel, Tar Sell, a Muun, squared his shoulders. Dooku's nose wrinkled slightly with distaste - not because Sell was a Muun, but because Sell was head of the Intergalactic Banking Clan. Since the fall of the Empire the IBC had attempted to rebrand themselves as a legitimate business entity and not a front for organized crime, and this rebrand had met with some success, but Dooku knew a womprat when he smelled one.

"I received a holocall from a Contessa Irina Dooku saying you wished to speak with me and that you had a business proposition," Sell said.

Dooku gave a curt nod. "You heard correctly."

"What can I do for you, Count Dooku?"

Dooku sat back in his chair and steepled his hands. "I am currently, temporarily, living on the planet of Arcturus, where there has recently been a sting of the Bando Gora cult. One of their leaders, a woman named Joxa Shihai, has been taken into police custody. Her electronic information is being searched and analyzed to see how entangled the Bando Gora are with other Galactic organizations. One of the pieces of information we have in our possession is her financial records. When we began the manhunt for her, I already suspected that she was a customer of yours, and that suspicion has been confirmed -"

"-I don't like what you're implying by that-"

"-I'm not implying anything by that." Dooku gestured to Sell's hologram. "It happens that all of her electronic data, but especially her financial records, are heavily encrypted. We have hackers working on it but it is slower going than what I would like, in light of certain circumstances surrounding the investigation. So I thought I would come to you directly. If we were all in the New Republic, I could force you to open the records with a police warrant. I don't have the warrant, and threatening you would only go so far since you are a good distance away and no doubt heavily armed to prepare for threats from people like myself. But I also don't believe threatening you is the way to go here. From what I could tell without getting into the files, they're very, very, very large. I personally do not have the time or the patience to go over them with a fine-tooth comb. People in your organization do. I am prepared to make it worth your while for you to open these files and send me an analysis of transactions in her account - especially money going out, such as to employees or other special interests."

"She is a paying customer. I am breaking confidentiality. I can't have our reputation suffer by word getting out that I compromise customers' privacy."

"As I said, I would be willing to make it worth your while. Do you at least want to hear how many credits I would give you for doing this job for me?"

Sell looked from side to side, and then he nodded.

Dooku gave him the figure.

Sell waited, and then he said, "That is a lot of money, Count Dooku."

"Yes, it is. I consider it an investment." Dooku put up his index finger. "But there is one catch, in two parts, if you accept my offer."

"Of course there is."

"The first catch is that the information you present to me must be unadulterated. Nothing is to be falsified, and nothing is to be omitted. I want to know every last cent of where her money is going. If she made a purchase of personal hygiene products. If she went out to dinner, and where. The most important items on the report - a history of money coming in from Bando Gora operations, and going out to whatever the Bando Gora is funding - should be at the beginning. But when you are making your itemized lists by category, I do very much want to know what she has been up to for the last three years, again, no matter how trivial."

"This I can do. What is the second part of the catch?"

"I did very much mean what I said about how all of this on our side has been slower going than I would like. The hackers say it would take approximately ten days to crack the files, if working on it continually. That is far too long with present circumstances being what they are. I want the analysis in three days."

"That isn't enough time."

"Make time."

Sell took a deep breath that was almost a hiss. "I can either get you the very detailed analysis of her financial records for the last three years or I can do it in three days, but I can't do both. I need a week."

"A week is comparable enough to the hackers' work here that I'd rather not spend the money. I also know that if properly motivated, you can give it to me in less time than that."

"A week."

"Three days. Going once..."

"Five." Sell looked almost desperate. "Five?"

Dooku paused, considering. He actually twiddled his thumbs for a moment.

A few minutes passed, and Sell was almost hyperventilating. Dooku finally said, "Four."

"All right. Four. I cannot do less than that. My staff will be working round-the-clock."

"I assure you ours has been here as well. I will be transferring the funds to you once the report is in my possession and I am confident that the information within is true and accurate. Once again, nothing is to be falsified in this report, whether by direct tampering or by omission. We do have a copy of the files here and while we're working more slowly on our end, I will know. So it's in your best interests to present all of the information as-is... even if you think it will make your organization look bad because of the other parties involved. Indeed, since the Intergalactic Banking Clan has been trying so hard to present itself as respectable since the days when I did business with the group during the Clone Wars, it is really a good idea to cooperate with a police investigation such as this one."

"Four days, Count Dooku."

Dooku gave him the information of where he could send the reports, and then he closed the transmission. Then he got started in the kitchen - Mace's memorial service was going to be a potluck, and he didn't want to arrive empty-handed.

_

By sunset, all the guests had assembled at the Solos' - the Yusanis triplets, Dooku, Reine, Ben, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, Sifo-Dyas and Jocasta, and Mace Windu himself. Everyone had brought some type of food with them, especially Malak; Ben had stopped at the store and brought various kinds of snack food as appetizers, which Han practically inhaled. Seeing that Han liked the same kind of snacks he did made Ben feel a little more at ease with him, and moreso when Han offered to share a joint with him. Ben called Dennis over to smoke with them - Dennis was practically climbing the walls, pacing back and forth, waiting for the call from the lab.

"They should have called by now," Dennis fretted. "Even if the test was negative -"

"Those kids looked just like us," Sev said. "There's no way one of us isn't the father."

Mace Windu's eyebrows went up. "...You have kids?"

"Probably?" Dennis frowned and Ben shoved the joint between his lips.

Mace chuckled. "What is this, the year everyone finds out they have children they didn't know about?"

Jocasta raised her eyebrows at Dooku, and Dooku made a muffled Wookiee noise. He'd been hoping to avoid having The Kreia And Brianna Talk with her, but he knew he couldn't avoid it forever, especially not with Jocasta being herself.

When Dooku helped Leia set up the patio, Jocasta stepped outside. Dooku and Jocasta looked at each other, and then Dooku looked away, and Jocasta said, "Idis."

Dooku sighed. "Yes."

"We need to talk about our past life history."

Dooku sat down in one of the patio chairs. He looked up at Jocasta, and then he looked down.

Jocasta folded her arms. "I know that you wanted me to remember being Brianna on my own, but since I've let it be known that I am..."

"I don't know what there is to say." Dooku folded his hands.

"When we were aboard the Ebon Hawk, why didn't you tell me that you were my mother? Why did you tell me my mother died at Malachor V?"

"Because in essence, she did." Dooku's eyes met Jocasta's. "When I - Arren Kae - was in the Battle of Malachor V, whatever the Mass Shadow Generator... did... quite literally ripped my ship apart and threw me onto the planet's surface, and I was stranded there, condemned to roam for... I don't even know how long, until at last I found the Trayus Academy. I went mad from the isolation and the trauma. I aged quite dramatically from the hardship of surviving on Malachor V after the Mass Shadow Generator ravaged it. Not to mention the strain being apart from your father, Yusanis... my bondmate. My soulmate. Knowing that he thought I was dead. Knowing what kind of man he is, and knowing he longed for death after what he'd seen, and having to face all of it without me. What happened, in the days following the battle, turned me into Traya, and when Traya left the Sith Triumvirate, I still couldn't take back my old name, so I was Kreia, which means 'silence' in Serennian. I had died to my old self. I killed my heart, or at least I thought I did. I did not want you knowing what your mother had become. I did not want you to hate me for 'abandoning' you, or feel hurt that I 'abandoned' you as a child, when I did not... and I did not want you to try to 'save' me from what I'd become and pull yourself down the abyss. So yes, I kept my distance, and when I could not, I was harsh towards you, as a way to further ensure you would never know, that you would never suspect. And that I regret. But I felt I had already done wrong enough by you, without you learning the truth and..." Dooku took a deep breath. "I'm sorry."

Sifo came out to witness Jocasta hugging Dooku, the two of them crying. He waited a moment before saying, "So you guys finally talked about the mother-daughter thing?"

Dooku nodded.

Jocasta smiled through her tears. "I have to say, the thought of you being pregnant and giving birth amuses me to no end."

Dooku snorted. "I remember it rather vividly. So does Severin, from Yusanis's perspective." He frowned. "I'm not only sorry that I didn't tell you who I was, back then, but I'm sorry that we didn't get a chance to raise you. I'm sorry your sisters and that horrible woman Atris treated you like they did."

Jocasta nodded. "They never forgave me for being Arren Kae's daughter."

"Please know this... you were wanted. We never abandoned you intentionally. You were taken from us. I should have told you when our paths crossed years later aboard the Ebon Hawk and you were a young woman... but you now know why I did not. It was not out of hatred. It was out of love. A desire to protect you from being hurt more than you already were. You were our joy, in the few months we had been given with you. And even before that." Dooku's lips quirked. "You should have seen your father prepare for you. He made a crib. He painted the nursery. He even picked out your name, Brianna."

"What does it mean?" Jocasta asked.

Sev had been eavesdropping, and said, "In Echani, 'brianna' means 'protector'."

Dooku's eyes twinkled with mirth. "It means 'snowball' in Serennian."

It took a moment, and then Sifo-Dyas facepalmed. "Oh, fuck."

Dooku, Sev, and Jocasta looked at Sifo, and Sifo huffed. "I was frozen, and my bondmate's name was Snowball?"

"I guess the Force loves bad puns," Sev said.

The four group-hugged, and Jocasta said, "I feel really awkward about having had a crush on you as a teenager."

"We didn't know you'd been my daughter in a prior lifetime," Dooku assured her. "Besides, that was then and this is now. It does however give an additional layer of explanation as to why I didn't return your interest."

"Well, that and you play for the home team." Jocasta smiled.

Dooku blushed a little, and Sev cackled.

"I figured it out even before you did, you know," Jocasta said. "When we used to go shopping and you'd pick out shoes that went with my outfit."

Sev's cackling turned into full belly laughter, as Dooku bitchfaced. "That's such a stereotype," Dooku snapped.

"If the shoe fits..." Jocasta laughed, running off, as Dooku did something he normally didn't do - he took off his boot and playfully threw it at her, like she was his sister. Jocasta caught it, and then she came back and swatted Sifo's ass with it before giving it back to Dooku.

Dooku cleared his throat then and said, "Severin and I are going to be leaving for Serenno in the not too distant future. Perhaps a matter of days, depending on what happens with the current entanglement with the Bando Gora and the First Order." Sev sat on Dooku's lap, and Dooku put his arms around Sev and said, "We'd like you to come with us to Serenno. I have land, and I've been wanting to offer you a villa in my orchards as a way to make up for..." His voice trailed off.

"What about the Temple?" Sifo asked.

"Something tells me that's going to be a non-issue in the near future. I'm not sure how, or why... it's just a feeling I have, and I think it's a feeling you have too." Dooku and Sev looked at each other, and then Dooku went on, "Besides... I think we could start our own Temple on Serenno, in which case I would definitely want you on the staff there."

"A villa on an orchard, and a Temple where we get more of a say about how things are done..." Jocasta grinned. "I don't speak for both of us, but I'm already sold on the idea."

"There is another matter," Dooku said. "Severin and I are getting married - not immediately, we'll need some time to prepare for the wedding, and I'll need some time to prepare for dealing with the First Order -" Dooku had already told Sifo-Dyas about his plan to resurrect CIS under a new name, the Commonwealth of Independent Systems, where the Resistance would make up a large portion of its military if Leia could get the other Resistance members to agree. "...and obviously we'd like you to attend, as best man and the maid of honor. So there's an additional incentive for you to come with us to Serenno."

Sifo and Jocasta looked at each other and Sifo said, "Well actually, now is an opportune time for us to ask this... as you know, at my 'welcome back' party at the Temple, I asked Jocasta to marry me, just before Anakin Skywalker interrupted."

"Yes, I recall that." Dooku tsked. "The boy has no manners."

"Since you're our best friend... how would you feel about having a double wedding? You take your vows to Severin, and I take my vows to Jocasta, in the same place in the same ceremony, with the same officiant. It seems right that we should all celebrate together, and something tells me there's going to be a lot of weddings going on over the coming months so this way too, it cuts down on people having to get dressed up and make arrangements for catering and all of that."

"We would be honored," Dooku said, and Sev nodded. And then Dooku said to Sifo, "So I suppose I should tell you what else has been on my mind... as you know, Yoda is adopting me as his son, and I am adopting Qui, Obi, and Leia as my heirs... I would also like to adopt you as my brother."

Sifo hugged him again. "Yes."

Han came out to make vomit noises, as Ben laughed. "I don't know if we should even have any of this cake," Han said, nodding at the cake he was carrying, "because it looks like we're all about to get diabetes."

The rest of the food was brought out, and everyone ate, drank, and was merry. Dennis and Sev kept checking their holophones, looking worried, and when the first stars in the sky came out, Mace was ready to begin the memorial. He lit a candle for Raskta, one for his son Teddy, and one for Teddy's wife. He produced a holopicture of Raskta Yusanis.

"Raskta and I met when I had to accompany her on a diplomatic mission to an Echani colony in the Outer Rim, and our relationship started then. After that, she requested that I be her assigned bodyguard when she went to the Senate or on other diplomatic missions. So I was assigned to that duty, in addition to other duties I had within the Jedi Order. We were discrete about our relationship, but behind closed doors, away from prying eyes... she was like fire." Mace smiled a little as he remembered. "The Echani are a warrior culture, and she was definitely a product of that culture. In order to prove myself worthy of protecting her, on that first assignment, she made me fight her. And she put up one hell of a fight."

Sev, Dennis, and Malak smiled knowingly. Nothing stirred their blood quite like sparring with their bondmates.

"I fell in love with her strength, her power... but also her softness. She could go from being one of the scariest, toughest women I'd ever met, to being gentle and sweet. She gave the best cuddles. She had a real compassion for others - she did a lot of charitable work, above and beyond the usual charity of the Echani. She was strong in her convictions - she wanted to withdraw Eshan from the Republic because of the corruption in the Senate, and petition to join the Confederacy of Independent Systems, and I talked her out of it not just because I served the Republic, then, but because Eshan was on the Inner Rim and closer to Republic territories than other CIS worlds and more vulnerable. And sure enough, when the Republic became the Empire, the Empire was ruthless with any world that had been Separatist. The Echani would have ceased to exist if they'd joined the Confederacy."

Dooku nodded solemnly, and squeezed Sev's hand.

"My last thought, as I died, was of Raskta. Wanting her to know I went out fighting... I went out as a warrior, fighting for the good of the Galaxy. That as much as she and I loved each other and we wanted to build a life together, someday - we talked about me eventually retiring from the Jedi Order and coming to live with her on Eshan - she was also too strong in her convictions to just sit there and do nothing while the Galaxy was falling apart. I knew she would rather I die, fighting, than live 'at peace' when the rest of the Galaxy was at war. That was her way. That was the Echani way."

"It still is," Sev muttered, thinking of Dooku and his ideals, and wondering if some of his attraction to the old man was that - you could take the Echani out of Eshan, but you couldn't take the Eshan out of the Echani.

"I'm not surprised that she was assassinated. She was outspoken, which made her quite a few enemies in the Senate. She was against the Republic fighting the Confederacy - when she was normally a warhawk. She held other unpopular positions, like being tougher on organized crime that many Senators looked the other way at because it lined their pockets. The very reason why she needed a bodyguard was because of her convictions and her willingness to fight for what she thought was right. The thing that I loved the most about her was the thing that cost her her life."

Sev felt himself tearing up. Now it was Sev's turn to squeeze Dooku's hand.

"When I was resurrected, of course I'd asked about her being resurrected and I was told no. Several people at the New Force Order had their bondmates or other family members resurrected, but the Restorers needed either physical remains or something a soul piece had gone into like a holocron... and the subject had to have a midichlorian count of at least 5k. Raskta had a Force-sensitive brother, Alek, but she and her sister were both below 5k with midichlorians. So it wasn't possible. And I just... shut down. I knew, at that time, if I let myself feel, I would fall apart. I might even fall to the Dark Side, because it wasn't just that she died, and I lost her, but she had been murdered by Imperialists, and so many people had died in the Clone Wars and it all seemed for nothing with the way the Galaxy is now. I've been quietly seething for four years. Afraid to open that box of letting myself mourn for her and all of the messy emotions attached. But I opened that box... and there's a couple grandkids inside."

Finn and Reine stepped up, and stood on either side of Mace. They turned on holophotos of Teddy Yusanis - one by himself, and one with their Mandalorian mother.

"I read about my son," Mace said. "He was a good man. He joined the Rebel Alliance as soon as he was old enough, was a decorated war hero, and then he represented Eshan in the New Republic's Senate. He fell in love with a Mandalorian girl he'd met in the Rebel Alliance, and when the war was over for awhile, they got married. And a few months after that... they died in an 'accident'." Mace made air quotes. "They were murdered, just like Teddy's mother was murdered." Mace glared. "Whoever's responsible for this, is going to pay. I could give up on life, give up on hope... or I could honor the memory of my warrior wife, and our warrior son, and keep fighting. That's what they would want. For me to keep fighting. Keep going." Mace put a hand on Finn's shoulder and a hand on Reine's shoulder. "A piece of them is with me."

"I wish we'd gotten to know our mother and father and our grandmother," Reine said, "but at least we can get to know each other, and our grandfather."

"If your father was anything like me, and anything like your grandma, he'd be proud of you," Mace said. "Both of you."

Mace, Finn, and Reine hugged, and cried together, and then one at a time, the gathered guests came up to pay their respects to the dead, and hug Mace Windu and his grandchildren.

At the very end, Ben said, "I feel like the Force is asking me to do this for you. I've never done it before, but..."

He took Finn's hand in one hand, and Reine's in the other, and had them hold their grandfather's hands, and then Ben closed his eyes, and so did they. In their mind's eye, Reine, Finn, and Mace could see Ben's Higher Self - the Seven Light's Lord of the Dead. He looked a lot like Ben but in a black robe, carrying a scythe, glowing with an eerie blue light. He had them follow him across an endless field of roses, leading up to a black tower spiralling in a sky of stars. At the tower, Raskta Yusanis, Teddy Yusanis, and Baraka Synjat were waiting, themselves glowing blue. Ben stepped back and let the family embrace, and talk for a few minutes - the three dead cried with the three living, and there was a lot of speaking done without words, through mental images shared privately in the Force. And then the starry sky gathered storm clouds, and Ben said, "It's time to go back." Raskta, Teddy, and Baraka walked into the dark tower, and Mace Windu and his grandchildren followed Ben across the field of roses, and then they were in the Solos' backyard once more.

"Thank you," Mace told him, his voice shaking.

Ben nodded, and then he swayed - that had taken a lot out of him. Dennis steadied Ben before he could fall.

At that exact moment, Dennis's holophone rang. In his haste to take it out of his belt clip, Dennis's fingers fumbled and it fell on the ground. Mace used the Force to pick it up, and handed it to Dennis. Dennis answered it, and saw a strange woman's hologram. "Hello?" he said.

"Is this Dennis Yusanis?"

"Yes. Who may I be speaking with?"

"I'm Olga Teru, head of the orphanage here in Arcana City. I apologize that it took this long for you to be contacted - when the lab results came in, they were forwarded directly to us to save you a trip to the lab to collect all of the paperwork and bring it in yourself. Anyway... the paternity test of Owen and Lysa Shihai determines you are the biological father. We called your employer, Sifo-Dyas, earlier today to confirm that you can provide them with a stable home. If you'd like to pick them up..."

"I'll be right there." Dennis cut the transmission, and reflexively brushed himself off. "I don't mean to be rude, but -"

Leia smiled. "It's all right. Go get your kids, honey." She hugged Dennis and they kissed, and then she hugged Ben, and Ben hugged her back. "I'm proud of you," she whispered to Ben.

Ben's eyes filled with tears. He paused for a moment, wanting to say something and not knowing what to say, and then Dennis pulled him by the tail of his short. "Come on," Dennis said. "These kids should already be in bed."

_

When they got to the orphanage, it was late enough that Owen and Lysa were barely awake. They were dressed in clothes that were clean and fit them well, but Dennis knew from looking at them that they were cast-offs from previous orphanage residents, and he firmed his resolve to take them shopping tomorrow. "Remember me?" Dennis asked the kids.

Owen and Lysa nodded. Lysa asked, "Where's Mommy?"

"Your mommy can't get you. I'm your daddy."

"Mommy said we don't have a daddy."

"Mommy was doing a lot of bad things, which is why she isn't here right now, and one of those bad things was keeping me from you." As afraid as he and Severin had been when Joxa was stalking them, she had never once mentioned being pregnant, and Dennis or Sev would have offered to take custody if they had known. "Anyway, I've come to take you home."

"Are we ever gonna see Mommy again?" Owen pouted.

"I don't know." The answer to that question was more like "no", but Dennis wasn't going to tell them that.

Then Owen surprised him by saying, "I hope she doesn't come get us. She was mean."

Dennis felt a surge of rage, as dark as his Dark Side tendencies got. He didn't know what had been done to his children, but Force help me, it is never going to happen again. Dennis took Owen's hand in one hand, and Lysa's hand in the other, and led them to the speeder car he and Ben had taken in the orphanage. Ben drove them back to the Temple campus, and Dennis sat in the back seat, holding his children with the knowledge that they were his children, for the first time. For all of his concerns about being a good father and being able to provide them a stable life, it felt completely natural to hold them in his arms, and pet them until they fell asleep on him, and he fell half-asleep with them. Ben had to wake them up when they arrived.

Dennis and Ben carried them to bed and helped them change back into the owl pajamas they'd first been seen in, before tucking them in. "Potty's right over there if you need it," Dennis said, pointing. Then he sat on their bed and asked, "Do you need anything? Glass of milk?"

"Milk, please," Owen said. Lysa nodded.

Ben brought them each a glass of milk, and then Dennis tucked them in, and then without thinking about it, he sang them an Alameenian lullaby that he remembered his mother singing him and his brothers before his parents were killed when he was six. Ben remarked on it when the kids were asleep. "Alyssa used to sing that to me sometimes when I was upset," he said.

"Well, it's been a long day and we need to get up early tomorrow, so we should call it a night," Dennis said. Ben nodded.

They changed in front of each other - it was the new normal - and after the nightly ritual of brushing their teeth and washing their faces, they climbed into opposite ends of the bed. They lay there in silence for a few moments before Dennis said to Ben, "What you did for Mace, Finn and Reine tonight... was really amazing."

"Apparently it's one of my superpowers." Ben made jazz hands. Dennis laughed.

Then Ben said, "I... think I'm almost ready to do something similar for Alyssa."

"You mean have a memorial service?"

"And visit her Force ghost. And say goodbye."

Dennis reached out to hug Ben, and Ben said, "It'll be a couple days yet. I need things to calm down first, since the kids just got here. I also don't want it to be as big as the memorial was for your aunt. But it's time."

"If you need me, I'm there."

Ben nodded, and then he gently pulled away. "Good night."

"Good night." Dennis had to stop himself from adding my love at the end.

Chapter Text

He's a she again, but a life before Arwen, the Alameenian that Leia loved. Her name is Senya Tirall, one of the Knights of Zakuul. She becomes a member of the personal guard of Valkorion, Emperor of the Eternal Empire, and eventually, his lover. They have three children together: twin boys named Arcann and Thexan, and a daughter, Vaylin. Valkorion is indifferent towards the children, and handles their Force sensitivity badly - when Valyin's strength in the Force makes her dangerous, Valkorion merely locks it away instead of trying to give her proper training. This is like shoving a rotting mess under a rug rather than properly cleaning it. Senya leaves him, and attempts to run away with the children, but they refuse to leave their father, because despite his indifference he has turned them against her.

Not a day goes by that Senya doesn't cry for her children.

Senya hears years later over news reports that Thexan died, invading the Core Worlds. Valkorion is supposedly assassinated and Arcann begins an invasion of the Galaxy in retaliation. Senya duels her own daughter Vaylin and is told by her that Arcann killed Thexan in cold blood.

Senya fights Vaylin again and offers her love and a chance to come home. Vaylin scoffs her. Senya leaves with Arcann, who is wounded, and he is healed with the help of Voss mystics, and is redeemed.

Senya learns it was Arcann who'd killed Valkorion... but he was not truly dead. Valkorion had been alive for over a thousand years, before the Mandalorian Wars - using Sith magic to transfer his consciousness fully intact between hosts when they expired.

"He's still out there," Senya warns Dennis Yusanis, her present incarnation. "Closer than you think. Keep him from our children. Keep him from taking over the Galaxy, because if he does, there is nowhere our children will be safe."

Dennis woke up screaming, in a cold sweat.

This time it was Ben to comfort him, reaching out to hold him safe and make soothing noises. It was just before dawn, and Dennis immediately felt guilty, even though he hadn't asked to wake up in such a state.

"What was it?" Ben asked.

"Another fucking past life." Dennis told him what he could remember.

When Dennis was finished, Ben took a deep breath. "This is why I warned you about Valky," Ben said. "I told you he was fucking powerful."

"I just... how is this dude still alive over four thousand years later? It's one thing to reincarnate, and have to remember everything all over again, if you do. It's another thing to have four thousand years plus intact piled up in your head, where you transfer from one host body to another. Wouldn't that make you crazy?"

"Yes, which is why he's dangerous. And he was dangerous even when he was less crazy." Ben folded his arms. "To illustrate - the very fact that you had a past life as his lover and had three children with him."

"Which I never would have done willingly if I'd known." Dennis shuddered. He'd remembered his last days as Meetra Surik, helping Ben's Revan stand against Valkorion - almost a thousand years after his life as Meetra Surik, he'd incarnated as Senya Tirall.

"No. Because that is what he does." Ben met Dennis's eyes. "When he killed you... when you were Meetra and I was Revan... he took your soul, as revenge against me. He did what he knew would cause me the most pain - incarnating you into a life not just out of my grasp, but where you didn't remember any of how he messed with us, and you married him and had children with him..." Ben then looked away sharply, and closed his eyes as if in pain. "Shit. I already said too fucking much."

"No, you didn't."

Ben was about to get up, and Dennis put a hand on his shoulder, pushing him back down. "Ben. Look at me."

Ben looked at the wall.

"Ben. Listen. I know about our past history."

"Fuck."

"Ben." Dennis took Ben's chin in his hand and pushed Ben's face towards him. Ben's eyes snapped open, and Dennis could see they were full of tears. "I know. It's OK."

Ben looked down.

Dennis sighed. "I've been avoiding this conversation with you because I sensed you weren't ready to have it, but we can't avoid it forever." Dennis cleared his throat. "I know that even though we have this past history together, where we were a thing in the last years of our lives, we're also different people in this life, and it's not fair to be together solely because Meetra and Revan were together. But as I've been getting to know you, this time around, as Ben, I... like what I see... and if you wanted to make a new chapter in that history, I'm open."

"I can't have this conversation with you right now," Ben said.

"When? How much longer are you going to keep putting it off?"

"I need to say goodbye to Alyssa, and I need a couple of days to prepare myself to do that." Ben looked up at Dennis again. "Once that's done, I'll be able to revisit this topic."

"All right. Fair enough."

Ben and Dennis went to the kitchen to have coffee, and Owen and Lysa stumbled out of bed a short time later. Ben normally hated cooking, but he felt like he needed to do something nice for Dennis's kids - they'd been through a lot - so he made pancakes. "They actually came out decent," Ben said as he ate his.

"Dude, if this is merely decent, I'd love to see what you consider good," Dennis said. "You might have inherited your mom's cooking gene."

"These pancakes are the best pancakes," Owen told Ben, smiling.

"I'm glad you like them," Ben said, smiling back.

"What do we call him?" Lysa asked Dennis. "Is he our other daddy?"

Ben and Dennis exchanged glances, and Ben looked away, turning pink into his ears. Thanks, Force, Ben thought to himself, but where Dennis could hear it. That's not blatant shipping at all.

Nope, Dennis replied to him in the Force.

Ben kicked Dennis under the table. Dennis started playing footsie with him, making Ben's blush deepen.

"I don't know, Ben, what are you OK with being called?" Dennis asked.

"Well, that's your daddy," Ben said, gesturing to Dennis. "He made you."

"Then Dad?" Owen asked, not knowing there wasn't really much of a difference between Dad and Daddy.

Ben's first instinct was to tell him "Uncle Ben", but he had a feeling it would break the kids' hearts, and since they weren't going to be seeing their crazy drug-dealing cult-leader mother anytime soon if he had anything to do with it, that meant they had one parent, and they really ought to have two. "OK," Ben conceded.

Owen grinned, and the way Owen grinned at him made Ben feel like he could melt into a puddle of something like paternal feelings. Dammit, Dennis, why do your kids have to be so adorable.

Because they're mine. Dennis ruffled Owen's hair.

When everyone was finished eating, Dennis collected the dishes - since Ben cooked, it was fair that he did dishes. Owen was still drinking his juice, so Dennis left the table without the glass, and when he came back for it, Owen accidentally knocked it over and the last bit of juice spilled onto the table, dripping onto the floor. Owen's jaw dropped and his eyes widened, a look of pure terror on his face. He immediately began to say, "I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I'm sorry... was an ac-ci-dent..."

"Owen. It's just juice, peanut." Dennis used the Force to bring over a dish towel and mopped it up. "No big deal."

Owen broke down, crying.

Then Dennis sensed it. The hair on his arms and the back of his neck began to rise, as he felt electricity crackling at his fingertips, wanting to make Force lightning in his ex's general direction. "What happened when you lived with your mommy and you spilled things by accident?"

"She smacked us," Lysa informed him. Owen nodded, crying harder.

Dennis and Ben looked at each other, and then Dennis pulled Owen close and rocked him. "Listen to me," Dennis said. He took Owen's face in his hands. "Nobody is ever going to do that to you again. What she did was wrong. It was bad. You're not a bad boy, she was a bad mommy." He kissed the top of his head and hugged Owen tight, letting Owen cry into his chest. He pulled Lysa over and scooped her up into the hug. "I'm here now. Nobody will hit you any more."

When Dennis looked up at Ben, he saw Ben was crying too. Ben looked like he wanted to join the hug, but instead he went to do the dishes himself, letting Dennis have some time to comfort the children.

After the kids were bathed and put in clean clothes, Dennis looked at the time and decided they could head out now. Ben and Dennis walked the kids to the Temple first, into the infirmary - Dennis wanted them midichlorian tested. "I am very sure they are Force sensitive," Dennis explained, "since both their parents are Force sensitive and they're not yet three and are very articulate for their age - one of the usual signs - but this will confirm it and show how much, what we're looking at."

Owen and Lysa protested having their blood drawn, but they got lollipops afterwards, which quickly brightened their mood. The test results would take a few hours to analyze, so they got in a speeder car and went into Arcana City.

Dennis decided clothing would be bought first, so they went to a children's clothing store, and the children had their measurements taken and then Dennis and Ben took them around so they could pick out things they liked within reason. Dennis didn't want the kids to pick out things that were wildly mismatched, if only because he didn't want to look like a bad parent, and he also didn't want to go too crazy with buying a lot of stuff while they were still on Arcturus - Dooku had warned them they would need to be ready to go quickly, and the fewer things they had to pack, the better. But Dennis wasn't going to let his kids wear orphanage charity cast-offs, remembering his own formative years in a lower-income neighborhood of Coronet City on Corellia. Letting the kids pick out what they wanted was also an exercise in learning about their favorite colors, favorite textures, and other favorites. Lysa had more clean, simple, elegant tastes, favoring darker colors, while Owen liked ornate patterns and bright colors.

From the clothing store they went to a store that sold bedding, as Dennis thought it would be a nice touch for the kids to be able to pick out their own bed set - bedspread, sheets, and pillows. Because Owen and Lysa had such divergent tastes it was hard to get them to compromise while they were sharing a bed, and Dennis thought that when they moved to Serenno, Owen and Lysa would either need their own separate rooms or two halves of a room with different beds so they could decorate their half of the room accordingly. But in the meantime, they had to find a workaround, and it happened that both Owen and Lysa liked owls, and settled on a bedspread of a deep blue night sky filled with stars, and brightly colored owls sitting on tree branches. Dennis bought them each an owl-shaped pillow - Owen got a red one, and Lysa got a dark purple one. The kids hugged their pillows on the way out of the store, back to the speeder car, and it made Dennis and Ben smile.

It was time for lunch, so they went to a pizza parlor known for catering to children, where the waitstaff dressed in ludicrous mouse costumes. The pizza wasn't the best, but the kids were thrilled with it, and managed to convince Dennis and Ben to go with them into the game room, and specifically to a pit full of brightly colored balls. The pit was deep enough that it came up to Dennis and Ben's shoulders, and the kids swam through the balls until they got piggyback rides on the men's shoulders, laughing and squealing as they used the Force to throw balls around the pit.

On their way out of the restaurant, there was a game machine featuring a large collection of stuffed animals and a mechanical arm that would pull stuffed animals out. Owen and Lysa tugged on Dennis's shirt. Dennis knew the game was rigged and one in a thousand would actually get a stuffed animal - if you were a normal, mundane person playing it. Dennis and Ben each won them the stuffed animal of their choice - Lysa got a purple rabbit, Owen got a blue bantha - while other parents looked on in disbelief.

The next stop was to the same mall where the Knights of Ren had done recruiting for the First Order, and Dennis hoped he didn't run into Valyeris there. By now the kids had done enough walking that they were getting tired, so Dennis gave Lysa a piggyback ride, and Ben did the same for Owen. They made their way to a toy store, and not only did Lysa and Owen play with various building sets, stuffed animals, and remote-control vehicles, but Dennis and Ben did as well. A highlight of the experience was when the two children and two adults played tag around the store, which culminated in Ben and Dennis "fighting" with foam pool noodles as Owen and Lysa watched them, giggling.

The children got a few more stuffed animals, a remote-controlled flying mechanical owl, and a large pail of small plastine bricks in different colors that locked together and could be used to build structures as simple or elaborate as desired - entire villages made with these bricks were on display, as well as different shapes. Dennis and Ben also got them some coloring books and crayons, which weren't too expensive and could provide hours of entertainment and distraction.

They passed by an ice cream stand on the way out, so Dennis decided to spoil them and get them ice cream cones. He and Ben also got ice cream, and Dennis felt like he was indulging their wounded inner children.

Mercifully, they did not run into Valyeris, and managed to leave the mall without incident. The kids fell asleep on Dennis on the speeder car ride back, and they were carried in and tucked in for a nap once they got home. Clothes and toys were put away, and the new bedding was laundered. Dennis made dinner and the kids were woken up to eat, and then after dinner they got to play with their new building bricks while Ben assembled the new bedding on their bed. Ben came out to see Dennis on the floor enthusiastically building structures with his kids, and took a moment to smile. Dennis smiled back at him, and then Dennis's holophone rang. It was the Temple, with the results of the midichlorian testing - not only were the children both Force-sensitive, but they each had a midichlorian count in the 15k range, which was considered well above average for Jedi or Sith levels of Force sensitivity.

When it was time for the kids to go to bed, Dennis tucked them in and read them a bedtime story while Ben took care of the dinner dishes. Once Dennis was sure the kids had fallen asleep, he came out, and... began to color, at the dining room table. Ben laughed. "Coloring?" he teased.

"I have a lot on my mind and this helps calm me down," Dennis told him. "Don't knock it till you've tried it."

Ben started coloring too - one of the coloring books Dennis had gotten was of abstract geometric shapes, some more ornate than the others; this one looked like a wheel of wheels, made of seven-petaled flowers. Dennis was right; it was relaxing.

"So," Ben said, "the midichlorian test."

Dennis told him the results, and Ben nodded.

Dennis sighed. "When we get to Serenno, I'm going to need to find the kids a counselor because of the shit they've been through... and they're going to need some kind of Force training. The good news is, if we're all going to Serenno, the chances are somebody can help with that. Like Yoda, maybe."

Ben nodded.

"Because if what I saw in my dreams was any indicator... the sooner they can get their Force abilities under control, the better. I can help, as their father, but they should have a teacher besides me."

"I'll help too," Ben said, "but yes, the more people helping us with their Force sensitivity, the better off they'll be."

Dennis stopped coloring for a minute, and looked up. "In that dream, when I was Senya, I had three children. Twin boys, and a daughter. So I'm wondering, which two of the three are they, and where's the third?"

Ben closed his eyes, meditating on it - Dennis could feel Ben accessing that part of him that was the Seven Light's Lord of the Dead, and knew about reincarnations. After a moment, Ben opened his eyes and he said, "Lysa is Vaylin, and Owen is Arcann."

"OK. And Thexan?"

"...Isn't here yet." Ben pursed his lips. "He's waiting."

"For...?"

"Well, a mother to give birth to him, for starters..."

Dennis facepalmed.

Ben went on. "But also he's waiting for it to be safe enough to join his siblings. The threat from Valky has to be neutralized or on its way to being dealt with."

Dennis nodded. "Seems legit." He frowned and resumed coloring. "So Vaylin grew up to be Empress, and I remember duelling her a few times."

"In this worldline, she eventually reconciled with you, before her death. There was a brief moment in time when Senya, Arcann, and Vaylin all lived together as a family."

"You don't think Joxa is Valky, do you?"

"No, I don't. Their Force signatures are completely different, and putting it bluntly, Joxa is somebody's pawn. Valky is the chessmaster. It's more likely that Joxa is working for whoever Valky is now."

Dennis nodded again. "Senya-me told me he's still out there."

"He is. It's why I've told you to be very careful about saying his name. This man has a level of power that you want kept away from you until you're completely ready to take him out. We're not there yet. We don't even have the seventh in our squad."

"Yeah, I'm starting to get a taste of what he's capable of." Dennis shuddered. "And yet... those kids may be his, and Joxa's... but they're mine. I don't hold them accountable for their bad parent. That doesn't make me not love them."

"No, and the chances are good that they were already your kids in a lifetime before all of that - like when you were Ketu, maybe - so they were going to come to you anyway, regardless of who the other parent was."

"This all scares the shit out of me." Dennis switched to a black crayon. "It was bad enough when it started to look like someone in the First Order doesn't want the Seven Light assembling and taking care of business. Now I have people to protect besides myself."

"Well... we'll get through this, somehow. I'm looking forward to Serenno." Ben cocked his head to one side. "Do you still want to live together when we're on Serenno?"

"Yeah. Even if we don't... um... repeat past history... I'm pretty used to you being around."

The words tugged at Ben's heart. He felt like he could cry. After a lifetime of feeling like he didn't belong anywhere, he had a place in someone's life. Someone who happened to be one of the best people Ben had ever met. Ben reached out to take Dennis's hand for a minute, and squeeze it, and then he got up to use the 'fresher and take a shower, crying in the shower, letting himself feel the hurt of his experiences in the universe he came from... letting himself feel hope, that maybe the Force did in fact want him to have a better life, a second chance.

By the time Dennis went to bed, Ben was already asleep, or it looked that way. Dennis quietly crawled into his side of the bed, and dreamed of when he was Meetra and Ben was Revan, both of them finding each other again after years of long struggles apart, fitting their broken pieces together.

_

The next day, after everyone had been up for awhile and Ben and Dennis were deciding what to do, Dennis got a holocall from Han Solo, of all people.

"Hey," Dennis said. "What's up? Is Leia all right?"

Han laughed. "Leia's fine. Is Ben around?"

"Yeah, he's here." Ben waved from across the room. "So..."

"Well... I called to ask if you wanted to bring the kids by, and I'll take all of you fishing. The fall foliage is really starting to come out at the lake."

"Fishing?"

"Yeah, you know, catching fish?"

Dennis chuckled. "I know what that is. I just..."

"Also your brother's going to be there. I've sort of informally adopted Sev and it's a chance to do father-son stuff that he never got to do."

"Well in that case, I suppose we can."

Dennis and Ben showed up at the Solos' with the kids in tow. Ben looked incredulous, and Sev said, "You've never been fishing either, huh?"

"Nope."

Han raised an eyebrow. "Huh. I used to take Kylo when he was a kid. He hated it. He said the fishing vest clashed with his aesthetic."

Ben laughed at this like it was the funniest thing he'd ever heard. Ben was wearing a red plaid flannel shirt and the fishing vest went a little too well with his own aesthetic, or lack thereof.

Finn was joining them, so Han, Sev, Dennis, Ben, Finn, and the kids took a speeder car up to the lake, and Dennis got to see for himself what Han meant about the foliage - the trees looked like they were on fire, in a spectacular display of red, orange, and gold. "Ooooh, pretty," Owen yelled out the window.

They rented two boats - Han, Sev, and Finn were in one, and Dennis, Ben, and the kids in another. On the shore, Han demonstrated how the fishing pole worked, and then they proceeded to sail the boats on the lake. After awhile Sev got tired of the fish not biting, so he reached out with the Living Force and then suddenly, fish began leaping out of the water.

"That's cheating," Han said.

Sev just grinned at him. "You didn't say that was against the rules."

"Throw 'em back," Han said, pointing to the fish that had leapt into the boat. "We're doing this the non-Force way."

"Yeah, because you know you can't find a bigger fish than that with the Force."

Han glared at Sev; Dennis, Ben, and Finn exchanged amused glances across boats - Sev was teaching his apprentice without his apprentice knowing it was a lesson. "Game on," Han growled, and then he and Sev had a bit of a competition, trying to use the Force to outdo each other with who could call up a bigger fish.

After awhile Dennis yawned and stretched, and Ben felt a change in the air around Dennis... and watched as a giant bass leapt up into their boat.

Han and Sev's jaws dropped open, and Dennis just smirked.

"Yay, Daddy," Owen said, throwing his arms around him; Lysa hugged him too. Dennis tousled their hair, laughing.

"Showing off for your kids," Han laughed.

"And his boyfriend," Finn said, and then looked away, realizing he'd said something awkward, but neither Dennis nor Ben corrected him.

They spent a little while longer on the lake just to sail around and admire the foliage - the way the trees reflected on the lake was beautiful - and they got some holophotos. But when the kids complained they had to use the 'fresher, it was time to take the boats ashore, and they were brought to the 'fresher station before the group assembled in the speeder car with their catch.

Once they got back to the Solos', Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were getting dressed, on their way back to their apartment, and once Leia saw how much fish there was, she told them to stay for dinner, with the incentive of, "You can take some fish back to your cat." Sev holocalled Dooku to let him know he had also been invited.

The fish had to be cleaned, and filleted. Sev volunteered for the job. "I'm a doctor," he said, "so suffice it to say we know how to cut things with knives."

Han decided it wasn't too cold to fire up the grill again, and he had Dennis accompany him outside, as Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan read a story to the children in the living room. Sev, Leia, and Ben worked together in the kitchen. Ben got the distinct sense that Han was giving Dennis a version of the If You Date My Son talk, and Leia hadn't sat him down just so he could help her clean and chop vegetables.

After they'd been working for a few minutes, Leia confirmed that suspicion. "So," Leia said, "what's going on with you and Dennis?"

"Nothing, at the moment."

Leia raised an eyebrow. "At the moment."

"Well... we had a past life history together when I was Revan and he was the Jedi Exile." Ben cringed. "It's why I had to ask if you and Kylo's Revan were..."

"Oh, Force, no. No. That wasn't a thing in my Exile's timeline," Leia said.

"It sure would explain a lot if it was, though," Sev said, not looking up from his filleting job. "Like him killing his father would make more sense if it had been out of jealousy."

Ben laughed, because it was just so wrong, and then he felt guilty about laughing. He looked away, sheepishly.

Then Ben continued, "Dennis made it known recently that he's interested but..."

"You're not?" Leia frowned.

"It's not that. I've been in mourning for my late wife. The one I killed because Snoke made me."

"How many years has it been?"

"Four."

"Then it's time to move on with your life."

Ben took a deep breath. Sev nodded in agreement with Leia; Ben glared at him, and Sev glared back, before sticking out his tongue.

Leia continued, "Is it just that? Or are you also feeling conflicted because Dennis and I are together?"

"Well, it's weird," Ben said, "but we're all adults here - Dennis is three years younger than me, even - so it's not as problematic as it would be if he was your boyfriend and I was still underage."

"OK. Because Dennis and I are both OK with him going back and forth between us. Yes, it's a little strange, but... like mother, like son, I guess. We both have similar taste in men."

Ben started laughing again, and so did Leia. Sev laughed more quietly.

"I want you to know," Leia said, "if it had been an issue, as much as I love Dennis, I would be willing to sacrifice that relationship for you to be with him without conflict, because you are my son and your happiness is important to me. I didn't raise you, no, and you're from a different place, but you're still mine."

Ben got choked up, and Leia stopped what she was doing and came over to hug him. Ben cried, not able to help himself, and Leia rocked him in her arms. She kissed the top of his head.

"You're where you're supposed to be," Leia told him. "It wasn't just the Force that brought you here. It was the bonds of people who love you, love so strong that it pulled you this way before we'd even met you. Dennis. Me. Han. Your family is here."

Ben cried harder.

"And I know you came here with the objective to defeat Kylo Ren. But if all possible... if we could defeat him, but not kill him... maybe someday you could have a brother, too. He really used to be a good boy. It was precisely because he was a good boy, that Snoke was able to turn him. He cared too much about making a difference - Snoke played to that part of him. You know Kylo yelled at me when I retired from the Senate, because I was worried about him and wanted to spend more time with him, thinking he needed me, and he said 'The Galaxy needs you more.' He was so conscientious, old when he was young," Leia said.

"Sounds like Dooku." Sev frowned.

As if on cue, Dooku arrived, and stopped in the kitchen - he'd brought wine, and some additional food, wanting to be a good guest. At the sight of Sev using a knife, Dooku gave him a lustful look, and Sev grinned at him before slicing another section of the fish.

"I'm having a bit of a personal discussion with Ben," Leia said, "but because you yourself have experience with being overly conscientious and reserved in your feelings, maybe you can help with the intervention here." She gestured, and Dooku pulled up a chair at the table, while Ben facepalmed.

"So no," Ben said, "you being with Dennis isn't a problem for me."

"OK, good," Leia said, smiling, "because like I said... I'd be willing to give that up for your sake... but just the same, I'd miss that cock. And that tongue." She shuddered a little.

"Oh, Force." Ben made a Wookiee noise.

"He's a damn good lay," Sev said. "You could use the stress relief."

"I agree," Leia said.

"Oh, my Force." Ben shook his head. He couldn't stop laughing. "You know, normal families don't have these kinds of conversations."

"We're not a normal family, honey. We're Skywalkers."

Dooku finally weighed in on the discussion. "From a strictly pragmatic point of view, if you wish to defeat the First Order and the agents responsible - perhaps old enemies we are crossing paths with once more - then it is in your best interests to follow your heart's desire. Not only are you stronger through the Force bond with your bondmate... but in your personal healing, learning how to trust and be vulnerable and surrender... that is also a source of strength. I speak from direct personal experience." He looked at Sev, and they smiled at each other.

"I just need... to say goodbye to Alyssa." Ben took a deep breath. "I won't feel right until I do."

"I would suggest doing that sooner rather than later," Leia told him. "Tonight, maybe?"

"No, not in front of a bunch of people," Ben said, "family or not. But soon."

Dinner was delicious, and everyone was in a cheerful mood, despite the background concerns of the situation developing with the First Order and whatever Joxa Shihai's financial records would uncover. Owen and Lysa were curious about the sparkling white wine that Dooku had brought, and Dooku poured them each a very tiny amount, which made Leia raise an eyebrow, and Dooku explained, "It is considered customary on Serenno for children to be given wine at the dinner table."

Lysa immediately spat hers and said, "This tastes like poodoo."

Dooku bitchfaced, and Sev laughed so hard he cried.

Owen's reaction was more subtle. "It's different," he said, with a shrug.

The wine did its job of making Owen sleepy - clearly, why it was Serennian custom for small children to be allowed a little of it - and the Force bond with his twin made Lysa sleepy too. Dennis hugged and kissed Leia good night, and Leia asked him in the Force, Did Han have a little talk with you?

Uh huh. It basically came down to "if you hurt my son, I will kill you, and I remember being a Sith assassin once so this isn't an empty threat."

Leia patted Dennis's ass and kissed him again, and gave the thumbs up to Han. She knew Dennis wouldn't hurt Ben - what she was approving of was Han finally shaking the defeatist attitude he'd had for so long and becoming more proactive about the Force and his role as a father. She would have to reward him for that later.

Dennis and Ben put the kids to bed when they got home, and then they stayed up for awhile to watch a holofilm until Dennis began falling asleep on the couch. Ben dragged Dennis to bed, and Dennis woke up halfway at the feeling of stumbling towards their room.

Ben tucked Dennis in, and for a moment he thought about giving him a goodnight kiss, and then Owen was standing at their door, looking half-asleep. "Can I have milk?" Owen asked.

Ben got Owen a glass of milk - on instinct, he warmed the milk, to help Owen go back to sleep - and then he tucked Owen back in. Just before Ben could get up from the bed, Owen reached out and gave him a hug.

These are my kids now too, Ben thought to himself as he embraced the boy.

Ben changed and climbed into bed, where Dennis was out like a light. Ben began to do his usual meditations to help with transitioning to sleep, and then he heard Dennis mumble, "Love you, Ben," before Dennis drifted off to sleep again.

_

The next morning Ben and Dennis sat on the floor with the kids and helped them construct things with their building bricks. Owen made a ship, and he said, "I wanna see the water again."

"Yeah," Lysa said. "It was pretty."

"Well, we could go back to the lake..." Dennis scratched his head.

"Can we go to different water?" Owen asked.

Dennis looked at Ben and said, "You haven't seen the ocean since you got here."

They prepared a lunch to take with them, and piled into the speeder car and went to a beach Sev and Dooku had visited before, on the northern end of the continent, that took awhile to get to, but was worth the wait of travel time. Because of it being a cool fall day, the beach wasn't crowded, which Ben was grateful for.

They spent the first part of the trip walking along the shore, watching the waves come in, chasing and being chased by the tides. Eventually Dennis led them up to a jetty, walking all the way down to the edge of the rocks, and pointing at a distant lighthouse. Ben and Dennis hoisted the kids onto their shoulders so they could get a better view.

"Wow, I can see forever," Lysa said.

They went back to the beach to have lunch on a blanket spread out on the sand, and after lunch, the four of them played in the sand together, making a sand castle guarded by sand dragons. Then Lysa and Owen buried Ben in the sand as Dennis watched with amusement. When the kids finally decided Ben could free himself, Dennis laughed as Ben shook sand out of his shirt and his pant legs.

"I'm gonna be cleaning sand out of my clothes for the next six months," Ben lamented.

"The things you do for love, I guess."

"...Yeah." Ben looked at the ocean, which was calling to him. "On that note..." He took a deep breath, and then he looked back at Dennis. "Can you keep them occupied while I go... wash off?"

"Isn't it a bit cold for that? Can you wait till we get home?"

"It's not just physical." Ben sighed. "It's time."

Dennis knew right away what Ben meant - in the symbolic cleansing of the ocean waves, Ben was going to say goodbye to Alyssa. "Yeah, I can do that." He put his hands on Owen and Lysa's shoulders. "Hey, let's look for seashells."

Dennis combed the beach with Owen and Lysa, collecting pretty seashells and starfish, while Ben stripped down to his briefs and waded into the cold Arcturian sea. It was cold enough that even with using the Force to regulate his body temperature, he wouldn't be able to withstand it long - but he didn't need to. The shock of the cold also altered his consciousness right away, taking him immediately to that field of roses, leading to the dark tower.

Alyssa was there, waiting.

Ben got on his knees before her, and kissed her hand. She pulled his head to her waist.

"I'm so sorry," Ben sobbed.

"You did what I asked you to do." Alyssa stroked Ben's hair. "And now, I am asking you to let me go. If you're going to have a future, you can't be chained to the past."

"I will always love you. Please know that."

"I do. And I will always love you. But love isn't enough to bring me back. And I love you enough to want to see you happy, even if that happiness means being with someone else. If you're going to defeat Snoke, you can't let him keep you in suffering like this. He wanted to demoralize you, make you lose all hope. Hope is your strongest weapon against him."

Ben cried harder, and Alyssa rocked him, and then he looked up and she stroked his face. She took his hands and pulled him up, and they kissed, one last time.

"Life is for the living, Ben. Honor the love we shared by not strangling your heart to death. Be with the Exile." For a brief instant, Ben could see the part of Alyssa that had been Bastila Shan, his Revan's first bondmate.

They held each other tight, and then Alyssa turned around, and walked into the tower. Ben almost went after her, but he could hear Dennis's voice calling him. He followed it out of the field of roses... walked out of the ocean's waves. Dennis had Lysa on his shoulders - she was wearing a crown of seaweed, imperiously waving a piece of driftwood.

Ben towelled off and put his clothes back on. When he was dressed, Dennis led the kids back over - Lysa was still wearing the seaweed crown, carrying the driftwood sceptre.

"Kneel before your Empress," Lysa told him.

Ben smirked. "Oh, you're the Empress now?"

"Yeah. I'm gonna rule the Galaxy and stuff. No more bad people are gonna do bad things. People are gonna behave and be nice to each other, or else. Cuz I said so."

Ben got on his knees, and kissed Lysa's hand. "You know," he said, "that's an Empire I can get behind."

"She'd make a better Emperor than Kylo Ren," Dennis quipped. "She's already proven herself more mature."

Ben laughed, and then Lysa frowned. "Kylo?" she asked.

"Yeah," Dennis said. "Kylo."

"That's one of Mommy's friends." She pointed to Ben. "He looks like Dad but different." She made a gesture indicating Ben's beard.

Dennis and Ben's eyes widened and they looked at each other and said "FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF" in unison.

When they got back to their apartment, Ben ordered out, and after dinner, the kids colored till they got sleepy, while Dennis and Ben weighed the information they had. Dennis finally decided to holocall Dooku on a secure channel.

Dooku was completely unsurprised the kids had reported Kylo was one of Joxa's "friends". "But we need more evidence than the verbal testimony of a two-year-old," Dooku said. "I am working on collecting that evidence. I should have a financial report in hand by this time tomorrow."

"What do we do then?"

"We'll discuss that further once I've looked over the report."

Dennis nodded. "How are the interrogations coming?"

"She's still proving difficult to break, from what I understand. I'm being brought in tomorrow to see if I can make a bit of difference." Dooku cracked his knuckles ominously - even over the holochannel, Dennis could feel Dooku's rage at what Joxa had done to Severin, and Dennis's children.

"OK."

Dennis and Ben put the kids to bed a short time later - Ben told them a bedtime story, and then Dennis sang them to sleep. Dennis singing to the kids in Alameenian once again hit Ben's emotions, and when they were safely away from the children's bedroom, Dennis noticed Ben was crying, a little. Ben quickly let himself in the 'fresher, not wanting to be looked at or touched just then.

After Dennis had been trying to sleep for awhile, but not able to, he heard Ben crying again, next to him. Dennis reached out to Ben, and Ben didn't resist this time. Dennis held Ben close, stroking his hair. He rocked Ben gently, as Alyssa had done in Ben's vision. "It's OK," Dennis whispered. "It's all right."

"Hold me," Ben cried.

Dennis held him until they fell asleep in each other's arms, and then they slept, entwined. In the middle of the night, as they tossed and turned and shifted positions, they found their way back to each other to spoon and snuggle, and when the first light of dawn woke Ben up, Dennis was spooning Ben from behind... he had Ben's back, and it felt safe and cozy and right.

Ben sat up, and looked at Dennis, who was sleeping peacefully. He took a minute to study him - the tousled dark hair sporting a cowlick from the pillows, the way his long eyelashes curled, the points of his ears, the sweet expression on his face, the stubble on his jaw, the bit of chest hair peeking out through the collar of his T-shirt. Dennis's physical beauty seemed like a manifestation of his inner beauty, the gentle-yet-strong, compassionate man that Ben had come to admire, and respect, and love.

Ben leaned in and kissed Dennis's lips, softly.

Dennis opened his eyes, and then he smiled. "Good morning to you too," he said.

"You've got morning breath, bro." Ben kissed Dennis again, this time, their lips parting, tongues meeting. Dennis reached out to stroke Ben's hair, his face, moaning softly into the kiss.

It would have gone further, but Owen and Lysa chose that time to wake up and rush into the men's bedroom, pouncing on Ben and Dennis, giggling as they became a cuddle pile. "Can we have pancakes?" Owen asked Ben. "You cook pancakes good."

"Well," Ben corrected. Dennis snickered.

Dennis took a few moments in the 'fresher before coming out to watch Ben make pancakes, as Owen and Lysa hovered. He was still wrapping his head around the fact that Ben had kissed him.

Dennis took care of dishes after breakfast, and Ben came up behind him, to wrap his arms around Dennis's waist. "Thank you for holding me last night," Ben said.

"You needed it." A pause. "So did I."

Ben tilted Dennis's face so their eyes could meet, and Ben said, "Tonight, I want you to do more than just hold me." He kissed Dennis again, hard enough that it took their breath away. Then Ben groped Dennis's ass before walking off, to the kids calling him over.

Their kids. Their family.

Chapter Text

Just before Ben and Dennis were about to head out with the kids, Dennis's holophone rang. It was Dooku, on a secure encrypted channel, which meant serious business.

"You go on to the speeder car and I'll meet you out there," Dennis told Ben, and then he took the call. "Hey there," Dennis said.

"Hello." Dooku squared his shoulders. "Joxa Shihai has escaped."

"...What?"

"As you know, I was going to be called in today to begin interrogations on her, since she wasn't talking with less severe methods. Before I could even set foot in the Temple, I was notified that she broke out of the prison barracks."

"Holy shit. ...This had to be an inside job."

"Yes, I am thinking that as well, that she had to have help from someone we know. Unfortunately, when the escape happened, the holovideo monitoring the Temple and its different wings suddenly malfunctioned, so we have no footage of who assisted her. I have been looking at the feed in the moments before the malfunction and there is nothing that identifies anyone."

"Fuck."

"What we do have holovideo of is Joxa hijacking the spaceport. She stole one of the merchant vessels."

"Fucking seriously?"

Dooku nodded.

"I suppose it could be considered a good thing that she simply left Arcturus and didn't attempt to search for her children... although it says a lot about her as a parent," Dooku said.

"Yeah, this is the same woman who wore a dead man's switch to blow up the safe house with her kids in it. I'm wondering why she didn't just have an abortion since she clearly didn't want them. I'm not at all sorry that she didn't - I love my kids to death and I'm glad they're here - but just the same, it would have been more ethical than her abusing and neglecting them like she did."

Dooku nodded. "Speaking from the perspective of someone with a lot of blood on my hands, there were lines I was not willing to cross where children and mothers were concerned, and I suspect Joxa kept them around as a form of insurance, knowing that people who would normally deal quite severely with her might be inclined to deal somewhat less severely for the sake of her children."

"That's so fucked."

"Yes, indeed."

"So..." Dennis frowned. "She's gone, then."

"Yes. Obviously, we don't know where, though my educated guess tells me one of two places: the Unknown Regions, where the First Order controls much territory, or, to take a second option, Serenno. If Kylo and perhaps even Valyeris are 'friends' of hers, and they suspect at least some of us might be planning to exit in the not too distant future, then she may have been assigned to head to Serenno to try to sabotage the efforts of the Serennian government to get certain things in order before our arrival. I have of course notified them and told them what to look for. In the meantime, I will have a financial report of three years' worth of transactions in my hands by this evening."

"OK. Keep us posted."

"I am holding a meeting at my place tomorrow morning to go over the financial report and discuss how we're handling all of this. I'm taking time to meditate on it tonight. Consider yourself and Ben invited."

_

Dennis and Ben took the kids to the redwoods, where they'd first made the commitment to the path of the Je'daii before things started escalating. Going back there helped remind them of that commitment, whether they were Je'daii at the New Force Order Temple or somewhere else. Owen and Lysa's exuberance at the beauty of the forest was infectious, and Dennis felt a sense of joy on the way home.

There was a scheduled Knights of Ren meeting, but Dennis decided he wasn't going, and damn the consequences. Ben made an early dinner - Ben was finding that he hated cooking a lot less if he had people to cook for who appreciated it, which his new family did. After dinner, Ben and Dennis took the kids to the park near the Solos', with the kids feeding birdseed to the ducks at sunset, and then playing at the playground. Dennis pushed the kids in swings, and even got in a swing himself, which was sturdy enough to hold his weight. Ben laughed at Dennis for being ridiculous, and then Dennis somehow convinced Ben to hop in a swing too. Ben impressed the kids by taking a flying leap out of the swing when it went as high as it could go, using the Force to land on his feet like a cat. On the way home from the park, as he snuggled with his kids, Dennis's holophone rang, and Dennis saw it was Kylo. He considered not answering it at all, but after three rings, he gave in.

"You were aware there was a meeting this afternoon."

Dennis took a deep breath. "I was spending time with my children."

Kylo's hologram glared.

"Look, let me be really blunt with you," Dennis said. "I don't know what we were planning on doing today - recruiting at the mall? Or pretending we give a shit about trying to stop the Bando Gora? But my kids have been through hell because of their mother and her friends, and I need to make their transition to something approximating a normal life as smooth as possible, which means focusing on them, being here for them, spending time with them. From this point forward, my kids come first, and yes, that means before the First Order. My kids are my life now. If you can't understand why, I hope you never have children of your own." Dennis cut the transmission.

Ben slow clapped.

"Force, can you imagine Kylo as a parent?" Ben cringed.

"I'd rather not."

When they got back home, Dennis and Ben sat on the floor with the kids for awhile, the four playing with the plastine building brick set, until the kids were sleepy and it was an hour where putting them to bed was a good idea. The kids were washed, changed, and then tucked in, and fell asleep to Dennis singing.

After the kids went to bed, Dennis and Ben sat together on the couch, drinking wine. Dennis remembered what Ben had told him that morning - Tonight, I want you to do more than just hold me - and he wanted to make sure Ben was ready.

"So," Dennis said, when they were halfway through their glasses, "I have something for you."

Ben raised an eyebrow.

Dennis leaned in and kissed him.

They kissed again and again, until it turned into a full-blown makeout session on the couch like a couple horny teenagers, tongues playing, kissing each other's necks, hands exploring and groping. Dennis found himself laying on the couch, his hard-on grinding Ben's, his hands rubbing Ben's ass, both of them breathing hard, moaning with each hungry kiss. When Dennis noticed they'd been making out for over forty-five minutes, he nibbled Ben's lower lip and said, "We should take this to the bedroom."

Dennis wanted to shower before bed, and he pulled Ben into the 'fresher to join him. Underneath the hot water they resumed kissing, touching each other everywhere, sensually lathering and kissing, licking, and nibbling rinsed skin. Dennis got on his knees and took Ben's cock into his mouth, until Ben was practically sliding down the wall, his knees shaking. "I don't think I can stand," Ben gasped. "We better lay down."

They turned off the water and made their way into the bedroom. Dennis used the Force to close and lock the bedroom door - he knew the kids would knock if they needed them - and then he used the Force to put up a one-way sound barrier, so the kids couldn't hear what was going on in the bedroom, though they could still hear what was going on elsewhere in the house in case of emergency. Ben had a few meditation candles and he lit those for romantic ambiance, and after towelling off - with Dennis whacking Ben's ass with a damp towel - the two climbed onto the bed together, and Dennis proceeded to finish what he started.

Ben hadn't had a blowjob in years, and he'd never gotten one from a guy, and Ben could tell there was a definite difference with the way a man pleasured another man, being more familiar with male anatomy and what felt good. Dennis also had quite a bit of experience giving oral pleasure, enough that Ben writhed and made inhuman noises in between trying to say Dennis's name. At one point Ben moaned, "Dennis... Den... guh... Den... guhhhhaaaahhh... Douglas..." and Dennis laughed with his mouth full of Ben's cock, remembering how Leia had also called him "Douglas" during their first time for much the same reason. I wonder what's up with that.

Soon Ben couldn't make words at all. He rolled his hips, gently fucking Dennis's mouth, who encouraged him with "Mmmmmm, MMMMMM." Dennis reached to cup and play with Ben's balls, sucking harder and faster, revelling in feeling the balls tighten as Ben's orgasm began to build. When Ben could only gasp and pant for breath, Dennis knew he was right there, and braced himself. Their eyes met, and Ben told him in the Force, Gonna come...

Come in my mouth, baby. Let me taste you.

Ben cried out, letting go, and Dennis drank, savoring the salty sweetness, his own cock twinging with every spasm of Ben's body, every moan, every squirt. When it was done, Dennis swallowed, and came up to kiss Ben, letting him taste himself. Then Dennis held Ben, smiling at the way Ben went limp, an expression of dreamy bliss on his face.

Ben came to a few minutes later, and they kissed again. Ben felt Dennis's erection pressing against his thigh. "We need to take care of you," Ben said.

"Mmmmmmmmm." Dennis kissed Ben. "Please."

Ben took a deep breath. "I've never been with a guy before, Dennis." He frowned a little. "I've never been with anyone but Alyssa."

"Well," Dennis said, "in my experience, lovemaking is fifty percent technique, and fifty percent enthusiasm. So long as this is something you want to do -"

"Oh so very much." Ben kissed Dennis again.

"-then technique will follow enthusiasm, as you get started and you get into it and you learn by your lover's responses what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong." Dennis began to play with his cock a little. "The head is the most sensitive part." He rubbed his thumb over the frenulum. "That's the sweet spot. It likes the tongue."

Not able to help himself, Ben dove right in. He gagged a little, trying to take all of it, so he backed it up and focused his attention on the head and the first half of the shaft, using his hand to rub the rest of it.

Ben's eyes watched Dennis as he moaned, gave a roll of his hips, bit his lip, sighed, and trembled, and after a few minutes, each of those reactions came closer together, until it was one continuous loop and Ben could feel Dennis's pleasure in the Force. Dennis grabbed Ben's ears - they weren't pointy like his but they were big - and slowly fucked Ben's mouth. Ben sucked harder and worked his lips and tongue on the head like he was kissing it, and Dennis loved that, crying out. "Oh, Ben, yes, that's good, baby..."

"Mmmmmmmmmmmm." Ben's eyes narrowed with lust. He was hardening again, turned on by Dennis's body, his cock, and the sounds Dennis made as he edged closer.

Ben's head moved slowly back and forth as he took more of Dennis's cock into his mouth, tongue lashing down the shaft, then less, tongue lashing at the head as his hand rubbed the base of the shaft. When he felt bold enough to play with Dennis's balls like Dennis had played with his, the way it made Dennis arch to him and whimper almost undid him. I want you, Ben told him in the Force. You are so fucking sexy.

I need you. Dennis's eyes met his. I love you, Ben.

Ben felt like he could cry, but this was no time for crying. Instead he sucked even more enthusiastically, giving it his all, at last working past his gag reflex to take it all, making Dennis gasp as Ben swallowed his cock down, continuing to move his tongue as much as he could, sucking and suctioning. Ben couldn't hold that much in his mouth for too long, not his first try, but it was long enough to get Dennis most of the way there, and when Ben returned to focus on Dennis's head it was with a vengeance. Ben licked, sucked, kissed, rubbing the shaft harder and harder as he worshiped the head of Dennis's cock, wanting to make his bondmate come at least as hard as he had... and that was pretty fucking hard.

"Ben, Ben, BenBenBenBenBen..." Dennis began to thrust into Ben's mouth, and Ben met his thrusts with lashes of his tongue. "Oh fuck. Oh fuck. OhfuckohfuckBenBenBen BEN I'm gonna come..."

Come for me.

When Dennis erupted in Ben's mouth, it was another moment where Ben almost climaxed himself. Watching the look of shock and wonder on Dennis's face as he came hard, hearing his panting gasps as he shuddered again and again... it was beautiful, and the tears came back to Ben's eyes. When he kissed Dennis, he cried a little, and Dennis cried too.

"I love you," Ben said, and kissed Dennis hard.

Dennis wrapped his arms around Ben and the two of them lay on their sides, holding each other, rocking together, nuzzling, continuing to cry with the intensity of release and their feelings for each other. Ben was still hard, and the feeling of Ben's hard cock rubbing up against his cock made Dennis hard again. They kissed and Dennis stroked Ben's face, and Ben smiled at him.

"You know what?" Ben asked.

"What."

Ben grinned. "You taste like strawberries."

Dennis kissed him. "So I've been told."

Their cocks were both slick with precum, and they groaned at the sight of their glistening, hard, long, thick cocks rubbing together, cock making love to cock, man to man. They were brothers in arms, and there was something sacred about two male warriors being vulnerable with each other this way, loving each other's manhood. They kissed again and again, the rubbing getting faster and more urgent, their balls rubbing together too. "Let's come like this," Dennis husked into Ben's neck. "I want to feel your cock come all over my cock... want to watch that beautiful cock of yours shoot cum on my cock, claim it as yours..."

"Fuck..." Ben shivered. His nails dug into Dennis's back, and Dennis responded by nipping the sweet spot where the neck and shoulder met. Ben gasped, his nails raking, and Dennis's arms tightened around him.

"Yes, baby. Just like that..." Dennis kissed Ben hungrily.

A moment later they came together, an impressive volume of cum raining down over each cock, cum mingling together like a vow. Dennis dipped his fingers into the pool and stuck them in Ben's mouth for him to taste, and the sensual look on Ben's face as he sucked his fingers sent Dennis into another spasm, moaning as he trembled from head to toe.

They kissed as they came down, and then it was Ben's turn to hold Dennis, stroke his hair, kiss the top of his head. "I love you," Ben whispered. "I love you so much..."

Dennis took Ben's face in his hands and kissed him hard. He kissed along Ben's jaw, down his neck, making him groan. "Are you down for one more, or do you need to call it a night?"

"We can do one more." Ben bit his lip and gave Dennis a shy look. "I want to feel you inside me."

A pause. "You've never been with anyone but Alyssa, right?"

"Right."

"So you've never...? Unless she pegged you."

Ben laughed. "No, we never. I never."

Dennis inhaled sharply. "The thought of being in that tight little ass of yours is making me hard again, but I don't want to hurt you."

"I want it. Please."

"All right." Dennis kissed Ben. "I have to get you really ready." He ran a finger down Ben's chest, over a nipple. "Show me what turns you on, baby."

"You turn me on." Ben pushed Dennis onto his back, and proceeded to worship every inch of his body, kissing, licking, caressing him all over, from his neck down his chest, to each luscious, swollen nipple, down his defined abs, over a hip, down a thigh and a calf, and then back up the other one, before taking Dennis's cock back into his mouth. Dennis pet Ben's hair, moaning as Ben sucked, hungrier than before, and then Ben surprised them both by taking Dennis's cock out of his mouth and licking it like an ice cream cone or lollipop, licking and licking and licking, making it nice and wet.

"Fuck," Dennis gasped. "Fuck, that's good..."

Ben made a show of lapping the precum leaking from the slit, licking from the slit down the frenulum and back up, until Dennis was clutching the headboard, white-knuckled. Dennis couldn't take it anymore and grabbed Ben by the throat, rolling Ben over onto his back with a growl. Ben's cock leapt at that and he let out a "fuck yeah," loving the aggression.

"Tease," Dennis rasped, nipping Ben's lower lip hard enough to draw blood, before nibbling down Ben's neck.

Ben gave Dennis a wicked grin, and Dennis kissed him, then kissed his way down Ben's neck, tongue soothing where his teeth had been. Then Dennis proceeded to lavish the same attention on Ben's body that Ben had given his, kissing and stroking him everywhere, loving the way Ben responded to Dennis's exploration, discovering erogenous zones Ben didn't even know he had - stomach, hip bones, inner thighs, behind the knee. Dennis licked Ben's cock until Ben was whimpering, and begged, "Please..." and then Dennis leered at him.

"I want you to beg," Dennis told him. "I don't want to hurt you, since this is your first time bottoming... and that means you have to show me how bad you want it."

"Oh, fuck." Ben's cock twinged again. "Please..."

"Mmmmm, good." Dennis sucked on the head of Ben's cock.

"Please, please..."

Dennis licked down the shaft, and began to lick and suck at Ben's balls, making Ben cry out, panting. "Oh, fuck, please, Dennis, please, fuck me..."

Dennis's response was to put his tongue in Ben's ass.

Ben didn't know anything could feel that good. Dennis's tongue on his prostate made him lose the ability to make words again. He whined, bucking against Dennis's face, as Dennis's tongue worked insistently, teasing, pleasing, building frenzied lust to a desperate fever pitch. Dennis ate his ass with hunger and fury, and Ben felt like he was climbing the wall, vision blurring, the need to get fucked threatening to shatter him.

Finally Ben found his words. "Dennis, fucking fuck me fucking now, fuck me, please, now, I need your cock so fucking bad."

Dennis gave one last slow teasing lick, and then growled as he nibbled Ben's thigh. He lifted his head up and Ben lusted for the heat he saw in his bondmate's eyes, the usually gentle, mild-mannered scientist showing his fierce, animal side. Ben loved it. Ben loved him. He needed to join with his bondmate, be taken, claimed...

Dennis came up to kiss him, and his fingers replaced his tongue in Ben's ass, first one, then two, then three, readying Ben to be filled yet further. They kissed again and again, and Ben trembled, feeling like he could break with the need consuming him. Their eyes met, at last, and Ben said, "I want to give myself to you, completely." He kissed Dennis softly, and then he said, "I want to surrender to you, completely. I have a hard time trusting people, after what I've been through. I trust you. I want to show you that trust."

Ben knew there wasn't any rope in that room, so he had to improvise. He used the Force to pull a scarf out of the closet he and Dennis were sharing, and Dennis watched with amusement as the scarf landed on the bed.

"And what is this for?" Dennis asked, knowing perfectly damn well.

"Tie me up and take me."

Dennis was not a stranger to kinky sex - he could switch and be dominant or submissive depending on the partner and the circumstance - but he was new to tying someone up on the first fuck. Ben has no chill. But he liked that. Ben knew what he wanted. In that respect, Ben was like his mother - Leia wasn't submissive, quite the opposite, but both Ben and Leia wanted what they wanted and were forward about it. Dennis found that refreshing, and quite hot.

Dennis used the Force to tie Ben's wrists to the slats in the headboard with the scarf. He tied them tight, and had Ben test the restraints by moving his arms. There was just enough give for Ben to adjust a little if he was uncomfortable, but not so much that he would undo the bonds if he did.

Dennis had a moment of recalling that one of the epithets of Exile in the Seven Light was He Who Binds. It was quite interesting that his first time with the Lord of the Dead, in this life, was precisely that, binding him.

I can speculate on that at another time, when I don't have a delicious man wanting me to fuck his brains out right here.

Dennis had Ben lift his hips up, and slid a pillow underneath, to make the angle easier on both of them. Ben felt something cold poured into his ass - lubricant - and he watched with hunger in his eyes as Dennis stroked his cock, lubricating it thoroughly.

"If at any time it gets to be too much," Dennis told him, "tell me to stop, and I will. We'll find another way to finish us off. Don't feel like you have to suffer in pain becau-"

"FUCKING FUCK ME FUCKING NOW."

Dennis smiled, not able to resist teasing him just a little more. He pushed just the tip of his cock into Ben's opening, and pulled out, and again, just the tip until Ben begged "Please, oh, fuck, please, more... I need all of you..." Those words went straight to Dennis's cock, and all notions of further teasing Ben went completely out as he began to push inside, slowly.

Ben winced, and Dennis told him, "Push out. Breathe slow. Push on it, it'll go in."

"It burns..."

"Do you need to stop?"

"Keep going... I need this..."

Dennis pushed in, and Ben pushed around his cock, and at last Dennis was all the way in. He paused, letting Ben adjust to his length and thickness. Ben was breathing hard, and had a look on his face like he was having a religious experience.

"You're inside me," Ben breathed. "You're inside me..."

"Yes." Dennis kissed Ben's hand, and pressed it to his heart. "Two become one." He kissed Ben hard, and began to thrust, slowly.

Ben gasped, and his nails raked the headboard.

"Am I hurting you?" Dennis asked as he gave another slow thrust.

"Oh, fuck..." Ben gasped. "More..."

"You didn't..." Dennis thrusted. "Answer." Thrust. "My question, baby." Thrust.

"Fffffuuuuuuuuuuuckkkkkkkkkk." Ben shuddered. "Oh, fuck, that's good..."

There was the feeling of fullness, so full Ben felt like he could explode, but no more pain, just pleasure. Utterly delicious pleasure. Dennis was hitting his prostate just right, and the slow rubbing after the licking and fingering was driving Ben crazy. Dennis kept the pace slow, though Ben's reactions aroused him so much that it was increasingly difficult to do. When they were both trembling, whimpering a little, Dennis worked his hips harder, and Ben matched his rhythm, rolling his hips in kind. Soon Dennis was fucking him, not as hard as he could fuck, but enough that Ben's prostate was being worked into wild excitement. Dennis grabbed Ben's cock and stroked in rhythm with his thrusts.

"I love you," Dennis grunted. "I love you so much, baby."

"I love you," Ben gasped. "And I fucking love your cock."

"Mmmmmm. I love your hot, tight ass." Dennis closed his eyes and bit his lip - Ben loved that - and then he gave Ben a look of pure lust. "I'm going to love fucking this ass every night."

"Oh, fuck yes... please..."

Dennis leaned in to kiss Ben. "And sometimes you can fuck me. Like tomorrow."

"Hnnnnngggggg..." Ben kissed Dennis back. "Fuck, I want you..."

Dennis kissed down Ben's neck, down to his nipples, licking and sucking them to add to Ben's pleasure-torment. Ben was getting close, really close, and Dennis wanted to make this good for him. "Like that, baby?" Dennis suckled Ben's nipple harder, as the fingers of his free hand teased the other, slick with his saliva. "Gonna take care of you..."

"Oh, fuck... I'm gonna come soon..."

"I can't wait to feel you come, watch your beautiful cock come all over me..." Dennis licked his lips. "Wanna make you come so fucking hard, baby..."

A few more thrusts and Ben was right there. Dennis growled, "That's it. Come for me, Ben. Come for me, show me who owns this ass of yours." And Ben screamed, coating Dennis's chest and abs with as much cum as he'd ever produced in his life, being racked by wave after wave of an orgasm so sweet and full it almost hurt. At the sight of Ben's cock spurting, the ecstasy on his face, the sound of his cries, and the feeling of Ben's ass clenching his cock, Dennis came too. His climax shattered him, and he collapsed into Ben's chest, the room spinning as the world melted away.

Dennis used the Force to untie Ben, and Ben held him, and they rested there like that until Ben's laughter stirred Dennis awake. "Wha happen?" Dennis slurred.

"Dude. Your stuff... is leaking out of me."

Dennis laughed too. "Yeah, that happens."

"Who's sleeping on the wet spot?"

"I guess I will, because that's my fault." Dennis shook his head, laughing harder.

They put out the candles, and then they drifted off to sleep together, wrapped in each other's arms. For the first time in years, Ben did not have nightmares.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Ben and Dennis brought the kids with them to the meeting at Sev and Dooku's apartment; Malak and Reine were also in attendance. Dennis sat the kids down with coloring books and then created a Force sound barrier to keep the kids from listening in on the conversation, in case anything might upset them or otherwise be too adult for their little pointy ears.

"So," Dennis said, "what did the financial report say?"

Dooku sat back in his chair, folded his hands, and frowned. "It said nothing."

"What?"

Dooku produced the tablet with the analysis. "Well... when I asked the Intergalactic Banking Clan to run the report, I knew there would be one of two outcomes. Either we would find something right away... or we would find nothing, but in that nothing there would be a trail to something. There is a thing criminal organizations are known to do, called money laundering, which is where they take their dirty money and they make it hard to trace - such as through purchases, or investments in legitimate businesses. I had a suspicion that if Joxa Shihai was being protective enough with whatever was going on that she needed to triple-encrypt most of her electronic data, then there was also a good chance that she was practicing money laundering... which is why I told the Intergalactic Banking Clan to do a very thorough report and account for every last cent she's spent over three years, no matter how trivial."

He passed the tablet over to Ben, Dennis, Reine, and Malak. "Tell me what you see," Dooku told them.

When Malak looked at it, his eyebrows went up. "Wow, someone really likes Nozz-A-La Cola."

Dooku nodded. "Even if she, every member of her household, and every employee in every connected establishment on Arcturus drank nothing but Nozz-A-La Cola all day, every day, all month, every month, it does not account for the extremely large and expensive monthly shipments."

"And it's not an ingredient in death sticks," Sev pointed out. "I know what's in them, because Joxa tried to get me to be her cook."

Dooku nodded again. "So I am having the Intergalactic Banking Clan look into Nozz-A-La Cola... and I will have a report within forty-eight hours, of who owns the company and if applicable, who holds shares in it, and if they have any 'suppliers' or make 'charitable donations' or anything else to look for. I do suspect however that we will not be led on many more trails and that this next report will either tell us everything we need to know or will give us one large piece that will lead to another. Joxa was very careful, but she wasn't that careful."

Malak used the Force to pass the tablet back. "So... what happens when we get this information?"

"The way I see it, we have two options. The first is to go directly to Serenno. I would prefer we wait a few days yet to do this because all of us leaving together, whether all at once, or in waves, will be quite conspicuous, and putting it bluntly, I am not allowing Serenno to go the way of Alderaan or the Hosnian system. I want things to be ready so if we are followed, the First Order will find the Serenno system is not so easily taken over as other places on the Outer Rim."

"Who's coming with us to Serenno?" Malak asked.

"Right now, the list consists of those of us present, Leia, Han, Finn, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, Sifo-Dyas, and Jocasta. Yoda and Chewbacca are already there - I sent them out on Han's ship to run some errands for me with regards to getting Serenno ready for our arrival."

Malak steepled his hands. "When the Restorers resurrect a Jedi or Sith, they require four years' service to the Temple, or they'll sever your connection to the Force, and they can do it long-distance if you try to leave. Sifo-Dyas has only been back for a matter of weeks."

"They did not specify which Temple." Dooku gave a small smile. "When things settle down a bit, I believe starting our own Temple on Serenno would be a good idea. Furthermore, Sifo-Dyas has something that I and others did not have when we were resurrected, and given our option to serve or be severed from the Force - a wall of Force users standing in the way. Nobody is cutting Sifo off from the Force, Temple or no Temple."

Malak rubbed his jaw. "Do we think having a confrontation with Kylo and Valyeris on our way out is a good idea, or nah?"

Dooku looked at Sev, and then he looked back at Malak. "The confrontation was the second option, and I'm of two minds on the subject. The first is that during my time with the Separatists, I learned that the personal is political - sometimes more can be accomplished in a private meeting between parties immediately involved and affected, than by the forces they hire who are not fighting for the same reason. I have heard more than once now that Kylo Ren is an idealist - that there are similarities between him and myself, right down to being old when we were young, carrying the weight of the Galaxy on our shoulders from earliest childhood. He was like that as Revan, when I as Arren Kae was his Jedi Master, and wielded much influence over him. Ideally, we could reach an understanding, one idealist to another, that whatever he thinks he's trying to do with the game he's playing here, isn't going to work the way he wanted it to, and that understanding is best presented accompanied by the aforementioned cold, hard evidence. If ever there was a time to try to convince him to change his current trajectory, that time would be once we have those last pieces of the puzzle in hand, and can show him he's not as smart as he thinks he is. The problem with Kylo Ren being an idealist, speaking as an idealist, is that he is very much of the 'ends justifies the means' mindset. Even something like being 'friends' with Joxa Shihai and her ilk is, to that way of thinking, a necessary evil to accomplish what he feels needs to be accomplished. Just trying to get him to listen to the better part of honor, even from fellow Dark Siders who are not shaming him about his alignment and understand the place of severity, is not going to work. On the other hand, showing him that his planning leaves something to be desired in its execution, is the way to get through to someone like him."

Malak nodded. "I was leaning towards the intervention myself."

"Yes. But I did say I was of two minds about this, and the other is that the last time someone tried to get Kylo Ren to stop what he was doing, they got a lightsaber through their gut." Dooku was of course referring to Han Solo. "So that intervention runs a certain amount of risk, and things have escalated to a point where I'm not sure we can afford that risk, even with the Temple having the autoregen function, even with the Restorers an hour away. We're not only outnumbered in terms of the First Order presence here, but they can drag our bodies off and dispose of them so they are never resurrected. We then fall into the cycle of reincarnation all over again, to try to find our way back to each other in an even bigger mess than before. Or possibly something even worse than that. So I think our safer option is going to be to quietly depart to Serenno. As I said, I would prefer to wait a few days longer for them to have the system ready to defend itself against a First Order threat, before giving the obvious indicator we're going there. But in the event that it looks like we may need to depart sooner, to protect ourselves..." Dooku took a deep breath. "If you've not already begun packing, you should do so."

Pookie took that moment to climb on Sev, and Sev said, "We have our cat carriers ready."

"Yes. Qui and Obi have a cat, and I told them to be ready to take Midnight aboard a vessel at a moment's notice." Dooku reached to pet Pookie in Sev's arms; Pookie headbutted him, the purring intensifying. Drogo then came trotting over to climb on Dooku. "My solar sailer is larger on the inside than it looks on the outside - it is one of the unique facets of Gree technology - but we are still going to have limited room for people and their possessions. I am purchasing a cargo bay for the solar sailer to tow, which will provide extra room for belongings, but I would prefer that each of you not have more than four 20-gallon bins for your personal affects. In my case, it means that I will be leaving some items behind here, while those of you who own fewer possessions may find this less challenging."

"How are we getting all of that to the spaceport?" Dennis asked.

"Speeder truck, which will require someone going to the lot and picking it up to bring back here. We should designate the driver now, in fact."

"I would suggest it not be someone from this group," Sev said, "in the event that any shit goes down at the Temple itself. Our runner should probably be someone not from the Temple."

"Han," Dennis said, "or Finn."

Dooku nodded. "I will let them know they have an assignment and will need to be on standby - this call could come in the middle of the night."

Reine finally spoke up. "What would your suggestion be as far as how to act between now and the time we leave for Serenno? 'Cuz let me tell you, I am finding it really, really hard to be around Kylo and Chips Ahoy without wanting to cut a bitch."

"Chips Ahoy?" Dooku raised an eyebrow.

Malak cleared his throat. "It was suggested we deal with Valyeris by putting her in a chipper shredder."

Dooku sniffed. "That's a bit messy, don't you think?"

Reine grinned. "I like messy."

Sev cackled. Dooku's bitchface made him laugh harder.

Dooku sat up, and said, "My suggestion would usually be to 'act normal' and give no indication that we are 'up to something', except that there is already obvious tension in the group."

Malak pointed at Dennis. "He skipped out of the Knights of Ren meeting yesterday."

"I was with my kids," Dennis said. "I'm not going to apologize for that."

"I'm not saying you should," Malak replied, "but Kylo was pissed. I believe the words 'court-martial' came out of his mouth at least once."

"Oh, so this dude thinks he's gonna court-martial me for missing a Knights of Ren meeting - when at the last one, we went to the fucking mall so he could go clothes shopping, meanwhile I'm taking care of my poor traumatized, abused kids?" Dennis snorted. "Why are you friends with this guy again?"

"Believe me, bro, I've been asking myself the same question lately." Malak gave a sad frown.

"This is perhaps Exhibit A of why Kylo Ren needs to not become Emperor," Sev said. "That is some shit."

"Yes, indeed." Dooku shook his head. "Dreadful."

Then Dooku looked at Reine. "The problem with 'cutting a bitch', as you put it, is that we are all outnumbered by the First Order presence on Arcturus, and Kylo can call more First Order troops to be here in a matter of hours. We have the Force, but they have the numbers, and the Force only goes so far, even for those who are strong in the Force such as we. As I have said, I do not believe a confrontation with Kylo and Valyeris is desirable. The problem with 'acting normal' and 'carrying on as usual' is that, again, tensions are already mounting in the group. Kylo may be stupid in some ways, but he is not stupid in this respect - he knows what happened at the mission at the factory is calling his leadership into question. Even if you believe that he did not intend sabotage or foul play at that particular mission, it is obvious that Valyeris and Anakin Skywalker did, and it was allowed to happen because of a leadership decision Kylo made. He knows this. So it seems rather pointless to pretend that everything is fine and good in the Knights of Ren, and moreover, any assignments you are given from this point forward, whether by the Temple or Kylo himself, or any 'field trips' that are seemingly to innocuous places like the mall, may be a trap. There is some happy medium between a confrontation and pretending things are fine, and I suggest inhabiting that space for the next few days, until we leave for Serenno."

"Reine and I are still living in the apartment with Kylo and Valyeris," Malak said, "and we've been thinking it might be safer to go stay in a hotel for a few days."

"That isn't a bad idea," Dooku said, "but there's safety in numbers and if you are isolated out in the middle of Arcana City, especially if it is known where you are, or you've been followed, it makes it easier for you to be picked off. It also makes it harder to collect you when we leave here - we will have to make a special trip for you and Reine."

Sev looked at Dooku. "We have an extra bedroom we're not using. Malak and Reine could say they're going to a hotel for a few days of pampering - hot tub, sauna, pool - and instead stay here with us."

Dooku nodded.

Malak and Reine looked at each other, and then they nodded agreement.

"So if that's all the business on your end," Ben said, "there's something I'd like to address with the group, myself."

Dooku gave Ben the "go ahead" gesture.

Ben cleared his throat. "It's my understanding that Kylo has made kind of a thing about you guys being the Seven Light."

"Yes," Sev said, "with the caveat that I'm not really entirely sure what we are and what we do other than 'the Seven Light are highly advanced Force beings who incarnate in flesh bodies when the Force is out of balance' and we've done it before, like when our paths crossed as Revanchists or those who were in Exile's group on the Ebon Hawk."

"And we also probably all knew each other in the last days of the Je'daii Order, twenty-five thousand years ago," Dennis said.

Ben nodded. "And up until now, it's been assumed Kylo and Valyeris are two of the Seven... which as you know, doesn't make sense since you all work together and it's clear they're not going along with the program this time around."

"Correct," Dooku replied.

"I think I may be in the position that Kylo has claimed," Ben said, "and if that's the case, our seventh member isn't here. Before we leave for Serenno and things escalate even further, I think it would be in our best interests to... ah... send the Bat Signal, so to speak."

"What?" Dooku made a face.

"Reference from an old holoshow I grew up with. Never mind." Ben scratched his head. "Basically what I'm proposing is we do a ritual to awaken our Higher Selves and call the seventh member. Maybe we won't find them in our last days here, but putting out the proverbial beacon in the Force means we'll find them sooner rather than later when we're out of here, and the sooner they're on the team, it'll be better for us. We're going to have a hard enough fight ahead of us - we need everybody working together."

"I'd also feel better if we fully awakened our Higher Selves before we left here," Malak said, "so we have access to more of our power if shit goes down."

"Before we do the ritual," Ben said, "I can tell you the story of the Seven Light. It'll make a nice opening to the ritual work itself."

"All right," Dooku said. "How are we doing this?"

Ben and Malak looked at each other, and then Malak said, "Remember a couple weeks ago when we were at Han and Leia's place and I brought up Sith ritual sex? If we're each bonding with our bondmates, in the sight of our family, that puts out a stronger signal."

Dooku turned pink, but the look of eagerness on Sev's face made him give a little nod. "We don't have room for that here," Dooku said, "and I strongly suggest not using the Temple in light of the situation escalating, especially when it appears someone affiliated with the Temple helped Joxa escape."

"Outside is also a no-go because it gets cold at night now," Sev said.

"I still have that business card from The Black Lotus," Malak said. "We can rent a room for this. It'll be fully equipped and everything."

"You mean...?" Dooku's eyebrows went up.

Malak nodded. "Full dungeon."

Reine clapped and nodded vigorously like an excited little kid, her face lit up. Ben also looked enthusiastic enough that it made Dennis's cock twitch. Dennis had never gone beyond light bondage or a little spanking with his kink, but the idea of punishing Ben's ass was doing things to him, and he got the sense Ben needed it.

"The other thing," Ben said, "is the Seven Light are the children of Ashla and Bogan... the Light and Dark sides of the Force. In the old Je'daii days, the Je'daii held rituals where Seven Light would be temporarily called into hosts... and Ashla and Bogan would also be called into hosts."

"Sifo-Dyas used to be the Je'daii Master Rajivari," Dennis said, "and he carried Bogan at these rituals. It's why Rajivari reacted as badly as he did to the Rakata's abuse of the Dark Side."

"So we should definitely invite Sifo and Jocasta to carry Bogan and Ashla, like they once did," Ben said. "That will also make eight of us for the ritual, and that's one of the numbers the Je'daii considered sacred and significant... seven, eight, and nine. Eight was specifically linked to the wheel of incarnation, so us using eight to call our seventh in their current form... seems right."

"When do you want to get this done?" Sev asked.

"We can do it tomorrow," Ben said. "We need to reserve the room at the BDSM place Malak mentioned, and Dennis and I need to arrange child care, it's not something I want to spring on Mom and Dad spontaneously, and I think it would be a good idea to do some extra meditation, maybe also some cleansing work, between now and tomorrow evening." The group noticed Ben finally called Leia and Han "Mom and Dad", which they thought was a positive sign, but nobody remarked on it.

"Dinner and dungeon," Malak said, grinning. "It's on."

Chapter Text

"Be good for Grandma and Grandpa, OK?" Ben said.

Owen and Lysa nodded solemnly.

"We're gonna be back late, so it'll be better if we pick them up tomorrow morning," Dennis said, and handed Leia a bag that contained a change of pajamas and tomorrow's clothes, their toothbrushes, and the stuffed animals the kids slept with.

"So you're sure you don't mind?" Ben turned to Han and Leia.

"Oh, please." Leia snorted. "You don't have to twist my arm to get me to spoil your kids."

Ben and Dennis hugged and kissed the kids goodbye, and waved until they were out the door, then waved through the window on their way down the sidewalk, to the speeder.

They drove into Arcana City, to a steak-and-seafood restaurant on the harbor that was pricey and highly recommended. Ben and Dennis had both dressed up for the occasion - Ben cleaned up nicely, putting a little gel in his hair, in a black tunic with a light touch of silver embroidered trim at the hems, and black leather pants that made Dennis ogle. Dennis was also wearing black leather pants, and a white button-down shirt with a black vest.

Everyone had dressed up - Dooku was another wearing leather pants, and a black tunic, with his cape in black this evening. Sev was yet another man in leather pants, with a black button-down shirt, gel taming his curls. Malak had opted for a black kilt, and a black shirt with full sleeves, large frills on the front and cuffs, and a laced-up V-neck opening. Reine was wearing a simple black dress with a halter top, and her wild curly hair was in an elegant updo. She was already on the leash, attached to a silver bracelet Malak was wearing, even though they had not gone to the dungeon yet. Jocasta and Sifo-Dyas arrived after Ben and Dennis did - Sifo-Dyas was wearing black trousers and a violet-trimmed black tunic with an indigo-and-violet toga over it in the style of the Coruscanti upper-class; Sifo was also wearing a silver O-ring chainmaille collar that he said he wore every day but nobody noticed before now because of his Jedi robes. Jocasta was wearing a short-sleeved, knee-length peacock blue gown much more form-fitting than her Jedi robes, that showed she had the body of someone decades younger. She was also wearing dangly silver earrings shaped like peacock feathers, set with sapphires, and a mischievous grin. The transformation from Jedi librarian to glamour queen meant it took a few minutes for everyone to notice her hair was down, in shoulder-length silver waves.

"Wow, holy shit," Sev said, grinning.

"We need some pictures of the group." Malak produced a holocamera.

"I didn't bring any glitter with me," Sev quipped. Dooku bitchfaced, and Sev's grin got bigger and eviller.

The holocamera snapped a couple dozen pictures of the eight in different poses, including a few pictures with Sev and Dennis throwing Coronet City gang signs, much to Dooku's dismay, and the final picture had Sev making "bunny ears" with his index and middle fingers behind Dooku's head.

Dooku bitchfaced even harder.

"I guess it's a good thing we're going to a dungeon after this," Sev said, grinning again into a glass of water.

"Oh, I think we don't need to wait for the festivities to begin." Dooku produced the Brat tiara, and put it on Sev's head for all to see. Then Dooku took some more holopictures of himself and Sev, until Sev started making faces at the camera.

The waiter tried to not laugh at the Brat tiara when he took their order. The nonchalance of Sev as he gave his order made Dennis and Ben break down in hysterics when the waiter had gone.

"This is gonna be some evening," Sev said.

The waiter brought wine - Dooku had insisted on a Serennian variety, as all other wines were inferior to him and only the best would do for this occasion - and before they could have their first drink, Ben raised his glass in a toast. "To the Seven Light, and Ashla and Bogan."

"Salu," Dooku said, and they all clinked glasses.

Dooku was paying for everyone, but instead of eight separate meals, the group had decided to get a few large platters of appetizers and a large platter of steak and seafood, to share amongst them, since it felt right to have a communal meal in light of what they were doing. They also got free bread, and before they dug in, Ben broke the bread and handed a piece to everyone, in symbolism of their work together.

From the appetizers, Sev enjoyed the stuffed mushrooms enough that Dooku pulled the waiter over and ordered a basket of stuffed mushrooms just for Sev. He stole a few himself and made a mental note of what likely went into them, so he could make them for Sev at a later date.

Dennis and Ben fed each other, which everyone - even Dooku - thought was adorable, and occasionally between bites of food they would kiss, basking in the glow of being newly together. Ben and Dennis kissed enough that Reine finally looked at Malak and said, "Where's mine?" and Malak kissed her hard, which prompted Jocasta and Sifo-Dyas to kiss, and at last Dooku looked at Sev and they proceeded to make a spectacle of themselves, still making out and groping when the waiter came with the check.

"Never thought I'd see you be that improper in public," Sifo laughed when Dooku and Sev finally pulled away, flushed and breathing hard.

Dooku reached for his credits card, and Sev reached for Dooku's hard-on under the table. "If I didn't think we'd get arrested for public indecency, I'd take Severin on the table," Dooku said, with a little evil smile.

"Getting bread crumbs in my crack would be worth it for the sheer hotness of that idea," Sev said.

Dooku facepalmed. He bitchfaced at Sev, though there was mirth in his eyes. "Bread crumbs in your..."

"My ass crack."

Sifo almost spat his wine; Jocasta teared up from giggling.

"This is why the Force ships you guys," Sifo told them. "It's like the Force said, 'What does that stodgy old coot need? Oh, I know!'"

Sev kissed the tip of Dooku's nose, and Dooku blushed, smiling again.

As they left the restaurant, Dennis presented Ben with a collar for play purposes, and hooked a leash through the O-ring in the center. Jocasta put Sifo-Dyas on a leash, and Dooku put Severin on a leash. The four pairs of bondmates walked to their speeder vehicles, with some curious looks from passerby, and from the harbor they made their way to The Black Lotus, where Malak had reserved a room in "the play area". The same clerk who'd waited on Malak, Dooku, and Sifo-Dyas the day they'd bought toys there brought them to the appropriate place - a dungeon down the end of a long hall.

The dungeon was lit by candles, and everyone now saw what "fully equipped" meant - in addition to the usual X-cross with wrist and ankle shackles, there was a set of four shackles hanging from the ceiling on sturdy chains, with a pulley, a table with arm and leg restraints, and a couple of spanking stools. The wall had a rack of several different varieties of riding crops, floggers, whips, and canes to choose from. Malak had also requested that they have linen robes to change into - one black, one white, and seven grey. The establishment had told him he'd have to buy the robes, for hygienic purposes, so he'd charged them, and the robes were theirs to keep.

"Why seven, when only six of the Seven are present?" Sev asked.

"So we can use it in the ritual," Malak said. "You'll see."

Everyone changed out of their clothes and put them neatly in separate piles so they could be easily found later, and into the robes provided - Jocasta the white, Sifo-Dyas the black, and Sev, Dooku, Reine, Malak, Ben and Dennis in the grey robes.

"Before we light the candles," Ben said, "I'll tell you how this is going to work. I'll tell the story of the Seven Light, then Ashla and Bogan will cast a Force circle around us to contain and amplify the energy we're raising, and then the six of us will recite each line of the Je'daii Code, individually - the Je'daii Code wasn't just the motto of the Je'daii, but it was an invocation to the Seven Light, each one of us gets a line." He showed them the Code on a holoscreen. "Dennis, Reine, me, Sev, Dooku, and Malak, in that order, and then we all say the seventh line together - when our seventh finally joins us, and we do ritual together, they will say the last line." Then Ben gestured to the dungeon. "We'll start raising energy by... scening... pain transmuted into pleasure is actually a very effective weapon against what we're dealing with, as you will find out when I tell the story. Then we'll mate with our bondmates, and the objective is for us all to orgasm in unison, which sends a shockwave along the lines of the Force that the seventh will feel."

Ben looked at Malak, then, sensing why Malak had added a seventh grey robe. "We're gonna, um..." Malak looked off to the side, and then at the group. "Get our stuff on the robe. So if you're inside someone when it happens, you pull out and make a little donation before you go back in."

Dooku facepalmed. This was almost too much for him, but there was something depraved about it that appealed to the part of him wanting to fully let go and surrender to the passion of the Dark Side... to his bondmate.

"Before we get started," Sev asked, "who are we? If I'm gonna nope out of this, I'd rather nope out before the weird Force shit happens."

"To oversimplify what each of you represents," Ben said, "Dennis is Knowledge, Reine is Power, I'm Death, you Sev are War, Dooku is Justice, Malak is Time, and our seventh member is Ecstasy."

"War?" Sev cringed. "Well, at least I'm not Plague or Famine or some shit."

"We are half-Echani," Dennis said. "The primary god of our people is a war god. There's probably something to that."

"Yeah, I'm not down with... hokey religions," Sev said.[1] "It's bad enough I know reincarnation is real and consciousness goes to some kind of afterlife place... thing... between bodies and those of us present are secretly some advanced Force beings who can take on mortal bodies to affect things directly instead of staying behind the wall of One With the Force Land. I really don't need religious crap to go along with it. I'm an atheist; religion is a crutch for people who refuse to walk on their own, and want to cripple sane thinking people."

"You do know the Jedi and Sith are religions. The Jedi are a type of monk." Dooku raised an eyebrow.

"And 'gods' are advanced aliens, and the Force is science which can be explained by bugs that live in your blood, and the Jedi and Sith have spent the last umpteen thousand years having a blood-soaked dick-waving contest over whose glowsticks the bugs like better." Sev took a deep breath. "Dammit, Idis, I'm a doctor, not a priest, ok?"[2]

"Mysticism is the poet's language for nature, and especially that within nature which science has yet to explain," Dennis philosophized.

Sev rolled his eyes. "OK, Starboy."

Ben decided to bring the subject back from religion v. anti-religion before it got ugly - it was something the group would have to agree to disagree on. Ben cleared his throat and said, "When we recite the Je'daii Code, we should all be... skyclad."

"What?" Sev raised his eyebrows.

"Ritual language for naked," Dooku explained. Then Dooku blushed. And then Dooku patted the Brat tiara on Sev's head. "Usually when my pet is bratty I like him to wear this as he is being disciplined, but should I take it off for the beginning of the rite?"

"You can leave the Brat tiara on War," Ben said.

Reine lost it. "War in a Brat tiara," she giggled. Dennis laughed too.

"It also works," Ben said, "when I elaborate more on his station in the Force. You'll see."

The group sat in a circle around Ben and Ben said, "Are we ready?" Once the group had nodded agreement, Sev used the Force to light the candles in the room, taking care to not overdo it with his gift of conjuring fire... and then Ben told a story.

_

In the beginning, there was the Force, and the Force was Ashla, the Light, and Bogan, the Dark.

There was no conflict between them. What made Ashla different from Bogan made Bogan love Ashla, and what made Bogan different from Ashla made Ashla love Bogan. Ashla especially loved Bogan's passion, and Bogan especially loved Ashla's peace.

When they joined, their energies combining, they made the Living Force. And the Living Force gave them the gift to make life.

The first thing Ashla made was a rose. Bogan put thorns on it. "Why have you put thorns on my rose?" Ashla asked. "It was delicate and needed to be protected," Bogan said.

Ashla made two more of them, three roses. Then she and Bogan made a tree.

The first rose caught on fire and hatched two firebirds. Ashla and Bogan saw their children but for an instant before they were gone - they had flown to the stars.

The second rose began to die of grief, and Ashla and Bogan watered it back to life with their tears. From that rose was born Death and his twin, Delight.

The third rose opened, in time for the starbirds to return and tell their family that they had made roses of fire across the entire blank canvas of space, that exploded into life. The twins from the first rose were given the names Destiny and Design.

Destiny and Design needed to go back to take care of their work, and they brought the tree with them, to make more of its kind.

After ages had passed, the tree came back and said, "I have gone everywhere there is to go, and done everything there is to do, and I am tired." The tree embraced Death, and then the siblings grieved, and brought the spirit of the tree back to life, in a new body. The tree-spirit went back out with Destiny and Design, and again, after ages, asked to die once more. When the tree-spirit was brought back to life, the tree-spirit said, "I wish you had not restored me to life, because all of you have your twins, your mates, and I am alone."

Delight stabbed the tree-spirit, and it bled, and then from that blood, Destiny and Design made the tree-spirit a twin, like itself. "I have always dreamed of you, and now you are real," the tree-spirit told its twin, and so they were given the name Dream.

Dream went back out with Destiny and Design, and when Dream returned, and sought the release of Death, Death gave them flesh-like bodies the next time, male and female. They went out to the stars again, and back, and in their next life, the man was a woman, and the woman a man.

The next time Dream came back, they had a child... a tree, like themselves.

Ashla and Bogan planted the tree, in a field full of roses. The tree grew, connecting all of the worlds Destiny and Design had made, that Dream had traveled to and lived upon, and the tree took the shape of a dark tower.

"The Tower needs to be protected," Bogan said, and so he assigned the twins from the third rose to this task. They were given the names Desire and Despair, for seeking the Dark Tower was the deepest desire of sentients, and going on that quest would bring the dark of night onto the soul.

"Those who seek the Dark Tower in truth will need a guide," Ashla said, and so she threw Dream into the tower, and the twins were separated once more. "Those who are worthy to find the Dark Tower will find both of you and bring you back together," Ashla told them as they departed into the sea of stars. From then, Dream became Exile.

Across the worlds Destiny and Design had made, the Force was awakening in the hearts and minds of sentients. From oldest times, it was known Ashla and Bogan belonged together. But there were sometimes those who thought the Light better than the Dark, or the Dark better without the Light, and each group sought to conquer, enslave and oppress the other. Destiny and Design looked at their children, and Design became Destruction, full of wrath towards those who bespoilt his work, but would arm and give victory to those who upheld the balance.

But in pitting Light against Dark, the sentients had caused a great wound, and from that wound, the Void gave birth to what is Not the Force... that which fed on the imbalance, fed on the conquering, the slaving, the oppression, and sought to create more of it.

The Ancients lived on Tython, the first world in the Galaxy to produce life, and they built nine great flying pyramids. Eight of them were sent out across the Galaxy, to collect the children of Destiny and Design, of every sentient species, who knew the Force. The ships were called Tho Yor, which meant "bring home" in the language of the Ancients. The ships came back to Tython after the Ancients were long gone, and where each ship landed, a Force Temple was built. The Endless were called to, and given the name the Seven Light, to illuminate the deeper truths of the Force. The Seven Light made the travellers Je'daii, which meant "mystic center" in the language of the Ancients.

Brother Exile was always with the Je'daii, in a physical body. He represented Knowledge, especially that gained through dreams and visions, the esoteric, mystical side.

Despair was given the epithet the Lady of Shadows, and taught the Je'daii to master fear, especially fear of the truth, fear of their own power. She made the Je'daii fight her, and if they succeeded, they would find a hope that none could take away.

Death was sometimes known as the Lord of the Dead. He carried newly departed souls to the Dark Tower to find rest, and helped the living communicate with those they had lost. Once in a very great while, he was allowed to raise the dead, if it would not break the world; more often, he guided souls back to each other when it was time for them to take new forms. Death was called the Heart of the Force, for his gift showed compassion to all, regardless of who they were, and what they had done. He felt their pain, took their wounds into himself, and they were healed.

Design, who was called Destruction when the Force was made to war with itself, was given the epithet of the Prophet of Fire, for he was a trickster. He taught the healing arts, which could double as the killing arts, and showed that the one who looked the most harmless was often the most fierce when provoked. He taught the Je'daii to fight with wits and cunning rather than just brute strength, that warfare was just as much a state of mind as it was a clash of swords.

Destiny was given the epithet the Lord of Silence, for he saw what had been done to what he made and there were no words to express the horror; he also carried the burdens of those who were gone before their time, and those they left behind, their stories interrupted, silenced. To those who wanted wrongdoers punished, and to those wrongdoers who wanted atonement, the Lord of Silence was their guide. The other name for Destiny was Justice.

Desire was given the epithet the Lord of Time, for those who sought him the most were those who wanted to change the past or influence the future, and needed to learn to live in the present.

Delight was given the epithet the Lovely One, and was the guardian of all that brought joy, especially the union of bondmates. Delight helped keep Death in balance, kept him from imploding on himself and taking the Galaxy with it, in the constant reminder that all was not always pain, all was not always endings.

Sister Exile found her own group of six other Force beings, she and they together called the Seven Shadow, and to them she was Wisdom. Brother Exile loved his twin sister, and when they would reunite, it was a beautiful thing. But he also came to love Death, and Delight, and the three worked well together. Dream, Death and Delight are said to be the three faces of Love.

When the Force is out of balance, whether there is too much Light without the Dark, or too much Dark without the Light, all Seven take flesh bodies, and their actions set events in motion to put the Force back in balance.

After many eons, Death had seen enough suffering that the Heart of the Force broke into three pieces. The Lord of the Dead and Lady of the Dead continued to do the job of bringing physical death and gathering souls, and bringing death to old ways that were no longer working - old governments, old religions. But the third piece became the Lord of Pain, the Man In Black, and sought to bring an end to suffering by bringing the end of existence itself... to collapse the Dark Tower which connected all places, all things.

And when the Dark Tower is threatened, before it can collapse, the Seven Light and Seven Shadow will come together to take on the Lord of Pain, and his agents of the Void, O Discordia!

_

Jocasta meditated on Ashla, the Light Side of the Force, conjuring a ball of white light above her, that descended and made her glow silver-white. Sifo-Dyas meditated on Bogan, the Dark Side of the Force, conjuring a ball like a black hole above him, that descended and cast him in shadows. Jocasta and Sifo-Dyas then touched their palms together and grey light rose from their fingertips. They walked around the center of the dungeon, in a circle, creating a ring of grey light that rose upward into a bubble and then expanded, pushing into the walls of the dungeon.

Once the Force energy was raised, the six removed their robes, and stood in an arc, with Ben and Sev at the center. Dooku felt self-conscious about being naked, but everyone else was, and his self-consciousness lessened as he went into a contemplative state of mind.

Dennis spoke the line of the Exile, "There is no ignorance, there is knowledge."

Reine spoke the line of the Lady of Shadows, "There is no fear, there is power."

Ben spoke the line of the Lord of the Dead, "I am the heart of the Force."

Severin spoke the line of the Prophet of Fire, "I am the revealing fire of light."

Dooku spoke the line of the Lord of Silence, "I am the mystery of darkness."

Malak spoke the line of the Lord of Time, "In balance with chaos and harmony."

The six joined hands and said, in unison, "Immortal in the Force."

When the last words were spoken, each of the six felt a change in the air around them. Sev had the mental image of being hit with a wall of green fire, and every flame was a flash of some memory of some event his Higher Self had witnessed or participated in, but it was not fully realized - sent to the back of his mind, in case he needed to call it up later. After the first rush the mental image stopped, and there was more gentle heat, and a feeling of being larger than he was.

Dooku was looking at him with predatory hunger in his eyes. Sev reached up to him, to stroke his face, his whiskers, and before Sev could speak, Dooku kissed him hard, and then picked Sev up in his arms. The next thing Sev knew, he was being bent over the spanking horse.

Malak unclipped Reine from her leash, lowered the chains from the ceiling and shackled Reine into the ankle and wrist cuffs. Once she was securely bound, he wound the pulley so she was brought up. Reine had never done something like this before, and there was a pit of anxiety in her stomach, but There is no fear, there is power. She trusted Malak with her life, and knew this would be one of the most exhilarating experiences of her life if she gave him that trust. She lay on her stomach, arms and legs outstretched, watching the floor get lower and lower, and then she was hovering in the air, held up by the chains.

Malak stood on a stool, and with the first crack of the whip, Reine began to rock back and forth, and it felt like she was flying.

Jocasta had Sifo-Dyas lay supine on the table, his arms and legs held in place by the restraints. She put a blindfold on him and proceeded to torment and tease him different ways - pouring hot candle wax over his body, hitting his torso and thighs with the riding crop, using the Force to rub a vibrator over his nipples and the head of his cock. "Naughty Bogan," she said, with humor in her voice. "Somebody has to keep you in line."

When Sifo-Dyas was blindfolded, he didn't see the usual set of horrific visions of dismemberment, killing, and chaos that plagued him every night. He saw his happy place, where he and Jocasta lived in a villa surrounded by trees much like the one Dooku had promised them on Serenno. The pain was made pleasure, surrendering to his bondmate, the woman who loved him, even as he was more severe than her, troubled by what he knew people were capable of - because he knew he walked the line himself. He had killed in anger. He would likely kill in anger again before this brewing war was all over. Here, Ashla was subduing Bogan, soothing the savage beast.

As Malak whipped Reine, and she flew with each lash of the whip, Time mastered Power... Desire guided Despair to a place of hope, a place without fear, a place of joy, where that power could be harnessed as she was harnessed by the chains, and yet knew greater freedom than she ever thought possible.

Dooku spanked Severin - Justice mastering War, Destiny controlling the balance of Design and Destruction. The Prophet of Fire was usually the first to die when the Seven Light banded together, and usually by suicide - General Yusanis of the Revanchists had committed suicide by duel, at Revan's hand, in a world where his Arren was lost at Malsachor V. Dooku knew the pain Sev still lived with - his clowning hid a great deal of sorrow - and each spank was taking that hurt little boy in hand. This time, Sev would not be the first of the ka-tet to fall. "You belong to me," Dooku told him. "You are mine." He spanked Sev harder and harder, making Sev cry out as his cock dripped over the spanking stool. "My little brat."

Dennis had brought Ben to the X-cross. Ben had never been tortured in a sexual way before - Snoke had tortured him, in a not-fun way... but this was different. Dennis had never done anything more than light bondage and spanking a partner, so this would be his first time as a full-fledged dominant. This was also only their third night of intimacy, so things had definitely escalated quickly... but it felt like the pieces were coming together.

And soon, they would be too.

"Let's work our way up," Dennis said. He used the Force to grab a riding crop from the wall, and then he had Ben face him, and shackled his wrists and ankles to the X-cross. He took Ben's chin in his hand, before pulling on the ring of Ben's play collar. "Do you trust me?"

"With my life," Ben said, and meant it.

Dennis brought the riding crop to Ben's lips for him to kiss, and then Dennis smacked Ben's right nipple with it, hard. Ben cried out, in as much lust from pain. The twinge went to his cock, and Dennis smiled a little as he watched Ben's cock rise to attention. "Naughty," Dennis said, and slapped the other nipple with the crop. Ben moaned. "Slut," Dennis said, and brushed the tip of the crop against Ben's nipple before smacking it again, and then smacking directly underneath, and another smack across the chest, before doing the same to the other nipple. He slapped his way down Ben's ribs, to his perfect sculpted abs, and the crop slapped one side of Ben's stomach, then the other, before slapping the left hip, then the thigh. Teasing the length of Ben's cock, before lightly slapping the head. Ben's cock began to leak, and Dennis slapped the other thigh, the other hip, before brushing the tip of the crop against Ben's navel, and raked it along the shaft. "You're making a mess," Dennis said, stating the obvious, before playfully slapping Ben's cock again.

Dennis unshackled Ben. "Turn around," he ordered.

Ben turned his back to Dennis and was re-shackled. Dennis hit him harder this time, smacking the crop seven strokes down the left side of his back, and then seven strokes down the right side, three strokes on the right buttock, three strokes on the left. Ben's moans were competing with the other moans in the room, and Dennis stroked the crop down the crack of Ben's ass. "You like this," he rasped into Ben's ear.

"Yes," Ben groaned.

"Yes, what?"

"Yes, Master."

Dennis's fingers went into Ben's ass. "Good boy." Ben cried out again, trembling against the X-cross.

Dennis replaced the riding crop with the flogger, for another round along Ben's back and ass. Ben's moans got even louder, especially when Dennis pushed the tip of the flogger against his ass and there was a moment when Ben thought Dennis was going to fuck him with it. Dennis hit Ben's ass again, the fingers of his free hand lovingly caressing the welts forming over his back. He nibbled on the back of Ben's neck, kissed the sweet spot where the neck meets the shoulder. "Only I get to hurt you," Dennis told him. "That means you don't get to hurt yourself. You will never attempt to take your own life again. You are not a monster. You are not anything anybody has told you. The Force knows what you are. I know what you are. And that is mine." Dennis hit Ben's ass one last time, good and hard, as hard as he could hit. Ben gasped, not even able to make a sound with the impact reverberating into his bones.

Jocasta was on the table now, straddling Sifo's shoulders, making him lick her pussy while he was blindfolded and tied up. She rode his tongue, and used the Force to run the vibrator up and down his cock, over his balls, between the balls and his ass, around his ass, and back up, over and over again, slowly. Sifo moaned into her pussy, and Jocasta made him beg to be allowed to fuck her, easier said than done with her cunt on his mouth.

Dooku thought about taking Sev from behind, with Sev bent over the spanking horse, but he had a better idea. He picked up Sev in his arms and brought him to the center of the dungeon, where the seventh grey robe lay empty, on the floor. Next to the robe, Dooku lay on his back, and had Sev climb on him. A few strokes of lubricant, and Sev took his cock, riding him slowly as Dooku played with the leash, hands roaming over Sev's body, worshiping him in all of his glory - beaten, but untamed, unbroken, wild passion surging through him even stronger now. Dooku took Sev's ass, but he was being conquered and claimed by Sev just as much as Sev was being conquered and claimed by him. They were each other's, even moreso than before.

Sev leaned in to kiss his bondmate, and then kissed down Dooku's neck, down to his chest, to lap his nipples and tongue-bathe his chest hair. Sev ran his hands over Dooku's strong arms, down his chest, down his washboard stomach, feeling the strength and power in his body, loving the strength of him as a man... his Master. They kissed again and again before Dooku tugged the leash and Sev rose, riding harder; Dooku reached and gripped Sev's cock, continuing to caress his body with his free hand.

"I love you," Sev husked, taking Dooku's hand in his, kissing it, pressing it to his heart.

"I love you, my own."

Jocasta finally relented and used the Force to free Sifo from his restraints, took off his blindfold, and marched him over to the other side of Sev and Dooku, with the robe between them. Sifo lay on his back and Jocasta impaled herself on him, riding Sifo in the same rhythm that Sev was riding Dooku. The grunts and groans and slaps of male-on-male sex were now accompanied by the sounds of man and woman, the suctioning of wet pussy, Jocasta's higher-pitched moans and whimpers. Something about having another couple right there, also losing themselves in sex, intensified the lovemaking, the two couples getting louder, more frenzied.

Malak and Reine were next to lay down. Reine could have withstood more lashes from the whip, but Malak was so turned on by his wife that he couldn't help himself. His strong, powerful, fierce fighter giving him the gift of her submission, beautiful as she flew for him, was too much. Malak buried his face in Reine's open cunt, and she grabbed his pointy ears, arching to him as he devoured her, worshiped his goddess with the same mouth that spoke words of love to her as often as she wanted to hear them.

Dennis was whipping Ben now, and further tormenting Ben by making him watch the orgy before he'd let Ben join in. "Does that turn you on?" Dennis growled. He whipped Ben's ass, and ran his fingers around the fresh wound. "Do you want me to fuck you in front of them?"

"Force, yes, please..."

"Please, what?"

"Please, Master."

Dennis whipped Ben again. "You want me to take your ass?"

"Please, Master..."

"You want me to own your ass in front of everyone?"

"Please... please, Master, please..."

"Tell me what you want. Use your words."

"Please, Master. Take me. Fuck me." Dennis whipped Ben again. Ben gasped and continued, panting, "Fuck me like the slut I am, such a slut for my Master's cock, I need it in me so bad, make me your bitch in heat, fuck my ass, make me come from that cock..."

Dennis's hands were shaking too much for him to want to whip again, and it was just as well, because Ben was bleeding enough to need bacta. He used the Force to unshackle Ben, and then he liberally coated Ben's back and buttocks with bacta, before pulling Ben by the leash over to where the others were. He shoved Ben onto the pillows on the floor, and dropped down with a growl, pouring bacta directly into Ben's ass.

Dennis spread Ben's legs, and took him - Ben had been fucked that morning, and last night, so he wasn't as tight as he normally would be - and then Dennis propped Ben's legs on his shoulders. Malak maneuvered Reine into the same position, and Malak and Dennis teased their bondmates by kissing each other, making their bondmates watch as they made out for a few minutes before turning their attentions back to the one underneath them.

The orgy was getting louder and more uninhibited. Everyone was fucking harder, faster - not yet as hard as they all could fuck, but getting there, building. The smell of sweat and sex was heavy in the dungeon, the sounds of bodies slapping together, wet holes being fucked competing with male and female voices crying out in ecstasy and passion. It was the most debauched thing Dooku had ever done, fuck Sev in front of other people who were also fucking, and it was thrillingly liberating. He loved how lost he was in his lust for Severin, how he hungered so much for Sev's sex that he would fuck him anytime, anyplace, in front of people, and not care how undignified he was being. Sev loved it too, loved seeing that primal, animal, wolf-like side of Dooku, that just wanted to take and devour all that Sev had to give.

Reine and Malak began to do something they'd done many times before, in private - Reine pushed Malak down, and then rolled him onto his back and began to ride him, hard. Malak growled and then rolled Reine onto her side, and once again pinned her on her back, fucking her harder than before. She shoved him down again and held him down, riding him, until he grabbed her wrists and flipped her again. They loved struggling for dominance like this, sex-fighting each other, especially when it got into biting and clawing. The sight of Reine and Malak rolling around, growling, made Sev's cock twinge. Now wasn't the time for him to do that with Dooku, but Sev made a mental note of trying it at a later date, especially outdoors on Serenno.

Dennis slowed down to tease Ben, fucking Ben slowly until Ben was louder than anyone, thrashing around, screaming, whimpering, begging. Dennis used the Force to bring over a vibrator nobody had used and teased Ben's cock with it as he continued his slow fuck, and two nipple clamps descended onto Ben, making Ben sob and claw at Dennis, howling "Please, Master, please let me come.."

Jocasta unmounted from Sifo and got on her hands and knees, like a dog, and commanded him, "Fuck me as hard as you can." He knelt behind her, took her, and gave it to her harder and harder, as Jocasta bucked her hips against his just as hard, her screams in competition with Ben's.

Dooku used the leash and pulled Sev down to kiss him again, hard, working his hips to fuck Sev harder. Sev bounced on his cock, working his own hips, giving as good as he got, and when his fingers began to play with Dooku's nipples, Dooku used the Force to bring over a whip and a flogger, hovering in the air behind Sev, and Sev screamed as the whip cracked against his back, and then the flogger hit his ass. Dooku's hands gripped Sev's hips as he fucked as hard as he could fuck, using the Force to flog Sev's ass over and over again, until Sev was shaking, also begging to come.

Malak grabbed Reine's throat and growled, "Now," and Reine let go, squirting all over the empty robe in the center of the circle. Malak pulled out of Reine and with a few jerks, shot cum onto the robe, before pushing back into her to finish off.

Jocasta squirted then, and Sifo pulled out and shot onto the robe, and then Sev and Dooku stroked each other's cocks to the finish, coming onto the robe together, and Dennis aimed Ben's cock to come on the robe, before pulling out of Ben to shoot and then pushed back inside him and gave a few last thrusts, coming deep in Ben's ass.

The robe was absolutely filthy with their combined fluids, and Sev laughed until he cried at the sight of it. "Please tell me," Sev wheezed, "that we're not giving that to the seventh member when they show up..."

"You said 'member'," Dennis said.

Sev broke down laughing again, and even Dooku laughed, immature as it was.

Sev picked up the robe with the Force. "Yeah, here! Welcome to the Seven Jizz! I mean, Seven Light!"

Malak laughed, shaking his head. "No, we're gonna burn it with some ritual incense when we get out of here. It'll help boost the signal."

When they were ready, they did just that, taking their speeders to the shoreline at the harbor, building a fire in one of the designated fire pits. Malak threw in some herbal incense, making the fire smell pleasant, and then he tossed in the robe, which went up in a big, dramatic way.

"Delight, the Lovely One, we call to you wherever you are," Malak said.

The eight meditated, and when the robe had burned to ash, which took awhile, they took turns hugging each other goodbye. Sev felt like he was drunk, even though he'd only had two glasses of wine with dinner and he knew that wasn't enough to knock him on his ass like this. Dooku himself felt a little tipsy, but not enough to interfere with driving them home.

Before Ben and Dennis could leave, Malak called Dennis over. "You got a minute?" he asked.

Dennis walked back over to Malak, and Malak gave him a kiss, and they smiled, and then Malak said, "So now that you've awakened Exile..."

"...yeah?"

"I have an assignment for you." A pause. "You and the other Exile. I need this done tomorrow, if at all possible."

"Oh?"

Malak told him, and Dennis said, "I'll talk to her when I go to pick the kids up tomorrow."

Malak nodded, and grabbed Dennis's ass on his way out.

_

She looks into a mirror, but instead of seeing her usual reflection of a red Togruta, she sees a green Twi'lek. She raises her hand, and the Twi'lek reflection moves the same way. She waves her hand, and so does the Twi'lek. She sways to one side, and the Twi'lek sways with her, then the other.

"Who the fuck are you?" she asks the Twi'lek.

"I'm you. But from elsewhere."

She watches, and sees a temple in the middle of the forest. Twi'lek!her comes out of the temple with a smaller Twi'lek boy. "Stay behind me," she says.

There are others coming out of the temple. They see machines - tanks, AT-ATs, armored soldiers, a few people in hooded robes carrying glowing sticks. Some other people - villagers? - run out of the woods, and are immediately shot with darts. Twi'lek!her gets in front of a tank and begins pushing at it with the Force, in a way that amazes her, for she has yet to learn and it is clear Twi'lek!her is powerful.

Something happens to the soldiers in the tank. Their armor is split, their breath choked away, their faces turned blue.

Then a dart hits Twi'lek!her, and as soon as she falls to her knees, a glowing stick hacks off her head.[3]

A vulture is watching the scene, and she gasps as the vulture flies at her face. She finds a glowing stick in her own hand, the blade glowing red-violet, and she swipes at the vulture, and next she's standing in a field of roses with a dark tower looming in the distance... and the vulture turns into a man in black, watching her from beneath a hood, with a creepy stare. She holds the glowing stick, which is humming, and begins to walk towards him. He takes a rose, and turns it to ash.

"Go away," she growls at him. "Begone from this place, foul creature."

When the fuck did I ever start talking like this? I sound like my uncle Idis.

The man laughs at her, and laughs until she uses the Force to throw him, and then six crows descend upon him, cawing loudly. The man gives a shriek of terror before he disappears.

He re-appears a few meters away. Don't let him get at the tower, one of the crows speaks into her head.

She runs after him, faster than she's ever run in her life.

Neryt Dooku-Fett woke up with a start, gasping for breath, shaking.

She'd been having a lot of weird dreams lately - she was a Twi'lek in those, too, blue, named Mission Vao. Hung out with some guy named Revan, and a Wookiee named Zaalbar aka Big Z who was totally her adopted brother, Isshaddik. But this was something else entirely.

She went to the 'fresher and splashed cold water on her face, and poured herself a glass of cold water from the tap. As she drank, she made sure to study herself in the mirror - still a Togruta, with brown stripes on her white montrals and lekku, white swirls on her red face, a thin white stripe leading down from her montrals over her forehead, stopping at the bridge of her nose, resuming over her chin. The dark brown eyes and default stern expression betrayed her biological Dooku lineage - the bastard daughter of Istrell Dooku, the middle between Idis and Irina, who had been given to Irina to raise while Idis was still with the Jedi Order. She bitchfaced into the mirror just to prove she was who she was, and then it was quickly replaced by the grin of silly mischief that Irina herself entertained on occasion.

Neryt's room had a door that opened to a little patio outside, and she stepped out into the crisp Serennian air, looking out into the last few stars that lingered as blue dusk mingled slowly with the chocolate night, before the dawn. "I hope you guys make it to Serenno OK," Neryt said, thinking of her uncle and his bondmate on Arcturus.

Neryt almost dropped her glass of water when a crow cawed loudly, disturbed by Neryt's arrival in its space, and as it flew away, it dropped a feather. Neryt picked it up, frowning.

It's a sign. But a sign of what?

Chapter Text

Ben and Dennis arrived at the Solos' the next morning to pick up Owen and Lysa, and Leia invited them to have breakfast. Dennis helped the kids get dressed while Ben sat down at the kitchen table, wincing a little as he did.

Leia gave Ben a knowing smile. "Han's a bottom too," she informed him.

Ben laughed so hard he spit his juice. "MMMMMMMMMMMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMM."

"Well, you have something you can bond with him about?"

Ben facepalmed, laughing harder.

"And you have something you can bond with me about." Leia grinned. "He's good, isn't he?"

Ben nodded, still laughing. "Dennis's cock: kid-tested, mother-approved?"

Now it was Leia's turn to laugh, doubling over. "Dear Force, what is wrong with us."

"We're Skywalkers?"

Dennis came in with the kids in tow, and Leia and Ben started laughing all over again at the timing, while Dennis gave them a confused look. "Did I miss something?" Dennis asked.

"You missed conversations only this family has," Leia replied.

Han stumbled out to have breakfast, and after breakfast Ben did the dishes, and then before Ben and Dennis could leave, Dennis said, "I have to talk to Leia about something," and Han said, "Good, because I have to talk to Ben about something."

"Your love of bottoming?" Leia quipped.

Han and Ben both facepalmed.

Dennis was glad the kids were young enough that went over their heads. He left the kids in the living room with Han and Ben, and took Leia back into the kitchen.

"So," Dennis said, "Malak wants to come over later."

"Oh, does he."

"Yeah." Dennis took a deep breath. "To make a long story short, Malak and Sifo-Dyas have been trying to find the universe Ben came from, and they literally cannot find it, and we have reason to believe that universe was actually destroyed on purpose the night that we did the factory raid."

"...OK?"

"Because Ben was shot during the factory raid, and because of what happened to him in his universe and how radically different his universe is from the others, they want to know once and for all what's going on with Ben's universe - who made it, if not Malak and Revan, why, and what happened to it - and they want a fresh set of eyes looking at it. The two Exiles - you and me - represent Knowledge and Wisdom in our respective groups, the Seven Light and the Seven Shadow, and Malak thinks you and I should try to... ah... raise energy, if you get what I mean, and look for it together. Malak would be coming over to assist with the process - his position in the Seven Light is the Lord of Time."

"When you say assist with the process, do you mean a threesome?"

"Well, yes and no. Despite everything that's been adding up in the fuckery department, Malak still feels enough of a twisted sense of loyalty to Kylo that he has reservations about getting it on with you, or Han for that matter. I know there's mutual interest, but he's just..." Dennis handwaved. "Malak isn't like most people. He has a very strong code of personal honor. Kylo was the first real friend he's ever had. I say 'real friend' because he had friendly acquaintances, people he hung out with, but Kylo was the first person where it went more than just superficial. It was like me and Sev with our ex-girlfriend - she was the first other Force-sensitive we knew outside ourselves. Whatever bad things can be said about Kylo, he helped Malak be OK with himself, and Malak feels like he owes him."

Leia nodded.

"So to answer your question, I doubt it will turn into a full-fledged threesome with all of us equally doing things to each other. What is more likely to happen is Malak will... um... 'bless me' while you watch, and then he'll watch, in both the physical act and what's going on in the Force, while you and I are, ah, working together."

"OK." Leia smiled. "If he decides he wants to go there..."

"Yeah, I know." Dennis nodded. "Like I said, it's not for lack of interest on his part. He still loves Kylo like a brother. This whole situation has been really, really difficult on him."

"I imagine." Leia's smile became a frown. "It's too bad Kylo seems to be turning against his only friend."

"Yeah, no shit. I feel like Kylo has treated Malak like he's expendable, to be honest."

"It seems that the only thing that truly matters to my son is becoming Emperor. Kylo Ren would burn the entire Galaxy if he could be Emperor of the ashes. He used to have a heart. He used to have ideals. The longer he's been under Snoke's influence, the less he seems to care." Leia sighed. "I just want my son back."

Dennis hugged Leia, and then they kissed. "So I'll see you in a few hours?"

"Yes, you will." Leia grabbed Dennis's ass. "I'll even wear something special for the occasion."

"Oh, Force, I don't think my body is ready for that."

As Dennis and Ben left, Dennis said, "What did Han want to talk to you about?"

"He invited me over to hang out tomorrow afternoon. Just me and him. Father-son bonding-type stuff. I told him yes."

Dennis grinned. "I'm so glad to hear that."

Ben gave a shy smile. "Also, he wanted to let me know he was happy for me."

"Well, I hope so. I love you a lot, and I'm going to do my best to do right by you."

"So on that subject... something I want to ask you when we get home."

Once they got home, Ben and Dennis sat on the couch, as the kids played together on the floor. Ben turned to Dennis and he said, "About last night."

"I hope I didn't freak you out or wasn't too rough -"

Ben put his index finger to Dennis's lips, and then shook his head. "It was perfect." He sighed. "Too perfect." Ben looked down, and then he looked up. "Would you collar me? I don't just mean a play collar for when we do stuff. I mean..."

"You want me to be your owner."

Ben nodded. "I know this is all happening really soon, but -"

"Well, 'soon' is a matter of perspective where the Force is concerned." Dennis pulled Ben close and kissed him - a relatively chaste kiss, since the kids were right there, but a sweet and loving kiss nonetheless. then Dennis pulled back and said, "And now it's my turn to drop the 'too soon' bomb."

"You're not pregnant, are you?" Ben joked.

Dennis facepalmed, and he used the Force to throw a couch pillow at his bondmate. Ben used the Force to throw one back.

"Ooh, pillow fight!" Owen yelled, and the next thing Ben and Dennis knew, Owen and Lysa used the Force to throw more couch pillows at them. Ben used the Force to throw all the pillows at the kids, which knocked them over and made them laugh, and then Ben gave them Force noogies.

And then Dennis gave Ben a deadly serious look, and Ben tried to pull himself together, and just cracked up laughing, and so did Dennis, and Dennis continued laughing as he got on his knees, and took Ben's hands in his.

"Ben Skywalker-Solo, will you marry me?" Dennis asked.

Ben's jaw dropped, and then he said, "Yes," and his laughter became happy tears. He and Dennis hugged each other, with Dennis still on his knees, and then the kids came over to hug them as well.

"Can I be flowergirl?" Lysa asked.

"Of course, squirt." Dennis kissed Lysa's nose.

_

While Dennis went with Malak to see Leia, Ben took the kids to visit their Uncle Sev, at Dennis's suggestion - Sev wanted to see his niece and nephew. Dooku, himself, was at the Temple - the financial report on Nozz-A-La Cola had come back to him, and he wanted to consult with Sifo-Dyas before he shared the information with the rest of the group.

Dennis and Malak both arrived at the Solos' minutes apart, and took different routes to get there, and made sure to shield themselves in the Force to avoid being tracked. Finn let them in, and then Finn went to the garage to spend time with Han in the "mancave" - Sev had suggested the two of them practice Force skills together, including lightsaber work, and make a holovideo of it for Sev and Dooku to observe and critique later.

Leia was waiting in the bedroom... in a black lace-trimmed leather bra and panties, with black garters and thigh-high black translucent stockings. Dennis and Malak both dropped their jaws when they saw her, and Leia smiled at them invitingly... spreading her legs to show them the panties were crotchless, and she was already wet. Leia stroked herself, and Dennis made a little tormented noise. Then Leia took off her bra.

"Here, let me help with that," Malak said, and began undressing his brother, as Leia watched with great interest.

Leia lit candles and incense, to give the room a better ambiance for ritual, and moved from the bed to a chair set up across from the bed, so she could watch. Malak and Dennis climbed onto the bed together once naked, and Leia continued pleasuring herself as Malak and Dennis put on a show.

They took their sweet time with foreplay, kissing again and again, sometimes deep hungry kisses, sometimes rubbing their tongues together open-mouthed, flirting and teasing. Their hands roamed over each other's torsos and arms and hips and asses and thighs, their hard cocks rubbing together slowly. Leia had never seen two men be so sensual with each other, and the sight of their beautiful bodies making beautiful love made her cream and gush.

But after kissing and caressing each other for what seemed like forever, they still had only just begun. Dennis kissed down Malak's neck, and then worked on Malak's nipples, rubbing and pulling one with his fingers as he licked, suckled, and kissed the other, making Malak groan. Dennis had a lean swimmer's build and was on the hairy side; Malak was taller, bulkier and had a smooth chest, and just a light touch of hair on his arms and legs, though he sported a thick dark pubic bush, and a delicious treasure trail leading down to it. Leia's fingers worked faster on her clit as Dennis ran his fingers and tongue over the muscle definition in his brother's body, making Malak gasp and groan and shiver. Dennis kissed and stroked from neck down torso and arms, hips, thighs, calves and feet, and back up, before taking a few teasing licks at Malak's flushed, leaking cock. Then Malak growled and pushed Dennis onto his back, and gave him the same treatment, licking and caressing everywhere, tongue-bathing the hair on Dennis's chest and thighs. Malak paid special attention to Dennis's nipples, which were exquisitely sensitive, pleasuring them into exquisite thick nubs demanding to be suckled over and over again - Leia was having a hard time restraining herself from joining them on the bed and taking a swollen peak into her mouth.

When Malak took Dennis's cock into his mouth, Leia had her first orgasm, pawing herself furiously, as turned on as she'd ever been watching Malak take Dennis's cock to the hilt, looking up at him with adoration in his warm brown eyes. Malak sucked him slowly, lovingly, until Dennis grabbed Malak's head, pulled his cock out of his brother's mouth, and then they positioned themselves into a sixty-nine. Leia resumed working her clit, her lust inflamed once more at the brothers sucking each other's cocks, moaning with their mouths full, devouring each other to orgasm.

Once Malak had his orgasm in Dennis's mouth, he moved back, and Dennis gestured to Leia. Leia got on the bed, and Dennis kissed her passionately... his mouth full of Malak's cum. It was sweet, with the vaguest hint of orange. Leia made a show of licking her lips afterwards, which got Malak hard again, and Malak watched from the chair, stroking himself as Dennis's tongue replaced Leia's fingers on her pussy.

Dennis lapped Leia to another orgasm - at the end he encouraged her to fuck his face, and she rode his tongue as he gripped her hips, groaning into her with each delicious lick. After she climaxed, Dennis was hard and ready, and he gave her a few more licks before she moved her way down to straddle his cock, riding him reverse cowgirl so Malak could get an eyeful. Dennis reached around to caress her body with one hand, rub her clit with the other; after awhile he sat up a little to kiss her neck, and his fingers played with her nipples, as the hand on her clit worked harder. Leia's breasts bounced with the rhythm of Dennis's thrusts, and Malak stroked himself to their rhythm, eyes riveted. They barely noticed when Han Solo walked in.

Finn was taking his usual afternoon holocall from Poe. Han knew that Dennis was visiting Leia, but he heard the sound of three voices, not two, and his curiosity got the better of him. Once he poked his head in the door he saw candles and incense lit, and knew he'd walked into some kind of ritual, and was about to excuse himself without saying anything, but the sight of Malak stroking himself caught his eye... and brought his own cock to readiness.

Han took a deep breath, undid his pants, and began to masturbate, eyes going back and forth between Leia's body and Malak's. When he made his first groan, Malak turned his head and their eyes met. Han was almost undone right there.

"Come in," Malak told him.

"Am I... fucking up the ritual?"

"You're the Lord of Fortune of the Seven Shadow."

"Ummm, I don't know what you're talking about, aaaand that didn't answer my question."

"Yes, it did. It means the answer is no. We could use your... um... help. It'll increase the odds of our success."

Han stood by Malak, and continued to stroke himself. The presence of her husband made Leia get into it even more, her moans louder, riding Dennis harder. Leia and Dennis would normally fuck to multiple orgasms in different positions, but because of the work they were doing - using the release of orgasm as a springboard into an altered state of consciousness, to see visions - they held back their release as long as possible, letting it build and build and build, knowing it would be utterly shattering when it broke.

Malak was also jerking off with intensity - he might have still had reservations about sex with Kylo's parents, but he couldn't help enjoying the sight and sound of Leia getting fucked by his brother and lover. And then there was Han - every now and again Malak stole a glimpse of Han, and it made his cock twinge. On one of those glimpses, Malak noticed Han was looking at him, too.

"Here," Malak said. "We can help each other." Malak stopped stroking himself and took Han's hand and put it on his cock, and then Malak took Han's cock into his own hand. Han was almost embarrassed by the little whimper that came out of him when he felt Malak's hand grip his cock and stroke it good... the way Malak's cock felt in his hand. It was all he could do to not get on his knees and take the young man's cock into his throat, or bend over to take it in his ass. Malak was naked, ever so slightly sweaty and glistening in the candlelight, and it was glorious. Han began entertaining fantasies of what it would be like for them to take it a step further... and so did Malak.

Four voices moaned and cried out together, accompanied by the filthy slapping, rattling, wet pumping, suctioning sounds of jerking and fucking, harder and harder, faster and faster. Han shot first, and before he could stop himself he aimed and got his load all over Malak's cock. At the sight and feeling of Han's hot cum bathing his cock, Malak climaxed, shooting onto Leia's tits. Leia lost it, shrieking, and the feeling of Leia's pussy gripping and squeezing his cock over and over again set Dennis off, coming deep inside her.

_

Leia and Dennis took each other's hands and lay back, and closed their eyes. Dennis guided them in a Force vision of two trees twined as one, their branches and roots made of light, bearing leaves of galaxies, fruit of stars, every place in the universe, every universe in the multiverse. Their touch in the Force went through the tree, and to Ben's place in the tree, their Force bonds with Ben - one as mother, one as lover - linking with his Force signature and then tracing its origin, its thread of light... coming to what looked like a black hole. They poked it, together.

They saw the destruction of Alderaan, and then they saw Darth Sidious, in his ritual chamber, laughing maniacally as he watched the fragments and dust of Alderaan's destruction, floating in a black mirror. He took something that looked like a pair of knitting needles, lit up red like Sith lightsabers, and touched them to the image in the black mirror, and pulled skeins of black energy like a glowing shadow. He began to knit the energy, focusing on making a mirror of the universe he and they were in, but worse - eerie green energy ran through the black threads, and a portal opened, that the green and black energy threads were being fed into.

The wound in the Force left by the destruction of Alderaan was providing a place for Sidious to park this creation, which was not so much a fully intact universe as it was a cage... replicating this universe, and tainting it.

Like a holosimulator, Dennis observed. It wasn't at all like the universes Revan and Malak and sometimes Traya had made, where everyone in them was a fully-realized individual. This universe Sidious created was full of hollow "shells", like puppets Sidious played with to do his bidding.

It's why the people who came here with Ben's New First Order to fight Kylo just joined Kylo without even thinking about it, Dennis said to Leia. They were being controlled by... who?

The vision flashed forward. Leia was giving birth, screaming at the top of her lungs as she pushed. Dennis and Leia looked - twin boys.

When the boys were put in the nursery of the maternity ward, a figure in a black hooded robe stepped out of nowhere - he'd used the Force to make himself invisible - and then he walked through the wall and came to where the infant Solo twins were sleeping. He looked at them for a moment, and Dennis recognized his face, then - Supreme Leader Snoke. Snoke was looking at them almost lovingly, but in a way that gave Dennis and Leia chills. After looking at them, Snoke picked one, lifting him up - the baby started screaming and crying. One of the nurses approached and said, "Sir, you can't be in here," and was about to call security, and Snoke used the Force to stun her and then told her, "Nothing is happening here. You did not see any of this."

As Snoke walked out of the nursery with the baby under one arm, he used the Force to cast a potent spell over the entire hospital - including over Leia, Han, and Luke. He made them forget there were two Solo boys. He made them think there was only one, named Ben. The spell even changed the databases and the records, all of Leia's medical information. Then Snoke left, with the baby who would become Ben Skywalker-Solo in tow... and Ben was put in the universe Sidious created, held prisoner there.

Certain events happened with a time lag, to continue the replication - the massacre at the New Jedi Order in Ben's universe happened years after the one in this universe, with Snoke giving Ben the idea. The same Snoke who controlled the First Order in this universe, was the one who ordered Ben to kill Alyssa - he could travel between the two universes quite easily, as easily as he had stepped through the wall in the hospital.

What about Alyssa? Dennis inquired. Was she just a sim?

The Force showed him - Alyssa had started off as a "shell" of Valyeris, the same way Ben's Han and Leia were tainted "shells" of this universe's, but Ben's love for Alyssa brought her to life, giving her a soul and heart and mind of her own, so she really did love him in return, and it was that love that had her advise him in the end, to fight Snoke.

And now... how are Snoke and Sidious connected? Leia asked the Force.

There was a time jump back into the past. Far, far back... Valkorion, as Dennis remembered him when he was Meetra Surik, and had helped Revan fight him. Valkorion changed hosts several times... and Dennis and Leia watched as Valkorion assumed the body of Darth Plagueis.

Sidious knew who Plagueis was, and when he killed Plagueis he thought he was so clever, even more powerful than Valkorion - not realizing that had been Valkorion's plan all along. When Plagueis drew his last breath, Valkorion's consciousness possessed Sidious.

Before Sidious was killed, Valkorion left his body, sensing the Emperor's downfall. He transferred his consciousness to Vader's secret apprentice... and then from there, to Snoke.

Not only did Snoke have all the power of Valkorion, but that power had grown greater in the last four thousand years with each successive host. Sidious was a powerful Sith long before Valkorion had ever possessed him, as was Plagueis, and Snoke had all of their memories and all of their power.

Oh, fuck. Me. Dennis felt like he was going to vomit.

Does Kylo know about this? Leia asked the Force.

The Force showed Kylo and Snoke performing a Dark Side ceremony together, and when Snoke took Kylo's hands, they were as cold as ice, and Kylo felt like he had been shocked with a live wire. He looked into Snoke's eyes and could see all the hosts Valkorion had over the millennia.

Then Dennis and Leia both felt like they were being smacked in the face, like someone had been alerted to the fact that they were looking in on something that someone didn't want them to see. The Force vision stopped, and Dennis and Leia came back to the room, with Leia laying on her back on top of Dennis, their hands still linked... their hands now white-knuckled, shaking.

"Did you get any of that?" Dennis asked Malak.

Malak's jaw had dropped so much Dennis was afraid he'd lose it again. Malak just nodded slowly.

Dennis sighed. "We. Are. So. Fucked."

Leia let out a deep snort that was almost a growl. "That... abomination... stole. My. Son. Took him from me. Raped my mind to make me think I only had one son. Kept my boy from me in some kind of Sith alchemy prison and subjected him to one abuse after another. And that man turned my other son against us, and Force only knows how he accomplished that, what kind of abuse Kylo has been through. So believe me... Snoke... Valkorion... whoever the fuck he is, whatever the fuck he wants to call himself... he's the one who's fucked. I don't care how many years he's been alive and how many Darths he's possessed... he messed with the wrong Sith mama bear and I will kill him. I will take him out of the Force pool and make sure he never comes back."

Leia's eyes shifted orange-gold, and she let go of Dennis's hands as sparks of Force lightning crackled off her fingertips.

Now it was Han's turn to open his mouth, staring. When he found his ability to make words, he licked his lips and said, "Am I wrong for thinking that was hot?"

"Oh, you."

_

Ben and Sev took the kids to the park near the Solos' to feed the ducks and play at the playground, and when they got back to Sev and Dooku's place, Sev made peanut butter and jam sandwiches for the kids, and then he sat down with a grumpy look on his face.

"You look like you just got back from Corellian hell instead of the playground," Ben said. "What's eating you? You know, besides Dooku."

Sev snorted. "Welllllll..." Sev took a deep breath. "This thing with Joxa and the Knights of Ren clusterfuck is just... really getting to me. I don't like sitting on my hands till we go to Serenno."

"Yeah, I get it." Ben nodded. "I've been tempted several times to go knock on Kylo's door and bring it."

"It's not even just that my husband thinks it's unwise to have a confrontation." Sev rolled his eyes. "I was with Joxa for three years, and it's been almost three years since we split up, and I hate that she's still fucking controlling my life somehow, with whatever the fuck is going on here... and something's gotta be up, connecting the Bando Gora and all of this. I just want to be, like, done with her and her shit."

Ben nodded again.

"And the thing that's really bugging me about this is how much the hackers still have left as far as her personal data is concerned. There's probably a whole shitload of shit on that board and the longer it takes to get it cracked, the more time there is for the pit to deepen."

"Well," Ben said, "...you knew her pretty well, right? So you know things like birthday, other important anniversaries... mother's name..."

"Yeah, yeah, all of that's been tried already." And then Sev frowned. "Well, there is this one thing."

Ben raised an eyebrow.

"I started remembering this yesterday. It's been awhile, you know, and unpleasant memories and all of that, so my mind kind of put up a block around the information." Sev scratched his head. "Even before she started making death sticks, Joxa wanted fast, easy money. So she was into playing Corellia's Powerball. She bought a ticket every week, and played the same numbers every week."

"Do you remember those numbers?"

"I only remember a couple of them." Sev cocked his head to one side. "Maybe you could help me remember the others? I mean it's craaaaaaaaaazy that this would actually work if I plugged it in, but... anything's worth a shot."

Ben and Sev joined hands, and Ben guided Sev into the field of roses, where the Dark Tower stood. After Sev and Ben sat in the field for a few minutes, the numbers finally came to Sev, and as soon as he opened his eyes, he used the Force to bring over the computer tablet where Dooku had a copy of all of the encrypted files Joxa had - a DNA sample had been taken before she escaped, which cracked the bio-encryption, but there was still the triple encryption past that.

Sev went to the folder marked Personal and typed in the numbers:

4 - 8 - 15 - 16 - 23 - 42

The first wall cleared. He typed it in again, and got past the second wall. He typed it in the third time, and the program made a little horn blare and Sev watched as a few dozen folders appeared on the screen.

"Holy fucking shit," Sev said.

Sev and Ben looked at each other, and then Ben tapped at a folder. "Vids," he said. "This ought to be particularly incriminating."

The videos were all marked by date, and almost all of them were recent - within the last nine months or so. None of them had descriptive titles, so they would have to pick one at random. "Let's go with letter Vev," Sev said.

The screen on the tablet showed an empty room, and then it showed Joxa walking in, naked.

"Oh shit," Sev said, "um..."

Ben threw out a Force barrier to keep the kids from seeing or hearing what was happening on the screen.

Joxa lay on a bed and started masturbating, and after a minute, a woman climbed onto the bed with her. That woman was Valyeris.

Sev and Ben's jaws dropped as they watched Joxa Shihai and Valyeris Ren making out, Valyeris's fingers on Joxa's pussy, Joxa's fingers on Valyeris. The two moaned together, and the moans got louder. Valyeris kissed down Joxa's neck, and then drew a breast into her mouth.

"What. The. Actual. Fuck." Sev couldn't believe it.

"Oh, Vali, you've got such a good tongue," Joxa purred.

Vali? Ben and Sev mouthed.

Valyeris worked on the other breast, and went back and forth between Joxa's breasts until Joxa grabbed the points of Valyeris's ears - "I love pointy ears," Joxa said, which made Sev snort as his own points turned red from anger - and Joxa pushed Valyeris's head down. Valyeris began to enthusiastically eat Joxa's dripping cunt.

"I am not even remotely turned on by this," Sev said, "which says something considering how many times I did what she's doing right now."

Ben nodded. "And Valyeris looks just like Alyssa and I'm not turned on at all, either."

"This is like the opposite of... um... Senth-Esk-Xesh." Sev stole a nervous glance in the kids' direction.

Ben raised an eyebrow. "I wonder if Kylo knew about any of this?"

As if to answer their question, there came the sound of rattling, like someone shaking a spray can... and a male voice moaning and grunting. The holovideo camera pointed at the cock in question, and Ben recognized the hand and the cock as identical to his own, which meant Kylo. Ben facepalmed.

"Welp," Ben said, "I guess we know Kylo likes to watch."

For some reason - probably his Force bond with his apprentice - Sev felt the words Like father, like son forming but for once, Sev didn't feel like joking. "I think we've seen enough." Sev shut the video off.

Ben and Sev sat in stony silence, letting the kids finish up their sandwiches. When Sev collected the plates and brought them into the kitchen, it took him every ounce of restraint he had to not use the Force and smash the plates on the floor. He wanted to smash Kylo and Valyeris instead. Sev had no romantic feelings left for Joxa, it wasn't jealousy - it was a feeling of betrayal.

Dooku and Sifo-Dyas walked in, looking equally stern.

"Hey," Ben said to them. Sifo waved, and Dooku nodded.

"Idis." Sev poured himself a glass of ice water, and began to chew loudly on the ice, which Dooku recognized immediately as a sign that Sev was at near his breaking point with anger.

"Oh dear." Dooku raised his eyebrows. "What did I miss?"

Sev used the Force to pass Dooku the computer tablet. "You and Sifo better, um, go in another room to watch what we were just watching. You may want to just take it to the 'fresher so you can fucking vomit at it."

Sifo and Dooku exchanged alarmed glances, and then they did what Sev told them, taking the computer tablet to the 'fresher - the video file was still open and could be played.

After a few minutes Sev and Ben heard Sifo-Dyas yell "OH FORCE WHY, WHAT THE FUCK" and then there was a growl very distinctly Dooku.

Dooku stepped out of the 'fresher, his eyes blazing gold.

Sifo staggered out of the 'fresher, with a pained expression on his face. "Anyone got any brain bleach?" he asked.

"There's brandy in the cupboard across from the sink," Dooku said. "It's not too early to drink for an... occasion like this."

Sifo poured shots for all four adults.

Dooku and Sev sat together across from Ben and Sifo-Dyas. Dooku put his arms around Sev, both to comfort him and to keep him from going off and trying to kill Kylo Ren.

"I think the thing that shits me the most about this," Sev said, "is that when the First Order 'recruited' me and Dennis... they had dossier files on us. They knew everything about us. That included our school records. Me getting Joxa kicked out of school for using the lab to make death sticks went on my record. Me getting a police restraining order against her - which she violated more than once - went on my record. So it wasn't like Kylo didn't know about my history with Joxa, and he and Valyeris still. Went ahead. With this. Whatever the fuck it is."

Dooku nodded.

"I have zero problems with women getting it on with women," Sifo-Dyas said, "and Jocasta has entertained a few fantasies that she's shared with me, which I'd be open to her acting on if she ever found a suitable partner. I have a problem with the level of betrayal happening here. Honestly from where I sit, this is looking more and more like the Knights of Ren were set up."

"Getting the band back together to kill it before it can go on the reunion tour," Ben said, nodding.

"And that's just with what you know about the situation." Dooku sat back on the sofa and steepled his hands. "Sifo, should I tell them about our meeting, or would you like to do the honors?"

Sifo scratched his beard, and then he took a deep breath, and said, "The New Force Order Temple is being permanently closed tomorrow; I'm making an announcement tomorrow morning."

"What?" Sev and Ben said in unison.

Sifo nodded. "I have been in touch with the Arcturus authorities, and in lieu of them arresting all of us, everyone will have three days to vacate the campus. I worked out a deal where the Jedi who want to go, will be given an escort to Coruscant, and the Sith who aren't interested in being hired by the police force will be given an escort to Korriban."

"And we will be leaving for Serenno tomorrow night," Dooku said.

"The Restorers themselves will be arrested tomorrow," Sifo said.

"OK, so what's the deal?" Sev asked.

Sifo gestured to Dooku.

"When I received the report with regards to Nozz-A-La Cola," Dooku said, "a disproportionately high percentage of its income, which is to say all of it, is being given to the Hanso Foundation."

"Why does that name sound familiar?" Sev frowned.

"One of the things the Hanso Foundation is responsible for," Dooku went on, "is the Restorers here on Arcturus."

"So you're saying..." Sev took a deep breath. "There's a connection between the Bando Gora and the Restorers."

"It appears that the Bando Gora are funding the Restorers." Dooku folded his arms. "Severin, do you recall when we came back from Serenno and we brought Sifo-Dyas's body to the Restorers and you asked them who employs them?"

"I do."

Dooku nodded. "And here is what makes this particularly unsettling. Point the first. Anakin Skywalker claims he was the first person the Restorers brought back to life. He founded the New Force Order, and has made quite a big deal about that. Point the second. You all were sent here at Snoke's command. You have speculated whether or not Snoke had you sent here because the autoregen function makes death cheap and he wanted you to become desensitized to killing so you could come back as killing machines. But I think there is something going on far more sinister than that... something that smells like sabotage."

"Sabotage of the 'getting the band back together to shut it down' variety," Sifo-Dyas said.

Dooku nodded again. Then he sighed. "In light of knowing what we know, Sifo and I have asked ourselves if it is ethical to... continue existing... knowing that we were raised from the dead by a Force cult in the employ of another Force cult, and knowing that ultimately there may have been sinister motivations in why we were all raised from the dead."

"You can't die," Sev said, taking Dooku's hand. "I love you. I need you."

Dooku squeezed Sev's hand, tears in his eyes. He said, "Sifo and I answered that question with the answer you just gave me. Even if we were raised by evil people with evil intentions... the Force is the ultimate alchemist, and can transmute that for good. If we were meant to be used as a weapon of some kind... that weapon can be turned against them, and so it shall."

Sev and Dooku kissed, and then Ben and Sifo-Dyas jokingly made vomit noises.

"OK, it's still not anywhere near as gross as Valyeris and Joxa..." Sev couldn't finish that sentence.

"So what the fuck are we going to do with that information?" Ben asked. "Do you seriously still think that not having it out with Kylo is the best course of action when we know the Restorers are in with the Bando Gora, and Snoke seemed to think the New Force Order Temple fit in to his schemes, and now we have this video where Valyeris is banging Sev and Dennis's ex while Kylo watches, and they sure as shit knew who she was to Dennis and Sev?"

Dooku paused a moment. "The problem is, once again, the First Order presence outnumbers -"

Just then, Dooku's holophone rang. Dooku took it from his belt and then he answered. "Hello," he said to Dennis's hologram.

"Ummmmm," Dennis said, "Malak's on his way back, and can I come over? It's kind of important."

"Yes."

"If Reine is still with Mace," Dennis said, "can you tell Reine to get back?"

Dooku nodded.

"You might as well have Mace come by too," Sifo-Dyas said, "since Mace ought to know about what's going on with the Temple."

Dooku holocalled Mace, and Mace and Reine arrived first, a few minutes after the call.

"This isn't another memorial service, is it?" Mace quipped, looking at all the solemn faces.

"No, it's not." Dooku got up, and poured a shot of brandy for Mace and for Reine. "You're going to need it."

When Malak and Dennis arrived, Dooku poured them brandy also. He told Malak, Reine, Mace and Dennis about the video... and then about the financial report, where Joxa's exorbitant sums of money going to Nozz-A-La Cola was in fact going to the Hanso Foundation.

Dennis almost choked on his brandy. "The Hanso Foundation?"

"Yes. They employ the Restorers."

Dennis gave a thin, bitter smile. "That's not all they do." Dennis slammed down his glass. "The branch of the First Order that I work for? Its science branch? Guess who funds it. Take a wild. Fucking. Guess."

You could hear a pin drop.

"It gets even better," Dennis continued. "My doctorate thesis was on alternate universes. You know, where Ben comes from, except he doesn't, because we found out what happened. He was born here, and Snoke fucking stole him, and did some kind of Force brainwashing on everyone to make it look like Leia and Han only had one kid, and Snoke put him in a fucking construct that Sidious made, to hold him prisoner."

"What?" Ben gasped.

Dennis nodded. He squeezed Ben's hand. "Nobody in your universe is real. Except you and Alyssa."

"So... how are all these New First Order people here?"

"Well, they're like... alchemy-constructed puppets."

"Golems," Dooku said. "The Sith term for them is golems."

"Right, so... that's how they're suddenly on Team Kylo now."

Ben broke down sobbing. Dennis put his arms around Ben, rocking him, soothing him. Owen and Lysa came over and hugged Ben too. "Dad," Lysa said. "Don't be sad. We love you. And you're gonna marry Daddy!"

Sev's lips quirked. "Well, that's the best news I've heard all day."

"Yeah, we were gonna tell you and that got sidetracked." Dennis gave Lysa a look. "Thanks, kiddo."

Lysa beamed. "You're welcome, Daddy."

Mace growled. "I say we stab this motherfucker."

"Yeah," Reine said. "Or chipper shredder."

"As I was saying before my phone rang," Dooku said, "even if all of us in the room, Jocasta, Han, Leia, Finn, Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan came to Kylo's apartment right now, in addition to duelling Kylo, Valyeris, and quite probably Anakin, Kylo can have us overrun by Stormtroopers with blasters and other military-combat-trained First Order personnel within minutes."

"There's an additional problem," Dennis said. He looked at Ben, who was calming down as Owen and Lysa aggressively rubbed his face with tissues. Owen helpfully offered Ben the brandy, which made Ben laugh. Dennis frowned. "Ben, I know you don't like me saying his name... but Valkorion is balls-deep in all of this."

"Of course he is," Ben said.

"Well, no it goes beyond what you may have been concerned about." Dennis pinched the bridge of his nose. "One of the hosts Valkorion assumed was Darth Plagueis."

Dooku bitchfaced.

"When Sidious killed Plagueis, thinking he was oh so smart... that was exactly what Valkorion wanted. He possessed Sidious."

Dooku's bitchface intensified. Sev worried it was going to peel paint off the walls.

"Valkorion's current host is Snoke, and Snoke is... scary levels of powerful. He can walk through walls. He could go back and forth between whatever the fuck Ben was being held in, and here, at will. So even though Snoke is presumably in the Unknown Regions doing his creepy evil overlord thing, we have to assume that he can still do things with the Force from that far away."

"Fuck," Sev growled. He got up, and threw his hands up in the air. "Fuck. Damn it all to hell."

Sev opened the front door, and stepped outside.

"Where do you think you're going?" Dooku barked after him.

"Out."

Dooku tried to run after Sev, and Sev threw an invisible Force wall to block him, storming off.

_

Sev didn't go to start trouble - he went to the Temple Gardens and sat, crying angrily until the Living Force caught up with him and began to calm him down.

After Sev had been there for awhile, Dooku sat down with him. Dooku took Sev's hand, and said nothing. At last, Sev squeezed it.

We can't just do nothing, Sev told Dooku in the Force, not wanting their conversation eavesdropped.

We're not doing nothing. We're building an army.

You know how long that's going to take? And there's all this fuckery happening right fucking now.

Yes, and do you understand that very soon, we are going to not have autoregen and people who can resurrect us from the dead, if we die? I cannot risk losing you again. We will be on Serenno in two days. From there, we can act. We can plan a much bigger confrontation.

Sev leaned on Dooku. "I hope you're right."

I know you're angry, little one. You have much to be angry about. But the big showdown you're planning in your head is not going to go the way you've planned. Take it from the man who was beheaded by Anakin Skywalker.

And then Dooku turned Sev's face to his, so Sev could see the pain in his eyes - the pain that the very thought of Sev dying was causing him. "Ben has moved on from Alyssa... but I would never move on from you." Dooku kissed Sev softly, gently. "You are my breath."

Sev kissed Dooku's hand.

Then Dooku said, "The wedding vow that Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Leia are taking to one another is known as the lifebond vow. It affects their Force bond so that if one dies... they all die." Dooku stroked Sev's face. "I have stopped aging and I am in excellent health, and could conceivably live to be as old as Yoda if I am not mortally wounded or contract some sort of incurable disease. But I do not want to live in a universe where you are not there with me. Lifebond with me, when we have our ceremony."

Sev threw his arms around Dooku, crying. "Yes," he said.

Dooku picked Sev up in his arms then, and carried Sev back to their apartment, and the next few hours were spent with Dooku making Sev forget all about his ex... making Sev forget his own name, giving Sev as many orgasms as he could bear.

Chapter Text

Kylo Ren was up just before the dawn, and watched the sunrise from the back patio. Valyeris found him there, already dressed, his clothing and hair stirring in the breeze. She put a hand on his shoulder.

Kylo placed his hand over hers, but there was otherwise none of his usual affection. He did not even turn to acknowledge her. He was looking at the sky, as if he were looking into the universe itself.

"Everything is happening today," Kylo said.

"When we first had the discussion about when everything was going down, you told me two weeks if all goes according to plan... and that was a week ago."

"Yes, well... the Force has a way of escalating things." Kylo squared his shoulders, and at last he turned his head towards his wife, slowly. "I need you to be ready."

"Honey, I'm always ready." Valyeris gave a small, predatory smile. "I've been looking forward to this."

_

Dooku couldn't sleep, even though he'd spent much of yesterday evening exerting himself in passionate lovemaking with Severin. While his bondmate slept, Dooku packed everything he could pack, readying it for departure, and at last he sat with the three cats, meditating.

When Sev woke, he was alarmed by Dooku not there next to him, but was relieved once he saw Dooku sitting in the living room, wearing cats, stroking them in a deep state of contemplation. Sev tiptoed towards the kitchen to make coffee, not wanting to disturb Dooku, but he already knew Sev was up.

"I took the liberty of packing our things," Dooku said, and then he opened his eyes and gestured to the bins by the door.

Sev gave a sleepy grin. "Does that include our toys?"

"...Yes, though we could easily replace them on Serenno."

"They have sentimental value."

Once coffee was made, Sev brought a cup over to Dooku and sat with him, and they cuddled, drinking coffee together. The morning had an air of finality to it above and beyond knowing the New Force Order Temple was going to be officially closed and they were leaving for Serenno that night. Sev had a feeling of anxiety in his gut he couldn't shake, and he hoped it was just nerves.

_

Dennis spent into Ben with a shuddery sigh, and they kissed, reaching out to hold each other. The ecstasy of their release and the feeling of love and togetherness was that much more beautiful in the rose-gold light of dawn, and it brought tears to their eyes.

"I love you so much." Ben rained kisses over Dennis's face.

Dennis used the Force to bring out the silver play collar he'd put on Ben the night before last, at The Black Lotus, and he put the collar on Ben's neck. Then Dennis used the Force to retrieve a knife, and he cut his own finger, tracing blood over the O-ring, over the silver metalwork around Ben's neck. "You're mine," Dennis told him, and kissed the O-ring on the collar. "Now, until my last day."

Ben felt the change in the Force energy in the collar, heating his neck, rolling in gentle waves through his body. He felt his Force bond with Dennis twining and tightening, intensifying.

"We'll do a more formal ceremony when we've been on Serenno for a week or two and things have calmed down," Dennis said.

"Do you want to do the ceremony separate from the wedding, then?"

Dennis nodded. "The collaring ceremony is more intimate and I'd prefer we have fewer people in attendance. I'm less picky about who goes to the wedding."

"OK." Ben smiled. "You want to fuck me after you formally collar me, don't you."

Dennis grinned. "How did you know?"

Ben kissed Dennis. "Something tells me... maybe your cock and your cum inside me?"

Dennis laughed, and Ben did too, and then Ben laughed harder. "Speaking of, oh Force, it's leaking again."

When Dennis and Ben finally got up, they stripped the bed, and started one last load of laundry. They'd spent most of last night packing, in anticipation of the flight to Serenno. As Ben made breakfast, his holophone rang, and Ben used the Force to take it out and turn it on to answer it. It was Han.

"Hey," Han said. "We still on for today?"

Even though the New Force Order Temple mandatory meeting was that morning, and Dooku wanted everyone to depart that evening, that left some hours free, and Dooku's instructions to the group had been to "act normal" as to not raise suspicions of their imminent departure to Serenno. So Ben nodded.

He could use the distraction - a lot had been weighing on his mind after discovering that his entire life had been spent in the Sith alchemy equivalent of a holosimulator, set up with the sole purpose of abusing and torturing him and making puppets for the First Order to pad its ranks. Ben had read a story once, about people who had been abducted and put on a remote island, and began eating lotuses on the island, and forgot about the place they came from and that they had been abducted, and seemed to calmly accept their life on the island. Ben felt like he was living in that story.[1]

"I hope you have the good shit," Ben told him.

"I do. Why?"

"I'll tell you later." Ben didn't want to explain over a channel that wasn't secure.

A short while later, Ben and Dennis walked the kids out to the New Force Order Temple. Dennis was in his First Order uniform, in what he hoped would be the last time he ever had to wear it. Ben, Dennis, Sev, Dooku, Malak, and Reine all walked in the Temple together. Kylo and Valyeris were already sitting in the filling auditorium, and the six made it a point of not sitting with them, going to the opposite side of the seats.

When everyone had assembled, Sifo-Dyas took the podium. There was a tall, dark-skinned, muscular man with him, in a dark blue uniform that was not First Order.

"I'm standing here with the chief of police," Sifo said. "As I make this speech, the Restorers - who resurrected almost all the staff here - are being arrested."

A collective gasp; Malak stole a glance in Kylo's direction and noticed he and Valyeris were composed... almost like they knew this was going to happen. And that, for some reason, set off a panic reaction. Reine felt Malak's fear and grasped his hand. There is no fear, there is power, she told him in the Force.

"To make a very long and complex story short," Sifo went on, "the Bando Gora cult - who committed the recent terrorist attack on Arcana City - have been funding the Restorers. The New Force Order has been the Restorers' pet project. We are still unsure of why, since the Bando Gora is a Dark Side specific cult and the New Force Order has both Jedi and Sith, and favors neither the Light nor the Dark, but a philosophy of both co-existing. What we do know is this - the Bando Gora's money going to the Restorers means that the New Force Order is implied as being connected to the Bando Gora. Quite obviously, that comes as a shock to most of you."

Dooku smirked at the deliberate choice of "most of you", also noting Kylo's lack of reaction.

"Because very few of us here would willingly cooperate with a terrorist group that wrongly believes it can bring about an awakening in the Force by mass killings and chaos, causing people to have a 'dark night of the soul' that opens them to the Force - because we all know, or should know, that the Force doesn't work like that - the authorities are going to refrain from arresting and sentencing all of us as collaborators, but this decision has strings attached. The first string is this - as of today, the New Force Order Temple is going to be closed. We are being given three days to vacate the campus."

Qui-Gon raised his hand, and Sifo called on him. "Yes, Master Jinn."

Qui-Gon cleared his throat. "What about the Temple Gardens? A tremendous amount of love and care went into planting and maintaining this space over the last four years, and I would hate to see it wither and die."

Sifo turned to the chief of police, and the police chief answered, "This building is going to be turned into an expansion for the orphanage - though the Sith portion is being demolished - and the children and their caretakers will be assisting maintenance staff with taking care of the grounds."

Qui-Gon nodded. "Fair enough."

Sifo went on. "Now then, as far as when we vacate... each group, Jedi and Sith, is being given two sets of options. For the Jedi, to demonstrate good faith that you are not connected to the Bando Gora terrorists, you can either join the Arcana City emergency services as first responders... or you can leave for Coruscant. There is a ship that will be departing for Coruscant tomorrow, guaranteed to give safe escort, which will give enough time to pack and prepare for departure. Once you are on Coruscant, the New Republic will want to touch base with you about restarting Luke Skywalker's New Jedi Order."

The Knights of Ren all looked in Kylo's direction now, and noticed him shift in his seat, but that was the only reaction he gave.

"With regards to the Sith, again, to demonstrate good faith that you are not connected to the Bando Gora terrorists, you can either join the Arcana City police... or you can leave for Korriban."

"Isn't Korriban a dead planet?" one of the newly minted Sith Lords in the audience asked.

Some of the established Sith Lords, including Dooku, laughed at this. "That's what the Republic wants you to believe," Dooku said.

At the sound of Dooku's basso, Kylo Ren finally turned and looked at Dooku. Their eyes met. Dooku blinked, slowly, and then he narrowed his eyes... and then he turned his face away, lifting his chin in a subtle show of defiance.

"Again, a ship will be escorting those who want to go to Korriban, tomorrow." Sifo took a deep breath. "I hate to cut this short, but I have very few words for all of this. Suffice it to say if I knew about any of this, I would not have become Grandmaster of the New Force Order. I had my misgivings about the organization from the time I was resurrected, but I never thought my bad feeling would prove to be accurate in such a deep, ominous way. I am truly sorry for those of you who gave the last four years of your lives and believed you were making a difference, for it to come to this. To Darth Tyranus, who invested a large sum of money in the Temple, what remaining funds you'd contributed that have been unused, are being returned to your account as we speak. The chief of police will have some questions for you about your history with the New Force Order as a financial donor, but understand this is merely a formality, you are not under arrest."

Dooku nodded. He'd anticipated this, and in fact he was looking forward to talking to the police, because he would bring up the First Order connection now that there was solid proof of a link between the Hanso Foundation and the scientific research and technological development of the First Order, thanks to documentation Dennis had produced. He didn't know how the police would handle the First Order presence on Arcturus, but if at least some of them could be arrested, that was less First Order he had to fight.

When the assembly was closed, Dooku and Sev exchanged a quick hug and kiss.

"Good luck with the police," Sev whispered.

Dooku nodded. "I'll see you in a couple of hours." Then he walked away, towards Sifo-Dyas and the police chief.

Sev, Dennis, Ben, Malak, and Reine stood up, and when Kylo Ren and Valyeris got up from their seats across the auditorium, there was a moment when they looked at each other, and Sev thought something was going to happen, and then Kylo ushered Valyeris off, without a word.

Dennis raised an eyebrow. He spoke more softly than usual, and he was soft-spoken to begin with. "So did y'all notice the way Kylo and Valyeris reacted to the announcement? Which is to say, they didn't? Like they knew this was going to happen."

"Yeah, that trips my wires in a really bad way," Malak said. He and Reine looked at each other. "We're gonna go get brunch, in the interest of 'keep calm and carry on'. Do any of the rest of you want to come with?"

"I have a meeting with my old man," Ben said. Malak's face immediately turned red, and Sev could tell that something sexual had happened with Malak and Han Solo - Malak's eyes met his, and then Malak looked away.

Oooooooooooh, I want to hear ALL ABOUT IT later.

Shut it. Malak's blush deepened and spread to the points of his ears.

"We already had breakfast not that long ago," Dennis said, "so I'm gonna take the kids to the playground for a bit. It'll help me clear my head and calm the fuck down."

Malak and Reine nodded. Then they turned to Sev. "I'm game," Sev said, "but I don't want to be gone too long in crowds when I'm feeling like this."

"OK. We'll make sure we're not out too long, then."

_

On their way out of the Temple, Kylo and Valyeris walked past Mace Windu. They normally wouldn't think much of it, but Kylo could feel the death glare Mace was giving him even with his back turned, a few meters away, and at last Kylo stopped, and turned around. His eyes locked with Mace's.

"Can I help you with something, Master Windu?" Kylo asked, a touch of derision in the word "Master".

"Yeah, you can, actually."

Kylo walked back towards Mace, and the two men stared at each other for a minute.

Mace knew Dooku's direct orders had been no confrontations, and to "act normal", but Mace's conscience was going to bother him if he at least didn't say something, and he'd noticed Kylo's lack of reaction during the assembly. He knew Kylo knew he knew.

"I'm going to ask you a question," Mace told him, his voice almost a growl.

Kylo waited.

"Does Mace Windu look like a bitch to you?"

"...What?"

"Answer. The. Question. Does Mace Windu look like a bitch to you."

"Er, no."

"Then why do you want to fuck me like a bitch?"

Kylo's jaw dropped. He was not expecting this.

"Let me tell you something, Commander Ren," Mace rasped. "I know. I know all about what your First Order did to my family. That includes my granddaughter and my grandson, and don't you tell me you didn't know, because you do, and I know you do." Mace sneered with contempt. "You messed with the wrong grandpa."

Kylo regained his composure, and there was a pause, and then Kylo said, "Is that all?"

Mace braced himself for a fight - hoping there would be a fight, and that the Jedi would all descend upon Kylo and finish him off. "Yeah, that's all," Mace said, one hand on the lightsaber hilt in his belt.

"All right." Kylo turned on his heel, and walked away.

"Hey! We're not finished!" Mace yelled after him.

Kylo kept walking.

_

Dennis felt a strange sense of sadness as he watched his kids feed the ducks - who would be flying south soon - and then play on the slides and swing sets at the playground. Arcturus hadn't particularly felt like home to him - truly, no place ever did - but it was the place he found Ben and Leia, and found his children, and the chances were good he would never come back here, not even to visit.

Despite the fact that it was fall now and chilly enough to require long-sleeved shirts when out and about, there was still an ice cream speeder truck that flew into the playground, playing a music box song so loud it could be heard well before it was seen. Owen and Lysa got excited enough that Dennis couldn't resist spoiling them, even though he was concerned about overindulging them in sweets - some of that concern just because Uncle Sev was a doctor, and Sev would get up his ass about the kids having too much sugar. Dennis walked them to the ice cream truck and Owen and Lysa gave their orders. Dennis paid, and they walked to a bench so the kids could sit down and eat their ice cream cones - Dennis got one too.

When Lysa finished hers, while Owen still worked on his, Lysa hopped off the bench and wrapped her arms around Dennis's knee. "You're the best daddy," she said.

Dennis tousled Lysa's hair. "I don't know if I'm the best, pookie."

Owen leaned on Dennis and said, "You're the okayest daddy."

Dennis laughed, and conceded, "I can live with that title."

After Owen was finished, Dennis walked them to the swing set, and gave them each a few pushes, smiling as they went higher and higher, laughing with delight. He loved to watch his kids play, untroubled by the cares of the world - almost like the first two years of their life with their crazy mother was far away.

Dennis took a few steps back, and then he felt something hard press against the small of his back.

"Colonel Dennis Tayne Yusanis," came a deep female voice with a Coruscanti accent. Dennis looked and saw a group of Stormtroopers on either side of him - they seemed to materialize out of literally nowhere. The blaster remained at the small of his back, and the owner of the female voice came forward, belonging to a helmeted, armored woman wearing a cape over one shoulder, carrying a heavy blaster, that Dennis recognized as Captain Phasma of the First Order, because her attire was very distinctive. "You're under arrest for treason."

Dennis reached for his lightsaber and waved his free hand, about to Force choke her and Force throw what he could of the Stormtroopers, and before he could, a Force suppression dart went into the back of his neck, and a petite female First Order Force user who Dennis didn't recognize stepped forward to Force throw Dennis to his knees and use the Force to bind his wrists and ankles at the same time. Dennis felt himself being dragged off, as his kids continued to swing on the swing set like nothing had happened. He wanted to call out to them, and Force-suppressed or not, he got the distinct intuitive feeling that if he acknowledged them, they would be shot, so he kept silent.

Dennis tried to call out to Ben in the Force, but the dart acted quickly, blocking him, like a thick plate glass wall was between his mind and Ben's. The effects would only last an hour, but a lot could happen in that time... and Dennis had a feeling he was going to be dead before then.

_

After Sev's brunch with Reine and Malak - where Malak still wasn't ready to talk about what happened with Han - he went to the Temple Gardens one last time.

He'd been looking forward to going back to Serenno and building a life with Dooku, but this wasn't how he expected or wanted this to transpire. It felt like everything was falling apart in a big, ugly, dramatic way. His love with his bondmate was one of the few things he could trust in this uncertain time - but love hadn't saved Alyssa from Snoke, in the end.

Sev's sense of anxiety was growing. He tried to meditate, but his mind wouldn't cooperate. It was like an alarm was going off in the back of his head.

And then... Kylo Ren was standing there, in the Temple Gardens.

"What do you want?" Sev was past the point of playing nice with him and pretending like things were all right.

"Colonel," Kylo said, cordially. "In light of the New Force Order Temple closing, the Supreme Leader has an assignment for you."

"Oh, does he."

"Yes. A bit of a promotion, if you will."

Sev reached for the lightsaber in his belt clip, and then he felt a pinch in the back of his neck... a dart. "Oh shit."

Two Stormtroopers brought Sev to his feet.

"Come with me," Kylo said, gesturing forward. He used the Force to confiscate Sev's lightsaber, and the Stormtroopers marched Sev along, at blaster point. "Pretend you have a choice."

Chapter Text

Colonel Severin Yusanis watched, in cuffs, as the Upsilon-class command shuttle that had taken him off Arcturus intercepted with the Finalizer.

What he didn't know was that twenty minutes prior, another Upsilon-class command shuttle had escorted his brother Dennis there, as well.

Once they boarded the Finalizer, Sev was marched at blasterpoint, with Kylo and Valyeris leading the way, through a series of halls and up a turbolift, and at last they came to the promenade, a few levels below the bridge, where officers serving aboard the Finalizer could visit several locations for recreational purposes, and there was a walkway decorated with some shrubbery and fountains, to keep the atmosphere pleasant for the crew.

On the promenade, Dennis was on his knees, wrists and ankles bound, guarded by Captain Phasma, several other First Order officers, and a series of Stormtroopers... and Anakin Skywalker.

"I see you've recovered from your illness," Sev snarled at him.

Anakin just smiled with feigned politeness. "The only illness I had was having to put up with all of your bullshit for as long as I did."

"Grandfather," Kylo said mildly, "let's be professional, shall we?"

Kylo and Anakin stood on the left side of Dennis, a meter away, and Valyeris on the right side, near Phasma and General Hux. Kylo cleared his throat and said, "Colonel Dennis Tayne Yusanis, you are hereby charged with treason, and have been sentenced to execution."

"What specifically am I being accused of?" Dennis asked.

"Fraternizing and conspiring with the enemy," Kylo told him. And then Kylo gave Dennis a death glare. "It was bad enough that you've been intimate with a leading member of the Resistance, but I must say... I feel betrayed on a personal level that it was my own mother, when you know how I feel about her... and that things between me and her have been so... difficult. Even if she were not my political enemy, she is still a personal enemy."

Dennis snorted. "That's rich, bro."

Anakin slapped Dennis and said, "Nobody told you that you could speak."

Sev's first instinct was to fight, but he was not only outnumbered, he had been given a Force suppression dart - albeit one that was starting to wear off, since it had been just over an hour - and Kylo Ren had his lightsaber. Sev glared in Anakin's direction instead.

"Oh no," Kylo said. "I want to hear what this traitor has to say."

Dennis gave Kylo a look of seething contempt. "So when, exactly, were you going to tell me that your wife was getting it on with my ex-girlfriend, Joxa Shihai?"

The look on Kylo's face, as much as he tried to keep his expression guarded, told Sev and Dennis both that while Kylo knew something was going to go down with the New Force Order Temple, he didn't know their research had uncovered that particular piece of the puzzle.

"And from what I could tell," Dennis went on, "that relationship was going on for longer than I've been with General Organa-Solo. So if we're going to talk about personal betrayal and blah blah blah... you knew about my history with Joxa from my dossier, and I can't help but think you were setting us up all along. Your very own Knights of Ren. If anyone's a traitor here, it's you. Not to mention a hypocrite and a liar."

Kylo's look was pure rage now. "I would execute you myself, Rebel scum," Kylo told him, "but."

Sev's own wrist restraints were freed, and Kylo handed Severin back his lightsaber.

"That job is yours," Kylo told Sev.

Sev's jaw dropped open. This was just like when Snoke told Ben to execute Alyssa, or Snoke would kill both of them. Ben couldn't battle Snoke right then and there - Snoke was the most powerful Sith of all time - so Ben killed Alyssa, and then later, when he had less supervision, he fled, vowing to fight the First Order or be killed trying.

In this particular case, Snoke wasn't here, but Sev and Dennis were outnumbered.

"This is my brother," Sev told Kylo.

"All of your comrades in the First Order are your brothers and sisters," Kylo said. "We are your family now."

Sev wanted to say something scathing or snarky in response, like not enough incest for that and not if you paid me, but he restrained himself.

"If you refuse," Kylo said, "you know what will happen."

Valyeris drew her lightsaber for emphasis.

Sev's eyes met Kylo's, and Sev saw the strategy:

-If Sev killed Dennis, and elected to remain in the First Order rather than going back - there could be no going back for him that would end well, especially not where Malak and Ben were concerned - the First Order won, in not losing a doctor who was also Force sensitive, and said doctor could be employed for medical "research".

-If Sev killed Dennis, and fled later on, he would be going back a broken man, and his brokenness would unhinge and probably destroy Dooku as well, but Dooku would not go out quietly - he'd want a bloodbath on his way out, starting with the New Republic that allowed the First Order to get this far - and the First Order would win that scenario.

-If Sev did not kill Dennis, both he and Dennis would be killed, and the First Order would still win, having two less enemy agents to worry about.

Sev didn't like any of those three options. There has to be a fourth option. Something Kylo and the others aren't expecting.

Severin took a deep breath. He remembered Ben's words in the ritual they did at The Black Lotus:

Design, who was called Destruction when the Force was made to war with itself, was given the epithet of the Prophet of Fire, for he was a trickster. ...He taught the Je'daii to fight with wits and cunning rather than just brute strength, that warfare was just as much a state of mind as it was a clash of swords.

Sev closed his eyes for a minute. OK, Higher Self. If this is for real and this isn't some hokey religious bullshit, I need you to come through for me.

Valyeris cleared her throat. "We're waiting."

Sev's eyes snapped open, and if looks could kill, Valyeris Ren would have been vaporized on the spot. But Sev had a plan. An absolutely crazy plan, but a plan, nonetheless.

Sev pulled apart his lightsaber staff into two curved-hilt lightsabers - nobody questioned this, as a staff would be too unwieldy for an execution - and he put the second lightsaber in his belt. Then he ignited the lightsaber he was still holding, with its familiar hiss and red glow.

Phasma forced down Dennis's head onto a duracrete block.

"Do you have any last words?" Kylo asked Dennis.

Dennis smiled. "I did your mom," Dennis said.

Sev took a few steps forward, and then he swung.

Sev's Makashi training by Count Dooku meant he had learned two very important things - how to feint, making his opponent think he was making one kind of attack when in fact he was going to make another... and how to precision strike.

Sev cut off a lock of Dennis's hair, and then he did two things at once:

-He drew and ignited the second lightsaber and stabbed Phasma through the heart.
-He used the Force to set the piece of Dennis's hair on fire, threw the flaming lock of hair at the Stormtroopers to the left of him, and used the Force to stoke the flames. Their plastine uniforms immediately caught fire in a very big, explosive way.

As the Stormtroopers caught fire, and set fire to the plants in their immediate vicinity of the promenade, Sev shot fireballs at the other soldiers and Kylo and Anakin, his feet quickly maneuvering away from them. We can either duel them, or we can escape, but we can't do both, Sev told Dennis in the Force.

Dennis used the Force to break out of his restraints, took Phasma's blaster and then he grabbed Valyeris as Sev used the Force to take her lightsaber away and use Force Stun. Dennis held the blaster to Valyeris's head. "Don't anybody FUCKING move or I will blow her fucking head off, I WILL FUCKING KILL HER, DON'T YOU FUCKING MOVE."

"Go, go, go," Sev yelled, running ahead.

Dennis continued to keep the blaster against Valyeris's head as he ran, dragging Valyeris with him. Sev used the Force to conjure a fireball, and sent it rolling behind them, blazing the deck.

Sev hacked down a First Order soldier and took his blaster, and now Sev had a blaster pointed on Valyeris as well. To every soldier they passed, Sev yelled, "DROP YOUR FUCKING WEAPONS RIGHT NOW, DROP THEM, GET ON YOUR FUCKING KNEES, OR THE COMMANDER'S WIFE DIES." But Sev showed no mercy - once they had dropped their weapons and got on their knees, Sev killed them with his blaster or the Force, because he saw it as kill or be killed, he didn't want sparing someone's life to be the mistake that trapped them. By the time they got to the emergency exit, Sev felt like he was going to throw up from the body count, but they had to keep going.

They found their way to the hangar, where the TIE fighters were kept. The vessels that had brought them onto the Finalizer had been parked in a lower level of the ship, so for now it seemed like they were clear apart from the Finalizer itself.

The TIE space superiority fighters kept by the First Order were the best of their kind - they were outfitted with enhanced weapons and sensor systems as well as hyperdrives and deflector shields.

They were also small on the inside, with only two seats, which meant room for exactly two people, not three.

Dennis shoved Valyeris onto her knees, standing behind her. Sev pointed the blaster at Valyeris's head, between her eyes, and Dennis now ignited his own lightsaber and pointed it at Valyeris's back.

"Last words?" Sev raised his eyebrows.

Valyeris took a deep breath. "I'm pregnant."

Sev and Dennis looked at each other. Sev reached out in the Force - Valyeris wasn't lying, and it was a girl.

Sev drew the line at killing pregnant women. "Fuck." He lowered his blaster, and Dennis turned off his lightsaber, but not without Force throwing Valyeris first.

Dennis used the Force to securely tie Valyeris's wrists and ankles, and then he shoved her into a part of the hangar where she wouldn't be killed by the bay opening... and then he knocked her out, just to make absolutely sure she wouldn't interfere.

"Son of a BITCH," Dennis growled.

"Yeah." Sev gestured. "Let's get the fuck out of here while we still can."

They hopped in one of the TIE superiority fighters. "OK," Dennis said. "One of us pilots, the other is the gunman."

"I'll shoot, you drive," Sev said.

"You even know how to use the weapons array over there?"

"I'm Destruction. I'll figure it out."

As soon as they started moving, and flew out of the hangar bay, Sev started to panic. He made a high-pitched noise that sounded like "meep".

"Sev, baby, don't choke. Don't choke. Stay with me."

"Fuck. Fuck. Ffffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuckkkkkkkkkkkk this shiiiiit."

"We're about to jump to hyperspace," Dennis said, "and I'm setting a course for the Arca system."

"Fuck. Fuck." The only thing Sev hated worse than flying was flying at hyperspace. They were in such a small cockpit that there was no way Sev was going to be able to hide when the stars went all crazy. He could feel the nausea building.

The Finalizer started firing on them, and Sev immediately had to respond, while Dennis maneuvered out of the line of fire. Sev shot missiles at the ship, which didn't do much but drain their shields, but it was something.

"When I tell you fire," Dennis said, "fire on these coordinates." Sev watched as they came up on screen. "We're firing directly on their shield generator."

"And then?"

"And then we can hit them hard... and then we really need to get the fuck out of here before they can hit us back, but at least hitting them will buy us some time to get our asses over to Arcturus before they do."

Sev braced himself. He was still terrified, but at least now his concentration was being shifted elsewhere. Dennis moved the ship upward, and Sev felt the g's climbing - when he and Dennis were in a laying position, Sev fought the urge to scream - and then Dennis told him, "Fire."

Missiles went out and blasted the Finalizer's shield generator, taking out their shields entirely. Dennis continued to maneuver the ship, the fast arcs making Sev's head spin. "We're firing on the bridge. Fire."

Another round of missiles. The Finalizer wasn't destroyed, but it took some damage... Sev smiled a little as he watched the fiery blast, getting smaller as Dennis flew the little fighter forward.

"OK... we're gonna jump real soon now."

"Fuck. Fuck. Fuck."

"Sev, we have to do this if we're getting back to Arcturus." Dennis reached out to touch Sev's hand for a minute. "Take a deep breath, and say it with me..."

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no fear, there is power.
I am the heart of the Force.
I am the revealing fire of light.
I am the mystery of darkness.
In balance with chaos and harmony,
Immortal in the Force.

The ship jumped to hyperspace, the stars became long rays of light, and Sev felt like his knees were going into his stomach and his stomach was going into the back of his skull. But he did not scream.

_

Malak's holophone rang. It was Ben. "Hey," Malak said.

"Malak. Have you seen Dennis? He's not back yet."

"He's not with Leia?"

"No. If he's not with you, maybe he's with Sev?"

"I called Sev's holophone a few minutes ago and there was no answer." Malak frowned. "And you know, if he and Dennis were, ahem, 'occupied', there's a finite number of places where they could do that comfortably at this time of year, and clearly they're not in any of them."

"This is not good. This is not good at all. Combine this with the bad feeling Dad has..."

Dooku arrived then - he had just finished his meeting with the police. "Where's Severin?" Dooku asked Malak.

"We were just asking that question," Malak said. "OK, Ben, go take Han to the park and see if Dennis and Sev are there. If they're not... get the speeder truck."

"The one we were taking tonight?"

"Yeah. Just... yeah." Malak's Lord of Time abilities were starting to flicker on and he didn't know how to explain what he was seeing or doing, but the confused look on his face told Ben all he needed to know and Ben nodded agreement.

When Malak cut the transmission, Dooku gave him a murderous glare. "You mean to tell me my bondmate is missing?"

"Your bondmate, and his other brother." Malak took a deep breath.

Dooku's eyes flashed gold. He took the lightsaber out of his belt. Then he turned to Reine, and said, "Milady, if you would come with me..."

"Where are we going?" Reine asked.

"To pay Commander Ren a social call."

Reine jumped to her feet. "Oh yeah. It's on."

Malak picked up Drogo and put him in one of the cat carriers. "Come on, kitties," Malak said, "we're going to Serenno."

Dooku and Reine walked down the sidewalk from the staff side of the New Force Order campus to the student side, with their lightsabers drawn, furious looks on their faces. When they got to the apartment the Knights of Ren had been sharing, over the last few days just Kylo and Valyeris, Dooku kicked the door down, and charged in with his lightsaber thrust forward. Reine kept close behind him, turning to one side then the other, in anticipation of Kylo or Valyeris hiding and making a surprise attack.

But the apartment was completely empty.

After a thorough search of every room, every closet, under every bed, in any space big enough for a body to hide, Dooku and Reine came out of the apartment, looking even angrier.

Dooku and Reine went back down to the staff side of the Temple campus, and to Qui and Obi's apartment. Dooku quickly and politely explained to them what was going on, and Obi-Wan accompanied them without hesitation.

Dooku, Obi-Wan, and Reine stormed into the New Force Order Temple. They made their way directly to the Sith side, and as soon as they approached Maul's security office, Reine Force threw Maul and began Force choking him, and Dooku held his lightsaber to Maul's heart.

"Auto-regen has been turned off," Dooku informed him, "so if I kill you, you're not coming back. Give me the access codes to the security videos for the Temple and for Arcana City, and we will free you."

Maul groaned. He was outnumbered by the three Sith, and he reluctantly gave the access codes. Dooku sat in Maul's chair and began to review the holovideo feed at double speed, starting from just after the assembly was adjourned. Obi-Wan and Reine continued to keep Maul at lightsaber point.

At last Dooku found what he was looking for - a feed from the park near the Solos', where Dennis Yusanis was dragged away by the First Order at blasterpoint, and a feed from the Temple Gardens, where Kylo had Severin dragged off. Two Upsilon-class command vessels taken from the New Force Order's military base - the military base itself under control of the Arcturian police since this morning, and had then been replaced by First Order control - and Dennis and Severin were put on those vessels.

Dooku could hear his own breathing. His hands were shaking. He got up. "We can go," Dooku said.

Maul said nothing.

Obi-Wan took a swing with his lightsaber, and Maul's head rolled onto the floor.

Reine's eyebrows raised. "I thought we were going to set him free," Reine said.

"I freed his wretched head from his shoulders," Obi-Wan snarked. He put his lightsaber back in his belt, and spat. "For Qui-Gon."

Dooku kicked Maul's head rolling on the floor. "For Qui-Gon."

On their way out, Dooku said, "Besides... he was Valyeris's Sith Master, and in light of that information, I suspect he may have been involved with our friend Joxa's escape."

"Oh, I wasn't complaining," Reine said. "Just next time if you're gonna stab someone, let me know so I can stab them too."

Dooku smiled. Then he went back to glaring. "They took Severin and Dennis."

"So what do we do now?" Reine asked.

"Leave Arcturus and go after them." Dooku led them to Sifo-Dyas's office. Sifo was just about to leave. "It's time," Dooku told him.

_

After the TIE/sf fighter had been at hyperspace for all of five minutes, the vessel began to sound an alarm.

Dennis checked his station, and then he said, "Oh shit."

"What? What?" Sev started to panic again.

"Interdiction field."

"Which means what exactly?"

Sev was about to find out without Dennis explaining to him. There was a flash of blue light, and the ship got thrown out of hyperspace... which was much more of a sickening transition than if they had deliberately dropped out. All the blood rushed to Sev's head, and the ship careened through a blue wall that made Sev feel like he was being put in a bacta tank.

When the blue flash stopped, they saw a large Star Destroyer vessel, which locked onto them with a tractor beam.

"It's an Interdictor cruiser," Dennis said. "Fuck." He frowned. Interdictor cruisers had the technology to generate a gravity well - known in physics as an interdiction field - which had the capability to pull vessels out of hyperspace as well as preventing them from entering it. They were also rare in any military.

"It also doesn't look like any First Order vessel I've ever seen," Sev said. "Wrong color - and it's not Resistance or New Republic colors, either." The ship was a dark metallic blue. "And all First Order vessels are clearly marked."

"Maybe this is a new model?"

"I don't know," Sev said, taking a deep breath, "and I don't want to stick around to find out."

He fired on the Interdictor cruiser. The Interdictor still continued to drag their ship with the tractor beam. There was going to be no escape.

Chapter Text

The TIE fighter was dragged into the hangar of the Interdictor cruiser. Sev and Dennis saw a group of Stormtroopers coming towards them - in non-plastine armor, Sev noted.

Sev and Dennis looked at each other. "Let's get dangerous," Sev said.

They shot their way out of the TIE fighter, and then they were both Force thrown several meters back, and their blasters immediately confiscated with the Force. Sev looked up and saw a man holding their blasters - pointed up, not at them - and approaching them, in a simple, elegant black uniform both like and unlike their own, with sleeve stripes and multiple small decorative badges on the breast suggesting he was very high-ranked...

...a man who was a dead ringer for Dennis.

When the man opened his mouth to speak, Sev and Dennis noticed that unlike Dennis's voice, this man had a crisp Coruscanti accent, suggesting upper class. "Gentlemen," the Dennis-alike said. "I am General Douglas Skywalker, and you are currently guests of the Imperial Galactic Republic. Welcome to Airwolf."

It took a minute, and then Dennis started laughing hysterically. "Your... name... is... Douglas."

General Douglas Skywalker raised an eyebrow, and so did Sev. Dennis shook his head. "I'll tell you later," he said to Sev, not wanting to get into the story of how both Leia and Ben had accidentally cried out "Douglas" during their respective first times with him.

The Stormtroopers dragged Sev and Dennis to their feet, and the General handed them back their blaster rifles. "I would rather dispense with hostilities," the General told them. "I am a friend, not a foe."

"You're an Imp," Sev said.

Douglas took a deep breath, with a look of mild exasperation on his face.

"So what the hell is going on here, exactly?" Sev asked. "Who do you work for? Palpatine? Vader?"

The look of exasperation became one of amusement. "Sir," the General replied, "Palpatine has been dead for years. Darth Yoda killed him and ended the Clone Wars."[1] Then he folded his arms. "As far as Vader, he's been retired for a long time as well, to focus on his family."

"So who's the Emperor?"

"Despite the name of the Imperial Galactic Republic, we have no Emperor," the General said. "If you are referring to our head of state, that would be Chancellor Dooku."

Sev's jaw dropped. So did Dennis's.

"Come," the General said. "I imagine you've been through a bit of a scare the last few hours, so you should have tea." The General turned his back and then he said, "If you try anything I shall have to get rough, so please don't."

Dennis mouthed What the fuck to Sev, as they followed.

The General sat them down to tea and scones with jam in his ready room. Sev looked at the food dubiously, and when Douglas understood why he was hesitating, he took a sip of Sev's tea and stole a bite of his scone. "It's not poisoned," he assured them.

Dennis took a sip of his tea. "So... what's going on here? Obviously, you're an alternate universe version of me."

"Quite."

After a couple of minutes, the General said, "To make a very long and complicated story short, I was given a set of orders, which you can thank your other brother for at a later date. My orders are very specific - I am escorting you to Arcturus, and then I am escorting you and your family to Serenno, and I have a short window of time to do this in before my 'ride home' at a set of coordinates with the next quantum rift that will take me back to my universe of origin, otherwise I will be rather stuck here for awhile and I have small children to look after when I get home so let's not."

"How did Malak...?"

"He is the Lord of Time, is he not?" Douglas folded his hands. "I am not just from an alternate universe, but I was given this assignment in what would be your near future, and this particular quantum rift sent me back in time by several weeks - time travel doesn't always happen when crossing universes but in this one case it does. I return to my regular timeline once I go back. If I tell you more than that, it may potentially create a temporal paradox, so consider further details classified."

Sev sat back in his chair and folded his arms. "We should head back to the Finalizer and attack them."

"My orders were very specific for a reason - all alternatives were analyzed. The Finalizer already called for reinforcements. I can either go on a suicide mission trying to take on several First Order ships, or I can follow orders and go home when this assignment is done."

"Fuck."

"Fuck, indeed." Douglas frowned. "I would like nothing better than to assist in your war if I could, but I cannot at this stage of the game."

Sev noticed that was worded deliberately, suggesting he might be able to help later.

"Drink your tea before it gets cold."

They did. There was a beeping sound, and another Coruscanti-accented voice came over a comm. "General, you have a transmission from the Commander."

"Yes, of course I do." The General smiled a little. He explained, "We're not alone out here - another ship is nearby, shadowing us in case a reinforcement was needed." Then he said to his officer, "Send the transmission to my ready room."

On the holoscreen, there was a 3D image of a man who looked just like Severin, but with longer, straight hair, and no beard. "Doogie!" the Commander said.

Dennis almost choked on his tea, and Sev laughed so hard he started snorting.

Douglas gestured to Sev and Dennis. "As you can see here, I have successfully completed this portion of my assignment."

The Commander smiled. "Splendid."

Dennis steadied Sev so he didn't fall out of his chair with silent belly laughter.

So this is what happened when Dooku won the Clone Wars. Force help us all. Sev continued laughing, but he felt an ache, missing his snooty Count.

"I'll tell Idis," the Commander went on.

"Yes, and tell our brother to have 'the good shit' ready when I return home. Crossing quantum rifts is... quite an experience."

"I will do that." The Commander saluted, and the General saluted back. "Thanks, Doogie." Then the transmission cut out.

Sev continued cackling at the name "Doogie", mouthing the words General Doogie at Dennis, making Dennis laugh too, but then Sev sobered a little. "So that was..."

"Commander-General Sevastis Yusanis-Savros. My boss. My brother. Also, another you."

Sev noted that Sevastis used both the Echani and Alameenian surnames, and had kept his surname, while Douglas had taken Skywalker, which he found interesting. "And Idis I assume is Chancellor Dooku?"

"The very same. He happens to be my brother-in-law." The General sipped his tea. "Sevastis is very driven - he feels he has to work twice as hard to avoid accusations of nepotism, considering he's our Commander-in-chief and he's married to the Chancellor. It's also why he continues to use our family name instead of the Dooku surname."

"So, which Skywalker are you married to?" Dennis asked.

Douglas laughed. "I'm married to two of them. Leia and her son Ben."

"...Well then."

Sev looked at Dennis and smirked. "The more things change, the more they stay the same?"

"You know," Dennis said, "we got your name but you didn't get ours."

"I already know your names. Severin and... Dennis." Douglas rolled his eyes and sipped his tea, looking a little annoyed.

Dennis raised an eyebrow. "What's wrong with my name?"

"Leia has accidentally called me by that name during... intimate moments."

Dennis looked at Sev. "That's why I was laughing at the name Douglas."

"Doogie." Sev grinned. "General Doogie."

"I see you're a brat in every universe," Douglas sighed.

_

The speeder truck left the New Force Order Temple, and Dooku watched out the window of the back cab until it disappeared from sight. Despite his salty feelings about it all, there was a pang of sadness as well.

But he was nowhere near as sad as Dennis's children, who were sobbing hysterically on a very, very angry Ben Skywalker-Solo. The children had been left at the playground, and when they realized Dennis was missing, it terrified them. Ben was going to have to have a talk with the kids about emergency protocol at some date in the near future. Right now, he just held them, as his mind played various war scenarios against the First Order.

Sev and Dooku's cats Drogo, Pookie, and Pumpkin, and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's cat Midnight, meowed like a choir to accompany the children's crying. The cats didn't like being confined to carriers, and they knew something was going on. Dooku reached out to soothe the cats, letting them smell his hand, his scent, but they were still upset.

"I can't believe the First Order didn't come for me," Finn said from the passenger's seat up front.

"Yeah, they didn't come for me either," Han said, driving.

"Well, Han... one member did," Leia quipped.

Malak and Han simultaneously made Wookiee noises, while Leia grinned an evil grin.

The current plan was to get in the solar sailer, leave Arcturus, and rendezvous with the Resistance, who would intercept the Finalizer before it could leave the sector. Dooku was seething with rage at his bondmate being taken... and feeling a tremendous pang of guilt that he hadn't been there to stop Kylo Ren from hauling him away. I said I would protect him.

Sifo-Dyas could feel the weight of sadness on his best friend's shoulders. "Don't blame yourself for this, Idis," Sifo said. And then he took a deep breath. "I get the feeling Sev is going to be OK."

"I have the same feeling," Han said. "He's like me... and we know how to get our way out of shit."

"I hope you're right." Dooku frowned.

They arrived at the spaceport, and made their way to the section where Dooku's solar sailer was kept. But soon they saw they weren't alone.

The First Order was there to greet them. With blasters. And three times their number.

The group took cover - Ben shielded the children with his body - and then Malak and Reine charged forward, throwing a Force shield around themselves. Malak Force choked soldiers and Stormtroopers, and Reine froze them to death. Finn, Mace, Leia and Obi-Wan advanced behind, deflecting blaster bolts with their lightsabers, aiming them back at the ones who shot them. Sifo-Dyas and Dooku began confiscating blaster guns with the Force and using the Force to shoot them off. Qui-Gon, Ben, Jocasta and Han used the Force to throw, choke, Force drain, or direct blaster bolts to hit the First Order team, as they could. Occasionally a soldier or Stormtrooper would rush them - Jocasta took out three soldiers with her lightsaber, and Han took out two.

When the First Order group was all laying dead on the ground, the group continued to make their way to the solar sailer. And then another group came out, even greater in number than before.

"Fuck, seriously?" Malak's eyes went gold - he was in no mood for this. He Force threw soldiers and Force choked as hard as he could, before taking a blaster hit just above his left hip, knocking him down.

_

Airwolf made its descent into the Arcturian atmosphere. The Imperial Galactic Republic was prosperous enough that they had funding for advanced technology such as cloaking devices on their ships, and Airwolf remained cloaked to avoid detection by the military presence, but as the General told them, "The cloaking doesn't work once we're in the sky."

When they were out of the atmosphere, Sev and Dennis watched from the bridge as the ship made its way to the spaceport in Arcana City. Douglas began readying himself, putting on armor. A group of Shocktroopers was going with them. "This shall get unpleasant," the General warned.

_

A shadow loomed over the spaceport. Finn looked up and saw the Star Destroyer. "Oh, shit."

"Yeah, this is just what we fucking need," Reine said, in between freezing soldiers... which she felt she couldn't do fast enough. There were so many of them.

The second wave of First Order soldiers and Stormtroopers continued firing and advancing, and then suddenly, they began to quite literally explode. A team of Shocktroopers in plate armor were carrying what looked like handheld cannons... shooting at the First Order.

A man in a helmet with pieces of armor over a black military uniform was with the troops, and he began using the Force to attack the First Order Stormtroopers and soldiers, throwing, choking, ripping them apart. His strength in the Force was terrifying. Some of the First Order team shot at him and his men, but the armor deflected the blaster bolts.

And then Sev and Dennis came out from behind them, and Dooku had to hold back from running to his bondmate; Dooku was in the middle of Force choking a soldier to death. Sev and Dennis drew their lightsabers, and so did the man in the armor and military uniform, and they advanced on the remaining First Order officers, swinging and hacking.

When the second wave was down and there was carnage on the ground, the man in the armored uniform took off his helmet, and Leia gasped when she saw a second Dennis.

"Hello," he told the group. "I'm General Douglas Skywalker. I'm here to get you safely home." Then he turned to Leia and said, "General, I need you to contact the Resistance as soon as possible and tell them to not engage the Finalizer - they have already sent for several reinforcements and you will sustain mass casualties."

"How do you know this?" Leia asked him.

"Do what he says," Malak told her.

Leia took out her holophone.

_

The solar sailer was loaded onto Airwolf, and the group watched from the bridge as Airwolf made its ascent, Arcana City getting smaller and smaller, and then they were in the atmosphere, and then in space. Dooku hid Sev's eyes as the ship made its jump to hyperspace.

"We'll be home soon," Dooku said, rocking him.

Malak's blaster wound was treated by Airwolf's medics - Sev wanted to handle it himself, but the General insisted he'd be in good hands, and Dooku didn't want to let go of Sev anytime soon.

As the ship flew through the hyperlane, the group was directed to a rec room where they could spend the next few hours. The cats were let out of their carriers, and the kids got to play with a mechanical village that included a train set.

Douglas gestured to the toys available. "I have children of my own and they sometimes like to come with me on less dangerous trips."

"How many kids do you have?" Ben asked him.

"Seven." Douglas grinned.

Dennis made a Wookiee noise.

Douglas had a small device that stored holophotos, to show off at moments just like this. Four of Douglas's children were Togruta, which surprised Dennis. "Adopted?" he asked.

"No, my Ben and I are married to a Togruta."

Dooku had been in touch with the Serennian government to let them know to allow the Interdictor cruiser through the Serenno system, unharmed. As the ship dropped out of hyperspace and crossed into the Serenno system, Dooku found tears coming to his eyes. I'm finally home.

Douglas escorted them personally to the spaceport in Carannia, and the solar sailer was unloaded. Valets employed by Dooku's sister were waiting to collect everyone and their belongings and bring them to Dooku's estate. Dooku had a few villas deep in the orchards, on a lake, where everyone could get settled in and decompress for a week before meeting at Dooku's palace to plan the next course of action.

"Have a safe trip back," Sev told the General, "and thank you so much for helping us out."

Douglas made a polite bow. "Till we meet again."

And then Leia stepped forward. "Thank you." She looked over in Dennis's direction. "I..." She frowned. "I can't lose him." I've already lost too much.

"I know." Douglas kissed Leia's hand and winked, and Leia blushed. As she watched Douglas's ass on his way back to his ship, she wondered what it would be like to have a threesome with Douglas and Dennis.

As he carried Owen piggyback, Ben was thinking the same thing. That sexy accent of his. The General can order me around anytime.

Sev was about to step onto the speeder limousine that would be taking them to the estate, and Dooku picked him up and carried him in. "Let's go home," he said, and leaned to give his bondmate a kiss.