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Blackbirds: Year One

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The couch was military blue-gray and not particularly long, sitting across from a holo display in the tiny area that one might call a living room, if they were feeling generous.  On the other side of it was the door to his private ‘fresher and a very small kitchenette.  On this side of it was the reason why Obi-Wan Kenobi did not turn down the larger quarters afforded to a general: An actual bed, rather than a bunk, with a decent mattress and pillows, and with standard issue bedding in addition to a couple of personal blankets folded at the foot of it.  It even had netting that could be raised that would prevent the sleeper(s) from being knocked onto the floor in the event of an attack.

It was a very comfortable bed.

The reason Obi-Wan was contemplating the couch, however, was because he was pretty sure he was going to be sleeping on it for the forseeable future.

Maul was furious with him.  Not Sith Lord furious, but how dare you furious.

Standing there with arms crossed furious.

I might never let you come back to bed furious.

It didn’t honestly matter that Maul had his own assigned quarters on the Negotiator.  As far as Obi-Wan was concerned, home was together and it would never occur to him to have it otherwise.  They hadn’t even really discussed it; it was a given. Just because he came in through the door and Maul came in through the access hatch didn’t make it any less theirs.  They slept in the same bed, they edged past one another in the 'fresher while half-asleep to brush their teeth, they both kept the place tidy and made sure the tea was stocked in the cupboard.

Hell’s teeth, they even co-mingled underwear.

“All I’m asking,” Obi-Wan said, gentle, “is that you give it a fair shot.”

“It’s a horrible idea, Kenobi.  I’m not–”  Maul gestured sharply, frustrated. “–leadership material.  I don’t even work well with others, I don’t know what makes you think I could lead them.”

That Obi-Wan had been reduced to his surname was indicative of how angry Maul actually was. “Intuition, mostly.  But I do have plenty of tactical reasons.”

“So you’ve said.”

“I’ll be glad to go over them again with you.”  Obi-Wan edged a little closer, walking the very fine line there sometimes was between being soothing and being unwittingly patronizing. “The backup alone makes this worthwhile.  But it also widens your mission parameters considerably.  They aren’t ARCs, but all of them have good notes for independent thought and decision making, too.”

“I don’t know the first thing about leading troops.  The closest I’ve ever come was hiring a mercenary force at Orsis and leading a mock raid at the academy,” Maul pointed out, still glaring at him.

Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows, imploring. “Given the black ops angle, that’s a good foundation.”

This wasn’t their first argument about it.  The first argument was on the hangar deck, in front of the Blackbirds’ newly minted sergeant, Shiv.  Obi-Wan had made a strategic decision not to warn Maul he was about to be given his own squad, mostly because he had wanted to delay sleeping on the couch for as long as possible.  He also hoped that it would be a case where begging forgiveness would ultimately be easier than asking permission would have been.

“I watched you teach Cody some truly diabolical methods for rigging relays and explosives,” Obi-Wan said, inching closer still.  "I also caught you teaching some hand-to-hand to those new transfers, remember?  You’re not as ill-equipped for this as you think you are.“

He could see the wavering resolve; Maul certainly didn’t quit glowering, and his posture remained just as closed off, but there was that little flicker of something on his face that suggested he wasn’t stone-cold set against the idea.

Frankly, if he really and truly decided not to accept this position, there was no amount of persuasion in the galaxy that would change that.

"Two months,” Obi-Wan said, pressing his advantage while he had it.  "Give it two months.  Some training exercises, then missions if they come up.  If you still don’t want to do this at the end of seventy days, then that’s it; I’ll turn the Blackbirds over to someone else.“

Maul wrinkled his nose up, the mildest form he had of a snarl, but he didn’t say no, either.  He also didn’t push Obi-Wan backwards, when Obi-Wan made to creep into his space, which boded well.

Not only for the Blackbirds, but for Obi-Wan’s back if he was spared the couch.

"Why name them Blackbirds?” Maul finally asked, which was about as close as Obi-Wan was going to get to a surrender.  And even that was a conditional surrender, he knew.

“Oh.  Well, once long ago,” Obi-Wan answered, grin spreading as Maul gave him a flat look for his opening, “my master and I were visiting a world in the Outer Rim and while we were there, I saw these birds flit across the fields of grain, chasing insects.  They were small, but fleet and graceful; I found out later that they were also quite good hunters, eating half their body weight per night.

"But even while they did that, they landed so lightly that they didn’t even bend the stalks of grain.”  Obi-Wan shrugged, close enough now to duck his head and rub the bridge of his nose against the line of Maul’s jaw, and smile to himself when Maul finally uncrossed his arms and rested his hands light on Obi-Wan’s hips.  "They’re technically called Antarian Red-Barred Blackbirds, but that’s a rather cumbersome name for a squad, so Blackbirds it is.“

Maul made a vague, noncommittal noise, but then huffed out a quiet sigh. "Two months.  And I’ll hear no more about it, if I decide that’s all.”

“Two months,” Obi-Wan confirmed, drawing back enough to capture one of those hands that rested on his hips.

He was still grinning when he kissed the red bars on the backs of Maul’s otherwise black fingers, and he didn’t stop grinning until he fell asleep.

Particularly because he did so in his own bed.