Chapter 1: Awkward Handshakes
Alright, if you are starting here and want to be able to catch the references for the rest of the series, here is a very spoilery summary of the series.
This fic wouldn't exist without Aeshna, who has listened to more whining from me than anyone has any right to.
This fic wouldn't look as good as it does, without MissKatieLeigh, who betad it, talked about it with me, accidentally convinced me to rewrite large swaths of it, then beta'd it again. You went above and beyond with that one, thank you so much.
Additionally, happy birthday AttackedAstoria. The whole reason I pulled this one out of draft limbo was because you wanted more roguejedi content.
Hope you all enjoy the story!
“Captain, there’s a cliff over there.” The Mrlssi agent didn’t quite manage to keep the panic out of his voice, words going shrill.
“I know!” Bodhi, on the other hand, was very much aware that he was not quite keeping the joy out of his voice, as he threw the swoop bike around the corner and gunned the engine.
“You’re heading right at it, Captain.” The agent’s feathered hands tightened around Bodhi’s torso.
“Yep. Don’t worry. We’re going to be fine.” Bodhi eased some more juice out of the engine, tossing a glance over his shoulder. Any moment now the AT-ST would be rounding the corner, from there, maybe fifteen seconds before it started firing on them... “Probably.”
The edge of the cliff raced closer. Bodhi felt his agent shaking, but was proud that the Mrlssi managed to keep his voice calm as he said, “I need you to be aware, sir, that I am a flightless bird. If we go over the edge of the cliff I will plummet like a stone.”
“Acknowledged!” Bodhi said. He glanced again, saw the form of the AT-ST, the faint glow around the cannons as it powered up to shoot at them.
“I’m in position,” K-2SO said in his ear.
Bodhi launched the swoop bike over the edge of the cliff. The green blast as the canon cracked sizzled over their heads as they plummeted toward the valley floor, the ground hundreds of meters below them. The agent’s composure finally cracked and he screamed.
Fortunately, the shuttle was rising up, currently only about ten meters below them, ramp to the cargo bay open. As Bodhi pointed the nose of the swoop bike toward the shuttle K-2SO tracked their trajectory, and the swoop bike flew neatly in through the open cargo bay door.
Bodhi flared the repulsors, hard, and there was only a little bit of a crash as the bike slammed into the far wall, momentum ramming the agent into Bodhi’s back, the impact forcing them both off the bike in a tangle of limbs.
Bodhi made his way to freedom as quickly as he could, shouting to the air, “Nice catch, Kay, now let’s get out of here!”
“Right,” K-2SO’s voice came over the intercoms. “Finally. It took you entirely too long to find the agent. You should have stayed with the shuttle, I should have been the contact.”
“You’re just jealous I got to fly a swoop bike.” Bodhi grinned at the air, then focused back at the agent. “That was fun.”
The agent was still sprawled out on the floor, staring up at Bodhi with a mix of fear and wonder. “That was...incredible. Sir, you saved my life.”
Bodhi felt some of the joy die off in his chest at the stunned awe in the agent’s eyes. He felt his spine straighten, he stood a little stiffer, and the mantle of responsibility for other people’s expectations settled on him again.
“I was hardly going to leave you behind.” Bodhi gentled his voice. “You’re a valued agent. Let’s go up to the cockpit and we can debrief.”
“Yes Sir. Thank you again, Sir.”
“And then with Agent Narrl clear, we retreated to the rendezvous point, ensured we were not being followed, and continued to base.”
“Excellent work, as always,” General Draven said, setting down his pad, “That will be all, you’re dismissed.” Bodhi stood up, gave a sharp nod to the General, and made his way out of the briefing room.
Before he could make it to the door, he heard the nervous sound of a throat clearing and a young man stepped into Bodhi’s peripheral vision. “Um, excuse me, Sir, I was wondering if you had a moment, Sir, I just wanted to, um, discuss my next deployment. I’ve got a plan of attack but I could really use another pair of eyes on it. Sir.”
Bodhi very carefully did not let his exhaustion show in his face. He had been in the field for the last three weeks and had only slept enough for two. All he wanted right now was food and sleep. But training young Intel officers was a part of his job, and this young man with a slightly nervous grin deserved better than bearing the brunt of his poor mood. Bodhi schooled his features into an expression he hoped approximated alert interest.
“Of course,” Bodhi said, gesturing toward the agent’s workstation.
“Oh, thank you Sir!” the agent said, all in a rush. “I’ll feel much better knowing the Survivor of Scarif is looking over my plan.”
Bodhi couldn’t quite suppress his wince. Fortunately, the agent had already turned his back to Bodhi, talking enthusiastically as he walked to the terminal, “So, the goal is…”
Bodhi made it back to his shuttle a few hours later. As he walked up the ramp Kitten greeted him, chirping anxiously and ramming into Bodhi’s feet. Bodhi reached down and patted the hyperactive cleaning droid. “Yeah, buddy, sorry I’m late.”
With the ramp shutting behind him, Bodhi stretched expansively and said aloud, “You know how much I hate the term ‘Survivor of Scarif?’”
“Not nearly as much as I do,” K-2SO answered over the shuttle’s intercoms. “It’s not like you were the only survivor. It’s human-centric.”
“That’s half of it. The other half is how I can’t get through an intelligence briefing without, ‘Oh, Captain Rook, could you look over my plans? Oh, Captain Rook, what do you think about using Fitchett’s blind drops? Oh, Captain Rook, Sir, You are so brave.’”
“This is why I submit my reports electronically. Additionally, you are not brave. They don’t know you at all.”
“Exactly,” Bodhi said with feeling.
“Did any of them try to kiss you this time?”
“Thank the maker, no.” Bodhi pinched the bridge of his nose. “When I find out who put it out there that I was just lonely and in need of a Good Person’s Touch I am going to murder them. A little. At least get some punching in.”
“Well, distract yourself from your troubles by looking at my gyroscopic stabilizer. It feels funny.”
“Got it.” Bodhi grabbed the tool kit on his way out of the shuttle.
Eight minutes later Bodhi realized he needed a Harris wrench. He fumbled through the kit, but the closest he had was a Guass wrench. “Remind me to pick up a Harris wrench. The thruster we picked up on Ord Mantell has those weird left-handed fasteners.”
“I have reminded you three times to get a Harris wrench already.”
“You have not. Liar.”
“I could have. Your inferior memory would never know.”
Bodhi rolled his eyes as he made his way over to the general tool bay. There was a young man hunched over the bay already, and Bodhi did his best to sidle in beside him. Still, Bodhi brushed the kid’s shoulder and he jumped, his shaggy blond hair following a moment behind him. He looked over at Bodhi with a stricken expression on his face.
Bodhi really hated fame.
“Don’t worry kid, not gonna bite,” Bodhi murmured, reaching for the wrench he needed. “Just need a Harris wrench.”
“Oh.” The kid calmed down, blue eyes shifting from Bodhi’s face to the Harris wrench. “Sorry. A little jumpy, I guess. You new around here?”
Bodhi grabbed the wrench and looked over at the kid. He had relaxed almost entirely, now looking at Bodhi with open curiosity. Was it possible Bodhi had met the one person on Hoth who didn’t know who he was?
Bodhi couldn’t quite believe he was that lucky. “New-ish,” Bodhi responded, careful. “I’m in and out a lot. You know, cargo runs.”
It wasn’t entirely a lie. Sometimes Bodhi moved freight along with coordinating intelligence teams and the occasional mission. Just...not often.
Bodhi could have sworn that the young man looked almost calculating for a moment. Bodhi noted that reaction, but held out his hand anyway, “You can call me Dhi.”
The kid’s face tightened as he shook Bodhi’s hand. “Luke.”
Weird reaction. Maybe they didn’t do handshakes where he was from. Nothing to do now but see the awkward introduction through, “Nice to meet you, Luke. I’m going to go...fix my ship.”
After a beat Luke’s face cleared again and some tension drained off of his shoulders. Bodhi found himself baffled, he couldn’t make heads or tails of Luke’s body language.
“Would you like some company? I’m decent with a spanner,” Luke offered.
Bodhi shook his head. “My shuttle’s a mess. Patched-together with parts from fifteen different ships. I love him, but he’s a nightmare, and I don’t really trust anyone else to fix him.”
Luke kept a friendly expression on his face but his shoulders slumped and Bodhi could read disappointment behind his eyes. Bodhi felt a sudden sad ache at that reaction.
“But if you don’t mind staying clear of the engine, I’d enjoy the company. Fair warning, I’m lousy at conversation because I normally talk to a droid. A droid with terrible manners.”
Luke’s demeanor brightened even more, a big smile stretching across his face. “That’s fine.
Bodhi smiled in return. Luke’s cheerfulness was infectious. As they began walking back to the shuttle, Luke admitted, “I feel like I get most of my good conversation from droids too. Though, one of them is a protocol droid, so he’s pretty polite.”
“But Owen wasn’t having any of that. He picked up the rod and walked the three miles back into town!”
Bodhi chuckled as he wiggled his way back out of the engine. “That’s amazing. What did Bart say?”
“He took one look at Owen, covered head to toe in dust and fuming like mad and said, ‘No refunds...but for you I will make an exception.”
Bodhi let out a laugh and Luke chuckled along with him.
Bodhi grabbed a rag from next to Luke and began to wipe the grease off his hands. “I think I’ve finally got the gyros worked out. Thanks for keeping me company. Your stories were great, they made the time go by faster.”
Luke went a little pink at that. Bodhi grinned. Luke was easy company full of laughter and stories about growing up on some backwater desert planet. Bodhi had given up on finding that sort of simplicity with anyone except K-2SO. Even among those he would consider his friends, the ‘hero’ status still colored every conversation. That didn’t seem to be an issue with Luke.
Luke looked up at the bulk of the ship. “I noticed you have an ion cannon strapped to this thing. I know that doesn’t come standard.”
Bodhi shook his head. “Like I said, he’s about fifteen different ships by now. He’s been good to me, though.”
“Most people name their ships ‘she.’” Luke cocked his head to one side.
“Yeah,” Bodhi shrugged, “shuttle’s more of a ‘he.’ Just feels right.”
“Cool,” Luke said. He bit his lip and looked up at Bodhi. “Hey, could I look at the engine? I promise I won’t touch anything. I’m really curious what it looks like, though.”
“I’m fine with that,” K-2SO said through Bodhi’s in-ear comm. As he did so, a maintenance droid nearby gave Bodhi a thumbs-up. Bodhi smothered a smirk. He should have known K-2SO would be listening in.
“Sure thing. Be careful though, I was not exaggerating the mess in there.”
“I have been warned,” Luke said, springing to his feet. He flashed Bodhi a grin and slid under the access panel.
Bodhi followed him, leaning his head up under the access panel again. Bodhi watched Luke, rather than the engine. As Luke’s eyes darted around the shuttle’s systems, Bodhi saw his face become more and more confused. By the time he looked over at Bodhi, Bodhi was smirking.
“Dhi. Dhi. What have you done with this ship!? It’s worse than the Falcon!”
Bodhi blinked. “The...Millennium Falcon? You’ve seen the inside of the Millennium Falcon?”
“Oh, uh, I mean, everyone knows that it’s a patched-together ship. But this!” Luke gestured up at the engine, “It’s a mess! You have an ion cannon mounted on the same line as a plasma cannon and your ship doesn’t have a plasma cannon!”
“Good eye,” Bodhi praised.
“I’m astounded this thing hasn’t blown up in your face yet!” Luke looked over at Bodhi, grinning.
Bodhi felt something seize up in his stomach. He abruptly realized that Luke’s grin was tied straight to his chest. As Luke’s face lit up, a comfortable warmth spread through Bodhi’s core. About two seconds after this awareness filtered through came the realization that he was less than six inches away from Luke. He could feel Luke’s breath disturb his hair. Bodhi met Luke’s eyes and exhaled softly.
Bodhi watched Luke’s pupils grow. Luke’s grin faded and his mouth opened slightly. Luke looked from Bodhi’s eyes to to his lips, then back up to his eyes again. Suddenly, Luke blinked and looked away, a pink blush rising high on Luke’s cheeks.
“I...uh...ah...I’m glad it hasn’t, though.” Luke nearly banged his head on the top of the access panel in his haste to remove himself from the small space. He carefully stepped back, putting more distance between him and Bodhi. “You’re right though, I wouldn’t have had the first idea what to do with the engine. It’s a miracle you’re able to work on it at all. Well, thanks for letting me look, I should—”
Bodhi watched Luke babble. He could let Luke walk away right now. Cherish the memory of a nice afternoon untainted by status or prestige. It would probably be the smart thing to do. But…
That thought hurt. He wasn’t ready to be done with Luke’s company.
“Wait,” Bodhi said, scooching his way out from under the shuttle, “I want to show you something with that plasma cannon line.”
Bodhi stood up and walked over to the shuttle’s ramp. He jerked his head for Luke to follow. Luke seemed indecisive for a moment, and Bodhi held his breath.
After a long moment Luke said, “Okay,” and stepped toward the shuttle.
Bodhi exhaled and smiled at Luke, then walked up to the cockpit. As he approached the pilot’s chair he turned to make sure that Luke was following him. Luke had stopped a little ways back, looking down at his feet. Kitten circled him, surprisingly not attacking his boots, but whirring curiously.
“Ah.” Bodhi realized he had no idea how to explain Kitten to Luke. “That’s my, um…”
“Cleaning droid?” Luke finished, crouching down to greet the droid. “Hi. I’m Luke. I don’t need to be cleaned, I promise.”
Kitten chittered at Luke before wheeling over to Bodhi, ramming into his shoes. Then Kitten trundled off, leaving the two of them alone.
“Not...just a cleaning droid. It had some other protocols shoved in. It’s...sort of a pet? It’s definitely a long story.”
Luke wasn’t entirely focused on Bodhi, as he was now distracted by looking up at the swarm of miniature ships that were affixed to the ceiling. Bodhi was rapidly realizing that the inside of the shuttle probably revealed more about him than he was accustomed to sharing.
Luke, mostly focused on a small model of an X-Wing, said, “These are great. This isn’t from a kit, is it?”
Bodhi shook his head. “No, make them myself. Gives me something to do on long hyperdrive trips.”
Luke circled the X-Wing. Bodhi noticed that Luke was maybe an inch taller than him, and the ships nearly brushed the top of his hair.
“I fly one of these, you know. You got it perfect, right down to the twin cannons.”
“Thanks. It was actually the paint job that gave me the most trouble. Getting the brush through the wing was—wait. You’re an X-Wing pilot?”
Luke looked down from the ship, eyes wide. “Um. Yes? But it’s not a big deal, though.” His voice was nearly pleading.
Well, Bodhi supposed he knew a thing or two about being exhausted by people who thought you were what you did.
“Not at all,” Bodhi responded, “But I feel like I should have given you a little more credit for your repair skills.”
Luke laughed, sounding relieved. “Oh, no, I’m not touching that engine. I’m going to connect the wrong two parts and blow us all up.”
Bodhi grinned. “Speaking of wrong parts…,” he nodded down to the console, sliding into the pilot’s chair.
Luke stood behind him in the cockpit, putting a hand on Bodhi’s shoulder. Bodhi forgot what he was doing. His brain decided the most important thing in the world was categorizing the exact sensation of the heat from Luke’s hand through Bodhi’s shirt. It had been a long time since anyone except K-2SO had been around him in the cockpit, this simple touch felt extraordinary. Bodhi was hyperaware of Luke, of the slight pressure of his palm as he shifted, of the shuffle of his steps and the sound of his breath and...
Bodhi came back to his senses with an uneasy awareness that he was not entirely certain how much time had passed. He quickly leaned forward and toggled on the shuttle’s heads-up display. He ignored the displayed weapons controls, toggled through to the oxygen sub-system, and tapped on the atmospheric scrubber unit. On that page, he turned on a small information alert, which then pulled up the real weapons controls.
Luke gasped. Bodhi turned to look at Luke, then realized his mistake. Luke was right there as he leaned over Bodhi’s shoulder to take a closer look at the weapons controls. Bodhi would only need to lean over inches and then his lips could be against Luke’s neck…
Bodhi quickly snapped his face back to the display, feeling heat rise in his cheeks.
Fortunately, Luke was sidetracked. “What is this!? But...you don’t have a plasma cannon. You can’t hide a plasma cannon.”
Bodhi stood up, dislodging Luke’s hand with a pang of regret. Luke took a step back. Bodhi smiled at Luke as he brushed past. He let his shoulder graze against Luke’s side, enjoying the thrill of the contact.
‘Control your crush, Rook,’ Bodhi told himself as he slid down the ladder again.
Bodhi sped into a half-jog for a few strides, pointing to a section of the ceiling that had an unusual dip in it as he went past. “Pay attention to this.” He tossed a smile at Luke, who had broken into a quick walk to keep up.
He jogged out of the shuttle and came to a stop a few feet back from the doorway. Luke joined him. With a grin, Bodhi gestured back at the shuttle.
The shuttle that now had a plasma cannon jutting out from the top of it.
“No,” Luke said, more of a gasp than a word. He quickly stepped back from the ship and dodged one way and another, trying to get a better view of the cannon. His face screwed up in frustration and he looked around for something.
As Bodhi watched, Luke abruptly jogged away from the ship and stopped at a ladder. He picked the ladder up and came back to the ship. Suddenly, he seemed to remember Bodhi existed and his jog stuttered down into a halt. He awkwardly gestured with the ladder he was carrying. “If you don’t mind.”
Luke stood there, holding the ladder and looking both sheepish and slightly pink. Bodhi was somewhat overwhelmed with how adorable he was.
“I wouldn’t show you all this just to say no now. Go on. I’ll follow you up.”
Bodhi only realized what time it was when his stomach started growling. He and Luke were knee-deep in the concealed weapon’s system, making sure all the joints still ran smoothly.
“Somebody’s talking.” Luke jabbed the spanner in the general direction of Bodhi’s stomach.
“Ah, yeah, it’s later than I thought it was. I should probably figure out dinner.”
Bodhi considered inviting Luke down to the mess hall. Then he thought about the moment when somebody inevitably called him “Captain Rook” and Luke realized that he was eating with the ‘Survivor of Scarif.’ Bodhi played the scene out, imagining Luke’s easy good nature fading away and being replaced with the same distant awe that colored nearly all of Bodhi’s other interactions. Bodhi knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. He just couldn’t stand the idea of watching it happen.
“I’m sorry. I’ve enjoyed this, but I did promise someone I’d meet them for dinner. I should probably wrap this up. And go take a shower.” Bodhi gave a wry grin and wriggled his oil-covered fingers.
Luke smiled and put the spanner down as he considered his own black-smeared hands. “Probably a good idea.”
“Thanks for the help,” Bodhi said. On impulse, he held out his hand for a high-five.
Luke accepted. They both chuckled at the slightly slippery contact.
“Thank you,” Luke said, “I had fun. More fun than I’ve had in awhile.”
Bodhi nodded. “Me too. Take care of yourself Luke.”
After Luke was safely away, Bodhi returned to the shuttle. The maintenance droid followed him in.
“I see how it is. You give away my secrets away to the first aesthetically pleasing person to show interest in you,” K-2SO said.
Bodhi snapped the towel he was using to de-grease his hands in K-2SO’s general direction “Shut up.”
“Bodhi’s got a cruuuu-uuuush.”
“You have been watching too many teen drama holovids.”
“It is impossible to watch too many teen drama holovids. They are very instructional on the nature of organic relationships.”
Bodhi cast about for a change in topic, “How are things going with A4-G2? You guys are repairing that beat-up B-Wing together, right? Figure out what’s happening with the thrusters?”
“I see you attempting to change the topic. It will not work.”
Bodhi huffed at K-2SO and walked back to his onboard bedroom. Kitten was there, and it whirred over and nudged his feet affectionately. Bodhi picked up Kitten and as he sat on the bed, set the small droid down next to him. Kitten cuddled up next to Bodhi, and Bodhi felt the last little stress of the day bleed out of him. Bodhi felt settled on the shuttle in a way he didn’t on the rest of the base; the shuttle was home.
Besides, nobody bothered him on the shuttle. K-2SO wouldn’t let them in.
K-2SO continued his conversation with Bodhi from the intercom, “He is the first person you’ve taken inside the shuttle voluntarily since we’ve been on Hoth. That is significant. Do I need to be concerned?”
“Wha—What would you even have to be concerned about?” Bodhi stopped taking off his boots and stared up at the intercom.
“Well, in ‘Summer in Naboo’ when J’Xa became interested in Mish he neglected his friendship with Reeso. It was a major point of contention.”
“Don’t worry Kay. I’m so oddly codependent with you at this point, I’m not going anywhere.” Bodhi chuckled. “Besides, I couldn’t neglect my relationship with you. You’d just hunt me down and yell at me until we had things figured out.”
“I do have superior communication skills.”
“Yeah. That’s what we’ll call them.”
“You do need more organic contact, though. I have decided to encourage you to spend more time with him.”
“Busybody.” Bodhi flopped back on the bed, Kitten shifting so it was settled again against his side. Bodhi ran his fingers over Kitten’s shell. “The thing is, today was great, but sooner or later he’s going to figure out who I am. Then all the casual interaction goes out the window and he gets all...odd.”
“You are attracted to him, correct? I am not misreading your biological signs?”
“Do not care.”
“I am painfully aware of how true that is. And...no, you’re not misreading anything. He’s...cute. Not happening, though.”
“But if he finds out your identity as one of the two Survivors of Scarif, his likelihood of trying to kiss you would increase. Research doesn’t lie.”
“That’s not...if he wanted to kiss me more because I was the Survivor, I’d want to kiss him less. And we have reached the end of how comfortable I am with this conversation.”
“I...did not consider that. Organic relationships require considerably more processing power than battlefield tactics.”
“Tell me about it.” Bodhi sighed.
Chapter 2: Spontaneous Picnics
Bodhi wasn’t actually lying when he said he had agreed to meet someone. It wasn’t so much for dinner, but Bodhi brought along a nice loaf of bread and some cheese that he had grabbed from the mess hall earlier. So he was at least partially honest.
Bodhi eased himself into a small meeting room off the south corridor. He hung an occupied sign on the door, set out the bread and cheese, and began to munch. After a while, the others began to trickle in, a handful of high-ranking Rebellion officers and other members of the intelligence team. The officers nodded to him, helped themselves to the bread and cheese, made polite conversation, and as they all arrived the meeting began.
Bodhi didn’t usually attend these informal high-level chats. But Agent Narrl’s debrief after his extraction had provided some important intel that might inform the proceedings, so he was invited to this one. Bodhi spent most of his time listening, offered a few suggestions, and as things wound down he started packing up his things. He felt a hand at his elbow, looked up, and was surprised to see Princess Leia at his side.
Bodhi possibly should have called her ‘Highness,’ like the majority of Rebellion command. But shortly after he had arrived at the Rebellion, he and Leia had opened a bottle of wine and mourned their homeworlds together. They then proceeded to get shitfaced and loudly denounce Tarkin and Krennic and anyone else who thought that destroying entire worlds because of one person’s actions was good personnel management.
There were other survivors of Alderaan and Jedha; but nobody else in the galaxy understood what it was like to know that their world was gone as a result of their choices. She had been Leia since then.
Leia tugged him slightly away from the table and the other conversations. “I hear you and Luke spent time together today.”
Bodhi flashed back to the young X-Wing pilot. This was an unusual amount of attention from a senior officer for one pilot.
He must have let some of his confusion show on his face. Leia gave a small smile and said, “The rumor mill works overtime on a small base.”
Bodhi nodded. He wasn’t certain what information she was hoping for, so he offered, “I think he was mostly happy to have someone around who wasn’t going to worship the ground he walked on just for his flying.”
Leia gave a serious nod. “He could use more people like that in his life, I think.”
Bodhi gave a small grunt of approval, then let out a soft sigh. “Leia, I don’t know if it’s appropriate for me to ask, but if you could...not give him the details of the missions I’ve done? That I’m doing? I—I don’t know…”
“He is awfully innocent looking, isn’t he?”
“And young,” Bodhi added.
“Not too much younger than either of us, I think.” Leia gave him a wry smile.
“Yes, but…” Bodhi shook his head.
“There is a sort of innocence about him, isn’t there. Must come from not feeling partially responsible for the destruction of his homeworld.” Leia’s smile gained a bitter twist.
Bodhi gave a harsh laugh. “Glad to hear he hasn’t joined that particular club yet.”
Bodhi mimed holding up a glass, and Leia mimed clinking another glass against it. They both pretended to drink.
“Good luck, Bodhi. I can’t control everyone, but for what it’s worth, he won’t get your history out of me. I think you’re probably good for each other.”
“Thanks. May not matter, though, I’m shipping out again tomorrow. ”
“You didn’t get long to rest.” Leia hummed a little, thoughtful. “I know what that’s like. You have my sympathies.”
“Ah, it’s not so bad.” Bodhi smiled, and it was genuine. “We get to see our favorite agent.”
Leia arched her eyebrows. “I’m fairly certain spymasters aren’t supposed to have favorite agents.”
Bodhi grinned in return. “Good thing I’m not a spymaster, then. I am spy middle management, at best.”
Bodhi pulled his driver’s cap down over his head and sank into the driver’s seat, listening through his earbud as he waited in the garage.
“Ah, Miss Dayo, I was hoping to have a moment to speak with you regarding your father’s stance on Chromafiber imports.”
“I really don’t know anything about—”
“Come now, Miss Dayo, I know you have your father’s ear, I think you’d be ve—” The man’s voice cut off with a gurgle, and there was the sound of a body hitting the floor.
“Did you just taze that man?” Bodhi asked, already knowing the answer.
“He was making Danger uncomfortable,” Kay responded. “And it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a body with a shock prod. I missed it.”
“I wish I could bring you to all my diplomatic functions,” Liliana Dayo, better known to Bodhi and K-2SO as Danger, said, “I would have to speak to far fewer idiots.” Keys clacked as she began typing.
“But now you have to deal with an unconscious Imperial official.” Bodhi tried to be the voice of reason.
“You say that like it’s a problem. Unconscious officials are far less problematic than conscious ones,” Kay pointed out.
Danger’s typing stopped. “Right, we’re past the first layer of encryption, you’re up.”
“Jacking into the system now, beginning download.”
Danger gave a satisfied grunt. “Go take a nap, Boss, we’ve got this.”
“An unconscious official and illegal terminal download. I’m certain nothing will go wrong,” Bodhi muttered.
Bodhi’s knee spent the next forty seconds jiggling up and down as he listened to K-2SO’s electronic hum as he interfaced with the terminal.
A new voice cut in, “What in the blazes? Why is Executive Cha’forn unconscious?”
“He disturbed me.” Danger’s tone was a lighthouse’s stark warning that sharp rocks were all that awaited further inquiry.
The new voice was not an idiot. “Ah, well, apologies, Miss Dayo. I’ll leave you to your evening…”
“Yes,” Danger responded.
Footsteps indicated the man was walking away. About ten seconds later, another pair of footsteps approached, followed by a period of silence before the footsteps retreated again.
Another twenty tense seconds passed and K-2SO said, “And we’re done. See, your concerns were invalid. Everyone was far too terrified of Danger to even notice me.”
“There’s a reason she’s our favorite,” Bodhi said, as he keyed on the ignition and pulled the speeder out of the parking spot. “Your chauffeur will be around momentarily,” he drawled in an upper-crust Core accent.
In a blessed turn of events, nothing managed to go wrong in the five minutes it took Bodhi to bring the speeder around. Danger slid into the backseat, followed by K-2SO in a small, floating secretary droid body.
As they drove away, Danger gave a small sigh, kicking her heels off and propping her feet on the center console. “Back to diplomatic hell. Until the Rebellion needs my services again. At least there’s that to look forward to.”
K-2SO bobbed up and down. “Next time we will attempt to find a reason to use my security droid body. I think you’ll appreciate that one.”
“Look forward to it. Oh, Dad asked me to tell you,” Danger cleared her throat and modified her tone, “‘Please pass on my ongoing frustration that I must arrange my life around politics rather than holodiscs.’”
Bodhi grinned. “We could have left the dictator in charge of your system. That was always an option.”
Danger snorted. “I’ll remind him.”
It was another long two weeks of check-ins and roundabout flights before Bodhi set down at Hoth again. He stumbled his way out of the shuttle, pulled himself together, and made his way over to Intel. He gave his report, which was followed by a general ‘State of the Rebellion’ briefing, which was then followed by two and a half hours of exhaustingly respectful hero-worship as he was asked for advice and feedback.
Bodhi retreated to his ship, bone-tired and hungry.
“I could eat a bantha, and then I am going to sleep for fourteen days,” he complained to the air.
“So I made the right call by bringing lunch,” said a very human voice to his right.
Bodhi, who was expecting an electronic voice from overhead or in his ear, responded in a reasonable and measured way. He lept about a foot in the air and whirled to face the intruder, falling into a sort of fighting stance.
It was Luke. He was sitting at the base of the couch with Kitten trundling around him. Luke grinned up at Bodhi and struggled to his feet, brushing his hands on his pants.
Bodhi relaxed. He was a little embarrassed and mostly confused.
Luke was biting his lip, clearly trying to hold back a laugh. “Sorry for showing up so soon after you got back. I saw your shuttle was back and I wanted to say hi. I missed you. Your droid let me in. Hope that’s okay.”
Bodhi felt something tighten in his chest. He was...not at all accustomed to being missed. “I, um, yeah. Just unusual. I don’t usually get visitors. Give me a sec, I’m sure my heart rate will be reasonable again in a moment.” Bodhi rubbed at his chest.
The laugh escaped Luke. “I’m really sorry.”
“No—it’s not a problem.” Bodhi looked around the ship, “So where is the little traitor?”
“He didn’t stick around. He did tell me you hadn’t eaten yet, though, so I was hoping we could eat lunch together. Does that work?”
“Yes! Food. Um.” Bodhi glanced over at the small table with exactly one chair. He had gotten used to being the only food-consuming person in the ship. “Picnic?”
“Sounds like fun!”
Bodhi pulled out a rain tarp and handed it to Luke to spread over the ground of the cargo bay. He reached down and picked up Kitten, taking the tiny droid back to his bedroom. He set Kitten down on the bed, and grabbed two pillows. “Sorry buddy, you’re not great for picnics.”
Bodhi patted Kitten twice then left the bedroom, closing the door behind him. He returned to Luke and tossed the pillows on the tarp with a rueful smile.
“Sorry, I don’t entertain much.”
“I don’t see why. You’re good company,” Luke said.
Bodhi paused. He would have expected a sarcastic bite here, a jab at Bodhi’s oddness and clear lack of social skills. But Luke didn’t seem to have that barb. He was simply...kind.
Bodhi was going to ruin this poor kid.
That worry didn’t stop him from settling down on one of the pillows. Luke opened the boxes he had brought, a rich-smelling meat and broth combination with some flatbread to soak it up with. Bodhi grabbed some food and started eating.
Luke waited until Bodhi’s mouth was full of food before saying, “You’re not really just a cargo pilot are you?”
Bodhi’s stomach clenched and the food suddenly became unpalatable. He had to control his core to keep himself from spitting the food back out.
Luke, carefully watching Bodhi, nodded to himself. “I mean, most cargo ships don’t vanish for a couple weeks. And they definitely don’t have hidden plasma cannons. You’re running blockades, aren’t you? Smuggling for the cause?”
Bodhi felt some of his stomach relax, and he managed to swallow his food. He opened his mouth, then closed it. He wasn’t sure what to say.
“Hey, don’t worry, I’ll keep it quiet. I know you have no idea what my security clearance is. I just..I wanted you to know that I’m not dumb. I see things.”
Bodhi tried again to actually talk. “I know I mentioned this before, but I am bad at talking to people.”
Luke smiled at Bodhi, meeting his eyes. Bodhi was again rendered unable to speak, this time because his stomach was too busy doing excited flips in the face of Luke’s blue eyes.
“You don’t have to say anything.” Luke broke eye contact first. “But I wanted it out there.”
“No.” Bodhi finally managed to speak. “You should, I...I don’t like talking about the things I do. That’s all. You’re one of the first people I could talk about all the other things with.”
Luke smiled and leaned in. “That makes sense. How about this, Dhi, you don’t bring up what I do, I won’t bring up what you do, and we just see where conversation takes us.”
The last bit of tension left Bodhi’s stomach and he smiled back at Luke, wide and honest. He reached for another bite of food. “That sounds perfect. Deal.”
“Okay,” Luke said, “I see the E-Wing, there, and that’s a TIE interceptor. I can’t make out that one. It looks like an angry starfish.”
Bodhi, who could normally talk someone’s ear off when it came to ships, was having difficulty forming coherent sentences. This was largely due to the fact that sometime over the course of the meal Luke had maneuvered over next to Bodhi. He hadn’t actually touched Bodhi yet, but he was close enough that Bodhi could feel the heat radiating off of him. Luke had leaned his head over so he was nearly leaning on Bodhi’s shoulder, pointing up at the ceiling.
Bodhi’s breathing went shallow. He forced himself to calm down and take a deep breath through his nose...which backfired as he found himself nearly drunk on the scent of the standard base shampoo mixed with Luke. He forced himself to focus, follow the line of Luke’s arm, up to the ship Luke indicated.
“That’s-that’s a StarViper. They’re mostly used by underworld sorts, criminals. Releases a whole host of droid swarms. It’s alarming.”
“So I’m not seeing things, there really are tiny dots around it?”
“Yeah, those were terrible to try to round off. Nearly burned my fingers. Twice.”
Luke moved away from Bodhi’s shoulder and Bodhi strictly reminded himself not to follow him. Luke settled back on his elbows so he was nearly lying down, still looking up at the ceiling. Bodhi wanted to turn his body, lean over Luke and…
“Did you run into one of those in-person? Oh, wait, wait, that sounds like a history question. Nevermind!”
Bodhi laughed. “Let’s just say I was very grateful for the plasma cannon.”
“Right. I’m still amazed you got the mechanics of that to work. Han would be jealous.”
“Han? Captain Solo of the Falcon?” Bodhi spared a glance down at Luke.
Luke had turned a shade of pink that Bodhi was rapidly starting to adore and stammered, “That one, yeah.”
“That’s the second time you’ve mentioned him in conjunction with my ship. Something you’re not telling me?” Bodhi asked, half-teasing, half-curious.
“Hey, we’re not talking about work stuff. There’s a lot we’re not telling each other. But—” Luke turned even redder, looking away. After a moment he turned back and met Bodhi’s eyes, a little bit of defiance sparking in them. “Well, he’s handsome, isn’t he?”
Bodhi felt all of his breath leave his body at once. That sounded like...Bodhi began to cautiously get his hopes up. Luke’s eyes stayed locked on his, waiting for some sort of response. Bodhi responded, “He really is.”
Luke gave a quick inhale and looked away. Bodhi turned his gaze back up to the ships on the ceiling. He worried over his bottom lip. “I’ve heard he’s head over heels for the Princess, though.”
“All the good ones are taken,” Luke said, his voice soft. His voice lilted up at the end, stopping just shy of turning the statement into a question.
Bodhi was never going to get an opening better than that one.
Still sitting, he twisted so he was facing Luke. He half-reached out toward Luke, stopping shy of touching him, but trying to put intent into his movements. He met Luke’s eyes again. Luke, who had been fidgeting, stilled.
“Are they?” Bodhi asked. He looked down to Luke’s parted lips. Luke’s breathing had gone shallow.
Bodhi gathered his courage. “Luke, I may have drastically misread the situation, but if I haven’t, can I kiss you?”
The question hung in the air for an eternal second while Bodhi waited for Luke’s answer.
“Yes. Yes. Please.”
Bodhi reached up with his hand and settled his palm against Luke’s cheek. He slid his hand down so he cradled Luke’s jawline in his palm and wrapped his fingers gently around the back of Luke’s head. Slowly, savoring the moment, he closed his eyes, leaned forward, and brushed his lips against Luke’s.
For a shining moment all Bodhi knew was the feel of Luke, the jaw under his palm, the hair around his fingers, the lips pressed to his. He gave the kiss a touch more pressure before he began to back off. He was surprised when Luke chased the kiss, surging up on his elbows and pressing their mouths even more firmly together. Instinctively, Bodhi’s fingers tightened around the back of Luke’s head. He rolled some more into the kiss, pressing his body closer to Luke’s.
Taking a risk, he opened his mouth slightly, taking Luke’s bottom lip into his mouth. Bodhi felt Luke shudder against him. He readjusted his palm against Luke’s skin, slowly running his thumb back and forth across Luke’s cheek.
His thumb came away wet. Bodhi gently disengaged from the kiss and pulled back to look at Luke. Luke’s eyes were red-rimmed, clear tear-tracks running down his face.
“I’m fine, I just—” Luke leaned toward Bodhi again.
Bodhi ran his thumb over Luke’s lips, gently silencing him. Bodhi twisted his legs around so he was sitting cross-legged next to Luke. He tugged Luke into his lap, curled his palm against the top of Luke’s neck, and gently encouraged Luke to rest his head on Bodhi’s shoulder.After a beat, Luke relaxed against him, tucking his face against Bodhi’s neck and sniffing slightly.
“Alright,” Bodhi said when they were settled, keeping his voice low and quiet. “I know I’m not that bad of a kisser, so what’s going on?”
Bodhi was rewarded with a little hiccuping laugh from Luke. Bodhi ran reassuring fingers through Luke’s hair.
Luke buried his face a little more firmly against Bodhi’s neck and said, softly, “I don’t know. I got overwhelmed.”
“Was this your first kiss?”
“No.” Luke didn’t move from his defensive curl. “But as of now I have kissed two whole people in my life. The first one died taking down the Death Star. I’m usually fine. I guess this...brought stuff back up.”
Bodhi felt a shake run through Luke fresh dampness along his neck. His heart broke for Luke and he tugged Luke in a little tighter.
“I’m sorry,” Luke said, a little choked, “It was a very nice kiss. I sound like an idiot. I’m sorry.”
Bodhi rested his head against Luke’s. “I have kissed more than two people. But not too many, and my only real relationship…” Bodhi loosened his arms and twisted so he could see Luke. “He died too. In a firefight. I don’t talk about him much because—” Bodhi stopped as his throat choked up and his eyes started burning.
He let the emotions rise. More importantly, he let Luke see them.
Luke gave Bodhi a watery look. “We’re a mess.”
Bodhi nodded. “I like our mess, though. I like you.”
Luke smiled like sunshine after rain. “I like you too. So, um, have the tears ruined my chances of getting kissed some more?’
Bodhi grinned in response. He leaned over and pecked Luke on the nose. Luke wrinkled said nose and groaned.
“Come on,” Bodhi said, “the floor is very romantic, but it is terrible on the joints. Let’s go make out on the couch like civilized people do when having secret rendezvous in shuttles.”
As they stumbled over limbs while pulling each other up, Luke got a concerned look on his face. Bodhi stopped.
“This is your show,” he told Luke, “we’re not going to do anything you’re not comfortable with.”
Luke shook his head. “No, I know, it’s not that. It’s just...I would rather keep it a secret. I feel terrible, you’re great! But I have nosy friends.”
Bodhi had an uncomfortable moment of awareness. His shuttle was sentient and could hear what was going on. That was...going to need to be a conversation for another day. K-2SO’s existence in the shuttle and ability to jump between droid bodies was extremely classified. Still...he should probably say something…
“I am perfectly fine with some kiss-and-don’t-tell. But, fair warning, it’s probably too late as far as my droid is concerned. He can read me alarmingly well. If I ask him he’ll keep quiet about it...he will probably ask you horribly intrusive questions, though.” Bodhi groaned. “Oh, fuck, I am a terrible person to have secret makeout sessions with. I forgot about the cameras. Don’t worry, it’s an internal system, but still, I should have shut them off…”
Bodhi started to wander over to the control panel. Luke grabbed his arm. Bodhi looked down at the hand, then back up to Luke.
“It’s fine. If you say they’re internal cameras only, I trust you. And my R2 unit’s probably figured things out too. He probably won’t be intrusive, so much as incredibly threatening. So, fair warning in return?”
Bodhi calmed down a little bit. “You sure?”
Bodhi turned around and put his hands on Luke’s hips. “Well, I look forward to the astromech shovel talk then.” He lightly pushed at Luke, walking him backwards until they hit the tiny couch.
Luke tumbled backward onto the couch, eyes going wide in surprise. As he fell he grabbed at Bodhi’s shirt. Bodhi tipped but managed to avoid tumbling entirely, feet staying on the ground, hands flying up to brace on either side of Luke’s head. Luke smiled up at him and reached around to tug on the backs of Bodhi’s knees. Bodhi let himself be lead into straddling Luke.
“My show, huh?” Luke said, a little challenge in his voice.
“Yes,” Bodhi replied, “I’ll let you know if you start leading someplace I don’t want to follow.”
Luke nodded seriously. With an odd aura of gravitas he ran the backs of his hands up the inside of Bodhi’s arm. Bodhi felt his arms tremble slightly. Luke’s hands crested over his shoulder and rested on Bodhi’s neck, before he pulled Bodhi down into another kiss.
Kissing Luke was as easy and fun as the conversation had been earlier. Luke was clearly a little inexperienced, occasionally moving too fast, pressing too hard. But any mistake was met with a giggle, a smile, an apologetic peck. Luke’s hands danced around his body, as Bodhi let Luke explore.
At least he did until Luke’s hands skated down the sides of Bodhi’s ribcage with exactly the wrong sort of pressure. In the face of an unbearable tickling feeling, Bodhi pulled his arms in with a laugh.
“That’s a dangerous game to play right there,” Bodhi said, letting his voice go low.
Luke, eyes flashing, wiggled his fingers again. Quick as he could, Bodhi grabbed Luke’s hands and pinned them above Luke’s head. Rather than fighting back, Luke stilled almost immediately, taking in a deep shuddering breath.
Bodhi relaxed his hold. “Everything okay?”
Luke looked up at Bodhi, pupils blown, and gave a small nod.
Bodhi tipped his head to the side, giving Luke’s wrists an experimental squeeze. Luke stopped breathing for a second.
Bodhi took a moment to just look at Luke, blond hair in a rough halo around his head, pink flush across his cheeks and down his neck, lips wet and red, bright blue eyes looking up at Bodhi.
“You are beautiful,” Bodhi said, his voice rough.
Luke looked down and away, a delighted grin on his face. Bodhi felt a wave of affection and happiness sweep through him. He released Luke’s wrists, planting his arms on either side of Luke and nuzzling his face against Luke’s neck.
Luke brought his hands down to rest on Bodhi’s shoulders. He gently pushed Bodhi, and Bodhi rolled off of him, shifting to sit down next to him. Luke looked over at him, breathing hard and more than a little stunned. Bodhi reached over and ran his fingers down the side of Luke’s face. Luke leaned into the touch, then after a moment shifted and scooted closer until he was tucked up under Bodhi’s arm, head leaning back on Bodhi’s shoulder.
“I need...are you okay if we wind down for the night?” Luke asked, still sounding a little breathless.
“Of course,” Bodhi said, his own words a little uneven. He tightened his arm around Luke. “Whatever you want.”
Luke twisted and wrapped his arms around Bodhi, hugging him tight. “Thank you, that was...I’m so lucky I found you.”
Bodhi hugged back, at the same time feeling anticipatory dismay. He was not looking forward to Luke figuring out who he was.
He must have tensed or given some other sign that his thoughts had changed, because Luke pulled back almost immediately, looking at him. “Everything okay?
“Yeah..yeah, sorry, outside thoughts crept in. Did you have fun?” Bodhi asked, trying to turn the attention back to Luke.
“Yes. So much fun.” Luke’s smile sparkled, but there was still a worried wrinkle to his forehead.
Bodhi reached out and smoothed it. “I’m fine. I’m just borrowing trouble from tomorrow. I’ll try to stop.”
“Okay, good. I was worried you—it got a little intense there.”
Bodhi traced Luke’s wrist with his free hand. Luke shivered. “It did. You okay with that?”
“Absolutely. I can take whatever you throw at me, Dhi.” Luke grinned over at him.
Bodhi smiled a little at the bravado and reminded himself that he needed to be careful with Luke, with this amazing gift the universe had dropped in his lap. He reached down and threaded his fingers through Luke’s. He gave a little squeeze. “I’m lucky too. I like you a lot.”
Luke gave a small happy sigh. Then he rolled his shoulders and stood up from the couch, running his fingers through his hair. “I’m having fun, but I should really get going. My nosy friends are going to talk enough as it is.”
Bodhi sighed himself. “If you have to…” He grinned up at Luke. “Though, you may want to stop by the ‘fresher and take a look at yourself first. Maybe straighten your clothes a little bit. If your goal is to stop rumors.”
Luke looked down at himself. “That’s probably a good idea.”
Luke had been gone for about five seconds when an astromech droid rolled up to the ship and opened the shuttle ramp. Bodhi looked at the droid as it rolled in.
“Switched again, Kaytoo?” Bodhi asked.
[No,] the droid chirped in binary. [This is a warning. Luke is mine, and if you hurt him, I will end you.]
“You’re the R2 unit he talked about, then. You work fast.”
[I’m always watching. Do. Not. Hurt. Him. I know you are dangerous.]
Bodhi gave a serious nod. “I am. But I am being as careful as I can. It’s what Luke wants. That’s all that’s happening.”
[Make sure it stays that way,] The R2 unit said in parting, then trundled out.
“What does it say about me that I like Luke even more now that his R2 unit threatened me?”
As the shuttle door started closing, K-2SO responded through the comm, “That you have excellent taste. Organics are best when paired with aggressive mechanical life.”
“There you are. I’m surprised you didn’t chime in before now. I admire your discretion.”
“According to the media, eighty-seven percent of the time interruption by a third party leads to a cessation of affections. It seemed imprudent.”
“Never thought I’d be grateful for your trashy holovid obsession.”
“You simply don’t know good art when you see it. Would it cause you distress if I spoke with Luke? I feel the desire to threaten him in return. This must be the sensation of feeling territorial.”
“I...I can’t stop you from talking to anyone.”
“I phrased my request very specifically for a reason.”
“The idea of you talking to Luke does not cause me distress. The idea of Luke figuring out who I am causes me a great deal of distress.”
“So you would prefer I not behave in a manner that would lead to Luke figuring out your identity.”
“Ye—es? I would? I would. And, look, I know you are better tied in with the gossip network than I am, but I don’t want any information on Luke either.”
“If I told you information I found out without you prompting, it would not break the letter of your agreement with Luke.”
“I know. But...Kay, this dumb simple friendship with some making out on the side is nice. I know it’s going to end horribly at some point. But...while it’s still working…”
“I will maintain both yours and Luke’s privacy. Though it prevents me from threatening him properly.”
“Thank you. I know it’s a sacrifice.” Bodhi gave a wry grin at the nearest camera.
“With that established, is the biting actually a pleasant sensation? It seems counterproductive.”
“Nope. Not having this discussion. Goodnight.” Bodhi gathered his pillows and headed to bed.
Chapter 3: Convenient Closets
The next day Bodhi was walking down the halls when General Draven pulled him to the side and tossed a dataspike at him. “Opportunity’s come up, it’s time sensitive. Doesn’t have to be you two that go, but you get first refusal.”
As Bodhi plugged the spike into his datapad he said, “If this is actually optional I’m probably going to pass, we’re running on fumes and the shuttle needs repairs—” He cut off as his eyes scanned the datapad. “You bastard. You knew I was never going to turn this one down.”
Bodhi looked up at Draven and smiled a little at the tiny smirk on the general's face. Bodhi gave a little half-hearted salute with his free hand. “I’ll see how fast I can get the shuttle refueled.”
“I’ve cleared you as a priority departure.” Draven gave a sharp nod. “Captain.” He turned and walked away.
Bodhi entered the bar wrapped in winter gear, scarf obscuring his face and coat around his body. He slid into a barstool and ordered a drink. A Sullustan in an Imperial jumpsuit sighed into his drink next to him. Bodhi cleared his throat and said in a low undertone, “I understand you might be looking for alternate employment.”
“Don’t know where you would have heard that,” his lower jowls flapped as he spoke, edge of nerves to his tone, “I’ve got a good job, flying cargo, not likely to find better work.”
“Not in the Empire.”
“Hey hey hey, you trying to get me into trouble? Empire’s the best game in town, no doubt.” The pilot had grown defensive, shoulders hunched away.
Bodhi reached up and tugged the scarf down from around his face. “You’re not the one who would get into trouble, friend.”
The pilot looked over at him, liquid black eyes going wide as he took in Bodhi’s face, “I know you, you’re—”
“Just another pilot who found alternate employment.” Bodhi tucked his face back under the scarf. “Thought you might be interested in hearing about some opportunities.”
“I’m—” the man shifted, looking up at Bodhi, worried crease in his forehead, “I don’t have any useful skills, like you do. I know what you did. I fly ships.”
Bodhi desperately wanted to laugh. He wanted to say, ‘Oh, Stars, don’t believe the lies about me, I just flew ships too. It took a planet killer to shake me loose, it took someone else believing I could make a difference. You’ve started thinking about defecting on your own, you are already further along than I was.’
But if he was stuck with his recognizable face, with all the titles that were caught up like flotsam in his wake, then he was going to make them do some good. “We need pilots. We need cargo pilots. As we speak there is a man who still hasn’t forgiven me for choosing not to fly cargo.”
“Yes. We’ve got an escape route for you, we’re ready, we can get you clear today. I know how terrifying this step is. But I also know that you've seen things you're not comfortable with. I know that you've watched things happen and justified it by saying that there's nothing you can do. I know, because I've been there. And I'm here to tell you that you have a choice. That there is something you can do. And you will have to be brave, you'll have to make a choice, but it's worth it, on the other end.”
The pilot looked over at him, thoughtful expression on his face. “You’re right. And you would know. I want out...” The pilot looked around as he said that, worried that they were being overheard. He leaned in closer, “How do I know it's not going to be the same problems with different faces?”
Bodhi shook his head, “No, it’s different, it’s so much better. Trust me. I’ve been there, and now I'm here.”
“Well, it’s better for you…” the pilot trailed off, playing with the rim of his glass.
Bodhi leaned in closer, “This isn’t a matter of heroism, or titles, it’s just a good place to be.”
The pilot shook his head. “No, no, that’s not what I mean…” The pilot shifted away from Bodhi, his posture becoming more defensive. “This was a bad idea, go, leave me alone—”
Bodhi ran through possible objections the pilot could have in his head. He didn’t want to lose him. If they let him go now, it would be a lot harder to get him out later, if he changed his mind.
Fortunately, at that point, K-2SO spoke up from the droid body, “You will have to put up with some of the same problems. It’s not perfect, but it is better.”
Bodhi turned to the droid. “It's not the same problems it's—”
K-2SO responded, cutting him off, “Bodhi. You’re human. It’s different for you.”
Bodh shifted, a little uncomfortable. “I don’t really think that’s a problem in the Rebellion. Or at least, not as big of one. We don't bar non-humans from becoming officers, the promotion chances are the same.”
“But your boss is human. And the starfighter general is, and the political leadership is, and yes,” K-2SO swiveled around to face the pilot, “the generals in charge of supply and logistics are human too.”
“There’s Akbar.” Bodhi regretted the words even as he said them, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Sorry, yes, I did just hear what I said.”
The pilot looked at him, and Bodhi could read some condescension on his features. “You’re human. Unless you looked, you wouldn’t know.” Then he turned to the small floating body, “You’re a droid.”
“So I would know, wouldn’t I.”
Still focused on K-2SO, the pilot asked, a wistful thread of hope in his voice, “So, it’s better?”
K-2SO replied, “Much. And they’re trying to make it better still. They don’t always succeed.”
“I’ll take the trying. Alright, let’s do this.”
Bodhi debriefed the pilot on the way to the fleet rendezvous. Leaving the nervous defector and the stolen shuttle with General Forell on Home One, Bodhi went back to Hoth to submit his report.
As he walked the hallway, he chatted with K-2SO. “Maybe Forell will finally forgive us for not hauling cargo for him, since we brought him a new pilot.”
“I do not think so,” K-2SO said in his ear. “General Forell understands the importance of holding on to resentment. I respect that. Speaking of which, it’s time for my twice-monthly reminder that I only lived because you thought I was navigation discs and uploaded me to a shuttle. You monster.”
Bodhi chuckled. “You know, I'm not really looking forward to spending the rest of my life—”
“Dhi!” came a cheerful call from behind him. He turned and saw Luke jogging over, wide grin on his face. “You're back!”
Bodhi felt a smile on his face and something flutter in his chest as he watched Luke jog up. Luke stopped just inside of Bodhi's personal space, and for a moment he thought that Luke was going to lean forward and kiss him. Luke paused, though, fidgeting and tipping away again. He looked suddenly hesitant.
Bodhi's instinct was to step forward and kiss him instead, reassuring Luke and overcoming the awkwardness. But...Bodhi slowly realized that in the scramble to get to the defector he hadn't spoken with Luke, not even a hasty comm message to let him know he would be gone. It’s not like they had made any promises to each other, but still...he had spent an emotionally intense afternoon kissing Luke and then disappeared. Bodhi was not entirely certain of his welcome.
“Just got back,” he offered instead. He and Luke stood there, fidgeting at each other, and Bodhi wasn’t entirely sure what to say next.
As Bodhi tried to think of some fraction of the truth that would explain why he had vanished, he heard voices start to come toward them. There was a raucous laugh that belonged unmistakably to Janson.
Bodhi panicked. Janson knew him, Janson was a pilot, Janson probably knew Luke. Bodhi couldn't let Janson see him and Luke talking.
While Bodhi was in the middle of frantically trying to think of some way he could get away without hurting Luke's feelings he became aware of Luke's hand grabbing at the front of his shirt. Then Bodhi was dragged (with surprising force) into a nearby closet, the door slammed shut behind him, and there was Luke, warm and eager in his arms, kissing him like there was no tomorrow.
Most of Bodhi’s awareness was suddenly focused on the press of lips against his own, at the hands snaking their way around him, at the feeling of the body molding against his own. Bodhi gasped a little at the sudden overwhelming sense of contact. His eyes slid closed, his hands grasped back, one hand at Luke’s waist and another at his neck. He let the pleasant sensation roll over him and returned the kiss with enthusiasm.
Still, there was a small part of Bodhi’s brain that always watched a situation—borne out of his run with Kay and honed in Intel—and that part pointed out that while making out in a closet solved the immediate issue, the pilots seemed to have parked themselves nearby in the hallway. Bodhi needed to make certain they didn’t hear anything. He also needed to keep Luke thoroughly entertained in the proceedings.
He solved both of his issues by taking control of the kiss, maneuvering Luke backward in the small storage space, around the cleaning equipment in the front until Luke was pressed up against the wall at the back of the closet. He caged Luke against the wall with his arms, surrounding him with the kiss.
Luke’s hands moved over his body, eventually settling on his chest and pressing slightly away. Bodhi went, tipping back from Luke a little. Luke was looking at Bodhi, biting his lip. He looked over Bodhi’s shoulder at the door, back at Bodhi, and said in a low tone, “Sorry about jumping you, I just...really wanted to do that.”
Bodhi smiled a little, both endeared by Luke’s enthusiasm and pleased by his willingness to keep things quiet. He said, his own voice soft in response, “I don’t kiss back if I’m not enjoying things.”
“I know you enjoyed it. I still should have talked to you first.”
Bodhi gave a tiny smile over at Luke. “Forgiven.” He leaned in and pressed another brief kiss to Luke’s lips. Pulling back a hair, he said, “I’m sorry too. I should have let you know I was leaving.”
Luke shook his head. “I understand needing to scramble. Most days, it’ll probably be me needing to hustle out of here. But…” Luke trailed off, shifting a little. “I feel like there’s probably some talking that needs to happen. What we want. What we expect.”
Bodhi bit back a comment about how a closet in the middle of the base was perhaps not the best place to be having this sort of conversation. But he could still hear the echoes of hallway conversation through the door, and definitely didn’t want Luke to suggest having the conversation somewhere else.
Reaching for Luke, Bodhi put his hands on Luke’s hips and said, “I don’t have a lot of expectations right now. And honestly, I can’t promise a whole lot.” Bodhi felt twisted up inside. Couldn’t promise Luke anything, except that sooner or later, Luke would find out that Bodhi had lied to him. Maybe only lies of omission, but he suspected that would be bad enough.
Luke looked worried. He reached up and laid his fingertips against Bodhi’s face, gentle. “Hey. I know there’s war, neither of us are in any position to be making promises.” He traced fingers across Bodhi’s cheeks, up across the worry lines around his eyes and forehead. “That’s not what I’m looking for. I just—stop me if this isn’t okay.”
Luke reached up and ran his fingers through Bodhi’s dark hair. His fingers captured the flyaway strands that had come loose during the day and swept them back away from Bodhi’s face. Luke stepped forward. Bodhi closed his eyes, expecting Luke to kiss him.
Instead, Luke’s hands went up to the base of his neck, where his hair sat in a stubby little ponytail. Luke picked through the tangles to pull Bodhi’s hairband loose. Bodhi let out a soft groan as his hair tumbled free. Luke’s hands went up and through his hair, shaking it even looser. Bodhi’s groan turned into a bitten-back moan, and he tipped his head forward to rest on Luke’s chest.
As Luke’s hands worked over his scalp, Luke murmured by his ear, “That night, before you left, I had to stop. You had me pinned and I just, I wanted. It scared me, how much, I didn’t even know what I wanted. I think you got that, though, you backed off at the perfect time. You’re so careful with me.”
Luke unwound his fingers from Bodhi's hair, shifting so he could scritch at Bodhi’s scalp. Bodhi practically went boneless, tipping more of his weight against Luke’s chest. He felt a chuckle vibrate through Luke.
“Anyway, I got back to my quarters and I was just filled with regret. You were right there! You wanted me too, I think. And I didn’t even take the chance to run my fingers through your hair...” Luke demonstrated, combing through Bodhi’s hair, careful with any tangles.
Bodhi, face still pressed against Luke’s chest, said, “I wanted. Don’t worry about that.” He sighed, pushing far enough back from Luke’s chest that he could meet Luke’s eyes again. “And then I left. Which couldn’t have helped with the regretting.”
“It didn’t...but I don’t blame you for leaving. I just wish I had taken a few more chances.” Luke shifted his hands so he was cradling Bodhi’s face. “So, I’m going to do that.” He took a deep breath. “Hi, Dhi, I like you. I’m not looking for promises. But I would like to know whether or not I can kiss you some more.” Luke eyebrows scrunched together and his eyes flicked away before looking back. “It is still important to me that we keep it a secret. I still really don’t want my meddling friends involved in this. I completely understand if that’s a dealbreaker for you.”
This was a bad idea. There was no possible future where the Survivor of Scarif got to have a nice fling with a random flyboy and have everything work out fine. But with Luke’s hands holding his face, with Luke biting his lip and looking all hopeful over at Bodhi...Bodhi lied to himself.
Maybe it would work out. Maybe it would be worth the pain.
“I...think I could be on board with this. That night was fantastic.”
The grin that spread across Luke’s face drove almost every doubt from Bodhi’s mind. Luke leaned forward, guiding Bodhi with his hands and pressed a light lingering kiss against Bodhi’s mouth. He pulled back just far enough to murmur, “It was.”
They exchanged a few more light kisses, Bodhi feeling oddly cherished by the way Luke’s hands cradled his face. Bodhi reached up to place his hands over Luke’s. His fingers slipped down the backs of Luke’s hands and settled in a gentle circle around Luke’s wrists. “So...I have to ask. The pinning. Too much?”
Luke froze, eyes going wide as his eyes flicked down to where Bodhi’s hands were wrapped around his wrists. “No.” Luke’s voice went even quieter than their already soft conversation. He looked back up at Bodhi. “I think, not enough. I want—”
Luke swallowed hard as he lifted his hands off of Bodhi’s face and slowly brought them toward the wall at his back. Bodhi followed, hands never leaving Luke’s wrists. Halfway to the wall, Bodhi tightened his grip on Luke’s wrists and pushed forward, forcing Luke back. Luke’s breathing went shallow, his head stretched backward, the line of his neck inviting Bodhi further forward.
Bodhi pressed in, nipped a kiss at the corner of Luke’s jaw before whispering, “You’re still in control. Do you want this?”
Luke shivered. “Yes.”
Bodhi felt anticipation thrum through his body. He kissed Luke’s neck, dragging teeth along skin, just enough to sting. “Say no and it stops. Understood?”
Bodhi felt Luke’s neck muscles work against his lips, a few aborted attempts at speech before he said, “I understand.”
“Good.” Bodhi tightened his grip on Luke’s wrists and pushed forward, slotting himself against the pliant body in front of him. He kissed Luke, tongue pressing against Luke’s lips. With a broken moan, Luke opened his mouth to Bodhi.
The power Luke was giving him was intoxicating. Doubts and worries seemed to fade away, and there was just this moment, him and Luke. He held Luke against the wall and learned his body, learned the pressure that would make Luke groan, the spot on his neck that would make him tense, the shivers as Bodhi pulled Luke’s collar fastener open with his teeth and placed a kiss inside his shirt.
As Bodhi worked Luke’s noises changed. He started almost whining, a sort of keen in his throat as he made abortive attempts at thrusting against Bodhi. Bodhi felt Luke growing hard under him, knew he was aching for Luke in return. He pressed his mouth against Luke’s collarbone and started grinding in earnest, craving friction, contact.
Luke’s breath came in little gasps. He strained against Bodhi’s hands, saying, “Stars, Dhi, yes—”
The closet door opened.
Bodhi froze, fear pooling in his gut. Beneath him, Luke went rigid with a choked-off noise.
There was a loud, “Humph,” from behind them, before a voice that Bodhi didn’t recognize (thank the Force) said, “Kriffin’ hotshots, how many times do I have to tell you pilots to find a different closet to fuck in!”
“Sorry,” Luke choked out. Bodhi struggled not to laugh at Luke’s apparently instinctive manners in the face of severe embarrassment.
“Least you’re polite about it. And still wearing pants. Kid, I’m coming back here in five minutes, and if you’re not finished I’m dumping a bucket of icewater on you.”
The door closed again behind them. Bodhi let go of Luke, shifting his hands to brace against the wall instead. He shoved back so he could look at Luke properly. He was expecting Luke to be bright red, but Luke seemed pale, all color drained out of his face. Luke met his eyes and relaxed a little, but he looked somewhere between terrified and horrified.
Bodhi pushed back further, giving Luke more space. “You okay?”
Luke slowly brought his arms down from the wall and Bodhi noticed they shook a little as he did. “I think so. That just...really startled me.”
Bodhi reached over, taking Luke’s shaking hands and running his thumb over the knuckles. “I’m sorry. My fault. I should have thought before getting carried away in a sort-of public space.”
He really, really should have. After all, he was significantly more noteworthy than Luke, in this particular situation. Pilots fucking in closets wasn’t news, it was a punchline at best. Bodhi getting caught with his pants down...it would spread like wildfire.
Luke shook his head. “It’s at least half my fault. If you don’t give me that, you’re insulting me.” Luke managed a wan smile and the shaking in his hands calmed down.
Bodhi chuckled. “Fine.” He let go of Luke’s hands and stepped back, running his fingers through his hair. “Well, I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I’m finishing anything in the next five minutes, after that.”
Finally, the pink made its return to Luke’s face. “Might be a good thing. Now that I have a minute to breathe, I realize I probably don’t want my first time to be in a supply closet.” Luke’s pink edged to red as he looked away from Bodhi and fidgeted with his hands.
Bodhi sat there for a moment, just blinking. “Your first…” He spent two seconds thinking. He was Luke’s second kiss. It made sense that Luke hadn’t… “Shit, Luke, I’m sorry, I should have been a lot more careful.”
Luke shook his head, looking over at Bodhi again. “No! It’s not like I told you! It’s not like I even knew what I wanted myself, before now…”
“Luke, I…” Bodhi felt overwhelmed, he stepped closer and put his hand against Luke’s cheek. “I might not be the best person to do this with. You probably deserve someone a lot better than me.”
Luke’s face turned belligerent. “What does that mean? You’re perfect.” Luke batted Bodhi’s hand away and held up his own, started counting on his fingers. “For one, you’re gorgeous. Let’s get that out there. Big soulful eyes, golden skin gleaming over muscles, I don’t even know what to say about your hair.”
Bodhi felt his cheeks heat up. “Erhm.”
Luke wasn’t done, ticking off fingers as he talked. “It’s more than that, though. You’re fun. We laugh a lot together. I can be an idiot and you roll with it. It’s not about what I know, or don’t know, and it’s not a status thing with you. I can just be. There’s nobody else I want more.” Luke dropped his hand, indignation bleeding out of him, “I’m not ready for…all that yet, and I’m not asking for any sort of commitment, but I want to explore with you.”
Bodhi shook his head. “I don’t”—deserve this—“want to hurt you.”
Luke stepped closer. “I trust you, Dhi.”
“Okay,” Bodhi said. “But there’s no rush. Maybe we get there, maybe we don’t, but let’s just...enjoy the moments and see what feels right.”
Luke leaned in, pressed a kiss against Bodhi’s cheek. “Sounds good. What feels right now is getting out of this closet. I genuinely believe that guy will dump water on us, and I’m not a big fan of hypothermia.”
Bodhi somehow managed to get through his intelligence report, passing his disorientation off as exhaustion, which was not that far from the truth. Draven informed him he was grounded for three days minimum, and Bodhi stumbled back to the shuttle.
As Bodhi entered, he looked over at his bedroom, thinking longingly about his bed. Bodhi shook his head, and climbed the ladder into the cockpit instead. He settled into the pilot’s chair, reached out and patted the console. “Hey, Kay.”
“I anticipated with eighty-six point seven percent certainty that you would be undergoing a crisis.”
“I’m not...I just need to talk.” Bodhi tucked his legs up into the chair, curling his arms around them. “Am I making a terrible mistake?”
“Likely. Somewhere in your life. We won’t know until afterward.”
Bodhi rolled his eyes. “With Luke.”
“You smile and laugh 235% more during interactions with him than you do interacting with anyone else. Your biological signs indicate elevated mood whenever he is around. You have worked to establish passable communication. You are clearly attracted to him. The chances that this is where you are making your terrible mistake are very low.”
“But he doesn’t know who I am,” Bodhi said. “Am I taking advantage?”
“He doesn’t know what you did. As we have already established, most people who know what you did have no idea who you are. You have been honest with your personality and your intentions. You have not deliberately deceived Luke.”
“He doesn’t know my shuttle is sentient. He doesn’t know I wear an earbud wired straight to you—Oh, blast, I didn’t turn off the earbud.”
“I was wondering how long it would take you to realize that.”
“He doesn't know about you at all, doesn't know the cameras in the shuttle are your cameras...I don't know, Kay, I can't be honest with him. Maybe I should cut things off.”
Bodhi’s chest twisted up at that. He hated the idea. But it might be the kindest thing he could do.
“I can state with certainty that you are overreacting,” K-2SO replied. “My existence and functioning are classified. Luke may not be cleared to know about them. It’s a reasonable omission.”
“Doesn’t feel like one...I don’t know exactly how your systems work, and I don’t want to. Can you just give us as much privacy as you can manage?”
“Privacy. Yes. These are parameters we have needed to establish for some time now. The shuttle is your home as well as the housing for my processing. This is a functional arrangement. I do not want it disturbed. You have a desire for intimacy—”
“That’s on the list of things I really could have lived without hearing you say.”
“Simply because humans are gross doesn’t mean I won’t work with you. So many fluids.”
“Oh no. You don’t get to talk about fluids. I have changed the filters on your water recycling system, Mister.”
“Those fluids are necessary for your survival, not mine.”
Bodhi wrinkled his nose, but he couldn’t find fault in K-2SO’s logic. “Fine, point to you.”
“As I was saying, privacy does appear to be a major component of human relationships, particularly intimate ones. I have found reasonable parameters; I will receive veto power on any person who enters the shuttle for an extended period of time. When possible, you will ask me first. For my part, I will keep anything I learn due to people sharing when unaware of my presence between myself and you.”
“That is...incredibly reasonable,” Bodhi said.
“As I said, organic relationships take more processing power than battlefield tactics. Fortunately, the shuttle has more processing power than my former body. I am learning. The eighteen seasons of ‘Summer in Naboo’ have been helpful for this.”
Bodhi reached forward and patted the console. “You terrifying beast. Please don’t turn rogue and kill us all.”
“When I turned rogue I saved the galaxy. So did you.”
“This is getting pretty sappy, Kay.”
“No. Abort. Besides, even if I did want to destroy organic life you’d be safe. I would need a good henchman.”
“That’s better.” Bodhi stood up and stretched. “Double checking, Luke is okay on the shuttle?”
“Yes. I like Luke. He treats Kitten well. Perhaps I will spare him from the coming machine apocalypse as well. You will need a consort.”
Chapter 4: Delicate Conversations
The next day Bodhi decided to use his mandatory downtime for shuttle upgrades. He had been slowly affixing sensor points through the ship that K-2SO could use to check on relevant systems. Bodhi called it a nervous system, K-2SO called it a tactile net. They each had their own perspectives.
Three days off in a row meant that Bodhi finally felt comfortable tearing up the shuttle’s floors to get to the previously discussed water recycling system. He stretched out, torso-first in the floorboards, carrying on a lazy conversation with K-2SO through his earbud as he worked, getting caught up on the base gossip.
“Shara Bey has successfully created offspring,” K-2SO informed Bodhi.
“No kidding. Boy or girl?”
“Human gender is hardly limited to those options and until I am aware how the infant chooses to self-identify—”
“Nevermind. Everyone healthy?”
“Yes. With the possible exception of Kes, who was by far the most anxious in this whole ordeal.”
Bodhi chuckled. “Remind me to get them a fruit basket or something.”
“No. You have purchased the infant a wooden starship mobile that will provide it with pleasing ocular input as it learns to adjust for focus distance.”
“That...actually sounds like a thoughtful and nice gift. Good job...me.”
“Fruit basket.” K-2SO somehow managed to fill the monotone voice with scorn.
“There’s been a number of minor skirmishes. The new Gold Squadron lost one member. Rogue squadron lost two. Janson is fine.”
Bodhi huffed a sigh of relief.
“In the process of the battle, the squadrons appear to have destroyed three major weapons installations, a decisive victory for the Rebellion.”
“Good to hear.”
“The ongoing wager between Nevander and Serper about who can go longer without washing their sheets has lead to a ‘frankly horrifying health and safety violation’ in the words of Alliance Medical staff.”
“There are a number of ongoing wagers, as I’m certain you are aware. I have decided to participate in the one debating who will be the first to have sexual intercourse with the Jedi-in-training.”
Bodhi snorted, “Why would you decide to do that?”
“Because it amuses me, and I may have inside information.”
“Kriff, Kay, your gossip network alarms me. Inside...ugh. Let me make myself perfectly clear, I have no interest in hearing anything about the Jedi’s sex life.”
“Noted. Have you heard about the new designs for TIE defenders? They offer a number of design improvements we will need to compensate for.”
“I swear, Kay, if this is an excuse to get more guns…”
As they debated the proper shuttle to weaponry ratio, Bodhi became aware of a nudging sensation at his feet.
“Not now, Kitten,” Bodhi called.
Kitten gave a distant yet indignant chirp from Bodhi’s bedroom. There was another, more human sounding indignant noise from Bodhi’s feet. “Kitten?”
“I was talking to the droid!” Bodhi jerked his head up, banging it on a pipe. He emerged from the floor, rubbing the back of his head. Luke stood by his feet, looking irritated.
Bodhi tensed, waiting for the news that Luke had figured things out. He may not know when, exactly, but Bodhi knew his secret had an expiration date. Luke was bright; his blind spot couldn't last forever.
But for the moment, no accusation seemed to be pending. Luke’s expression gentled as he looked over at the bedroom door, where Kitten emerged, chittering in its little whistle beep. It circled around Luke, butted at Bodhi's shoes, and headed off again. Bodhi looked up from the droid to find Luke watching him, affection on his features. “You named your droid Kitten? That's...sweet.”
Bodhi almost started to launch into an argument that the words “sweet” and “Kitten” were really a contradiction when he actually got a proper look at Luke. As Luke’s irritation faded away it seemed replaced by sadness, a certain bone-deep tiredness that Bodhi could relate to. “Doing okay?”
Luke crumpled a little. “No. It’s been an awful couple of days.” His hands flew up and he looked worried. “Not because of you,” he said quickly. “You’ve been the bright spot. I was just wondering if I could...stay for a bit.”
“Yeah, of course. You want to talk about it?” Bodhi gestured over to the couch.
“No,” Luke said, tucking himself on the couch, curling back against the seat. “But I didn’t want to be alone.”
“You’re welcome here. I’m in the middle of a system installation, but I wouldn’t mind the company. The repairs I completed that first time are still holding. I think you’re good luck.”
“I’ll try to think of some more stories.” Luke gave a tired smile over at Bodhi.
“No need. I don’t mind the silence.” Bodhi tucked himself back under the floorboards, and called out to Luke, “You know what? I think it’s my turn. Um. Okay. This is the story about the time I won eight hundred credits gambling.”
Luke made a polite noise.
“I was seven.”
Luke made an interested noise. “Okay, this should be good.”
As Bodhi told his story, Luke’s laugh came back, a certain lightness in his tone again. Bodhi didn’t examine too closely the corresponding joy building in his own chest.
Things continued, much like that. Luke usually found him in the shuttle, they would chat, kiss, eat together, sometimes schedule things for later. They didn’t discuss work, or other friends, or outside lives, but they still managed to find things to talk about. Or rather, Luke found things to talk about, Bodhi mostly listened.
Bodhi felt hideously awkward, sometimes, talking with Luke. He had figured out how, more or less, to be the Hero of the Rebellion, the Survivor of Scarif. It was a mask he hated...but one he was pretty good at wearing. The thing was, with Luke, he got to be himself...minus a whole lot of baggage. And Bodhi had never been great at easy conversation. He tended to talk someone’s ear off and then regret half the things he said.
But he tried. He told Luke carefully redacted stories of his life before the Rebellion. Things that had happened during his run with Kay, stories about growing up in NiJedha. He never named the place he grew up. It was one of the only times he regretting hiding who he was. It would have been nice to talk freely about his hometown. His childhood had a lot of horror, but that wasn’t NiJedha’s fault.
Bodhi went in and out on missions. A month went by, two months, and each time he came back there was this spike of worry as he looked for Luke. Each time he was certain that this time, this time, surely Luke knew. He braced, each and every return for the pedestal he was certain was coming.
But Luke...Luke kept on being his normal happy self. Despite everything, Luke just honestly seemed to like Bodhi.
There were a few close calls. One afternoon he was talking with Janson and Verlaine, when out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of Luke. He was terrified that Luke was going to come over, certain that either Janson or Verlaine would tender an introduction to be polite. Instead, Luke almost immediately turned and left with a complicated expression on his face.
Later, Luke sprawled out in the shuttle, propping a foot up on Bodhi’s lap. As Bodhi rubbed the arches of his foot, Luke asked, “Hey, saw you talking to some pilots earlier. Did you talk about me?” Despite his best efforts at casual speech, Luke’s whole body tensed as he asked the question.
It was a good thing Luke wasn’t a spy. He’d make a fairly terrible one.
It never stopped being a little bit startling that Luke seemed just as preoccupied with privacy as Bodhi was. It was strange, but convenient, as that preoccupation was the only way their easy companionship had lasted as long as it had. Bodhi wasn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth. “No, not at all.” He quickly cast about for a way he could describe who they were without lying. “They...provided support on a recent run, probably saved my life. We shoot the shit sometimes.”
Bodhi had to force himself not to tense in return. Janson and Verlaine didn’t usually fly together, and their roles as two of the five Original Rogues were well known. He had given Luke way too much information.
But Luke’s only response was to shrug and switch feet. Bodhi obediently rubbed at the other foot instead. He began to hope, just a little, that maybe what they were building together could withstand the looming revelation.
Less than two weeks and three short deployments later, Bodhi was taking advantage of his downtime to work on his most ambitious ship model yet, a massive Imperial-1 class star destroyer. Luke had pulled up a chair nearby and while Bodhi worked he alternated between reading his datapad and rambling about his day.
Bodhi was, admittedly, more focused on the comparing the command bridge shape to the floating blueprint than anything else, but he quickly came back to things when Luke said, “...though, I mean, nothing can really beat when the Hammerhead smashed into a Star Destroyer, which smashed into another Star Destroyer, which then crashed into Scarif’s shield gate!”
Bodhi quickly looked up at Luke, who was animatedly smashing one hand with another. Luke caught his look and grinned. “I can’t think of a more dramatic Star Destroyer takedown than that.”
Bodhi realized, watching Luke, that up until this point, nobody had talked to him about Scarif’s space battle. He had no idea how the Rebel Fleet had gotten the shield gate down again. They all assumed he knew already. But aside from the frantic flight off planet, as far as he knew all alone in a shuttle, he had no idea what had happened in the skies above Scarif.
With a not-unpleasant weight in his chest, he realized that the pain of Scarif had mellowed enough that the mere mention wasn’t setting him off. He wouldn’t mind learning more.
“I don’t think I know about that one,” Bodhi said.
“Really!? Ah, you’re going to love it. Okay, so the fleet was positioned like…”
Bodhi listened to Luke’s dramatic reenactment of the battle, glancing up to watch his wild hand gestures from time to time. At the dramatic moment of the hammerhead charge, Luke actually sprung up out of his chair and started pacing about the bay. It was...nice. Bodhi hadn’t ever thought he’d get to a point where he could discuss Scarif even tangentially without becoming devastated.
“Of course,” Luke continued, “The only reason they needed the shieldgate down in the first place was because some smooth-talking pilot managed to sneak an entire commando crew past the Empire’s noses!” Luke flopped back down in his chair. “Can you imagine...he lived through it too! He’s around here somewhere. Kinda surprised I haven't met him. He wound up in Intel. Still. He's an pilot. You think he'd come around.”
Bodhi gave a sort of full body twitch and dropped his sonic welder. Fuck. Luke’s voice was filled with that same damn awe that everyone else had, that distant sort of admiration for the mathematics of the situation. Fifteen or so people go down, one leaves. That person must be extraordinary.
Bodhi’s fingers curled into a tight fist. Nevermind that if that person had flown a little quicker, thought a little better, maybe more than one could have made it off.
Luke looked up, clearly saw the distress on Bodhi’s face. All the animation slid off of him and he looked concerned. This was it, then. This was when Luke would figure things out…
“Oh no,” Luke said.
“You lost someone down there, didn’t you.” Luke’s eyes darted around in a panic. “And you don’t want to talk about it, and I am still here, talking about it, I’m going to shut up now, I’m so sorry.”
Luke lapsed into silence while Bodhi looked down at his clenched hand. Yes. He had lost somebody. Lost his whole damn crew. He had barely known them, at that point. But they had saved him, they had worked with him, they had trusted him. He thought about what he and K-2SO had managed to grow into. What if more of the crew had survived too?
“Do you...ah, want me to go?”
Bodhi was pulled out of his reverie. He looked up to find Luke, still sitting there, looking concerned and miserable. “No,” Bodhi said. He swallowed around a lump in his throat. He and Luke stared at each other for a long moment before Bodhi stood up from the table and walked over to Luke. Luke looked up at him, concerned and puzzled.
Bodhi sat down in Luke’s lap without saying anything. He curled up, leaning his head on Luke’s shoulder. He wrapped his arms around Luke, enjoyed having a body there. “I don’t want to talk about it. Rather not be alone, either.”
Luke relaxed. “Okay.” He reached up, pulled out Bodhi’s hairband and scratched at the back of his head. He twisted and pressed a kiss against Bodhi’s forehead. “I’m here.”
Luke was kind and he didn’t know who Bodhi was. Luke was gentle and in awe of the Survivor of Scarif. Luke was solid, warm, comforting and he couldn’t last. Bodhi didn’t have much hope for the future. If he were any sort of gentleman, he’d either stay away or tell Luke.
But Bodhi was selfish. He refused to give up this simple pleasure, for as long as it lasted. Instead, Bodhi turned his face against Luke’s neck and let tears take him over. If you had asked him whether he was crying for Jedha, for Rogue One, or simply tears of self-pity, he wouldn’t have been able to tell you.
That selfishness is is how he wound up with Luke sprawled out on his bed, head tucked up against Bodhi’s chest, holovid playing on Bodhi’s lap. Bodhi ran his fingers through Luke’s hair. He drifted there, half falling asleep with the warm body next to him, and half paying attention to the vid, some cheesy action flick Luke was wanting to watch.
The vid was deeply shallow, but a fun enough excuse to have the luxury of Luke pressed up against him. It remained mildly entertaining background noise until, with no narrative warning whatsoever, the protagonist found xerself in a cave, and out of holes in the walls came a swarm of tentacles.
Bodhi’s heart started racing.
And he was back in the chair, the restraints were on his wrists and the monster was across the room.
Bodhi frantically reached forward, pawing at the holovid player, trying to find the off key. The protagonist started screaming.
Bodhi was flinging himself against the restraints, bruising his arms and legs, wanting to scream but only managing a gasping, “No. No.” The beast came closer, the tentacles crawled up his leg, across his arm.
‘It’s Luke’s arm,’ he reminded himself as he finally managed to slam the vid off. ‘It’s Luke’s body. It’s not the Bor Gullet. Don’t hurt Luke.’
Bodhi’s heart thudded against his ribs in a quick staccato, his breath came more and more uneven. Luke’s weight against him felt unbearable, felt like—
The beast was touching him and he couldn’t stop it. There was weight across his chest, around his leg, sticking suction tracing across his temple.
Bodhi wrenched himself free of Luke, curling in a defensive fetal position away from him. He swallowed, choking against his fear, and finally managed to say out loud, “I’m safe. I’m on Hoth. I’m in the shuttle.”
Luke made a noise of concern behind him. Bodhi took a breath and continued, “I feel the bed underneath me, it’s soft. I feel the holovid player, it’s hard. I hear Luke breathing, I hear the shuttle settling.” Bodhi felt himself start to settle as he felt himself putting down roots where he was at. He opened his eyes. “I see the walls, they’re grey.” He rolled over. “I see the ship models. There’s an ARC-170 starfighter and a LAAT gunship and a Y-Wing…”
Bodhi’s breathing returned to normal. He took a couple more deep breaths and reached a hand out, touching Luke. “Okay.” He took another slow breath in and out. “I’m—I’m...back. Mostly. Sorry about that.”
“Can I ask what that was?” Luke sounded a little scared.
Bodhi straightened to sitting and looked down at Luke. “Yeah. I—” Bodhi flattened his lips and looked away, still feeling overwhelmed by memories.
“You don’t have to tell me,” Luke said, quickly.
“No, I’m going to. Just…” Bodhi took in one more deep breath. “Okay. That was a flashback. Before I joined the Rebellion, I got messed up badly by a telepathic creature that looked...close enough to what was on the screen. It...I’m really lucky my brain still works, basically.”
Luke sat up too, looking worried, “Have you talked to anyone about it, like a mind healer? Maybe I could even...find you another telepath? There are probably some around who could heal—”
Bodhi cut him off. “Force, no!” Bodhi shuddered. The idea of having someone else crawl around his brain...he felt queasy bile rise in his gut. He took another breath and continued, more gently. “I am talking to people, I take my recovery seriously. I’m doing much, much better now. This is the worst reaction I’ve had in a long time, and I’m sorry to dump it on you. But I’m not touching another telepath with a ten foot pole. I can’t imagine—it would go very badly.”
Bodhi bit his lip and looked over to see how Luke was handling his little freakout. Luke did...not look well. He was pale, looking, if at all possible, even more uncomfortable than when they had been caught in the closet.
Luke pushed off the bed, stood in Bodhi’s room, barely looking at him. “I’m sorry, I can’t—I need to go.”
Bodhi grabbed at the blankets underneath him. He desperately wanted Luke to stay. “I understand.”
“No, you, it’s not—” Luke cut himself off, looked over at Bodhi, utterly distressed, practically ran out of the room.
Bodhi felt something shatter inside him as he watched Luke go.
For a long moment he clenched at the blankets and stared at the door, hoping Luke would come back through. The door opened again, but it wasn’t Luke who came through. Instead, it was K-2SO, in the maintenance droid body that he usually used while Luke was around.
“Luke left in a hurry,” K-2SO said over the intercom. “I wanted to make certain you were alright.”
Bodhi’s shoulders felt dragged down by disappointment. “No. I’m not.” He stood up from the bed, tossing the covers behind him. “Got a minute to talk?”
“Of course. I can manage at least three different processing levels at the same time. I always have ‘a minute.’ Though I suspect this conversation will take longer.”
Grief and lingering disorientation still gripped Bodhi tightly, but those emotions bled to the background as he became aware of just how grateful he was for K-2SO. He had seen enough of the world that he knew exactly how lucky he was to have someone who always had time for him.
Bodhi made his way up to the cockpit, sprawled out in the pilot’s chair. “I had a flashback. A pretty bad one.”
“This is making me rethink giving you and Luke privacy.”
“No, I got through the flashback fine...but Luke was there, he saw the whole thing, and I’m sure it was confusing. We talked about it a little, afterward. He suggested I see a telepath. I shut that one down, hard. And then he left. Guess he couldn't handle it.” Bodhi sighed miserably, ran his fingers down his face. “That was...not how I was expecting to ruin things with Luke. I honestly thought he’d be alright with it, whenever I got around to talking about trauma with him.”
“I have...input that may inform this conversation. However, giving it to you would violate the request you made to not be supplied with information regarding Luke.”
Bodhi bit his lip. Luke running off confused him. It didn’t make any sense. If there was something out there that would explain it, Bodhi desperately wanted to know. But at the same time...“No. Not right now, at least. If Luke wants to share he can share. I’m not going to push. If he never comes back...maybe then. It helps, knowing there’s more to the story.”
“You are fortunate I have been receiving regular input of drama holovids. Otherwise I would be very frustrated by the lack of communication between you and Luke. Instead, I see it as adding narrative complexity.”
Bodhi turned his palm up in an indignant gesture. “This is my life!”
“Nevertheless. It is a useful framework for viewing organic interpersonal relationship negotiation.”
Bodhi snorted. Then he shook his head a little. Talking about problems and then getting into dumb arguments—he was feeling better already. Maybe things were ruined with Luke but Bodhi wasn’t alone.
The comm gave an electronic humm.
“I know we don’t usually say this out loud but…I’m glad you’re here. That you’ve put up with me all this time. I couldn’t have even thought about starting something with Luke if I didn’t know that I had you supporting me. It’s not your job to deal with my human problems. It means so much that you do it anyway.”
“Bodhi. I have accompanied—and no doubt will accompany you—through numerous life and death situations for no other reason than the fact that you are important to me. I assumed our friendship was not in doubt.”
“It’s not in doubt, Kay, never. But we’re both growing and building contacts with other people and I...It felt important to say it. Sentiment, I know. Bear with me. No matter what happens with anyone else in my life, I trust you to be there, and I hope that you know I’ll be there for you, too.”
“I have never doubted it. You are my partner, Bodhi. Do I need to add periodic verbal reassurances of this fact to your emotional maintenance routine?”
Bodhi chuckled. “No, Kay, you’re doing great. Just...listen when I need to say things out loud.”
Chapter 5: Problematic Clouds
Bodhi had a difficult time sleeping that evening, but he had expected as much. After the third nightmare he had given up on bed and tucked himself up on the loveseat instead, bearing with ill-grace the nine episodes of “Summer in Naboo” K-2SO inflicted on him while they waited for morning.
Reeso was Bodhi’s favorite, but he wasn’t telling anyone that.
When the morning finally came he faced it with a sort of resigned acceptance and at least two times the normal amount of caf.
As Bodhi got ready for the day, K-2SO kept up a steady stream of petty arguments, sarcastic comments, and affectionate sniping. Bodhi knew K-2SO was trying to keep him from wallowing about Luke. He appreciated it.
Before he left the shuttle he made sure to turn his earbud back on. “There we go,” Kay said through the in-ear comm. “I still don’t understand why you would give up the strategic advantage of communication that can’t be overheard.”
Bodhi subvocalized back as he walked through the hallways, “At some point, I am going to be in the middle of getting it on with somebody, and you are going to give pointers.”
“I have never done that.”
“That is not the same as would not do that. And frankly, that whole idea is so horrifying to me, that I’m willing to take precautions.”
“I don’t see why this is a concern, your technique seems to be proficient enough—”
“Kay!” Bodhi hissed, horrified.
“You are very easy to tease.”
Bodhi groaned. “Well, it’s not likely to be relevant soon. Not unless Luke decides he’s ready to talk.”
“Bodhi!” A voice came from behind him.
Bodhi turned. It wasn’t Luke. It was a man, even younger than Luke was, with light brown skin and long brown hair tied back in a ponytail. “Alph.”
Alph grinned as he jogged to a halt in front of Bodhi. “Hey,” he said, slightly out of breath from his short jog. “I’ve got a thing for you. Draven said I could steal you.”
Bodhi tipped his head to the side. “I’ve got some routine check-ins coming up in the next week.”
“And I’ve already arranged for coverage. Come on, it’s been a minute since you and Kay did a solo run. This one seems like it’s up your alley.”
As Bodhi followed Alph, the comms officer started talking, “Okay, so we received this transmission, we are clearly not the intended recipient, but I recently did some soft-hand signal rerouting from Imp commsats. We got like, seventeen exabytes worth of info, obviously I’m not asking you to follow up on all of that.” Alph laughed.
Bodhi chuckled along with him. He had no idea what Alph was talking about half the time. But he had learned that he could just respond to the obvious verbal cues and K-2SO would let him know if he missed anything important.
“Anyway, this package stood out. There’s major signal degradation. My best guess is that it’s ionic interference, but it crossed a big galaxy, to get to us, it could be competing hertzal waves, exoplasmic emissions, overly-enthusiastic space whales…”
“Space...whales?” Bodhi asked.
“You’d be surprised how many comm signals we lose due to space whale interference.” Alph nodded seriously.
“That...sounds like a problem.”
“Anyway, anything in the upper terahertz is shot, but the low-band stuff—obviously, I’m talking a multi-spectrum transmission—”
“Obviously,” Bodhi murmured on autopilot.
“That stuff is good to go. And that is interesting. Redshift refraction analysis puts the best bet on location is somewhere around -374, 129, 54. That, combined with the fact that we’ve got evidence of subspace signatures, lots of those, as well as electromagentic variation between sub-millimeters. Combined with the soundwave distortion cues indicating extensive reverberation...well, I’m sure I don’t need to spell it out for you.”
Bodhi subvocalized, “Help.”
K-2SO replied, “There’s evidence of a major installation with lots of ships in assumed dead space.”
“Imperial?” Bodhi asked out loud.
Alph beamed. “Well, that’s exactly what we need you to figure out. If this is an outpost, we’ve never heard of it. Standard scope and report. Ship out scheduled for 1100, I’ll be coordinating.”
“Got it.” Bodhi gave a sharp nod to Alph and headed back to the shuttle.
“Are you going to attempt to contact Luke?” K-2SO asked.
“We’ve only got a few hours, it’s hardly enough time to discuss anything. Besides, I don’t want to harass him if he needs space. I’ll...send him a message. Let him know I’m shipping out.”
I’m out again. I’m sorry to leave when things are unsettled.
I just want you to know, I don’t expect you to deal with the fallout from lousy things I’ve seen or been through in the past. In fact, I enjoyed that I could spend time with you without all that hanging over me. It’s part of the reason I don’t talk about large swaths of my life.
But, it happened, and as we’ve seen, it will come up. I want you to know that I’m aware of it, I’m dealing with it, but I also understand if you are not looking for someone who occasionally resembles a minefield.
Take care of yourself, Luke. I hope we can talk about this when I get back.
The first stop had been a dead end, a signal-routing station. But with the data Bodhi pulled Alph was able to back-trace the signal further, and now…
“I do not like this place at all,” K-2SO said in his ear.
“It’s kinda pretty.” Bodhi looked out the window and watched the green waves undulate against the background of the stars.
“It means if you get more than fifty meters away from the shuttle I won’t be able to talk to you anymore. I can send a droid body with you, but it will be running on autonomous systems...I don’t like it.”
“Yeah, I’m not a big fan of the EM-disruption that comes with the field. But they are nice looking.”
“Aesthetics does not trump practicality.”
“That’s...a whole debate I’m not going to get into right now. Okay. Let’s poke around, quietly, and we’ll try to observe without needing to leave the shuttle. Then we won’t even have a problem.”
Despite the fact that the distorted patch of EM-field made life more difficult, Bodhi quietly held that flying through the shifting blue-green light was one of the most breathtakingly gorgeous things he had experienced in his life to date.
It did make actually triangulating the signal point a nightmare, though. Bodhi flew slowly through the zone, willing to take his time with the search rather than risk detection. Two hours into their search pattern Bodhi spotted a ship a few clicks out in front of him. Bodhi carefully followed it at a distance, until he spotted another ship coming from another direction. And another.
Bodhi pulled up and away, circling around the area.
Another half an hour of dodging ship detection and they found what Bodhi was relatively certain was the source of the fuss. It was a massive installation. There were three—no, four asteroids that appeared to be tunneled through and linked up. Jutting metallic structures joined them together, it looked like landing bays, or maybe living quarters. There seemed to be fairly steady ship traffic in and out. The whole thing would have made sense as a waystation, maybe a refuelling point, but there were enough anomalies that a sense of danger wiggled around under Bodhi’s skin.
Bodhi tried to pinpoint his concerns. The location was an obvious one, parking a station in this field only made sense if you were trying to hide. The whole point of a waystation is that ships know about it.
That was another point against it. Bodhi had run cargo not too far away from here, and cargo pilots gossip about these sorts of things. Bodhi knew which stations in this area had the best bluemilk shakes, the best dirty holovids, the best pilot showers, among other things. Some fuel station or stopover in the middle of a communication dampening field, Bodhi would have heard about it.
More than that, there was something...strange about the way the ships entered and exited the field. He told Kay, “Something’s off about the ship traffic. Not sure what.”
“I am detecting variations in speed.”
Bodhi grunted, replayed the traffic patterns in his head. “Yeah, you’re right...some ships come screaming in here, and they always land on coreside station. Rimward station traffic matches a more normal in and out.”
“So what’s happening at the coreside station?”
“That’s the question.”
A small freighter set out from one of the two center stations. Bodhi hummed in the back of his throat. “Didn’t that one land...forty-five minutes ago at the coreside station?”
After a moment, K-2SO responded, “Forty-nine, and yes.”
“Flight style is completely different now.” Bodhi steepled his fingers and leaned in closer. “I think we might have a chop shop on our hands. Bring ships in, strip them of any ID markers, shuffle them out again. Either that or it’s a smuggler waystation.”
“Extrapolating the hyperspace route indicates the freighter jumped to the outer rim, Huttspace, possibly Al'Nasrl Sector.”
“That doesn’t really help narrow things down. Stolen or smugglers, that area makes sense.”
“This does not appear to be an Imperial operation, though.”
“No. Still. We’re here, might as well scope it out. Rebellion might decide it’s worthing pitching a fight to take it as a waystation.”
Two hours later, Bodhi was strongly considering leaving K-2SO to the monitoring and taking a nap. Before he could put the plan into motion, his eye was caught by an X-Wing with sloppy paint splotches over where Rebellion markings would be emerging from one of the two middle asteroids. It jumped to hyperspace.
“That looks like a similar vector to the freighter.”
“There are subtle differences, I wouldn’t expect you to pick up on them.”
“Are they going to the same spot?” Bodhi let a little exasperation steep into his voice.
“We don’t have any bases in that area I know about. And that looked like a Rebellion model.”
“They put a minimal amount of effort into disguising the markings. It was also flying without an astromech.”
“I’m thinking chop shop is more likely, here. And they might have stolen at least one of our ships.”
“Yes. Are we ready to report back?”
“Sounds like the best bet.”
Bodhi carefully pulled away from the station. As he swung toward the coreward side in preparation to jump, he caught the edges of a transmission.
“Can you clear that signal up?”
“I would like to state again that I hate this place.”
Despite K-2SO’s complaints, the transmission repeated, more clear this time. “Repeat, this is colony vessel 0-317 from Ulda Frav. Our hyperspace motivator is damaged and we are adrift. We request immediate assistance. We can pay. Please, there are children on board. Repeat, this is colony…”
“Huh,” Bodhi said.
“The transmission is originating from the station. It is a tight beam transmission designed to project onto the local hyperspace route.”
“Fuck. This isn’t a chop shop—”
“It is a trap.”
“Yeah. And if one of our X-Wings flew out…”
“It is likely one of our pilots flew in. You’re going on to the base, aren’t you.”
“To be clear, I do not want to.”
“But you are going to. That’s how you work. Fine. I’m not sending the KX-body with you. I don’t like that one running on autonomous systems. I’ll send the secretary droid.”
“I’d protest the lack of firepower, but I’ve seen you use that taser.”
Bodhi slid down the opening he cut for himself, secretary droid following after. Behind him, he heard the sound of the shuttle taking off. It was too dangerous for K-2SO to stay close to the entrance. He would keep the shuttle safe, watch for the flares that Bodhi had with him, which would be the evac signal.
“Or blow things up. That works too.”
“That’s really more your thing,” Bodhi said as the comm line started to fuzz. “Safe flying.”
“That pilot had better be…” Bodhi’s earbud went silent. It felt deeply unnerving, walking onto a base with only K-2SO’s droid body as support. He had gotten accustomed to having him in his ear.
Still, there was a little thrill. It felt like old times, the early days of the run, back when Bodhi had needed vidclips half the time to figure out what K-2SO meant.
Bodhi had a blaster out in a loose grip as he moved through the station. If the pilot was alive, he was likely being held, and in a facility as large as this one, there was no telling where cells may be. So, first priority, find a data station, figure out where the prison cells might be. Most terminals were in high traffic areas, and Bodhi was one man with a blaster and an overpowered secretary droid as a partner. He was very motivated to avoid pirates.
Fortunately, Bodhi knew that most stations had a datahub tied to the Big Three systems, energy, atmosphere, and water. Of those, the water tanks were least likely to explode, and therefore the least well guarded. So that was where Bodhi and K-2SO cut their way in.
Their bet paid off, in the form of an isolated data terminal tucked into a corner of a cavernous room filled with water tanks. As K-2SO started combing the system, Bodhi set up guard by the door. He waited, blaster up and listening, making a mental note to himself to create a lesson on space station design principles for up and coming Intel officers.
It was the listening that saved him. He was facing away from the water tanks, but an odd echoing noise caused him to cast a quick glance over his shoulder. A figure had stepped around one of the water tanks, blaster tracking toward Bodhi.
Bodhi reacted. He threw himself away from the door, managing to duck behind a cabinet. He waited, blaster drawn. The pirate would work his way away from the water tanks, and as soon as he came into Bodhi’s line of sight, Bodhi would be ready. He should be able to get the first shot.
Bodhi’s heart pounded, but his blaster was steady in his hands.
Bodhi heard a shot, and he tensed, he still didn’t see the pirate, what was the pirate shooting at—
A horrible electronic scream echoed in the vast space, followed by a slam of metal striking floor, then an ominous silence fell.
“Kay!” Bodhi yelled, throwing himself around the cabinet. The shooter already moving toward him, but they weren’t fast enough. Bodhi took them down in a frantic hail of blaster bolts. Bodhi managed to stop and reverse his momentum, scrambling for the console. He tripped over his feet as he got close, landing on his hands and knees near where the droid body was.
It was charred, with a hole clean through it. Bodhi picked the little body up, feeling distraught. He tapped at the console, hoping that Kay had somehow managed to transfer over. “Kay?”
No response. Bodhi sat back on his heels, holding the chunk of metal. He was suddenly worried for K-2SO the shuttle. He couldn’t reach the shuttle. He couldn’t know if Kay was alright. What if they had destroyed the shuttle and Bodhi hadn't known about it? Bodhi may have just watched the last remnant of his friend die. What if he was alone?
“This isn’t helpful,” Bodhi said out loud. “Come on, Bodhi, you’re better than this.”
Bodhi took a couple quick breaths to calm himself down, then made his way to his feet and turned back to the console. Okay. Plan stayed the same. Find if there’s a holding area, get down there, see if Bodhi could get the pilot free, evac to K-2SO. Bodhi had to trust that K-2SO was smart and resourceful and upholding his end of things. They were partners, and part of that was trusting each other to get things done. Bodhi turned back to the console.
He did his best to pick through the system, find a map. He found the energy flow systems, and was trying to figure out what sort of power was needed for habitable areas when he heard a noise behind him.
Bodhi spun around, realized his blaster was still on the ground, and tried to move to cover when the figure raised a complicated looking blaster and—
Bodhi woke up in a cell.
At least, he assumed it was a cell. It was a room stripped bare of furniture, no windows, and a door that Bodhi presumed was locked from the outside. This seemed a safe assumption, as people who knock you out with blasters, put binders around your wrists, and threw you in a small room generally wanted you to stay in the room.
Bodhi still struggled his way to his feet. He shuffled over to the door and confirmed it was locked. That verified, he turned and regarded the room’s other inhabitant, an unconscious lump by the back wall.
Bodhi regarded the lump with a sinking feeling. It was a familiar sort of lump. Bodhi walked over and knelt down next to the body, noting with relief the soft rise and fall of their chest. Bodhi rolled the person over and...yes.
It was Luke. Crap.
Of all the X-Wing pilots, of course it was Luke. Bodhi wrinkled his nose, tried to calculate the likelihood of managing to get both him and Luke out of the cell without revealing who he was. Then he shook his head, dismissing the thought. The most important thing was getting Luke out safely. If his identity needed to be revealed for that to happen he would do it, in a heartbeat. Bodhi’s craving for a simple relationship seemed naive, now, with Luke unconscious next to him in a cell.
But. The bounty on Bodhi’s head was still monstrously large. K-2SO had once told him that only three people had higher bounties issued by the Empire: Mon Mothma, Princess Leia, and the Jedi that blew up the Death Star. Bodhi had never bothered to verify this for himself. Nevertheless, there were certain things that you should avoid discussing in a pirate’s base, and the fact that you are a lucrative fugitive of the Empire was one of them.
So, secrecy, for now. Bodhi reached down and brushed the blond fringe off of Luke’s face. Then he remembered how they left, remembered Luke, pale and stammering as he ran out the door. Luke...might not want him here. Definitely might not want Bodhi touching him.
So Bodhi kept his hands to himself and turned his attention to his binders. They had left his hands in front of him, which gave him better range of movement than he might have had otherwise. Bodhi wriggled his way into a cross-legged position and poked at his boots. The ship thieves hadn’t even found his ankle-sheathed vibroblade, they definitely hadn’t found the set of laser lockpicks in his boot heel.
Bodhi pulled them out, gave a mental ‘thank you’ to Kay for insisting he start keeping them on hand, and settled in to work on his binder lock. It was delicate work, and Bodhi was not an expert. He kept fumbling with the lock, growing frustrated the longer he held his wrists at an uncomfortable angle. After about a minute and a half he realized things were going to go much smoother if he could get Luke unlocked first.
Bodhi shifted back over to Luke, taking his hands. Blast. He hoped this was okay. As he started working on the latch to Luke’s binders he gave muttering curses to flashbacks that made things awkward, to decisions to not research certain vids before watching them, to holovid directors that decided to make dumb decisions like include tentacle monsters, to Galen Erso for throwing him into danger in the first place…
He was somewhere around cursing the universe as a whole for allowing mind-stealing tentacle monsters to even exist in the first place when Luke stirred. Bodhi bit his lip. He was close, if Luke would just hold still a few seconds longer…
Luke jerked his hands back and Bodhi sighed. Almost. He glanced up at Luke’s face, to find Luke staring at him in dismay.
So the hand touching wasn’t okay. Good to know.
“Dhi,” Luke said, struggling to sit up with a concerned look on his face. “They got you too?”
Then Luke leaned forward, Luke’s hand was back in his, Luke was scooting closer to him, and it was a terrible situation but all Bodhi could think was how relieved he was that whatever was growing between him and Luke hadn’t been entirely broken. Bodhi grabbed at Luke’s hands in return, and with a tiny smile Luke said, “I guess you heard the same signal. There was a distress call but when I got here...” Luke trailed off.
“Yes,” Bodhi said quickly. “I was flying cargo and then I…”
The lie died on his lips. For all that he wasn’t telling Luke, he hadn’t lied to him. Bodhi shook his head. He still needed to keep who he was a secret, now for safety’s sake as much as for privacy. But there was still some truth Bodhi could tell. He let go of Luke’s hands and scooted back.
Bodhi took a deep breath. “Luke. There’s something I need to tell you. I haven’t been entirely honest with you. I’m actually in Intel. I was here doing recon when I saw your ship leave the base.”
A quick series of expressions crossed Luke’s face. Surprise definately featured, a little bit of confusion filtered in, then realization. “Oh! Okay. That explains some things.” Luke’s expression shifted again, to something resembling determination. “Actually. I should tell you, I'm…”
Bodhi watched the determination melt off of Luke’s face, replaced by...fear? “...really glad you're here. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m sorry, by the way, for how I left things.”
“We can talk about that later. For right now, give me your wrists and I’ll see what I can do about these binders.”
“O-okay.” Luke offered his wrists over to Bodhi, who brought out his lockpick again and started working at the lock. Luke’s breath was going quicker, he seemed nervous as his eyes darted around the room. Bodhi was tempted to pull him in for a hug and distract him with a kiss. But right now, Bodhi needed to keep his head together and get them out of here. He needed to be Captain Rook, not Dhi.
He kept his tone level and low, the ‘pretending-to-be-a-responsible-adult’ voice he used around green intelligent agents and skittish contacts as he spoke to Luke. “Right now, this looks bad, but I promise, I will get us out of here. I have been in far worse situations than this one. Now, eventually, someone is going to check on us. They know you’re an X-Wing pilot, I’m a mystery to them. Let’s try to keep it that way. They may I.D. me, but we’re going to make them work for it. Understood?”
Luke swallowed, hard. “I understand. I won’t—um. Say anything.”
Bodhi glanced up. Luke was edging toward pink again, shifting uncomfortably. “You alright?”
Luke gave a frustrated sigh. “I’ll tell you when you get the cuffs off.”
Bodhi hummed an affirmative and twisted the lockpick. He kept up the responsible adult voice and said, “If there’s something I should know, you tell me. Don’t assume I know better. I need the best information to make smart decisions.”
“It’s nothing.” Luke sounded a little choked.
Bodhi didn’t quite believe Luke, but decided to trust him for the moment. He focused back in on the mechanism and was relieved find that it was faster the second time around. Still, as the seconds stretched to minutes, Luke’s hands started to shake a little, throwing Bodhi’s laser off. “Luke. I know this is hard, you are doing very well, but I need you to keep your hands still for me. If you need to, focus on your breathing, take deep slow breaths.”
Luke’s hands stopped shaking almost immediately and he started to breath, deep and from his diaphragm.
“Very good,” Bodhi said
Luke’s breathing stuttered a little, but his hands stayed steady. A careful ten seconds later, the binders gave a soft, ‘snick’ and sprung open.
Bodhi put his hand on Luke’s knee. “Alright, you can move your hands now. Don’t take the binders all the way off, the fact that we know you’re free and they don’t is a major advantage.
“Okay.” Luke flexed his hands.
Bodhi held out his left leg. “Alright, here’s the next thing, there’s a knife sheathed in my boot, I need you to find the handle. Don’t draw it, but know where it is. If it comes to combat before I’ve got my hands free, you use this knife.”
He felt Luke’s hands on his legs, eventually wrapping around the handle of the vibroblade. Bodhi nodded, twisting his hands to work on his own binders. “Well done. You’re doing beautifully, Luke.”
Luke swallowed hard, still looking nervous.
“Do you want to talk about what’s making you upset now?”
“Ah.” Luke threw a sheepish grin in Bodhi’s direction. “Did you know that your I’m-An-Intel-Officer voice is the same as your I-Have-Someone-Pinned-Against-A-Wall voice?”
Bodhi choked. “What?” His voice was back in his normal register.
“And we’ve already established That Voice really works for me so with you there, giving orders and saying things like ‘You’re doing beautifully’ all confident and smooth...”
Bodhi snorted a laugh as he worked. “Force, Luke, I thought you were out of your mind with fear. But no. You’re just horny.”
Luke hunched, looking simultaneously amused and sheepish. “You can see why I didn’t want to say anything.”
“It’s fine,” Bodhi said, banter helping him work on his own binders. “I understand. It’s a well documented media phenomenon that people drop their pants in the presence of sexy Intel officers.”
Luke nearly choked with laughter. “Nevermind. Problem solved. Suddenly I have no desire to sleep with you whatsoever.”
“You’re not telling me the truth, Luke,” Bodhi said, using That Voice. “I’m disappointed.”
“Fuck you,” Luke said, sounding strangled.
“This is the best day ever,” Bodhi replied, back in his normal register.
“We are locked in a prison cell! On a pirate base that nobody knows we went to!”
“And even that didn’t stop you from wanting to—”
The handle on the door turned. Bodhi tucked his lockpicks up his sleeve. He looked over at Luke. “I’m a cargo pilot.”
Luke nodded and the door opened.
Chapter 6: Changing Plans
A man walked through, tall and sharp-looking, blond hair pulled back in a tight ponytail, wearing the most ostentatious purple coat Bodhi had ever seen. “Oh good!” he said, strolling into the room. “You’re awake. It would be a shame for me to come in here and gloat only to find you unconscious.”
The man walked over, coming to a rest in front of Luke, looking down. “Allow me to introduce myself. Vels Darennsé, at your service. Or should I say, you are at mine. I’m certain you’ll be glad to know that your ship fetched us a handsome sum of credits. Nearly as much as you will. Pretty face like that, somebody is going to pay very well for it.”
Luke’s lip drew back into something resembling a snarl.
Darennsé tsk’d. “You’ll learn. They treat you better when you smile. But you, dear boy, are not the main attraction.”
Bodhi’s heart sank. With a cruel smile over at him, Darennsé pulled out a holoprojector and pushed a button. And there was his face, spinning, his name emblazoned underneath in block letters. “Isn’t that right, Bodhi Rook.”
There was a soft gasp from next to him but Bodhi couldn’t bring himself to look over at Luke. He stared straight ahead, past his picture in slow rotation, fixing his gaze on some point in the far wall.
Darennsé chuckled, directing his next words to Luke. “So, you’ve heard of the young man? I take it you didn’t know before now. So you understand my shock to find out we were entertaining such distinguished company.”
Luke didn’t say anything in response. Bodhi’s guilt was nearly gagging him. He should have told Luke. Should have told him ages ago. He shouldn’t be finding out like this.
“The Survivor of Scarif. The Last Son of Jedha. Murderer.” Darennsé pivoted, purple coat flapping, stepping over toward Bodhi. “You’ve done quite a bit of damage, Mr. Rook. I was simply going to ship you off with blue-eyes over here, after all, healthy young men are worth their weight in credits, but this! We’re going to be rich tonight. Do I sell you to the Zygerrians for disrupting their slaving ring? I’m tempted, you know, that cut into my profit margin. Ah, but somehow I doubt they’ll be able to pay more than the Empire will.”
He turned back to Luke, pacing, seeming to enjoy his grandstanding. “Did you know your friend there blew up a Star Destroyer? Fifty thousand souls lost, by his hand. How does he sleep at night, I wonder?"
Bodhi tried very hard not to wince. He suspected he did not succeed. But...what Darennsé was saying was the truth. Truth said cruelly, but truth nonetheless. And that was it, then. That was the end of any innocence between him and Luke.
“You don’t think about it like that,” Luke said, an edge of bitter amusement in his voice.
“Hm?” Darennsé seemed thrown off by a response to his monologue.
“You can’t.” Luke chuckled a little. “You’ll drive yourself mad. So you say, it had to be done. The alternative was worse. And you ignore it. That’s how you sleep at night.”
“Well...I think you’ll find that the Empire is not so keen on forgiving Mr. Rook—”
“You poor man,” Luke said, and started laughing. The laughter was bitter and a deadly current curled through it. “You still think I’m talking about Dhi.”
There was a snap, a hiss, a looping hum, and then a torso fell one way, purple coat flapping, while Darennsé’s head fell the other, bouncing gruesomely. Bodhi looked at the torso, for some reason his brain was stuck on the fact that there wasn’t any blood.
Slowly, finally, Bodhi looked over at Luke. Luke, who stood there, looking like a recruitment poster, stance sure and lightsaber glowing.
Lightsaber. Luke. “Luke Skywalker.” Bodhi’s mouth fell open a little.
“That’s right Bodhi Rook. Fifty thousand? Amateur. Comm me when you you pass your first five hundred thousand.” Luke gave a wan smile, his words more mockery than bravado.
Right. Luke Skywalker who blew up the Death Star. Who knew a thing or two about having a kill count. Bodhi struggled to his feet, staring at Luke.
“Hold out your arms for me, will you?” Luke said.
Bodhi numbly held out his arms, watched as the lightsaber cut through the durasteel like it was Houjix cheese.
“Sorry I didn’t use your vibroblade. I brought my own.” Luke gave a weak chuckle at his own joke and powered down the lightsaber. He shifted, staring at Bodhi. “So, there’s a conversation we need to have...”
Bodhi looked down at his sliced cuffs, over at Luke. Who was apparently a Jedi. "No shit."
There was a long moment where they stared at each other. Bodhi had a thousand questions and was desperate to give ten thousand explanations. But they all piled up in his chest, never making it past his throat.
Bodhi looked away from Luke, eyes catching on the body at the floor, as he glanced over at the door. "Maybe not here, though. We need to get off this base before anyone else comes to check on us."
Bodhi bent down and started rummaging through the body. He tucked Darennsé’s blaster into his own belt, and checked the coat’s inside pockets.
“We need to shut the signal off. Who knows how many other people they’ll capture if we don’t?”
Bodhi looked up at Luke, a little exasperated. “My mission is to observe and report back. I’m not even supposed to be on the base, and now you want me to sabotage it?”
“No, I want us to sabotage it.” Luke paused for a moment. “If you weren’t even supposed to be on the base, why were you in a cell with me?”
Bodhi flattened his lips and looked back at the purple-jacketed headless torso. “I saw the X-Wing fly away. Realized that there was probably some sweet thickheaded dolt of a Rebellion pilot who got suckered in by that distress call and decided to be stupidly heroic.”
Luke made a noise of protest, “It might have been real…” He trailed off, looking thoughtful. “Wait. You came to save me?”
Bodhi cleared his throat. “I came to save a pilot. Didn’t have to be you.”
“You come charging into a base alone because there might be a pilot still alive who needed saving? Now who’s stupidly heroic?”
Bodhi made a made a noise of discomfort. “It’s my job…” He started to get the prickles under his skin that he always got when people assumed that he was in any way extraordinary. He did the job in front of him. That was all.
“Yeah. Mine too.”
The anxious crawling under Bodhi’s skin faded away. He realized that Luke wasn’t putting him on a pedestal, he was clearing out some space next to the one he was already perched on top of, and inviting Bodhi up. It felt entirely different.
Of course, that’s when Luke had to go and ruin it. Luke continued, “Which is why you’re going to work with me to dismantle the signal before we get out of here. Come on. You’re really okay with leaving that trap open for the next thickheaded dolt to fall into? The next one might not have a lightsaber.”
Force take idealistic pilots with pretty blue eyes. “Maybe we could see if there’s an easy way to—you had your lightsaber the whole time.”
Bodhi glared up at Luke. Luke had the good grace to look chagrined. “You...seemed to have it under control?”
“I seemed to have it under—!” Bodhi glared at Luke. A lightsaber, while he was struggling with lockpicks. Honestly, what sort of pirates were these, that they would throw someone into a cell without properly searching them first? Missing Bodhi’s ankle-sheath was bad enough, but missing an entire plasma sword was reprehensible.
Bodhi shook his head, stopped critiquing their captors’ professionalism, and started wrestling the coat off of the pirate. “You made me fumble with lockpicks. Just for that, you’re wearing the coat.”
“I fail to see how that has anything to do with my secret. I am not wearing a dead man’s coat.”
Bodhi pried the coat off and held it up. “You want to go sabotage the signal? You wear the corpse cloak.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. You’re trying to—”
“Keep us alive! This coat is two seconds of confusion. Anyone who looks at this on a blond man is going to be stunned for a moment or two and that might be enough that they don’t shoot first.”
Luke’s eyes narrowed. “That makes sense. I don’t trust it.” He folded his arms. “Be honest with me. How much of this is just wanting me to wear a ridiculous coat?”
“Thirty percent,” Bodhi answered without hesitation. Spending time with Kay had made him good at blunt percentages. “But I promise, the other seventy is going to help keep us alive while we go be idiotically heroic.”
Bodhi and Luke moved down the hallway, Luke moving ahead, coat flapping out behind him and his lightsaber out but not ignited. Bodhi was filled with so much glee at the coat he quietly revised the percentage to thirty-five. He had more complicated feelings about the lightsaber.
Bodhi followed behind with a blaster looted off of the corpse Luke had created. With his lightsaber. This was going to take some adjusting to.
The weight of unspoken questions weighed heavily between them. Still, Bodhi figured now was not the best time to talk about it. They could dissect things after they had disabled the comm center and gotten to safety.
First they needed to figure out where the comms center was. They made it to a terminal and Bodhi did his best to retrace his process of pulling up a map while Luke stood guard.
As Bodhi typed, Luke cleared his throat and said, “I kept trying to find ways to tell you. It never felt right. I wanted you to know, though. But by the time I realized I wanted you to know we had gone on so long...I’m sorry.”
Apparently, Luke thought this was the best time to talk about it. Fine. Bodhi could work and talk at the same time. He said bluntly, “I didn’t want you to know. I knew you were going to find out, but I was never going to be the one to tell you.”
“Because you didn’t trust me?” Luke sounded more curious than hurt.
“Because I hate the titles. I’m not proud of being the only organic to make it off of Scarif. Of being the reason my home city is gone. I wouldn’t change what I did but I never wanted the accolades.” Bodhi sighed. “But that’s not all of it. I liked the simplicity of what I had with you. I wasn’t willing to risk it.”
“That’s...I think that’s part of why I didn’t say anything either. Everyone else has these expectations. I liked just being Luke.”
“Got the map.” Bodhi went quiet for a minute while he figured out where they were. Luke came over behind him, looking at the map over his shoulder.
Bodhi tried to focus on the map, but with the weight of Luke’s presence behind him he felt the rising pressure of things needing to be said. He gave in. “Even now, with you finding out in one of the worst ways possible, I still appreciate what we had together. I can’t bring myself to regret it...” Bodhi smiled and he was certain it had a bitter twist to it. “Guess it’s good for you to know what you’re dealing with. Fundamentally, I’m very selfish.”
Bodhi’s heart was pounding as he looked back to the map. He waited for Luke’s response.
He wasn’t expecting Luke’s bright laugh. “No you’re not.” Luke’s tone made it clear that he thought Bodhi was being eminently idiotic. “You were kind to a curious pilot and careful with me and you gave me footrubs and a safe place to be and never pressured me into something I didn’t want to do...” Luke paused. “Everyone in my life knows that I made the shot that took out the Death Star. Han and Leia are pretty much the only two people left alive that remember who I was before that battle. You let me know I’m still worth something as just Luke. That's not selfish at all.”
Bodhi shook his head, overwhelmed by some complicated tangle of emotions and trying to generate something resembling a plan for handling the signal. “I appreciate it,” he finally managed. It seemed so inadequate, the barest outline of his emotional state. He didn’t have time to try to fill in the picture. “I’ve got a route to the comms bay. I think we should try to take it over before we destroy it, we can make contact with my shuttle.”
Bodhi traced a line through the map, watched Luke. Luke nodded, seriously. “My ship is gone, right?”
“Yeah. We might be able to figure out where it went?”
Luke looked worried. “Do you know if the ship still had it’s astromech?” He looked away, running his hand through his hair. “Artoo had better be okay,” he said more to himself than anyone else.
Bodhi shook his head. “No, it was flying unaccompani—Holy fuck, I was given the shovel talk by Artoo-Deetoo.” Luke looked at him a little odd, Bodhi shook his head. “Sorry, inappropriate timing. Okay...let’s work on getting to the comms station and making contact with Kay, then. He can help us figure out where R2 might be. I promise we will figure out what happened to him and get him out of here before we leave. Though, if half the legends are true, he’s half-way back to the Rebellion on his own by now.”
They made it about twenty feet down the hall before Luke stopped abruptly and hissed, “Kay. K-2SO. Your shuttle. Oh Force, I have been inside K-2SO! I made out with you inside K-2SO!”
“Yeah. That one I do regret. I really should have told you, I’m sorry—”
Luke whirled on Bodhi, getting into his face and hissing frantically, “I’m in the friggin’ Rogue Squadron. We are named after the two of you! How did I not figure this out!?”
Bodhi tipped his head to the side.
There was a shout in front of them, three pirates starting to scramble for their weaponry. Bodhi and Luke tucked themselves into cover, Bodhi started returning fire as Luke edged down the hallway toward them. Bodhi took one out with shots, Luke deflected a blaster bolt into the second, and sliced the third down.
Bodhi jogged to catch up to Luke, as he did so realizing…”You’re in the Rogue Squadron. You fly with Janson! He’s talked about you! How did I not realize you’re the same Luke?”
“You do know Janson,” Luke said as they moved down the hallway again. “The reason you were talking with Janson and Verlaine is because you’re the Original Rogues! You were never talking about me! Force, I am full of myself.”
“Kriff, no, you’re not full of yourself, I’m full of myself! Leia talked to me about you! I thought she was taking a weird interest in a random X-Wing pilot.”
“No! Leia talked to me about you! I thought she was concerned I was taking advantage of an oblivious cargo pilot.” Luke gestured in frustration, pointing at Bodhi.
“They knew. Everyone knew who you were, who I was,” Bodhi realized.
“They just assumed that we knew too,” Luke said. He and Bodhi stared at each other, looking horrified.
How did this go on for months!?” Bodhi said. “I’m an Intel agent. I’m supposed to be good at this sort of thing.”
“You’re an Intel agent? I’m a Jedi! Sort of! It’s complicated! But still!”
“We are idiots.” Bodhi shook his head.
Luke put his arms on Bodhi’s shoulders. “We can never tell anyone.”
[Too late,] a very smug whistle came from behind them. Bodhi and Luke whirled to face the small blue and white astromech.
“Artoo!” Luke said, forgetting his distress in the clear relief that the droid was alright.
[You look like a buffoon. Why are you wearing that purple monstrosity?]
Luke glared at Bodhi, “I don’t know.”
At that point, a ferocious looking masked Kaleesh came around the corner. It reached for its comm, saying, “I’ve got Vels, everything looks fine.” Putting the comm down, the pirate jogged a couple feet toward them. “There you are. We’ve been looking for...hey, you’re not—” the pirate reached for his belt, a second of indecision between his gun and his comm.
Bodhi shot him. “That’s why you’re wearing the coat, Luke.”
“I am so angry that actually worked.” Luke looked faintly exasperated.
“Well, we still should get moving. There’s going to be more of them every second.”
Luke’s expression turned mulish. “We’re going to disable that signal first.”
A DUM-series repair droid emerged from the comms center. “Already done.” It turned to the astromech. “See, I told you that at least one of them was going to insist on disabling the signal. Just as well we took care of it.” The droid tipped its head to the side as he considered Luke, “Nice coat.”
Luke’s lips flattened.
“It’s a sore spot,” Bodhi said, with entirely false sympathy. He grinned over at the droid, “Good to see you, Kay. Shuttle alright?”
“It was when I left it. The EM field prevents me from verifying.”
“I hate this place. Well, let’s get back to the shuttle and get out of here.”
Luke’s forehead furrowed. “I feel a bit behind here...you’ve already disabled the signal?”
[Even better. We replaced the signal with fourteen uninterrupted hours of Verpine choral arrangement, linked the outgoing transmissions to the internal comm, and made it nearly impossible to disable.]
“That’s cruel.” Bodhi was impressed.
[Bastards knocked me out and stole my ship. They deserve it.] Artoo whistled and rocked back and forth. Bodhi mused that if you couldn’t speak binary it probably looked adorable. [Hey, my human and your human finally figured out they’re both famous.]
“I’m not your human,” Luke protested.
[Keep telling yourself that.]
“It’s about time,” Kay told Bodhi. “I was losing all respect for your observational skills.”
Bodhi smirked at the droid. “That implies you had some respect for my skills in the first place. How about you save yelling at me for how dumb I am until after we get back to the shuttle?”
Bodhi was learning how to tell the difference between K-2SO running a droid body on autonomous systems and K-2SO with the full range of his shuttle processing. It was subtle differences, something in the way the bodies moved, shifts in the speech pattern.
A tension Bodhi had scarcely been aware of suddenly relaxed when the DUM-series pit droid started swinging its arms that little hair differently, the bounce back in it’s step that was missing when it ran autonomously. Bodhi subvocalized, “You there?”
K-2SO answered, in his earbud, “I hate this EM field.”
“Gotta agree with you there. Any hostiles between us and you?”
There was a creaking noise over the earbud, and then nearly deafening shot went off from two rooms over. Luke and Artoo dove for cover.
Bodhi sighed. “I don’t know what I was expecting.” For the sake of the panicked pile of purple coat, he said out loud, “You just plasma cannoned pirates, didn’t you.”
“Only after I knew where you were.” K-2SO’s droid body said. “I was very restrained and did not shoot until I ensured that you would not be collateral damage.
Bodhi watched Luke straighten up and act very seriously like he hadn’t been worried at all. He really was a horrible liar.
“Shuttle’s in the next room.” Bodhi jerked his chin. “Let’s get out of here.”
They made it into the shuttle without much issue. As soon as the ramp closed behind them, the shuttle started to takeoff. Bodhi made an abortive attempt to get to the pilot’s seat and was stopped by K-2SO blocking the way to the ladder.
“No.” The droid body folded its arms, a ridiculously human gesture that K-2SO must have picked up from one holovid or another. “There are no ships flying intercept, and no expectation of combat. You and Luke need to engage in appropriate communication.”
Bodhi sort of spluttered over at K-2SO while Luke looked confused.
K-2SO started herding R2-D2 toward the hatch leading up to the pilot’s cockpit. “We will give you privacy.”
R2-D2’s whistle was indignant. [There’s no way I’m going to—]
“I will show you how to fire the ion cannon.”
“You have to work your way up to the plasma cannon. Come on.” K-2SO called over his shoulder as they vanished into the cockpit, “You’ll have the most privacy in the bedroom. And don’t forget to turn your earbud off!”
The hatch slammed shut behind them. Luke looked a little poleaxed. “Is he...always like that?”
Bodhi shrugged, and pulled out his earbud. “I’ve literally lived inside of him for the last two years or so. The boundaries are fuzzy. He’s blunt, but he knows what he’s talking about.” Bodhi walked over to the door to the bedroom and paused, tipping his head to the side. “Well, now he does. Remind me to tell you about the time that he thought I was having a panic attack when I was, in fact, having a horribly-timed crush.”
Luke followed Bodhi over to the bedroom, looking suddenly hesitant. Bodhi held up his arms in a placating gesture, “Hey. I know this is a lot. You’re under no obligation to talk to me, and definitely not in the bedroom. If you need to take time to think…”
Luke shoved past him, stalking into the bedroom. “I’m not scared of your bedroom.”
Bodhi followed Luke in. It was a small space, three-quarters of it taken up by a double bed. It seemed entirely too small for the argument Bodhi was worried was brewing, judging by the shift in Luke’s mood.
“I just…” Luke ran his hands through his hair, anger fading into worry. “I remember what happened the last time we were in here.”
Bodhi’s heart seized and he swallowed back the emotional echo of sitting on the bed, distraught, watching Luke leave.
“Scared of me, then,” Bodhi forced himself to say.
“No!” Luke threw his hands in the air. “You’re scared of me! Dhi, I’m a telepath. At least partially. And I was around you and reading your emotions and I never told you. You said, sitting right there, that you were never touching one of those. A ten-foot pole was mentioned. ‘It would go very badly,’ were your exact words. I think it’s pretty reasonable to assume you don’t want me around!”
Bodhi groaned in understanding. “Kriff. You—that explains so many things.”
“Yeah. I got your letter. I’m not scared of your baggage, idiot. But I couldn’t justify forcing mine on you.”
“You’re not a telepath.”
Luke inhaled, a sharp glint in his eyes letting Bodhi know that he was ready to fight. Bodhi held up a hand, trying to forestall whatever Luke had to say. It looked like Luke might keep talking over him, so Bodhi quickly added, “I’m not saying you couldn’t be. I’m just saying that you are not what I was thinking of when I said that.”
“It doesn’t really matter what you thought. I didn’t tell you—” Luke started to say.
Bodhi was having none of it, “And I didn’t tell you! Luke, we’ve known each other for months now. And maybe I didn’t tell you everything, and maybe you didn’t tell me everything, but kriff, Luke, what was there was honest. So honestly, Luke, I can say you’re not what I’m afraid of. You’re Luke. Whatever else you are, you’re Luke first. At least to me.”
Luke closed his eyes, let out all the breath in his lungs in one big rush. When he looked back at Bodhi, his eyes were rimmed with red, there was a certain stunned disbelief. Luke’s eyes ran over Bodhi’s face. Whatever he saw, it seemed to finally break through the guilt and fear that he had been carrying with him. A smile unfurled across his face, it was like watching a spark catch dry tinder, inconsequential at first, consuming in moments.
When Luke finally spoke his voice was hoarse with swallowed tears. “Bodhi… you’re.” He wiped a hand across his eyes, then dragged it through his hair. “Kriff, I really want to kiss you. Is it okay if I kiss you?”
Bodhi crossed the room in three quick steps, wrapped his arms around Luke, and gave him the fiercest kiss he could manage. There were so many things Bodhi didn’t know how to say. Gratitude that Luke was here, that there weren’t any more secrets between them. That Luke knew who he was and what he had done and still stood in his bedroom, asking for Bodhi to come closer. He tried to pour all that into the kiss, the relief and thanks and joy and tentative hope for the future.
Luke wrapped himself around Bodhi in turn, pressing back, and Bodhi hoped he was feeling some of the same.
The kiss went on for a while, reassurances found in soft noises and hands along backs and bodies pressed together. Bodhi found himself craving more, craving hands under clothes and bodies under blankets. It would be so easy, to shift, to deepen the kiss, to shove Luke back against the bed…
That was when he took a step back. It wasn’t up to Bodhi to push at the boundaries of their intimacy. He still remembered Luke’s fear, in the closet. Not all of it was concern that the last of the Jedi had been caught grinding up on a cargo pilot. At least some of it was pointed at the grinding itself. And Bodhi would sooner shoot himself in the foot than make Luke uncomfortable again.
Luke’s expression was all giddy excitement, and Bodhi relaxed.
“I never thought I’d get this. Not with somebody who knew my name.” Luke’s eyes shone, and he brought a hand up to push the tears away.
As his hand dropped away again, Luke seemed to stare at his arm, and his expression fell into offense. “I forgot I was still wearing this damn coat.”
Bodhi laughed and Luke shoved him away. Bodhi stumbled, tripping into the bed, and gave up on fighting momentum. He wound up sprawled across the bed, propped up on his elbows. Luke glared at him, and started angrily removing the coat.
Bodhi swallowed. His cock had very definite opinions about forceful young men shoving him down on a bed and starting to strip. Namely, it was in favor.
Bodhi coughed, struggling his way upright and turning to give Luke some privacy. Luke made a concerned noise. “Hey, it’s okay, I’m not actually mad about the coat.”
Bodhi laughed and supposed that he owed Luke an embarrassed confession or two at this point. “I know. But it turns out that I’m more than a little turned on by gorgeous young men tearing their clothes off in my bedroom.” Bodhi gave a sheepish little grin.
Luke looked delighted. “Oh really?” He stepped forward, pulling at Bodhi’s far shoulder so that Bodhi turned to face him. Then he pushed a little, guiding Bodhi to sit back down on the bed. Bodhi sat, watching Luke with uncertain eyes.
Luke stood square in front of Bodhi and dropped the purple coat off of his shoulders, giving it a derisive kick into the corner of the room. Then he took a little breath, reaching up to the side of the flak jacket and unhooking that, pulling it sideways and up over his head. It was tossed on top of the purple coat. Then Luke knelt down, first taking off one boot, one sock, then the others.
He looked up at Bodhi from his knees, and Bodhi just about had a heart attack. Bodhi’s mouth had already dried out while watching Luke. When he spoke, it was something closer to a whisper than normal speech. “Luke.” Bodhi licked at his lips, and tried again, “Luke, where is this going?”
Luke looked away, face tinging to pink as he grabbed his boots and tucked them up against the bed. He reached forward and took Bodhi’s right leg, removing Bodhi’s boot. “I’m not...sure,” Luke finally said as he, much slower, peeled the sock off as well. Luke ran his fingernails across the top of Bodhi’s foot before turning his attention toward Bodhi’s other boot. “You know how you said to enjoy the moments and see what feels right? This feels right.”
Bodhi shivered, the air on his bare feet making him feel exposed, vulnerable. “I’ll follow your lead, then. Just tell me what you want. Or don’t want.”
Luke leaned forward, resting his chin on the top of Bodhi’s knee. “Is there anything you don’t want?”
Bodhi was so full of anticipation and affection that he wanted to promise Luke anything, everything, the galaxy if he could manage it. But he realized Luke’s question had some practical implications he needed to address. “Don’t tie me down,” Bodhi said softly, reaching up to brush his fingers across Luke’s cheek, “and whatever you’ve done so far with the Force is fine, but let’s not try anything new.”
Luke nodded, taking what Bodhi said seriously. His chin dug into the top of Bodhi’s thigh.
“Aside from that…” Bodhi trailed off. “Whatever you want. Is there anything I shouldn’t do?” He flattened his palm against Luke’s cheek.
Luke leaned into it, closing his eyes. “Nothing I know of.”
After a moment, Luke grinned, getting to his feet. “I feel like I need to make sure you know that I have no idea what I’m doing. Jedi training gave me no mystical sex powers. I am not hiding any ancient sex knowledge.”
Bodhi bit his lip as he stared up at Luke. He couldn’t help the giggle that slipped through, quickly followed by another. Luke started giggling too. Their giggles ran over each other and grew into a full-blown gale of laughter, Luke bracing a hand on his shoulder, Bodhi’s head tipped to rest against Luke’s stomach.
Bodhi gasped for breath. “Oh, that was good. I needed that.” Bodhi swallowed the last few chuckles and grinned up at Luke. “Listen, in general, I have no idea what I’m doing either. But this, right here, I’m pretty good at.”
“Oh, are you?” Luke said, looking at him through lowered lashes.
“Yes,” Bodhi said simply, and was pleased to feel Luke shiver a little. “But I’ve got no expectations. You can call stop at any time.”
Luke tipped his head to the side. “You have no idea, do you, how different you are. I can’t think of a single person in my life who is as careful with me as you are.” Luke pulled Bodhi’s hair out of his hairtie in a practiced gesture, almost absent mindedly scratching at the back of Bodhi’s head as Bodhi’s hair tumbled around his face. “I thought for certain that would all go away once you found out my last name was Skywalker. When you found out everything I can do.”
“And I decided, after that time in the closet, that I didn’t want to get too deep with you. Because you were certain to figure it out, and I knew I’d shatter if you changed after I let myself care.” Luke tugged at the back of Bodhi’s hair until Bodhi looked up at him. There was a rueful tilt to Luke’s head. “I failed at that, by the way. Figured not having sex was enough to keep things casual, but it backfired. We spent all this time talking and sharing and being around each other…”
“And you knew it was going to change,” Bodhi picked up where Luke left off. “You knew it couldn’t last but you couldn’t bring yourself to let it go.”
“And now?” Bodhi asked.
“Now…” Luke bit his lip. “Now I can’t think of a single reason to not sleep with you. So go ahead and get some expectations, Bodhi Rook.”
Chapter 7: Good Words
A slow smile stretched its way across Bodhi’s face, and he saw a wicked grin echo on Luke’s. Then Luke pushed back from him, reaching his hands up to his collar, undoing the tab. He reached for the zipper before Bodhi interrupted him. “Can I? I’ve spent a lot of time dreaming about zipping you out of that flight suit.”
Luke pulled his hands away and spread his arms, a clear invitation. Bodhi stepped up off the bed, putting his hands along Luke’s neck, easing the orange off of his shoulders. He shuddered in anticipation as he revealed Luke’s undershirt, then his bare shoulders, his arms—Bodhi was seized by the sudden desire to leave Luke like this, half-tangled in his flight suit, shove his his hand down the bottoms and take Luke into hand, overwhelm him and undo him, then zip him back up again.
Another time, perhaps.
Some of the echos of his stray thoughts must have shown on his face, as Luke pushed forward to kiss Bodhi as he struggled his way out of his flight suit. Bodhi remembered he was supposed to be helping, and eventually they managed to get Luke free of the orange jumpsuit, standing in front of Bodhi barefoot, wearing an undershirt and workout shorts, miles more skin than Bodhi had seen so far.
He found himself staring at Luke, who shifted under the attention. “This is feeling a bit unequal,” Luke muttered.
Bodhi took the hint, shrugging his way out of his own vest, then took the hem of his shirt and pulled it up over his head with very little ceremony. Even before the shirt was clear of his head, he felt Luke’s hands on his torso, reverently running his fingertips from Bodhi’s collarbone, down his chest, ending above the clasp on Bodhi’s pants. Luke ran his fingers over the clasp and Bodhi’s breath caught in his throat as he tossed the shirt away into their growing clothes pile.
Luke turned pink and darted his fingers away again, back up to Bodhi’s stomach. Bodhi chuckled. “Aw.”
“I’m savoring,” Luke said, quick grin peeking through the blush.
“Well then, continue.”
Luke’s took quick advantage of Bodhi’s invitation, his fingers feeling divine against Bodhi’s skin. Bodhi was shortly reduced to making soft noises of encouragement as he reached forward in return.
Before he could actually spend much time exploring Luke, Luke stepped away from him, eyes darting over to the bed. “It seems a little silly to just stand here when there’s a bed right there.” Luke turned his words into action a second later, turning and crawling on to the bed and laying down on his back. “You coming?”
Bodhi was never going to turn down an invitation like that. He climbed on after Luke, crawling over him and finally settling to a sit down across his hips. He looked down on Luke with a smile, grabbed Luke’s hands and brought them back up to his torso. “I believe you were in the middle of savoring.”
Luke laughed, getting the idea and running his hands over Bodhi’s chest again. Bodhi made a contented noise in the back of his throat and shifted happily on top of Luke. Bodhi’s pleased wiggling was met with a gasp from Luke. The light roaming stopped and Luke’s fingers tensed.
Bodhi smirked slightly and shifted again, deliberately pressing his ass against Luke’s hardening cock. He circled his hips again, enjoyed the feeling of Luke taking an interest in the proceedings.
“Ah!” Luke said, loud enough his voice echoed in the small room. A second later he shoved his forearm against his mouth, whining around it.
Bodhi grabbed Luke’s hand, pulling the arm away, He pressed a kiss to the inside of Luke’s wrist. “You know, my room has excellent soundproofing, and the intercom has been off since you started coming around regularly.” Bodhi smiled, more than a little wicked, and pitched his voice to the tone he knew Luke enjoyed. “Be loud, Luke. I want to hear you.”
Luke gave a high whine. “You’re going to kill me. I haven’t even got my shirt off and I know you’re going to kill me.”
“Oh, trust me, killing you is the last thing on my mind.” Bodhi placed another kiss against Luke’s wrist, letting his teeth graze against skin. He set the arm down, smiling at Luke, “But I can help you with the shirt.” Bodhi worked his fingers up under Luke’s shirt and helped Luke pull it over his head.
Luke’s torso bare to him, Bodhi was unable to do anything but look at the planes of Luke’s body laid out on Bodhi’s bed. Luke was art, was sculpture come to life, was so beautiful Bodhi didn’t know what to do with himself.
“Don’t just...stare.” Luke fidgeted, looking a little uncomfortable.
Bodhi dragged his eyes along the length of Luke, finally resting on those perfectly blue eyes. “Please tell me someone has told you how gorgeous you are.”
Luke opened and closed his mouth, looked away. “Don’t be ridiculous. Who else would have had the chance?”
Bodhi wasn’t sure how Luke had made it this far in his life without becoming bored by people singing praises to his body. Bodhi sank down to his hands and knees, planting a hand on either side of Luke’s face. He kissed Luke, hard.
Pulling back, he nuzzled the side of Luke’s cheek, putting his mouth next to Luke’s ear and said softly, “Someone must have told you that they didn’t understand what blue looked like until they saw your eyes.”
Luke gasped, choking out, “That’s terrible.”
The way his whole body arched toward Bodhi belied that statement. Bodhi leaned in, tugging on Luke’s ear with his teeth. Luke moaned, one of his hands grabbing at Bodhi’s head and holding it there. Bodhi obediently worried at Luke’s ear some more, enjoying the noises it pulled from Luke.
He broke off and whispered, “This can’t be the first time you’ve heard that that your mouth is a temptation.”
Luke didn’t even try for a retort, only managed a whine.
Bodhi nipped his way down Luke’s neck. Luke’s pulse pounded underneath his tongue, fast and frantic. Mouth sliding against skin he growled, “I can’t wait to see how it looks filled with my cock.”
A startled noise escaped Luke as his hips arched off the bed and he rutted up into Bodhi. Bodhi pressed down into him, granting Luke some friction as Bodhi walked his lips and teeth down Luke’s neck. He pressed rough kisses along the line of Luke’s collarbone. Luke gave a soft, slightly broken, moan.
“The noises you make,” Bodhi said, sounding a little broken himself, pressing his forehead against Luke’s chest, “if I’m not careful I’ll be driven over the edge by that alone.”
Luke tangled one hand in Bodhi’s hair, with the other sunk his fingers tight into Bodhi’s thigh. Luke held Bodhi in place, stopped grinding against him. “I don’t think that you’re the one who needs to worry about—”
Bodhi sank his teeth into Luke’s skin, and Luke’s words broke off. The hand in his hair tightened as Luke’s chest pressed up against his mouth. Bodhi sucked at the skin, hard, intending to bruise. He took his time, lost in the feel of Luke moving against him, the sharp noises of pleasure spilling from Luke’s mouth. It was addicting, how Luke fell apart under his hands and lips and teeth.
Bodhi lifted off of Luke’s chest, ran his tongue across the rapidly darkening mark. “And your skin, Luke, it’s like it was made for me to claim it. You mark up so beautifully.”
Bodhi sank down to a different spot on Luke’s chest, finding Luke’s nipples and running his tongue across one. He licked and teased at it, Luke keened, high and breathless, He thrust up against Bodhi’s once, twice—then with a groan he pulled himself away from Bodhi and pushed Bodhi off of his chest.
Bodhi grumbled discontentment and he looked up at Luke, confused by the lack of contact. Luke stared him down, full of determination. Bodhi wondered how he had ever missed the warrior hiding under Luke’s skin.
“No.” Luke’s voice was steel. “I refuse to finish before I see you bare.”
Bodhi was pulled out of the moment and looked down their bodies. He was barefoot in trousers, the tough material no doubt unpleasant against Luke’s skin. Luke was stripped to his shorts, thin fabric doing little to hide his arousal.
Bodhi shivered, staying carefully above Luke while the worst of the hazy pleasure cleared. He made his way down Luke’s body. “Sorry,” he said, a little embarrassed, “got carried away.”
“Yeah, Dhi, how dare you, pull it together.”
The shaky wobble in Luke’s voice made Bodhi chuckle as he pulled back, undoing his belt and tossing to to the side. Luke closed his eyes and took a breath before sliding off his shorts and underwear.
Bodhi was frozen, fingers stopped on the clasp to his own pants. He swallowed, hard, following the pink flush down Luke’s chest to where Luke’s cock lay, hard and curving up against Luke’s abdomen.
Luke shifted. “You’re staring again.” He gave a slight huff and reached forward, shoving Bodhi’s still fingers out of the way and undoing the clasp. After a long moment of stunned confusion, Bodhi came back to his senses and helped Luke divest him of the rest of his clothes. They settled onto the bed, Bodhi cross-legged in front of Luke.
Bodhi ached for Luke, but there was an anticipation in the moment that he didn’t want to trample over.
“I understand the staring, now,” Luke said, his eyes raking over Bodhi’s form. Bodhi realized that he understood Luke’s discomfort, too. It was overwhelming, to have that much attention focused on him.
Luke reached out a hand and touched Bodhi’s foot, slowly dragging his hand up Bodhi’s calf, his knee, his thigh, stopping at the join of Bodhi’s pelvis. Bodhi groaned and fisted his fingers in the sheet.
Luke bit his lip. “Can I?”
“Yes. Luke. Please.”
Instead of moving his hand the scarce centimeters needed to touch Bodhi, Luke got a wicked sort of gleam in his eye and instead shifted himself forward and wrapped his lips around Bodhi’s cock.
Luke’s mouth was hot and wet and it took all the self-control that Bodhi had not to push himself up into it.
“Luke,” Bodhi said, stunned and desperate.
Luke looked up, eyes full of mischief, and tried to take a little more of Bodhi into his mouth.
He quickly backed up again, coughing. “That is harder than I thought it would be.” Luke glared at Bodhi’s cock, looking a little offended.
Bodhi fought down laughter. “There’s an obvious joke in there—” He was cut off when Luke delivered a sharp pinch to his inner thigh. Bodhi yelped, shifting his thigh away. “Alright, noted, I won’t tease.”
“I want to try that again.”
Bodhi put his hand on the side of Luke’s face. “Or...you could learn by example?” He pushed Luke back. Luke went, eager. Bodhi eased Luke’s legs apart as he moved between them.
Bodhi pressed kiss after kiss to Luke’s thighs, slowly moving up and in. Luke was musky and hot and his thighs shook under Bodhi’s attention. Bodhi wanted to spend hours here, teasing, not quite touching, seeing how long he could keep Luke on the edge.
“Please. Please, Dhi. Give me—please.” Luke sounded broken, Luke was begging.
Any thoughts Bodhi had of drawing out the teasing vanished under the pressure of Luke’s need. Bodhi licked a slow stripe up the ridge of Luke’s cock, and Luke’s begging turned into a high keen. Bodhi reached the crown and swirled his tongue around it, before sinking down until he could feel Luke nudging against the back of his throat.
One of Luke’s hands came down hard on Bodhi’s shoulder and Luke’s breath turned into a series of heaving shakes. Bodhi pulled up slowly until Luke’s cock slipped out of his mouth again. He grabbed Luke’s hand and put it at the base of his neck.
“You can grab my hair. Pull me around a bit, if you want.” Bodhi grinned. “Get some payback.”
Luke only managed a, “Fuck, Dhi, I—” gasp in response, but he fastened his fingers in Bodhi’s hair anyway.
Bodhi worked Luke slowly, drawing his mouth up and sinking back down. Luke’s hand stayed twisted in the back of his hair, adding an edge of sharpness to the soft movements. This moment together—Luke splayed out on Bodhi’s bed, hard and hot in Bodhi’s mouth—felt lazy, timeless. Bodhi took the time to make sure Luke felt good.
After some time—Bodhi wasn’t sure how much—Luke’s whines became more insistent. His fingers tightened, holding Bodhi in place as he rocked into Bodhi’s mouth. Bodhi relaxed into the hold, let Luke fuck his mouth. His own cock ached, and he reached one of his hands down to stroke it while Luke arched up into him.
Suddenly, Luke said, “No,” and Bodhi was pulled off of Luke.
Bodhi looked up at Luke, concerned. “What’s wrong?”
“Don’t.” Luke grabbed at Bodhi’s arm, pulling his hand away from his dick. “I want to...”
“Alright.” Bodhi smiled at Luke and started to shift to give him access.
“No. I...I want you.” Luke turned bright red, but the hand that slid up to cup Bodhi’s cheek was confident. “I want you in me.”
“Oh.” Bodhi felt a shiver run through his body. He hadn’t expected—“If...you know it’s not a requirement for sex, right? It’s not some box you need to check off.”
Luke licked at his lips. Bodhi became momentarily distracted by Luke’s mouth, before coming back to attention when Luke said, “I know, but I want to know what it’s like.” Luke squirmed underneath him. “I’ve spent a lot of time dreaming about you fucking me.”
Bodhi coughed, caught off guard by that. “Um. That’s...wow. Okay.” He leaned forward, laying a gentle kiss on Luke’s mouth. “It would be my pleasure,” he said against Luke’s lips. There was a brief stall as Bodhi fumbled around in the nightstand for the small bottle of slick. As he moved back down Luke he pressed soft kisses into Luke’s skin.
“This might be a bit uncomfortable or unfamiliar, but it shouldn’t hurt. Stop me if it hurts, that means I’m moving too fast.”
“Okay.” Luke sounded nervous.
Bodhi couldn’t blame him, Bodhi was a little nervous too.
Bodhi opened Luke up as slow as he knew how, nuzzling against Luke’s thigh, smoothing a hand along his flank, swallowing around his cock as Bodhi added a second finger. Bodhi’s first time getting fucked had been quick—and yes, painful—frantic thrusting in the Academy showers. He wanted it to be better for Luke. Wanted Luke to know the joy that could come with this.
It seemed to be working. Luke’s noises were all pleasure, beginning to shade into impatience as time went on.
“Come on. Come on! I’m ready.”
Bodhi ran his free hand along Luke’s hipbone. “Trust me, you’ll appreciate my patience tomorrow.”
“I won’t break.” Luke pushed against his fingers. “I want to feel you tomorrow.”
Bodhi curled his fingers carefully inside Luke. If he was right...there. Luke’s protests gave way to an inquisitive noise, building into more noises of pleasure.
“Just let me take care of you, Luke.” Bodhi leaned down and pressed a kiss onto Luke’s knee. “I want to make it good for you.”
“It’s good. It’s—oh!”
Luke was so damn responsive. The sounds he made went straight to Bodhi’s cock. Bodhi was as hard as he could ever remember being, so hard it hurt, and he wanted desperately to pull out his fingers and slam into Luke.
Bodhi spent some more time stroking and relaxing Luke. Bodhi had been patient this long. He was happy to wait a little longer.
“Dhi...Dhi!” Bodhi looked up at Luke. He was thrusting back against Bodhi's fingers, taking them easily, now. His hands twisted in the sheets, eyes screwed shut. As Bodhi watched, Luke’s eyes opened and met his. Luke relaxed a little and said softly, “Bodhi.”
There was no good reason for the sound of his name on Luke’s tongue to impact him like it did. Bodhi felt a choking spike of want run through him. He gasped a little, closing his eyes.
Luke, unfortunately, was very quick on the uptake. He lifted a hand up, brushing hair out of the side of Bodhi’s face. “Bodhi, Bodhi. Please. I need you.”
Bodhi’s self-control wasn’t strong enough to withstand that. He doubted anyone’s would be. He pulled his fingers out, cleaned off his hand, and grabbed the bottle again. He laid a kiss on the side of Luke’s knee as he slicked himself up.
There was a little bit of fumbling as Bodhi lined up, Luke’s legs still figuring out exactly where they needed to go. Bodhi paused, head just starting to press up against Luke. “Okay?”
Luke looked a little nervous, mostly excited. “Yes.”
Bodhi pressed slowly against Luke, feeling Luke yield to him. Luke was hot and wet and tight and Bodhi had to recite starship component parts in his head to keep from unraveling all at once.
Luke, mistaking Bodhi’s caution for coddling, tried to use his leg to lever Bodhi into him faster. Bodhi abruptly slid the rest of the way in, surprise and arousal mixed together in a heady combination. Bodhi wasn’t entirely sure how he managed not to finish right then, somehow hanging on a little while longer.
Bodhi dug his fingers into Luke’s hips, “Stay. Unless you want this over in seconds.”
“But I haven’t done anything to you.”
Bodhi tightened his fingers on Luke’s hips. “Luke, trust me, the way you’ve been moving, those noises you’ve been making, are doing a great deal.”
Luke laughed, delighted. Bodhi shifted one of his hands and pushed his palm over Luke’s erection. Luke’s laughter hitched and his eyes widened and he was the most beautiful thing Bodhi had ever seen.
“Bodhi?” Luke reached down and grabbed at Bodhi’s wrist.
“Could you…” Luke’s words seemed to fail him. He traced his fingers in a circle around Bodhi’s wrist.
Bodhi’s breath hitched. He shifted, grabbing Luke’s wrist and slowly bringing it above Luke’s head.
Luke nodded, bringing his other arm up to mirror the first. Bodhi leaned forward and grabbed that hand as well. Luke stilled and looked up at Bodhi. In his eyes Bodhi saw nothing but trust.
“I know this has worked for you before, Luke, but I don’t want to overwhelm you.” Bodhi kept his hold loose and his weight off of Luke. He ran his thumbs along Luke’s inner wrist, still holding, not pinning, not yet.
“It’s...easier to let go, when I know you’re in charge. You know what you’re doing, and I trust you.” Luke paused, a small smirk crossing his face. “Besides, I’m not worried. Worst case scenario I can use the Force to throw you off me.”
If he hadn’t been buried up to the hilt in Luke, he never would have caught the slight tremor that ran through Luke after his apparently casual statement. How many people had turned scared, or distant when they figured out what Luke could do?
Luke was dangerous, there was no escaping that. Luke was dangerous and he had urged Bodhi inside of him. Luke was dangerous and beautiful stretched out beneath him. Luke was dangerous and he had put his wrists under Bodhi’s hands, begging for normalcy, for a moment to lose himself.
Bodhi’s voice slid low. “I know you can. That’s what I’m trying to avoid. Use your words, Skywalker.”
“I will.” Luke’s mischief faded, and he looked earnest. “Hold me down and fuck me, Bodhi. Please.”
Bodhi shivered. “Good words.” He leaned forward, shifting his weight so he began to pin Luke. He said against Luke’s ear, “What are the rules, Skywalker? What happens if you say no?”
Luke swallowed, his head going back. “It stops.”
“Good. And who is in control right now?”
“You are.” Luke’s voice had gone soft.
“No, Luke.” Bodhi’s voice gentled. “I’m in charge. But who is in control?”
Luke gave a soft keen. “Me.”
“Very good.” Bodhi tightened his fingers around Luke’s wrist and gave an experimental roll of his hips.
A short hitched breath was Luke’s only response. Bodhi thrust again, slowly. He watched as the muscles along Luke’s neck twitched as Luke gasped. Bodhi kept his grip on Luke’s wrists as he lowered his head down, nuzzling the long line of Luke’s neck, enjoying the scent of his skin, of his sweat, the scent of Luke. He kept the pace slow as he ran his tongue across Luke’s skin, enjoying the soft noises of appreciation Luke made.
Eventually, Bodhi pushed himself back up, letting more of his weight fall over Luke’s arms. Luke looked a little unfocused, pupils blown, breath uneven. Bodhi was struck breathless. Luke knew who Bodhi was. Luke knew and all he wanted, all he asked for was this moment, this intimacy. This was trust on a level that struck Bodhi breathless, trust he had trouble believing he deserved.
Bodhi looked at Luke and he wanted, wanted with a fierceness that caught him off guard. The joy here, the pleasure, it was so foreign to his life he was nearly jealous of himself. He stared at Luke in disbelief, a moment of disorientation as he was twisted up with desire for all the things he never thought he could have.
Luke managed to regain some focus, fixing his eyes on Bodhi, still looking lost in sensation. Bodhi pulled out of Luke slowly, waited until Luke shifted in discomfort, seeking contact. Then Bodhi slammed back into Luke, sudden and hard.
Luke yelled, his thighs going tight around Bodhi. “Yes, more—” was all he managed to say as he shoved himself back against Bodhi. Bodhi couldn’t keep the slow pace going after that. He drove into Luke, faster and faster.
Luke cried out, hands clenching into fists as Bodhi pinned Luke to the bed and used him. Bodhi’s world narrowed to the feel of Luke’s body rising to meet him, the sound of Luke’s voice urging him on, the slap of skin meeting skin, and the hot slick wet slide as Bodhi thrust, over and over, erratic and needy and—
He buried his head in the corner of Luke’s neck and groaned as he came, hard and hot into Luke.
Bodhi slowly came back to himself, he realized he was still holding on to Luke’s wrists. He let go, his arms falling to the bed on either side of Luke. One of Luke’s hands came up to stroke at his hair, gentle, the other ran up and down Bodhi’s arm.
“I’ll take care of you in a minute, I promise, I just...” Bodhi said, muffled against Luke’s skin.
He felt more than heard Luke’s soft chuckle. “Um, no need, actually.”
Bodhi gradually became aware of the slick puddle between their bodies, of Luke’s slowly softening cock trapped between them. “Ah. Well, good.” Bodhi snuggled in closer.
Luke allowed it for another five seconds. “This is actually getting a little uncomfortable…”
With a groan Bodhi pushed himself up and grabbed at a shirt laying nearby. He cleaned Luke’s stomach and his own the best he could and then pulled out carefully, using the shirt to get the worst of the mess.
Then he flipped over, laying down next to Luke, arm sprawled lazily over his face. “I hope that was even half as good for you as it was for me.”
Luke laughed at that, pushing up on his side and running soft fingers over Bodhi’s chest. Bodhi gave a pleased little shiver. “Bodhi, it was so good. So, so good. My brain isn’t working anymore. It was exactly as good for me as it was for you. Maybe even more so.”
“I think you might be underestimating how much I enjoyed it.” Bodhi peeked out from under his arm at Luke, slow grin stretching across his face.
Luke colored a little. “I’m really not. You were...loud. Emotionally. Especially at the end. It was, um, compelling.”
Bodhi laughed. “Are you telling me that the Force made you come?”
Luke turned even redder. “No, that was definitely you. The Force just...helped.” Luke bit his lip, “I think I could show you. If you ever wanted. In the future. Assuming you want to do this again…” he trailed off, looking away.
“I definitely want to do this again. This trip is an overnight back to Echo base, I’m hoping to do it at least once or twice more this evening. But even after that…” Bodhi ran his hand down the side of Luke’s face, cupped Luke’s jaw, drawing Luke back to face him and bringing him in for a kiss. “You are amazing, fantastic, but sleeping together doesn’t mean our lives are suddenly going to line up. Kay and I are in and out with Intel. I know squadrons get deployed too. I don’t know how often we’re going to be in the same place, but when we are...Luke, I still like you a lot. We get along really well together. Your weird galactic destiny doesn’t impact that at all. Neither does the fact that I’ve seen what you look like naked. I’d want your company with or without the sex.”
“With,” Luke said quickly, a pleased smile lighting up his whole face. “I’m still not looking for promises you can’t give. I’m not looking to make promises I can’t keep. But I can be myself with you in a way that I can’t with most people, and that’s important to me.”
Bodhi smiled. “I understand that,” he said softly. “Force, do I ever understand that. Speaking of which...as for the Force powers...” Bodhi flopped back down on the bed, looking at the ceiling and thinking. “You saw, Luke. It’s hard for me to overstate just how fucked up by that thing I was. Kay got me through the worst of it. I’m so much better now. Opening that door again feels like playing with fire. If a vid was enough to set me off, the idea of someone actually in my brain again...” That thought carried with it a visceral fear that started in Bodhi’s chest, shivering its way out through Bodhi’s limbs.
“I won’t.” Luke quickly held up his hands. “I can’t control the things that come through passively, but I swear, I would never go in deliberately unless you gave me permission.”
“I don’t doubt that,” Bodhi reached out his hand, palm up, an invitation. Luke accepting, laying his own in Bodhi’s. Bodhi tightened his fingers around Luke’s hand. “I don’t...love the idea of what you can do, Luke. But I know this. I trust you, and I like you. The whole you. You don’t need to hide who you are. Just be careful and remember that I might break a little more easily than most.”
Luke looked serious, began to answer, but was interrupted midway through by a yawn. Watching Luke, Bodhi felt his own unbearable urge to yawn, and gave in. He tugged Luke down next to him, cuddling Luke’s head on his shoulder. “Talk later, sleep now.”
“Sounds good...hey, one more thing, it’s all mental and emotional stuff, right? No problem with objects flying around?”
Bodhi yawned again, starting to drift, happy with Luke’s hands wrapped around him. “Not that I know of…”
“Good,” Luke said, shifting in to snuggle more. There was a pause, and Luke tensed a little. Then he tensed more and more, his body nearly trembling. Just as Bodhi was about to ask what was wrong, the sheets twitched an inch. Luke collapsed against Bodhi and with an irritated grumble reached down to pull the covers over them. “Still working on that part,” Luke muttered.
Luke didn’t want to move. He was warm, comfortable, and certain that new and innovative (at least to him) ways of being sore awaited as soon as he stopped holding still. But Bodhi was up and shuffling around the small pilot’s quarters, which probably meant that Luke needed to move as well.
Luke pushed himself up on his elbows, watching as Bodhi rummaged through the small closet for a shirt. He slid it on and Luke made a small noise of disappointment to see the skin disappear.
Bodhi turned and smiled at Luke and Luke briefly forgot how to breathe again.
Luke had forgotten how to breathe a lot in the past few months. Even more in the last twelve hours or so.
“Morning.” Bodhi had this way of looking at Luke. He looked at Luke like he was terrified of breaking Luke; not because Luke was fragile, but because he was valuable. He found, in Bodhi’s warm brown eyes and slight smile, the ability to believe that he was important, not as ‘Luke Skywalker: Last of the Jedi’ but simply as Luke.
He had assumed, had told himself over and over again, that once Dhi found out it would all go away. To have that smile, here and now, was a precious gift.
“How are you feeling?” Bodhi asked, moving back to the bed as he finished smoothing his shirt down, sitting down next to the lump Luke made under the sheets.
Luke pushed himself upright, blanket falling off of his chest. “Amazing. Lazy. Are we nearly there?”
Bodhi put his hand on Luke’s shoulder, a pleasant heat going into Luke’s chest as Bodhi brushed his fingers along Luke’s back. “Nah, suspect we have a few hours to go, yet. I’m going to go check our ETA and grab some breakfast out of the kitchenette. You want me to bring you something?”
“You’re too good to me.” Luke smiled. “If you’re giving me the chance to laze about and have food brought to me, I certainly won’t say no.”
Bodhi looked at Luke and Luke felt priceless.
“No such thing, Skywalker,” Bodhi leaned in for a kiss, “I’m just hoping to be good enough.” Bodhi patted Luke’s knee through the blanket. “Relax. I’ll be back in a few.”
Bodhi left the room and Luke stretched back in the bed. The last few days had been filled with so many ups and downs that Luke expected to feel emotional whiplash. The devastation of realizing his omission may have hurt Bodhi badly, with the quick realization that his leaving certainly had. The agony of trying to figure out how to resolve it, the reluctant decision to confess everything to Bodhi and take whatever punishment Bodhi decided to dish out.
And that was all before he had been kidnapped by pirates, woken up in a cell with Bodhi staring at him, and then found out his newest friend had a secret he had been keeping as well.
Luke couldn’t help but chuckle at how that had turned out.
Ups and downs, certainly, but right now, he felt...good. He wasn’t even that sore. Besides, not all pain was entirely bad. He ran his hands along his wrists, pressing at the tender darkening skin. He had always bruised easily. Hopefully Bodhi didn’t get too alarmed when he saw it. Luke desperately wanted a repeat of last night…
Hands pinned above him, heat sliding along his neck, Bodhi whispering praises against his skin. Required to do nothing but feel the movement in him, along him, to taste and revel in Bodhi’s rising pleasure…
Luke felt himself start to stir again, and he stared down at the small tent in the sheets, slightly baffled. “Three wasn’t enough for you?” he muttered.
“Human physiological response does not preclude four orgasms when satisfactory time is given to the refractory period.”
Luke yelped. A huge black security droid was looming over the side of the bed. Luke quickly scrambled back against the wall and pulled the covers up to his neck. “When did you get in here?”
“Shortly after Bodhi left. You appeared distracted.”
Heat bloomed in Luke’s face.
“But that is not why I came in here. We needed to have a conversation and face-to-face contact improves communication protocols.”
“Um.” Luke really wished he was wearing clothes.
“I have arranged for Bodhi to be detained with Artoo so we could speak in private.”
“Um.” Luke pulled the blanket up tighter.
K-2SO had to hunch to fit into the room as a hulking black droid. He was already looming over the bed. Nevertheless, Luke would swear that K-2SO shifted even closer, pushing into Luke’s space, before saying, “Bodhi is my human. He has saved my life, I have saved his, and we are a very effective team.”
K-2SO paused, and Luke felt the need to say something. “I...can see that. You two are legendary. I’m not trying to take him away from you or anything like that.”
K-2SO made a grinding sound. Luke thought it might be a laugh. He hoped it was a laugh.
“You could not even if you attempted it. But I need to make certain you understand that as Bodhi’s partner I encourage actions that increase his happiness and emotional wellbeing. Spending time with you has...largely been beneficial so far.”
Luke realized with a quick-cold flash of fear that hurting Bodhi could have rather dire consequences. Would have rather dire consequences? Luke bit his lip, wishing droid emotions rippled through the Force the way organic’s did.
K-2SO continued, “You two are now engaging in sexual intercourse, this appears to be an additional component to Bodhi’s emotional wellbeing. Therefore, I encourage the two of you to spend time together.”
Luke nodded, eyes wide, relieved that the droid didn’t want to immediately murder him for hurting Bodhi.
“There is always the possibility, though, that intimate relationships will cause distress. Yours already has, even prior to the addition of sexual intercourse.”
“I’m sorry,” Luke said.
“I am not the person who needs to know that. It is irrelevant to the current conversation. What I need you to know now is that Bodhi has experienced a great deal of distress in his life and I desire for him not to experience any more.”
“Please tell me you aren’t going to try to kill me just to be safe.”
“No. I have educated myself sufficiently to calculate that some distress is inevitable. This does not change the fact that Bodhi was broken and I have put a great deal of effort into repairing him. I require your awareness that if anything happens to break him further I will be intensely displeased.”
K-2SO lunged forward quickly, huge black hands landing on either side of Luke. Panic spiked and Luke tried to scramble back, only to find he was trapped by the wall. K-2SO’s head was level with his own, glowing eyes staring him down.
“I will not kill you if you hurt Bodhi. But this is only because it would increase Bodhi’s distress levels. It is not due to lack of ability.”
Logically, Luke knew he was the galaxy’s heir to a mysterious binding power that shone through him, making him capable of feats that others simply were not. However, logically, Luke also knew that he did not want to see whether or not a lightsaber could block a blast from a plasma cannon. He had a suspicion the answer was, ‘Somewhat, but not enough to make a difference.’
“I—I understand. I’ll be careful. Even more careful, now that I know more. I like Bodhi, I don’t want to hurt him.” Luke’s voice was higher than he would have preferred.
“Good.” K-2SO straightened up again, “I appreciate your participation in effective communication protocols. I hope that we will be able to engage in supportive friendship as ‘Summer in Naboo’ characters Mish and Reeso eventually did. Please enjoy your orgasms.”
K-2SO left the room. Luke stared after him, eyes wide, blanket still clutched around his shoulders.
“Hey, sorry about that,” Bodhi said as he re-entered the room, holding a platter with an assortment of food that looked a little more rich than standard ship-fare. “Kay and Artoo sucked me into a conversation about whether a shuttle or an X-Wing could handle atmospheric interference better. It was incredibly technical, hard to get away from, and they were utterly unmoved by my pleas that I had a lovely young man in my bed waiting for me.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Luke hoped his racing heart and newfound respect for the danger of a sentient shuttle didn’t show too much on his face.
Bodhi grinned down at Luke. “I’m glad you waited for me to get back. You deserve the chance to laze about for a bit.”
“Your bed is comfortable,” was the first thing Luke could think of that did not involve hysterical laughter or panicked tears.
Bodhi tossed Luke a suggestive look. “You’re welcome anytime.”
“As long as K-2SO is okay with it,” Luke said without thinking.
Bodhi paused in the middle of setting the platter down in front of Luke. “That’s...thoughtful of you. Kay’s important to me and a lot of people don’t understand that.” Bodhi shook his head and finished placing the platter, sitting cross-legged in front of Luke and grabbing a slice of fruit off of it.
Luke started to pick at the meal. “I don’t see how they couldn’t. It’s obvious to anyone who listens to either of you for two seconds.”
Looking up, Luke found that Bodhi had an odd expression on his face. It had some shades of the ‘Precious and Important, Do Not Break’ expression, mixed with the sort of analysis that Luke suspected made Bodhi a good Intelligence agent.
“Does it bother you?” Bodhi asked.
Luke was almost quick to blurt out a quick, ‘No!’ But the question had significance, and Luke felt like he should be careful about it. “No, I don’t think so. I know it doesn’t matter. He’s your best friend and your squadmate wrapped all into one. My feelings don’t factor in.”
Bodhi looked like he was about to cut in, and Luke held up a hand, “No, no, there’s something else there, I just need to find the words to—Oh! You said. You said you didn’t love what I could do, but it was a part of me, right?”
Bodhi groaned, “I was out of my mind with the best sex I’ve had in ages, please forgive me if I was rude.”
Luke was nearly distracted by a strong sense of self-satisfaction, but he shook his head and focused back in on the point he was trying to make. “No, it’s important. You aren’t thrilled by the idea of people messing with your mind, but you know it’s a part of me and you don’t want to make me less, right? It’s the same thing with you. K-2SO isn’t the Force or anything, but you’re a package deal. I may not understand all the stuff with your history, but he’s a part of what makes you...you. And I like you. I’m not making any sense.”
“No...no. You understand me better than I gave you credit for.” Bodhi looked at Luke, and there was a new expression on his face. Something fluttered in Luke’s chest, pulled out by the expression, though he had no idea what it meant. There was still so much he didn’t know about Bodhi.
But, Luke realized with a growing sense of wonder, he was being given the chance to learn more. It was more than he ever expected, when he had decided to latch on to the cute dark-eyed cargo pilot who somehow hadn’t heard of Luke Skywalker.
Luke swallowed his bite and smiled at Bodhi over breakfast. Force powers and pirates and obnoxious droids hadn’t been enough to scare Bodhi off. Luke’s loss and legacy and burden only had served to tie them closer together. Luke had found, in Bodhi, someone who could take the most outlandish shades of Luke’s identity, farmboy-turned-force-touched-hero-savior, place them next to his own, and shrug at the banality of Luke’s existence. Bodhi made Luke feel normal.
Luke smiled at Bodhi, completely unable to state the enormity of who Bodhi had become to him, unable to find words that touched the barest shape of who he might be going forward.
So Luke did the best thing he could do, and reached for another bite. “Good breakfast.”
“Yeah,” Bodhi said in return. “Really good.”
Thank you for reading along!
This story took a long way around to make it a reality. The very first version was written JANUARY. It was written just as I was starting to write Better., and I realized that if I was going to put Bodhi through the wringer of psychological trauma, he had darn well better have some happiness waiting for him. So I wrote a quick draft, showed Aeshna, decided not to post it until I had "caught up" to that point in the story.
SEVENTY THOUSAND WORDS LATER, it was finally time to let it off of it's leash. It had to be rewritten twice, but for all that, the core of the story remained the same. Bodhi and Luke, looking for a safe place to set down their heroism for awhile.
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