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I can make the stars dance for you

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Ezra Bridger met Luke Skywalker six weeks after the war ended.

The Ghost was thought lost by the Rebellion ages ago, when in reality, they were tasked with collecting Old Republic artifacts in wild space. Since wild space had spotty reception, only a few officers knew that the Ghost wasn’t missing in action.

Nevertheless, Hera managed to receive the location of the Rebellion’s latest base, and at long last, they returned to their cause.

Only to discover that the war was over.

Ezra could sense the shock and frantic explanations as the Ghost docked on base. They were the topic of hurried and excited conversation.

Hera was the first to step out of the Ghost’s confines, greeted by Mon Mothma herself, who joyfully welcomed them back to the known galaxy. The crew went into her office, where she explained that one man was responsible for destroying the Empire.

At the name Luke Skywalker, Kanan bristled so intensely that Ezra had to ground him with a shoulder pat.

“Is he,” Kanan’s eyes widened at Mon, “the son of Anakin Skywalker?”

Now that name, Ezra knew. One of the most infamous Jedi that ever lived, who supposedly died during the Purges.

Mon nodded and said, “I did not believe it at first. But then I met him.”

“Is he,” Ezra asked hopefully, “a Jedi too?”

When Mon said that he was, Ezra’s entire heart soared.

The son of Anakin Skywalker must be around his age. Right?

If so, then Ezra had finally heard of a Jedi that he could be friends with! They could go on missions together and train together and find Jedi artifacts together!

Even Kanan didn’t have it in him to tether Ezra from his emotions, which had taken flight and would not be grounded for the foreseeable future.

When the group left Mon’s office and returned to the flight hanger, Ezra found himself gaping at Leia Organa.

Before he went to wild space, Alderaan was destroyed, but he had not seen Leia since months before that. They were eighteen at the time, and Ezra realized that his old crush on her was silly. So was his crush on Sabine. He was an adult, and he was meant to be a Jedi, and he couldn’t foolishly flirt with people he couldn’t be with in the long term.

Leia was near the bay doors, perched on a crate next to one of the ugliest starships Ezra had ever seen.

But then a handsome man alongside a Wookiee came out of the ship, and Ezra started to understand.

The handsome man, Ezra could tell from a single glance, worshipped the ground that Leia walked on. And Leia beamed up at him when he approached, only broken by affectionate but intense eye contact.

Ah, young love.

Their moment was lost when Leia saw them, and her entire head turned. The man and the Wookiee were forgotten, and she rose from the crate. She broke into a jog, stopping a foot short. Her brown eyes roved over the group as if she couldn’t believe they were tangible.

“By the stars,” Leia said, “I almost didn’t believe Mon when she told me you were here. It’s been,” she caught her breath, “it’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”

Despite not knowing Leia that well, Hera held out her arms. “It’s lovely to see you.”

Leia hugged back gently, smiling at the haggard crew. “You too.”

She received hugs from Sabine and Ezra, a rare smile from Zeb, and a jovial greeting from Chopper. Ezra didn’t miss the tinge of sadness that plagued Leia, most likely because of Alderaan, but she was clearly happier too.

“Has Mon given you an overview?” Leia asked. “I’m sure this is all...a lot.”

“She has,” Hera answered. “But I’m confused. How did one man destroy the Empire?”

Leia’s smile turned wan, fading into dusk on her face. “That’s a very long story. And one that can’t be told by me.”

Her gaze was suddenly on Ezra, as if she forgot everyone else was there. Her wan smile lingered, frozen along with golden brown eyes. Leia’s expression contained a wisdom that Ezra couldn’t comprehend being on her face.

Leia said, “Luke is due to arrive tonight. You’ll like him.”

Ezra blinked, wondering how in the stars Leia said that as if she knew it for a fact.

And that night, when Ezra was alone and an unfamiliar starship docked, he understood.

Luke Skywalker glided down the ramp clad in black robes, but the dark fabric did not hinder what he truly was.

And the truth was, Luke Skywalker was the brightest being Ezra ever encountered.

Ezra didn’t know that the Force could sing. He didn’t know that the Force was capable of rejoicing. The air curled around Luke, sighing as if he were a lover, filling an absence that was only present in his embrace.

The Force caressed him like a breeze, a chorus of harmonies and light matching Luke’s weary smile. He shone as if a never-ending supernova, something Ezra had to squint to observe in its full luminescence.

Ezra looked from the inside out, and noticed how the overhead lights bent towards Luke, gravity being defied just for him. The lights created a halo around golden hair, spun from the most expensive thread. His skin was tan, most likely from long exposure to the sun, the bronze to his hair’s gold. His eyes were bluer than any sky on any planet Ezra had seen in the galaxy, an overcast gray acting as storm clouds — not the kind that brought lightning, but the kind that brought drizzling rainfall that enriched the soil and encouraged flowers to grow. His body was slender and lithe, unimposing and graceful. He couldn’t be much taller than Ezra, who knew he was uncharacteristically short.

Luke’s smile from afar, directed towards a blue-and-white astromech, made Ezra feel weak.

The day he gets this man to smile at him that way will be the day he achieves something worthwhile.

A hand clasped over Ezra’s shoulder, and he jumped.

Leia’s laughter was musical. “You okay there?” Ezra saw her grin as she doubled over in a quick bout of laughter. “Maybe I was wrong about you just liking him.”

Ezra felt insurmountable heat rush up his neck and to his cheeks, setting him ablaze.

Leia held up a hand, as if waving. “LUKE!”

Luke’s head turned in their direction, and he smiled at Leia.

“Come here!” Leia exclaimed, using her hand to motion him forward.

Luke glanced uncertainly at Ezra, but glided forward as if surfing a beach wave, the Force bending to his will.

Suddenly, Luke’s eyes were entirely on him, and Ezra was pretty sure his heart stopped for a full second.

“Luke,” Leia said, “this is Ezra Bridger. Ezra, this is my brother, Luke Skywalker.”

It took a beat for the term to register, and Ezra blinked at her incredulously.

“Your brother?” Ezra asked, not truly comprehending how the two could be related.

But the Force soon told him the answer.

Not only was Luke a Jedi, but Leia was Force sensitive too!

Luke’s voice was the opening notes in a melody, soft and effortless. “It’s hard to explain,” he said, holding out a hand, “and I’m glad to meet you. I’ve heard of you.”

Ezra clasped Luke’s hand as an afterthought, utterly entranced by his words. “You’ve heard of me?”

The warmth of Luke’s palm and the spark that shot through his veins was something Ezra wouldn’t ruminate on, should he keep his sanity.

“Yes,” Luke glanced at Leia, “my sister, along with many others, believed your crew to be lost. I was saddened that I couldn’t speak with other Jedi who could help me.”

A twinge of a frown marred his lips, and Ezra wondered if he was more than a fleeting thought on Luke’s mind.

“If it’s help you want,” Ezra said, softening his tone as if to unconsciously mimic Luke’s, “perhaps we can learn from each other.”

And there it was: Luke’s hopeful smile, directed at Ezra and only for Ezra. It was like a rainbow breaking through storm clouds, or the sun rising on a brand new day.

This was the beginning of a new day. A new age. A new life, where Ezra knows Luke and Luke knows Ezra.

A life that Ezra wouldn’t mind living.

He didn’t know when, but Leia slipped away, leaving the two men to talk. Ezra doesn’t remember it, but they migrated to the starship ramp, sitting at the top so they could talk.

They talked into the night and into the next day. Ezra detailed some of his adventures, and Luke told Ezra about some of his own.

When Leia returned wearing a new outfit, Luke murmured dazedly, “it’s morning?”

Ezra peered down the platform, and saw from the open bay doors that the sun was rising. They had talked for hours, but it hadn’t felt that long.

Leia grinned at the two, knowing far more than she was letting on, and Ezra wished he were in on the secret. “You have a report, Luke.”

He remembered himself, salient eyes blinking at Ezra sheepishly. His skin tinged a light shade of pink, and he said softly, “I should write that before Mon gets angry with me.”

Luke rose to his feet, and Ezra ached when he got to his own feet. He was cramped up, but he didn’t care at all.

Ezra thinks he just started falling, arms outstretched as the air carried him off the cliff, and he realized he didn’t care if he kept falling forever.

In fact, he welcomed it.

The next day, after Ezra hadn’t caught sight of his family in hours, he actively sought out Luke.

He found Luke in an empty room, training with his lightsaber on a bot shooting blaster bolts. He wore all white clothing, Ezra reminded of Leia’s white gowns whenever she used to deliver a compelling speech. His lightsaber was green like Ezra’s, and he moved as if anticipating each attack before it happened.

He blocked and swooped and ducked and spun as if he were a dancer on stage, meant for thousands of eyes to witness, but would have to settle for one pair.

Ezra decided that he very much wanted to duel with Luke. Person to person.

So that they could learn from each other! Not for any other reason. Obviously.

Ezra called the training bot to him, and the Force abided by his smooth command. It shut off the firing sequence, powering down and floating into Ezra’s waiting grasp. Luke followed the spherical bot’s motion, and his face turned a shade pinker as he shut off his lightsaber.

Was that a blush? Ezra was going to pretend he was just flushed from fighting. Yeah.

Ezra held the spherical bot, examining the device critically. “Is this all you use to train?”

Luke was a tad sheepish as he nodded.

Ezra closed the gap between them, allowing Luke plenty of time to step back should he get too close into personal space. When Luke didn’t move, Ezra an inch apart, he offered the training bot back to Luke.

Ezra pretended not to notice their fingers brush when Luke retrieved the sphere.

“I’ll train with you,” Ezra said kindly.

“Yeah?” Luke smiled hopefully, the lights bending to reflect his teeth. “You will?”

He was so eager, and so sweet, and so-

Don’t think the word, Ezra.

Beautiful.

Shit. Luke was beautiful.

Ezra couldn’t deny his offer, since it was so earnest. “It’s not a problem. Besides,” he used his default grin, “I wanna see what you can do.”

Luke held the training bot in his hands hesitantly, then turned around. Ezra slipped his hidden lightsaber out of his utility belt, the cold metal cooling in his hand.

Taking advantage of Luke setting down the bot on a crate, Ezra ignited his lightsaber and used the Force to leap into the air.

With a speed that startled Ezra, Luke spun around, ignited his lightsaber, and blocked his sudden strike.

“Nice try,” Luke teased, a little smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

By the stars, Ezra could feel himself freefalling farther down the cliff by the second!

Luke gave him a light Force push backed by his lightsaber, and Ezra was grounded a few inches away. He landed gracefully on his feet, and Ezra thanked the Force for not tripping clumsily.

Ezra kept the lightsaber hanging by his side, twirling it a little to try and look credible. “That was a good block.”

Luke didn’t take the compliment, proceeding to flip the lightsaber hilt between two of his fingers, the blade sweeping in a tight but perfect arc.

Ezra couldn’t help but laugh. “And I thought you were an amateur. Who was your teacher?”

Luke smiled wanly and did not answer. Instead, he made to sideswipe Ezra, ducking low and slicing up high. Ezra blocked it and parried with his own low swipe. Luke beat it back easily, an amused sparkle in his eyes.

Neither man was taking the duel seriously, but that didn’t matter. They showed off their respective moves, and Ezra found himself unable to predict Luke’s counterattacks. It was like he was given an entire deck of cards, shuffled them, and picked whatever card he wanted impulsively.

Well, maybe impulsive wasn’t the right word. Maybe the word was calculated. But without seeming calculated. Or something.

Ezra found himself dealing out useless parries, going on the defensive, which was not where he thrived. Despite Kanan Knighting him in wild space, Ezra had plenty of flaws in his technique.

When he fought back, though, his movements were more seamless than Luke’s. But that was because Ezra had years and years of practicing, refining his offensive maneuvers.

Luke had plenty of metal to make up for his faults, determination and courage the defining traits that Ezra recognized flowing through his veins.

After their sparring match, which Ezra pretended wasn’t a bit flirtatious, Ezra and Luke traded moves. They learned from each other and practiced new lightsaber forms. Ezra found that his teachings were classic, while Luke’s diverted drastically from the norms that Kanan drilled into his mind. It was unconventional, and since Kanan could no longer scold him, Ezra gratefully picked up techniques that Luke knew.

Some of them were of Luke’s own creation! And they were brilliant!

Luke Skywalker was brilliant. He was smarter than he let on. He had the ability to see errors in his forms and correct them without hesitation. He learned and grew at a rampant rate, and Ezra found it was difficult for his own mind to keep up.

Again, they spent hours in each other’s company, eating away the night and neither retiring until it was the next day.

There was a magnetism between them, and Ezra found himself getting attached to Luke’s presence in the span of a few days.

When his family forcibly yanked him back on the Ghost, Ezra found himself sulking. The Ghost crew would always be needed to move cargo, and for the first time, Ezra resented being a part of their unit.

He was taken to a week-long mission away from base, and Ezra felt a hole in his heart that hadn’t been there before. The hole widened with each day that passed, and Ezra threw himself into the mission. He couldn’t afford to have his head in the clouds!

Kanan noticed his unusual vigor and shared concerned looks with Hera as a result. Sabine and Zeb lingered closer than they used to during quiet moments, as if afraid Ezra would do something stupid.

Such as grab an oxygen suit, dive out of an airlock, and get whatever shuttle that passed by their section of space to pick him up and take him back to base, where he could return to Luke’s sunshine smile and Luke’s sparkling eyes and Luke’s beautiful incomparable mind when he verbalized his thoughts.

Ezra spent free time either curled up in his top bunk meditating away thoughts of Luke or pressing his cheek against a window, gazing at the stars and wishing Luke were closer.

Ezra was conflicted: he was completely there during missions, and didn’t let thoughts distract him. But when he was left to his own devices, the hole in his heart widened, sucking the life and joy out of him.

It took Sabine cracking a horrible joke at his expense for Ezra to realize that the path he was on wasn’t healthy. He shouldn’t be so dependent on a man he just met. He could be happy without Luke there.

And Ezra could tell his laugh in response to the joke calmed whatever concerns that the Ghost crew wouldn’t say aloud.

When they docked back on base, Ezra greeted Luke knowing that, if something were to happen, he wouldn’t have created a toxic relationship.

Weeks passed, and in between separate missions, Ezra and Luke formed a healthy friendship.

A little while after that, Leia assigned the duo on a mission together. She was far too pleased by the delight in their expressions, and Ezra tried not to think about it.

Kanan and Sabine took news of Ezra’s mission hard. Kanan had obvious doubts for Ezra going off without him, and Sabine’s need to protect him was put in permanent jeopardy.

Even meeting Luke wasn’t enough to alleviate Kanan’s worry. In fact, it made his worries worse.

Ezra, without starting an argument, curtly reminded Kanan that he was capable of handling himself, and went on his mission with Luke.

The plan was to enter an Imperial base’s generator room and blow it up with bomb charges. Getting there discreetly and sneaking inside the base went off without a hitch, and Ezra found himself grinning underneath his trooper mask.

That’s when they found that the generator was in the middle of a cavernous hole, with no clear path to get close to the energy core.

Left alone in the space designated as a room, Luke spent his time analyzing it. Cave rocks that spanned only a few paces dropped into an endless hole. The energy core had three feet worth of durasteel for technicians to fix any issues. But that durasteel had no way on or off of it. Ezra was at a complete loss.

However, Luke knelt close to the cave floor, at the junction where it dropped. He held a rock in his hand and let it go. The rock fell an inch lower, revealing a shield. After a moment, though, the rock fell through the shield.

“A timed shield,” Luke concluded.

“It’s still not enough time,” Ezra said, feeling bad for making Luke’s brows furrow, his eyes narrow in concentration, worry plague his expression.

Luke rose to his feet, and Ezra stepped back upon realizing he was encroaching on Luke’s personal space. The magnetic pull that kept Ezra in Luke’s orbit had to be actively fought against.

Luke shut his eyes, and Ezra tilted his head to the side. He felt a movement in the Force and knew it had to be Luke doing it.

When his eyes opened, they were a clear lake. “Then we use the Force,” Luke said, tearing his gaze from Ezra’s with slight difficulty.

Maybe more than slight difficulty.

Luke tore his gaze away anyway and stepped off the cave floor. Before Ezra could muster a shout, Luke splayed out his palms so they faced the nonexistent ground.

Ezra blinked in shock when Luke leveled himself out, and began to walk on air.

Luke was using the Force to fucking levitate!

Ezra felt himself falling and falling off that imaginary cliff, the descent slow and steady.

Luke chanced a glance over his shoulder when he was halfway there, and he beamed so brightly that Ezra wanted to melt.

“Come on,” Luke chuckled, “it’s fun.”

Ezra’s mind stopped working when he heard Luke’s laugh, and he had to clear his throat to remember himself.

If he made it out of this mission without embarrassing himself, it would be a true miracle.

Ezra breathed to even himself out. He sank into the Force thoughtlessly, and walked off the ledge as Luke did.

There was a millisecond where Ezra thought it wouldn’t work, but his boots leveled out, and he sighed in relief.

Ezra caught the tail end of an amused smile, and Luke was walking again. Ezra imagined he was a landspeeder, hovering over the ground, smooth sailing.

He walked, and he was glad Luke couldn’t see the massive maniacal grin expressing his pride in himself.

Kanan never taught him about this! He wondered if Kanan could even levitate!

Luke reached the durasteel floor, and Ezra rushed towards him. Luke unzipped the small bag of charges, and Ezra’s boots hit the durasteel.

Ezra pretended not to notice their fingers brush every time Luke handed him a bomb charge.

Every. Time.

Ezra got ahold of his emotions and mechanically secured bomb charges onto the steel casing protecting the energy core. They fell into a comfortable silence, save for the plinks and clangs of moving and setting charges.

Luke secured the last charge, and unceremoniously dropped the empty bag into the hole beneath their feet. With the evidence disposed of, Luke flicked on the bomb controller. Ezra glanced over his shoulder to ensure the time was correct. He nodded and Luke held his finger against the switch.

“Ready to run?” Luke asked, adrenaline already surging through him, his skin flushed and a preemptive smile on his face.

Or at least Ezra thought it was adrenaline.

Ezra grinned back, because when Luke gazed at him, it was hard not to. “Are you?” Ezra countered.

Luke narrowed his eyes and answered by flicking on the switch, starting the countdown.

Ezra caught a flash of Luke’s mischievous grin before he darted away, using the Force to propel him across the pit.

Ezra laughed shortly and ran too, catching up to Luke’s bounds. They reached the cave floor and dashed on pure instinct alone, back the way they came, ignoring the pounding red alarms and Imperials trying to capture them.

They were too fast. They were too powerful. They were too elated with their reckless escape.

Their laughs were lost to the wind as they left the Imperial base in the dust, only stopping in their blind sprinting when a bomb blast went off a half-mile away.

They dropped onto the rocky ground, kneeling to brace after the impact. They could feel the burn from the explosion, hear it ringing in their ears, even from so far away.

But neither cared, taking deep breaths and smiling idiotically at each other.

It took longer than usual for Ezra to remember himself, that Luke wasn’t his and he wasn’t Luke’s and Ezra respected Luke too much to make a move. Not here, not now.

No matter how sweet the prospect was, Ezra had to remember himself.

Ezra tipped his head down, pretending to shake dirty particles out of his wavy hair. As he ran a hand through his hair, he decided that he should cut it sometime. It would be an interesting experiment.

Ezra coughed as if something was stuck in his throat, and he turned around at the destruction. Smoke and fire resulted in utter chaos at the base, and Ezra shakily rose to his feet.

“We should get to the ship,” Ezra huffed tiredly.

Luke nodded and followed his example, the pair jogging another half mile where their starship rested.

Their first mission success — after a break for a Ghost mission for Ezra and an Ace Squadron mission for Luke — was followed by a string of more missions. And Ezra was entirely certain that Leia was putting them together so often on purpose.

During a break in their schedules, though, Leia caught wind of a Jedi artifact being sold at the black market on Bespin. Luke and Ezra excitedly went on the grab-and-go mission once Luke’s path to diplomacy failed.

Luke kept the ship engine running, hovering over the platform nearest to the market in Cloud City. Under the cover of night, Ezra used his thievery skills to swipe the Jedi holocron from its protective casing. When telltale alarms blared, Ezra used the Force to run faster, fighting back cackles as he escaped the black market.

When he reached the circular platform, connected by only a thin piece of durasteel, nearby police ships started firing.

Ezra heard rather than saw someone firing back, the sound of blasters taking down targets drowning out all other noises.

He focused on the platform and dashed across it, sensing Luke’s two-person starship hovering near the circular platform, their enemies beaten back.

Holding onto the holocron for dear life, Ezra pushed off the circular platform edge, hovering among the clouds for several eternal seconds.

His feet landed smoothly on the starship, and the blast shields opened. He caught Luke’s nod underneath his helmet and Ezra dropped into his seat, meant to fire extra weapons and drive in case Luke needed help.

But Luke didn’t need help. He was more than capable to do everything himself. Ezra admires that about him.

Luke closed the blast shield and started to fly away, Ezra strapping himself in with the Jedi holocron. He exhaled to center himself, and he laughed.

Ezra turned around in his seat and caught Luke’s amused smile. “Put on your helmet,” he reminded Ezra lightly. “I fly fast.”

“Yeah,” Ezra teased with a grin, “no shit.”

Luke’s smile was hidden by the shield on his helmet, and Ezra wished he could push it up to bask in its full illumination.

Ezra felt a whoosh in his stomach as Luke blasted them as far away as possible, disappearing into a sea of clouds.

After so many successful missions, Ezra knew that something bad would happen eventually. Despite feeling stronger and freer than he ever had, he needed to be reminded of his own mortality.

And he was reminded of his own mortality when he saw Luke swarmed by bounty hunters and thrown off of a mountain.

Ezra had fought against being split up, but he convinced himself Luke would be alright. For an hour, he’ll be alright.

But Luke was not alright.

Watching him fall, weakened by being shot at and knocked down, was like watching the sun set at noon, when it should rise at its highest point in the atmosphere. It was like watching a star fall, or a meteor crashing, or a planet falling out of orbit.

Ezra would have once struck down every bounty hunter with his blade for revenge. But he was not a servant of the Dark Side, and hadn’t been for a long time.

So he ran off the mountain and dove down, his mind repeating Luke’s name as he sailed lower and lower.

Ezra soon caught up with Luke’s freefalling form, and his eyes struggled to register Ezra’s face. He looked incredibly weak, as if grasping onto consciousness by a thread.

Ezra cast his arms around Luke’s middle, careful where he placed his hands. He pressed their bodies together, the air buffeting them both as if they were uprooted trees in a hurricane.

He spun them around so Ezra would break their fall, and he buried his head in Luke’s shoulder, squeezing his eyes shut.

Another few beats passed, and Ezra found them coming to a sudden stop.

Ezra felt his bodily functions halt, suspended in place. He slowly opened his eyes, sliver by sliver, studying the sky.

They were floating an inch off the rocky mountainside, several hundred feet below their previous location.

Ezra exhaled slowly, and the Force dropped them the final inch. Ezra’s back lightly hit the ground, and he rolled so that Luke rested partially on the terrain. Ezra moved to cradle Luke’s head in his lap, his legs acting as elevation for Luke’s upper half.

Ezra drank in Luke’s face, examining cuts that went from minor to deep. He cupped Luke’s cheek with his hand, his thumb dashing across his mouth.

“Luke,” he said reedily, “wake up.”

The Force was a sudden breeze, curling around Ezra’s form and crying over Luke’s unconscious body. A will that was not Ezra’s own motioned him forward, his fingers swiping across gashes and wishing they would heal.

The Force abided, and Luke exhaled through his nose. His blonde lashes fluttered, and a small sound came from the back of his throat.

Ezra breathed fully again, air blowing out of his mouth in an almost-whistle.

“Luke,” he murmured, the single syllable falling from his lips as a prayer. “Luke.”

Dazed blue eyes settled on Ezra’s face, struggling to find a foothold. A little hum erupted from Luke’s mouth, followed by a half-smile that shouldn’t be there.

Ezra huffed out a laugh, and he didn’t know why. Perhaps it was relief, or affection, or amusement that Luke could smile in a situation like this. Or it could be all of those things at once.

With startling clarity, Ezra realized how he must look to Luke. He was holding Luke’s head in his lap! His hand was on Luke’s cheek! He was cradling him like a broken doll!

Luke’s voice was thin and scratchy. “I didn’t think you would catch me.”

Ezra worried his bottom lip, and a part of him ached. “Why wouldn’t I?”

Luke’s smile widened, despite the pain he was in, and Ezra smiled back.

Luke Skywalker was positively...vexing!

Salient eyes suddenly raked over Ezra’s form, and Luke murmured, “you’ve got a lot of scrapes.”

“Yeah?” Ezra scoffed. “Well, you’re worse off.” He examined his surroundings for the first time, noticing a forked path that lead them back up the mountain. “We have to get out of here.”

A gentle touch on Ezra’s hand — which was still on Luke’s cheek! — brought Ezra’s gaze back to Luke’s bleeding freckled face. The hand stayed on Ezra’s, Luke’s gaze entirely on him. Ezra blushed on instinct, set on fire despite the cold wind.

“Ezra,” Luke said thinly, “thank you.”

An unseen force grabbed Ezra’s brain and tossed it into a blender, and Ezra found himself feeling very dizzy. He wanted so badly to take Luke’s face in his hands and be done with the tension, kissing Luke how he deserved to be kissed.

But now was not the time. Now, it was time to get moving.

Ezra focused his energy on hauling Luke to his feet and helping him back to the starship.

The mission after that wasn’t much better, with Ezra and Luke forced to ignite their lightsabers and take down as many Imperials as possible.

The battle was on a planet that Ezra couldn’t pronounce, and the beautiful fauna was burnt to cinders by the end of it. Ezra walked away with a new scar on his arm, and Luke got the split ends of his hair singed off by a stormtrooper carrying a vibroblade.

Before that, though, they fought as if two arms extended to the same being. They were a force to be reckoned with, separately and together.

But even more unstoppable together.

When Ezra wound up against Luke’s back, both of them protecting each other from blaster fire with lightsaber arcs, Ezra had never felt more in tune with someone before. Not even Kanan.

And the aftermath of this mission lead to Ezra finally meeting Han Solo and Chewbacca officially. He learned Han was Leia’s boyfriend, which he suspected but had no definitive proof of being true. He had quite a bit in common with Han due to their impoverished backgrounds, which he wasn’t expecting from a well-off smuggler.

Ezra was quick, though, to dissuade any jealousy that Luke might feel at their new friendship. He knew Luke wasn’t the type, but he wanted to make doubly sure that his intentions were clear.

And his intention was to subtly let Luke know that he wouldn’t mind being more than a close friend and sparring partner. He wouldn’t mind it at all.

Ezra showed Luke whenever he walked into a room that Ezra’s attention was entirely on him from that second forward. He allowed himself to smile a little brighter, grin a little wider, eyes to shine a little longer.

Not that it was a hard task to do.

He would occasionally catch Leia and Han sharing knowing looks, but Ezra put them to the back of his mind.

Eventually, though, his hyperactive behavior in Luke’s presence garnered a one-on-one conversation with General Organa herself.

Leia approached him after another mission with the Ghost, where he once again convinced his family that first postwar mission was nothing but a blip, a temporary error in his code.

It was late at night, and the crew retired to sleep on the freighter. Ezra, though, knew he wouldn’t sleep until Luke returned from his solo mission to collect a book detailing the Jedi Order’s practices. He was excited to pore over the book by Luke’s side.

Ezra restlessly sat on the Ghost ramp, which was extended out into the dim hanger lights. Leia seemingly appeared out of a shadow, gliding up the platform and plopping in front of him, legs crossed demurely.

“Do I need to give you the ‘be good to my brother’ talk, or are we okay?” Leia asked, her brown eyes hardened, the same look she had when she instructed men in battle.

Ezra merely blinked, and replied, “we’re okay.”

Leia’s brow shot up. She studied him, as if unsure, and Ezra felt a nudge in the Force. Knowing it was her, Ezra let his walls fall and let her feel his love for Luke.

Ezra had stopped denying it was anything but love. Not affection. Not adoration. Plain old love.

Leia pulled back from her inquiry. She tilted her head to the side and thought for an uncomfortable moment.

Then, Leia said, “Luke feels the same. You should know that.”

She rose abruptly and blended into the darkness of the hanger, smirking as she disappeared.

Ezra, meanwhile, was completely destroyed.

He found himself sifting back through his memories, times when Luke was flustered or smiled sweetly or did something that made Ezra’s heart twist.

He had dismissed those occurrences as tricks on his mind! They couldn’t possibly be real!

But they were. They were.

Leia had no reason to lie. She wanted what was best for Luke. He knew that without a doubt.

Leia thought that Ezra was best for Luke! To be honest, he felt honored. He would be a fool to let Leia Organa down.

The following day, Leia purposefully assigned Ezra to ride along with the Falcon crew on an artifact retrieval mission. As Han and Chewbacca flew the Falcon, Leia deliberately sat in the cockpit while Luke busied himself around the ship. Apparently, Han’s ship had a tendency to fall apart, and Luke enjoyed completing any maintenance the Falcon required. His gift for engineering and mechanics was awe-inspiring, one of the many things that captured Ezra’s attention as he learned more about Luke organically.

Leia was giving him a chance to confess his feelings, but Ezra did not take it. Instead, he watched Luke fix things, listening to his rambling when he got stuck and backtracked the steps in his head. It was absolutely adorable, and Ezra had to cough several times to prevent from blushing.

Ezra pretended not to see Leia’s frown, and Han’s concern, and Chewbacca’s disappointment, when they saw nothing changed in their respective demeanors.

Ezra didn’t have to wait long, though, for the opportunity to make a move presented itself.

It was after they retrieved an Old Republic artifact, a case of priceless manifestos, that the Falcon couldn’t leave the planet due to a severe rain storm.

Rain poured in buckets outside the Falcon, and Ezra expected that the starship would have more issues for Luke to fix when they could leave the atmosphere safely.

When the rain began, Ezra narrowed his eyes as Luke keyed open the ramp. Han would throw a fit, but Luke seemed unconcerned with, well...anything.

His face was serene, and Leia made to sternly deny him from going outside. But something in Luke’s eyes made her stop, and smile a disarming smile that Ezra thought he was fantasizing for a full five seconds.

The platform opened completely, and Luke spun on his feet, descending with a bright grin.

Ezra’s entire being snapped to attention at that grin, and he rose from the booth, glancing to ensure Han and Chewie were still oblivious in the cockpit. Once he confirmed they were, he saw that Leia had followed Luke down the ramp, into the pouring rain.

Ezra walked slowly, as if dreading what he was going to see down the ramp. He felt extremely hesitant to ruin a sibling moment, if that’s what this was, so he tread carefully.

When he looked down the platform, he absorbed the image of Luke and Leia dancing in the rain, their layers of clothes completely soaked within seconds. Leia twirled Luke, and he threw his head back, laughing carelessly as his hair became a sopping wet disaster. Leia fared no better, her curtain of hair and the braids containing it damp, but she didn’t seem to care.

Ezra peered into the Force, and saw that, even though the sky was gray and shadowed, Luke was a guiding light in the gloom. He was a searchlight allowing sailors to dock their boats safely. He was the North Star in a pitch black sky. He was the glow at the end of a long tunnel, promising hope and an escape from the harsh conditions.

And Ezra realized that, as an addition to that feeling, Luke was a man of the desert. Men of the desert never saw rain. So Luke must view the rain as sacred, a commodity that should not be wasted by hiding in the Falcon.

The thought made Ezra finally reach his destination, his freefall down the metaphorical cliff sending him lightly to the ground, as if he were lying on a bed of feathers.

Ezra walked smoothly down the ramp, as if he were hovering off the ground, or gliding above the pit in that Imperial base all those months ago.

Leia saw him first, and her smile was a blaster bolt, sharp and bright and searing. Support was in her gaze, and without a word of explanation to Luke, she ascended the ramp, bringing at least a gallon of rainwater with her.

Ezra’s boots sank into the muddy grass, and he smiled kindly at Luke’s perplexed expression. He absently noticed that no rain was sinking into his clothes or his skin, the Force casting an invisible umbrella over his form.

Ezra reached Luke and asked, “having fun getting soaked?”

Luke grinned childishly. “I am. You should join me.”

Ezra offered a hand, clamping down on the nerves making his arm shake. “Or you could get yourself dry for a little bit.”

Luke stared at the outstretched hand, and not for the first or last time, Ezra caught a pink tinge to Luke’s cheeks.

Why had he never capitalized on that? For his own sanity?

Yes, that sounds like something Ezra would think of as sound reasoning.

Luke’s hand slipped into Ezra’s palm, and Ezra felt as if he was grasping a star, trying to contain its light, if only for a moment.

Luke’s attention was entirely on him as he stepped in Ezra’s personal space, the Force keeping them both sheltered from the rain.

Ezra found himself tilting his head up, and he realized suddenly that Luke was taller than him. He would have to work for this!

So Ezra smiled easily and rose to his tiptoes, balancing evenly due to his training. Luke squinted his eyes once they were level, and Ezra said an awkward, “hi.”

“Hi,” Luke whispered, since they were close enough that they barely had to speak to be heard.

Ezra noticed Luke tip his head down a little, the perfect picture of a shy farmboy. His lashes hooded his gaze slightly, and Ezra responded by staring directly at Luke, letting his gaze burn through him.

“Luke,” Ezra murmured, “can I tell you something?”

At the words, Luke slowly upturned his gaze, albeit hesitantly. “Yeah?”

Now that he was here, that he got this far, Ezra knew he couldn’t back out.

He could reach for Luke, but it felt wrong. He could lean closer, but that wasn’t right either. At the expense of being a complete and total romantic sap, he decided the risk was worth it.

Luke deserved the know the full weight of his feelings, even if it was sappy. But since Ezra was Ezra, he would try to keep it short and sweet.

So he said the only thing he could.

“I’ve been captivated by you since the second I saw you,” Ezra said softly. “This entire time, I’ve been imagining myself as someone freefalling down a cliff, but seeing you dancing in the rain finally grounded me. And the ground wasn’t hard, it was soft.”

Luke’s eyes widened in understanding, and Ezra batted his lashes before continuing on.

“I thought that falling in love was supposed to be dangerous,” Ezra murmured, “but I’ve never felt safer. I’ve never felt happier.” Hesitance crept in, and Ezra asked, “does that make sense? I-I hope that makes sen-”

Luke’s inexperienced lips were suddenly on his, and Ezra surrendered with a whimper. Ezra was dazed as Luke cupped his face and deepened the kiss. The trajectory didn’t feel exactly right, but Ezra didn’t care. He kissed back with fervor, his hands falling to Luke’s sides and clutching to remind himself where he was, what he was doing.

Well, what Luke was doing.

Ezra felt immensely warm, closing his eyes and being faced with Luke’s soul, expanding like a star that would go supernova, but collapsing before the vision could be fully realized. Ezra leaned his entire being into Luke’s sun, the heat bathing him in golden light.

Ezra was plucked out of his temporary paradise when a shock of cold rain was dropped on him like a large bucket, dousing him entirely.

The shock hit both of them to the bone, and their lips pulled back from the sudden volley of coldness.

Wide eyes blinked at each other, and Ezra was the first to laugh. He laughed and laughed at the absurdity of the Force being a fickle creature, helping Ezra one moment and condemning him in the next.

He gained control of his grin a moment later, and saw that Luke was observing him — dare he think it — lovingly.

It was Luke that held out an outstretched hand next, and Ezra took it thoughtlessly. The rain was an afterthought in Ezra’s mind as he smiled tentatively, Luke smiling back as they fell into step together.

They ascended the ramp together, and even Han’s incredulous anger at all of them dragging in water couldn’t supersede what they found in the rain.

————

“Don’t take the shot,” Ezra said into the comm link.

“Excuse me,” Zeb said gruffly, “did I hear that correctly?”

“Don’t do it, Zeb,” Ezra repeated, perched near the gang of pirates prepared to make a very important transaction. “It has to go through before intervention.”

Kanan glanced at Ezra beside him like he was an alien species. “Those weren’t the orders.”

“I know,” Ezra said, “but it’s the smarter move.”

“How?” Sabine asked over the comm.

“Oh,” Hera’s signal broke in, “I understand.” There was a beat of static. There was genuine surprise in Hera’s voice as she said, “that’s a good one, Ezra.”

‘That’s a good one, Luke,’ Ezra’s mind supplied.

It was his boyfriend that had the genius ideas, after all. Ezra was simply an envoy passing it on.

When the tactic was a success, Ezra garnered the attention of his family once again.

Safely on the Ghost, heading for base, Ezra hoped he could get in an hour of stargazing before he was tugged away. But Hera, Kanan, Sabine, Zeb, and Chopper gathered around Ezra’s window perch. No stargazing for him today.

And Ezra suddenly realized how far apart they had grown. Ezra’s time away from them was creating a chasm, but he wasn’t apologetic for it.

Maybe this was a good thing.

“Ezra,” Hera said, “you’ve been different lately. Is something wrong?”

There was nothing that Ezra could say that wouldn’t make them worry unnecessarily over him. He didn’t want to do that. So he thought and thought.

He decided on wearing his joker mask, and said lightheartedly, “I’m perfectly adequate. Thank you.”

Four people blinked in front of him, and they laughed.

Ezra cracked a false grin, and Hera said fondly, “same old Ezra.”

They left as quickly as they sat down, and Ezra thought about the words, his grin fading.

Same old Ezra? No. Definitely not.

But it wouldn’t do to ruminate on something his family was not ready to understand.

They landed back on base, and Ezra used the Force to seek out Luke. He was in his bedroom, his vitals in the state between wakefulness and unconsciousness. He followed the Force signature, which had become as familiar to Ezra as Kanan’s, as if sniffing out sweets in the kitchens.

When he reached the room, the door slid open, and he was welcomed into a sleepy Luke’s embrace.

And kissing? Yeah, they were way better at that.

Ezra barely registered Luke’s smile against his mouth when his back was pressed against the door, having just closed a second earlier. It was instinct for Ezra to giddily toss his arms around Luke’s neck and lock his legs around Luke’s waist. Luke used the Force to lift him up, Ezra absently registering that Luke had spun them around and was walking.

He was such a good multitasker! Damn.

Ezra made sure to express his delight in their kisses, slowing down when the need to breathe became too intense. Luke took advantage of the beat to lower them both on the mattress, moving so that Ezra sat on his lap.

Ezra huffed out a dazed laugh, bumping their foreheads together, their combined body heat and heavy breathing enough to sustain them.

“Hey,” Ezra breathed, “thanks for the warm welcome.”

Luke smacked Ezra’s side, and he laughed softly.

“How was your mission?” Luke murmured, his lashes fluttering as he gained control of himself.

“Good. Yeah.” Ezra tipped his head lower so that their noses brushed. “How was your mission with Ace Squadron?”

Ezra met the pilots that composed Luke’s Ace Squadron more recently. He was surprised when they adapted to his presence quickly and treated him with immense kindness. One of Luke’s closest friends, Wedge, told Ezra in confidence that Luke had never looked as happy as he did when Ezra was near.

“It was a success,” Luke replied.

Ezra noted the fatigue in Luke’s shadowed face, and he grinned at how it made his boyfriend look even cuter. He carded a hand rhythmically through Luke’s bedhead. “Sorry if I woke you. I’ll let you sleep.”

Before Ezra could push off his lap, Luke kissed him lightly. “You should get some rest too, insomniac.”

Ezra hummed, wanting to stay in the room but knowing they weren’t ready for that yet. He rose to his feet and said, “sweet dreams.”

Luke expressed the same sentiment, and Ezra let the door close behind him.

They were sent on a mission together the following day to a planet so polluted by toxic air that everything was built underground. Their target was an Imperial base that was around the planet’s core, which was a sphere entirely made of diamonds. It became the center of the base, with every floor circling it, dug into the jeweled underground caves themselves. Each floor was entirely visible if looking out the window, where the core could be seen glittering from any angle.

The mission wasn’t as simple as blowing up a base. That would destroy the entire planet. The mission was to take away weapons from the Imperials that were destructive enough to blow up the planet’s core.

Ezra was placed on the top floor, with Luke three floors below him. They stealthily found the bombs they were looking for, disabling them on site and packaging them in bags. Their ship was on the surface of the toxic planet, but they had mapped out multiple exits to reach it safely. Neither could afford any mistakes in such a dangerous environment.

Ezra finished his tasks quickly, since he had an adept knowledge with weapons due to Sabine’s intervention. He bagged the bombs and walked farther than he thought without seeing any Imperials.

But when he inched closer to the core, where windows showed inside and well as out, he was spotted.

Several stormtroopers rushed him out of nowhere, firing off blasters and sounding off alarms.

Somehow, with a bag over his shoulder, Ezra ignited his lightsaber and sent back any blaster bolts sent his way. He was hardly thinking about what maneuver to make. He just made them.

The final stormtrooper hit the ground, and Ezra’s mind caught up with his actions. Not even a half-minute had passed, but he managed to defeat a dozen troopers.

Wow.

Ezra pushed it to the back of his mind and walked to the nearest trooper. He clipped his lightsaber on his belt and grasped a stormtrooper blaster with a grappling hook function.

Score.

Alarms blared, and Ezra sensed more troopers rushing to his floor. He ran on instinct towards the edge of the section, eyeing a beam on the ceiling miles above the surface level. Ezra fired the grappling hook as his feet were in midair, and it grasped a section of the ceiling just in time. Ezra’s fall was broken, and he dangled just below his floor, taking a breath to ensure his bag was secure.

Once it was, Ezra pushed a sliding function, the hook sending him smoothly down multiple floors. He honed in on Luke, and based on his rapid heartbeat, he was engaged in his own battle with stormtroopers.

He lowered the hook a little faster, praying that the hook wouldn’t break or his arm wouldn’t get tired from supporting his own weight plus the bombs.

He reached Luke’s floor, his boots touching the marble tile. He blinked to make sure what he was seeing was correct.

Luke was currently kicking serious ass, managing to fight better than Ezra did with a bag on his shoulder. Luke’s entire being bent to the Force’s will, anticipating every attack and blocking with his lightsaber in effortless swipes.

The final stormtrooper crumpled to the floor before Ezra could ignite his lightsaber to help.

His boyfriend was so awesome!

Luke whirled around as he shut off his lightsaber, eyes widening at Ezra’s arrival.

Ezra managed to wave with his free hand, smiling sheepishly as heat inflamed his cheeks. “Hi, Luke. Wanna ride?”

Luke, flushed from fighting, blinked at him dazedly. Then, he smiled brightly, a dimple on the corner of his mouth. He jogged to reach Ezra, clipping his lightsaber and shouldering the bag of bombs.

Ezra didn’t miss how the light made Luke’s blonde hair shine and how his blue eyes glittered, even in the dark underground base.

Luke pressed against Ezra’s side, encircling both arms around his neck. Luke’s lips caught Ezra’s scarred cheek as Ezra wound an arm around Luke’s middle.

Before Ezra could blush profusely, the heat of Luke’s mouth burning a hole in his cheek, he flicked the trigger and let the grappling hook take them up. Luke held on tight, and Ezra had to blink away the dizziness of being in such close proximity to his boyfriend.

Mission. They were on a mission.

The grappling hook reached the top floor, and the couple was faced with two dozen blaster barrels pointed at them.

Ezra turned his face an inch to the left, and caught a look in Luke’s eyes that he was getting used to: a calm fire, a determination, a need to defeat his enemies and escape.

They shared this look, which was there and gone in no time and a long time all at once.

They swiveled their heads towards the troopers, and in the exact same instance, dropped to the floor and ignited their lightsabers.

They moved like dancers of a choreographed show, one starting a move, the other ending it with a deflection, the bolt cutting through a stormtrooper’s armor. Luke dove into the Force and ricocheted running troopers against the wall, and Ezra sent them to sleep with two fingers against their helmets. Their blades moved as two halves of a whole, mirroring each other’s offensive maneuvers.

They made it to the starship with minimal scrapes, and they delicately patched each other up with bacta once they were in hyperspace. They kissed each other’s wounds and held each other during a night cycle.

Ezra fell asleep beside Luke for the first time, and slept better than he had in ages. The morning after was not awkward in the slightest, and neither felt the need to leave the bed right away.

When they returned to base and allowed bacta to heal their scrapes, Leia decided she wanted to put on a show to boost morale.

Basically, she wanted to see Ezra and Luke lightsaber duel in front of a crowd for funsies.

And honestly? Ezra had a great time humoring the audience.

Ezra and Luke were practically flirting as they dueled, batting their lightsabers together in light spats with no real weight behind them.

They tied in matches won, and Leia ended the merry gathering at that, disappointing a few onlookers who wanted a definitive winner.

But Ezra knew that, especially with months of training together, they were an even match.

The Ghost crew’s sudden entrance into the scene, though, had Ezra incredibly defensive. He didn’t catch their presence until he was mid-laugh with Luke, feeling more carefree than he ever had in his life.

The audience broke away, and Ezra’s head snapped towards Kanan, whose ire was completely warranted but entirely inappropriate for this setting.

Not here, Kanan. Not with Luke here.

That second thought spurred Ezra to glance at Luke and say, “I’ll come find you in a bit.”

Luke nodded decisively once he sensed Kanan and exited out of the opposite door. Ezra would have to thank him for his constant understanding in regards to his family later.

Ezra wondered if he would ever figure out a way to tell them about Luke.

“Ezra,” Kanan said, reaching him with barely-restrained anger, “what kind of a circus was that?”

“The fun kind,” Ezra chimed.

“Kid,” Zeb sighed, “don’t piss him off even more.”

Sabine and Hera sent looks of agreement to Ezra on Zeb’s statement. And Ezra did not listen.

“You are a servant of the Light,” Kanan reminded him curtly. “Your abilities should not be used so frivolously.”

“If that is true,” Ezra said breezily, “then why didn’t the Light protest?”

Kanan, not used to having Ezra talk back in this manner, bristled intensely. “That,” he said weakly, “is not the point.”

Ezra didn’t push him for an answer, since he knew there wasn’t one.

When Ezra disappointed Kanan by not rising to the bait, Kanan huffed out, “this is that boy’s fault, isn’t it?”

Ezra’s eyes widened, and he became as still as a stone. He stared somewhere off to the side, at the blurred edge of a wall, shutting down completely for a moment.

Better that he shut down and think rather than reach out to the Dark. His current response was much better than taking the Force into his fist and sending Kanan across the room.

Okay, time to think. Kanan said, ‘this is that boy’s fault, isn’t it?’ There was so much to unpack there.

That boy. Meaning Luke. A derogatory term, meant to demean Luke. Said to get a rise out of Ezra, have him spit fire at Kanan and come to Luke’s defense.

He wanted to come to Luke’s defense, but he resisted the urge. Calling Luke a boy was a far worse offense, in his opinion. Luke is only two days younger than Ezra — a fact that had Ezra gaping in disbelief when he was told — and calling Luke a boy was consequently calling Ezra a boy.

They were both men. Grown men that love each other, even if those three little words had not been said aloud yet. Ezra knew Luke loves him, and Luke knew Ezra loves him back.

Both men had experienced crushes before. The kind of crush that came and went with the shifting of the seasons. They had listed their crushes to each other and concluded that what they had was different. It was not a crush. It was love.

Boys did not know true love. But men did.

And the second part of Kanan’s question. That it was Luke’s ‘fault.’ That word implied wrongdoing.

Luke had never done anything wrong in his life. He made mistakes, but he did what he thought was right. Ezra was the same way, or at least it was the moral compass he tried to live by.

No, nothing was Luke’s fault. Nothing was Ezra’s fault, either.

It was their fault. Or at least Kanan’s fault.

Ezra had been silent for a very long time, staring at a random spot on the wall, eyes welling up with extra moisture. He blinked it away, and the movement had Zeb stop waving a hand in his face. All oxygen was sucked out of the room, and Ezra was proud he caused this reaction.

Ezra tipped his head up at a partial angle, studying Kanan’s face, which showed a hint of remorse.

It didn’t deter Ezra from asking quietly, “is that what you think I am? A boy?”

He saw the truth in Kanan’s eyes, and Ezra smiled bitterly.

“Did we not spend years in wild space?” Ezra asked. “Did we not grow up? Did we not age? Did Sabine and I not become adults?”

Ezra knew full well they viewed Sabine as an adult. She was always capable of handling herself, and they treated her as a grown woman.

Ezra, on the other hand? He was still a foolish teenager to them. That had to change.

“No,” he answered, “nothing is Luke’s fault. Maybe you should know him before condemning him.”

Ezra leveled his head and calmly left the room. He walked with the intent of finding a quiet spot to meditate, so he chose the room where he trained with Luke during off hours. He needed to be someplace comforting.

He crisscrossed in the middle of the tile floor and spent the following hour dumping his negative emotions into the Force, knowing how easily they could creep up and infect him.

By the time he exited the room, it was nightfall, and he was in a default state of calm.

A breeze caressed his cheek, and Ezra smiled like a lunatic in the middle of the hallway.

‘Are you okay?’ The breeze asked. ‘Come here.’

The Force lead Ezra on a path, and he curved past an unfamiliar section of the base. He thought he cased the entire place upon arrival, but he must have missed a whole area reserved for high-ranking officers. Ezra slipped past personnel and made it to the back of the base. A single blast door prevented the outside from encroaching inwards, but that was not where the breeze guided him.

Ezra tilted his head to the ceiling, observing a porthole and metal ladder that lead to the top of the base.

Really, Luke?

Ezra smiled amusedly and climbed up the ladder. He grasped the wheel and turned it, hearing a click as the porthole loosened. He pushed it up, and it opened on one side.

As Ezra stepped out onto the roof, he noted that more stars than usual were visible in the night sky. He absently heard crickets chirping in the cold air, and he turned around.

Luke was crisscrossed on a blanket, an assorted basket of pastries by his legs. He was finishing up a chocolate pastry as he surveyed the starry sky.

Ezra walked on autopilot, slowly lowering himself on the free side of the blanket, the basket between them.

Luke’s head tilted at his arrival, and his gaze was starlit. “Hey,” he said softly, his lips curving into a small smile.

Ezra grinned on instinct. “Are you trying to romance me?”

“While that wasn’t my original intention,” Luke said thoughtfully, “let’s say yes. Then what would you do?”

Ezra reached out, framing Luke’s face in his hands. Luke’s eyes closed as he waited, and Ezra leaned forward. He corrected his course at the last second and kissed Luke’s nose instead.

Luke snorted and scrunched his nose. “Weirdo.”

Ezra’s heart expanded in his chest cavity as he chuckled. He watched Luke’s lashes flutter open. His thumbs dashed across Luke’s cheeks, catching the edges of a playful smile.

After a moment where neither man said anything at all, Ezra brushed his hands away and plucked a chocolate pastry from the basket. He was surprised when it was still warm, and he hummed at the flavor.

When Ezra finished the pastry, Luke said hesitantly, “you can tell me, if you want. I’m here.”

Ezra realized that, actually, he wouldn’t mind talking about what happened. Luke would listen and understand. No judgement.

He used the striped pattern of the blanket as a focal point, and began. “My family still sees me as a kid. I know that makes me seem like I’m being childish,” Ezra sighed, “but they won’t even entertain getting to know you. And no, they don’t know about us.” Ezra scoffed. “I want to tell them. I really do. But they’re too suspicious of you. For no reason! They’re finding ways to blame you for my behavior.” His tone turned bitter. “As if I don’t have free will.”

Ezra stared at the blanket in silence, and shook his head.

He sighed and said, “I’m sorry about them. You don’t deserve that. Or this, for that matter.”

Luke’s body shifted, and his legs filled the space where Ezra was staring. A hand tilted Ezra’s chin up, and he allowed Luke to touch him all he wanted.

Sensing the silent permission, Luke was now the one cradling Ezra’s face in his hands. Ezra felt infinitely safe and peaceful, and he smiled at Luke’s glittering eyes.

“This is what you meditated for so long over,” Luke mused. “You already know the answers, so I won’t waste my breath on repeating them. All I want to say,” he murmured, “is that you have several friends on this base that care for you. Not because they’re your family, but because they see you as you are: a Jedi trying his best in a new galaxy that’s just beginning to take shape. They care for you because you’re witty, and you’re nerdy, and you’re sweet. Because deep inside, you’re good.”

The final sentence snapped Ezra out of his hypnotic state, and he blinked. “I wasn’t always good,” he said softly.

Luke tilted his head to the side, his hands dropping into his lap. “What do you mean?”

Here it was. Time to ruin everything.

“I suppose you deserve to know,” Ezra said, scoffing and realizing he didn’t have the strength to look at him. He focused on Luke’s beige clothes, cast in gray due to the late hour.

He deflated, and he breathed, and he confessed.

“I nearly fell to the Dark Side many times.” Ezra’s vision blurred in the night. “Too many to count. I even trained with a Sith. My act of teenage rebellion. I was sick of waiting to be taught in the Light, so I found the Dark. I almost lost myself, and it took my family to remind me who I was meant to be. It took years of detoxing to get back to normal, to repent in the Light. It took more anguish than you’ll ever know to become the guy you see before you. So, you see,” he concluded, “I’m no saint.”

There was a long silence, and Ezra felt ready to burst into tears. There was no way Luke would want him now.

There was no movement to affirm Ezra’s belief, so out of curiosity, he finally looked at Luke again.

Luke’s salient eyes glistened, and his voice moved with the breeze. “My father is Darth Vader.”

The words didn’t register to Ezra. Not for a long moment.

When they did, he narrowed his eyes. “Your father is Anakin Skywalker.”

“Mhm,” Luke confirmed, grinning despite the tension in the air.

The realization hit Ezra like a blaster bolt to the chest. He reeled back, eyes blown wide.

“No,” Ezra said, shaking his head. “No.”

No way was this man, this beautiful wonderful magnificent man, related to Darth Vader! No way!

Luke did not seem in the least bit worried that Ezra was rejecting him, which he most definitely wasn’t. In fact, Luke was almost amused.

He explained, “the Emperor told me it was my destiny to fall to the Dark Side. But what did I do instead?”

The question went unanswered, and Ezra was so dizzy that he needed something to ground him.

Luke grasped Ezra’s hand, and he remembered how to breathe.

“Luke Skywalker,” Ezra exhaled, “I love you.”

The words should have him crashing to the ground, forming a crater and reeling from the destruction he caused.

But Luke simply smiled.

“That’s a relief,” Luke murmured, “because I love you too.”

The stars didn’t come crashing down. In fact, the stars — and the Force — rejoiced.

————

Ezra was lying on a cloud, the breeze tickling his skin. The sky was the purest blue to exist, the shade only seen on paradise planets. The sun was orange, but held none of the blinding brightness that speared through his corneas. The fluffy cloud was a sheet over his lower half, light and airy.

But he was not on a cloud. He was not in the sky. He was not on a paradise planet.

He was somewhere better.

The real Ezra opened his eyes, the scarred half of his face obscured by the pillow. He drank in the nondescript furniture and walls of his surroundings, registering that he was in Luke’s room. He stretched and yawned, hearing the other man shift by his side as he laid on his back.

Ezra tilted his head up, and saw that Luke was sitting up, his pillow acting as a back rest. He had tossed on a button-up shirt and boxers, but he didn’t bother fastening the buttons, leaving a sliver of his torso exposed. His knees were pointed up, his legs a perch for the Jedi Order book that Luke acquired long ago. His hand turned the page, Ezra noting that he was getting close to the end.

Luke’s fluffy hair and flushed expression caught that Ezra was awake, and he marked his spot in the book as he closed it.

A little shy, Luke murmured, “hey, Ez.”

The new nickname made Ezra blink and remember.

Last night was their first time. They lost their virginities to each other.

Funny. Ezra didn’t feel like he lost anything. He felt like he gained everything instead.

Ezra grinned easily. “Hey, Luke.”

Shyness was replaced with an uncertain smile. “You slept half of the day away. Congratulations. Truly.”

“Did I?” Ezra used his elbow to level himself with Luke, lying on his side. He realized that the sheets were hardly covering his waist, but he didn’t make to pull them up. He did a one-arm shrug. “Eh, we deserve an off day.”

“I took care of our obligations,” Luke said breezily. “So yes, we have a day to ourselves.”

If it were possible, Ezra grinned wider. “In case I didn’t make it clear last night,” he said cheekily, knowing full well that he made it clear, “I love you.”

“I know,” Luke chirped, setting the book on the nightstand and stretching out his legs.

“Now c’mere,” Ezra said, patting the free side of his pillow.

Another uncertain smile, Luke awkwardly lying on his side, mirroring Ezra.

He noticed that Luke was tucking his opposite arm behind his back, and he stared confusedly. “Why are you hiding your arm?”

Luke mumbled, “no reason.”

“Luke,” Ezra arched a thick eyebrow, “come on. What is it?”

“Nothing.”

“It’s something,” Ezra said. “What is it?”

“Nothing,” Luke repeated.

“I’m going to annoy you until you tell me,” Ezra said decisively.

Luke sighed. “The skin setting on my prosthetic is malfunctioning. I don’t want you to see.”

Ezra often forgot that Luke had a prosthetic hand. Luke didn’t like to mention it, and he tricked people into thinking it was his flesh hand. Ezra was impressed when he learned the truth; the prosthetic didn’t hinder Luke from being one of the best fighters he knew. It was remarkable how Luke could surpass the robotic hand and use the Force, as well as his lightsaber, better than someone with their natural limbs intact.

“Well,” Ezra said, “you don’t get to decide that. I want to see.”

“No you don’t,” Luke said weakly.

“I do,” Ezra emphasized. “Show me.”

When Ezra made it clear that his stubbornness wouldn’t let up, Luke removed his arm from behind his back.

Ezra’s curious eyes widened as he held the prosthetic in his flesh hands and examined it. Leia must have used her wealth to get it made, because it was the exact measurements of Luke’s flesh hand. His palm and fingers were smooth and sleek metal, the same feel as Ezra’s own fingers. Bolts were in place of his wrist bone, his lower arm revealing the circuitry that was inside. Wires and special parts Ezra couldn’t name replaced Luke’s muscles and bones. It was a magnificent feat of engineering, and Ezra wondered if Luke helped with the design.

Ezra splayed out the fingers and placed them on his cheek. Luke pliantly allowed his palm to touch Ezra’s cheek tenderly.

Ezra smiled down at the prosthetic arm and murmured, “it feels exactly the same.” He set his heart eyes on Luke, and said, “I wouldn’t mind seeing this every once in a while.”

“Really?” Luke whispered in disbelief.

Ezra kissed the inside of Luke’s wrist in answer, humming at the surprising warmth in the metal palm.

The uncertainty disappeared from Luke’s gaze, and he surged forward, pressing his smile into Ezra’s lips. Ezra chuckled in the back of his throat, kissing back fervently, Luke’s Force signature warming his entire being.

Ezra didn’t lean away until he was properly dizzy, Luke his focal point as he regained his sound mind.

There was nothing between them now. They knew everything about each other. Barriers were stripped away, at long last, leaving nothing but raw emotions. Ezra was relieved.

Luke suddenly glanced downward, and he let out a giddy giggle, turning his face into the pillow.

“What?” Ezra asked. “What is it?”

Luke’s blush went from an attractive pink to a brighter red, and Ezra immediately wanted to kiss him again.

Luke’s gaze remained downwards, and he said softly, “I thought I imagined those.”

Ezra followed his eyeline, and saw that Luke was looking at his stomach. Luke’s prosthetic hand came to hover over it, tracing the air to form a line with two horizontal branches.

Ezra’s entire body burned, and he gaped at Luke. “My abs?! You thought you imagined my abs?!”

Luke hid his intense blush in the pillow, laughing at Ezra’s fiery exclamations.

“I worked hard for these!” Ezra said defensively. “Don’t insult them! They’re real!”

Luke let out a peal of laughter. “‘Them,’” he mocked, followed by more chuckles.

In a bold move, Ezra closed his fingers around Luke’s wrist and splayed metallic fingers on his abdomen. “See? Real.”

Luke made to push his hand away, but Ezra nonverbally told him to stay.

“You can touch me,” Ezra said wryly. “In fact, touch me wherever you want.”

“Ez,” Luke said exasperatedly, shaking his head and huffing. He traced his metal fingers across the lines of Ezra’s abdomen, so incredibly hesitant and earnest that Ezra wanted Luke underneath him.

Or Ezra could be underneath Luke. He wasn’t choosy about that part.

Luke soon grew tired of tracing his lines, and Ezra asked, “what should we do today?”

Luke’s eyes shined as he answered, “absolutely nothing.”

Ezra laughed delightedly, and the couple spent the day alternating between make out sessions and power naps.

The next time Ezra woke up in a feather bed, he realized it wasn’t a comfortable bed at all.

The sound of a heart monitor smashed into his eardrums like a banging gong, garbled voices not truly registering as a result.

He exhaled, and a breathing mask was strapped to his face. Since he was too discombobulated, he was only bothered by his own shaky hot breath reverberating back onto his skin, sticking there like a humid fog.

A hand curved around his fingers, touching a clicker strapped to his index digit.

There was the sound of a door hissing open, followed by a fluid being injected into his veins. He drifted out of consciousness, feeling a calm brush through the Force.

This time, he was strapped to a cot, as if trapped in sleep paralysis. He could barely breathe, and he couldn’t move.

The events that brought him here played like a film behind his eyelids. He was on a mission with Luke. They were investigating a civilization aligned with the New New Republic that had gone off the radar. Upon landing on the unfamiliar gray planet, Ezra and Luke felt the Dark Side seizing them as if cutting off their air supply. They went inside a system of caves, where they found a coven of witches plaguing the planet with the Dark Side.

How did they get out?

It took a moment of struggling against his binds on the bed to recall the answer.

Luke. Of course it was Luke.

Ezra remembered it now: the image of Luke’s aura expanding, his starlight going supernova, the witches burning upon impact with his natural brightness.

Even in the darkest places, even when surrounded by the choking Dark, Luke was the Light. And like all lights, it cast its brightness across the dark, beating back shadows and scattering injured insects.

The presence of a single light is a threat to the dark. And Luke was that light.

He was Ezra’s Light. He always would be.

But when Luke extinguished the Dark, Ezra was already neck-deep in it. His previous exposure to the Dark meant he was more susceptible to its power, and he was practically no help in the situation.

Ezra remembered being suspended in midair, the witches forcing the Dark down his throat as if it were a bottle of wine. It filled him up until he overflowed and couldn’t tell right from left.

Luke, though, finally made the pain cease. Ezra dropped like a bag of sand to the cave floor. He breathed and threw the Dark out with a heaving cough, the energy pouring out of his aura and spilling into the remaining shadows, afraid of Luke’s endless light.

Luke rushed to him, and Ezra faded to black, his strength completely gone from forcing out the Dark.

Ezra sighed in his strapped cot, the visions leaving him in a blank room.

He was suddenly thrown into wakefulness, his vision full of blurred lights. His nose registered the smell of antiseptic and chemicals. He felt bacta patches soothing his body aches. He breathed, squeezed his eyes shut, and opened them again.

“Ez?”

Ezra turned towards the voice, his cheek on the pillow. The figure shifted and brushed wavy hair back from Ezra’s forehead.

The Force caressed him, and Luke’s tired face became visible. His hair was an unnatural brown rather than blonde. His lashes hung low against eyes that were more gray than blue. His skin was ghostly pale under the harsh lights.

It took a lot of Ezra’s strength to reach out, bandages covering a tube in his hand, extending to an IV drip. He could breathe better now, the mask gone from his face, and the air had a sharp tang to it. Probably the antiseptic.

Luke grasped the hand before he could strain himself. He lowered into a chair that was right by his bedside, and Ezra tried not to think about Luke studying him while he slept. He didn’t want to blush to his toes right now.

Luke brought Ezra’s hand to his lips, kissing the bandage. Ezra smiled instinctually, not caring how dazed he was from the knockout drugs.

“Hey, Luke,” Ezra said hoarsely. “Did we do it?”

The question had tears welling in Luke’s eyes, and he scoffed. “You’re unbelievable, Ez. Completely ridiculous.”

“That’s me,” Ezra murmured brokenly, “ridiculous and unbelievable.”

“And idiotic,” Luke said, fondness creeping into his tone and gaze.

“You’re one to talk. You fell off a mountain,” Ezra pointed out.

“But you caught me,” Luke countered, his mouth forming into a sudden frown, knocking the wind out of Ezra. Luke murmured bitterly, “I couldn’t do the same for you.”

“You did,” Ezra said seriously. “Don’t ever doubt it.” He coughed lightly, and nearly sighed at the fact he would be in the medbay for quite a while.

Leaving no room for argument, Luke simply nodded and rose to his feet. Ezra’s hand fell back onto the bed, and Luke said, “everyone wants to see you.”

Ezra dipped into the Force, and did not sense Kanan’s presence. His brows furrowed. “What do you mean?”

Luke’s lips upturned, and he slipped away.

Ezra scoffed to himself. How very ‘Jedi’ of Luke to leave him hanging.

He returned less than a moment later, bringing a whole coterie of faces with him.

No, his family wasn’t there. The Ghost crew had left Ezra on bad terms.

But who was there? When Ezra peered into the Force, there was Luke and Leia. The beacons of the Force that were the Skywalker-Organa twins.

But who else? Han and Chewbacca. The smuggler duo that had grown fond of his company. The duo who Ezra got drinks with every weekend and could talk to about anything.

And who else? Artoo and Threepio. The scrappy droids that Luke adored and accepted Ezra’s addition into their team after proving himself capable of caring for Luke.

This was the crew of the Millennium Falcon, and they were here for Ezra when the Ghost wasn’t.

This was his second family. The family that Luke had given him. The family that readily accepted his presence in their lives.

Leia was the first to sit near his bed, narrowing her eyes at him.

“Kriff,” she concluded, “you look like bantha shit.”

Ezra grinned crookedly. “Thank you.”

Chewbacca chortled, and Artoo recited a string of beeps that was the binary form of laughter.

Han lingered nearby, crossing his arms and frowning at Ezra. He said, “it’s too bad you messed up that nice face. I can tell that Luke is upset.”

“Am not,” Luke snorted, rolling his eyes at Han.

“He is,” Leia translated.

“Master Ezra,” Threepio said, “you gave us all a fright. I do not understand their humor.”

“Master Ezra?!” Luke jumped, swiveling his head at the protocol droid. “I thought I was the only ‘Master’ here.”

“Master Ezra is your partner,” Threepio said, “is he not?”

“Yes,” Luke said warily.

“Ezra is male,” Threepio explained, “and a female Master is a Mistress. That makes Ezra a default Master as well.”

Leia burst out laughing. “Mistress Ezra!”

The entire group started to laugh loudly, and Ezra shrugged in acquiescence.

He caught a glimpse of Luke’s starry-eyed smile, and amongst the laughter, he felt at home.