By the time Kanan realized why the flower looked so familiar, it was already too late.
The beautiful orange and pink blossom that had lured Ezra closer for a sampling of its sweet perfume shot a plume of golden pollen directly into his face.
“No!” Kanan grabbed his Padawan by the shoulders and jerked him away, already aware that it was useless. Sure enough, when Ezra collapsed in his arms and Kanan lifted the boy’s eyelid, his pupil was dilated and his iris was glittering with flecks of gold from the fast-acting aphrodisiac.
“Shit,” Kanan muttered. He wrestled his comlink from his belt. “Cal, we have a problem.”
The Lorrkatu flower. Lily family, preferring damp soil and warm climates. Considered semi-parasitic, it had a unique way of reproducing: it lured its temporary host with its sweet scent, then sprayed the host with its spores. The spores entered the host through the sinuses, eventually making their way into the bloodstream.
Lorrkatu spores matured in their host for roughly two standard days, nourished by the host’s proteins and glucose, before being excreted in sweat and other bodily fluids as mature, microscopic seedlings. Sometimes these fluids, particularly semen, vaginal and anal mucous, could be passed from partner to partner during sexual intercourse, which helped extend the habitat range of the organism. Fluids exchanged before the spores’ maturation caused similar though less severe symptoms.
Side effects of a Lorrkatu infection included dizziness, fainting, low-grade fever, thirst, euphoria, loss of inhibitions, and uncontrollable sexual arousal. There was no antidote. Symptoms were ameliorated by sexual activity, though only if the host had an emotional connection to the individual(s). Masturbation and unfamiliar sex partners were ineffective.
It was an extremely hardy plant revered for its many medicinal qualities—and feared for the same reason.
Kanan had no idea how he was going to handle this.
Cal Kestis glared tiredly at the bunk where Ezra lay. Kanan stood beside him, arms crossed, chewing his lip.
“I shouldn’t have sent you two,” Cal muttered. “Something always happens when it’s you and Ezra.”
“I can’t help it if we’re accident prone. Especially that one.” Kanan gestured to the sleeping 19-year-old.
“I was telling you just yesterday that this planet is full of Lorrkatus and that you need to be careful.”
“And I heard you. But apparently Ezra didn’t.”
“That’s because Ezra was too busy making eyes at you.”
“What?” An incredulous laugh.
Cal pinched the bridge of his nose. “I know you’re not this thick, Kay.” It was a nickname that worked both ways, and Cal had been using it ever since their unexpected reunion three years ago. Sometimes he still slipped and called Kanan by his old name, but the nickname was a good intermediary. “You know he’s crazy about you.”
Kanan shook his head. “He’s been crazy about me since we met. I thought it was hero worship. Puppy love, that sorta thing. I’m old enough to be his dad.”
“You think that stopped Master Kenobi?”
Kanan’s smile faded.
Every Padawan had known the rumor about Obi-Wan and his master, Qui-Gon Jinn. How they had been lovers. How their devotion to one another had strengthened them, moulded them into some of the greatest Jedi of their time. Twenty-three years’ difference they had between them, and, if Kanan recalled the numbers correctly, Master Kenobi had been roughly Ezra’s age when he and Master Jinn first…
“I thought it was just a phase,” Kanan said.
“Well, now you have the perfect opportunity to share your feelings for one another.” Cal turned on his heel and marched toward the cargo hold. His boots clanged on the metal deck.
Kanan winced. He was really in the doghouse now.
“You stay here and watch over Ezra,” Cal said, shouldering the pack that Kanan had dropped by the entrance. “Me and BD will go fetch the supplies you two were supposed to pick up.”
“I’m sorry, Cal.”
“It’s okay.” He looked over his shoulder, his gaze traveling from Kanan before lowering to Ezra. His eyes grew soft. “Enjoy the time with your Padawan. And try not to break all the furniture in the ship.”
“Nothing is going to happen.”
“Yeah, we’ll see.”
Once Cal and BD-1 left, Kanan took stock of his situation.
His best friend was mad at him, his Padawan was in love with him, and there was the additional complication of the aforementioned Padawan being infected with a potent aphrodisiac. This was not a place Kanan wanted to be right now.
Sighing heavily, he kneeled down beside Ezra’s bunk and brushed the dark hair back from the boy’s forehead, staring at his serene, flushed-pink face.
Yeah, he knew. Had always known, really. And if he were perfectly honest, his feelings for Ezra had grown complicated in the last few years, too. Especially since they’d taken up with Cal and gotten their own ship, the Everon. Formed their own little Rebel-Jedi cell.
Ezra stirred and blinked open his eyes. “Nnh, what happened? Did I pass out?”
“Yeah. You got sprayed by a Lorrkatu blossom.”
“Lorrkatu… why does that sound familiar?”
“Because Cal warned us about them yesterday. I’m afraid you’re in for a rough couple of days, Ez.”
A dreamy smile crossed over Ezra’s lips like he hadn’t heard a word. His pupils were huge, his blue irises speckled gold. It was a gorgeous effect.
“You’re looking really hot today for some reason.”
Here we go, Kanan thought tiredly. He stood with a heavy sigh. “You sound thirsty. I’m gonna go get some water.”
By nightfall, Ezra’s symptoms were more pronounced. He wasn’t out-of-his-mind horny yet, but Kanan knew it was only a matter of time. He went about business as normally as he could. He made dinner for them both, but Ezra was more interested in babbling about how strong and beautiful Kanan’s hands were than eating food. Kanan managed to get him to eat half a meiloorun with a little coaxing. He was acting more drunk than promiscuous. Maybe Lorrkatu affected Force-sensitives differently. Kanan would gladly take sleepy over salacious.
He was just beginning to think that he might get through the night without having to have carnal relations with his Padawan when there came the soft patter of bare feet at his door right around bedtime. Kanan turned and beheld Ezra standing in the doorway wearing nothing but a pair of black underwear shorts—through which his erection was clearly visible, standing at full attention—and a seductively vulnerable expression.
Kanan would be lying to himself if the sight of Ezra, thick and muscled and staring at him with the sultriest eyes, didn’t get him harder than beskar.
“Master, I need you,” Ezra said, his fingers resting on the firm spread of copper skin between his navel and the waistband of his underwear. “I love you. And I wanna… I have to…”
Kanan shut his eyes for a moment. “I know.” He opened them, turned to face Ezra, and spread his arms.
Ezra smiled and came to him.
It was incredible. Unlike anything Kanan had ever experienced with any of his previous sexual partners, and he’d had quite a few of them—at least in his wilder days. Maybe there was something to this Jedi-Jedi coupling. Every touch, every kiss was utterly stimulating. He had never felt so in tune with the Force as when he was inside Ezra, loving him thoroughly and completely. It might have been pointless, but Kanan wore a condom. Just in case there was something worse than Lorrkatu spores they could pass to one another.
Afterward they lay together in a sweaty tangle in Kanan’s bunk, and Ezra said something that surprised him.
“I wish Cal was here.”
“You mean here on the ship?”
“I mean here with us.”
Kanan played it off with a chuckle. “You like him, too, huh? Thought you were just a one-Jedi kinda guy.”
“I don’t mean for me. I mean for you.”
Ezra lifted his head from Kanan’s shoulder. His hair was pressed flat on one side from where it had lain against his sweaty skin. “He’s crazy about you.”
“Wh—Cal?” Kanan laughed. He stopped when he saw Ezra’s face was serious.
Suddenly the pieces began to fall into place. It all made perfect sense now: Cal’s reaction when Kanan dragged Ezra aboard the Everon; his hurt expression when Kanan explained what had happened. The bittersweet bite of his words, the haste at which he’d left.
Kriffing stars. Kanan felt like the stupidest creature in the galaxy.
“We’re just friends, Ezra,” he said, though it sounded more like a question than a statement.
Ezra scoffed. “Yeah, no thanks to you. Look, I saw it the day you two met. Well, met again. His eyes… and the way he looked at you afterward. I know that look, Kanan. That smile, the love and longing in it. I’ve been looking at you the same way for years, but I was too shy to ever say anything.”
He sat up. His bare skin glowed gold in the dim light. Maybe it was the secondary infection taking hold, but Kanan realized for the first time how stunningly handsome his Padawan was. Truly one of the best-looking men he’d ever seen.
“I was jealous of him at first because you two had grown up together,” Ezra said, “and you had all that history. In fact, I kinda hated him for it. I felt like a third boot.” He laughed and ducked his head. The ends of his indigo hair brushed his nose. “Then I realized how kriffed up it was to be thinking like that, definitely not very Jedi, and I spent a long time meditating and working it out, just like you taught me. And that’s when I saw me and Cal actually had something in common: we both loved you. And I couldn’t fault him for that.”
Kanan stared at Ezra, his heart swollen with love.
“Anyway”—Ezra laid himself back down against Kanan’s side—“I really like Cal. He’s sweet and smart and sensitive, and he’s got great hair.”
Kanan chuckled. “He does.” Come to think of it, Kanan wouldn’t mind combing his fingers through that beautiful orange mane right about now.
Yeah, the secondary infection was definitely taking hold… maybe.
“I think we… the three of us, I mean,” Ezra said, “we might actually be kinda good together. And for each other. If you wanted to try.”
Kanan’s thoughts drifted back to Qui-gon and Obi-wan. Master and apprentice. Jedi and Jedi. If two were good, surely three were better. In theory.
“What if you’re wrong? What if friendship was all he ever wanted?”
Ezra shrugged one shoulder. “Then he’ll let you know. Or we could just, y’know. Jump on him with a Lorrkatu flower the minute he gets back. And if his symptoms go away after the deed is done, we’ll know it was for real.”
Kanan pursed his lips. “They are pretty flowers, aren’t they?”
“Yeah, totally. And they smell really good, too.”
“Hm. Am I dumb enough to pick a bouquet of fuck-flowers as an apology for pissing off my partner?”
A scratchy chuckle. “Not under normal circumstances, no. But maybe your brain is a bit cloudy after having sex with your Padawan for a full day and a half.”
Kanan laughed and tightened his arm around Ezra’s waist. He could feel himself growing hard and knew that Round 2 wasn’t far off.
“I think I’ll just talk to him. Seems less insidious than mugging him with a plant.”
“Just throwing around ideas.” Ezra slipped his hand down Kanan’s belly and under the covers.
Kanan inhaled as Ezra grasped him and idly began to play.
“Let me know as soon as you two get everything straightened out,” Ezra purred. “You know how much I hate being the third boot.”
“I dunno, three boots kick a lot more ass than just two.”
Kanan smiled, rolled over, and melted into his embrace.