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Too Close to Tell You

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The newly acquired apprentice of Darth Baras walked into Malavai Quinn's office. Quinn was expecting him, of course, but didn't expect him to be followed by a Twi'lek of all things. He didn't see a slave collar on her, however, perhaps she was a mercenary? Though, her lack of armor made him think otherwise. The Sith next to her was a different story, however. He was fully geared from the neck down. Why he opted for no helmet was a mystery, but being a Sith was the most likely reason. Sith. The word alone dripped off his tongue like the most potent venom. Beings of incredible power and they choose to flaunt it by demonstrating it on the innocent. His wife was one such innocent. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A perfect specimen of a soldier, she was. Even if it was an arranged marriage, Quinn always admitted that she was the best pick for him, performance wise. Now, though, she was just another headcount in the long and bloodied path of the Sith. This new apprentice that Darth Baras picked up was no different, Quinn thought. He had to be... All Sith were the same.

Ander and Vette walked into Lieutenant Quinn's office, just as Ander's new master, Darth Baras, had instructed. Ander looked at the stoic officer that waited for him at the other end of the room. God damn. Ander thought. Quinn wasn't super hot or anything, but he was quite good looking. Deep blue eyes that didn't betray their wearer in any way. They were clear and stole all of Ander's attention. So much so, that Ander missed the small step between the two halves of the room and face planted, right in the middle of the room. Good job, oh great and powerful Sith! Now there is no way he will ever take you seriously... And, just like that, all of Ander's pride was gone. Ander lifted himself off the floor and looked up to see both Vette and the lieutenant at his side. Vette was stifling a laugh but Quinn was sincerely, or perhaps not, - Ander had hoped it was the former- worried for his well being. "Are you alright, my lord?" Ander had no idea why, but the way he said my lord sent a shiver down his spine and a warmth to his cheeks. Ander decided it was best not to linger on the thought too long and shook his head. "No- I mean yeah. I'm fine, thank you, um... What's your name again?" Ander asked. Darth Baras had told him when he was on the ship, but he honestly couldn't, for the life of him, remember anymore. Vette rolled her eyes. He was so nice, almost too nice. Lieutenant Quinn blinked, dumbfounded that a Sith even cared to know his name. It took him a little longer to respond, because of that. "Lieutenant Malavai Quinn, at your service, my lord." Quinn bowed with the utmost respect. He had to make up for the lack of response and help he had given earlier. Any other Sith would have punished him by now. Ander, however, was not any other Sith. Vette glanced between the two and noticed how Quinn hadn't moved an inch. She wasn't even sure that he was still breathing. Ander noticed it too. He decided the best approach was mimicry. Ander returned Quinn's graceful bow. "Thank you, Quinn," Ander said. Quinn finally figured out that Ander wasn't going to do anything to him and relaxed. Standing straight, once more and finally looked at Ander. Not just look at him, but look at him. His expression was soft and his eyes even softer. They didn't show a power hungry warlord, but instead a kind and thoughtful person. Perhaps, Quinn had been wrong, perhaps this Sith was different. How silly, the thought was, but it made Quinn happy to think of it. Ander grew restless, the silence coming from the lieutenant was igniting his anxiety - a dark and seething shadow that rumbled in his belly, searching for a reason to make him falter. "Um..." Quinn immediately shook from his thoughts and gave the Sith his full attention. "Is it alright that I call you by your last name or would you prefer your title used instead? I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable..." Ander trailed off, trying not to ramble. "Whatever you wish to call me is fine, my lord," Quinn said, though he was still surprised that Ander even cared to ask. He didn't let these thoughts linger as long, this time and moved to the holoterminal next to his computer. He turned it on and waited for Baras to appear, before turning back to Ander and clasping his hand behind his back. Baras was pissed. The anger seethed through his hologram and into the room. The Sith Lord turned to Quinn and immediately moved his arm in a slapping motion. An unstoppable force smacked Quinn across the face, but he didn't dare move. He merely took the hit and turned his head back to its previous position. "What took you so long? I was beginning to wonder if you would even make the call, you useless-"
"Master!" Ander spoke up. He couldn't stand the way his master treated the people in his charge and he wasn't going to let this continue if he could help it. Baras turned and saw his apprentice, who was also letting off an aura of anger. No doubt impatient to complete his mission. "Ah apprentice, of course. You will have to excuse me. I often get carried away." Baras said, his tone much smoother but just as wicked. "Despite the atrocious wait time I had to endure..." Baras trailed off, causing Quinn's breathing to hitch. "Lieutenant Quinn will be your liaison for this mission. He is the best officer the Empire has had in recent years and despite some mistakes, he has more than earned a chance to prove himself. Think of this as a test for the both of you..."

The call with Darth Baras finally ended and everyone relaxed. Ander turned to Vette and handed her his payment card. "Vette, take this and get some kolto stims. I feel like we will need them for this mission. Meet me at the speeder, when you're done." Ander said. Vette saluted him, in a mocking manner, before leaving the building. Ander waved her goodbye, before turning to Quinn. He hadn't moved from his position since the call ended. Ander sighed softly and reached for him. Quinn instinctively flinched. Ander immediately felt horrible and retracted his hand. "I'm sorry that he hit you. He had no reason to and yet he did so anyway. I should have done something earlier... I'm sorry." Ander said. Quinn didn't respond at first, making him feel even worse. Ander figured he should do something, anything to make him see that he wasn't like Baras. He had never officially learned how to use the Force to heal anyone, but other students had taught him bits and pieces of what they had learned. He slowly raised his hand to Quinn's face, again.
Quinn didn't dare move, his instinct screaming at him to not move a muscle. His mind was telling him to prepare for further punishment. It was guaranteed, a predictable response for his continued failure. He deserved it.
Ander concentrated on the Force beginning to gather in the palm of his hand. At first, it was hot, like the anger he felt for Baras and Quinn was beginning to rethink his opinion of the Sith standing before him. Soon enough, however, the heat dissipated and shifted to a more pleasant temperature- one that was cool, yet filled with a cozy warmth that seemed to soothe the sting away from his cheek. If there was one thing that never ceased to amaze Quinn, was how long injuries caused by the Force seemed to persist. Quinn didn't claim to be an expert on the Sith or the Force, but he knew that when you were punished by the Sith, you would continue to feel it for days afterward or you'd be dead. Still, though, he couldn't deny the soft, cozy feeling that was being released onto his face at that moment and finally glanced up. His gaze was met with a worried look on a kind, young man. Ander slowly retracted his hand, once Quinn's eyes had met his- taking the gesture as confirmation that he had done enough. The sting was gone from Quinn's face, his pain was no longer existent. He was at a loss for words. Not only had this Sith- no, this person- interrupted his master, treated a lowly Imperial officer with kindness and respect, but had also gone above and beyond to heal him. Quinn didn't deserve such kindness. He. Didn't. Deserve. This.
"Thank you, my lord." Ander smiled, his grin was probably larger than he had intended but that was fine. Quinn had thanked him. That alone was good enough for Ander, but the smile that followed was the tipping point. The lieutenant had graced him with a small smile. "No problem. I mean it was the least I could do since- well, you know." Ander grinned, simply ecstatic. There it was again- his anxiety urging him to run. You've done what you've needed to do, time to go before you fuck things up! Ander backed away quickly, he didn't want to leave things like this, but his anxiety wouldn't let up. "Well, I guess I will see you later- bye!" Ander zipped out of the building as quickly as he could. He ran all the way to his speeder before catching his breath. He really hoped he hadn't blown his chances.

The mission had gone as smooth as anyone had hoped it would. Darth Baras’ spy was dead and, thanks to Quinn, the Jedi Knight Mashallon was now on her way to Imperial Prison. Ander was practically bouncing with joy when Baras announced that Lieutenant Quinn would be able to re-assign himself anywhere he chose.
“You could come with me!” The words just slipped out before Ander could stop himself. The realization set in before anyone could turn to look at him, confusion plastered on their faces. “I mean- If you want to. You don’t have to of course…” Ander’s voice shrank in volume, to the point it was a mere whisper. Quinn graced him with another small smile, before returning his attention to Darth Baras.

Now Vette and Ander sat in the cantina, while Ander dispensed all his insecurities to Vette. Vette simply rolled her eyes and sipped her drink while Ander rambled on. “I mean, goddammit Vette. He probably thinks I am a fucking weirdo or something. Who the fuck does that anyway?” Ander cried, slamming his head into the table with a loud thud. He didn’t care though, the pain was so much nicer than having to face the realization that he may never see Quinn again. And he was so cute too. Ander thought. Vette finished her drink and sighed, turning her head to look at the poor excuse of a Sith, sitting across from her. “Probably someone who enjoys their company? Really, Sith, you shouldn’t beat yourself up for something like this. I already told you, what you said didn’t surprise me, it was just how excited you were, that did. Though, I really shouldn’t have been. You had a major hard-on for him.” Vette winked, giving him a mocking smirk in the process. Ander was not amused. “Now come on, we should really get back to the ship. You got shit to do, Sith.” Vette practically had to drag Ander away from the table, as they made their way back to the ship.
When they got to the hanger, Ander wasn’t paying attention but noticed Vette stop in her tracks. She turned to him. “Oh, look. Guess he agreed with you, after all.” Vette smiled and Ander looked up to see Lieutenant Malavai Quinn waiting for him in front of his ship. Ander practically ran towards him. Quinn kneeled before him and before he could speak a word- “You’reheretojoinmycrew,right? If so, yes, I accept. Please come with me.” Ander was quick to the point, that was for sure. Quinn stood once more and simply nodded, another smile on his face. Ander couldn’t stop himself this time. He lunged forward, wrapping his arms around Quinn and hugging him tightly. Quinn wasn’t quite sure how to handle the situation and simply opted to a friendly pat on Ander’s shoulders. To which Ander quickly released him and apologized profusely. Eventually, all three of them made it onto the ship, excited for what adventures awaited them.