Kallus sat up in bed, trying unsuccessfully to figure out what had woken him up. He sighed resignedly to himself, "Might as well go to the refresher while I'm awake."
Nudging the Lasat lying next to him, he whispered, "Zeb.” No response, "Zeb,” this time slightly louder, still nothing, "Garazeb!" Alexsandr all but shouted.
"Huh, wha? Wha ya wan?" Zeb mumbled.
"I need to use the refresher."
"Ok" Zeb answered, blinking awake, "What's stopping you?" He gestured across himself to the door of the room they shared and grinned up at his lover.
"I'm not climbing over you." Kallus nearly glowered. "Move" smiling despite himself he added, "move, please?"
"Oh fine have it yer way", Zeb mock growled sliding over enough to allow the man room to leave the bed. Kallus moved to the edge, putting his feet on the floor, "You're too kind", he said rolling his eyes and hoisting himself to his feet.
But that's as far as he got. Pain shot from below his right knee up into his hip, wrapping around his lower back. He gasped and nearly collapsed as his leg refused the weight, leaning against the bed frame to keep himself upright.
Zeb was immediately awake hearing the pained noises from his partner. Getting up and on his feet as quickly as he could, he went to the man, sliding an arm around him for support.
"Leg again?" he asked. Kallus only nodded in response. "Right then. ’Fresher you said yeah? Let's go." And with no more commentary he began maneuvering Kallus toward the door, as Kallus proceeded to protest, albeit weakly.
"Look love", Zeb spoke softly in case anyone was awake, "whether you want to admit it to yourself or not," Alexsandr tried to interject but was cut off, "I know, I know. ‘S not about you knowin', it's about everyone else. But guess what? It wouldn't matter to them in the least. They would only care you thought you needed to hide bein' hurt from 'em. Yer a part of Ghost Crew now. Best learn to deal with it."
He started to remove his arm from around Alexsandr's waist but stopped, "You uh need help in there or…?"
Kallus chuckled, "While I sincerely appreciate the offer, no. I'll be fine." He gave Zeb a kiss on the cheek before turning from his grasp to limp slowly into the 'fresher. Zeb leaned against the opposite wall and waited. Moments later the door slid open and Kallus met his grin with a tilt of his head.
"You wash your hands?" Zeb teased. Alexsandr rolled his eyes again and limped up to him.
"Thought you were here to help me, not give me grief", he smirked.
Sliding both hands around his waist, Zeb smirked, "Thought I'd try a little, what'd'ya call it? Multitaskin'."
"Oh really?" Alexsandr teased back, "Think you're up for that? Being the resident expert on ex Imperials not taking up enough time?"
This earned an outright laugh from the Lasat and they ducked back through their door quickly so as not to disturb anyone. Turning in each other's arms, they locked eyes. Zeb suddenly a little breathless murmured, "You could take up all a my time ya wanted."
Kallus smiled and leaned in to kiss him before replying, "Hera might have a problem with that. But I think I might just have to," he paused mid-sentence grinning against Zeb's lips. Zeb stood unmoving and could only blink as Alexsandr's right foot slowly made contact with the floor, changing the way he was leaning on Zeb slightly.
"Put my foot down," he finished. Zeb broke their kiss, arranging his arms to make sure he was supporting as much of Alex's weight as needed before resting their foreheads together and grinning, "Leave it to me to fall for an Imp what makes puns."
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
It was early, almost too early for people to be awake. But Alexsandr was in the training room looking for a sparring partner. Normally, that would be Zeb. But he was in an early morning debriefing after returning from his last mission.
If he was honest with himself, that didn't leave Kallus with very many other options. He hadn't made very many friends in his short time with the rebellion. Sometimes he felt like he had more enemies than anything else. Not that he blamed anyone or begrudged them their hard feelings. He knew what he'd been a part of while in the Empire. Associations like that weren't easily forgiven or forgotten.
Suddenly a voice broke through his train of thought. "Hey! Kallus!" Ezra shouted across the hangar. The younger man waved, walking over to where Alexsandr stood. "You gonna spar? Where's Zeb?"
"Early meeting," Kallus answered and then after a thought, "You wouldn't want to fill in, just this once? Eh, Jabba?" Kallus grinned as he said the name Bridger had introduced himself with at their first meeting.
"Who me? You sure that's a good idea?" He answered.
"I think I can handle a Padawan with a practice staff", Alexsandr drawled sarcastically.
"No, that's not what I meant," Ezra chuckled, "I know you can handle me. I'm just not keen on getting my butt kicked before breakfast."
Alexsandr barked out a laugh tossing him a staff. "Have a little faith in yourself Jabba."
The younger man nodded smiling, "Yeah ok." He faced Kallus in what he hoped was a ready position and the man advanced. Ezra quickly blocked his thrust, circling around until he found his own opportunity. Then Kallus advanced again. And on it went.
The young Jedi in training wasn't as practiced as the ex-Imperial, but he wasn't completely untrained either, Kallus noticed. He had good instincts, even if he was a bit hasty. But Alexsandr found him to be good practice for a day like this.
The bout continued, each man getting in a strike there, a block here. It wasn't what you would call evenly matched but they were well suited in a way. Ezra making a mistake and Alexsandr showing him with his next move where his error lay. Ezra would then put the lesson into practice.
This went on for longer than either had initially intended. Both were being to tire. Perhaps that's why when Ezra went to strike his latest blow he found himself swinging harder than he meant to. Likewise Kallus had been caught off guard and was twisted in such a way that the blow landed just at the small of his back with a heavy thunk.
The momentum carried Ezra in a half circle, turning him away from Kallus who had lost his balance and came to land on his right knee which promptly gave out under the sudden weight. A sort of choked groan escaped as Kallus flattened on the mat.
As soon as both feet were back under him Ezra ran to Kallus, kneeling next to him but hesitating to do more. "Kallus are you alright? Oh Kriff Zeb is going to kill me!"
Managing to draw in a breath, Kallus grinned, "Not before Hera kills you for cursing."
"You're ok? You're ok! Are you threatening to tell on me? Make me think I killed you and now you're threatening to tattle." Ezra rambled only to finish with a smirk, "Frankly I think that's rude."
"Yeah well you owe me for that last shot,” he shot back sticking up his hand so Ezra could help him up. He only got his left leg under him though. As soon as he tried to put weight on his right leg it buckled under him and pain shot through his lower back sending him back down to the ground.
This was bad. Not the worst his leg had been obviously. But the worst anyone who wasn't Zeb had ever seen him dealing with. And speaking of Zeb he was probably the best bet for Kallus getting out of here quickly. But that meant Ezra would have to go get him and bring him to the training room.
After making that assessment, he rolled to his back to make eye contact with Ezra who it seemed had been muttering to himself about breaking Zeb's boyfriend. He chuckled at that but stopped when that too caused him pain.
"Ezra," he prompted gruffly, "I need you to focus. You didn't break me." He paused to make sure the Padawan was listening before continuing, "I do need your help however. I need Garazeb. He'll be able to get me up and out of here no problem. Can you go find him for me? Please?"
The word please seemed to snap Ezra out of whatever trance he'd been in. He stood and began to walk away before turning back to the man on the floor and speaking.
"You called me Ezra."
"That's your name."
"You said please."
Ezra turned to leave muttering under his breath, "Oh yeah this is bad. Kriff! Zeb is going to completely kill me. I broke Agent Kallus!"
Ezra found Zeb in the hall outside the meeting room, his debriefing having just ended. He tried to walk not run up to him and tried, major emphasis on tried to sound calmer and put together than he felt.
"Um Ze-Zeb", his voice cracked on the word. He tried again, "Zeb I need your help with something", he started. The Lasat smiled in greeting as he listened. "Something bad happened. I mean I did something bad."
"If you broke something of 'Bine's again I'm not bailing you out this time." Zeb joked but Ezra shook his head, "Did you break Chopper? Not that I care but I want to know how if you did," he laughed.
"No! Zeb...it's Kallus." Ezra hung his head as he spoke hiding his face from Zeb.
"What'd"ya mean?" Zeb's voice grew serious, "Ezra? Spill it." And he did, briefly explaining what had happened during their morning sparring match and how he'd gotten in a lucky shot. But now it seemed like Kallus was really hurt and he'd been sent to collect Zeb.
"Karabast! He'll be the death of me one day, Zeb muttered running a hand over his face. "Training room you said?" Ezra nodded. "Alright c'mon. Might need yer help too." He jerked his head indicating for Ezra to follow as he stalked away, Ezra behind, leaving apologies in their wake.
In a few minutes they'd reached the training room and Ezra was still apologizing. "He called me Ezra. He NEVER calls me Ezra. This is bad, isn't it?"
Zeb stopped and huffed a laugh. "Actually that's probably his way of telling you he really does like you, not just enjoys messing with you. Especially now that you're seeing him like this. Karabast he hates his leg actin' up. Makes him feel weak I guess."
Suddenly something seemed to dawn on Ezra, "It's happened before?" Zeb nodded. "Does it happen a lot?" Zeb shook his head. "Not terribly. More if he's tired or already hurting. Or when some street rat Jedi gets a lucky shot in,” at this Zeb's grin widened. "It always makes him feel vulnerable though I think, so I'm one of the few people who know. It's a big deal for him to show weakness, just thought you should know."
Ezra nodded, digesting what he'd heard as they walked into the training room. They found Alexsandr, much as Ezra had said. He was still flat on his back on the floor and didn't look like he'd moved much at all. He raised an arm in a wave when he saw them approaching.
"Mornin’,” Zeb greeted.
"Garazeb, darling," Kallus smiled. "Jabba" he acknowledged Ezra with a smirk.
"Heard the kid beat ya," Zeb grinned down at Alex.
"Is that the story he's going with?" Kallus winked at Ezra, "We'll have to clear that up, I think. But first, mind giving me a hand," he asked reaching out to Zeb. The Lasat answered by bending down and grabbing the man's hand, pulling his arm across Zeb's shoulder before wrapping an arm around Kallus' waist and beginning to pull him off the floor.
At closer range Zeb could see Alex was sweating despite his sparring with Ezra being over. He was paler than usual as well. "You think you can stand?" he asked.
"Only one way to find out," Kallus responded. Zeb moved slowly attempting to give Alexsandr time to adjust. Still, the moment he had both legs under him Kallus went even paler, groaning as the pain got exponentially worse. How had he not realized he was in this shape until now? He was usually so much better at keeping track of when his leg was in bad shape.
"Is he going to be sick?" Kallus heard Ezra ask from the other side of Zeb.
"I most certainly am not", he replied, trying to sound indignant but only achieving slurred. Either way he was right though. He didn't get sick. Instead he promptly lost consciousness, slumping with his full weight now supported by Zeb.
"Karabast Sasha!" Zeb growled before recovering and seemingly effortlessly slinging Alexsandr up over one shoulder. Blinking at the younger man he said, "Don't let him know you heard me call him that. Deal?"
"Oh sure, no problem!" Ezra assured him. "Honestly I'm still processing the fact that he used my real name and that apparently means...he likes me?" Ezra trailed off sounding utterly confused.
Zeb huffed a laugh, heading to the training room door, "Well try to get used to it will ya? He needs all the friends he can get. I mean look at 'im." He gestured over his shoulder at the still unconscious Alex. "Being around people who actually care, who want him to take care of himself, is basically a foreign concept to him. I for one would like to change that."
Ezra just nodded and studied Kallus' face as he followed a little behind Zeb. "On that note", Zeb's tone changed slightly, "could you sit with him in our bunk while I rustle some food together?"
"I'd be happy to", Ezra answered.
"Good man", Zeb replied. They walked the rest of the way back to the Ghost in near silence, aside from the few comments from passing pilots about Zeb "bagging the imp" and others asking how he had time for a debrief and a sparring session in one morning. Zeb just smiled and kept walking, throwing, "Wasn't me, it was the kid," over his shoulder. Ezra grinned at that and walked a little taller. He'd take pride in it for as long as Kallus would let him.
A short time later Kallus woke up in the familiar surroundings of the bunk room he shared with Zeb. Only Zeb was nowhere to be found. Instead Kallus found Ezra nodding off in the desk chair beside the bed. He'd been watching over him Kallus realized with a small smile. Relaxing back onto his pillow he began to try to piece together how exactly he'd ended up back on board the Ghost.
There was movement beside him followed by Ezra's excitable, "Kallus! I mean", he continued softer, "Kallus you're awake! Are you in pain? You look like you're in pain. I'll get Zeb", and he got up to presumably find the Lasat in question.
Kallus attempted to stop him by asking where Zeb was. But the attempt came out as a croaky whisper that surprised them both. Ezra seemed to change his mind then. He turned and grabbed a cup of water from the table and handed it to Alex. Alex raised himself to one elbow slowly and drained the cup. Handing it back over, he returned to his position on the bed.
"Better?" Ezra asked at which he nodded in answer before trying to speak again. This time his voice came out clearer, if still weaker than he'd prefer.
"Would you be so kind as to fill me in on a few details I seem to be lacking?"
"Sure thing," Ezra returned to his seat, "What do you remember?"
"We sparred." Alex answered. "You...got lucky." He caught Ezra's wince and paused. "It's alright you know. It's not as if you-" he was cut off by Ezra's agitated response.
"No it's not alright! Even if I didn't mean to, I hurt you, enough to cause your leg to give out. And then when I went and got Zeb and he tried to get you up, you were in so much pain you passed out. And I did that!"
Ezra had stood up at some point during the shouting and now half way between the chair and the bed, head hung low, Kallus thought he might very well sink to the floor. He briefly considered reaching out to make the boy sit on the bed, but he thought better of it.
"Ezra," he began quietly. Ezra flinched and so Kallus flinched. Was using his given name really having such an adverse effect? Possibly but this was not the time for inside jokes so he tried again.
"Ezra, I meant what I said. You got lucky. Yes, you got a solid hit in. Yes...I was hurt." He stopped here to watch how Ezra was reacting to his words. "But it was my fault." Ezra met his gaze. "I'm usually better at knowing when my leg can take a work out. I misjudged today. I'm also slightly more sleep deprived and under fed than strictly healthy." Here he smiled, "I'd appreciate that staying between the two of us if you didn't mind?"
"Not on your life," Zeb's voice came from the doorway.
Zeb's gruff laugh seemed to shake Ezra back to the present. Alex gestured for him to sit on the edge of the bed which he did slowly before speaking, "I understand everything you said. And I guess as long as you're not angry...it's ok?" He finished sounding utterly unsure of himself.
"Wonderful!" Zeb beamed, "Now that you two have kissed and made up, lunchtime." And with that he started arranging the food he'd brought in on the desktop and a tray table he maneuvered to the bedside, all the while Ezra joked about Zeb being the preferred person to kiss Alex. They both heartily agreed.
Ezra switched from the bed back to the chair and Zeb sat down next to Alex to fuss over him profusely, which Alex didn't mind at all to be honest. After they'd spent some time eating, Zeb quietly put a bottle of tablets next to Kallus' plate, pain tabs he realized. He started to protest until he saw both Ezra and Zeb watching to make sure he took them. Rolling his eyes he did as asked. Fixing Ezra with a stare he asked, "So when's our rematch Jabba?"
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
"Hey, where'd you get that?" Ezra gestured at the pastry Kallus was eating, standing in the otherwise empty galley of Ghost ship.
"Found a few in the cupboard", he answered around a bite of the fruit filled dough. Swallowing he asked, "Want one?"
"Oh no way, those are Hera's." He answered. Kallus raised an eyebrow at that, so Ezra continued," No one else eats those because they're her favorite. You seriously didn't know?"
Kallus shook his head slowly, something working at the back of his mind, something about the way the pastry tasted. "I don't even know what's in it, let alone that it's apparently earmarked for the captain." He trailed off setting the uneaten half of the pastry back on the plate sitting on the table.
"Aw don't worry about it. Hera won't miss one meiloorun pastry. You may as well finish it."
Kallus barely caught his words, suddenly preoccupied with a growing feeling of nausea, "Mei-meiloorun you said?"
"Uh huh, they're her favorite. Hey Kallus are you ok? You don't look too good."
The only response he got was Kallus doing an about face and running out of the galley for the refresher, nearly bowling over Zeb in the process.
"What's gotten into him?" Zeb asked at the same time retching noises could be heard from the refresher. Both Ezra and Zeb scrambled to the door only to see an extremely pale Kallus exiting.
"In case it should ever be of importance," he began softly, "I am allergic to meiloorun." And with that he entered the bunk he shared with Zeb leaving the Lasat and the Jedi starring after him.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Endor was, breathtaking didn't do it justice, but that's all Alex's mind could supply in the slightly alcohol-tinged after-battle haze he currently existed in. The celebration continued in all directions, revelers sprawled out eating, drinking and dancing their pride in victory. Some were long passed out either next to a fire or tucked away in one of the tree houses that stretched overhead farther than the eye could see. It was these arboreal huts that held Zeb's attention as they wandered aimlessly through the forest, arms loosely wrapped around the other's waist.
"What are you thinking?" He asked his lover quietly.
"Hm? Oh. Just wondering what it must be like to climb these trees. They're different than Lasan or even Lira San but I bet the view is really something."
"You could you know. Climb I mean, if you wanted." Alex caught his gaze then and held it.
"Nah couldn't leave you down here by yourself. And it's not like you can come with me." He stopped when he caught the grimace on Alex's face. "Karabast I didn't mean anything by that. I just figure you're going to have a hard enough time getting into one of these tree houses when we decide to bed down." Kallus' scowl deepened. "Ah Kriff, I'm sorry Kal. Forget I said anything, yeah?" He stepped closer pulling Alexsandr to his side and they continued down the path. Suddenly, they heard a voice, very loud, very drunk.
"Agent Kallus! Alexsandr Kallus? 'S 'at you? It is! ISB's finest!" Zeb and Kallus turned toward the voice as its owner stumbled toward them.
"Solo", Kallus couldn't help bristling slightly. Zeb responded by straightening and pulling Kallus even closer. "Didn't realize you two knew each other," He rumbled, trying harder than strictly necessary to seem intimidating.
"We've had our...dealings." Kallus answered slowly.
"Aw come on is that all ya have to say? This guy", Han hiccupped, "he chased me across the better parts of space, and a few of the worse ones, never caught me though." He grinned, “‘S a pity you gave up. We had some fun back in the day."
"You had fun." Kallus corrected. "I had paperwork. More the further out you managed to drag me and my men. One wild bantha chase after another."
Han stepped closer to Kallus. "Like I said we both had fun. You always did love your protocol."
At this Zeb snickered, "He's got you there."
Kallus rolled his eyes but looked up and smiled fondly, "Whose side are you on anyway?"
Zeb didn't answer. Instead he addressed Han, "You wouldn't happen to know of any digs closer to the ground would ya? We'll want to get some shut eye at some point and climbing is out with his bad leg."
"Why not leave him to figure it out on his own?" Han asked. "Not like we have bunk assignments here."
"True", Zeb mused, "but we're what you might call...permanent bunk mates." He didn't explain further just let what he'd said slowly dawn on the other man.
"Oh...OH!" Solo sputtered. "So, you two? Huh. Alright then."
"Why so shocked?" Zeb asked with mock innocence. "I thought you and the Wookiee were in a similar situation."
"EXCUSE ME!" Han shouted. "CHEWIE IS MY FRIEND, NOTHING ELSE. FRIENDS, GOT IT? AND BESIDES-" Han suddenly seemed to realize he was shouting rather loudly, "Besides I've kind of got a thing with Leia."
"Oh right the princess from Naboo." Kallus supplied.
"Alderaan," Han corrected curtly.
"Right," Kallus said solemnly, "Sorry."
"Anyway", Han coughed, "You were asking about the accommodations before. There are lifts on the side of a few of these huts. Platforms you can take to whichever level you want." He gestured to one of the lifts in question, a simple enough system. Weight was distributed in one direction allowing the raising of a platform.
Kallus nodded his thanks and they parted before more awkwardness could occur. Reaching the lift, Zeb helped Kallus step up before joining him and setting the platform in motion. About halfway to their destination Zeb laughed softly to himself.
Alex shifted to look at him, "What's funny?"
"The system this lift uses. Don't you think it's a little funny?"
Alex could only blink confusedly, "I'm afraid you lost me."
"It's a fulcrum." Zeb smiled, pulling him closer and kissing him deeply.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Alex stood in front of the mirror on the bunk wall, pulling a t shirt over his head. Looking up, he caught his reflection and sighed in annoyance.
Without looking behind him to where Zeb sat on the bed he asked, "You wouldn't know anyone halfway decent with a hair trimmer would you?"
Zeb considered this for a moment before answering, "No one I can think of. Yer hair starting to bother ya? It is pretty long."
Alexsandr had turned to look at him and just caught the suggestive eyebrow waggle Zeb was giving him. He rolled his eyes, "Don't tell me you think this is attractive somehow?" He asked tucking some of the almost shoulder length hair behind his ear.
"Well, considerin' I'm attracted to you," he stressed the emphasis, "and the hair is on your head. Yes I like it grown out. But," He stood and started rummaging through a drawer on the other side of the room before continuing, "If you're bothered by it, I want to help. Aha!"
He turned back to Alex who'd been watching him curiously. In his hand was a brush and what looked like a band of softened leather or some other material. He motioned for Alex to turn back to the mirror. Slowly he brushed Alex's hair back from his face. Not failing to catch the way the man's eyes fluttered shut in relaxation.
Once brushed, Zeb brought the hair together at the back of Alex's head and pulled it through the band a few times creating a small knot. He placed his hands on Alex's shoulders and brought their faces next to each other in the mirror asking, "How's 'at? Better?"
Alex blinked at their reflections and took several minutes to answer. Turning his head back and forth in the mirror, he tried to formulate a response. Realizing that he was taking too long to answer he finally settled on, "Acceptable."
Zeb rolled his eyes and started to move away, "Well I mean I know I'm not exactly good at it or anything but could you at least-"
Alex grabbed his wrist and pulled him back until they were stood with their chests pressed together. "Thank you," he said softly. He placed a kiss on Zeb's cheek before continuing. "I was just caught off guard by the fact that my boyfriend was brushing my hair and knew how to do an up-do I believe it's called?"
Zeb pulled him closer, "Oh I'm full of surprises love. And I'm glad you approve. It suits you ya know."
"Thank you, love. I do have one question still," Alex mused. "Why do you have this band in the first place?"
Zeb leaned around him quickly, calling out, "Wha's 'at Hera? Comin'!" And with that Zeb ducked around Alex and out into the hall.
Alex followed after him bewildered, "I didn't hear Her- hey wait we were having a conversation! Zeb? Zeb!" and smiling fondly to himself, "Damn fool Lasat."
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
"A-lex. Can you say that? Try it, A-lex. Aaah-lex," Alexsandr prompted Jacen from his spot on the floor where the two were laying surrounded by Jacen's toys. He'd been trying to get the boy to start saying his name as he was slowly giving names, or at the very least sounds, to the other members of Ghost Crew. Hera was Mama, of course or Mamamamamama if Jacen felt like it. Even Chopper was Beep for crying out loud. But Alexsandr had had no luck in getting Jacen to say his name.
He looked up at the boy as Jacen sat in front of him happily banging two blocks together and gurgling. "Are you even listening to me? Hmm?" Alexsandr asked. He reached forward and began tickling Jacen until he squealed.
The door to the bunk room slid open and Jacen stopped mid-squeak to call out, "Zzzzzz!" He stood up and wobbled on chubby legs before taking off to greet Zeb.
Zeb waved at Alex as he rolled over to sit up. Scooping Jacen off the floor Zeb inquired, "And what have you two been up to today? Trouble I assume," he mumbled looking at the sea of toys littering the floor.
"Us? Trouble? Never," Alexsandr replied solemnly." Just your run of the mill super secret intelligence operation, code cracking, simple stuff. Gotta start him off easy," Alexsandr smirked.
"So you were working while you were supposed to be watching our nephew," Zeb quirked an eyebrow at him, "I figured as much."
"When you put it like that it makes me sound negligent," said in a mock scandalized tone. "I waited until nap time, obviously. The rest of the day was all fun and games."
Zeb rolled his eyes and directed his attention to Jacen, "How about it little one, did you have fun with uncle Alex today?" Jacen babbled incoherently as Zeb nodded along as if he understood perfectly.
Alexsandr interrupted with a cough causing Zeb to look up. Alexsandr was balanced precariously on his knees holding a hand out, "Care to help me up love?"
Zeb moved Jacen to the bed, quickly barricading him from the edge with pillows. Standing he took hold of Alexsandr's hand smiling softly, "This bring back memories for ya?"
Alexsandr paused before smiling and humming, "Yes, yes it does husband." Gripping Zeb's hand tighter he got to his feet with a groan. A similar noise, albeit smaller, came from the bed as Jacen picked up one of the pillows and threw it on the floor. Realizing that he was being watched the boy immediately started to pout and reached out to Alexsandr to be picked up. He promptly obliged bouncing Jacen gently and kissing the top of his head.
"You ever think the reason he doesn't have a name for you is you don't give him a reason to need one?" Zeb asked watching them.
Nuzzling his cheek against Jacen's hair Alexsandr looked at Zeb curiously, "How do you mean?"
Zeb sighed, "Sasha he barely has to look at you before you're picking him up or bringing him a toy or something."
Alexsandr curled his arms around Jacen, "What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing love," Zeb moved to put an arm around him, "just thinking out loud, that's all."
Alexsandr moved to sit on the bed, clearly stuck on what Zeb had said, "I know everyone thinks I coddle him, and I'm not saying I don't but," Alexsandr trailed off looking down at Jacen in his lap.
"But what love?" Zeb prompted joining them on the bed.
Alexsandr sighed heavily causing Jacen to look up from where he was drifting to sleep on Alexsandr's chest. One chubby hand reached up and patted Alexsandr clumsily. Alexsandr smiled softly before continuing, "I realize I shouldn't be projecting like this, but every time I'm with him I'm struck by the thought that Jacen may be the only child in our lives, at least for a long while, if not ever."
Jacen started snoring softly and Alexsandr would have laid him down but he had balled his tiny fists in Alexsandr's shirt. So Alexsandr attempted to get him in a more comfortable position on his lap. Zeb sat silently, not entirely sure how to respond to Alexsandr's statement.
Finally he spoke, "Sasha...oh Sasha I didn't know you felt like that. Guess I should have realized-" Alexsandr cut him off with a shake of his head
"No Garazeb, love it's not your fault," Alexsandr started, "It's just harder sometimes to be ok with our situation."
Zeb took Alexsandr's hand saying, "You don't have to act ok about anything. You hear me? Don't shove your feelings to the side because you think you're sparing people. That's only going to hurt you in the long run."
Alexsandr nodded silently before replying, "I know that, I do. And it's not that I'm unhappy, please don't think that. I just never realized how much I would want my own family."
"Oh Sasha," Zeb sighed moving closer before wrapping both arms around him, "We will have our own one day. I promise ya. Might not be the way we pictured but we'll have it."
They sat like that for a while, Alexsandr wrapped in Zeb's arms as Jacen slept between them. All three had almost dozed off when the door slid open to reveal Hera, who'd come to pick up Jacen.
She walked in waving at Zeb and Alex before scooping Jacen up into her arms. The boy immediately woke up and voiced his displeasure at being moved. Hera began bouncing him and rubbing his back until he quieted. Nodding her thanks she turned to leave. Just as she reached the door Jacen's little head raised off her shoulder and he made eye contact with Alex. Reaching out a chubby little hand he called, "Sasa."
Hera backed out of the doorway and looked down at Jacen asking, "What baby? Tell mama again."
Jacen looked at her as seriously as possible for a toddler and repeated,"Sasa."
She turned around and walked back into the bunk room asking, "Did you want to say goodnight to Uncle Zeb and Uncle Alex?" She held Jacen out to Zeb who moved to pick him up before Jacen again cried, "Sasa!"
Suddenly something occurred to Alexsandr, "May I?" he asked picking Jacen up. The boy immediately squealed in delight laughing, "Sasa!"
Zeb and Hera watched in confusion as Alex cuddled Jacen closer nuzzling his hair as Jacen continued to repeat, "Sasa."
Zeb scratched his ear querying, "You know what he's sayin?"
Alexsandr just nodded rocking Jacen back and forth. When Zeb continued to look confused Alexsandr laughed, "Love what's my name?"
Zeb replied hesitantly, "Alexsandr? Alex?...Sasha!"
Hera smiled, "He finally has a name for you! Oh how sweet. How's it feel Sasa?"
Alexsandr closed his eyes and hugged Jacen tighter sighing, "Wonderful." Straightening suddenly he added, "Just to be clear, that's his name for me. Got it?" He fixed Zeb with a stare receiving an eye roll in response, "Zeb," he warned. Zeb held up both hands in defeat.
"Alright, alright, I'll behave," Zeb promised.
Alexsandr nodded satisfied, "Right then, I think it's past someone's bedtime," he whispered passing Jacen to Hera and trying not to wake him up.
Jacen did wake up but to his credit didn't cry. He simply started to wave sleepily at Zeb and Alex mumbling, "Nigh nigh Zzzzz. Nigh nigh Sasa," as the door closed behind Hera's back.
Once they were alone Alexsandr sat heavily on the bed, as if his legs had given out. Zeb sat down hurriedly worried that something was wrong. "You ok Sasha? he asked. Alexsandr nodded smiling, "Jacen said my name. He finally has something to call me."
"That he does love," Zeb started nuzzling Alex's neck before wrapping him in a hug, "That he does."
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Zeb walked down the busy thoroughfare that was Lothal's market. He passed booth after booth occasionally stopping to look at some blankets or inspect produce. He wasn't looking for anything in particular and even better he wasn't in a hurry. Ghost Crew had been given leave time so they decided to return to the home-world of one Ezra Bridger and relax for a few days.
That was exactly what Zeb was trying to do when his peace was disrupted by Ezra's voice calling his name. He turned back the direction he'd heard the shout come from only to see Ezra sprinting toward him ducking around and through the crowds to do so. He reached Zeb a minute later slightly out of breath and red faced. When he'd caught his breath Zeb asked, "Where's the fire kid?"
"No fire," Ezra shook his head and pointed back the way he'd come, "Alex sent me to come get you. He needs your help."
"Oh yeah? What with?" Zeb asked.
"Well we were walking past this one stall and his cane caught a loose rock in the dirt and he fell and-"
"He fell?" Zeb yelled, "And you left him instead of just getting me on the comm?"
"Oh, yeah I guess that would have been a better plan huh?" Ezra chuckled nervously.
"Karabast," Zeb muttered under his breath, "Alright let's go. I'll never hear the end of it if he thinks I left him to get trampled by the locals."
They started off, with Ezra leading to the stall where Alexsandr was waiting, presumably sitting in the dirt. Zeb continued to grumble about how if Alex got hurt he was kicking both their backsides and so forth. Finally they reached the stall in question. Sure enough, Alexsandr sat balanced precariously on his knees, attempting to gain enough leverage to stand. But it was no use, his cane couldn't gain purchase.
Zeb stepped into his line of sight and cleared his throat, "I was told to come here because you needed me for something?"
Alexsandr's face lit up as he answered, "Yes I seem to have gotten myself into a rather interesting situation."
"I can see that," Zeb replied, "How exactly can I help?"
Alexsandr thought for a moment and then waved to Ezra, "Would you care to take my cane until I'm back on my feet?"
"You got it," Ezra nodded stepping up to take the cane.
"Now then, Garazeb my love," Alexsandr began taking hold of Zeb's left hand. Zeb for his part was beginning to get antsy about the crowd they had attracted by this point. This only increased when said crowd suddenly went silent watching them.
Glancing around Zeb mumbled, “What in the world is...happening," he trailed off as he looked back down at Alex only to see him holding a small wooden box with a ring inside.
"Sasha?" Zeb asked breathlessly, "What's happening?"
"Oh my Zeb," Alexsandr sighed, "Do you not recognize a proposal when you see one?"
"A pro-proposal?" Zeb stuttered.
Alexsandr nodded, fishing the ring out of the box before settling it on the ground and asking, "Garazeb Orrelios, will you do me the incredible honor of marrying me?"
Zeb stood completely still for a single beat of time before nodding silently, his eyes locked on Alexsandr as he slipped the ring on Zeb's finger and scooped up the box. He'd barely done that before Zeb was wrapping his arm around Alexsandr's waist, pulling him to his feet and kissing him deeply. Cheers erupted around them, including from their crew-mates. But they barely noticed, being too wrapped up in staring at each other for anything else to matter.