The medical team moved Bodhi into the room opposite Galen two days later. Still groggy from painkillers, Bodhi sprawled naked across the weirdly wide bed. Officer's quarters. Much bigger beds that the barracks. Made Bodhi wonder if they were lonelier, too.
Strange things like that occurred to him at strange times; probably something to do with the drugs. At least his back didn't hurt so much any more. And he only needed the oxy if he moved around too much. But he was here, so near to Galen. And Galen would come see him soon enough. In the meantime, maybe some more sleep was a good idea.
When Bodhi woke up again, Galen was already there, book in hand, cup of tea at the ready, looking at Bodhi. "Hey, you!"
"Stars, Galen!" He reached out a shaking hand, needing to touch, needing to feel. Needing to be sure. "I nearly lost you."
Galen shuffled his chair closer, close enough to lean an elbow on the side of Bodhi's bed, and took the hand, stroking it with his thumb. "And you ended up with your whole back seared for me," he said, voice slow and dark with emotion. "As the medical lady aptly put it, they would have been sweeping up my ashes otherwise. And now we get to be together for a whole month, with a very good reason. I do feel bad that it cost you all that pain, as well as life or limb for several others.
"What do scars matter?" Bodhi shook his head. "If I'd lost you, nothing would have mattered." He pulled Galen close, ignoring the pain just to have him closer. Galen leaned in and kissed him lovingly. "Bodhi."
Bodhi shifted closer, ignoring his nakedness, ignoring the pain in his arms and hips as he pulled Galen into his arms. Ignoring the way his breath quickened, got shorter.
Actually, no. That might be a bad thing to ignore. Galen offered him the respirator without even asking. They could still kiss despite it, could they? After a few quick inhales of oxy, they certainly could. And Bodhi did, kissing Galen passionately.
"We are both still here," Galen whispered into the kisses. Bodhi nodded, slowing down to catch his breath and look into Galen's eyes. "I know. I almost wish I had faith so I have someone to be grateful to." He gently carded back Galen's hair, noticing for the first time the tender patch where his head had hit the duracrete. "I'm so sorry."
"For what?" Galen said. "You came and saved me. We are both still here because of you, you amazing, wonderful and brave man!" He gave a little laugh and kissed Bodhi again.
"I'm not." Bodhi shook his head between kisses. "I'm not brave. I was afraid. I was terrified. When I smelled the fuel---" He cut himself off, reaching for the respirator again. Galen stroked his cheek, giving him time until the next words.
Bodhi took several deep breaths, getting the oxy all the way into his lungs the way the doc had showed him. The result was a brief moment of euphoria and light-headedness, but that passed quickly enough. "I wasn't brave, Galen. When I smelled the fuel I did the only thing I knew how to do. I panicked but my training kicked in. All I could think was that I couldn't live without you."
"So we dropped the big orange guy we were trying to save," Galen said. "I'm sorry we couldn't get him away with us, but actually, I'm glad you did what you did. If you hadn't, we'd be dead alongside him."
He looked at Bodhi, and shook his head.
"You were immensely brave to run towards the accident, not away from it. You fell out of the darkness, suddenly, and minutes later, shielded me from the fireball."
"Teric." Bodhi pulled back a little, his eyes darkening. "His name was Teric. I asked the doctor to find out for me."
"I'm sorry," Galen said. "Did you know him?"
He shook his head. "He was new to the crew. I knew the captain. Shivara. She was in the year ahead of me at the academy. She was brilliant. A natural. The only reasons she didn't make fleet was because---" He cut himself off, actively closing down where that thought was going before he finished it. "Because of something that happen before graduation." He swallowed, reaching for the oxy. "If she was flying and managed to land like that, it could have been a hundred times worse."
"We will honour her memory," Galen promised. "It must be obvious that her actions prevented worse. I'm sure we will soon get a complete explanation of what precisely happened there. And we can find out if any of her crew survived." Something for Bodhi to take care of while he was getting better.
"I saw Tails and Ari in the infirmary. They got hit bad but they'll live. I didn't know the rest of her crew. I didn't know the other crew at all. They were new to the sector. Their first long haul run." Bodhi mused, his eyes distant. "Has anyone brought my ship in?"
"Not yet," Galen said. "Not before the landing pad gets cleared and repaired. The tower is damaged."
"I should organise a crew to go up there and retrieve the cargo. I wasn't carrying medical supplies, mostly parts and equipment but there may something useful in there for the salvage effort. The ship is going to need work too. I snapped a few struts on the landing." Bodhi admitted with chagrin.
"You have a month," Galen said. "For both you and your ship to get into working order again. And all the while, you will be coming home to me." Said with a great depth of both love and amazement.
Bodhi pulled him into a slow, deep kiss, equally amazed. "Does that mean... we can... you could stay the night. If you wanted to? Not---" he gestures helplessly, "I'm not sure I can yet but... just, you know, be together?"
"Every night," Galen said. "And towards the end of that month, we can see..." His voice thickened a little -- sex was not important, not compared to what they already had, but it would be lovely when it happened.
"Will you... come lay down with me?” Bodhi asked shyly. “I know I'm kind of awkward at the moment but... I want to hold you."
"Of course," Galen said. "You're not awkward, you're hurt, and I am tasked by the chief medic to give you any comfort you need. Can I help you to move a little to the other side?" So there would be room for Galen's broad shoulders on one side of the bed or the other, to lie down beside Bodhi
Bodhi nodded and stifled a soft grunt as he shimmied over to make room, trying hard to ignore the worst of all the burns on his right hip. The effort cost him, and he reached for the oxy again, needing it for longer this time. Galen lay beside him and stroked his cheek while his pilot was just busy breathing.
The touch helped, and Bodhi steadied out his breathing, smiling softly as he set the mask down. "I like this," he commented softly, draping one arm around Galen's waist. "I like that we can have this."
"So do I," Galen said, moving closer into the touch.
Bodhi tried to find the most comfortable spot where he was putting the least possible pressure on the burns, content just to hold Galen close, fingers moving softly over the nape of Galen's neck. "How bad are things out there?" He knew how badly a crash like this could shake everyone involved.
"We are making do until the pad is repaired and we can get ships back in," Galen said. "And one of the crashed ships was carrying medical supplies, which is why there still isn't enough bacta even for the badly wounded. Even if you were cleared to fly, there would be no way to actually get your ship off the ground just yet."
"It's going to need to be lifted. I'll need a T8 grapple hauler at least. I broke a wing too." Even in pain and heavily injured, Bodhi was still an imperial pilot, and nothing if not practical. "We should be able to float shift the cargo down grav-lifters." Even if he was still gently carding Galen's hair.
"What is your cargo this time around?" Galen asked, as if suddenly imaging sensitive equipment sitting out on a rock. He was still the chief scientist of this place, even gently stroking Bodhi's cheek.
"The manifest was in the datapad in my gloves. I don't even know if they survived the blast." Bodhi blinked, trying to draw on memories. "Parts, machinery. I can't remember anything particularly outstanding." He sighed, nuzzling Galen's cheek. "Worst bit is I feel guilty for lying here while I should be doing my job."
"You should be lying here so you can get well enough to do your job again," Galen said, a bit sternly. "Until then, you will have to make do with helping us recover from this. The medic said something about your hands escaping worse damage because you were gripping me, so I guess the gloves were already gone by then, or it wouldn't have been an issue."
"Anything I can do." Bodhi managed a small smile. "I still have to earn my keep somehow." He frowned, thinking back. "The palms were torn. On the rocks, coming down. I landed up in the hills, had to scramble down." He turned up his hand, looking at the faint scars of healed cuts. They would have gelled his hands, too. "That's why my suit was compromised." He huffed a sour laugh. "Eadu seems to have two states - sharp and wet."
"Or sharp and wet," Galen agreed, leaning over to kiss Bodhi's cheek. "They sometimes happen both at once."
"Outdoors, anyway." Bodhi sighed, "Indoors we have this - warm and soft." He pulled Galen closer, wanting to wrap himself in Galen's warmth, but the motion pulled one of his burns as he buried his face in the pillows, stifling a cry of pain.
"Tell me what to do," Galen suggested, lifting his head to look at Bodhi's back to see whether anything was bleeding or seeping again. Bodhi's back is bare, but at the moment, there was no thought of touching it. The deep burn on his hip was weeping again, the skin red and angry where a cluster of blisters had burst. "Injector. Gel-pad." Bodhi nodded to the table where a box held some basic medical supplies. He reached for the oxy, trying to breathe through the pain.
Galen sat up, got the box, seated himself beside Bodhi's hip and started applying the gel. He didn’t ask whether it hurt, knowing full well that it did. "I'll be quick about it."
Bodhi nodded and took the injector, stabbing it into the meat of his own thigh without hesitation. The drugs were quick and the injector slipped from his hand, suddenly loose and weak. He hated this, hated how helpless he was. And how more helpless still the painkillers made him. A pilot had to be sharp, tight. Not this groggy mess. He hid his face in the pillows in shame.
Galen leaned over him to kiss his cheek.
"Galen." Bodhi slurred his name a little, his eyes hazy.
"Bodhi," Galen said. "We are safe, and together, and have a month." He followed this declaration with another gentle kiss.
Bodhi didn't want to sleep, didn’t want to waste even a single moment of this but he couldn’t keep his eyes from sagging closed. "Don't leave me." It came out as a plea, soft and brittle.
"I will be right here," Galen promised. For now. One day, they might manage for always.
Bodhi let his head loll, letting the drugs take him. "I love you." The words were little more than a breath.
He slept for some hours, the drugs keeping him still so the bacta gel could do its work. When he came to, it was slowly, fleetingly. Reaching out for Galen, who was right there beside him, asleep with his nose squashed against his reading. Bodhi couldn’t help but smile, reaching out with care to brush a strand of hair back from Galen's sleeping face. Squashed nose and all, it's the most beautiful sight Bodhi's ever woken up to.
Galen made a little snuffling noise, and opened one eye. "Oh. Bodhi. Was I asleep?"
Bodhi continued to play with Galen's hair, that softly bemused smile still on his lips. "Sleep. You probably need it."
"Sometimes, I do," Galen admitted, with a little sleepy smile. He moved his neck to touch Bodhi's nose with his own.
Bodhi's smile deepened, touching his nose to Galen's before leaning in to kiss him slowly. Stars, this couldn't be real. The pain in his back notwithstanding, he had never been this happy.
Galen kept his eyes open throughout the kiss, looking into Bodhi's. "Stars, how can this be real? How can someone like you be here with me?" He was half unaware he's said it aloud.
Galen gave a little hum, then kissed him again. "What did I do to deserve you?" he said. "You are wonderful, and I fully support that you deserve me, especially as I seem to be what you want." He chuckled. "And you have me now."
"Yes, I do have you." But can I keep you? Bodhi kept that doubt to himself. He shifted again, glad to feel the gel had dulled the pain in his hip. "Now, the medic said I could and should shower whenever I wanted to. To bring down the chance of infection. And it's not like this place lacks for water." He managed a hopeful little smile. "Would you... shower with me?"
Galen seemed taken aback. "Yes!" he said. "But..."
"But?" Bodhi bit his lip. "Galen, if it's too soon, I understand. I just... I can hold you that way. As long as I don't lean my weight on the burns. I can at least hug you properly." Naked, but properly.
"I want you," Galen said. "I love you so much, I really want you. But with your burns and all the medicines, you might not yet -- be up to it?"
Bodhi flushed warmly, the want and promise in Galen's words going straight to his heart as well as his loins. "I can't promise anything. I don't know how my body might react but... at the very least we can touch. Even if I can't... take it to the next step, there's still a lot we can do."
"I can feel your skin where it's not burned," Galen said, softly. "Touch your entire front side..." And then he blushed hotly under his beard.
The thought seemed to occur to Bodhi rather suddenly. "Galen, have you ever... been with a man?"
"No," Galen said. "Only ever with Lyra. Why? Are men that different? I am one."
"I... I honestly don't know." Bodhi admitted, caught out by the question. "I've only ever been with other men. I've never really felt... desire for women."
"I haven't felt desire for men, or for women," Galen admitted. "Only specific people. It was only every Lyra, and now it's only you." He bent his head to kiss Bodhi again.
"I'm honoured." Bodhi answered, returning the kiss. "I just hope I can live up to that." He wanted to ask about Lyra, to know about their life, the hear about Galen's love. But now wasn't the time. Later. They had all month. "Help me up?"
Galen stood and extended his hands to Bodhi who got up slowly, taking his time to find his feet. The drugs still had him a little shaky but standing and from the front, he looked almost as if nothing had happened.
It was also Galen's first view of Bodhi in full. Lean as his spare frame implied, there was barely an ounce of fat on him. Narrow hips and a flat stomach draw the eyes down, a line of dark hair leading to darker curls and a cock circumcised in the Jedhean tradition. Aware he was on display, Bodhi made no move to cover himself, but his ears flushed pink under the scrutiny. And Galen did look, extensively and slowly, as he realised he was welcome to. He reached out and touched Bodhi's chest in the middle, over his sternum, with just two careful fingers.
Bodhi sucked in a breath that became a soft pant, leaning a little into the touch. He might have more experience with men, but not with gentleness, not with intimacy.
Galen looked at Bodhi's face with wonder. Those big lovely eyes and sweet lips were incredibly beautiful to him. He lifted his hand to touch the hollow between Bodhi's collarbones.
Bodhi's heart raced, trying to process just how good it felt to be touched like this. But more importantly, to be looked at like this. "May I... undress you?"
"Yes!" Galen said. "I went through the fresher this morning, so the scent of overheated comm boards should be gone from my skin."
Bodhi shook his head and smiled shyly, tracing the line of Galen's tunic to the clips under the shoulder seam, folding it open slowly. "You're doing better than me. I still smell like undercooked meat." He opened the tunic slowly, sliding his hands up Galen's chest to push it off his shoulders.
"This feels so very good!" Galen gasped, astonished at the intensity of the pleasure. He felt admired, desired, cherished by that simple gesture -- and, for once, for his body and soul, not just the useful content of his brain.
"You're so beautiful." Bodhi breathed, letting the tunic drop as he stepped closer, pulling Galen into a kiss. He stepped back again to look his lover over. Lover. They were. They were going to be. They were lovers. It was nearly enough to push Bodhi into needing the oxy again.
"I am?" Galen said, sounding puzzled. But then, what did he know? Bodhi was beautiful, so he might be as well. "We should take the oxy with us to the fresher."
Bodhi shook his head. "You say that as if to comes as a surprise?" He pressed a kiss to the hollow of Galen's throat, the curve of his neck. And then more pressing matters took over and he nodded, padding over the fetch the small tank, taking a couple of deep breaths to deal with the winded hollow forming in his chest. Stars, he hated feeling like this.
"Better?" Galen said, looking worried. Bodhi's health would take absolute precedence. Everything else could wait, if necessary.
"I hate feeling like this," Bodhi admitted, taking another deep hit. "The burns I can deal with but feeling breathless like this." He shook his head. "I'll be okay."
"I am glad you're alive," Galen said, softly. "It will get better, but we have to be patient." He reached out to Bodhi for another long, gentle kiss.
"I'm not always a patient man. Especially with myself." But he leaned into the kiss gladly, threading his arms around Galen's waist. "I'd very much like to see you naked now. Please?"
"Do go ahead," Galen said, smiling. He could provide the patience for them both. Hopefully.
Bodhi ran his hands slowly down Galen's sides, lingering on his waistband a moment before gently pushing them down. He wanted to kneel, to slide Galen's pants all the way off but the burns of the backs of his legs wouldn't let him.
Galen wiggled his knees and shins, and then stepped out of his trousers. He looked down at himself, wide, hard planes peppered with pale hair here and there, wondering what Bodhi could see in him.
Galen's more athletic, harder than Bodhi expected. Not that he expected softness but... He looked Galen over, heat in his eyes and love in his smile. He reached out to touch, to run his hands through the pale hair that downed Galen's chest. Stars, he wanted to be on his knees right now, on instinct of his history of back room fumbles and anonymous trysts. But more than that, he wanted to worship Galen, to hear him moan, to find the things that brought him the most pleasure.
Bodhi obviously liking what he saw, there was no point in asking. Instead, Galen dipped his head and kissed Bodhi's shoulder, warm and lean and velvety.
"Galen." Bodhi sighed, wrapping his arms around to cup the back of Galen's head. He shuddered softly, letting the pleasure of the simple touch soak into him. A loving touch.
Galen pressed close and tilted his chin for another kiss, and Bodhi kissed him deeply, trying to keep his breathing even. He stroked down Galen's sides, cupping his hips. He was starting to grow hard, aware of his cock pressing against Galen's thigh. His breathing was more ragged than it should have been, but he was fighting it. He didn't want to stop, didn't want to let go. But it was getting hard and he broke off, starting to cough.
Galen still held him. "Slowly," he said. "We can touch and kiss while you are on the oxy. Your nose isn't that essential for it. Bodhi nodded and pressed the respirator to his face, half turning away. His head was spinning,and he wanted to sit down but knew that wouldn't end well. Instead, he braced one hand on the wall, head low as he tried to get his lungs to work again.
Galen kept a hand on his shoulder, steadying and calm. It took Bodhi longer to recover this time, each time getting harder to catch his breath.
"I'm sorry, Galen. We might need to..." He started to waver, his knees weakening.
"Sit down, breathe, and wait?" Galen said. "Then we'll do that. No reason to be sorry. I'm glad we're both alive and kicking. Also, you're doing this with a bare minimum of bacta. On a core world, you'd still be in a tank."
Bodhi nodded and knelt on the bed, unable to sit. He took a few more deep breaths, shifting to lie down as the oxy makes his vision swim. "I'm just... I need to rest... just a minute."
"I will be here," Galen said, getting a blanket to wrap around himself. Then, he lay down beside Bodhi again. Bodhi's eyes slipped closed, the respirator tight to his face as he gave over to exhaustion and regret.
More than once, he woke up coughing, the mask having slipped, and in the morning, he woke badly, his breathing rough and his throat raw.
Galen, who had helped him when he coughs at night, gentle but with few words, was still there in the morning, beside Bodhi on the bed, reading. "Hey, you!"
"Hey," Bodhi croaked, his voice scratching. "I think I need to see the medic. Something isn't right."
"I'll call her and get dressed," Galen said, hurrying over to the comm unit butt-naked.
Bodhi nodded and croaked a thank you, sucking on a nearly empty oxy canister. Galen told the comm that his pilot was worse. The droid who answered the comm indicated the medic will be with them shortly, so Galen stuffed himself back into his uniform in great hurry.
She knocked on the door ten minutes later, looking slightly wired. Too much caf and not enough sleep. "What's happened?"
"His throat is rougher, his breathing worse, and he said something is wrong." If a pilot said so, tough as those are, chances were there was something seriously out of kilter.
"Let's take a look at him." She sat on the edge of the bed, examining the mostly out of it pilot. "He's gone through a lot more oxy than I expected. Was he breathless last night? Dizzy or slurring at all?" She opened Bodhi's mouth, shining a light down his throat. "Well, that's not good." She picked up her comm, "K8T, I need a transport. We need the pilot moved back to the bay. And prep that positive pressure chamber."
"He was breathless," Galen said, "and he coughed a few times during the night." Fear gripped him, cold and painful. What if he had failed Bodhi? Made it worse by believing it would be okay to touch intimately?
"The lining of his throat is inflamed, probably infected. It was always a risk, given how compromised his system is." She gave the stricken Galen a sympathetic look. "You did the right thing. You called it in when things worsened. There's an experimental treatment a college on Mustafar has been having some success with. I want to try it out with your pilot. It won't be pleasant for him but if it works, a couple of days treatment would repair a lot of the respiratory damage."
"Is there a way to wake him and explain things to him?" Galen asked, as Bodhi looked well out of it. "What are the known risks?" There were always unknown risks with anything in its experimental stage, but that went without saying, for a scientist.
She gave him a withering look. "Of course I'll be talking him through it and getting his consent. I won't start till he's fully aware of all the possible outcomes. I'd never experiment on people without their consent." She cocked her head in a particularly nasty smile. "I'm not that kind of Imperial scientist. The positive pressure chamber will just get the oxy into him a little cleaner. It should revive him enough to talk it through." She nodded towards the door as the medic droid brought in an anti-grav gurney. "If you're worried, come down to the med-bay with us and we can talk it through."
"Yes, I will," Galen said, placatingly. "I simply meant the eventuality that you can't wake him enough to talk the treatment through. But if you can, thanks to the pressure chamber, it's much better, of course."
"Let's get him into the chamber first." She and the droid lifted Bodhi onto the gurney, draping his back with a silver cloth to protect his burns during transport.
They moved him carefully towards the Medbay, the gurney floating along smoothly. "The treatment involves using ultrasonics to release bacta into his lungs, kick-starting the healing process. The critical issue is managing the size of the aerosol droplets. Too large and they won't be absorbed into his lung tissue. If that happens, your pilot ends up with pneumonia. Which can be treated but will be painful. And it will set his recovery back by weeks."
Galen nodded, hurrying along with the gurney. "It would send him stir-crazy, especially if he can't see any improvement," he nodded. "And he'll try too much, too soon." As he had now. Even if the memory of those few moments of closeness and touch made Galen's cheeks and ears warm up at the very thought, fortifying him against any cold dread that might follow.
"But if it works, he's out of the tank and breathing normally day after tomorrow."
The jury-rigged positive pressure chamber was not exactly the most elegant thing in the world, being more or less a plexiglass coffin half full of water with some hoses attached. But as Bodhi's breathing was getting worse, there was no time to waste on pretty. "Let's get him in and get the chamber gassed up," the medic called to her team. "The sooner he's in, the sooner he's stable."
They manhandled Bodhi into the tank, floating him on the water which seemed to hold him up just enough to protect his back. "Seal it up and lock it down. Get that O2 pumping." She turned to Galen. "Went he wakes up, he may panic and I'd rather not sedate him again. I need you where he can see you. You need to keep him calm."
Galen nodded. And nodded, and nodded again. He liked her attitude, and was certain Bodhi would want the treatment.
"I will be here," he said, standing where Bodhi would immediately see him when he opened his eyes.
"There's a pick up in the chamber, he'll be able to hear you,” she assured Galen.
It didn't take more than a couple of minutes before Bodhi's eyes were fluttering open again. He gulped air in a rush of panic, bracing his hands on the lid of the tank. The motion pushed him down, his back touching the plexiglas and causing him to cry out in pain.
"Bodhi," Galen said, gently. "Bodhi. I am here, and you are safe. Look at me."
"Galen?" Bodhi turned to look at him, eyes wide and panicked. "What happened? Why am I in here?"
The medic nodded to Galen, encouraging him to keep Bodhi talking as she adjusted the O2 levels, monitoring Bodhi's CO2 output.
"You got worse over night, and when you were really poorly this morning, I called the medics," Galen explained. "How do you feel now?"
"Like an attraction in a travelling menagerie." Bodhi reached up to push his wet hair back from his face. "But otherwise I'm okay."
"Pilot Rook," the medic greeted him, not unkindly. "You've got an infection in the lining of your throat. The infection has been interfering with the way your body has been taking in oxy. The chamber will help with that but it's not a long term solution. I want to talk to you about some treatment options." She pulled up a chair next to the chamber, explaining the treatment she had explained to Galen. As she talked, Bodhi kept one hand pressed to the plexi nearest Galen, as if steadying himself.
At the quip, Galen had barked a laugh, relief making him more amused than the actual words deserved. Casually, he put his hand on the plexi, listening to what Bodhi and the medic had to say.
Bodhi listened seriously, taking in everything she said and weighing up his options. He glanced to Galen, biting his lip. He wanted to do this for the right reasons, not just to be back in Galen's arms sooner. He cleared his throat, wincing a little. "I'd like to try the treatment, ma'am. I understand the risks and I trust your professional judgement."
"Alright then," she nodded, clearly pleased. "It'll take us a couple of hours to get everything set up. I think it's best to just rest and let the chamber do its thing." She smiled. "I'll put a curtain up so you don't feel so much like a squid bowl. We can pipe you in some music or set you up a holoplayer if you like."
"Thank you, ma'am. But it's alright, I'd like to sleep some more." That way Galen might get some work done without worrying about him.
"I would like to come back when you start the treatment," Galen said. "Could you just call me on the comm when you are ready to go?" Bodhi gave him a deeply grateful look.
"Alright." The medic nods. "Rook, I'm going to pump a sedative in with you. It'll give you a few clean hours of sleep. Just give me a minute to get set up." Incidentally giving them a minute to talk privately.
"Galen." Bodhi whispered. "You should get back to work. I'm sure there's a lot to do. I don't... I don't want you to be missed."
"We are still running in emergency mode, and all resource intensive experiments are halted," Galen said. "That said, I will go see to things and get all the admin out of the way and listen to people who need to whinge at me. I'll come back when you are done sleeping." They were unobserved, so he dared smile into Bodhi's eyes, assuring him of love and loyalty.
"Thank you. I don't know I could do this on my own." Bodhi pressed his hand to the plexi again. His lips formed the words he dare not say aloud. I love you.
Galen echoed the words, just as silently. "I am here for you," he said. "You heard the lady. You're my pilot now."
Bodhi smiled that sad, sweet smile. "Your pilot."
The medic made a point of walking heavily so they heard her coming. "Alright, Rook. Time to sleep. When you wake up, we'll start the procedure." She added the gas to his mix. "Count backwards from ten."
Bodhi was out before he reaches six. The medic watched him drift off, monitoring his bios. "Chief Erso, I'd like a word with you in my office before you go."
Galen nodded silently, and followed her to her office. She leaned against her desk, arms crossed. "How long have you and that young man been in a relationship?" she asked without preamble.
"Since his last visit here," Galen said, deciding to trust her. "Why?"
She nodded. "Good. I'm glad you didn't try to lie to me about this. You know I could make your lives a living hell? I'm not going to. I just need to remind you that anyone who knew could."
She tapped her foot. "Rook is technically imperial fleet, which means he's not in your direct chain of command. As such I have no legal requirement to report you." She tilted her. "And I don't believe you're taking advantage of him. But if there’s ever any sign that you are---" The threat lingered in the air between them.
"As I'm not his direct superior, it's not illegal, just rather inadvisable," Galen said. "Because of what you say, yes." He took a deep breath. "Thank you. For everything. And it seems love isn't always advisable. We will keep as quiet as possible about it, as we don't need anybody on our case about it. It would be worse for him than me." Apart from the part where Galen would give the Empire a whole new hostage for his continued cooperation, and that would make things hell for them both.
"Damn straight," she agreed. "You mix with dangerous people, Chief Erso. Don't mix him with them. I'll help you both as best I can. But if I think you're at risk of hurting him, you'll know about it. Believe me when I say, I'm not someone you want as an enemy." She nodded to the door. "Now get back to work. I'll comm you when we're ready to move forward with the treatment."
"Thank you," he simply said. Any argument or attempt at clarification would have be pointless and unnecessary, so he nodded, and leaves. There was enough work waiting for him as it was.
The chief medic commed Galen some hours later, asking him to come down to the med bay as soon as he was free. Bodhi was still in the tank but with the lid off, sitting up and dressed in a small pair of shorts that hid the mechanics of a catheter. He looked a little nervous as the medic fit a fluid line in his arm.
She glanced over as Galen came in, sending the other medics away leaving only herself and a droid. "You can speak freely in front of D05, he understands this is confidential." She stepped back towards the chamber, adjusting something at a bench. "You're going to be in and out over the next couple of days. I'll keep you in twilight sedation, bring you up every few hours to assess your condition. You won't be able to talk with the nebuliser in but there'll be a datapad under your right hand, an emergency call button under your left. DO5 will be monitoring you constantly. Any sign of problems, we'll disconnect the nebuliser and get you out." She turned to Galen. "You've got five minutes."
Bodhi reached out a hand to Galen, pulling him close. "She said she knows. And that she'll help us."
"She read me the riot act," Galen said, pulling him close,"threatening me with living hell not otherwise specified should she get the impression I am taking advantage of you or get you mixed up with dangerous people. Barring that, she is on our side."
"How would you be taking advantage of me?" Bodhi frowned, stroking Galen's cheek, genuinely not understanding. It was strangely thrilling to be able to touch Galen in front of someone, even if the medic made a sterling effort of not watching
"I don't really know," Galen admitted, "but that might be my own inexperience talking. I suppose I could try and ask nasty stuff to which you might not be able to say no, simply because of my rank." It sounded inane to him, but he guessed that with the likes of Orson Krennic, this might be a concern.
Bodhi laughed and kissed Galen softly. "Nasty stuff? I don't think that's an issue." Given how Galen could barely bring himself to say anything nasty.
"I don't want to do anything specific," Galen said softly,"just make love with you because you are so special to me, and I love you.” With the last bit, his voice descended to a whisper against Bodhi's cheek.
Those words made Bodhi's heart clench, clinging tight to Galen. "As I love you. Stars, Galen! So very much." The medic cleared her throat, nodding to Bodhi's bio-monitor that showed his heart rate currently somewhat elevated and his breathing quickening. "Enough of that for now. There's be time enough later when you're recovering. Even if this works, I'm still grounding you for a month."
Bodhi stole another long kiss. "Soon, I promise."
Oddly enough, this felt natural to Galen. There shouldn't be anything furtive about love, and there wouldn't be about this one, either, except for considerations of Orson Krennic using it against them. They’d need a plan to get rid of that encumberment, but that could wait until after Bodhi's treatment. So, a loving kiss back, and then Galen reluctantly let go.
The medic stepped up, fitting Bodhi with a mask that covered most of his face, hooking it up to the sensor band around Bodhi's neck. "Lie back and try to breathe evenly." The liquid in the chamber was deeper this time and tinted blue, covering Bodhi, showing only his face above the liquid. "Okay, counting back from ten." Bodhi offered Galen one last warm look before his eyes close.
The medic leaned back on her heels, checking the read outs. "Looks good. A couple of days of this and his lungs should be good as new."
She offered Galen a small smile and handed him a data pad. "Peace offering. And so you're not underfoot all day." It was a secure video link to a camera over the chamber, a basic bio-read out in the bottom corner.
Galen pocketed it and looked at her with gratitude. "I will be back when it's quiet -- erm, less busy, I mean." He remembered being told that medics are very wary of the Q word. "And when he comes to."
The medic gave him a look like he just passed a test and would be allowed to continue breathing. "I'll chime you when it comes time to bring him back up."
In the chamber, the blue fluid dulling his hearing, Bodhi dreamed. Of Jedha at first. Of all the little hidey holes he and his siblings played in, of the games of childhood - hiding and running and building forts. Of Jedha rains. Those torrential storms that happened maybe once or twice in a lifetime. And this one falling on his name day. Like it was raining just for him. He twitched in his REM sleep, the faithful medic droid watching on.
Galen watched him for a while, then quietly leaves.
The medic chimed him much later that afternoon, letting him know to join them if he can. And if not, to let her know so she can go on without him.
Of course Galen could -- he turned up in the med station as soon as technically feasible.
"Welcome back, chief." She greeted him, moving from one readout to another. "Everything is looking positive so far. We've had zero rejection and his O2/CO2 balances have been good. I'm ready to bring him up. What I need you to do is talk to him. Tell him something new, something he doesn't already know. Your favourite food, your first pet. Tell him a story. The next time we wake him, we'll test how well he's retained that information. The privacy shields will be on and nothing will be recorded but his bios."
Galen nodded and stands eight where Bodhi can see him, a hand on the plexi of the tank. He was ready.
Bodhi came up slowly, thankfully without panic this time. He pressed a hand on the plexi, his eyes hazy but warm over the edge of the mask. He gave Galen a thumbs up sign and glanced over to the medic.
"Everything feeling okay? No pain in your chest?" Bodhi reached for the data pad, the words displayed in the chamber screen as he types.
All good. Feeling groggy but okay.
"Glad to hear it. Everything is looking good here too but this is only the first stretch. Now, Chief Erso is going to talk to you a while then we'll put you back under. I want you to focus in remembering what he tells you." She nodded to Galen to go on.
"You have seen the drawings from my daughter, Jyn, in my room," Galen began. "The oldest one just looks like a brown blob with short legs, remember? That's supposed to be an Ewok. We saw a real live one at a spaceport shipping out to the interim job I got after my first big research project had gone south. She was so excited to see the Ewok, and it was hard for us to keep her from running right up to him. She kept babbling about the encounter, and drew Ewoks for quite a while. They all looked like that, more or less"
Bodhi's eyes smiled over the mask, glad to hear Galen talk of happier times. He gestured for Galen to go on.
"I got her an Ewok doll from the core worlds for her birthday, and she loved it. It was important to her that it was a doll, not a stuffed animal. Dolls are toy people, she said."
Bodhi nodded slightly and reached for the datapad. What's an Ewok?
"A small furry people from a moon named Endor," Galen said. "They live simple lives and hardly ever leave there, so to see one going about their business in a spaceport is rare."
Bodhi nodded. He'd never encountered an Ewok, and and less and less alien races since joining the Empire, as Xenophobia was a somewhat entrenched attitude with them. Galen was right to teach his daughter to think of the Ewoks as them rather than it.
"Couple more minutes and I'm putting you back under," the medic called.
Bodhi tapped the datapad. Thank you for telling me. I want to know all about her. All about you.
"We will have lots of time to talk once you are out of there, and we can share our past," Galen promised, his hand still on the plexi next to Bodhi's.
Bodhi nodded, hand pressed against the same spot. Love you.
"As I love you," Galen whispered into the tank's mic.
The words threatened to bring tears to Bodhi's eyes. Because Galen meant it. Really meant it.
The medic touched Galen's shoulder. "It's time. Go back to sleep now, Rook. I'll make sure he's here when you wake up again." Bodhi nodded and pressed his hand flat on the plexi for a moment longer, his chest moving as he gives in to the sedative being pumped in with him.
"Bodhi", Galen whispered.
"It's working," the medic assured him softly. "Already we're seeing considerable improvement in his breathing."
Galen wanted to say something clever, but only managed a very happy smile.
"Sap," she teased, smacking his shoulder lightly. "But you're helping. A lot. And I'm grateful for that. I wish all the injured had someone looking out for them like that."
"There has been far too little affection and far too much bravado lately," Galen nodded, summing up the Empire.
"No truer word," she nodded, pouring him a mug of caf. "I take it this affection has come as a surprise to both of you?"
Galen took the caf, grateful. "Utter thundering smack-over-the-head type of surprise," he agreed. It changed so much. Everything, really.
She cocked her head. "If you don't mind me saying, neither of you strike me as the sorts who are very good at this sort of thing."
Galen shook his head. "No, not really," he said. "But we're sure of it; there is less awkwardness than I would have suspected. I remembered well enough what love feels like."
"Confirmed sap." She grinned into her drink. "Just keep yourselves on the down-low. I'll do what I can to give you cover. I was the same once. And regulations screwed me over. Don't let it happen to you."
"We will be very, very careful," Galen says. "This is far too important for short-term risks or fast gratification."
She grinned. "You keep saying things like that, Chief Erso, and I find myself less and less inclined to shoot you." Which was a high compliment coming from her.
"Not get out and stop cluttering up my med-bay. I'll have that requisition list to you before I bring Rook up again. Don't expect it to be short."
"Bring it on," Galen said. "I promise to fill in all the forms promptly and correctly.' No small feat in the Empire.
She laughed and gently nudged him towards the door, making herself give up the company to get on with her rounds. It was clear she'd grown rather fond of them.
The chief medic followed up with a very long list of equipment, priorities according to urgency, and also sends a quick message with it. "Leaving him under a little longer. Come by after dinner. Bring me food and I'll give you longer this time."
Galen came by with a covered tray from the mess hall, dutifully having worked his way through the entire list already. The food was good, but bland and inoffensive, making Galen think of Bodhi's cooking by the very contrast.
"And yet again, you give me reasons not to shoot you." The chief medic sighed happily, taking the tray and putting aside to keep warm. It was almost a thank you.
"I want to decant him completely, take the mask out and do some tests before we start the next phase of treatment." She nodded to the waiting bed. "We'll get him out and onto the bed, let him come to naturally after he's out. Think you can help me with that?"
"Of course," Galen said. "Just tell me what to do. I can do heavy lifting, too. I used to be a farmer for a while."
She cocked a surprised eyebrow at him at that. She would never have guessed that. Then she lined up with the droid at Bodhi's shoulders, getting Galen to lift from behind Bodhi's knees. "The fluid has a numbing agent in it so his burns shouldn't trouble him unless he's out for more than an hour. Just be careful of that one on his hip as we lay him down on his side. On three."
She counted them out, lifting the lean pilot with ease and lowering him onto the bed. The blue fluid stained the sheet but that wasn't important at this point. She sat down at the head of the bed, carefully undoing the mask and easing it off Bodhi's face, then ran her tests, quickly and efficiently, checking his throat and lungs. "Looking good. Looking very good. Okay, let’s move him into the recovery room, and you can sit with him for a while. There are juice packs he can sip as long as he takes it slow. Any problems, you call. Yes?"
"Crystal clear," Galen said, reaching out to touch Bodhi's shoulder, in case he opened his eyes while en route to the other room. She nodded and parks the bed in a corner, pulled the curtain closed behind her and leaving them be.
It wasn't long before Bodhi blinked awake, startled to wake up in a bed rather than the chamber. "What happened?" His voice was rough with lack of use but not as bad as it had been. "Did the treatment fail?"
"No, on the contrary," Galen said. "She likes your progress so much, she decided to decant you -- her choice of words, not mine. So we are here, on dry land, you might say."
"It's over already?" Bodhi asked groggily. He reached out for Galen, wanting to hold his hand.
As they were safe and alone, Galen reached out to take Bodhi's hand. "I don't think it's completely over," he said, "but you're a lot better, it seems. She's still grounding you for a month."
Bodhi's hand closed around Galen's. Nothing mattered more than this. Just holding his hand. "So I'm still... damaged?" It was taking him a little longer to get his wits back this time.
"You're not damaged," Galen said. "You're injured. You're a person, not a droid."
He squeezed Bodhi's hand and smiled at him. "But you get to sip on juice packs if you want to, to wet your throat."
"Or a ship. Ships get damaged, why not their pilots?" Bodhi joked, or tries to. "Juice. Juice would be good. Stars, I don't remember when I last ate real food. When I'm allowed out, I'm raiding the base kitchens."
"And I am going to help you," Galen said, handing him a juice pack, open and ready to drink. "Set me chopping; I can do that."
Bodhi sips on the straw, gagging a little at the sudden sweetness of it. "I'm sure I can find ways for you to help. After all, you have your own personal cook for a month."
"That, and so much more " Galen still seemed awed by the very thought.
"Your very own pilot." Bodhi smiled, very much in awe himself. "I'd go a stir-crazy, grounded for a month if I didn't I have you."
"I'll try and keep you as busy as possible," Galen promised; and then he blushed horribly.
Bodhi shifted his weight to touch Galen's cheek. "I love the way you blush. You make me feel special."
"I find myself saying these things all harmlessly, and then I suddenly think about how they can be about me wanting you so much, too," Galen admitted.
Bodhi sighed, stroking Galen's cheek. "It... it means a lot to me. I... it's been a long time since anyone wanted me for more than just... a good time." Anyone actually cared if he enjoyed it too.
"I never did that good time thing," Galen admitted. "They seem to like it, but it's such a waste. Real love is so good, what else do they want? I don't get why anybody cheats in the one they love, either. Some cultures have group marriages, okay. But loving one person and then betray them?" It made no sense to him
Bodhi's expression saddened, and he looked away. "I don't... I've never." He cleared his throat. "I've ever been in love. Not before you."
Galen leaned over to kiss him. "But now you are, and you have me."
Bodhi returned the kiss, a little needy, a little desperately. "Galen." He sounded so young, so tender. Just then, however, the chief medic tapped lightly on the door. "Time to get you back in the chamber, Rook. Sooner it's done, sooner you're out."
Regretfully, Galen stepped aside to let her do her job.