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Turning Time

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Galen counts Orson's exhalations, the beads of sweat gathering on the back of his neck. Orson's cock swells and hardens in his hand, and Galen marks time through this flow of blood. Bodhi fled Eadu mere hours ago. Every minute Orson spends in Galen’s arms speeds the pilot to Jedha unharmed. Yet those same minutes usher Orson closer to the moment he will learn he has been betrayed.

Galen shuts his eyes, squeezes, feels Orson shudder against his chest. The darkness conjures Lyra, then Jyn, but both dissolve in Orson's presence. His cologne is the same one he wore decades before on Brentaal, full of forceful, soap-scented notes with something green and yielding beneath them. Now that earthy green scent, laced with musk, rises from Orson's shoulders and clouds Galen's mind. Orson's body has changed—softened, aged—but the sighs and moans he makes have not. He murmurs in the voice of the brazen, love-hungry boy whose eyes still shimmer when they meet Galen's, despite everything that's happened.

Orson's breath catches. Galen caresses him, strokes him, grips him tighter. The two shiver together. Galen calls up images of hollowed-out worlds and shattered kyber, that he might remember what this distraction is for. They yield to young Orson rising before an assembly of the Corps of Engineers, to young Orson blinking himself awake beneath Galen's sheets. Galen can’t help himself; he scours his memory to find enough to redeem the man he holds, enough that he might turn back time to save him.

The pulse comes. Orson gasps, and Galen's eyes fly open. He gazes past Orson's cheek into the star-flecked blackness beyond the window. Visions of the future appear—Orson’s Death Star incinerating planets, blotting out moons, until it is swarmed by Rebel ships fueled by a secret that Galen cannot, will not, take back.

Sated and spent, Orson turns and buries his face in Galen’s neck. Galen tries to speak, then falls silent. It is too late. He pulls Orson close and counts his heartbeats, wondering how many are left.