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Across the Stars (I'll Write Your Name)

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Chapter One

(Hallo) Space Boy 

 

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….

 

It wasn't raining.

 

Sun was filtering through the thick canopy of treetops and while it hadn't dried out the mud, it was noticeable hotter outside than it had been the days before. After twelve straight days of rain, that had only stopped a couple of times, it was almost cathartic to see the sunlight, albeit, a tad unusual.

 

Stretching out his bare feet from where he was perched on top of the hut he called home, Louis tore into his meal of dried meat. Balanced on his leg was a chunk of cheese and one half of a green fruit that he knew, from books, was called an avocado on certain planets. From where he was sat he could see most of the village.

 

All of their homes were constructed by wood from the trees, compacted with layers of mud and other sediments, before covered in large pieces of foliage to make them less noticeable. In his particular tribe, the tended to make their huts down, deeper in the ground. While it seemed that during heavy rainfall that making homes in the ground was not a smart decision, it had never impacted them negatively. However, while it made their homes damp, ideal conditions for his people, it did make it chiller for him.

 

His people, the Zhabe, where an amphibian race, bipedal with textured skin, long tongues and large eyes on hairless heads. While their bodies developed and adapted to the rain forest environment of their planet Dononter Minor, Louis’s did not.

 

That was, of course, because it wasn’t his planet.

 

No, Louis had been dropped off on the planet years ago -20 years- and he had been found by a group of the Zhabe men out hunting. Bundled up in a blanket of fur with pink skin, he had been such a tiny baby, unusual and strange to the amphibian race. Without debate, they had snatched him up (before anything else could) and brought him back to the village. (Despite the oddness of the infant, they were not cruel and would never leave a child by itself to die.)

 

He had been given to a female named Jay. She and her mate had no children and lived by themselves. It was a traditional, that when a male was courting, that they would construct a house and if it pleased their potential mate, they would move in together. Jay and her mate had been only been together for a few months but were more than eager to take in the infant despite his unusualness. It would only be a couple years later that they had their first hatchling that was biologically theirs.

 

Having to adapt to his home made growing up different for Louis then it had been for the other children he had grown up along side. He couldn’t leave his skin exposed, for he got to cold and his flesh wasn’t as tough. He didn’t have the long tongue or the webbed hands and feet and had fur growing on his head and body. Also, he couldn’t see during the night. And those were just the basic differences. All these factors, however, pointed to one thing: he wasn’t a good hunter.

 

Traditionally, it was the men who did the hunts. He had been taught that it wasn’t because the women weren’t strong enough but because if a group of ten men hunters left and only five returned they could be replaced. Missed, but replaced. If they sent out ten women and only five returned, there would be anarchy.

 

Louis though, had no talent at hunting. Of course, he was trained, initially, when he was young. Brought along with his father and taught how to prowl the trees and soft ground, looking for the next meal. It never ended well and Louis could barely count how many times he had ruined a hunt for it was far too numerous.

 

It was embarrassing for his dad of course. Not because his son was a horrible hunter, but because he didn’t know how to help him. They had tried everything they could think of but Louis’s body just wasn't made for it. Thankfully, Jay had stepped in and offered that, perhaps, it would be best for Louis to stay and work in the village. His father agreed and Louis hadn’t been sent on any more hunts.

 

It would be barely a week after it had been decided that a visitor came to the hut during the night.

Curled up in a small cot, Louis was wrapped with the brown pelt he had been found with and it completely covered his tiny frame. With soft leathered shoes on his feet and a heavy cotton tunic, all made by his mother, Louis was quite warm. He had just been dosing off when the knock to the flat bark door came.

 

Louis’s eyes flew open but he didn’t move, instead watching his mother leap from her own bed across the room, lit a candle and make her way to the noise. Soft soothing noises were escaping her voice but Louis wasn’t sure if that was to quiet the knocking or to sooth him.

 

When she opened the door, Louis shifted, trying to indiscreetly get a look at who it was. While his mother was mostly in the way he could make out a hooded cloak and tall gnarled staff. And then a soft voice murmured, “I told you he was not a hunter.” Louis perked, knowing that they were talking about him.

 

His mother sighed, forlornly, “We wanted to give him something more. You, yourself said what it is like. It is a heavy burden. He is just a child.” her voice trembled. “Please…”

 

“Is it not a blessing? He has been chosen.”

 

His mother startled and warned, “You know my concerns. Do not put words in my mouth, Levone.” Louis’s eyes widened and he mouthed the name to himself, pressing his chin against his fur blanket.

 

“The Gods have moved moons for this to happen. For him. Do not deny them.” Levone hissed and Louis could see her wave her cane in agitation.

 

“Levone, you know I would never. I… he’s… He’s my son. You must understand.” his mother pleaded, wringing her hands together.

 

The other woman ignored this, “The Way has been waiting. From the very moment he was conceived. You can not keep him from Them. Not anymore.”

 

There was a heavy silence between the two and Louis was scared that they could hear his pounding heart in the silence. He tried to take deep breathes to stop himself from trembling but was afraid they would hear him so settled with pushing the blanket over his mouth.

 

“I… Very well… For the Gods.”

 

“For the Gods.” Levone echoed before disappearing back into the night.

 

The morning after, his mother said nothing of the night’s events. When Louis’s father left to join the men in the hunt, his mother sliced fruit at the table, methodically, the blade hitting the wood in rhythmic ‘thumps’. Louis was pulling apart pieces of his bread and dipping it into a stew, left over from the night before, watching her quietly.

 

Eventually, his mother sighed and pushed the melon aside, “Louis, my love.” she started and his hand holding the bread froze before it got to his mouth. “While hunting may not be for you, something else may be… You know our Shaman, yes?” Louis nodded, “Well, her name is Levone and she has… Expressed an interest in mentoring you. She’ll teach you to read and write and cook and everything else. She’s very wise and has been with the clans for many seasons. I think it will benefit you greatly.” Louis pressed another piece of bread into his mouth and nodded slowly. His mother graced him with a grateful smile and the tension that held her shoulders eased. “Good boy, good boy…” she muttered, fingers ticking against the table, “I… Yes, this will be good for you.” Louis nodded again even though it didn’t sound like she was talking to him.

 

Swallowing his mouthful of stew loudly, he asked, “It this because of my forehead?”

 

Jay, who had just picked up her blade to begin cutting again, froze. “I’m not sure, love.” She told him. The blade began to hit the table again, filling the quiet. Louis watched her frazzled expression with a frown. She had lied.

 

Since then he had been apprenticing with Levone. As his mother had said, she had taught him everything she could - in the most annoying of ways. She was old and a bit batty, he thought personally, but she was connected to the Gods’ themselves so, Louis supposed, that was probably to be expected. Being a gateway between the mortal and immortal was hard work, or so she said.

 

Finishing up his breakfast, Louis scrapped his fingertips along the inside of the avocado skin to pick of any remnants of the treat. He licked at the digits, gathering the flavours. When he was finished, he slid off of the top of the hut and headed over to Levone’s home. Before he even got to her door, a lemur dove down from the trees and grabbed the avocado husk from his hand.

 

Louis rolled his eyes, “Yes Kenig, take it. I’m done.” Kenig the lemur eyed him, running it’s tiny hand over the empty skin. Squawking, the creature threw it off into the trees before racing towards Levone’s hut.

 

Grumbling, Louis followed, entering without knocking, as usual.

 

“Why didn’t you leave any for Kenig?” Levone asked as soon was he walked in. She was sitting on a stool beside a fire, holding a pan over the small flame. Inside the pan was a sizzling egg.

 

Louis rolled his eyes, “As if.” The lemur huffed and used his head to jump up onto the top of a shelf. “He’s horrible at sharing. He just eats all of it.” Kenig squeaked indignantly and used his tail to push a book off the shelf.

 

“Maybe you won't get any eggs…” Levone muttered, taking a flat ended utensil to begin stirring and scrambling them.

 

Louis pouted, “I’m a growing boy. I need food, Levone. You can’t neglect me like this.” he gasped dramatically, clutching at his chest.

 

The eggs sizzled and the old woman hummed, not looking up from her pan. Louis walked over to a far shelf and pulled out two plates and sat on the stool beside her, close enough that the flames warmed the front of his legs. She stirred the eggs for about a minute more before pulling back and, wielding the spatula in one hand and the pan in the other, scraped the food onto the plates, putting an obviously bigger portion onto one.

 

“You get that.” she huffed, jerking the spatula towards the smaller portion, “And you share.”

 

Rolling his eyes, Louis took the empty pan and spatula from her, trading her the plates of food so he could put the used cooking utensils onto the counter behind him. She handed him the smaller portioned plate and as soon as he sat back down Kenig jumped from the shelf to the counter and from there to his shoulder. Pouting, Louis held his plate up so it was more available to the furry critter. With tiny, fur covered hands, Kenig scooped the hot egg into his palms and began to push it into his mouth sloppily, bits flying onto Louis’s front.

 

Louis grunted, annoyed and just handed the plate to the creature. Kenig didn’t hesitate in grabbing it with his greasy little hands and hopping down and waddling away. Turning back to Levone, Louis asked, “What are we doing today?”

 

“Hmm,” she pressed more of the scrambled egg into her mouth and closed her eyes, smiling and ignoring his question. Louis rolled his eyes. “Don’t roll your eyes at me.” she warned him, eyes still closed. He raised an eyebrow, “Be patient.” she waved a finger at him. “Perhaps that’s what you'll do today seeing as you're so eager.” she scooped more of the egg up and licked it off of her fingers.

 

"I'd rather clean this!" Louis protested weakly, waving his hand in the direction of the counter, which was covered with various grimy pots, plates, utensils and pans.

 

Levone looked at the mess and then back at the Louis, thoughtfully. "No, I like my idea better.”

 

It wasn't long after that Louis found himself sitting on the top of a boulder with his legs crossed and Kenig sitting on his head. The location wasn't too far from the village, but far enough away Louis couldn't make out any of the daily noise from behind the wall of trees. Inset into a slight slope of ground, the boulder was mostly flat on the top but still offered no comfort for his poor bottom. It was smooth from constant rain and slightly damp, but not enough to soak his trousers.

"How long am I suppose to sit here?" Louis asked, his voice a whine as Levone washed his face with a cold, wet cloth as she stood before him.

 

"Quite long with an attitude like that, young hatchling.”

 

He huffed.

 

"Longer still." She warned.

 

He bit his lip and his eyes fluttered shut as the cloth moved up to his forehead. "Well, what are you doing then?”

 

"Cleaning off your filthy face, foolish boy." Levone admonished. "You will sit here and meditate." It sounded like she was going to add more but she didn’t.

 

Louis raised an eyebrow but winced when she dragged her cold cloth along it and pushed it down, "How long am I meditating?”

 

"You'll know when you're done." She replied.

 

His mouth curled down, "Um, no? I don't think I will? Can I at least come home before dark?”

 

"It's up too you. Whenever you're done shall be when you return.”

 

Louis groaned and with sarcasm weighing in his voice, said, "Okay, this is fine. It's whatever. I'm sure exiling your apprentice is frowned upon in the Shaman Mentor Handbook but, you know, you live your life." He gave a faux cavalier shrug.

 

Levone peered at him, unamused before running her cloth directly upon the stone in the centre of his forehead. Instinctually he winced but she didn't linger long enough for any other responses. "Mediate and return home when you are done." And with that, she pushed away from the boulder and disappeared into the trees, on route back to the village.

 

Other than the slight shuffling of Levone's walk, the forest seemed deathly quiet and Louis noticed his breathing seemed unreasonably loud with the lack of extraneous noise. Abruptly, Kenig's tail moved from where it was hanging off the side of his head to drop right in front of his face and he blew on it to push it away. The lemur huffed and, using his tail, smacked him on the nose.

 

"Are you leaving too or do I have to actually put up with the displeasure of your company?" Louis intoned and Kenig made a squawking nose and pulled at his hair with his tiny lemur hands. "Okay, okay! Oh, by Mother Rain, stop it!" He swatted at the lemur who hit back and huffed, circling around his head like he was trying to find a comfortable position to lay. Louis merely grunted back and let the creature do as he wished.

 

Louis sighed and started to measure out his breathing, counting "one" every time he breathed in and "two" for every breathe out. His eyes were open but becoming increasingly unfocused on the trees in front of him. His stomach was pleasantly warm from the breakfast he had consumed earlier but his heart seemed a bit erratic - probably from being left out in the forest by himself. The tips of his fingers were cold and he flexed his hands to try and remedy that. It was humid and his face felt warm even though the rest of him was rather damp, including his feet which had been exposed to soaked earth on the walk from the village. The stone beneath him, when he concentrated, was cold and unbelievably uncomfortable so Louis forced himself to think of other things to keep his mind off of it.

 

Still cataloging his breathes as "one" and "two", he thought about the markings on his body, becoming hyper aware of how he was sitting and how his arms felt and how his hands were resting on his knees. Curling out from the stone that was inlaid on his forehead were curvy blue veins that spread out across his body. By just touch, it was hard to tell they were even there but after nineteen years, Louis could tell. They were smoother, just barely, but weren't risen from the skin. The marks curved on his cheeks and even spread down onto the top of his nose, and swirled down his jaw where the pointed up towards his nose, almost like whiskers. There were three tiny lines on his chin that grew down along his neck and disappeared onto his chest. The marks continued in an artful mess on the expanse of his chest, over to his back where it extended down over his ass, down his legs and even stretched out over his arms to his hands and even palms.

 

If Louis concentrated hard enough, he swore he could feel a slight throbbing from his palms from where the markings lay but he knew that was because he was thinking about it. They were oddly enough like scars, rippling and moving with his skin as he grew and developed. He wondered if he had been left on Dononter Minor purposely because of the inhabitant's own unusual skin. Their shiny amphibious flesh came in all colours and patterns so his own markings didn't single him out.

 

From books, he knew there were plenty of different species out in the galaxy but he had never seen anyone similar to him. Of course, in books there was always the depiction of humans, with simple coloured flesh and fur on their heads, in little arches above their small eyes and sometimes even on their face but none of them had marking like him. Levone said it was because he had been blessed by the Gods and these were their markings and he should be more respectful of them. Louis didn't know why; they were the ones who decided to mark him up in the first place. He hadn't asked for it. And if he was a human, why would the Gods of Dononter Minor mark him? Levone, of course, said it was because of dolye. Humans called it fate. She said that the Gods knew he was to be raised on this planet, that they knew he was meant for something more than merely hunting for the next meal for his family. It all raised too many questions for Louis. Dolye is the answer, Levone would tell him. Well, it seems to make more questions than answers, Louis thought to himself.

 

Lost in thought, Louis's concentration began to waver and his stiff posture began to slouch, eyes fluttering shut. Hands relaxing and his breathe going shallow, Kenig jumped off his head and curled up on his lap, peering up at his keeper's charge.

 

The stone set on Louis's forehead began to dimly glow and the boy mewled at the warming sensation flowed through his veins. The heat traveled over the lines across his flesh until he was shaking with heat, sweat gathering at his hairline and temples and along his neck. Kenig hit the flat of his head against the boy's arm but he didn't respond, just trembled.

 

Something was flashes against Louis's eyelids, like he had closed his eyes as he looked up at the sun. However, he knew that wasn't the case and whatever the light was was much more internal than external. Already closed, he squished his eyes even more shut, to the point it was almost painful, as if it would help him make out the patterns and flares better. It didn't but the more he seemed to concentrate on it, the more the image seemed to clear up.

 

Suddenly, he wasn't in the forest.

 

It was a platform? Maybe the top of a structure. The walkways were made of smooth, polished rock, the colour of a dark cloudy sky. Everything was clean and neat and beautiful in an odd way, with large spires at each corner of the platform and a taller, thicker one sitting in the centre.

 

Louis turned and looked over his shoulder. Behind him he could see a sprawling city. At least, it must have been a city, though Louis wasn't absolutely positive. More building made of grey rock, disappearing into the skyline were spread far as the eye could see.

 

Sliding a foot forward, Louis noticed that it was completely silent. There were no trees, no wind, no voices, absolutely nothing. He gave a deep breath in and slowly released. The air was warm but not muggy and seemed barely there. His own breathe was the loudest sound around, filling his ears. He began to walk forward, his soft, worn leather soles scrapping lightly against the stone.

 

Rsst, rsst, rsst went his feet on the stone and Louis cautiously looked around. It was empty, devoid of life from other people to even the simplest leaf. Nothing but cold stone. Rsst.... Rsst.... Rsst…..

 

And then he wasn't there. He was standing inside. It must have been whatever building he had been standing on, for the interior was too similar to what he had seen previously. The walls seemed more gold, light streaking in through slotted windows way above his head. The ceiling seemed as high as the spires Louis had previously seen, which had looked to reach the sky. There were pillars that led up to arched accents along the ceiling and intricate stone patterns along the floor.

 

And there was noise.

 

Louis's entire body reacted to it and he sought it out. He wasn't sure if it was someone else or perhaps an animal. There was no green anywhere so he doubted it was the latter. He followed the noise, down along the long corridor. At the end was two huge doors with a swirl pattern along the front and two gold, curled handles about chest height.

 

As he approached it, he noticed a shadow sliding against the floor, shaped like a man. He froze, unsure whether to hide to move towards to it. He was too slow to make a decision though as the shadow moved and the man appeared. Or, it would seem, a boy. Younger than him with an outrageous head of curly, brown hair and a long slim braid dangling to the side, just behind his ear. He had pale skin, hairless and human and just like Louis's. The boy didn't have marking like him but he was obviously human. He was wearing a brown robe that looked too big on him and some sort of beige wrapped shirt with a brown cloth belt tightened at his waist. He didn't speak but he had glanced over his shoulder. It looked as though his green eyes had landed right on Louis but he didn't react, instead looking through him. Frowning, Louis looked over his shoulder but the corridor behind him was empty. The green eyed boy seemed to realize the same thing and decided it was safe enough to grasp the handle of the door. It creaked as he slowly turned it. It opened, barely the width of Louis's hand, but it was enough that a dim blue light, a light Louis was familiar with, seeped through.

 

"Young padawan, I surely hope you aren't relinquishing to your inquiring mind." Another man murmured, stepping into view from the right, peering down at the boy. He was also wearing a brown robe, though it fit him properly. He was incredibly tall and had mostly humanoid features. However, his skin was a deep blue, with two fleshy head tentacles protruding from the back side of his skull, wrapping down over his shoulders and ending in brownish-tipped horns. There was another pair of horns standing straight on the top of his glossy, hairless head. His hands were held in the arms of his dropping robe sleeves, almost crossed across his chest but not quite.

 

"Forgive me, Master." The boy answered politely and hurriedly -though still fastidious with his movements- pressed the door shut. "I thought I heard something." He paused and added, "Master." The green eyes glanced back over to Louis for the briefest of moments and he stiffened, worried that the boy could suddenly see him. It seemed like he couldn't though because he looked back at his master immediately.

 

Despite the differences in appearance, Louis recognized that both the blue man and the young boy were speaking English.

 

The master didn't look in Louis's direction, eyes locked on the young boy, "Inquisitiveness is not a sin, young padawan. Nevertheless, one should exercise caution with our..." He paused and seemed to be looking for the correct word. Louis could practically see the word 'meddling' jump to the forefront of his mind. "...curiosity." He finally settled on.

 

The boy nodded, "Yes, Master." The boy replied, dutifully. And then he turned and looked back at Louis and Louis realized the stone on his head was glowing and the boy's green eyes locked onto the light and on him. They stared at each other and then the world bled away.

 

He was standing in front of a door. He stared at it, confused, frowning, before he turned. There was a circle of twelve chairs, each with a different variant of species sitting in it. In the centre was the boy with the curls and his master, both standing proper and facing each other. Slowly, the master brought a dagger up, the silver blade glinting from sunlight streaming through the windows. Louis gasped and his body tensed, ready to leap forward to grab the boy and save him from whatever fate he was to experience but the horned man grabbed the long braid dangling at the boy's ear and sliced it with an easy flick of the wrist. The boy beamed, dimples crating on his cheeks. Louis's forehead flickered and the boy turned and stared at him again. He continued to smile.

 

The boy's smile blurred out of focus, along with everything else and Louis was standing in a chamber. It was dark, the only light, which was blue, was coming from somewhere behind him. He didn't turn and look immediately, instead trying to focus what was in front of him. It was a long walkway, that stood over a deep chasm and he stood at one end of the platform, at the other were the double doors. The doors with the spiral patterns and curved golden handles that he immediately recognized.

 

Louis wanted to say something, to hear his own voice but he wasn't sure what to say so he kept silent. He turned and looked behind him. The platform he was standing on was a large circle with a podium in the centre. On top of the podium was a gold wrought cube, which was glowing blue. Eyes wide, Louis approached it, hand just hovering over the surface. The silence was broken by a far off sound, something that resembled the cracking of a falling tree. Freezing, Louis looked up. The chamber was an immense cave, covered in shadow and he couldn't make out any other details. The sound definitely came from above.

 

And there was another sickening cracking noise and the sound of crumbling stone colliding. The chamber trembled. The doors behind Louis's flung open and slammed shut so quick Louis missed it as he turned.

 

It was the boy, face older and slimmer and more worn, his hair pushed back off of his forehead into a small ponytail and a bruised puffiness under his eyes. He was wearing the beige top he had been wearing the previous times Louis had seen him, along with the brown waist piece. He had tall, worn brown leather boots that went to his knees and his pants puffed out over the top, also beige. With long legs, he lunged towards where Louis was, staring through him with frantic shining eyes, gaze locked on the cube. Louis quickly shuffled out of the way as the boy reached for the object with shaking hands. Louis noticed he had a cut on his cheek bone and his clothes were dirty, like he had been thrown around. It made Louis's stomach churn.

 

The doors flew open and the curly haired boy gasped and whirled around, eyes panicked. It was the blue skinned master, "Harry, hurry!" He was holding a sabre like object, the blade bright green and glowing and making a hissing noise. It looked like sun rays and it was unlike anything Louis had seen before, even in his books.

 

"Master-," the boy, Harry, began, reaching for the cube again. He was cut off by a pained gasp leaving the older man. Louis could feel his body turn to stone as he watched blood dribble from the man's mouth, his body had convulsed into a pained arch. Sticking through the centre of his chest was a red glowing blade, sizzling through the blue flesh.

 

"Master!" Harry cried out, turning away from the cube. His face contorted into anguish, eyes glossy and cheeks stained with salty streams of tears.

 

The master's body slid off the weapon, crumbling to the platform. His own blade disappeared but the glistening handle rolled along the walkway towards Harry and Louis.

 

Holding the gleaming red sword was a man, humanoid, but with grey-green flesh. There was a defined line going down the centre of his head and patterned shapes defining the broad forehead. There was a ponytail of long black hair resting at the back of his head. Sharp cheekbones and a long, pointed nose, the man's feature were completely symmetrical in every way and sort of enchanting -in a menacing way, Louis thought. He looked royal, dressed in a black robe with an armoured piece shitting on his shoulders, all lined with gold. Slowly, he raised a hand with long green fingers and long back nails and it hovered in the air. The handle of the former master's weapon trembled and rolled on the pathway and Harry made a sound like a wounded animal before out stretching his own hand. The handle rolled towards him before shooting up into his hand with a sold “thump".

 

The green skinned man laughed, "The youngest member of The Council of First Knowledge... I can see why. The Force is strong with you." He smiled, though it wasn't kind.

 

Harry didn't say anything, face tensed in pain and sorrow and it was so heartbreaking to see that Louis found his his own chest heaving in grief. "You should leave here now, Zidar. Have you not caused enough misery?" His voice was deep and thick but still strong. His eyes flickered down to his dead master and his eyes went misty, his lips shaking.

 

"You have something I want, young sage." Zidar dismissed, stepping over the deceased master's body callously and walking towards him. "I suggest you move out of the way or you will be joining your master a lot sooner than preferred." He flashed his teeth, eyes glinting in amusement.

 

"So be it." Harry growled and the green blade flared from the handle. He waved it around, as if testing the weight, the sword making zwish, zwish sounds. Zidar looked unconcerned and walked forward, twisting his own blade around with a confident ease. Louis took two hasty steps back, moving further away from them, unsure what would happen if he was to touch or collide with them or their weapons.

 

And then they crashed together and it nearly launched Louis straight off the platform from the force of collision. The coloured blades snarled and hissed as they made contact, sparking flying and lighting up the dark chamber. Scrambling, Louis rushed to the other side of the platform, behind the centre podium, eyes locked on the crashing strikes of the warriors. It was loud, so loud. Louis felt like he couldn't hear. Harry ducked and moved quickly, despite the strength he carried in his shoulders. He was nimble, quick. So was Zidar. His moves were more fluid, measure and methodical. He was older and obviously more trained.

 

Louis had never seen a fight such as this. Zhabe were peaceful people and the main source of conflict came from wildlife.

 

In a flash, Harry was on his back, blood soaking his left side, at his ribs. A gasp left his lips and his eyes were wide and staring unseeingly upwards, clouded in pain. The hilt of his sabre lay by his thigh, the blade deactivated.

 

"Strong with the Force but not with a weapon. Predictable for a sage." Zidar groused, switching off his blade and hooking the hilt on the belt on his waist. He walked over to the podium and traced a finger along the top of the cube. He picked at s corner and lifted the stop off. The light brightened, not having to filter through the walls of the container. Zidar reached in and grabbed something, holding it in his palm. Louis could see that it was a stone, blue like his but more circular and it was burning the flesh beneath it. Zidar didn't react to his own hand burning, eyes narrowing at the object. "A mephite crystal?" He seethed, "A mephite crystal?" He roared, whipping around to face Harry, who was still on the ground, holding his bleeding side.

 

"Where is the holocron? Where is it?!" He snarled, pressed his boot on the boys hand and pushing down on it and the wound. Harry let out a choked sob, saliva wetting his lips.

 

"Gone." Harry managed to growl, "For years." Zidar gave stomp and Harry coughed, squeezing his eyes shut.

 

"Impossible." Zidar snarled. Leaning over, he grabbed one of Harry's hands and pried open the bloody palm, pressing the stone into it. It began to burn and Harry screamed and tried to squirm away.

 

Instinctually, Louis lunged forward to try and grab the green skinned man but his hands went right through his body like a phantom. He let out a frustrated scream and clawed at the air in frustration, desperate for him to stop.

 

"Tell me, sage" Zidar growled, "Tell me what you know and I may let you live.”

 

Howling, Harry sobbed, "Just kill me." Grinding his teeth together, his palm burning and sizzling.

 

There was another explosion somewhere above them and the sound of tumbling rocks and yelling followed. Zidar signed and leaned back, looking down at the crystal burning in the boy's hand. "It's not what I want came for, but I'll take it." Leaving it on Harry's flesh, he stood and grabbed the box it had been in previously before reaching back to pluck it up, placing it gently in the box. His movements were calm and relaxed and Louis wanted to shove him off the platform into the darkness below.

 

Harry made a distressed sound in the back of his throat and Zidar chuckled and pressed a fingertip into the burnt hole in his hand. A scream tore from his throat and Louis sobbed, trying to push brute away. "I suppose I'll be on my way then, young sage. I'll see you around, perhaps.” He stood up straight, cradling the cube in the crook of his elbow, hovering his foot above the slice in Harry's ribs. "You'll probably heal." There was another explosion from above. "If you make it out alive." He chuckled, turning away and walking along the walkway back to the doorway, his long robe flapping behind him.

 

It was silent again.

 

Sinking to his knees, Louis carefully raised a hand to caress the boy's hair. His fingers hesitated before he tried to grab a particular lock that had fallen onto the boy's forehead. Instead of going through the boy, the tips of his sweaty fingers touched his forehead and the green eyes, which had been far off and lost, snapped back and met his. They stared at each other and Louis felt like it was hours of him looking in those green eyes and holding a mane of soft curls between his fingers and then, abruptly, Harry was gone.

 

Louis's eyes opened.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Two 

Moondust Will Cover You

 

Louis was sitting on top of the boulder in the forest.

 

The temperature had dropped and it was starting to get cold, trees rustling with the start of wind. Sitting on top of his crossed legs was Kenig, who had awoken just before him, peering up with large, innocent animal eyes.

 

Wildly, Louis cranked his head around but found himself disappointing back in the trees. The stone chamber, the green man and Harry were no where to be seen. Unable to hold himself back, he gave a frustrated cry that had eased into a groan, pushing his face into his hands. He didn't know what that had been but he needed to speak to Levone. That wasn't normal. He wondered if Harry was real, if any of that had been real of if he had concocted that while meditating.

 

Impossible. He told himself. You can only dream what you already know. He sternly reminded himself.

 

Kenig butted his head against his arm again, placing his small hands on Louis's curved tummy. Louis managed a faint smile, his body thrumming and his mind focused on a curly haired boy injured and heartbroken in a crumbling temple. "Yes, yes, you silly animal." He murmured to Kenig, "We need to find the old lady." Kenig's ears twitched down and he scrambled up Louis's front to perch on his shoulder.

 

Clumsily, he scrambled to his knees and awkwardly began to lean off the side until his toes hit the ground. Reassured, he let do and dropped his weight fully off the rock. "It's getting dark." He murmured, “Think you could-," he was cut off by a noise, coming from somewhere behind him. He stopped and tilted his head, waiting to hear it again. Kenig mirrored him with his large ears.

 

More noises came, sounding like muffled talking and something else that Louis couldn't place."Unfinished hunting party?" He wondered, "It's not a creature so we aren't gonna get made into a midnight snack at least. Let's go check it out. We'll just head home with them.”

 

Kenig squawked and tugged at his hair, panicked, trying to turn him back towards the village. "Oh hush, you think everything I do is a bad idea." Louis bemoaned and Kenig gave him a look that clearly said 'because everything you do is a bad idea.' Louis ignored him stubbornly and continued on towards the voices.

 

"Wait." He muttered, as he got closer. The voices became more clear. "They're speaking... English?" Indeed they were and he quicker his pace, heart hammering and completely confused. "How? What?" He asked the lemur who whined and tugged at his hair, rather violently for such a small creature. "We're just gonna check it out." He promised.

 

Wading through the the thick undergrowth and dense trees, Louis tried to be as quiet as possible, easing himself up to where he knew the tree line was. The voices were at the river, a place forbidden for everyone but the men. The river herself was an angry deity, possessing all sorts of evils and spawning devilish creatures that could tear the Zhabe people limb from limb. It was much too dangerous.

 

Frantically pulling at Louis's hair, Kenig knew that the two of them were approaching such an evil and he made soft whimpering noises in Louis's ear. Louis tried to hush and comfort him but the creature was inconsolable, curling up on the boy's shoulder so he wouldn't have to look.

 

Louis had never been to the river. Well, actually once. When he had been a young boy. He had been brought by the men, along with all the other young boys in the village to be shown the river. As a child, Louis thought he could see the river goddess herself staring up from him from the churning depths of the black waters. The men had put on a show of capturing a beast, what they called the Widow Maker, a huge fish with a wide mouth and long tentacle like whiskers on the sides of its snarling face. It had taken five men to kill the creature and all the boys were charged with carrying it back to the village, where they cooked it as a sacrifice to the gods. He couldn't remember many details of the river, just the rushing sound and how dark the waters looked. 

 

Approaching closer, closer than he had been in years, and hearing the pulsating tides sparked his memory and he gulped, nervously, thinking of the creatures that lay beneath.

 

"This place isn't isn't deserted, I swear!" One man was saying and Louis sunk down on his hunches, crawling forward. His small frame was hidden by the plant life and it was dark enough that he wouldn't be seen if they weren't looking for him.

 

"Well, Niall, there does seem to be readings here but I see no civilization…"

 

"This looks like a fucking abandoned planet to me, boys.”

 

"No, no! There are life forms!" Louis perked up: there were only three voices, not an invasion. Why they were looking for his tribe, he wasn't sure. They were a peaceful lot who didn't even have ships to travel. He saw no reason for anyone to seek them out.

 

"Probably animals, Niall. Seems to be teeming with wildlife," one voice offered, reasonably.

 

"Well then Amazing Navigator Niall, how about some proof?" Came a taunting retort from another man.

 

Who Louis assumed was Niall, the one with the thick brogue, groaned, "Aye, Capitan Shit Stain. They should be right over there." Louis assumed they were pointing towards him and stiffened. Either they would find his home and hurt his family or their chief would negotiate with them to leave. The Zhabe people didn't fight but Louis knew others did. And they were brutal in warfare.

 

Kenig pulled at ear for his attention and Louis looked down into the small creature's large eyes. "I know," he whispered do faintly so it sounded like a breathe. He jerked his head back towards the village and the lemur took off, jumping from tree to tree.

 

"Oh then lead the way Captain Niall, seeing as you know everything." The sarcastic voice snipped again.

 

There was shuffling. "I'm not sure I like your attitude, Mr. Malik." Niall huffed. "Maybe you should lead this expedition if you're so all knowing." There was a groan in response from who Louis figured was 'Mr. Malik’.

 

"Boys," came the third voice, "are we all gonna play nice or should we get back in the ship and try this another time?”

 

"I think -, oh shit, what is that?" More shuffling followed this.

 

Leaning forward on the pads of his feet, Louis tried to get a better look through the dimness. Pushing itself along on the sand was a hard shelled creature, with tiny fins and a flat head.

 

"That's a goddamned turtle!" One of the men cried out.

 

Okay, so here was the thing. Turtles were, technically, sacred. It was belief of the people that the hard shelled forest dwellers acted as a proxy for the gods amongst the earth, explaining their slow ageing process. Their hard protective shell was a protective shield the gods created for the soft bodied forms, like a battle shield of war. Only, instead of war, it represented life, as moss and other green could grow on its surface. Louis had heard tales of men and even women, loosing their lives to protect a turtle from harm and it was expected of everyone in the village to do the same, if need be. It wasn't questioned, it was just something known that turtles were sacred, mythical beasts that blessed the very earth they dragged their bellies upon.

 

Because of this Louis blamed his next impulsive move -that he definitely shouldn't have done- on.

 

He threw himself out of the bushes out into the open before the men, ready to defend the turtle with his life, which he blamed the ingraining of his culture on because he could potentially get killed over this but he was morally obligated to keep that creature safe.

 

At the ruckus he had created jumping from the trees, the three men had startled and swung away from the turtle to look at him. Louis had never regretted a decision more. (He could probably think of other worse decisions but he at a more opportune time.)

 

The three men were obviously outsiders. They were human, wearing exotic clothing that Louis had never seen first hand before. "Oh.." He breathed, feeling heavy with regret with his life choices.

 

Gapping openly, the man with the blond hair repeated him, "Oh...." Looking just as dumb struck as Louis was feeling.

 

Another man, with a scruffy face and broad shoulders, -just as stunned as his companions, Louis noted- gasped, "Zayn! His forehead-!”

 

Oh no.

 

Louis stumbled back in quick horror, reminding himself that even though turtles were vessels, he had a freaking glowing stone that was supposedly blessed by the gods. That had to make him at least (maybe more?) as valuable. He was prepared to take off back to the village when he realized that the men would most likely follow him and that would not be good. He had already broken about a million tribe rules and while he desperately just wanted to go home and sleep (and think about his curly haired boy and what those visions were and what they meant) but he knew he had to get rid of these men. How, was the question. They were already at the river, the worst place to be, especially at such a late hour. Maybe Louis would get lucky and a widow maker would jump out of the waters and eat them.

 

Unlikely.

 

Louis shuffled on spot, unsure where to run. He was caught between the men, the river and his village where he definitely couldn't go if these men were gonna follow. He sighed, "Fuck." He swore in his native tongue. To the humans, it sounded like "fornuskrill" and they exchanged glances.

 

"Umm, hi? I'm Niall? Captain-," the blond man spoke but was cut off by a slap to the head by the dark skinned man, "Ow! Fuck off!" He told the man. He turned back to Louis, holding his hands up in front of him, non threateningly with his palms out, "We come in peace?”

 

The man who had slapped Niall rolled his eyes and stepped forward to speak, "I am Captain Zayn Malik of the Blades of Orion and you are in possession of a sacred artifact that we have come to acquire." He hesitated, "In the most peaceful way imaginable.”

 

The only one who hadn't introduced himself yet groaned and slapped a hand to his forehead, muttering, "Nice, Zayn.”

 

Zayn rolled his eyes, "Do you speak English?" They were squinting at him and Louis realized that in the darkness they could probably only see his form and not any details of his species.

 

He made some stuttering noises (because he was a complete imbecile apparently) and then grabbed a a broken twig that lay at his feet and threw it towards them. Because he made good life decisions and was a reasonable adult. The twig went soaring over the men's hair and they merely flinched. Still not speaking English, he called out, "Leave!" And threw a rock instead. The humans heard "letheskeve" instead which probably not helpful at all.

 

"Um, it would be pretty cool if you stopped throwing things?" Niall whined, holding his arms above his head to protect himself from any falling debris Louis was throwing.

 

"No!" Louis huffed and threw another stone. The stone went over them into the water. ("Nernosk!" Was what the men heard and they all exchanged looks and then shrugged because they had no idea what he was saying.) "Leave!" He huffed and threw a larger stuck towards them.

 

And it probably would have collided with the interlopers if a widow maker fish hadn't jumped out of the rapids and caught it in its teeth. Water sprayed up around the humongous body and drenched everyone and everything on the side of the river. It's fat body slammed into the earth and Louis fell over onto his ass, already off balance to begin with. In the creature's jaws, the branch snapped like toy and it snarled and spat it. With strong front fins, it spin its head to look at Zayn and his companions.

 

What kind of luck was that?

 

Eyes nearly bulging out from their sockets, Louis's heart leapt; was he gonna watch three men get eaten? Had the Gods heard his prayers and decided to gift him a man eating fish? There were a lot of questions swirling in his mind.

 

"WHAT THE BLOODY FUCK?" Niall screamed, scrambling back, his hands smacking outwards to push Zayn and Liam with him.

 

"I've never seen anything-," the nameless man gasped, looking horrified and like he might faint.

 

A moral dilemma kicked in and Louis realized he could take off running and leave these guys with the widow maker or he could try and help them (and maybe die). The plus side to the second option was that he wouldn't be a horrible person.

 

Save the interlopers or save his own hide? Tough decision.

 

It had seemed, technically, to be his fault anyway. He must have caught the beasts attention with the throwing of things. So it wasn't like it was the Gods' way of taking out the strangers. It would have been his fault because there was no way the Gods would actually summon a man eating fish on people... Or at least, Louis didn't think so.

 

He gave a heavy sigh, scrambling to his feet and picked up another stick, launching it at the creature. It collided with the thick skin of its side and the create whirled around to look.

 

"Fuck off!" He told the fish and then considered that perhaps speaking to the fish wouldn't do anything. "Fucking ridiculous..., so stupid..." He grabbed a rock and threw it. The widow maker caught it in its wide mouth and swallowed, looking displeased.

 

The fish dragged its body across the earth, snarling and tail writhing and Louis tried to move further away, unsteady on his feet on the uneven earth. Eyes squinting, it was getting almost to dark to see anything and he he grappled along the ground with clammy hands as the fish approach.

 

He was really, really dumb. That's what they'd say at his funeral. He was the dumbest two legged creature to be spawned, but hey, at least he had a pretty jewel on his head.

 

The beast of a fish was really freaking close to him and he slid on the ground, onto his bum and close enough the fish tried to snap his foot in its snarling jaws. An embarrassingly high pitched noise left his throat and he flung himself to his knees to scoot away, hands feeling out the path in front of him.

 

The sound of thunder filled the air and it took Louis to moment to realize it wasn't actually thunder. A weapon. Something Louis had read about in books called a gun. Pistol? He couldn't remember the logistics of it, just recalling that the texts on the subject were boring.

 

"Did you hit it, Niall?”

 

"How should I fucking know?”

 

"What do you mean? You were aiming weren't you?”

 

"Of course I was! It's just so happens its bloody dark out here, in case you haven't noticed!”

 

The widow maker screeching and flung its broad head back and forth in the dirt and Louis flinched away, scooting himself back, unsure if rising to his feet would draw in the attention of the creature or not.

 

"I'm guessing he's not dead." Someone deadpanned and Louis figured it was Zayn, judged by the voice.

 

"Is the boy okay?”

 

"I dunno. Hey! Kid! You alive over there?" Niall called and if Louis squinted he could make out the blond hair.

 

"Alive." Louis croaked, eyes focusing in on the fish. It was in his native tongue and the men heard "lebedik" instead.

 

"Umm?" The man who had initially asked if he had been asked hummed, unsure.

 

Niall snorted, "Sounded like he said dick!" He chortled.

 

"He probably called you a dick." Zayn groused. "Hand me that!" There was shuffling but Louis didn't pay attention because the fish was snuffling at him. Judging by the way it was suddenly moving though, Louis guessed that Niall had hit the mark when he shot.

 

There were three more quick blasts from the weapon, sudden and precise. Louis wondered if he should mention the beast's notoriously impenetrable skin or if the men would figure it out themselves.

 

Now that it was being attacked to the right, the fish seemed less interested in Louis and decided that the strangers would make for more interesting prey, scuttling across the rivers edge to reach them.

 

"Niall, your gun is jammed and I'm gonna punch you in the throat.”

 

"It was a prototype! I'm sorry if it's not perfect yet!”

 

“Guys!"

 

There was yelling and scuffling and Louis flinched. He had tried to help! That should have counted as something! He couldn't believe the three interlopers were gonna get killed and eaten (maybe not even in that order) by a fish right before him and he couldn't even do anything. He didn't even have any weapons!

 

This is so not fine, his heart felt like it was gonna best straight through his rib cage, every part of his body trembling and soaked in a thin sheen of sweat. I'm letting three men die. By a fish. I am the worst! The fish made a horrible snarling noise and it was instinct that forced Louis to throw an arm out in front of himself, eyes squeezed shut.

 

Because of his closed eyes, Louis missed the light that burst from his body from every trail of blue that decorated his flesh, shinning and almost completely white in brightness. And then the air grew heavy and the fish, bigger than a fully grown man and triple the weight, was raised into the air. The tail fin lashed through the air like a weapon and the teeth clashed together like the sharpest of blades.

 

"What the fu-,”

 

The heavy body then went flying threw the air and even in the darkness one was able to make out the girth of the beast in the air. Louder than even the gun fire, it went flopping into the river once again, water shooting up in a torrent before beating against the land.

 

When the water quit raining down, it was absurdly quiet, only filled by the panting of the four boys.

 

Louis felt dizzy and slightly nauseous, head spinning and heart thumping in his ears. "Oh.." He murmured into the darkness. He had never done that before. Even propped on the ground his body was swaying, as though he had been running for days nonstop.

 

Niall broke the silence, "I've seen a lot of things flying-,”

 

"Zayn, did you see that? He used the force?”

 

"- flying ships-.”

 

"Fuck, okay we need to grab the boy.”

 

"- flying people-,”

 

"He's definitely the one.”

 

"- even some flying furniture!”

 

"Niall, please.”

 

"But never have I seen-,”

 

"Liam, grab the kid, will yah?”

 

"- a flying fucking fish.”

 

"You're an idiot, Niall.”

 

Hands hovered over Louis, unsurely but before anything else could happen, he promptly fell completely back, head smacking into the grass and utterly unconscious.

 

"And he's out."

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Three

Don’t Talk of Dust and Roses 

 

It was extreme pain that woke Louis. His entire body burned and he cried out instinctually, trying to curl as if to hide from the pain. He was shoved back into something cold and smooth, the ground perhaps, and there was yelling above him. It was hard to distinguish between his own screams that were tearing out of his throat and the others around him. His entire body felt as if it were burning and he couldn't stop the convulsions that were ripping through him. 

 

Screaming, Louis tried to push forward, as if that would help ease the pain. Something pushed him back and he cried out. Liquid, warm and wet, was running down his face and Louis was conscious enough to recognize it as tears from his stinging eyes. He sobbed out words, he didn't know what he was saying, but his mouth kept moving. 

 

Someone was trying to sooth him, petting at his hair while other hands kept pushing him back every time he lunged forward. His forearm flared in pain and he yowled, trying to claw at the agonizing flesh with his other hand but it was being held back by someone.

 

He must have blacked out after that because he found himself waking up again. The immense pain was gone, leaving a dull strumming through his entire shape. His throat was raw and he tried to roll over but pain flared and he just let out a dry sob, unable to do anything else. A hand tenderly touched his face, tracing down his from forehead to his cheek, and a deep voice murmured comforting words that Louis couldn't make out. The voice was baritone and soothing and Louis was able to drift off into a fitful slumber. 

 

When he awoke again, the earth was moving beneath him. One moment he was laying on something soft and warm, very much like the furs he usually slept on but different in texture on a sort of risen nest, and the next his body was shaken off and he was crumbling to the chilled, flooring again. He whined and tried to open his eyes, which felt sealed shut with sleep and dried crust. Throat still sore and lips dried and cracked, Louis had definitely had better starts to his day.  He wasn't used to feeling so dry. The air was dry, his skin felt dry and his face felt dry. The air wasn't hot and clammy or even chilly. It was a comfortable warmth that he was unfamiliar with. He rubbed at his eyes to clean them of the crust and tried to open them again. It took several moments for his eyes to adjust to the overhead artificial lighting. 

 

He was in some sort of structure. He was unsure though, as he had never seen anything like it. 

 

Frowning, he managed to lift himself onto his knees to inspect his surrounding. The entire room was a crisp white, other than the frame of the bed which looked like metal. He smoothed his finger tips along it, fascinated. He rarely got to see metal so it was odd looking and unusual to him. The floor looked like stone and was cold against his knees. There was a white table and a  curved grey chair with a cushion on the seat of it and a night stand beside the bed that was low to the ground with a grey drawer underneath a white top. A tall, thin white lamp was set on top of it. The were lights set into the ceiling and they were a harsh, blinding white, spread across the entire room. Everything looked so clean.

 

Squinting, Louis pushed himself up to his feet and walked over to the chair. His cloak was hooked over the back of it, a stark contrast to the rest of the room. The garment was a dark brown pelt that fell to his waist and clasped closed at the front. It had a large hood and no sleeves. Grabbing it, he shrugging it back on for the sake of feeling the familiar fur against him even though he didn't need it with the regulated temperature in the room. 

 

There was a door on the other side of the room, large and unsurprisingly white, and essentially a panel with no knobs. He walked up to it and placed his hands against it. Nothing happened. 

 

There was a small box next to it with a screen and colourful buttons. He inspected it closely, running his finger tips along it. It was cold and smooth and the buttons beeped when he pushed on them. These open the door? He wondered, pushing at them more. Nothing happened. Huffing in agitation, he began to press the buttons more erratically. The screen lit up and he paused to study it. Other than the pale light radiating off of it, nothing had changed. He started smacking the buttons again, fascinated by the noise but more than a little frustrated that he couldn't get the door to open. 

 

Then an alarm started. He must have pressed enough to have glitched the screen. He jumped away, squealing in surprise at the noise. It was unpleasant and he pressed his hands to his ears to try and block it out. 

 

Licking at his lips and smacking his tongue against the top of his mouth to gather saliva for his sore throat and dry mouth, he dropped his hands from his ears when the sound ended and tenderly pushed a button. Nothing happened other than the button chime. Clicking his tongue, he began to run his fingers along it, blending the chimes together to try and make a melody that would trigger the door. He must have fucked it up again though because the alarm went off once more. Groaning and leaning his forward against the smooth panel, he slammed his palm against it twice before hitting the button panel in frustration. Nothing happened and it seemed like he spent a whole minute leaning against the door, just trying to settle his breathing.

 

And then it decided to suddenly open and he fell face first out into a hallway, barely catching himself against the ground. "Eh- fornuskrill!" He cursed in his native tongue, his voice rough from lack of use. He scrambled up right as quickly as he could, heart pounding. 

 

"Holy shit! I'm so sorry! I didn't think you'd be awake yet." Came a voice -speaking English- to his left and Louis tilted his head back to look. It was a boy, around his age and height, with skinny legs, a hefty utility belt on his hips and a worn black leather jacket on his shoulders. He had his hand hovering over another screen and button plate on the wall beside the door, having obviously entered a code to open it. 

Stricken, Louis backed up to what he deemed was a safe distance from the stranger, "Wesherosk aurekreshesk yiroskusk?" He demanded, voice more growl like than usual. He knew that this was bad. He had grown up with stories about outsiders, tales passed through by elders to warriors. Louis had never met anyone outside of his clan. He had never left the forest before. This was wrong. He supposed it was his fault though, coming out to the river to engage with them. 

 

"Umm, what?" The boys blurted, frowning, "Do you speak English? Or Bocce, at least?" 

 

The Zhabe people, Louis’s people, despite their isolation, were educated. They traded -minimally - when necessary, resulting in reams of texts from other planets and cultures. Although english wasn’t the first language, -that being Zhab- it was taught. Bocce, the trade language, was taught too, but it was very minor compared to english. 

 

Louis was unsure how to respond, mind still reeling. His heart felt like it had turned to stone, suddenly to big for his chest. He didn’t know if speaking english would save him or not. He wasn’t even sure what they wanted. 

 

He had an idea though and if his premonition was true, he needed to escape fast.  

 

Louis stared at the boy, dubious. He wasn’t outwardly threatening and was just barely taller than Louis but thinner. Very slowly, he murmured, "...english." Although taught, it still felt weird, compared to the heavy language he was so used too. He hoped he made the right decision in speaking. Perhaps they wouldn’t torture him. Louis had read enough books to know other civilizations, those deemed more civilized than the Zhabe, (who many considered primitive, apparently) had a tendency of mutilating defiant captives. 

 

The boy merely smiled at him. "Okay good. Because we won't be getting very far if you keep speaking-," he pause, "Whatever the frick you're speaking." Pacifically, he held his hands up in front of him, palms outwards. "Now I think you were asking me who I was?” He inquired. Louis just nodded shortly, "I'm Niall." He declared. He had a thick accent that made it difficult to make out his words without concentrating and Louis absently wondered what his background was. 

 

Niall had slyly started moving towards him but Louis noticed and wondered if he was going to try and comfort him in some lame attempt for trust or just seize him. With narrowed, distrusting eyes, Louis asked, "Where am I?" His words were slow and slightly sloppy as he tried to wrap his tongue around them the syllables. It took a bit to get back into it as it was so different than his native language. 

 

Niall tilted his head curiously. "You don't remember? Cuz, I'm like, a hundred percent sure we told you already. It seemed like a pretty good talk, honestly.” Louis immediately focused in on the use of the word 'we' but didn't say anything else, waiting for the other boy to finish talking first. He also decided to not mention that everything of the day before (How long ago? he could have been unconscious from anywhere from ten minutes to ten days and he wouldn't have known) was completely gone. He couldn’t really remember anything, other than the mediation of that morning. 

 

“You’re with the Daggers." Niall announced, breaking Louis’s concentration, sounding proud with a smirk curling his lips. Well, that didn’t sound good. Then, the blond jerked his head towards Louis, his bright blue eyes focused on Louis's (burning) arm. Louis followed his gaze down to his forearm. "You're marked and everything.”

 

Along Louis's arm, near his elbow, was a marking of a dagger, huge and black and really fucking vivid. Gulping loudly because that was very new and definitely not there before. He touched it lightly with his finger tips. It was red around the edge, slightly risen from the skin like a scar and felt hot under his touch. 

 

“Marked…?” He whispered, puzzled, not quite sure what being 'marked' meant. He knew the word well enough but wasn't sure how it related to the stinging etching that now marred his flesh. 

 

Niall shoved his hands in his pockets, "I didn't personally do it." He said, as if Louis cared. "Don't have the skill for that sort of thing. All Zayn, that is. Anyways, I was suppose to come check up on you and see if you were awake. You need to see Zayn.” He smiled, almost comfortingly but Louis frowned and wrapped his arms around himself, as if that would protect him from the situation. 

 

Swallowing, Louis demanded, "Whose Zayn?" Zayn was pronounced more like "zan" on his tongue and he flushed, knowing he messed it up. Niall’s eyes lit up and he snickered. Louis clenched his teeth.

 

"You don't remember anything, do yah?" Niall muttered, watching Louis poke at the mark, almost absently. 

 

"If I did..." Louis began slowly, indignant heat rising in his cheeks and his stomach clenching, "I would not be asking so many questions now would I?" Louis sneered, pulling his hand away from the tattoo. (He couldn't help himself in repeating his words several times in his head, making sure they sounded correct. One could never be too careful with english.) He wondered it he was annoying enough they would decide to let him go. They could possibly kill him instead. He shuddered. 

 

The thought of never seeing his family again…. He sucked in a deep breathe. Did they even know he was missing? How long had he been gone? Surely they were worried. Louis suddenly felt queasy. He hoped they didn’t try to look for him. While the sentiment would be nice, there would be no point and it would be an unnecessary risk.

 

The words he spoke seemed to have made sense as Niall smirked and, seemingly impervious to the attitude, simply shrugging, "I suppose not." He turned and began walking down the hall, "Come on now. Zayn'll be wanting to see yah." Louis hesitated, eyes flicking around as if he could make a run for it. (As if. He had no idea where he was.) Watching his kidnapper walk, his boots clunking against the floor nosily, Louis decided to follow after him, seeing no other choice.

 

He would meet Zayn, he decided. And then he would escape. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Four 

We Will Run With Dirty Boys 

 

It was ship.

 

As they walked, Louis became very aware that they hadn’t locked him away in some sort of secluded and fortified hut, but a ship. Louis knew about ships mostly from texts and from the adults in the village, as most younglings learned. Personally, he had only seen a couple of small trader ships land in the only clear area near his home: on the coast of the river. They were merely small pods, not meant to hold more than five people and their goods.

 

This, however, was much bigger.

 

Louis figured all that out pretty quickly as he followed Niall. They turned out of the secluded hall they had been in and ended up on a bridge with huge windows to the right, nothing outside but blackness and faint lights. (Spirits, he mused. At least, that was what he had been taught.) He paused and peered out. The ship looked like a huge disk. Even though everything outside was dark, he could make out the dark grey hulk of the ship.

 

Gingerly, he pressed his finger tips against the cool window, easing up to it. With a loud gulp, he asked, ”How did I get here?" His voice came out as a mere murmur and he looked away from the view only to see that Niall hadn’t paused along with him. Quickly, he hurried after, unsure of that else to do.

 

Niall didn't turn but he answered, "Well, we took you of course.”

 

Ah. There it was. Even though Louis had known this, hearing it out loud, especially in such a cavalier manner, made his stomach drop. Louis stared harder at the back of Niall’s head, trying to recall what had happened. His mind stayed, unfortunately, blank. It was frustrating that he couldn’t remember even being taken from his home. Niall had mentioned earlier that he (and whoever else) and talked to him, yet he couldn’t remember even seeing the brunette, let alone this supposed conversation. And then his mind decided to suggest horrible, horrific alternatives to what happened, none of which were comforting at all. Was he the only one taken? Was everyone else alright? Louis didn’t think he could ever forgive himself if, because of him, his family was hurt.

 

His breathing had quicken while he had been over-thinking and he had to force himself to calm down. They’re fine. Your family is fine, he thought, aggressively. It wouldn’t help anyone if he jumped to conclusions and freaked out.

 

Louis narrowed his eyes, "Why? It is not like I am useful. You would have a better time with me mum. As least she can cook." He said recklessly. And now he was lying. It was bloody obvious why they had taken them. Niall stopped walking and turned to him, eyebrows raised as if he couldn’t believe what he had just said.

 

“You’re joking right? This is how you joke on your home planet?” he cocked his head, disbelief evident in his voice.

 

Louis shrugged, eyes locked onto his kidnapper’s face, carefully gauging his reaction.

 

Eyes wide, Niall jerked his chin at him, “On your planet, what do you call what’s on your forehead?” he sounded genuinely curious.

 

With the utmost delicacy, Louis touched the piece of stone that was embedded in the centre of his forehead, the centre of all the swirls that branched off from it.

 

(Not only did he have the vein like markings running over his body, he realized dully, but now he had the dagger to go a long with it.)

 

“What do you call it?” Niall repeated, frowning, watching Louis slowly rub the gem.

 

Instead of answering, Louis firmly shook his head. There were many things his people valued. Their Gods, family, rain, turtles and a prosperous hunt were amongst these values. Keeping clan within clan was another value. It was punishable by death to disclose sacred cultural practices to outsiders, especially to such savagers who considered them primitive. While Louis recognized the similarities of appearance between him and Niall, something he didn’t have with his own people, he also recognized that answering the boy’s question would be disobeying a stringent social edict.

 

“What do you call it?” Louis spat back at Niall instead, narrowing his eyes and trying to broaden his slim shoulders. (An intimidation tactic he had learned from males back home.) However, he was regretfully small and trying to do such a thing led to no results.

 

Niall’s eyes lit up and he looked delighted by his (biting) response to his question, “Well, we call-,” he cut off as if he just remembered something, “Actually, it’s probably for the best if Zayn explains everything.” he said, looking surprising sincere.

 

Louis huffed and fell silent, thinning his lips into a stern line. Of course. Zayn again. He must be some sort of chief. Niall seemed to respect him enough that it would be a reasonable assumption that he was some sort of figurehead.

 

Niall started walking again and Louis sighed, following after him. The surrounding interior was clean and monochrome in colour, lines all symmetrical and even. Everything looked like a perfect geometric shape. Nothing on the ship seemed organic in nature. He wasn't comfortable with the lack of life the ship possessed. Coming from a forest, he had known nothing but gnarled trees and swathes of leaves and pools of freshwater.

 

"The ship usually isn't so clean." Niall broke the silence, good-naturedly. Louis flinched at the fact that Niall had somehow decide to talk about what he had been thinking about. "Our old ship, Mintaka is, uh, out of order so this is Rigel. Quite clean and in good condition. That'll change soon though, with the way our luck has been going lately." Niall chuckled and lead Louis to a thin door. He hit the up arrow that was beside it and there was about half a minute where nothing happened and Louis wasn’t sure what was happening. Niall didn’t seem concerned though, tapping his foot to some sort of beat and bopping his head along.

 

The door opened to reveal a tiny room and Niall walked into it, completely at ease. Louis wasn’t so sure. It was so small… Why would the blond see so eager to enter such a confined space? There wasn’t anything inside of it, just four walls, a floor and a ceiling.

 

Holding his hand against where the door had retracted, Niall beamed at him, “Come on then, mate. We’re going to see Zayn.”

 

In that tiny room? Louis wondered, heatedly, but stepped into the room, standing next to the other boy. Niall retracted his arm and the door closed. Along the side of the door were small carvings, close together that Louis recognized as numbers. He frowned, curious but too stubborn to ask about them.

 

Niall pushed one the biggest numbers and then the room shifted. Louis gasped and flew backwards, pressing against the wall. Yup, the room was moving.

 

“Oh shit!” Niall gasped, “I’m so sorry mate! Er, this is a lift? I totally forgot that you probably didn’t know. Um, this just moves us between the floors so we don't have to walk all the stairs.” he looked nervous, as if he was expecting Louis to be mad at him over something like this.

 

He was mistaken. Louis was already mad (infuriated, more like it) about being kidnapped. He didn’t need a moving room to justify his attitude.

 

When the room finally stopped, the door opened slowly -much too slowly for Louis’s liking- and he shot out of, nearly tripping on the edge of the floor in his attempt to flee. Niall followed after him, much calmer, heading towards a door. It looked much like the one the bedroom Louis had been in had, only it was two panelled with the opening in the middle. Niall walked over to a keypad and typed something into it. The screen beeped and glowed green and the doors slid open.

 

Inside was a room that sort of reminded Louis of the one he had awoken in. The same in the fact there was a large desk, in the centre this time, with a plush chair and a cot to the side, strewn with blankets and pillows that looked recently slept in. In front of the desk were two soft looking chairs with low backs. Lining the walls were bookshelves and papers. Some of the papers had what looked like maps, some of different planets and others of galaxy layouts. Other papers had sketches of unusual creatures, things Louis couldn’t have even conjured in his wildest dreams. At the back of the room was a huge window, looking out into the abyss of black space. (Pretty lived in for a new ship… Louis thought.)

 

"Zayn," Niall said in lieu of greeting.

 

There was a man standing at the window, back facing them. Zayn. With scrutinizing eyes, Louis inspected the man (the chief?). He was wearing a black jacket that ended mid calf and, like Niall, chunky back boots.

 

Turning, his dark eyes landed on Louis immediately. “Ah!" he smirked, eyes flicking up and down Louis, as if seeing him for the first time. “It’s nice to see you awake and in less pain.” He raised an eyebrow in a cocky manner and Louis reminded himself it wouldn’t help to punch him. It would make him feel better, sure, but the consequences would probably over shadow that.

 

Zayn gave a surprisingly soft smile, relaxed and unguarded. His cheeks and jaws were covered with a black, fuzzy, neatly trimmed beard that lead up to hair styled in messy spikes, the colour of ash.

 

He must be beautiful, Louis figured, inspecting him. He had dark lashes that framed his eyes and his cheekbones were pronounced. His skin was unlike anything Louis had seen before as it was smooth, clean and dark, something that was unheard of back home. In particular, Louis liked the gem that was on the side of his nose and the matching ones along the edge of his ears.

 

With four long strides, Zayn was standing in front of him and thrusting his hand out. Louis stared at it. Niall leaned over and in a faux whisper, said, “You gotta shake it.”

 

Eyebrows raising, Louis hesitantly grabbed the hand and tried to do what Niall and instructed. Zayn laughed at the roughness and with his other hand grabbed Louis’s wrist and arranged it so they were holding hands. He then gently moved their hands up and down and Louis was even more confused. Still chuckling, Niall offered, “Shaking hands is a customary greeting amongst humans.” Louis pouted and held back from growling a ‘of course I knew that’ in response.

 

To compensate for the weird greeting these men had just showed him, when Zayn retracted his hand, Louis gurgled a ribbit noise from the back of his throat. It was a bit tough to do but he had been forced to learn, as if was respectful when acknowledging others, especially other males.

 

“So,” Niall started, staring at Louis with his face wrinkled in adorable confusion. Zayn was softly smiling, amusement glittering his eyes. “He doesn’t seem to remember anything from when we grabbed him but he seems to have a pretty clear idea why we did.”

 

Nodding, Zayn waved them towards the chairs in front of the desk and Niall immediately threw himself into one. Louis, far more hesitantly, scooted up to one and perched on the edge, ready to bolt if need be.

 

“How about we start with a name?” Zayn offered, “You know Niall, you know me. Curtesy for us to know your name, yes?” Zayn pulled the chair out from the desk and dropped into it.

 

Immediately, they lapsed into an expectant silence, eyes drilling into Louis’s small frame. Huffing, he muttered in his native language that he’s rather not tell them. Zayn smirked and raised an eyebrow at him. More silence. Another sigh from Louis.

 

“Then you’d rather talk about something else? The stone, perhaps?” Zayn offered, as if it was benevolent of him to change the topic. Louis squeezed his eyes shut for the briefest of moments before setting with his name.

 

“Mm Louis.” he mumbled.

 

Niall perked up beside him, “Louis?” he repeated, sounding in awe, “That’s not a weird, froggy name at all!” It was hard to not smile at him, honestly.

 

Zayn also smiled, more genuinely then before, “Alright then Louis… What do you know about the stone?” Resting his elbows on the armrests, he steeped his fingers together in concentration. Inwardly groaning, Louis sealed his lips together and stared back at him, defiantly.

 

This just made him smirk, “I know that, culturally, you don’t share such information with outsiders but surely you would if your life was in danger? I mean, after all, you have been kidnapped by a crew of notorious and influential pirates. Anything could happen to you here.” Louis tried not to flinch but Zayn must have noticed the hesitation on his face anyways.

 

“I…” Louis took a deep breathe and pressed his nails into the tops of his knees. “I can not…” he stressed. Zayn’s eyes softened and he leaned onto the edge of his desk. He seemed to be considering something, watching the anxious flexing of Louis’s fingers.

 

“How about this? We tell you a bit about what’s happening since you seem to have forgotten and then you tell us what you know. What do you think?”

 

In all honestly, Louis wanted to jump out of his seat. He wanted to jump up, get out the doors and just run. Zayn had eyes like a predator, trailing along every move and every breathe Louis made. The strange, new territory wasn’t comforting either. Knowing better than to try and fight with the men, Louis gave a short, jerking nod and wanted for their explanation, even though it was a crap proposition and he didn’t want to tell the men anything.

 

He wanted home.

 

“I’m sure Niall explained to you the mark on your arm?” Zayn started with. Seeing the looks on their faces (a definite no) he elaborated, “We’re called the Blades of Orion, a syndicate created by my great grandfather and passed on to his son, who passed it on to his son, my father. Obviously, I’m next in line.”

 

Don’t try to sound too smug, Louis grumbled to himself.

 

Zayn continued, “Each member possesses that very same tattoo. Brand loyalty, we’ll call it. Also, certain persons we like to keep to ourselves, yah? We’d like to keep you for ourselves and that-,” he waved a finger towards the tattoo, “-helps. Sorta scares off anyone else. They’d be dumb to still go after you with that.”

 

Who else would try and grab him, Louis was unsure of, but the way Zayn spoke, it was like he was expecting a fight. A fight over Louis? He nearly laughed. He was an oddball back home but to Zayn and these Blades of Orion fellows, it seemed like he was hot shit. Curious, he mused.

 

“You have that power?” Louis found himself asking, voice still strangely quiet compared to his usual tone. If what Zayn was saying was true, that meant because of the Gods’ stone, people would be looking for him. (How outsiders were aware of it’s presence, let alone his literal connection to it, he didn’t understand.) But Zayn had also said that the tattoo would be enough to scare anyone else away. If he managed to escape the Blades or whatever they called themselves, Louis had no interest in stumbling into the grasp of more cutthroat men who wouldn't be as patient with him as Niall and Zayn were, so it may help. Then again, he could be bluffing in an effort to keep Louis close and scare him from running off at the first available moment.

 

Zayn nodded, “Of course we do. We’re the Daggers.” he said as if it should be obvious.

 

Louis grit his teeth. I’ve never heard of you before… Tossers…

 

Niall leaned over the side of his chair, “You do know who we are, yeah?” he sounded almost scared of the potential answer. Louis shook his head vigorously and watched the blond’s expression fall and contort into something resembling a combination of horror and insult. “You..? What do you even do on your planet?”

 

I live with my family, apprentice with Levone and not get abducted by pirates but… Louis thought, passive-aggressively but didn’t dare say anything out loud.

 

Plowing on before Zayn could open his mouth to ask more questions, Niall, who had a stubborn set to his mouth, sputtered, “I bet you you’ve heard of someone though. Like Blazing Claw. Hate those guys.” He wiggled his nose like he had a bad taste in his mouth.

 

Defiantly, Louis grumbled, “Nernosk,” the Zhab word for ‘no’.

 

As if expecting a long haul of interrogation from Niall, Zayn leaned back in his chair and rested his chin on one of his fists, plastering on a dramatically bored look to his face. Louis noted that they were comfortable with each other and, even if Niall respected Zayn as a sort of chief to their group, they were obvious friends. Friendly enough that Zayn would let Niall step over his leadership quite comfortable and get off topic with a ‘prisoner’ or whatever he was to them. It seemed strange. In all the books Louis had read and what he had heard from elders, usually in other civilizations different their own primordial culture, they were far more regimented and any opposition usually led to extreme punishments such as exile, torture and death. That didn’t seem to be the case and Louis found himself wondering once again, if this meant he wasn't in immediate danger.

 

“Okay, how about Lok Revenants? Another gang of pirates.” Niall asked, holding up two fingers to check off who he had inquired on. Louis gave a shake of his head. “Okay, that’s fine, they really aren't notorious so… Hm, Bloody Bones? Those guys are pretty savage.” Louis nearly laughed. Did pirates just pick what they thought were scary and threatening and use that as names? Ridiculous. He sort of wish he did know them just so he could make fun of them. When Louis said ‘nernosk’ again, Niall grumbled, “Alright, well, how about Night Fangs?” Another dumb name, Louis noted but denied them also. “Void Wings?”

 

What does that even mean? Louis puzzled in disbelief. Absolutely ridiculous. Pirates are ridiculous. “Nernosk, no.” he mumbled.

 

Shaking his head and looking utterly betrayed by all he had believed in, Niall continued on valiantly, "Okay, okay. You've got to have heard about the Black Suns. Their influence is felt on every planet from the Core Worlds to the Outer Rim, like, they’ve been around for hundreds of years. They have limitless recourses and tens of thousands of soldiers under their command." He narrowed his eyes and lowered his voice, "Some say they're the most powerful force in the known universe." Both Niall and Louis glanced at Zayn after this statement, but for different reasons: Niall hoping he wasn’t offended and Louis was curious for the reaction. To their surprise, Zayn responded by merely rolled his eyes, unimpressed.

 

“As you see, the Black Suns are more myth and legend than actual notoriety,” Zayn murmured, giving Niall a stern glare. “Don’t let us propagate any sort of mythical expectations.”

 

Louis held back a laugh at that because, honestly, everything felt a tad ‘mythical’. Before this, his world had been rather small, confined to his village home in the rainforest and tutoring under the whimsical hand of the Shaman; his knowledge of anything outside extended to trading business he had heard about, what he read and of course, the gospel of their Gods, taught to everyone. The Black Suns sounded just as fantastical as everything else.

 

“Well we shouldn’t hide him from it.” Niall reminded Zayn, eyes unusually large and childlike, “We know we weren't the only ones to figure out where he was. Gigi-,” he caught himself and immediately tried to correct it, “-Hadid, I mean. She knows about him and so do others. And judging by the prize that the Underlord has placed on him, it’s gonna be a lot of others scrambling.”

 

Underlord? Louis grazed his teeth on his bottom lip, heart picking up as Niall spoke. While he didn’t completely grasp what the blond was saying, he understood enough to know people -most likely dangerous people- knew about him, probably knew about his home and someone wanted him enough to place a bounty. Is that why they took me then? For the bounty? That didn’t make sense to him either. It had seemed when Niall had spoken others were going to try and take him away from the Daggers to bring to this supposed Underlord. If Zayn and Niall hadn’t taken him for the reward, then why had they?

 

Unable to stop himself, Louis broke his silence, “My home? Is it safe?” his hands trembled on jittering legs.

 

Niall jumped, looking startled as if he had forgotten Louis could actually talk. Zayn’s eyes had softened and he spoke in a reassuring tone, “Your home should be safe now that you aren’t there.” Louis flinched like he had received a physical blow. “The stone on your forehead is active and thriving off of your midi-chlorians, essentially making it a beacon. We could tell the closer we got to your planet the more disturbance in the Force there was.” Zayn elaborated. “Anyone looking for you there will be able to sense that you’re gone. There would be no reason to go there. Having you here has definitely made us more of a target, though.”

 

Louis didn’t care if having him aboard the ship was dangerous for them; they were the ones who decided to kidnap him after all. His mind was to preoccupied with the ‘what ifs’. If these other pirates groups were as bad as they had implied them to be, Louis could see them landing on Dononter Minor anyways and slaughtering his family needlessly. It chilled him to imagine something so horrific and his body tightened up like he was splashed with freezing water. Zayn had only been saying that there was no way he knew Louis’s family would be safe… But, if it was really the Gods’ stone that was drawing outsiders, then his loved ones would be safe without him.

 

“Midi-chlorians?” Louis repeated, frowning at Zayn.

 

Zayn opened his mouth to answer but Niall jumped in overzealously, “They’re microscopic lifeforms that live within the cells of living beings. The Force speak through them and if individuals are particularly Force-Sensitive, they are able to wield certain powers, or so they say.” he winked at Zayn who pursed his lips at him.

 

“According to legend,” Zayn began, much calmer than his friend, “midi-chlorians originated on a planet in the heart of the galaxy, from which life has been said to also emerge. They also…” he hesitated and looked reluctant to add anymore but Niall nodded frantically, encouraging him to keep on, “…they’re also said to have a role in eternal consciousness. As all living being are generated by Life Force, it feeds into Cosmic Force and communicated through the midi-chlorians. It allows beings who have this knowledge to manifest themselves after death. Again, it’s all myth.” he added hurriedly at the end, as if he didn’t want Louis to get any ideas.

 

It was no matter to Louis about this supposed ‘after death manifestation’; he knew when he passed, he would be welcomed to Ganydn, over looked by the Gods’ from Palats. However, he was interested in these midi-chlorians and whatever this ‘Force’ was. “Your Force is similar to The Way.” Louis told the men, too intrigued to realize he probably shouldn’t have shared that.

 

Zayn’s nose wrinkled, “The Way? That’s what the Force used to be called hundreds of years ago…” Realization dawned on him, “Oh, your people are so isolated, you haven’t been uh, educated.” he winced, realizing there was no good way to finish what he had been trying to say.

 

Displeased, Louis thinned his lips sneeringly, “We are reclusive because of outside savagery, which you have proven. And while we may not be as… as…” he forced himself to pause and take a deep breathe, struggling with words, “…as advanced as you but that does not mean you can disrespect us.” There, he said it. His heart jack-rabbited and his chest felt like there was a weight sitting on it, his shoulders trembling like he was some sort of terrified animal. He was braced for a backlash for his outburst, body tensed in anticipation.

 

In front of him, Zayn was peering at him, quite curiously and it was unnerving enough that Louis scooted back in the chair and peeked over to Niall, who looked much more shocked than his companion. “Damn,” Niall whispered, “Boy just went off.” he joked and Zayn snorted.

 

Their reactions were… unexpected to say the least. Mouth twisting into a frown, Louis asked, “You are... Not upset?” His brows scrunched together. He didn’t know why he asked when he should have been praying to the Gods for allowing him to live another day.

 

“Of course not.” Zayn mollified, “While there may be a lot for you to learn, there’s a lot for us too.” And more seriously, he added, “You seem to be under the impression that we want to harm you and, honestly Louis, that’s the last thing we want. We know that these are unsavoury circumstances and I’m sincerely sorry for that but you need to understand that there’s a lot more going on here than what meets the eye. And, ironically enough, we’re the good guys here. Again, this all probably seems hard to believe but you’ll see. I know you aren’t willing to share anything about what you know about the gem, but you must know there’s something special with it. With you. We want to help you, Louis.”

 

His voice was laced with the utmost sincerity and Louis almost felt bad for vilifying him so much in his mind. Does this justify them stealing me? Louis wondered, chewing at his lips. If a grudge hadn’t already settled in his bones, he probably would have forgave the man but he was still rather sore about it. Still, Zayn had said he wanted to help him, not the other way around. That had to count for something. His gut told him that he was safe with Zayn and Niall but his head made sure to remind him that they had kidnapped him and, oh yeah, that they were pirates.

 

They’re not the Black Suns though… He thought, recalling what Niall had said about them. Limitless recourses and tens of thousands of soldiers under their command… Most powerful force in the known universe…. If these were the people hunting for him, he knew that demanding to go home wouldn’t be smart; he couldn’t -he wouldn’t- endanger his family like that. Didn’t Levone say the enemy of my enemy is my friend? If the Black Suns are after me and the Daggers can help me stop this, whatever this is… Isn’t that good? His stomach clenched because how the hell would they ever be able to escape the most powerful force in the known universe?

 

His hopelessness must have shown on his face because Zayn looked sympathetic and sad, all sharp cheeks and dark eyes and that didn’t do anything to curb Louis’s anxiety. 

 

“I… I want..” Louis took a deep breath, “I want to go home. So I will help you.” 

 

Zayn smiled.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Five 

You’ve Got the Blues 

 

It was unfortunate how everything was black. Lights were faint and far away and everything was vast and never-ending. No matter how long Louis looked nothing changed, despite the fact, the ship was moving. Everything seemed untouchable, intangible. Almost fake. It was like looking at the stones at the bottom of the riverbed through the rushing waters. Of course, Louis knew that it was real, that this was the universe that was surrounding him. There was more to the galaxy than just his planet. He knew that. He had been taught that and he had read about it and seen proof: the evidence of trades from his people and another’s. But being on a ship and looking out into an immeasurable void was enough to send him reeling.

 

There was more. More than what he had and more than what he was. More than the forest, more than the village, more than his home and his family and Gods, more than him. He was a speck. A nothing in the chasm of everything.

 

It was terrifying but yet comforting at the same time.

 

“You okay there, Louis?” Niall asked, voice unusual soft as he stood to the side, watching. Louis was pressed against the window, body slanted with his feet away from the edge as much as he could manage while he had his cheek and palms pressed against it. It was cool and smooth, nothing like he was used too and seemed to hold his weight well enough. Not that he was going trust it with his whole weight, though. He didn’t know how it worked.

 

“I’m… fine.” As fine as I can be considering. “This is… very new to me.”

 

Niall snickered, “I guessed.” he copied Louis and pressed himself against the window also, looking out. His feet were right at the edge, though, obviously secure in the glass window holding him. “This must be weird for you. You’ve never left your home, right?” he asked, not unkindly.

 

Louis shook his head, “No, I rarely leave the village.” he admitted. “This is… paramount, I think.” he frowned. And then he added, “Something is settling. I can feel it.” he spread his thin fingers out across the fog he had created with his breath. His hand looked so tiny compared to everything else. Breakable and so simply mortal with the backdrop of the galaxy behind it. Dust, he reminded himself. He was dust compared.

 

“I think that’s you being in-tuned with the Force. Or the Way, whatever you call it. I’ve never experienced it for myself.” Seeing Louis’s furrowed brows, he continued, “I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other and I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff. By the stars, I’ve been in the middle of some strange stuff. The Force is supposedly one all-controlling power…” he trailed off, blue eyes distant out the window. “Zayn and Liam -our other friend- don’t want to believe that there’s some ‘mystical energy field’ that controls our destiny…”

 

“And what do you believe?” Louis softly asked. It was hard for him to grasp that there were people who didn’t believe in something that Louis had learned about since birth. The Gods, the Way, all of it had been ingrained in him since he had been a youngling. Doubting their existence (even if Louis was a little bit of a skeptical shit at times) seemed unimaginable.

 

Niall breathed hot air on the window and pressed his palm on the fog. He held it for a second before pulling away to look at his hand print. The boys watched the fog curl and dissipate, taking the handprint with it. “I wanted too.” he whispered, “Maybe just to piss them off,” he smirked at that and Louis couldn’t help smiling along. “But then I saw you.”

 

Louis’s eyes widened and he stared at the blond boy in complete puzzlement.

 

Chewing on his lip, Niall looked reluctant to continue, “We’ve been looking for you for months. You’re the living embodiment of everything we denied existed after the reign of the empire.” He looked away from Louis as if he was afraid of what his reaction would be to his words.

 

Softly, Louis asked, “And what is that?”

 

Shoulders tensing in surprise, Niall glanced at him from the corner of his eye, frowning, “What?”

 

“The living embodiment.” Louis murmured, “Of what?”

 

“Hmm,” Niall’s face pursed and his eyes seemed searching as he turned to look back at Louis. “Hope, I suppose.”

 

Louis smiled at the kindness but something heavy and much too dark settled in his bones like an illness. “Hope breeds grief,” he warned in a mutter, stubbornly setting his eyes back to the stars, body strung painfully tight.

 

“Nah.” Niall chuckled with a casual shrug, “It’s the other way around, innit?” When Louis glanced back over him, clearly surprised, he winked.

 

Flustered, Louis returned his smile, looking back out the window. He couldn’t imagine that he meant anything to anyone outside of his family. He wasn’t important. He was weird, the oddball of his home planet. Or, Louis supposed, his adopted planet. The very thought made him cringe. Even if he had been adopted to it, it was still home and they were still his family.

 

“We’ll get you home, Louis,” Niall interrupted his thoughts, causing Louis to turn and look at him in surprise. “I promise I will get you home if it’s the last thing I do,” He vowed, and, on a lighter note, added, “I can’t stand to see that sad look on your face,” He beamed, holding on his fist, sticking his pinky out.

 

Blushing, Louis inspected his hand, confused.

 

Niall chuckled, grinning. “It’s a promise,” he explained. “Hook your pinky with mine,” he instructed. Louis made a fist and stuck his pinky out before clumsily trying to hook the two fingers together. Watching him fail, Niall snickered and gently gripped Louis’s hand to arrange their grip together. “There! We made a promise and it’s can’t be broken.” Seeing Louis’s awed look, he added, “And friends don’t lie.”

 

Each of Niall’s word hit him like a splash of cold water. A promise and it can’t be broken. Friends. They were friends. Louis was about to let an embarrassing amount of maudlin word vomit spill from his lips before he was interrupted.

 

The whirling of the automatic doors cut through the air, thankfully saving Louis from any mortifying, mushy spewing of words. (Niall was his friend, he didn’t want to ruin that by not being able to keep his mouth shut.) Despite being automatic, the doors seemed to fly open in urgency and Zayn came storming into the office. He had left earlier when a speaker went off, informing him he was needed in ‘Control’. Apparently, his father was holo-calling the ship and wished to speak to him, leaving Louis with Niall in the office. Looking far less sunny than he had been when he left, Louis noticed that he was spitting rather venomous curses to another man who was following him, looking empathetic.

 

“I hate him, you know this Liam! And if he thinks my father is giving him the title, he has another thing coming. Over my dead body will that slimy-,”

 

“That’s what I’m worried about Zayn. The whole, ‘over your dead body’ bit. If you get into a fight with Mercurius, the Daggers will be divided. It’ll be civil war and you know it. Your men are loyal but so are his. It won’t end well.” The man Zayn had called Liam spoke, placatingly. He was taller than Zayn but not by much, with short dark hair that he had pushed up at the front and kept shorter at the sides. He had scruff along his jaw and large dark eyes that had a softness to them that Louis rather liked. Despite this softness, he had black marking covering his hands and arms. 

 

Niall and Louis moved away from the section of the window they were standing in front of, which was directly behind Zayn’s desk. Zayn threw himself into his chair and Niall moved to stand in front of the desk beside Liam. Louis stayed near the window so he could still lean against it and gaze out.

 

“What happened?” Niall asked, looking between the two men for answers.

 

Zayn scoffed and threw his feet up onto his desk and crossed his arms like a petulant child. Liam smiled cautiously and said, “It wasn’t his fath-, Yaser.” He corrected himself, glancing at Zayn who was glaring stubbornly at his feet. “It was Mercurius who answered. He asked about the location of the holocron. Zayn, of course, lied his arse off and told him we hadn’t found it and he told Zayn he better keep him informed.” he sighed.

 

“He wants all the glory!” Zayn snarled, whipping his legs off the desk abruptly and slamming a fist on the desktop. Louis winced and edged away. “He wants me to keep him informed so he can swoop in last minute and take all the glory! This is like the weapons incident! Or the-,”

 

“Yes, yes, we know.” Liam sighed again, pinching the bridge of his nose, “He’s still the Lieutenant. You can’t just lie like that!”

 

“Well, I just did!”

 

“I’m aware.” Liam deadpanned. “But he will be telling your father that the mission to Dononter Minor was a failure. So not only did you lie to him, but you inadvertently lied to your father.”

 

“Well, it won’t be a lie when we show up, out of the blue, with the holocron in tow.” at this, everyone turned and looked at Louis, who gulped and shifted nervously at their stares.

 

Liam’s eyes widened a fraction as if he hadn’t seen Louis. Considering the bickering, he probably hadn’t. “Oh, the stars!” he lit up, “I'm happy to see you awake and on your feet again! Looking much better." He beamed before whipping back to Zayn, "He’s just a boy!” He scolded.

 

Zayn held his hands up in surrender, “Oh, as if I have something to do with that?”

 

Liam rolled his eyes, not dignifying him with a response. Louis frowned and crossed his arms across his chest, in some failed attempt to hide. Just a boy… he thought petulantly. They’re not that much older than me.

 

Rubbing his hands along his face, Liam seemed to steel himself for giving Louis a soft smile, “I’m sorry about the bickering. I’m Liam.” he politely said.

 

With a jerky nod, Louis muttered, “I’m Louis. Nice to meet you.”

 

Liam continued to smile softly at him before turning back to Zayn, face hardening, “So that’s your plan, Zayn? We’re gonna head over to see your father, hand him over a boy who looks barely of age-,”

 

“I’m twenty!” Louis protested weakly.

 

“-and your father is going to do what with him? Poke and prod him? We don’t know how the holocron even works. The last of the known holocrons was seen was during the Reign of the Empire. We have nothing to compare. This could be extremely dangerous!”

 

Zayn groaned, “Liam, please. My father- Captain Yaser and I have been studying holocrons our whole lives! I promise you that Louis won’t be hurt.”

 

Louis’s eyes felt like they were going to pop out of his skull and he looked wildly between the men, “What?” he rasped, heart thudding against his rib cage. This was not where he wanted this conversation to go. Of course, it was nice Zayn was promising not to hurt him but what?

 

Niall charged ahead, “Holocrons were Jedi artifacts. They contained ancient lessons or valuable information, typically in holographic form. A long time ago, they were housed in the Jedi Temple, which contained a whole vault full of them.”

 

“They were said to be in palm-sized, flowing cubes of crystalline material,” Liam added, eyes landing on the blue crystal located on Louis’s forehead. Self-consciously, Louis pressed a hand to it.

 

“Of course, there were Sith holocrons too.” Zayn murmured, “Similar to their Jedi counterparts but containing the ancient secrets of the dark side and the Sith Order.”

 

“I have no idea what you are talking about.” Louis hissed, “And I do not like where this is going. The Gods’ Stone is a sacred artifact and should not be handled by the likes of disbelievers like you.” His face flushed and his hands trembled at his sides with barely restrained anger.

 

Zayn seemed surprised by his outburst, far more so than last time and seemed to actually be offended. “I know this is all weird and new to you but I’ve been complete shit at explaining. Please just listen.” he pleaded, face wrought with worry.

 

“The God’s Stone?” Liam asked, interrupting Zayn, “Why do you call it that?”

 

Zayn ignored him, “Please Louis. You remember what Niall said about the Black Suns, right?”

 

Louis nodded, hesitantly. “It’s practically war out there, between most of the pirate factions. Mostly between us and them. It’s hard to build an empire when everything is mostly controlled by the Black Suns already. It involves a lot of favours and alliances and money to get anywhere, to get any power at all really. My father and I have been working for years to try and expand, to gain more control. The Black Suns are ruthless and cruel, lead by the Fallen Prince, Zidar. They call him the Underlord. He’s malevolent.”

 

“One man controls the whole galaxy?” Louis raised a brow.

 

Snorting, Zayn shook his head, “I wish. He has nine vigos who rule underneath him, each with their own division of the Black Suns. And each just as influential and barbarous as him. It’s like fighting a beast with nine heads, while Zidar is the heart. You might cut a head off but you never get close to him.”

 

Niall puffed out a laugh, “And two heads grow back to replace the one you cut off.”

 

Zayn nodded, “Pretty much. The holocron has sacred information. Whoever has that information is the most powerful guy in the room.” He smiled, “So that means right now, I’m the most powerful.”

 

Smirking, Louis shook his head, “No, you are not.”

 

“Umm, what?” Zayn looked taken aback, “Yeah I am?” He seemed genuinely confused.

 

Louis quirked a brow, “Sorry, I did not realize you had an ancient stone attached to your skull. It seems to me, if that is how it works, that I am the most powerful man in the room.”

 

Liam and Zayn both fish mouthed at him, looking unable to believe what he just said while Niall started howling with laughter. “Oh, by the stars!” Niall gasped, gripping his stomach, “That’s priceless!” he wiped at a watering eye, “He’s so right, too! I love it!”

 

Face flushing, Zayn threw his hands up into the air, “Okay, yes, fine! You, technically are the most powerful in the room. But between the Blades of Orion and the Black Suns, it’s us. And we can’t risk losing you to them. If you guys are so worried what will happen when we arrive to meet my father, it will be nothing compared to if the Black Suns snatch you up.” Zayn warned, directing the last part to Louis, who lost his smug face at that declaration.

 

Niall approached him, rather shyly, and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder, “Don’t worry, mate. We’ll keep you safe. No one, not even Zayn’s dad’ll hurt yeah. Promise.” He held out his hand, curling his fingers in but extending his pinkie finger. Louis copied him and extended his pinkie finger out, curling it around Niall’s finger. They shook them and Louis giggled. “It’s a sacred oath that can’t be broken now, mate. Means nothing will happen to yeah.” Niall affirmed. Beaming, Louis nodded, completely serious.

 

Standing up, Zayn paced in front of the window, chewing on his bottom lip, “So, we head to Rattatak, meet up with my father. I’ll tell him under no circumstances is Louis to be harmed-,” the three other men nodded their heads eagerly at this, “-and he and his team discover a way to see the holograms that the holocron holds. Or, ever better, extract it from Louis so he can return home. Does that sound good to everyone?”

 

“And then we get the info, take Louis home, and destroy the Black Suns!” Niall chirped, eyes shining.

 

Zayn nodded, “Exactly.”

 

“I would like to go home as soon as possible.” Louis agreed, frowning. “But... If you can not extract the stone, then what?”

 

They all fell silent, glancing at each other. “Well, that’s negative,” Niall grumbled.

 

Zayn shook his head, “Then we just need to kill Zidar, scare the vigos and fuck up their system, ensure your safety, and you’ll be free to return home. If we have the knowledge that is locked within the holocron, we’ll be powerful enough to defeat the Black Suns and keep Dononter Minor safe.”

 

That seems… okay… Louis thought to himself. He nodded, a bit hesitantly. “Sounds agreeable,” he muttered. Zayn smiled.

 

“Good. That means we just need to meet up with my father.” Zayn mused. “It’ll take us days to reach Rattatak…”

 

“We should make a stop halfway.” Liam offered. “At an ecumenopolis.”

 

At the ridiculous word, Louis whirled his head to look at Niall, almost instinctually. (He should be worried by how reliant he was on the boy already.) The brunette jumped in helpfully, “An ecumenopolis is a type of planet that has an entire surface covered with one city.” Mouth falling open, Louis nodded dumbly, trying to picture it in his head. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get much other than huts (like the ones made of mud and wood like back home) instead made out of metal like the ship, lined neatly beside each other for as far as the eye could see, everything straight-edged and clean. It formulated a weird picture in his mind and he quickly cleared it away. If they were stopping at some place, he would see it soon enough. (He wondered if they had trees.)

 

“ I think Trantor is midway.” Zayn deliberated.

 

Liam shrugged, “Sounds fine.” he glanced over to Louis, “If it’s alright with you, I would like to check you over.”

 

What?

 

Louis's mind went blank for a second, trying to piece together the words but not quite understanding the context.

 

Ummm, what?

 

Louis blinked slowly at him, trying to process before glancing at Niall again. Niall was... Nice. Nice and honest, and smelled fresh and open like the forest. It was reassuring and comforting and his willingness to explain things out for Louis was generous and very much needed.

 

Smiling, Niall explained, “Liam’s our medic. I’m not sure what you call them on your planet, but, umm, a physician, I guess. Like, officially, he’s ‘promoting, maintaining or restoring health through the study, diagnosis and treatment of disease injury and other physical and mental impairments’ or some mumbo jumbo of the sort.” Niall rolled his eyes. “It’s not like Liam doesn’t mention every now and then.”

 

Louis snickered and Liam rolled his eyes, “Don’t be a twat, Niall. I didn’t even realize you listened to me that much you could sprout off my profession like that.”

 

Niall snorted and muttered ‘profession’ under his breath like a joke.

 

“We do not have a specific physician.” Louis admitted, rather shyly. “We have a shaman.” Liam seemed surprised by this but didn’t comment even though Louis could see he wanted too. “I am fine if you wish to check me over.” Louis offered, smiling unsurely, nerves spiking.

 

Beaming, Liam ushered him over to the sofa that was at the side of the room and Louis complied, sitting down for him. “Alright, so this is a general check up, okay?” Louis nodded. “I’m gonna be checking your heart, head and neck, eyes, ears, mouth and your reflexes.” Louis nodded again, glancing over Liam’s shoulder to see Zayn and Niall talking to each. Niall caught him looking and grinned reassuringly, offering a thumbs up. Louis managed a smile back.

 

Liam pulled something from his pocket and placed a small earpiece in his ear. The small device was about the size of Louis’s hand and the shape of a box. One side had a screen, like the type he had messed with that was connected to the door. Liam swiped his thumb across it and began to press it and it lit up. “Sit up straight,” he instructed and Louis did as told. “Breath deeply.”

 

Again, Louis followed instructions. “Okay, looks good.” Liam continued this odd procedure, making Louis move his head around slowly, pressing his fingers along his neck as he did so. He pressed his thumbs against his cheeks, made him follow his finger with his eyes and even looked into his ears. It was becoming one of the weirdest moments of Louis’s life. He even took a small item, akin to a hammer, off his belt and began to hit his knee. Louis yelped when his leg involuntarily kicked up. Liam, and even Niall and Zayn laughed before Liam moved onto the next knee where he proceeded to do the same thing. “Yeah, everything looks good. When we have time I would be very interested to know more about how you survive in a climate such as the one Dononter Minor has. Must be tricky.”

 

Flushing at the attention, Louis nodded and shuffled nervously, “Can not say much.” He admitted.

 

Reassuring Liam said, “Don’t worry. Whatever you can say it good enough. I’m absolutely fascinated by new species and cultures. The galaxy is so diverse.” his eyes glittered as he spoke.

 

Louis wasn’t sure why but those words seemed to punch him right in the gut. He didn’t really know much in terms of diversity of the galaxy. What he did know came from books. Liam seemed to educated and well-rounded. He was fascinated by the worlds around him and craved for more knowledge of what was outside of what he knew. Louis had always been told that he didn’t need more than what the forest and Gods provided. There was always a part of him that craved more. It always seemed like a silly notion when everything he had ever needed had been right there with him. But, maybe, it was alright to crave the more. Liam did. And he traveled the galaxies and explored new places and met new people. It was what Louis had dreamed about as a young hatchling. More. (That’s selfish, isn't it? To want more than what’s provided? I had everything back home…)

 

“Now,” Liam continued, back on track, “As a medical professional-,” Louis could see Niall rolling his eyes over Liam’s shoulder, “I recommend a nice shower and some relaxation. And some food. You’re much too thin.”

 

Niall cheered, “I can help with that!”

 

Zayn snorted, ruffling the papers on his desk, “Oh, we know. You’re an expert with food and relaxation.”

 

Niall beamed, impervious to Zayn’s attitude, “Come with me, Lou!” Louis’s eyes widened at the nickname, not hating it. “I’ll get you all sorted.” 

Chapter Text

Chapter Six 

It’s The Sky That Makes You Feel Tired 

 

Niall was opening up cupboards and poking around inside of them frenetically, murmuring to himself. Louis watched from where the brunette had shoved him down into a chair when they had first arrived into the room which Niall had called the galley. The room was like the rest of the ship, all shiny and metallic. It was a bit more cluttered though, with rags and stacks of ditches and clusters of different cupboards and compartments around the far side. There were two small tables surrounded by chairs, one of which Louis was sitting at.

 

"What do you usually eat back home?" Niall asked, opening up one of the larger boxes, cold air escaping and a light shining from inside.

 

Louis cranked his head around to get a better look past Niall. "Fruit. Vegetation. Some meat. Fresh stuff." He shrugged. "What do you have?”

 

"A lot of stuff that is not fresh." Niall admitted.

 

Smiling, Louis stood and began to make his way around the table over to the other boy, "Like what?" He peered into the cold box beside Niall.

 

"Oh, you know, bread? Not fresh fruit. Some preserved meat. The usual." He pulled something out, "a block of cheese.”

 

"A block of what?" Louis took the item for him and sniffed it, frowning. It was sealed in some sort of weird clear wrapping that crinkled in his grasp.

 

"Cheese, my friend. Let me show you." Niall took the cheese back and unwrapped it, grabbing a knife from one of the drawers and slicing into it. He handed the slice to Louis. "Try that.”

 

Louis bit gingerly into it and immediately the texture threw him off but he persevered and chewed it slowly, letting the glamour sink in. "Oh, by the stars." He mumbled. "This is.... Wow." His chewing picked up and he swallowed quickly, shoving the rest of the slice into his mouth, moaning.

 

Niall laughed. "Not what you're used to?”

 

Nodding, Louis admitted, "I've never seen it orange before." Slicing another piece, Niall handed it to him before cutting himself a piece.

 

"That's the best colour for cheese." Niall mused, placing the cheese back into the fridge. "Let's see what else we have…"

 

Louis peered over his shoulder, "Xermaauc?" He asked, trying to get a better look at the meat selection, listing off a type of meat he was found of.

 

Niall snorted and shook his head, "Nah, none of that. However I do have an idea that will blow your mind." He smirked and began to pull items from the fridge and stacking them on the counter top. "Here, try this." He shoved a piece of hole filled cheese into Louis's mouth and the boys eyes widened as he was forced to chew and swallow. "Amazing, yeah?" Louis nodded dumbly, chewing. "It's called Byss cheese. This is a recipe I found on Coruscant at this little diner. It blew my mind so I of course had to have it myself." He began to pull apart a package and pulled out a square of meat. "This is Shaak meat. Shaaks are these fat here animal things. They look like giant fur balls with little legs. They raise them in herds to be turned into food.”

 

Louis watched Niall begin to stack a couple of sandwiches together before switching on a small grill to place them on.

 

"Sounds sad." Louis mused, watching the holy cheese melt over the meat and the bread begin to crisp up.

 

"What does?" Niall asked absently, poking at the bread.

 

"Raising a creature to only be food.”

 

"Not gonna argue with you there. It's a sad life. However, I think you will really like this. You mostly eat what? Those crazy killer fish?”

 

Louis snorted "Absolutely not! Not a lot of meat to be honest. And when we do eat meat, we use the entire creature. Nothing is wasted.”

 

"Wicked." Niall responded, glancing over at him. It looked like he wanted to ask more about Louis's home but seemed to recall how secretive his new companion was and decided against it. Instead, he pulled the sandwiches off the grill before turning it off. Placing each sandwich on a plate, Niall lead Louis over to the table. "Now try this and tell me how much it blows your mind." He grinned.

 

Louis inspected the sandwich, which smelt wonderful and savoury and warm and decided to give it a go. He lifted it up and bit into it. Flavour exploded across his tongue and Louis could have sworn his eyes went crossed from the combination of it all.

 

There was chuckling beside him, "Like it?" Niall grinned, knowingly. Louis managed to make some unintelligible mumbling moans around the mouthful of grilled bread and melted cheese, nodding his head dumbly and he took another large bite. "Good, because after you're full, I'm gonna clean you up and put you in some new clothes!”

 

Louis looked down at himself and swallowed loudly.

-

Camaka lounge was filled with a sweet smoke and slow, dulcet jazz. It hard dark red stone walls and a rounded ceiling. It was like a den, the way it was designed with steps down into it from the front door. There was a circular bar in the centre of the room that drinks were flowing from at a rapid pace. It was truly impressive.

 

A Sullustan woman stacked several different coloured drinks in beautiful curved glassware onto a tray and slide it across the counter to a boy. Near human, Sullustans bore round, tapered skulls and and had distinguishable almond shaped black eyes, large, round ears and facial jowls called dewflaps.

 

"Thank you Lesath." The boy smiled, taking the tray of drinks and balancing it on his wide spread hand.

 

"You know," she began, her voice low, "I don't like seeing you with that man, Hazza." She tsked, grabbing neglected glasses on the counter to soak in a sink of water behind the bar. She had to keep brushing her long dark brown braids back away from her face as she moved, as they kept dripping down over her shoulders all the way down to her waist.

 

The boy, Hazza, smiled, "I appreciate your concern, love, but I've got it handled. You'd be the first to know if I didn't." He placed his free hand over hers before kissing the air and leaving with tray. She watched him with large, concerned eyes.

 

Sitting in one of the far corners of Camaka was a man wearing a thick black cloak with the hood pulled up and Hazza could make out the broad shoulders hunched over even in the dim lighting and foggy surroundings of the canteen. Manoeuvring through the crowds of people, Hazza made his way over to the hunched man. Sitting across from him at the table was another man, his hood was down and he was sitting back, looking confident and relaxed. He was huge with a feline face and a full golden mane around his face. There were two ears poking out of he top near his fore was, covered in glittering earrings. He had a huge paw resting on the table with long claws and silver rings that stood out against the sun coloured fur.

 

The feline man's eyes traced Hazza's form as he approached and set the tray of drinks down. With a big clawed paw, the humanoid cat grabbed a tankard of drink and threw it back, the amber liquor trickling down the corners of his mouth into his fur.

 

The hooded man Hazza had arrived with shifted ever so slightly as he grabbed his own glass, much daintier than his companion, and took a mouthful. He swigged it around in his mouth before swallowing and pushed the glass away before grabbing another and smelling it. The feline man seemed amused by his companion's antics but Hazza had grown used to them.

 

Finally, he settled on a dark blue liquor and reclined ever so slightly in his seat, pushing his hood off to reveal skin the shade of dark violet and polished horns twisting out from the top of his head, along with small tusks protruding from his cheeks. His pointed tongue flicked out across his lips, his eyes completely yellow with no black pupils or white edges.

 

"Leyll Khel," the horned man announced, "Have you had the pleasure of meeting my attendant?" He gestured to Hazza who followed his arms politely in front of himself and bowed his head ever so slightly in a sign of submission and respect.

 

The feline, Leyll, eyed the human boy before shaking his large head, "I don't think I have. This is a new one?" Hazza's master nodded. "He's awfully pretty. A little out of your league Kaijack?" He jested, grinning widely to reveal sharp fangs.

 

Hazza glanced at his master from the corner of his eye to see his reaction, but his face remained impassive.

 

Leyll continued, "It's hard to find good help these days." His eyes bore into Hazza, taking in the dark red cloth that crisscrossed over his chest, revealing the tanned muscle underneath and the nude skin of his bicep. "What are those marking? A bit unusual for a servant to bare such markings." He gestured to Hazza's black tattooed arms and chest with a long claw.

 

"He was nothing more than a street urchin when I found him." Kaijack intoned. "The markings are of no particular value other than to show his previous worth. I have made him into something." Hazza kept his eyes sternly on floor, his hands itching to curl into fists.

 

Just as Leyll was about to speak, there was a commotion from up front at the doors and nearly everyone within the canteen had paused to glance, including Hazza's master and his guest. "What is the issue?" Kaijack growled, his eyes narrowing.

 

"Sire, I was told there were issues with the entrance door. It is jammed and technician has yet to arrive." Hazza informed his keeper, whose yellow eyes were sweeping the room, a hand coming down to rest on the weapon holster on his hip, body tensed.

 

"Very well." Kaijack turned back to Leyll, "Let's hurry up and get this over with then.”

 

Leyll grinned widely, "Gladly."

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven 

The City Grew Wings 

 

"You've never been to a city before, have you?" Niall had asked. He was sprawled out on a bed, his own, his legs crossed at the ankles and his arms behind his head. His tummy was rising gently with every breath he made and he looked relaxed, completely unguarded. Louis was fascinated. He was an outsider from another planet and Niall had not only allowed him into his nest but was reclining with his stomach exposed. Louis had never seen someone so trusting. He wondered if it was kindness, foolishness or naivety which led to such behaviour.

 

"I have never left my tribe." Louis answered, hair dripping water onto his cheeks. It had felt like forever since he had been exposed to water. He wasn't used to being so dry. His skin was usually always damp with sweat or rain water. At his home, the air was moist in itself. Nothing stayed dry but, unlike his tribe members, his body didn't adapt to the environment. He needed his pelt to keep him warm at night. Despite the stifling humid days, the nights dropped to frosty cold temperatures and he wasn't able to stay warm like his brethren.

 

"That's so crazy." Niall gushed, looking up at him with wide eyes. Louis shrugged, a bit self conscious of his prying. "Those clothes should fit, by the way. We're not that different in size." Niall added, watching him inspect the garments he had set on the seat of his desk chair.

 

Louis nodded, slowly. Honestly, he was hesitant to dress, enjoying the feeling of his damp skin. Niall's room, unlike the one Louis had been placed in earlier, was connected to another door which led to a room Niall called the bathroom. It possessed a shower -another term Louis had learnt from Niall. He remembered it well because it was indoor rain- which could either produce hot or cold water, much to Louis's amazement. Having never experience such an immense amount of hot water, he was fascinated but found it too weird for his skin so settled for cold. If he closed his eyes and let the cold water rush over him, it felt akin to being at home.

 

Having no qualms with nudity, Louis had left the curtain open, allowing himself to enjoy the water. Niall didn't seem bothered by his unabashed exhibitionism either, only breaking the silence to ask, "Do you know what shampoo is?" Louis did not. This reply led to Niall pouring something from a bottle into his hand, a gel like substance, and then proceeded to groom Louis's hair. Well, the grooming involved him messing with Louis's hair until the gel turned into a thick foam, which he kept messing with and laughing. Louis let him do as he pleased, much too happy with the feel of affection from the boy that was akin to his nest siblings, even if the ritual itself seemed a bit strange to him.

 

Afterwards, Louis was reluctant to dry off with the provided towel, settling with patting his hair a bit so it wasn't dripping everywhere within the nice interior, and then tossing it onto his shoulder to hang.

 

The clothes provided to him by Niall consisted of dark trousers that he couldn't tell the colour of (they could have been dark green or grey), a black sleeveless top and a jacket with pockets on the either side of the chest, which was also black. It had long sleeves, a tall collar and was made of thick material and Louis liked it immediately. Niall also gave him a pair of shoes. Just a pair of chunky brown boots that were obviously his. "Don't worry about the boots." He had said when Louis had first inspected them. "You'll just have to deal with them until we make it into the city and can buy you a pair of proper ones.”

 

With as much sincerity Louis could fit into his words, he said "Thank you." A phrase he had learned and had never forgotten. Niall seemed surprised, obviously used to him spilling Zhabe words into conversation, but looked pleased nonetheless with the show of gratitude.

 

Drip drying, Louis stayed on his feet, basking in the dampness of his skin as he listen to Niall talk. He seemed thrilled at the prospect of going to the city and even more enthusiastic at being able to show Louis all its wonders. Particularly, he emphasized on the diverse foods and tons of bars. Bars, Niall had explained, didn't just serve food as Louis suspected, but something he seemed fond of called alcohol, a type of drink. He promised to introduce Louis to it. In all honesty. Louis was more excited to spend time with Niall, rather than seeing a city. Sure, experiencing and adventuring in a city was definitely going to be amazing but Louis liked the idea of having a friend that was like him, who had to wear garments to keep warm and had hair on his head and liked exploring and not hiding in the ground at the sound of rumbling thunder. (Well, Louis hadn't seen Niall's reaction to thunder yet so he wasn't sure but he assumed it was another thing that rolled off the brunette’s back. He was, as far as Louis had seen, very relaxed, if not a bit childish.)

 

In the middle of Niall's ramblings, there was a beep from the display next to the door, just like the one Louis had messed with in the room he had woken up in. Niall cut off and leapt up, scrambling to it. He hit a button and spoke to it, "Hello?" He chirped, holding down the button. There was silence and the humming the machine made cut off. He frowned and tried to recall the contact. It cut out again.

 

Louis titled his head, sitting down with crossed legs at the foot of the bed. His hair was still wet, beads of water trickling down his neck and onto his back. "I thought this ship was brand new?" He enquired, frowning.

 

"He is!" Niall responded, waving at Louis from over his shoulder as if to shush him, "Just a second. I think I know." He fumbled around with the buttons and the beeping sound of an outgoing call began.

 

"Yo, whoever this is, don't hold the call button just, like, push it, yeah?" There was static and Louis crawled up onto his knees, as if he could peer over Niall's shoulder from his distance.

 

There was shuffling on the other line. "I think I've got it." Came Zayn's voice. "Niall, is Louis dressed and ready? We're about ten minutes away from Bevingad. I'm sending Caflice and Byff to meet up with you guys after they deliver the spices and I'm going with Liam to meet up with Mercurius." He said the last name with so much contempt Louis was surprised, flinching at the coldness that leaked into his voice.

 

"Okay, sounds good to me. Are we going to meet you guys back at Camaka?" Niall asked.

 

"Yeah," came Zayn's voice, "I'm sure the meeting with Mercurius shouldn't last too long so it should just be me and Liam when you guys get back.”

 

"Alright. Louis just needs to put his pants on and we should be good to go.”

 

There was a moment of silence and spitting static before Zayn said, "He's not wearing pants?”

 

Niall grinned, "Gotta go Zaynie, see you soon!" And he hit the end button on the keypad. Niall turned back to Louis, "Put your pants on, Lou! You, me and the boys are hitting the city!"

-

Cities were dirty, Louis noted as soon as Niall and him and exited the ship. The Rigel had been landed in a docking bay on the outer limits of the city and Niall had rented some sort of land vehicle to get to city centre, he had explained to Louis.

 

Walking outside towards the vehicle, Niall paid a bipedal mammal creature in exchange for a set of keys. The creature was tall, immensely so, with three long fingers on its hands and a long snout with wide nostrils. There was smooth fur covering its body and tuffs of fuzzy hair on the top of its head. Seeing Louis's fascinated eyes watching the creature, Niall laughed and smacked him on the back, "That's a Yakora," he explained as the creature retreated into the docking bay. "They have two stomachs!" He chirped. Louis's eyes widened and Niall snickered, "Ones for digesting and the other is for storing. Actually, the have a lot of multiple organs, gives them longevity. Rare of them to die of natural causes when they have a back up of everything. They have incredible eyesight and hearing too." Lowing his voice, Niall muttered, "It's said they're able to project empathetic abilities onto others, making them highly sensitive to the Force.”

 

Force sensitive. There was that word again. The Force, the cause of all of his problems. Or at least, half of them. The other half was caused by the freaking magical stone in his forehead. He wondered if other creatures that were in tuned to the force, like the Yakora, had a difficult time living peaceful lives. How many lives were effected by the midi-chlorians or whatever Zayn had called them? What Louis wouldn't give to live a life without a mystical force controlling his destiny…

 

Louis's face must have conveyed his brooding as Niall swiftly grabbed his arm to drag him to the hovercraft they were renting, jerking him out of his thoughts.

 

Standing off to the side, Louis watched Niall climb into the vehicle. It was flat on the ground and Niall just had to swing his leg into fall into the seat. It had a slanted windshield at the front and was covered in a layer of dust. Niall, squirming into place behind the steering wheel, looked up at Louis, "Okay, now your turn!" He pointed at the seat next to him. Nervously, Louis placed his small hands on the side of the machine, gripping it with enough strength he could throw one leg over the side and balance on his other. His foot landed in front of the seat on the bottom of the vehicle and with shaking knees he tried to pull in his other leg. Grunting, he shoved his other foot in, his hip leaning on the side. Shuffling awkwardly with Niall's eyes burning into him, he dropped inelegantly into the seat, the material squeaking in surprise.

 

"Senthosreshyet." Louis flushed. Sorry. 

 

Niall laughed, "You're cute." He patted Louis's thigh, "Alright, so what you're sitting in right now is a hovercraft, part of the land vehicle commodity." Louis nodded, to show he was paying attention. "Err, a commodity is a type of product sold in a collection of things. For example, for vehicles, there's land commodities, air commodities and space commodities. Does that make sense?" Louis nodded his head eagerly, absorbing the information. "Okay, good. So hovers-," Niall waved a hand at the machine they were sitting in, "travel by riding a cushion of air." He took the key that the Yakora man had given him and inserted it into a key hole before twisting it. The machine sputtered to life, the entire thing humming. Louis held onto the top of the vehicle he had jumped over, his knuckles burning white with pressure at it began to lift until it was floating several feet above the ground. "The air cushion is generated by lift engines contained within." Niall swung an arm out and hit the outside of the hover as explanation. "There's another vehicle called a repulsorcraft and compared to them, these are relatively primitive. Hovers are slower and less maneuverable, but can traverse just as many terrains as a repulsorcraft. But, hovers are sometimes better because they don't require training to pilot and they're cheaper and and easier to maintain." He rambled, tossing an arm around the back of Louis's seat and used the other hand to steer the wheel.

 

Despite not knowing all the words Niall was saying, Louis was able to translate enough to understand, it just took a moment for his brain to process the proper translation to his mother tongue. "These are common?" He wondered softly. They were picking up speed, the wind pushing over the windshield which protected them.

 

"Yeah, in some places. It's easy transport. What about you? How did you travel back home?" They were starting to merge dipper into the city. The polluted smell of pure city was starting to burn Louis nose. He sneezed twice, eyes watering and Niall's hand patted his shoulder in comfort. "You okay?”

 

"Yes, just not used to the smell." He rubbed at his nose "Back home we typically travel by foot or a ferd." Niall frowned and glanced over to him so Louis added, "Ferds are large creatures that we can sit upon. They travel on four legs and are armoured with scales the colour of tree bark. They have a long tail and a horned head." He explained carefully, hoping this depiction was enough for Niall.

 

"No shit! That sounds awesome!" Niall enthused with a bright smile. Louis returned it with a smile of his own.

 

They started to drive further into the city. There were other vehicles, some like theirs and others vastly different, whether by design, colour or pure cleanliness. The buildings were tall enough to disappear in the sky and shone like glistening jewels, clustered together just like a forest. There were dozens of people simply walking, and Louis could spot just as many different species from just glancing down. Never before had he seen such a diverse population.

 

"Okay, so we're gonna head to a clothing outlet to get you some clothes. Don't worry about money, I've got you covered." Louis nodded for lack of any other response. Niall pulled their hover up in front of a tall building with wide spread windows filled with lights. From where they parked Louis could make out clusters of people inside and racks of garments. He gave Niall a wide eyed look and the brunette laughed. "Don't worry. We'll be in and out. Won't take long at all!" He jumped out of the vehicle before it even powered down. Louis refused to though and waited until it dropped to the ground before climbing out, swinging a leg over before pushing his other over too, holding onto it carefully as he did so.

 

It turns out, shopping was not an easy "in and out" situation and the two boys spent close to an hour, much to Louis's disbelief, within the shopping centre. Niall had tracked down the shoe department immediately, declaring Louis needed properly fitting footwear before they continued on with their shopping. Louis didn't argue; the boots he was wearing had started rubbing uncomfortably against his heel and he was desperate to kick the clunky things away.

 

Niall tossed him several different styles, muttering about how small Louis's feet were under his breath. Louis tried all of the shoes on, no matter what they looked. He was still trying to grasp the concept of aesthetic over practicality. Or, in the case of shoes, a balance of both, as Niall explained. They eventually settled on a pair of brown boots that came up to his knees and were lightweight, similar to his olds boots but with a rubber sole and made of thicker material. They changed the cargo pants out with a pair of tight black pants which they bought a couple of, and, of course, they got a couple of plain black shirts that he would be able to wear under Niall's jacket.

 

Louis mentioned buying himself a jacket but Niall laughed him off, "Nah, you should keep this one. Looks better on you anyways." Louis grinned.

 

After buying the clothes, Niall let him change into in one of the private rooms in the store. Niall had wandered off while waiting for him, something, Louis noticed, he did quite a bit. As he left the change room, he ran into a group of female Pa'lowicks. At least, that's what Niall had called them when they had first seem them in the shoe department. They were a small sapient amphibious species, with rotund bodies, slender limbs, large eyes that rested on stalk like protrusions and human like lips on the end of a long trunk. They were standing around a rack of clothing and watching him through their curled eyelashes and giggling. Flushing, Louis tried to move away politely but one of the females called out, "Where are you from, sugar?”

 

Face hot, Louis stuttered out, "Dononter Minor, ma'am." He tried to shuffle away, praying to any and every deity he didn't mess up his English and offend them. It was one thing to speak to his mentor or his mother and siblings in English and completely another to do so with strangers. He didn't want to end up jumped and killed in a clothing store of all places because he pissed off a Pa'lowick. That would be a laugh for all the pirates after him.

 

She giggled, "Ma'am!" She repeated like it was a joke and Louis's heart clenched in worry. Was that the wrong word? He could have sworn-, "You don't need to call me 'ma'am', pretty boy." She cooed. "Don't look like any Zhabe I've seen before but I know you boys have great, strong legs." Her eyes, very obviously, took a gander down his body, stopping at his thighs. "Strong legs." She repeated, staring.

 

(Louis wondered how many Zhabe she had seen in her life.)

 

The ground could have opened up and swallowed him and Louis would have cheered. "Umm, yes? Thank you?" His eyes searched desperately over their heads for Niall, "I am looking for my friend? I seem to have lost him?" He sputtered out nervously, "Did you possibly-,”

 

Another Pa'lowick spoke up, this one with purple lips instead of red, "Honey, you lost him?”

 

A third added, "That's a bit irresponsible. Naughty pretty boy.”

 

Why can't my skin dry up and place me in a hibernation like the rest of my family? Louis thought, trying to pray harder. “Umm..."

 

"Don't worry pretty boy. Essia will take care of you." The first Pa'lowick purred, taking a step closer and Louis automatically took a skittish step back as she shook her hips at him in what he supposed was to be a provocative manner. He shuffled back and ran into something hard and metal. At first Louis was confused, because the entire shape of whatever it was was weird against him. And then hands grabbed his shoulders. Not harshly, just resting there to alert him that there was a person was standing there.

 

Squeaking, Louis tripped over his feet in his haste to move away. The Pa'lowick girls cooed at him and giggled, watching. "Umm, sorry." He managed to get out. Niall, where are you!? "I am just..." He trailed off, wondering if he could manage to shuffle away.

 

The man smiled at him. He had dark skin and even darker eyes. His head appeared to be shaved and he had white stripes painted over it that dipped down onto his face. He had a large collar hung around his neck that was decorated with rows of bullets and he had tin boxes hung off straps hanging from his sides. There were large armoured plates on his shoulders, rusted around the edges from age and use and he had shiny turquoise gauntlets on his forearms. He was tall enough that Louis only came up to his chest.

 

"Ooh, look at who it is! Jashco Phurus! What an unexpected surprise!" One of the Pa'lowick onlookers snickered, waving a tiny hand with brightly painted claws at him. "I suppose that means Hadid isn't too far behind?”

 

"No, I'm not." Another voice spoke, also from behind Louis. He 'eeped' and tried to move out of the way but another hand caught him on his newly tattooed arm to turn him and he squirmed and flinched at the burn but was still man-handled by small hands with long, glossy finger nails anyways.

 

It was a tall woman, who seemed young enough to fit around Louis's age of twenty. She wore a black bando around her chest and low rise shiny black leather pants, revealing a pale flat tummy and bony hips. Her black boots had an unreasonably high heel, making her quite a few inches taller than Louis, and there was a black band wrapped around her delicate throat. On top of all of it was a huge fur jacket, just as black as everything else she was wearing. It fell mid calf on her and had long sleeves and a fluffy neck. Her long blonde hair was wavy and ended just before her belly button. Without looking at the Pa'lowick females, she said, "Are you harassing this young man?" She ran an unreasonably long nail along Louis's cheek, watching him closely smokey blue eyes.

 

"Hm, nothing a pretty boy wouldn't want." The purple lipped amphibian replied with a wink.

 

The woman, Hadid, Louis believed she was called, pursed her shiny lips at the answer. "I'm sure the pretty boy would like to find his friend, hm?" Louis nodded quickly and held his marked arm close, hoping this would be his chance to escape. She smiled at him, "Good boy," she murmured, "Now I don't think you can go around like this..." Her nail made its way up his cheek, past his eyes up to the side of his forehead. He gulped nervously and she dragged her nail closer to the gem logged in his skin. Just as she was about to touch it the man called Jashco Phurus grunted and Hadid broke her concentration from Louis's face, her hand falling away. She gave Jashco a confused look and he pointed at Louis's arm, the one he was keeping close to himself.

 

She raised an eyebrow and glanced between Jashco and the amphibian women, "I'm sorry ladies." She said smoothly. "Pretty boy is my date for the day." She wrapped a fur clad arm around Louis's shoulders and began to herd him away. The Pa'lowick women groaned and whined and Louis glanced over his shoulder to see Jashco shooing them away, not unkindly.

 

"Zayn let you walk around with that pretty gem just flashing around?" Hadid asked, her voice a smooth purr that Louis could feel in his toes. Louis shrugged against her, words caught in his mouth. She nodded, as if she had expected as such. "He's too confident in who his father is." She muttered, her expression screwing up in disapproval.

 

"How do you know?" Louis managed, "How did you know I knew Zayn?" He pronounced the name carefully, lowering his voice in case anyone else was listening.

 

Hadid smiled at him, "You flinched when I grabbed your arm. Could have been a wound but I don't smell medicine or antiseptic on you and whatever it is isn't wrapped beneath your jacket. There's only one syndicate that places their mark in that location: Blades of Orion. Yaser Malik is currently on Rattatak so it had to be Zayn leading any other expedition. Mercurius arrived this morning on a separate ship and was last seen at the Camaka to meet up with someone. Logically, that person would be Zayn. So, my conclusion? You're with Zayn." He gapped at her and she flashed him a smirk. "I'm not just a pretty face.”

 

"Never said that." He muttered and she laughed.

 

"Which boy are you looking for? I know all of Zayn's crew." She said, casually.

 

Louis hesitated. While she didn't seem untrustworthy, he wasn't sure how fond Niall would be if he found out Louis blathered to someone about him. He wasn't sure if she was considered an ally or if as soon as he told her she would stab in the jugular and hunt down poor Niall. His concern must have been easy to read on his face and she nodded, "Alright, you don't have to tell me. Come with me though. I want to buy you something, pretty." Flushing at the nickname, he allowed her to pull him to a scarf section, where she pursued leisurely, one arm securely around Louis and the other skimming across the textiles. "This one." She muttered, grabbing a piece of soft dark blue cloth, "Jashco, go pay the woman for this." She handed the cloth to the dark skinned man -who Louis hadn't noticed had rejoined them- who took it with a nod and left.

 

"I'll keep you company until your friend returns to you. You never know whose around these parts." She brushed her hand along another scarf, absently.

 

"Lots of disreputable characters shop here?" He inquired, glancing around. "Or are you referring to the coquette Pa'lowick women?”

 

She smiled down at him, "You're absolutely darling." She said instead and and wrapped her hand around a knitted scarf, tugging at it lightly and feeling it between her fingers. "I can't even imagine what Zayn plans to do with you. Or how he plans to keep you if you're so unguarded.”

 

Louis frowned at her, unsure what she meant but was saved from any more talk when Jashco returned with the cloth.

 

"Ah, perfect." Hadid took the cloth from him and pulled away from Louis to begin folding the fabric. She got it shaped into a long tube and she tied it around his forehead, fluffing his hair up so it was fall overtop of the wrap. "Everyone will still see the marking but that can't be explained away. It's very Dathomiri." She mused, grabbing his chin and move his face side to side to inspect him.

 

"Um, alright?" Louis said, tugging his head away from her gently. Her hand fell away easily. Giving himself from space from her, he brought his hands up to delicately touch at the cloth where it covered the gem. It rubbed pleasantly against his skin and he was alright with it. "Why are you familiar with Zayn?" He asked.

 

She was still smiling, looking at him, "I've had run ins with him in the past. Business wise.”

 

"That is not very descriptive." Louis pouted. And he doubted it was just ‘business'.

 

"We're in the same line of work." She offered.

 

Louis laughed, "That does not help. I do not know what Zayn does." He paused, considering, "Much of it, at least.”

 

Hadid quite visibly startled at that but she join him in laughing, "Hm, don't worry pretty, you'll find out more soon.”

 

“Hadid!"

 

Louis jumped and whipped around at the sound of Niall's voice. The brunette was maneuvering through the racks of clothing, his blue eyes wide staring at them. Jashco shifted slightly, as if prepared to defend Hadid from the newcomer but she laughed when she saw him and waved Jashco down, "Niall, of course. It's a pleasure. As always.”

 

"Yeah, it sure wasn't a pleasure with the moisture farms on Tattooine." He huffed, crossing his arms and coming to a stop beside Louis.

 

"Victim of circumstance. Surely Zayn has forgiven little ol' me?" She teased and Louis hid a smile behind his hand.

 

"Eh, probably. He's a sucker." Niall shrugged. "Glad to see it was you that had ma' boy and not some creep.”

 

"He had to be saved from a flock of rogue Pa'lowick ladies. You should be ashamed of yourself. He would have been devoured by those floozies.”

 

Niall barked out a gut wrenching laugh, "Ah, Lou! I would have loved to see that!" He wiped away a good natured tear. "Anyways, sorry to cut this so short Gi, but Louis and I have places to see. People to do. The usual." He threw an arm around Louis's shoulder for emphasis and messed with his hair. Louis ducked away quickly with a pout, brushing his fingers through the fringe in an effort to fix it and arrange it properly with the headband again.

 

Hadid smiled and took a step back, "Of course Niall. Jashco and myself have a meeting to attend. Give Zayn my regards." Niall nodded. "Have a good day boys." She winked at Louis before turned on her heel and walking away. Jashco merely nodded at them before following after her. Strapped to his back, Louis could now see a large gun.

 

Niall watched them leave and when they disappeared from sight, gave Louis a solid pat to the back, "Come on Lou, we're meeting up with Caflice and Byff and then heading to Camaka.”

 

"What is Camaka?" Louis wondered, following Niall to the front of the store, fiddling with his new head gear. He smacked his elbow into a rack and the whole thing shuddered. Louis yelped and hastily grabbed the stand to steady it.

 

Niall stopped to watch him, grinning, "Oh, you know. A tavern." He gave a nonchalant shrug.

 

Louis nodded, "Of course." The smacked his elbow into the rack again and several shirts on hangers clattered to the ground, "Oh Gods-!"

---

Niall was driving the hover and Louis had finally managed to peel his hand away from where he was the clutching the side for his life. He was semi-relaxed, much to Niall's excitement, when something dropped onto the back of the hover.

 

Crying out, Louis pushed forward in his seat, his hands scrapping at the dash in panic. Niall cursed and the added weight on the backend of the hovercraft caused the machine to jerk off to the side. With quick hands he managed to pull it back under his control, face in a firm grimace of concentration. "What the fuck-!" He spat and both he and Louis looked over their shoulder.

 

"Hi boys!" The man chirped, beaming, lounging in the back seat of the hover with his arms thrown over the back like he didn't have a care. He had wavy dirty blond hair that curled around his ears and skin was dark -not as dark as Jashco- which made his hazel eyes look surprisingly pale. He was wearing a dusty brown cloak around his shoulder and a large silver pendant hung around his neck.

 

"Holy Mother, Caflice!" Niall snarled, slamming a palm against the steering wheel, "Could have bloody killed us!”

 

The smuggler snorted, "Sure, with your driving? As if you need any help.”

 

"Crash a hover one bloody time..." Niall grumbled, gazing steadily forward, shoulders tensed.

 

Caflice ignored him, smiling at Louis, "I don't believe we met. I'm Caflice." He held out a dry and heavily calloused hand.

 

"Louis." He gingerly took the hand and let the man shake him with gusto. He made himself stop from ribbiting at the other male, aware it was odd in cultures not his own.

 

"Where's Byff?" Niall asked as Caflice released Louis's hand.

 

"Eh, who knows with that wanker. Was chatting up some Twi'lek girl." He shrugged.

 

Before Niall could say anything more, there was a commotion above them. Niall glanced up but couldn't stare because he was driving but Louis was able to. Several crafts above them scattered and a body was falling through the air. Niall cursed again and hit a lever in the vehicle that lifted them. The falling body collided with the hover and Louis was pleased that he only flinched a little at the sound of the body hitting the metal frame and at the jerk the machine made in response to the sudden weight colliding into it.

 

"Thanks for leaving me, asshole!" That must have been Byff. He had dark copper hair that was in a long braid that ended somewhere around his waist, but seemed longer because of how he was sitting and a pair of googles perched on his head. He was extremely tanned, as if he hadn't been inside for a while (Louis thought this was odd because they had been in the ship with them but he figured he must get out a lot) and had dark eyes. There were burn marks stretched around his neck but what really caught Louis's eye was that he had one mechanical arm.

 

He saw Louis staring and grinned, holding it up for him to get a better look at "From a IG-88 assassin droid. Fucker took my arm so I took his.”

 

"Oh please, not this story again. Gods, go on some new missions, asshole." Caflice grunted and Byff slapped the back of his head with his non-mechanical arm.

 

"Shut up, as if you have any good tales of battle. You've been a smuggler all your life!”

 

"Are you saying I don't face danger? I'm literally a member of a smuggling syndicate that is involved in taking down the rule of the Black Suns, so excuse me, jack ass. Now, please tell me you were trying to entrance that Twi'lek girl with something else than this fucking assassin story.”

 

Byff fell silent and didn't say anything to his question and Caflice groaned and dropped his face to his hands, “Pathetic."

 

Opening his mouth to say something, Byff paused when he realized Louis had gingerly pressed his finger tips to the metal arm, inquisitively. "Like it, cutie?" He asked, grinning.

 

Louis quirks a brow, "Never seen anything like it." He answered honestly, ignoring the pet name. They were becoming common at this point. 

 

It was Caflice's turn to smack Byff on the head, "You just tried to get into the pants of that Twi'lek woman and now you're hitting on the newbie, all within five minutes? You're despicable." The hover was slowly lowered and they took a sharp turn, Byff and Caflice having to hold on so they didn't go flying off.

 

"It was more like ten minutes because I had to run after you guys but semantics." He winked at Louis and Niall caught it.

 

"No one will be hitting on anyone in this hover." Niall declared sternly, directing a quick glare at Byff. Louis fought a smile.

 

"But it's okay when we're out of the hover?" Byff wondered and Caflice slapped him again. "Holy-! Stop that!" He tried to punch Caflice but the smuggler caught his arm and shoved him away.

 

"Stop, you're jerking the craft!" Niall hissed, "I will throw you two off, don't think I won't!" Byff muttered something under his breathe about jerking and Caflice slapped a hand to his forehead. Niall huffed happily when they lapsed into silence and he lowered the hovercraft to pull into a parking lot in front of a building. He powered down and everyone other than Louis hopped out. They watched in amusement as Louis waited for the machine to sit solidly on the ground before climbing out clumsily.

 

"Cute." Byff cooed and Caflice pinched his side. He flinched and glared at his partner but didn't say anything else.

 

Stretching, Niall scratched at his stomach before patting Louis softly in his shoulder, "Alright boys. If everything went well, Dungface McAsshole will be gone." He started towards the entrance, an arched, round door that sat at the bottom of five steps.

 

"Who?" Louis asked, squinting at Niall.

 

"Mercurius." Niall reminded him, "Yaser's right hand man and an asshole. The worst of the worst. You'll know him by the scar on his face. Said he got it in a fight with a jedi." They all laughed, other than Louis, who was still confused.

 

Caflice recovered first and elaborated for Louis, "Yaser is the head of the Blades of Orion, Mercurius is his second and Zayn is the son of Yaser who Yaser is grooming to take lead when he inevitably passes. Mercurius isn't happy about that because he thinks he should be the next in line.”

 

Byff snorted, "As if. No one is gonna respect an asshat like him. If he gets into power there's gonna be a bloody coup.”

 

"Zayn wouldn't let him. He would kill him before he even tried." Niall reassured.

 

Byff raised an eyebrow, "Really? You think Zayn could take Mercurius in a fight?" He seemed dubious.

 

Niall missed his head sagely, "Of course." But he didn't elaborate, instead walking over to the entrance, down the steps. Louis followed immediately after and just had to listen to know Byff and Caflice were walking after him.

 

Niall pushed open the door and and Louis braced himself for crowds of people and loud noise but was pleasantly disappointed when it wasn't. Niall had given him a pretty good idea what to expect in such a place earlier when they had been getting ready in his room but this place was just an open room with a tall desk in the centre and a droid sitting behind it looking unusually bored. Behind the droid were huge double doors, closed shut and solid wood but had no handles.

"An LEP servant droid." Byff bent down and muttered into his ear, causing Louis to jump at how close he suddenly was. "Goes by Forha. Worked here for years.”

 

Louis gave the slightest nod, to show he was listening. Caflice was watching them and groaned, grabbing Byff and pulling him back, "Fuck off and stop hitting on the newbie." Byff didn't even protest, just gave a sheepish smile.

 

Niall walked up to the desk, arranging his face into a charming smile. He leaned over the desk, "Hey Forha, long time no see. How are you holding up? You look good." He ran his fingers absently along the top of the desk.

 

Forha narrowed its eyes, "Don't touch." Even though it hadn't been doing anything before it grabbed a stamp and began to stamp a symbol onto papers, moving them from one stack on its right to another on its left.

 

Immediately, Niall lifted his hands up in the air to show the droid he wasn't touching anything, "Oh come on Forha! It's me! Your old buddy Niall.”

 

"Look Niral-,”

 

“Niall."

 

Forha continued as if he hadn't spoken, "-you know the rules. No getting in without identification." Louis was fascinated by how a droid could manage such a distasteful expression.

 

Pouting, Niall slid his coat off to show the tattoo on his arm. Forha's neck clicked and it stretched up, its small head getting extremely close to the arm to inspect. "Hmm, looks legitimate." It muttered, retracted. It hit a button on the desk and there was a loud groan echoing in the room and then nothing.

 

Louis frowned and looked around, catching the gazes of the other boys. "Correct me if I am wrong..." He began, "But something should have happened?”

 

Niall shook his head, "No, that seems like an apt statement. What's wrong with the system?" He directed the last question to Forha, who looked thoroughly miffed at the technical difficulties.

 

"The technician didn't come in. We've been waiting for a week." The droid hit the button again but nothing at all happened, not even a groan.

 

"Well..." Niall chewed his lip and glanced at Louis over his shoulder again. Directed to Forha, he said, "I could potentially fix the door. I just need to go to the control room.”

 

The droid's eyes narrowed, but it hit another button. A speaker crackled to life, "I need security at front. I have a technician available." The speaker responded that they would be on there way and Forha turned it off. "When door is fixed, your friends can go in.”

 

Niall beamed, “Wonderful!"

 

Another door, smaller and off to the side that Louis hadn't noticed, swung open. There were two droids, a tall one that had a huge abdomen and no neck, its long faced head attached to the body, and a shorter one that looked more humanoid.

 

Forha pointed at Niall, "This is the technician. See to it he is supplied with the proper equipment. The door still isn't working." The more humanoid bot nodded and waved at Niall to follow.

 

Before Niall went with them he stopped in front Louis, holding his shoulders, "Stay close to Byff and Caf, okay?" Louis nodded quickly, "I shouldn't be long, I already have an idea what's wrong. Just don't wander off and don't talk to anyone." He glanced over Louis's shoulders at the two other men, "Watch him, got it?”

 

"Of course." Caflice muttered, "It'll be five minutes Niall." He reassured. The brunette grimaced and nodded, gave Louis a pat on his cheek before he hurried over to where the droids were waiting.

 

Just before the door closed behind him Niall added with a shout, "And stop hitting on him, Byff!”

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight 

Give Me Steel, Give Me Steel

 

Caflice and Byff were not watching him, Louis noted, squinting around the room. It was shoddily lit or perhaps that was the sort of atmosphere they were trying to achieve. Everyone looked more relaxed in the dim lights, comforted by the heavy shadows that crawled across the walls. There was a band playing music, clear and loud and fast-paced jazz, the kind that hummed in one's chest and wiggled hips. In the centre of the room was a round bar but it was hard to see with the crowd surrounding it. Drinks were being distributed in a rapid pace but it didn't seem to hinder the steady flow of gathering customers.

 

Wherever Niall had gone with the security droids, it had only taken a few minutes for him to fix whatever mechanics to get the doors to swing open. When they had, Forha waved Louis and his new companions in. There were steps down into a pit, or so Louis thought. It had taken Louis's eyes a moment to adjust to the dim lighting, leaving him to stand at the doors as the gently closed, the sound covered by the ruckus of the band.

 

One side of the room was covered with dancing patrons and the other had tables and soft lounge chairs. Both sides were equally packed with an eclectic mix of species. Caflice and Byff herded him away from the door, directing him towards the table area and Louis reminded himself that Zayn was supposed to be around somewhere. It wasn't an easy trek, with too many people and not enough room and no one seemed to want to move out of the way for them. Byff disappeared first and Louis guessed something had caught his eye. With Byff gone, Caflice seemed more frazzled and he ushered Louis off to the side, to an unoccupied wall space.

 

"Stay here." He ordered, raising his voice over the hum of music, "I need to find that idiot. Shouldn't be too hard. He likes his twi'leks." He grumbled the last part and Louis figured he was talking more to himself than anything. Caflice then disappeared into the crowd of people.

 

Hadn't Niall told them to watch him? Louis snickered to himself, eyes shooting around the room in an effort to take it all in. He hadn't even noticed his nose had seemed to adapt to the smell of city and even in the densely crowded canteen, he hadn't been bothered by the sensory overload.

 

As his eyes flitted around the room, someone's shoulder bumped into him, shoving him harshly into the wall and he huffed and tried to shuffle closer even closer to the edge and less out of the way, but then he spotted Byff. The smuggler was chatting with a beautiful woman with purple skin and two long tentacles from her head that hung over her shoulders like hair. There was a head-piece that sat like a crown on her forehead that curled around her ears. Lips dark and eyes bright, she was wearing a dark body suit that had a diamond shape cut into the stomach and large circles on the thighs that showed off her skin. Her boots ended mid thigh and she had a black jacket on with wide lapels and sleeves that ended at her elbows. Whatever he was saying to her, she wasn't impressed and within seconds she was shooing him away and he dejectedly disappeared into the crowd.

 

The woman, who Louis assumed was a Twi'lek, crossed her legs and reclined into the sofa taking her drink with her to nurse. Her eyes were moving around the crowd like she was waiting for someone and Louis watched another man approach her. She was able to send him away faster than she had with Byff and Louis watched her roll her eyes at the man's back. As if she could feel his eyes, her gaze suddenly swivelled towards him and their eyes locked. She inspected him carefully and despite the distance, dim lights and shuffling bar patrons, Louis felt like she could see every naked detail of him. Then again, he had never met anyone like her so as far as he knew, she could.

 

Deciding to chance it, he tried to push himself through the crowd to get to where she was stretched. It was hard, seeing as he was shorter than almost everyone else and none of them was to inclined to let him through. It felt like forever, struggling through the bodies but he eventually emerged at her couch and she smiled at him.

 

She waved a hand to the couch beside her and he awkwardly perched himself and she laughed, the sound lost in the thrumming tavern. She slid a hand across his chest and pushed him into the back of the sofa, curling up next to him. Hand trailing on his chest, she murmured lowly, "You here by yourself, lovely?”

 

He couldn't concentrate on her words, though. The moonstone on his forehead was flaring with pain and the lines that ran from it all over his body itched. He brought his hand up to grab her fingers that were tickling at his collar bone and as soon as he touched the skin he could see flashes of blonde hair and weapons and the heat of a mouth working on his neck and the feel of fur against his naked skin. Immediately, he dropped her hand, face burning.

 

The Twi'lek frowned and asked if he was okay, a finger lifting to his face. He shooed it away, not unkindly, "Where is Hadid?" He asked instead of replying, genuinely curious.

 

Her eyes brows shot up, looking confused but mildly intrigued, “Pardon?"

 

"Hadid," Louis repeated. "You know her.”

 

Lips quirking, she asked, "Are you sure of that?”

 

He nodded, "Positive. You like the feel of her fur jacket.”

 

That seemed to be good enough for her and she leant away, surprised. Instead of being offended, she smirked, "I'm just here for a good time, lovely. I promise.”

 

He shrugged, "I do not know Hadid's relationship with Zayn, nor will I pretend to know what is happening." He told her. "I got dragged into this." He admitted.

 

"No." She mused, her fingers drawing a pattern along his thigh lazily, "I think you started it." With a hand on his head partly in his hair and a thumb pressed against the cloth on his forehead, she pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth and stood up with her drink, submerging and disappearing into the crowds of the bar with a final wink over her shoulder.

 

He watched her disappear and wondered if he should try to make his way back to the wall Caflice left him at when a body fell into the couch next to him. He looked over and relaxed, seeing Niall.

 

"I don't know where those fuckers disappeared too but thank the gods you're okay." He said, pulling Louis tightly to him. Louis yelped, his body stiffening at the sudden contact. Niall didn't seem to notice or just didn't care, simply clapping his back twice before releasing him. "Zayn is still speaking with Mercurius." Niall added, frowning, "It looks bad. Whatever it is. I don't like it.”

 

Louis nodded and glanced over Niall's shoulder to see if he could spot Zayn. He spotted the grey hair for a fleeting second but the distance was too great with such crowds.

 

"I spoke with a woman," Louis told him, instead of lingering on Zayn.

 

Niall raised an eyebrow, "I thought I told you not to talk to anyone?”

 

Louis shrugged, "You did. I did not listen." Niall laughed instead of being angry so Louis fingered it was okay to continue, "She is Hadid's lover?" He finished, unsurely.

 

Face lighting up, Niall scooted closer, "That would be Perrie! The Twi'lek, yeah?" Louis nodded, "What did she say to you? It's unusual that both she and Gigi would be here..." He added in a quieter voice. (It took a moment to understand what he was saying but Louis figured that Hadid's name was Gigi, which would make sense.)

 

"I am no sure what she meant by her words..." Louis admitted, rubbing his thumb into the back of his hand over the blue vein-like markings that covered him, soothingly. "She-," before he could add any more there was a commotion from the front of the room where the doors were. Niall jumped to his feet, Louis following. Did a fight break out? Louis wondered, frowning. Niall had told him earlier that that sort of thing wasn't uncommon in a place of inequity.

 

And then there was a loud piercing scream and everything dissolved into chaos within seconds. Men in dark uniforms with tall necks and wide-hipped pants with masks covering the bottom part of their face, other men who looked like the smugglers from Zayn and Niall's ship and even soldiers in full black body armour with huge helmets and even larger guns, were charging through the doors, flooding into into the canteen. The patrons were scrambling, fighting amongst themselves to get away from the sudden onslaught.

 

Louis was shoved carelessly between bodies and before he knew it, Niall was gone, taken away with the rush of crashing bodies. A man of indistinguishable species flung his elbow in a fit, landing a solid hit on Louis’s shoulder. Within seconds, Louis was on the ground. A surprised sob left his lips and someone kicked his side, pain resonating in his ribs. He tried to scramble to his feet but it was near impossible as his body was being kicked around. When a boot stepped on his hand, he howled and tried to curl up to protect himself.

 

And then someone grabbed him by the scruff of his jacket and hauled him to his feet. He couldn't even get his feet on the ground properly before he was being dragged through the bedlam. His body collided into several others as he was towed and he tried to wiggle away from the grasp of the unknown. There was a soldier near him and Louis saw him smash his gun into the face of a woman, sending her to the ground. Louis gasped and kicked a foot out, leaning his weight on whoever was holding him, to try and smack the soldier. It definitely got his attention even if Louis didn't manage to land the hit. Turning on him, the soldier raised his gun but before he could pull the trigger, Byff had rammed into him, pulling out his own blaster and shooting the masked assailant.

 

Louis whimpered and whoever was dragging him suddenly flipped him over his shoulder. Louis gasped and twisted his head to look up. It was Caflice. Louis allowed himself to relax as the smuggler pushed his way through the commotion. Bodies were dropping around them and if Louis thought the tavern was loud before, it was nothing compared to the sound now. The blasters firing and screams blended together into nothing but a deafening screech.

 

A soldier in puffy black pants and face mask lunged at them and Caflice smacked his gun across his face. The man stumbled, his gun waving around in the air. From behind them, Byff shot and the blast collided with the face of the man. When the body crumbled, Caflice pushed through the chaotic crowd and Louis struggled to twist his head up to see where they were. Seeing another soldier, he yelped and buried his face back into Caflice’s hip.

 

Louis felt like he could barely breathe, his head a heavy stone on his neck. Luckily, the sound had disappeared into a buzz, but his chest felt tight and his stomach felt an empty cavern, tumultuous acid swirling like the currents of a river, eating away at him. (He thought he might puke but it was like he was to scared to even do that.) Gripping tightly, albeit awkwardly, to Caflice, Louis tried to calm his breathing, his entire body trembling in the man’s hold.

 

“Niall!” Caflice yelled, tearing Louis’s concentration away from his bodily functions and back into the situation, much to his offence. (He had to force his knees to stop from clanging together.) Peering up discreetly, Louis saw the brunette standing at the front doorway, blaster in hand people charging past him. Shooting the attackers with astonishing efficiency, Louis could tell he was looking for someone. “Niall!” Caflice hollered again and the brunette whipped his head around, eyes landing on them.

 

“Get Louis out of here!” Niall ordered, blaster pointing somewhere off in the distance, “I need to find Zayn!” he shot the weapon but Louis didn’t know if he hit anything. Caflice didn't even question Niall, charging through the door with Louis bouncing along on his shoulder.

 

The front lobby was in shambles, the entire front of the building blown open and rubble was strewn all around, even out into the front street. Forha, the droid, was gone and the desk was blown to bits. Even the side door that Niall had gone through early was torn open and Louis had no doubt that soldiers had gone through there also.

 

“We should try and head back to the docking bay.” Byff was stumbling out the doors after them.

Caflice turned and Louis flopped uselessly over his shoulder at the movement, “No, we’re not sure if they've found Rigel. We could end up walking straight into a trap.”

 

Byff looked horrified but nodded “Okay, what do you know about this city then? We need to take the kid somewhere safe.”

 

Climbing over the rubble and out the front opening, Clafice and Byff hurried out onto the street. There were hovercrafts flying high up in the sky but everything even remotely close to Camaka Club seemed dead and empty. The air was chilled and it had gotten dark outside mighty fast, the streets lit up by large, orange lights attached to surrounding buildings. The two smugglers, with Louis still hanging on Caflice’s shoulder, hurried down the street and Louis bounced along. “I do not suppose I can be released?” Louis yelled, the bunching fabric of Caflice’s cape rubbed uncomfortable against his stomach and the added point of the man’s shoulder did not make for a pleasant ride.

 

“No,” Caflice answered shortly, digging something out of his pocket which Louis saw was a small screen. Not slowing down, Caflice ran his thumb over it and the device lit up, “My data screen says there's-,” before he could finish there was a loud explosion and the ground rumbled beneath their feet.

 

“What the-,” Byff began to swear and Caflice nearly dropped Louis. They turned around after they stumbled to a stop. The building the Camaka resided in was secreting black smoke that curled up into the sky, blocking out the lights of the hovercrafts from above. Snarling flames licked up into the air, howling as it ate and engulfed the structure. People were starting to flood out of the open front, including the men who had besieged the tavern in the first place.

 

Several of the armoured soldiers turned on them. Byff’s eyes widened, “Okay, now would be a good time to start running.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine 

If We Sparkle 

 

“Running. Now.” Caflice ordered and the three of them (well two, Louis supposed, seeing as he wasn't actually running separately) took off. The armoured crew sprung after, shooting. As Louis was jiggled uselessly on the smuggler’s shoulder, he could see the red bolts of plasma energy colliding into the cement near them.

 

“Faster!” Louis squeaked, “Faster!”

 

“Don’t over-the-shoulder drive, kid!” Byff grunted from beside them, footfalls as heavy as his panting.

 

“I would not have to if you put me down!”

 

Byff huffed, “We don’t have time for that right now, kid!” the next shot was close enough to his feet that he was forced to jump. They fumbled around a corner, narrowly missing it. Around the corner, though, was more armoured troops, standing impassively in their ebony plated suits. Spotting them, they poised their weapons ready to fire, in perfect sync.

 

“That’s not good.” Caflice gasped, nearly loosing Louis in his effort to halt.

 

“No shit.” Byff shoved him forward and they were running down another street. Louis groaned, disoriented and could see the unreasonable amount of troops gaining on them. “Take the kid down that way.” Byff pointed off to the left. “I’ll head this way,” he pointed to the right, “-so they'll be forced to split up.”

 

Caflice started to sputter out protests but it was too later and Byff was already hightailing it down the street. “Fucking idiot.” Caflice hissed but didn’t follow, listening to the other man’s instructions and turning left.

-

“What now?” Louis asked, peering around on Caflice’s shoulder. The blonde had brought them to a quieter part of the city. At least quieter outside. There was music thumping from somewhere on their right and the street was bathed with a purple neon light. Caflice had slowed down his pace and was just walked along the far right, shadows covering them.

 

Caflice snorted, “Why are you asking me? I figured you’d had a plan.” he glanced over his shoulder, causing Louis to jerk around and squeak.

 

“I never have a plan!” He protested. “It was Byff!” he flailed his legs, “And you can put me down now! I can walk!” and with a snort, he added, “I have notoriously strong thighs.” Caflice scoffed at him and gave him a playful jiggle on his shoulder. Louis whined and let himself get bounced on the man’s shoulder like a doll.

 

“Look, I can’t risk have you running off or getting separated from me again. So you’re staying here.” he paused, “Wish I had Byff’s metal arm, though. You’re heavier than I expected. It must be your notoriously strong thighs.” He deadpanned.

 

Louis pinched at him, “I did not run away from you before! Not my fault you suck at being my guardian.” Before Caflice could respond there was was a loud blast from behind them. The laser blast collided with the building beside them and Caflice maneuvered to the left quickly, whipping around. There was one black armoured solider, his gun pointed towards them. Caflice sighed and it looked as if the soldier was about to shoot again but he was quicker, pulling a dagger from his waist band, he threw it and it collided with the armoured chest plate. It impaled right in the centre and the soldier faltered, stopping to look down at the protruding blade.

 

“Umm, Caflice?” Louis whined, still hanging over the man’s shoulder.

 

“Just a second.” And before Louis knew it he was being tossed into the air like a rag doll. A scream started to rip out of his throat but before he could even utter a noise, he was plummeting down again. And then his body collided with Caflice. He had landed back into the smuggler's arms, the man smirking at him.

 

“Smugness does not become you,” Louis managed to gasp out.

 

Caflice laughed, “Everything becomes me.”

 

Louis ignored his remark, looking over to see the soldier sprawled out on the ground. “You threw me up in and air and killed him?” He frowned heavily, his stomach turning at the sight of the prone body.

 

“It was easy.”

 

“Easier than just placing me on the ground?”

 

“I didn’t want you vulnerable.”

 

“Me up in the air isn’t vulnerable?”

 

“He had terrible aim,” Caflice gestured to the marking on the building from the first missed shot.

 

Caflice had the soldiers gun hanging at his leg Louis noticed before he was thrown back over his shoulder. He groaned and squirmed, trying to get more comfortable again against the curse of his shoulder as it dug into his soft belly. “We’re gonna try to see if we can make it back to the Rigel. I’m not sure if the ship is compromised. By the stars, I hope not…” Caflice muttered and Louis could hear the worry in his voice. A part of Louis hoped that too. Another part hoped that it was compromised and that that meant everything would be over quicker. He missed his family. He missed his home. He promised to help Zayn but he couldn’t help the home sickness that sat in his gut.

 

Jostling along Caflice’s shoulder, Louis was aware they were turning around a corner, the shadows still hanging over them. There was a loud explosion somewhere behind them and Caflice’s steps faltered but he continued, picking up the pace. “I need to find a hover, “ he muttered to himself. There was another explosion, this time, closer and Louis flinched, pressing his face into the smuggler’s jacket.

 

“Shit,” Caflice hissed and Louis tensed, feeling him drawing the newly acquired gun from his hip. There was noise somewhere in front of them that Louis couldn’t see and he pressed his small hands into fists, body racked with a fear he wasn’t used too.

 

“Caflice, please!” he hissed, starting to squirm again.

 

Caflice ignored him though and Louis could feel him pulling the trigger of the gun. The kickback jerked Louis and the sound of the blast was a sharp high pitch when it was close. Feeling the heat of the blasts, Louis calmed himself, worried he would throw Caflice off with his wriggling.

 

“You’ve got to be-,” Caflice threw himself to the side, along with Louis, firing the gun rapidly.

 

“Let me down! I’m a hinderance!” Louis gasped, trying to push himself off.

 

Caflice didn’t even fight him, his arm going limp and letting Louise roll off on his knees. Just as his knees hit the cold cement, there was a blast over his head, just barely missing him. A squeak escaped his lips and he hunched over, arms thrown over his head in an effort to protect it.

 

Swearing again, Caflice leapt to his feet and dove to the other side of the road, leaving Louis where he was. Oddly enough, the soldiers didn’t seem interested in Louis and instead followed Caflice’s movements, firing rapidly at him. Diving forward, Caflice snagged a black armoured man by his legs, sending him to the ground. It left him open to the other soldiers for the quickest second before he hauled the man up and used him as his own personal shield. The other soldiers didn’t even hesitate when their comrade was placed in front of Caflice and Louis guessed that he was dead within seconds by the blasts hitting him. The body was limp in Caflice’s hold.

 

It seemed that Caflice was actually succeeding against the soldiers but there was a loud noise, like the sound of a motor like that in the hover Niall had driven Louis around in earlier. And it was a hover. Filled with more black armoured men. Louis’s heart dropped.

 

Caflice threw away his gun and snagged another one from one of the deceased soldiers near his feet, shooting at them men dropping from the hover craft. He landed a solid hit to one of the men about to jump and his body free fell to the ground and collided with a sickening crack. Four more descended to the ground before the hover blew up.

 

Louis blinked.

 

The hover had blown up, fire shooting up into the sky along with shrapnel from the ship and even bits of the soldiers that had been on it. Out of the four soldiers that had already jumped out, three had been taken out by the explosion and one had been thrown forward and scrambled to his knees. he swung his gun and it looked as if he was about to shoot Caflice and Louis but he was suddenly hit by a red blast and he was thrown into the ground.

 

“What the-?” Caflice backed up, closer to Louis, gun still aimed.

 

“Could you guys try to get through a single crisis without dragging me into it?” Came a voice above them.

 

It was Gigi, perched the shoulders of the man named Jashco Phurus. In her arms was the huge gun that Louis had seen on Jashco’s back at the shopping centre. They were standing on the roof top of the building that Louis was at the foot of and he had to crank his neck painfully to see them.

 

“What the fuck are you doing here, Hadid?” Caflice asked instead of thanking them.

 

“Saving your dumb ass.” The blonde responded. She held out the gun for Jashco to take back and when it was safely back in his hands she leaned back and held herself up by her hands, shining her feet up so she was doing a complete hand stand. From that position, she leaned back and rolled elegantly back onto her feet, looking smug. “And, imagine how happy Zayn will be to hear I saved his precious blue-eyed boy.” She inspected her nails, “He’ll forget all about our past…” she hesitated, “-complications.” she purred the last word out, looking wickedly pleased with herself.

 

Caflice frowned, “Is that really why you just blew those guys up?”

 

Gigi snorted, “No, I’m actually just a good person.” Caflice let out a sincere belly laugh at that. Gigi ignored him, “I couldn’t let the blue-eyed cutie get killed anyways. And Jashco agreed to let me use his gun and let me sit on his shoulders. That doesn’t happen every day.” Jashco grunted, hooking his gun onto its place on his back.

 

Without saying anything, Gigi leaned over and hugged Jashco around his neck, standing on her tippy-toes to reach and the dark skinned man wrapped a thick around her slim waist. With Gigi secured in his arm, Jashco stepped forward off the edge of the building and dropped straight down onto the ground, his heavy boots crashing into the ground, his knees bending at the impact. 

 

The ground had cracked beneath the force of his fall but both him and Gigi were unharmed.

 

“Look, let’s try and move quickly here. I just saved your asses. I can’t have you dying on me just yet. Especially you, cutie.”

 

“Do you have access to a hover? That would be mighty convenient.” Caflice asked, grabbing Louis from under his arms and hauling him to his feet like a parent with a child. Louis didn’t even complain.

 

Gigi frowned, “No, I was gonna take that one-,” she jerked a thumb over her shoulder to point at the smouldering remains of the one she blew up, “-but then I decided I really wanted to blow it up.” She shrugged, “We can commandeer another one.” Caflice sighed but didn’t comment.

 

“Let’s head down that way.” Gigi mused, “Hopefully we can get away mostly unscathed.”

 

The four of them followed Gigi’s plan, heading down the street. There were flickering street lights and a thick smoke floating above them. It smelled gross, like chemicals and it itched Louis’s nose. The smell seemed to float into the back of his throat and taint the palette of his tongue. Cold water would have felt amazing sliding down his throat but Louis tried to push the thought away because thinking about it made the taste worse.

 

“Ah! Perfect!” Gigi exclaimed and Louis’s attention snapped back to reality. In front of them, about several buildings up was a hover, tucked into a little alley, the nose of it poking out. A palpable excitement floated among the group and all of them picked up their pace into a light jog to get closer to the machine.

 

And then it blew up.

 

“Are you fucking kidding me!?” Gigi cried, as they all threw their arms up to protect their faces from the heat, the crimson flames licking up into the air. “I’m fucking pissed! That’s my move!”

 

There was a machine flying over them, not one Louis had seen before. It was like a hovercraft but completely enclosed with wide wings like that of a bird. There was a long tail at the end and a propeller piece on the top that was creating an obnoxious “CH CH CH” noise as it spun. Ropes were thrown out of the open side and more shiny, black armoured soldiers jumped out, armed with guns as they slid down the ropes onto the ground in front of them.

 

“Fucking blowing up the soon-to-be-mine hover. That’s a douche move.” Gigi huffed, “Jashco, light ‘em up!”

 

Jashco sighed and pulled the gun off his back once again, looking highly put upon as he did so. He locked onto one of the soldiers and shot a blast of his canon of a gun. It fired and hit the solider square on, blasting the body into flames and catching another solider on fire also. The first hit enemy crumbled to the ground and the other soldier hit the deck, trying to put out the flames.

 

“Blow the ship up!” Caflice cheered, looking less worried than Louis thought he should have.

 

“We can take that ship!” Gigi disagreed. “Leave it intact. Just kill the pests.” She ordered. She pulled a small wand from the hip of her belt and whipped the air with it. The ends popped out, turning it into a long staff, just shorter than her.

 

With a swift push forward, Gigi charged against the group and Louis could barely keep up with her movements because of how fast she was moving. It was like a dance, the way she moved, but she was brutalizing the soldiers with her staff with an almost inhuman amount of strength.

 

As she spun to land another solid hit with her staff against her enemy, the solider grabbed the end before it hit him, staring at Gigi through his opaque mask. Gigi sighed, “This isn’t yours.” And she must have triggered something because it looked like lightening was suddenly being emitted from the pole. The electricity ran up the soldiers arm and his entire body trembled and shook like a tree in a windstorm before he crumbled to the ground.

 

“Holy fuck,” Louis heard Caflice curse, having also witnessed Gigi’s combat.

 

Some of the soldiers must have figured that Caflice would be an easier target and decided to descend on him instead of Gigi, another group going after Jashco, who had his gun returned to his back and was just using a brutal form of hand to hand combat, his thick muscled body like solid steel in the face of their armour. Louis almost felt back for them.

 

The soldiers that approached Caflice had been right, the smuggler obviously wasn’t that highly trained in hand to hand, like Jashco but with his gun he was fairing alright. Stumbling back, Louis tried to stay out of the way. His hands were trembling and he knew without a doubt that he would be worthless in a fight.

 

One of the soldiers whipped around at his shuffling movement and approached, gun resting in his arms. Louis gulped. Even if the barrel of the gun wasn't pointed at him, his heart hammered in his chest, feeling as if it was ready to jump right out and run away.

 

“Um, please leave me alone.” he squeaked, his voice barely a crack above a whisper, his fingers trembling and his knees knocking together. Another pair of soldiers approached him and without hesitating, one reached out to snag him. Louis wasn’t sure where the reaction came from but his right hand shot up and he grabbed the man’s wrist in an iron hold. The gunner seemed viscerally surprised (just as Louis was) and tried to jerk his hand away but something in Louis wasn’t letting him. Louis tried to pry his fingers off the smooth gauntlet but he felt like he wasn’t controlling his own body. His forehead burned and it seemed too be running down into his body, through his blood. It felt like fire. Not painful; just fucking hot, like anger. It seemed to be coursing through his entire body, right down to his toes. The edge of his vision blurred and it seemed like his attention narrowed to only the three armoured fighters in front of him.

 

Another one reached out to pull him off of his comrade but before he could even brush Louis’s skin he was sent flying, his body slamming into the ground on the other side of the street.

 

“Back-,” the other solider who Louis wasn’t holding went soaring into the air until he was a black speck, “-off,” as he came plummeting into the ground, the enemy Louis was grasping went flying too, colliding into the descending man.

 

One of the other soldiers that were shooting at Caflice had seen his two colliding compatriots and paused, turning to Louis. He hefted his gun and aimed but before he could pull the trigger, Louis’s hand shot out in front of him and he went flying straight back into the troop of other soldiers fighting Gigi and Jashco.

 

Louis’s eyes landed on the back if his hand. The blue markings that curved out of the bottom of his coat sleeve, down his hand, over his palm all the way out to his finger tips were glowing. Glowing like the moon at night. Like the neon lights of the club or the street lights of the city. He was fucking glowing.

 

Caflice had smacked the back of his gun against the masked face of one of his assailants, smashing him back first into the ground before he grabbed another and, with impressive brute strength, smashed his face against the guy laying prone on the ground. They both went still.

 

“Louis?” Caflice asked slowly, taking a cautious step towards him. “Bud?”

 

He was glowing. He was glowing. Louis quaked. Why was he glowing? What had he done? Was he broken? His eyes began to burn and he could feel salty tears gathering at the corners and collecting on his lashes. A shallow gasp escaped his throat and Louis tried to steady his trembling knees. He felt like he might puke. What was happening to him? Why wasn’t it stopping?

 

“Stop…” he whimpered. “Please stop. Please, please stop. Please stop.” The words wouldn’t stop falling from his mouth. He felt like a broken hover craft, unable to stop his sputtering. “Stop!” he gasped. His throat felt like it was town open, his saliva thick and metallic like blood, coating the inside of his mouth. “Please….”

 

One of the soldiers shot at Louis and he flinched, prepared for the painful impact (would he die?).

 

It didn’t hit him.

 

The red laser had been stopped in the air in front of him, just hovering. Louis’s eyes snapped up to the solider. As soon as he spotted the enemy who had shot at him, the red laser sizzled and shot backwards, bursting right into the shooter’s face. His body crumbled, lifeless.

 

He killed someone. He killed someone without even meaning too. He was a freak. He killed that solider. He didn’t even mean it! He would have taken that hit! That shot had been for him. He should have been the one buckling into the cement without a pulse. Why wasn’t it him? Why was he still fucking glowing?

 

Another soldier went flying into the side of the building, falling to the ground like a broken toy.

Why was he doing this?

 

And another solider, up in the air before falling to the earth, the sound of a sickening snap crackling through the air.

 

A sound, something like a sob was heard and it took Louis a moment to realize it was himself who had made that noise.

 

What was wrong with him? Why wasn’t it stopping?

 

“Louis!?” Caflice called again, panic filling his voice. Louis could barely hear him. It sounded like he was underwater.

 

“Louis.” That was Gigi, her voice sterner. “Louis, calm down!” She ordered. The words didn’t make sense. It was like his brain had stopped processing English.

 

He stumbled away, panic seizing his muscles.

 

“Louis, calm down.”

 

He couldn’t calm down. He couldn’t. He fucking couldn’t.

 

Was he breathing? Of course, he was.

 

Still glowing, his hands came to his throat to claw at the sweating flesh. Stop. Stop. Stop. Louis, stop. Why aren’t you stopping?

 

(Stopping what? Glowing? Breathing? Stop what?)

 

Something was pulsating around him. It was all consuming and… Warm? A comforting warm. Like laying in the sun or floating in cool water or being held by his mother. It was safe. Comforting. And everywhere.

 

Louis himself was everywhere. He was everything. He could feel the fear and the pain of his comrades, of the citizens. The flames of the fire, the coldness of the metal and stone buildings in the night air. Everything was so fucking close. Tangible. And it was overwhelming. He had to stop.

 

“Louis, stop.”

 

How, though?

 

“It’s okay Louis. You’re safe.”

 

Was he running? He was. Louis had sprinted away from Caflice and Gigi, disappearing into the dark streets. Sweat was pouring down his forehead and neck and he could feel it pooling in his armpits and on his back between his shoulder blades. While the streets were dark, the pale blue light glowing from his skin was creating a circle of sharp brightness around him.

 

“Louis, you are safe.”

 

His feet kept going even if his breathing was telling him to just collapse. Fuck, he was heaving so bad.

 

Luckily, Louis didn’t have much further to run because of a flying craft, a different model then ones used by the black armoured soldiers landed on the street in front of him. It was also black but the side of it opened like a mouth, revealing a completely white interior. Lights shone from the sides of the opening, bathing the street in front with their lights. Louis fumbled to a stop, nearly teetering backwards onto his rump.

 

“Louis, please stop.” The voice was real. It was right in front of him.

 

By the stars, the light was bright. Louis flinched away, his eyes squinting into tiny slits as he threw his arms up in front of his face to shield him from the brightness.

 

“Louis, hush now. Don’t be afraid.”

 

Louis tried to focus his eyes in front of him. There was a shadow. No, not a shadow. A person. A person with the white light behind casting a halo around their form. His form. A man. Focus Louis. Focus. And he did. Tall. Broad shoulders. Messy curls. His eyes adjusted to the light and the details became clearer. One detail in particular: green eyes.

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten 

Stardust 

 

Harry was dead.

 

At least, Louis thought he had been. After all, he had been left broken and bleeding in a stone tomb in a crumbling building. How could one survive that? (Then again, Louis had made men fly with just his mind, so should he be so judgemental?)

 

“Harry…?” Louis breathed, his voice a mixture of relief and confusion as he peered up into the familiar green eyes. They were surrounded by thick black lashes that created shadows on his sharp cheek bones. His lips were a plump, bright red bow, curved into a soft smile. His face, strong and sculpted was soft with fondness, like seeing Louis was reuniting with a long-lost piece of himself. (It made Louis’s pounding heart stutter.)

 

Smiling a beautiful smile that caused craters to break out on his cheeks he merely replied with “Louis,” in a fond murmur. Louis’s chest clenched at the sound of it. With Harry’s smooth skin and bright lips and brunette curls, he really was pretty and Louis thought it was sort of like looking up into the sun when he looked into his eyes.

 

Licking his lips and trying to concentrate on his breathing (strategically ignoring the heat in his cheeks), Louis asked, “How do you know my name?” After all, Louis knew why he knew Harry’s name, of course. But he never told Harry his. It wasn’t like he communicated with him in that weird vision he’d experienced.

 

Harry’s lips turned into almost an amused smirk. “How do you know mine?” He responded back, playfully.

 

“How are you alive?” Louis asked instead of answering. He wondered if seeing people in weird dream vision experiences was a normal occurrence or if Harry would throw him out of the flying craft if he told him.

 

“How are you alive?” Harry shot back, cocking a brow. Absolute dumb luck, Louis thought but decided to not answer that either.

 

Louis frowned, “Are you going to answer any of my questions or just keep echoing me?”

 

“Are you gonna answer any of my questions?” Harry tilted his head and crossed his arms and he looked rather like a disapproving mother. But super attractive and he made Louis’s heart spin.

 

“I will answer your questions if you answer mine,” Louis answered primly, crossing his own arms and pursing his lips.

 

“Well, there’s a long story that goes with your questions. And truly, I was just hoping that I would annoy you enough that you would calm down.”

 

Louis blinked. Calm him down? Oh, right. Because he had been panicking. He had been glowing and having trouble breathing and sweating really fucking badly. Louis took stock of himself: still rather sweaty, unfortunately, chest still slightly heaving but he was, all in all, much calmer. And the glowing had died down to only a faint light. Louis peered curiously down at his hands as the light dimmed out now that the panic had drained out of his body.

 

“See? You’re all calm now.” Harry smiled angelically at him, gently grasping Louis’s small hands in his own larger ones, rubbing this thumbs along the blue veins in his palms.

 

“… Thank you…” Louis mumbled, heat burning in his cheeks. Somewhere behind Louis, there was another explosion and Louis’s neck whipped around to see black smoke rising into the air, dancing through the buildings and disappearing upwards. His heart flipped and his stomach clenched uncomfortably and it seemed like his body was getting ready to run again. However, before he could act rashly, Harry released his hands one last time before wrapping his long fingers around Louis’s shoulders, giving them a gentle squeeze.

 

"Come with me." He hesitated, eyes searching Louis's face, “Please, Louis.” he begged softly. His eyes flickered off in the distance, past Louis’s shoulders. Louis took in the softness of his eyes and the way the curls of his long hair draped over his shoulders. He had the slightly bit of dark scruff that was nearly unnoticeable along his jaw (it seemed to be struggling a bit with growing out) Louis, standing so close, could now see the healing split on the bottom of his lip, the mostly healed scrap under his right eye and faint bruising around his neck that had been mostly hidden by a gold choker.

 

Louis thought about the Harry he saw in the vision in the forest with the fluffy mop of curls on his head and wide baby eyes, dressed in a robe too big for his small form and hands that hadn’t quite grown into his height. Louis thought about how he had somehow grown into this man in front of him, covered in old wounds and black tattoos etched across his flesh. His hair was so long compared to what Louis had last seen of him and he had finally grown into his large hands. He was wearing royal red, a sash crossed across his upper body and a piece tied around his waist nearly like a skirt with a long train behind it that just brushed the ground. His boots were a darker red with armoured panels on the front and Louis imagined a solid kick from him would hurt like a bitch. His legs were long, adding to the fact he was about a head taller than Louis, and he was squeezed into a pair of black pants that seemed painted on. It was an outfit Louis hadn’t seen before and while it was unusual, Louis figured that Harry could truly pull anything off on his broad, lean body.

 

“Louis, please,” Harry murmured, his lips extremely close to Louis -who had been mesmerized by the shadows dancing along the taller boy’s clavicle as he breathed- and he hadn’t noticed the sudden closeness between them.

 

And really, after everything, Louis had no fight left. He wanted to curl up in a ball and sleep. And eat. He wanted to eat and then sleep and never move again. He also wanted to sit in the shower of Niall’s room again and soak his skin in cool water like he used to back home. Gods, he wanted to go home.

 

But now he had Harry. Harry, who he thought was darling. Harry, who he thought had died. Louis nodded and that was enough for Harry; Harry who wasn't dead. (Louis needed to really find out how he survived) Harry clasped Louis’s hand in his and lead him to the ship. Feet heavy, Louis trailed along after him.

 

The interior of the flying craft was so disconcertedly bright that Louis closed his eyes as he walked up the ramp and didn't open them again until the door groaned as it lifted close, trapping them in. The machine began to raise up into the air, sputtering and groaning as it lifted upwards. It reminded Louis of the hovercraft with Niall where he could feel the craft physically lift from the ground and he clung to Harry as he suddenly realized that they were floating in the air. He liked that the vessel was completely enclosed unlike the hovercraft but it seemed a lot more jerky and a lot less steady. He could vividly feel the lifting of the ship, it's jolting back and forth as it maneuvered between the tall towering buildings to get up into the air.

 

Awkwardly, Louis held his arms out to balance himself, glancing nervously at Harry.

The boy smiled his lovely smile and grabbed one of Louis’s outstretched hands. The ship was odd, all white and clean but it seemed to be divided into three tiny sections. They were in the center bit and there was a door to the left and another to the right. Like Zayn’s ship Rigel, there was a passcode you had to enter to get the door to open.

 

Harry entered the numbers (24-12-91, Louis noted) and the door slid open. It had a rounded front window and had a large plethora of colorful buttons at the dash with two chairs. Without prompting from Harry, Louis fell into the right-hand chair, peering up at Harry unsurely.

 

“Are we going to save Caflice? And Gigi? Niall?”

 

Eyes wondering along the floor, it looked like Harry was going to ignore his question but instead, he sat in the seat next to him. “How did you know to sit on the left?”

 

Louis blinked, “What?”

 

Harry leaned over and pulled a strap with a buckle on it, strapping Louis in around the waist before doing it to himself. “The left side is the copilot side. How did you know that?”

 

Louis frowned and narrowed his eyes, “I have no idea. Why do you care? Don’t you trust me?” he bit out, far more defensive than he wanted too.

 

Harry didn’t seem fazed with the attitude. “I was just curious.” he murmured, grabbing the handles in front of him. He hit one of the buttons and the ship made an odd sputtering noise and a green light turned red. “It was on autopilot. I’m taking over.” Harry explained, not glancing over at Louis.

 

“We’re going back for Caflice, right? I left him. I…. I didn’t mean too. I don’t want him to get hurt.” Louis confessed, staring at Harry’s profile, at how his chin curved up into a sharp, defined jaw and how the tip of his nose had the slightest downward curve at the end.

 

“I know, Lou.” he murmured, cranking the wheel to the left, turning the ship.

 

A weird sort of silence stretched between them and Louis thought his heart was going to leap into his throat with all the things they weren’t saying. Harry’s knuckles were tight as he gripped the steering wheel, pulling them through the city skyscrapers and towards where Louis had run from. It was smoky and hard to see through the front window but Louis tried to press himself close to the window anyways.

 

“Do you see them?” Louis asked, voice hoarse.

 

“I can barely see anything,” Harry mumbled, squinting through the window as well. He lowered the ship by pulling the wheel down and they began to descend through the thick black smog. There was a rumbling beneath them and Harry hesitated in his descent but from a fierce look from Louis, he started again. And then there was a loud crackling and before Louis could even react a flaming hovercraft came shooting straight up. Louis and Harry both cried out, pushing themselves back into their seats.

“What in the stars!?” Harry cried out, jerking the wheel. Their ship jolted and Louis squeaked when they were suddenly thrown to the left.

 

“Harry!” Louis squealed, scrambling to stay upright in his seat.

 

Harry grunted and righted the ship, “Sorry.” he fumbled with the controls and managed to get back on track, lowering down towards where the hovercraft exploded from. “Down here seems like a safe bet,” Harry mumbled and tried to lower the ship again.

 

“I’m so tired of people setting things on fire and throwing them at me,” Louis grumbled. “Or in my general direction.” The slightest smile lifted at the corner of Harry’s mouth.

 

As they lowered through the smoke they could start to see the chaos happening on the street and Louis was able to spot a streak of platinum blonde hair that had to be Gigi. He whirled his head around, trying to see Caflice amongst the mess as Gigi disappeared from view.

 

“Do you see anyone?” Harry asked, not sure what or who Louis was looking for.

 

“I thought I saw Gigi,” Louis told him, lifting out of his seat.

 

“Hadid? Of Lok Revenants?” Harry asked, pulling his eyes up to glance at Louis, looking almost concerned.

 

“The one and only. She and a man named Jashco, and Caflice from the Blades of Orion were with me.” Louis wasn’t sure if Harry was familiar with those names but he told him anyways, just in case. The curly haired boy didn’t react to any of them, his face staying impassive -yet determined- with his eyes firmly locked out the from window as tried to maneuver even closer.

 

(Louis faintly wondered where he learned to drive such a vehicle and he thought about the boy at the stone temple he had seen. He didn’t seem like the type of boy who’d be flying ships through hostile environments.)

 

They must have gotten close enough to the ground that the dark soldiers now deemed them a threat and started shooting at them. “Okay, that’s not great.” Harry began to raise them up but Louis reached over and smacked his hands against the wheel.

 

“What are you doing?” Louis cried, “We need to lower down so we can get them!”

 

“If you haven't noticed, we’re being shot at!”

 

“Oh, this isn’t the first time I’ve been shot at today.” Louis dismissed. “We’re fine.”

 

Just as he said that another ship came shooting in their directions through the smoke. “Fuck.” Harry deadpanned and Louis inspected the new ship. It had a ball centre and two pillars coming off the sides. At the end of each pillar were hexagonal plate-like wings.

 

“What’s that?”

 

“A tie fighter. They usually aren't too bad but when there’s one that means there’s a lot more following behind.”

 

Frowning, Louis tilted his head at the tie fighter, “It’s sorta cute, though. With its little ball.” And as if on cue, the tie fighter shot at them and Harry dragged their ship down, trying to disappear in the smoke.

 

Harry snorted, “Yes, so cute. I love it when balls shoot at me.” There was a moment of silence between the two boys before they both burst out laughing. The laughing didn’t last long, however, as the tie fighter converged back onto them and got a solid shot to the front of their ship. Harry cursed and fumbled with the controls, moving the ship backward and nose diving towards the ground. The start of a scream barely started to escape from Louis’s throat before Harry gave a violent tug to the wheel and the ship yanked back up into the air right before it collided with the ground.

 

“Holy Gods Harry, don’t you ever do that ever again!” Louis punched him in the arm and Harry flinched from the surprising amount of power behind it.

 

“Jeez, I’m sorry! It wasn’t like I was trying to save us or anything.” He rolled his eyes but he was grinning like the dangerous aerial dive he had jut pulled was the highlight of his day. As Harry pulled the ship up, he did a rather playful spin, nearly right against the tie fighter. Whoever was piloting the tie fighter had to quickly jerk out of the way, nearly crashing into the building behind. It seemed like that maneuver didn’t throw off the tie fighter that much as within seconds they were shooting at Louis and Harry again.

 

“Fuck!” Harry hissed, backing the ship up and going low, nearly right on the ground. As Harry moved them around the bullets hit the ground in front of them and Louis nearly laughed as Harry reversed and dodged skillfully. Harry’s hands were flying around the wheel as he steered, moving left and moving right and dodging to the left again. As the ship wiggled just above the ground, Louis tried to focus past the shooting.

 

“There!” Louis pointed past Harry’s face, nearly knocking him in the nose with his elbow. Harry gently swatted his arm away and followed his finger to see a blond crouching behind some debris.

 

“Him?”

 

“Yes!”

 

Unfortunately, Harry wasn’t the only one Louis managed to get to notice Caflice. The tie fighter whipped around and began shooting and Caflice’s head disappeared. Louis seized the red sash on Harry’s right shoulder and began to shake him, “Do something!” he ordered, his voice unnaturally high.

 

“Alright! Alright!” Harry gasped, pulling away from him. He must have hit the accelerator because Louis was thrown back into his chair and their ship was suddenly between the tie fighter and Caflice.

 

“Doesn’t this thing shoot?” Louis cried out, hovering his hands above the buttons on the dash.

 

Harry pushed his hands away again, “Don’t touch anything! And.. uh. No. No, it doesn’t. This is actually an escape pod.”

 

Louis whirled towards Harry so fast he thought his head might fly off at the speed, “An escape pod? This is an escape pod? Like you escaped from another ship by taking this one?”

 

Harry’s face had flushed a bright crimson and he nodded, his hands making fists on the wheel. “No? I mean yes. Maybe?”

 

Louis groaned and held his face in his hands. “This is so messy.”

 

Harry snorted, “My entire lift is messy.”

 

The tie fighter decided to stop shooting. Both Harry and Louis stopped talking and turned and looked. The straighter was just sitting. “Umm, Harry? What does that mean?”

 

Harry looked just as confused as him and before he could respond the tie fighter shot forward and collided straight into them. Louis could hear the grinding of the metal as they hit and for a second, a split second, everything stood still. And then Louis’s body was being thrown forward, along with Harry. His body collided on the far side of the ship and the force of the tie fighter flipped their own ship and Louis was aware of his body being thrown around as it spun. Harry might have been calling for him but he couldn’t tell.

 

Louis was only aware of the horrible pain flaring through his entire body before he blacked out.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eleven 

Oh, My Nuclear Baby

 

Louis was pissed.

 

Beyond pissed.

 

His entire body was achy and sore and he was so fucking hungry he was debating about sacrificing his left arm. He had been awoken by his own difficulty in breathing and found that he was perhaps in an even worse situation than what he had been in before he had been knocked out. He had spent his entire life not being unconscious and waking up in strange ships and yet this was the second time, in what? A week? More than a week? (By the Gods, he couldn’t even tell time anymore. Everything was confusing.)

 

He was trapped is a room that was completely empty. It was all metal and cold, absolutely no furnishings at all. There was a glass front so anyone could peer in and Louis could look out. Louis has propped awkwardly against the floor and the wall with his wrists shackled together. A chain led from the shackles up onto the wall. It was too low for him to shit up properly but high enough he had to actually sit instead of lay. It was incredibly uncomfortable, especially with the bruises on his body. He could feel the bruises on his arms and back and bottom from where he was forced to lean and he groaned painfully and tried to pull himself away. He wasn’t able to move much and the chained force him back. He sighed, resigned.

 

Louis sat in silence for several moments.

 

Harry wasn’t with him. He dropped his head back with a frown. After the ship crash, he must have been taken away from Harry. Or perhaps Harry was somewhere else on the ship? It had seemed Louis’s whole life had led up to meeting him and now he was gone. His heart ached along with his body. He needed to find Harry again. He wanted to see his sparkling eyes and dimpled smile. Trace the dark inked lines of his tattoos and feel the warmth of his hands.

 

Goosebumps crawled across his skin at the way his thoughts were leading and he quickly pushed them away. He needed to see Harry again. Be with him again. If not for the reasons he thought of before but because he needed answers and he was afraid only Harry would know. He needed to know why he saw the visions of him. He needed to know about the temple. Even the Holocron, if Harry had knowledge of that. Louis was prepared to spill his guts out to the curly haired boy, a feeling foreign to him. The Zhabe didn’t share secrets with outsiders. But Louis thought about the boy in the temple. The boy he had somehow connected too. Would it be so bad? Would it be so horrible to tell him everything? They were linked, someway, somehow and Louis wouldn’t rest until he found out everything.

 

Zhabe weren’t known for their curiosity but Louis couldn’t find it in himself to care. Even if it went against how he was raised, he knew he would never be satisfied until he knew.

 

He had been thinking about Harry for too long. His legs, especially his knees, were starting to cramp up. He pushed away from the thoughts of the boy in red and awkwardly tried to pull his legs up. It made his arms bend uncomfortably. Groan. Sigh. Legs outstretched again. Arms still hanging. More thoughts of Harry, dammit. Groan. Another sigh.

 

After a while, his hands started to feel numb and he whined and tried to lift himself up so they weren’t bent over the metal shackles like limp leaves. He managed to get the shackles down about a fingernail length on his arm and he wiggled his fingers. His body protested the position quite quickly and he was forced to drop back onto the ground.

 

He decided to just roll his wrists around trying to get the blood circulating again. He hadn't even paid attention to the front hallway until someone smacked the glass, causing Louis’s head to jerk in the direction, “You awake?” The man asked. Louis inspected him carefully. He was an average looking man, all in all, Louis thought. Middle aged, wearing puffy black pants tucked into tall shiny boots and a thick vest strapped to his middle underneath a jacket. The jacket had large shoulders and he was wearing a goofy looking cap over his mousy brown hair. Louis could see a gun strapped to his hip and he narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

 

“What do you think?” Louis snapped, voice cold as ice, his fingers cracking when he made a fist.

The man gave a sardonic chuckle and Louis glared at him. “Alright you little brat, the boss wants to see you.” he typed a combination into the keypad on the side and a section of the glass popped open.

 

The guy approached him and pulled a key from the pocket of his trousers and unlocked the chain attached to the wall, leaving the shackles on him. Louis made a growling sound in the back of his throat but the man merely smirked, grabbing his upper arm and yanking him to his feet, unkindly.

 

“Let’s go. He doesn’t like to wait.”

 

“I could care less.” Louis hissed, letting his bound hands drop in front of him, trying to hunch away from the harsh grip. His body was already so sore and the abuse wasn’t helping at all. The man cuffed him on the side of the head and Louis flinched at the hit. It stung but wasn’t anything horrible. It was the aftershock, throbbing mightily from his temples to the back of his skull and he forced himself to hold back a groan. He felt ready to collapse and he might have had to if the man wasn’t holding him so brutally.

 

As they emerged from the room, Louis looked around wildly. He was the only one in the cell block it seemed. All the other rooms within the hall, identical to his, were completely empty.

 

Maybe they don’t have Harry… Louis mused. If these people had gone to such great lengths to snag him (or the Holocron at least) they might not have even bothered with his companion in the wreckage. His stomach lurched. Harry could potentially still be injured, laying out in the remains of the ship on the street. Feeling sick, Louis soothed himself by thinking of scenarios in which Niall or Caflice or even Gigi found him. By the Gods, he hoped so.

 

The man led Louis through the long corridors, his grip punishing. Eventually, thankfully, they finally stopped at a set of double doors where the man had to knock. They only had to wait a moment before the doors were opened by another man -wearing the same uniform- and they were let in.

 

Louis was shoved in first, nearly toppling over. His back must have been dark purple from the crash in the starship and the rough shove could have sent him into tears. There was some chuckling and he snapped his head up. It was a dim lit room with a huge rectangular table in the center. At the far end of the table was a huge man. Well, not quite a man. He was some sort of species that Louis had never seen before. He had a feline face and a plush gold mane. There were two ears pointing out of the top of the mane covered with earrings and he had huge paws, covered in silver rings.

 

“Ah, my Holocron.” He spread his large paws as if he was presenting a masterpiece. “I’ve been waiting to finally gaze upon you.” he chuckled and walked forward. Everyone at the table watched, some of them staring straight at Louis, who wished he could just sink into the ground and never return. He wanted them to just stop staring.

 

The blue headband from Gigi was hanging around his neck, fallen either during the crash or when he had been taken, and Louis only had his hair to cover the gem on his forehead. It wasn’t enough, though. The feline man approached him and, with a long claw at the end of his furry paw, brushed the hair away from the coveted jewel with uncharacteristic gentleness. Louis flinched away from his touch and the lion man chuckled, revealing huge feline teeth.

 

“Alas, we won’t be together for long.” He sighed yearningly, “For I have a debt to settle. And Leyll Khel always settles his debts.”

 

-

 

The ship they were on was actually small. It was small enough that it was able to be swallowed up into another ship, one that seemed to be its own planet by the sheer size of it. The ship that Leyll Khel captained entered into the base of another ship, sliding in and landing without a bump. Louis could hear the grinding of metal as it slid and he tensed until the ship finally went still.

 

There was silence. Nothing moved.

 

Louis was chained against the wall again. He wiggled his hands and tried to scoot up properly with his back pressed gingerly against the wall. He tried to shift as gently as he could without hurting himself but it was pretty much useless. The position was just too awkward with his injuries.

 

There was the sound of footfalls somewhere and Louis waited for the nasty soldier to come retrieve him. It only took about a minute for him to arrive, unlocking the door and walking over to Louis. Unlocking Louis from the wall, he smirked, “You think this is rough? Wait until you see where you’re going next.”

 

Louis rolled his eyes, “Wow. I am so scared. Look at me. Shaking in my boots.” He sneered. He received a backhanded slap for the attitude and was shoved out of his containment cell.

 

“Get going, you little pest.” The soldier snarled and hit him on the shoulder again to get him moving. Louis let out a tiny hiss and rolled his shoulders as if he could shake off the bruising.

 

Biting the inside of his mouth to stop from snarling at him, he trudged forward, going where the man prodded him too. There headed to the mouth of Leyll Khel’s ship. It was high above the ground and had a steep ramp downwards into the room of the other ship. Leyll stood by the ramp, wearing a long deep red cloak draped over his shoulders and flowing behind him.

 

“Come here, little gem.” he purred, waving a paw at Louis, who winced at the nickname. Reluctantly, Louis shuffled over him, glancing around at the other members of the crew who were all watching him. It was like he was the entertainment wherever he went. They couldn’t seem to keep their eyes off of him. “You’re gonna be on your best behaviour now, aren’t you little gem?” Louis didn’t say anything and Leyll stroked a claw down his cheek, “Because if you’re not, I would hate to have to put you back in line.” he chuckled. His claws had slid down his face to his neck where he applied the gentlest of pressure. The sharp tips prickled Louis’s skin and he flinched and gave a hurried nod to appease him. “Good.” he pulled his paw away and walked down the ramp, men following after him. The soldier manning Louis knocked his shoulder again, shoving him down the ramp.

 

They emerged into the docking bay of the new ship. It was huge, filled with other ships, small ones like Leyll’s and other one or two messenger ships. There was a wall of tie fighters along the wall like the ones that had attacked him and Harry. There were men and women in uniform rushing around and Louis could see squads of the black armored soldiers that had attacked them at the tavern littered about. The party from Leyll’s ship was only a group of five -including Louis- and they were met with a group of three who were standing outside of their ship waiting for them to emerge.

 

“Hello Lord Vigo Khel. I am Milak Tsark.” The oldest man in the front of the group of three greeted. “Lord Vigo Ka Djo has been waiting for your arrival.” He gave a slight bow before turning on the heel of his shiny boot and stalking off. The heels of his feet clapped loudly on the polished metal floor and the group Louis was with wasted no time in following.

 

If Leyll Khel had the title of Lord Vigo and so did this other person (Ka Djo? Louis was unsure if that was a name. He tried sounding it out in his head but it didn’t seem to want to work so he brushed it aside.) then that must make them the same rank. Louis recalled Zayn mentioning the nine vigo leaders. They pulled under Zidar the Underlord of the Black Suns. So that meant Leyll Khel was one of the leaders of the Black Suns. But he was trading him? No, he was settling a debt, he had said. A debt to another vigo. Louis wondered what the debt was and how it was worth the possession of the holocron that sat upon his forehead.

 

They were lead deep through the ship and Louis felt like he had been walking for hours in heavy silence between the two groups of strangers he was with. It might have felt like hours because his body was tired and sore and he really needed to eat. He could barely remember the last thing he ate. His stomach felt ready to collapse in on itself. Louis tried his best to stop himself from dragging his feet, worried he would get hit again on his already poor bruised body.

 

At one point Louis thought he could have fallen asleep and his feet would probably have kept going but he was too worried he would trip and fall on his face. He didn’t want more people staring at him.

 

Louis realized worryingly slow that he hadn’t been paying any attention to where they had been going and he was lost in the maze of the ship. If he had been by himself he would have been potentially lost on the ship for the rest of his life. It reminded him a bit like Rigel, Zayn’s ship. All clean and cold and grey. Only there were many more men and they were all dressed in those weird uniforms and armour.

 

Finally, they got to a ramp. It went upwards into a large opened archway and people were moving in and out of it. Milak Tsark led them up the ramp which stretched into a boardwalk pathway around the entire room on either side and another pathway that went straight. The front of the room was filled with computers and control panels, all being manned by men and women in the puffy pant uniforms and the straight pathway lead through the middle of their consoles. At the far end where the floor to ceiling windows was was a flat platform overlooking everything happening within the room. All three of the catwalks lead there.

 

Without hesitation, Leyll strut into the room and onto the path in the centre of the room. Louis could already see some of the worker's paused and look at him, eyes wide at the sight of the huge feline man walking through. Louis and the soldiers walked out after him, the members of Leyll’s crew hurrying as if they couldn’t bare to be apart from him. Louis wondered if they were worried that if they strayed too far that they would be attacked for working for another vigo. He guessed that being on this other ship was sort of like being in enemy territory, even if they technically worked for the same organization. It seemed weird to Louis that the vigos would be hostile to each other but he figured it may have been some sort of competition. After all, they were all the same rank underneath one man. Perhaps they were trying to be the next Underlord? Louis wasn’t sure how one gained the title of vigo, let alone Underlord. It could be passed down, chosen by an outside party or taken by killing one another. He could easily imagine Leyll killing for power. It wasn't hard to picture his large claw ripping through soft flesh. Just thinking about it made Louis’s skin crawl.

 

They approached the end to where the catwalk joined into the overhead platform. There was a large chair with it’s back facing them, turned to look out the expanse of windows. Thrown over the back of the chair was thick black fabric. Standing near the chair seemed to be a shadow. It wasn’t, however. It was a man, draped in a cloak as black as the view from the window -rather like the one on the back of the chair. The man was wearing armoured boots and armoured plates on his knees that Louis was able to see glinting in the light. He was wearing a belt with a shiny belt buckle and he had something hooked to it, some sort of weapon. Louis could tell it wasn’t a gun but other than that he wasn’t sure. Despite the fact that he was wearing a cloak that covered his eyes, Louis couldn’t see much of the man because he had a mask pulled up from his neck, covering his mouth and nose. There was only the tiniest peek of skin between the mask and the hood and other than the figure was completely garbed in black. He was even wearing black gloves.

 

Louis inspected the shadow man curiously. He didn’t even seem to be breathing, standing as still as a statue beside the chair. Leyll didn't even seem to notice the man, walking around the other side of the chair. “Ka Djo.” He announced in his deep growl of a voice.

 

Louis shifted on his feet to peer around the chair but it turned out to be unnecessary as the man named Ka Djo walked around, approaching Leyll until Louis could get a clear view of him.

It was like being struck by lightning.

 

Mouth running dry, Louis thought being blown up would have been less surprising than what he was seeing. The man in front of him, Ka Djo, was ethereally beautiful and pale with dark curls that framed his face, ending at his sharp jaw. Eyes were like the dark green of pine needles, sitting above high cheekbones, glinting like the stars outside. He was tall and lean and swathed in black garments. The front of his robe had fallen open to reveal the pallid plains of his muscular chest. He was an enchanting mix of pale skin and dark, sharp features that made it hard to look away. But that wasn’t why Louis was struggling to breathe at the sight of him.

 

Ka Djo was Harry.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twelve 

There’ll Be Some Blood, No Doubt 

 

Okay, so Louis was wrong. It wasn’t Harry. Even if his eyes told him that, yes, it was Harry, it was like the rest of his body was attuned to the curly haired boy and it was able to tell instinctually that it wasn’t actually his Harry.

 

No, no, it wasn’t him. He was too pale, too cold. Too unapproachable. He didn’t have the dark ink on his body like Harry or the touch of tan. Even his eyes. His eyes were too dark and his lips weren’t that beautiful rouge like Harry’s. This man’s lips were too colourless to match with Harry’s.

 

When Leyll greeted the man, he merely swept his dark eyes up and down the feline creature, looking particularly detached from everything.

 

“Khel.” the Harry look-alike intoned, aloof and nonchalant. He was like steel, his face, and body language giving nothing away. He didn’t even glance at the other men in Leyll’s party or even look at Louis, his eyes on Leyll. While he seemed unflappable, Louis wondered if he was worried that Leyll would attack him and he was watching him for any signs that he would suddenly strike.

 

The man radiated power. He had an aura of dominance around him that was eye-catching and nearly impossible to miss. While Leyll was large and imposing, False-Harry had the currents of a threat bleeding beneath his skin. Louis wouldn’t be surprised if he would be able to take Leyll out with his bare hands. He seemed to have that sort of edge to him.

 

“I brought you what you wanted, Eadh’hard. I’m tempted to keep him, though. He’s very sweet.” Leyll chuckled and Louis flinched at that, instinctually moving his hands to press against the puncture marks that had been left on his neck.

 

Eadh’hard, Louis repeated in his head. That has to be a name. Fake-Harry’s name. Ee-dah-hard? Ed-ha-hard? Ay-hard? Louis frowned, because what kind of name was that? He was going to need someone to repeat the name because that pronunciation went over his head and he was gonna need some help. Ed-hard? Louis nearly pouted at the annoying name. Why couldn’t he have a simple name, like Liam? Nice and easy to pronounce.

 

Leyll moved backward and placed a huge paw on Louis’s upper back. He ushered him forward and Eadh’hard moved his eyes from the other vigo down to Louis. Louis’s entire body froze when he met Eadh’hard’s eyes. It was sorta like looking into the face of a star, it was hard to focus but he was so resplendent, so magnetic, that it was hard to look away. (Stare any longer and you’ll go blind, Louis.)

 

Dark eyes inspected Louis carefully, taking in his appearance. Without looking away, he stated, “It’s injured.” Louis lurched at the use of ‘it’ and he bit his lip, insulted.

 

Leyll faltered, “Well, that’s how I found him. He was in a starship wreck. I didn’t do a thing.” he sneered, suddenly fearsome again, “Look Eadh’hard, take him or leave. I’ll be quite happy to keep him for myself.” he bared his teeth in a feral grin.

 

Narrowing his eyes, Eadh’hard glanced at him from the corner of his hardened gaze. “I told you specifically that I wanted it undamaged. I am…” he gave a long pause, his voice unnervingly cold and measured, “displeased.” he finished, voice deep and rich and slow.

 

Leyll scoffed, “Look here Ka Djo,” he snapped, all familiarity in his voice gone, “I went out of my way to give you this savoury little parcel and you give me insolence in return. I think it would be best if he was to remain in my care. I know I can treat him right.”

 

If there had been any food in his stomach, Louis would have puked it up. The inclination in his voice left the small boy qualmish and shaken. It was the lesser of two evils between the two men but Louis knew instinctually that he needed to be away from Leyll Khel.

 

As if he could tell that Louis was ready to flee -maybe even throw himself behind Eadh’hard just in case- Leyll captured the dainty curve of his shoulder in his hefty paw. He began to pull Louis away and Eadh’hard’s eyes darted behind him to where his shadow man was standing. What happened next Louis didn’t even see. One moment the shadow man was standing next to the chair and the next he was standing next to Louis.

 

There was heavy silence and nobody dared to move. And then Leyll fell backward into his crew members, screaming like he was on fire. His furry paw was still attached to Louis’s shoulder but not to the arm like it should have.

 

Louis’s body went rigid and he thought he could have collapsed in revulsion at the sight of the dismembered paw. Tears welled up in the corner of his eyes, itching to leak out but he was too afraid to let them run with everyone around, especially Eadh’hard with his stony expression. Louis took shaky breaths, trying to focus on staying centred like he was taught. (Meditating would have been nice. He needed to calm himself, like Harry had done for him.)

 

The shadow man abruptly plucked the paw off of Louis’s shoulder and tossed it on the ground at Leyll’s feet. The lion man let out a ferocious yowl and lunched forward but his men had grappled onto him, pulling him back.

 

Milak Tsark stepped between the shadow and Leyll. “Your business with Master Vigo Ka Djo has been concluded. He will ask you to remove yourself and your labourers from his presence. Thank you.”

 

It seemed as if Leyll didn’t want to leave. By the snarling face it seemed like he was ready for blood. Louis could understand; his paw had been cut off after all. His men were having a hard time keeping him back but Louis had to admit he was impressed that they would be willing to put themselves at stake to grapple with the large beast of a man. Louis himself wouldn’t want to put himself in that position. He barely came up to the man’s chest: he could be eaten in one gulp.

 

“Marceau’Llus.” Eadh’hard spoke, dour and unnerving, “Escort Vigo Khel and his men to his ship and send them on their way.” A pause, “And remove that from my sight.” he gestured to the severed hand.

 

Louis nearly groaned. So the human shadow had a name. And it was as weird as every other name. Marc-Ee-Lus? Marc-El-Lus? Marcellus? He hummed and hawed over the name, the odd task giving him a peculiar sense of calm, especially in the situation he was in. But Louis decided stubbornly that Marcellus was a good sounding name for the man and it was the best he could do. (He really needed to work on his English. The funky names were really throwing him off.)

 

Marceau’Llus, now dubbed Marcellus in Louis’s head, picked up the severed hand and threw it across the room towards the entry way that Louis had originally entered in. Then he grabbed the red cloak clasped tight to Leyll’s squat neck and began to haul him forward. It seemed that Marcellus had some outlandish strength hidden in his shadowy form because no matter how much Leyll wriggled and clawed, he didn’t even flinch. Lyell’s men followed him without protest, probably eager to get out of sight of the intimidating Eadh’hard -Louis was still working on an easier name for him. Louis saw one of the men lean down and pick up the detached hand and cradled it carefully before hurrying out of sight.

 

Then it was Louis, Eadh’hard, the man named Milak Tsark and two other of the vigo’s cronies. At least he didn't have a cleaved off hand stuck to his shoulder anymore. He was still hungry as fuck though and his body was achy and ready for some good ol’ rest and relaxation. No more flaming hover crafts being thrown at him, no more creepy soldiers, no more beastly vigo leaders who wanted his sacred stone.

 

Something light brushed against the back of Louis’s neck and he whirled around, coming face to face Eadh’hard. He was close enough Louis could make out the tiny specks of the black facial hair above his top lip, reminding Louis of Harry and his scruffy visage. It was… Charming. Humanizing in some weird way. He didn’t seem to mind or care that Louis was inspecting him so intensely, instead of lifting his pale finger to brush against the tiny puncture marks on Louis’s neck left behind from Leyll Khel’s claws.

 

Primly, he spoke, “I don’t like liars.”

 

The only thing Louis seemed to be able to do was nod his head dumbly, watching the specks of light glint in the dark irises of his eyes. While he was taking in the form of the vigo in front of him, his mind was wandering elsewhere. Bed. Food. Water. Rest. By the Gods he needed food. Something to drink. Then his mind pointed out that Eadh’hard was fascinating to look at with his blend of dark and ashy features and he was actually rather envious of the sharp curve of his jawline, practically a blade. And then he thought of food again and he nearly groaned aloud. His eyes were still watery but the rest of his body was stiff and arid.

 

Dark eyes belonging to Eadh’hard were still locked onto his face when Louis realized he was gonna’s pass out, his stomach eating itself from the inside out. He wondered if Eadh’hard could notice his waning conscious because within moments he had conked out, crumbling to the ground. If he had stayed awake just a second longer then he would have realized that Eadh’hard had caught him, wrapping his arms around his slim waist and hauling him close to his chest.

-

And there Louis was, once again, waking up in a spaceship. He was so fed up that he just laid there, looking up at the plain white ceiling of the room. It was like waking up in the Rigel, as he was laying on a plush bed. It was a bit stiffer than that bed before, obviously never used. But, like the room on Leyll’s ship, it was all white. The soft, fluffed pillow cradling this head, big puffy blanket on top with a furry one beneath against his skin. And by skin Louis realized that he wasn’t wearing the clothes he had originally been in but some sort of silky gown that had ridden up on his thighs, letting his legs rub against the pilose comforter.

 

He groaned and rose up, scooting up on the bed until he was able to sit cross-legged. Yup, a silky pearl-hued gown with long sleeves that sat tight on his arms like a second skin and peaked over just the tip of his palms. The neckline was a big ‘u’ that fell past his collar bones revealing the top of his flat chest.

 

“Hello.”

 

Louis screamed and snatched the blankets and held them to his chest like a shield. It was a woman. Sort of.

 

“I am BD-5000 and I am here to attend to your needs.” She was silver all over other than her middle part where it looked like she was wearing a short black dress with a high neck and no sleeves. She had a headpiece that looked like a brunette hairdo that ended just beneath the ears. She seemed to be atomically corrected with wide hips, small waist, and even breasts. Her eyes were big blue lenses that looked like small computer screens.

 

“Um, where am I?” He asked her, unnerved by her appearance at his bedside.

 

“You are currently in suite 2809 aboard the Urania Imperial I-class Star Destroyer, captained by the reputable Eadh’hard Thraken Ka Djo.”

 

Louis blinked, stunned at her response. There were a lot of words happening, leaving her droid speaker mouth and a lot of them were confusing. “I.. uh..”

 

BD-5000 interrupted his bumbling, “A bath has been drawn and is waiting for you,” she announced. She walked over, looking mightily human and she gingerly pried the blankets away from Louis’s hands and picked him up from beneath his armpits and stood him on his feet. Louis gasped, unable to pry away from the droid’s cold hands.

 

“Um, a bath?”

 

“A quantity of water used for the purpose to cleanse,” BD-5000 said.

 

He nodded dumbly and let her gently grasp his bicep and she led him to a door on the far left. There was a small tech panel beside the door and she pressed the green button causing the door to slid open. Again, like the bathing room on the Rigel. All clean and white and shiny.

 

The tub looked like a giant stone bowl, like something Louis would have used for food back at home. It was filled with misty blue water, looking like the sky after a storm back on Dononter Minor. Louis glanced at BD-5000 awkwardly, not sure if he was willing to undress in front of her but she didn’t even seem to be looking at him, the screens of her eyes flipping through information like pages of a book. It was unnerving but it also reassured Louis that she was, in fact, a droid and undoubtedly had no interest in watching his nude form. So, carefully, Louis peeled the silky dress off and laid it on the top of the toilet seat, being conscious to not let the silky material slid to the floor.

 

Louis padded over to the tub, pausing at the edge so he could inspect his body. He had bruises on his arms from his elbows to his wrists, along with his ribs and sides, along his thighs and all the way down to his ankles. The bruises were pink with a darker pink around the edge and then a dark purple splotched around that, marring most of his skin. He groaned unhappily at the sight before lifting a leg up and dipping his toes into the water. It was warm. Not hot or cold but pleasantly warm. Not ideal to what he was used too but he decided he was sore enough (and dirty enough) that he didn’t even care anymore. With careful balance, he stepped over the stone edge and slid into the tub. It had a glossy polished inside and he was able to move smoothly down the side until he was sitting, the water coming up just beneath his collar bone.

 

Warm water was surprisingly nice, Louis found, especially against his bruises. BD-5000 came over and handed him a small bottle: the cleaning agent Niall had used on his hair. He accepted the bottle from her shyly and dripped it from the bottle straight onto his hair. Balancing the bottle on the tub edge, he scrubbed his hands through his hair until he reached a satisfying lather, pushing it up into a mohawk. Then he just relaxed, letting the foam sit on his head. He allowed himself to enjoy the soak, even until the water began to run cold and he decided that he needed to rinse his hair clean.

 

After he finished, Louis stood up and before he could even make a move, BD-5000 had gone and had done something to the tub, pushed a button or something, and the water began to swirl away from his feet. She then pulled a fuzzy white towel from the rack on the wall and held it open. 

Louis waited for her to make a move towards him but she didn’t, just held open the blanket. Unsure what else what to do, Louis stepped out of the tub, shaking his feet off and walked into the towel that BD-5000 wrapped around him securely.

 

Well, that was interesting. Louis wondered if she was supposed to be his caretaker or something. He guessed it would make sense that Eadh’hard would want him to be cared for, seeing as he possessed the prized jewel on his head. He probably wanted him in good shape for whatever he wanted him for. (To give to Zidar?)

 

BD-5000 backed off of him after she wrapped him up. Louis fixed the towel around himself to his comfort and he watched BD-5000 pluck the soft gown off the toilet lid, dripping it by the shoulders and held it out to him. Even though Louis had been dressed in it before it must have only been for a little while because it still seemed clean. He had no problem taking it from her and sliding it over his head, pulling the town out beneath it. He then pulled the towel over his head and began to rub his hair dry.

 

Now that he was clean the silky material of the dress felt even better. While he wasn’t used to the style of the dress, his body was too injured to even imagine dressing in something more restrictive. And it felt even better now that he was clean. He felt polished and smooth despite the fact that his fingertips and toes were wrinkled from the soak. At least he wasn't as sore anymore. The water seemed to have done some magic.

 

BD-5000 opened the bathing room door for him and allowed him to walk out into the bedroom. Louis perched on the edge of the bed, which was a huge circle. He had never seen a bed like it. It was like the moon was cradling him. The room, like the bed, was a big oval. The floor was a white tile but there was a white shag rug beneath the bed that stretched out around it so his bare feet weren’t cold as he sat at the edge. Beside the head of the bed was a little side table and around the edge of the room was a dresser, a tall but empty bookshelf and a desk that was like a half moon with a recliner-like chair sitting at it, a blanket was thrown over the back of it. There was another floating shelf beside the door, empty of any decorations. In the centre of the bedroom were hanging string lights that gave off a white light. Around the edge of the room were lights set into the ceiling, also bright white.

 

Louis wondered if anyone ever considered making a room themed green or blue. Everything seemed to be white or gray. A room with a nice deep green wall, perhaps with a brown tile. Something earthy. Or maybe even a stone wall. Something like back home. Louis was thinking about recolouring the room when BD-5000 emerged from the bathroom. Louis suspected she had cleaned it up from the little mess he had made.

 

He was tempted to ask for food from the droid but he wasn’t sure if he was allowed. She had said she was there to attend to his needs but again, he wasn’t sure how far he could push it. Louis sighed and pouted as he debated with himself, laying the blanket down around his shoulders to collect the droplets of water from his hair.

 

Someone knocked on the door and he yelped, jumping further into the middle of the bed, looking at the door wildly, his hands instinctually grabbing at the damp towel. Did he have to answer it? Was it another soldier? He chewed his lip and glanced over at the bathroom door where BD-5000 was. Without saying anything to him she walked over to the door and opened it. It was another droid that looked identical to her. The only difference is that she was gold instead of silver and the dress was red instead of black. She had the same hair and face. But the most important part was the fact she was holding a tray. A tray of food.

 

Towel flying off his hair, Louis rushed forward and before BD-5000 could accept it, he snatched it from the other droid’s hands. “Thank you!” he cried out. “I’ll take this out of your hands. Yes, yes!” he chirped happily, padding quickly back over to the bed and crawled on top of it. It was practically a small feast and Louis was going to savour every moment of it. There were exotic fruits and steaming vegetables, an assortment of greasy meats and potatoes, and even an array of different coloured cheeses. There were three cans of drinks: a water, a juice and a milk, all with little pop off, reusable lids. Louis barely knew where to start but he supposed it didn’t matter, it was all going to the same place.

 

Not even caring to pick up the utensils, Louis just used his fingers to pick up the slices of meat and shoved them into his mouth. He showed it up and then shoved a couple pieces of cheese in alongside it. Ah, yes. This is what he needed. He had been running on nothing for too long. Some much-needed fuel was exactly what the doctor ordered. (Louis guessed that if Liam knew how long he had been running on nothing, he probably would have prescribed some high carbs too.)

 

The meal didn’t last long, Louis gobbling it down within mere minutes, washing it down with water first, the cold caress refreshing on his throat. He wanted to savour his milk and juice, though. He probably should have paced himself with the food because he didn’t actually know if Eadh’hard -or whoever else- would feed him again. But Louis could barely find it in himself to care; he was way too hungry to just savour it. He figured that keeping the drinks might be in his best interest, just in case.

 

BD-5000 had been standing by the door the entire time, perhaps waiting for more visitors, Louis couldn’t be sure. When she realized he had finished eating she walked over to the bed and stacked the dishes neatly on the tray. She took it away from him and placed it on the shelf beside the door and punched something into the panel beside the door. The door panel was a lot more complex than the one beside the bathroom which just had an open and close button. This one had numbers and letters and symbols Louis had never seen before.

 

“BD-5000?” Louis said, carefully. The droid turned her head to look. “How long am I suppose to stay here?”

 

“You are under the guardianship of the reputable Captain Master Vigo Eadh’hard Thraken Ka Djo.” She responded.

 

Louis blinked at her. “That’s a mighty long title. How long, though? How long am I suppose to be in the custody of Captain Master Vigo Ed-hard, Thraken Can Dojo or whatever?”

 

“You are under the guardianship of the reputable Captain Master Vigo Eadh’hard Thraken Ka Djo.” She repeated again, voice completely void of any inflection.

 

Louis groaned and fell back into the bed, his legs still crossed with his drink cans leaning against them. “That doesn’t answer my question. Do you know what he’s going to do with me? Does he have a plan?” The droid stayed silent, so Louis asked, more delicately, “Is he going to kill me?”

 

“Master Eadh’hard receives no benefit from your demise.” She told him. “It is Master’s intention to keep you protected and able-bodied.”

 

Louis frowned, “So he’s going to keep me alive. And he’s going to feed me?” he sat up to take a sip of juice. He had to stop pouting in order to do so.

 

“Correct,” Came BD-5000’s response.

 

“Is he going to hand me over to Zidar?” Louis dared to ask.

 

“This droid is not authorized to provide you that information.”

 

Louis groaned again. So, it looked like Eadh’hard had all of his bases covered. He supplied a droid that would care for him but wouldn’t spill any secrets. She could answer questions but only questions that wouldn’t actually tell him anything of importance. There had to be some way around the restrictions. Louis just had to find out the right questions to ask.

 

Unfortunately, Louis didn’t have a lot of time to think of questions. As he sipped his juice and stared at the droid with steely eyes, as if he could intimidate her, there was a light rapping on the door. He quirked a brow, wondering if it was the other identical droid. BD-5000 gave nothing away, of course, and merely opened the door.

 

It definitely wasn’t the other droid. It was the shadow man. Marcellus.

 

It was sort of funny, seeing the shadow man in Louis’s new room. Especially with everything white and shiny while he was… Well. He was a tall, black shadow. Louis had a hard time explaining it any other way. Low hanging hood, high mask over his nose, gloves, and tall boots. Everything black.

 

Without moving from the bed, Louis tilted his head and inspected the man. Tall and lean, muscular legs and arms from what Louis could tell. He was completely silent when he walked despite the fact he had about an inch and a half of heel on his boot. In one of his arms was a bundle of white fabric, probably clothing. Louis kept the can at his lips, not drinking, just staring at the man over the brim.

 

Marcellus turned on the edge of his heel towards Louis. He paused and just stared. Or, at least, Louis thought he was staring. He couldn't tell with the big hood. Then he approached Louis with slow steps until he made it to the edge of the bed to Louis’s left side. He was less than an arm’s length from Louis. From where he was standing Louis was able to peek up the inside of the hanging hood. It was dark but he could make out the shine of the eyes underneath. Definitely a human and not a droid then.

 

With startling gentleness, Marcellus placed the clothes on the edge of the bed. Louis pulled the can away from his mouth and leaned over gingerly to inspect the garments. All pearly white like the nightgown he was wearing with silver metal embellishments lain on top. Marcellus didn’t say anything or react when Louis reached out to grab a silver bracelet. It was a thin strap with a tiny clasp on it but looked way too big for his wrist. (Maybe further up on his arm then?) He set it down and picked up the silver gauntlet instead that had three small clasps on it identical to the band. It had intricate swirls carved into it and it was quite beautiful. It had a craftsmanship that Louis had never seen back home.

 

Realizing Marcellus still hadn’t said anything, Louis glanced up at him through his eyelashes, “Am I suppose to wear these?” His answer was a sharp nod. Louis narrowed his eyes. “Where are my clothes?” No answer. “Why can’t I wear my clothes?” No answer again. “You don’t talk much, do you?” More silence. Louis sighed dramatically. “Well, I’m not changing in front of you.” Marcellus moved several steps away and turned his back to him. Rolling his eyes Louis asked, “How do I know you won’t peek?” It was partly a serious question and partly a ploy to annoy him. It seemed to do its job and Marcellus whipped around and Louis could imagine the glare beneath the hood. Louis nearly laughed, accidentally letting the tiniest smile slip.

 

Marcellus turned his back to him again and stayed stubbornly still. Louis took another drink of his juice, eyeing the broad back of the man. He threw his legs over the edge of the bed and the man still didn’t move. Louis wondered what he would do if he tried to run for the door. His brain quickly supplied the image of how quick he moved when he cut Leyll Khel’s paw off and Louis banished the thought of running away. It would be best to do that when he was alone, anyways.

 

Louis took another nonchalant drink from his juice, sad to discover it was nearly finished. He sat it down on the bedside table beside his milk. For another minute Louis just sat and watched Marcellus, amused. Marcellus seemed to realize that he wasn’t moving and whipped around. Fear froze Louis to his spot, his eyes widened when he realized that he maybe shouldn’t have tested the patience of the man who had cut off the hand of a giant feline vigo lord without a second thought.

 

Swiftly and with no hesitation, Marcellus reached forward and grabbed the neck of Louis’s nightgown and yanked. Beneath his grasp, the silky material ripped open and Louis screamed and struggled to get away, wrapping his arms around himself to try and keep himself decent in front of him. He ended up in the centre of the bed, his arms wrapped tightly around himself. The silky gown was ripped down to about his belly button, the edges frayed and the thread was unraveling.

 

Louis sat stunned for several moments, trying to catch his breathe after the scream tore out of him. He managed to find the courage to glance up at Marcellus who was staring down at him from beneath his hood. Gulping, Louis stupidly taunted, “What? That’s all you’re going to do?” His voice quivered.

 

“Get. Dressed.” Marcellus growled and Louis was struck but how baritone his voice was like it was coming straight from his chest. The heat from his words had Louis kicked into action and he began to pull the clothing apart from the pile. Satisfied, Marcellus turned his back on him, moving several steps forward.

 

Louis started with the shirt piece. it was white with no sleeves and a high collar and was extremely short. It had silver edges around the bottom, arms, and neck. The neck wasn’t fully closed at the front, leading into a large circular cut out over the chest. The part where the neck didn’t fully close had four delicate silver chains hanging from it to connect the two pieces. Louis slipped his arms out the front rip of the silk gown and let it bundle at his hips, clumsily sliding the new top on. He tried to do the chains up but wasn’t able too so just let them hang against his flesh. There was a large translucent square of fabric that he wasn’t sure the purpose of so he pushed those aside with the six silver bands and instead he clipped the gauntlets onto his forearms.

 

That left the largest garment: the bottoms. It seemed to be just swathes of fabric hanging from an elegant silver belt. When half up it looks like a skirt made up of two panels; a smaller one at the foot and a larger back one but beneath was a pair of pants. They had long front slits in them, held at the ankle with silver circlets. Louis hummed to himself as he inspected them. He had no desire to wear them at all and he almost told Marcellus where he could shove the pants but then thought better of it. He stood from the bed and the remains of the nightdress melted to his feet. With the fabric strategically gathered into his palms, Louis stepped into the pants one leg at a time before sitting at the edge of his bed. The back of the belt was adjustable so he had to reach around and fix it to his hips before he could lean down and fix his pants. The ankle circlets also had clasps to them and he clicked them into place on his petite ankles. Shoes were also provided and were little white flats with more silver edging and he slid his feet into them. They were strangely a perfect fit.

 

“Okay, I’m done now. Does this make you happy?” Louis snarked, crossing his arms over his chest. He felt naked in the outfit and wished he could have his other clothes back. He doubted that would go over well with Marcellus if he started demanding them back.

 

At Louis’s voice, Marcellus turned around and seemed to be inspecting him. With far more care than Louis thought he was capable of, Marcellus grasped his upper arm and pulled him to his feet. With his gloved hands, he plucked the silver bands from the bed and began to do them up on his bicep. Louis froze, eyes wide at the gentle administration and let the man do what he wanted. Despite his gloves, he was able to take the tiny hanging chains at his neck and clicked them into place easily. When he finished he grabbed the thin textile and wrapped it around the back of Louis’s back. With the shadow man so close, Louis’s entire body stiffened. He was just a couple inches away from his chest, right at the junction of the cape folds. He gulped, tempted to lean away but he knew he wasn’t able to. And then he wondered what Marcellus would do if he leaned against his chest. He gave a little grin at the idea but quickly schooled his features hoping that Marcellus hadn’t noticed.

 

Marcellus pulled away and Louis looked down and inspected what he had done. He had taken the crystalline fabric and had attached it to the arms of his ivory top, creating a cape that ended to just past his knees. Louis quirked a brow. Cute.

 

“So now that you’ve got me all dressed up, what are you gonna do with me?” Louis sneered, crossing his arms over his chest and popped his lip out. He doubted he would intimidate the man but it couldn’t hurt to pretend to be over-confident.

 

“We are going to see Eadh’hard.” Marcellus intoned, completely unflinching and unamused by the bravado Louis was displaying.

 

Louis sighed, “Fine. Let’s go see Edward.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirteen 

You’ve Got A Dangerous Heart 

 

It was humorous the way that Marcellus made a noise when Louis butchered his master’s name but other than that, he mostly ignored his comment and just turned and walked to the bedroom door. Louis rolled his eyes and followed after the shadow man, the ivory robes flowing around him as he moved. He felt very self-conscious of his stomach but decided that since they were the ones who dressed him in the garments they would have to suffer in seeing the soft pudge of flesh at his lower abdomen.

 

Marcellus opened the door and let Louis step out before he turned left and lead the way down the hall. Louis glanced over his shoulder to see if BD-5000 was following too but she stayed in her spot in his newly acquired room. A part of him was disappointed because it would have offered him some comfort to have her with him even though she was only programmed to take care of him by the same men who had taken him.

 

Louis had expected his room to be down low on the ship, like some kind of dirty secret they were carting around but that wasn’t the case. He was actually quite high up. One of the halls they passed had completely clear walls and it looked like he was walking on top of the stars themselves. If Louis gulped nervously and hurried closer to the fast walking shadow man, no one had to know.

 

They had a lot of corridors to wind through to get to wherever Marcellus was leading them. Doors were practically decorations with how many there were and Louis wondered how many of them were bedrooms and how many contained other things, Secrets? He inspected them as they walked but they all looked identical other than the numbers on plaques there were in the middle of them.

 

“Soooo… Do you have a bedroom?” Louis asked, filling the silence.

 

Unsurprisingly, Marcellus didn’t answer.

 

“How did you get your name?” Louis asked instead. “Does it mean something? Mine means ‘renowned warrior’ which is a bit ridiculous because I’m not famous or a warrior. Well, maybe I am famous because of the whole holocron thing but renowned sort of insinuates that I’ve done something noteworthy and worth celebration which I really haven’t at all. No talents, unfortunately. Not particularly strong or brave either. I mean, a warrior is a person specializing in combat or warfare. I specialize in neither. Well, I truly specialize in nothing. I’m not warrior material. The holocron really picked the worst person to attach itself too. So, anyways, your name? Does it mean anything?” It was like his mouth wouldn’t stop moving. Words kept spilling out and he couldn’t stop them. Just words and words, spilling out of his throat to a man he hadn’t even seen the face of.

 

Louis knew that Marcellus was listening by the tilt of his head but he didn’t respond at all. Louis sighed. “How about Ed- Uh… Ed-hard? Edward? What does his name mean? How long have you known each other?”

 

Of course, Marcellus didn’t respond to the question and just slowly said, “Eadh’hard.”

 

Rolling his eyes, Louis huffed, “I know. It’s just really hard. I am getting used to speaking English for the majority of the time. Do I sound like a native English speaker to you?” He asked curiously, reaching out to run his fingertips lightly against the wall and doors as he was escorted. “Are you a native English speaker?” More silence. “Is being the strong, silent type your usual thing or does Edward pay you to do it?” At this Marcellus made a miffed noise in the back of his throat but Louis wasn’t sure if it was because of the question or because he messed up Edward’s name again. “Does he pay you? Or are you just helping out? I don't really know how criminal syndicates work.” It seemed like, after the episode in Louis’s room, Marcellus was suddenly blessed with the patience of the Gods because despite all of Louis’s badgering he didn’t even turn and look at him. He did, however, hurry his pace so as if he could get away from him. Louis thought it was funny, seeing as he was supposed to be escorting him and if anyone should have been running away, it should have been Louis.

 

Eventually, Louis recognized where they were. For some reason, Louis thought that having clean skin, rest, and a full stomach would change his perception but it didn’t really. Everything looked the same; smooth and immaculate. The only difference was that his stomach wasn’t flipping around ready to devour itself.

 

Marcellus lead him up the ramp back into what Louis assumed was the control room. Instead of walking down the centre catwalk like Leyll Khel did, Marcellus walked around the left side, staying close to the walls and, much to Louis’s amusement, hidden in the shadows. Watching him move was humorous enough that Louis nearly didn’t feel eyes flickering up at him. Nearly. He made the mistake of glancing over, his face burning when he saw people inspecting him. Awkwardly he tried to move his arms around his midsection but it didn’t do much. Even though Louis has been fine dressed so revealing in the corridors but because they were empty it wasn’t hard. In front of all the uniformed officers, though, it was a lot harder to get over his body insecurity.

 

Thinking about such things, Louis hadn’t been paying attention to Marcellus’s walking and nearly ran into him when he stopped at the end of the walkway. “Oh! Um… You stopped. Okay then. We wait here? You and me? Just going to stand here then?” he shuffled, fumblingly with his hands. Shake of the head from Marcellus and he pulled a gloved hand out from beneath his robe to point. Louis glanced over to the main platform where he indicated. The chair didn’t have a robe over it like last time and the back was turned to Louis and Marcellus.

 

“Ohhhh.” Louis nodded, “Got it.” He walked over and hovered unsurely behind the chair. “Um, hi? It’s me. Again. Obviously. Seeing as you wanted to see me. Um, my name is Louis.”

 

At that, the chair turned around. It was Edward if course, this time actually wearing the robe. It looked so big and comfy it might as well have been a blanket. He was reclined and didn’t look to have a care in the world. “Your human name means nothing to me.” He drawled.

 

“Well, if my human name doesn’t mean anything, my human form sure does,” Louis quirked a brow. “Bath, food, a nice room. And, uh, these clothes. If we want to call them that.” He picked at the silver belt he had sitting on his hips.

 

Edward tilted his head, resting his cheek on the tips of his fingers as he inspected Louis. His eyes were dark, like obsidian, as they wandered over him. Louis shuffled, uncomfortable beneath his gaze. “Are you aware of how the holocron works?” he finally asked, amused, like Louis was a tiny delightful morsel for him to play with.

 

Louis nearly laughed at the question, even though the way Edward was looking at him gave him goosebumps. Of course, he didn’t know how the jewel worked. He didn’t need to know how. It just did. He opened his mouth to say just that to Edward but paused because it sounded so Zhabe to him. Something his mother or father would say, or someone else from the village. Someone who wasn’t Louis. He snapped his mouth shut when he thought about it. He wasn’t Zhabe. Not really. He was biologically human and inherently curious and as a child, his village couldn’t get him to shut up or quit asking questions. For some reason, Louis didn’t want to sound plebeian in front of Edward so he refused to say anything to his question. Instead, he steeled his gaze and crossed his arms.

 

The edges of Edward’s mouth curled up like he knew what Louis was thinking, “You’re not anything but a vessel for that stone. It’s feeding off your body. You can’t be a good host for the holocron if you're debilitated.”

 

Well, that was not what Louis thought he was going to say. He brought his hand up to touch the stone embedded in his skin. It was the weirdest feeling, going from smooth, soft skin to the hard stone that stuck out. If he ran his nail against it, he couldn’t feel it other than on his finger. Even if he pushed down on it, it didn’t affect his skin or head at all. Louis ran his fingers around the rim of the gem, catching his nails against the edges. This tiny blue rock was feeding off of him? Feeding off of his nutritions? Feeding off of his life force? What was it eating? Was it eating him? Was he going to end up a shriveled corpse, nothing left of him but bone and the freaking stone? His fingers gave a slight tremble at the thought and he pulled his hand away quickly.

 

Edward moved his hands so he could steep his fingers in front of him, elbows resting on the armrests. His facial expression was caught somewhere between amused and smug and Louis didn’t like it one bit.

 

“Explain the clothes,” Louis ordered, trying to banish the blush out of his cheeks.

 

“There is nothing to explain.”

 

“Well, I think there is something to explain. I’m wearing this weird cape. I’m wearing this weird shirt. I’m wearing these weird pants. Look, there is just a bunch of weird things happening here,” he gestured his hands around his chest for emphasize. “I just think we should address the weirdness happening here.”

 

“You have quite a mouth on you. I’m not sure I like it.” Edward mused. It didn’t really seem like he was speaking to Louis, more to himself, but Louis didn’t particularly care.

 

Popping his hip, Louis gave a good facade of daring, “Hm, yes. I’ve been told my mouth is intimidating. It’s okay, you’re not the first person I’ve browbeaten. Surely not the last.” He sniped, sticking his nose in the air. If Edward could act haughty so could he.

 

“I do not care for your mouth and if you didn’t need to be fed or hydrated I would have it sewn shut.” He hissed, leaping to his feet, the cape twirling around his legs. Louis stumbled back, surprised by the action. He hadn’t realized Marcellus had walked up right behind him and he tripped over his feet right into his chest. He gasped and tried to jerk away but Marcellus gripped his upper arms, the cape caught between the leather of his gloves and Louis’s flesh. At the feeling of Marcellus’s hands, Louis stilled, staring up at Edward with huge blue eyes like crystals. Edward’s furious expression slowly morphed into a small smile.

 

“There.” He murmured, ghosting a finger in front of Louis’s lips. “That’s how I like it.” his nail, well manicured and long, flicked at the bow of Louis’s top lip and he flinched away. He pulled away and tucked his hands neatly in front of himself before walking over to the large windows. With his back now to them, Marcellus slowly let his hands slid down from Louis's arms.

 

“You’re going to kill me?” Louis asked.

 

Edward didn’t turn to look at him, “No. I believe I made myself perfectly clear. If you die then the holocron won’t have anything to feed off of.” He glanced over his shoulder, “We’ll fix that soon.”

 

Louis frowned, “What do you mean?”

 

“You’re unfortunately inquisitive,” he seemed to be inspecting something outside the window. “Marceau’Llus, thank you for showing me that the holocron has been well cared for. Just as much as a handful as you insinuated.” Louis could have been mistaken but he thought Edward may have softened his voice when speaking to Marcellus. “I have important matters to attend too.” He abruptly turned, his cape flying behind him as he charged down the centre catwalk and disappeared.

 

Louis huffed, “Well, he’s aggravating. And cryptic.” He turned to Marcellus, “Must run in the business.”

 

 

 

Immanently, Louis wasn’t made to sit in a room for long periods of time. It was peculiar because he did spend most of his time at home, spending time with his sibling hatchlings and his mother. Or he was with Levone in her hut. Thinking about it now, Louis realized he spent a lot of his time at home in either his hut or Levone’s. It was rather ridiculous that he hadn’t been home for so long even though he spent nineteen years if his life living modest and mundane in his family hut.

 

There was nothing modest or mundane about life aboard the Urania.

 

It was excessive meals, extravagant clothing and a lot of wasting time. Lots of wasting time. For Louis, it was almost unreal how much he wasn’t doing. It seemed after the initial meeting with Edward, he wasn’t interesting anymore. Not as if he had grown bored with Louis (No, no. Louis imagined if that happened then he wouldn’t be around still.) but as if he couldn’t be bothered to take time out of his day.

 

It was almost insulting. Louis was stuck on his ship, wearing his clothes, eating his food and bathing in his facilities and he couldn’t even come and visit him? The audacity. Of course, Louis supposed being mad at Edward was like biting the hand that feeds you. Despite popular belief, Louis wasn’t actually being badly treated. Was he being kept against him will? Absolutely. Louis also suspected that he was being groomed to be the holocron’s proverbial last meal. He couldn’t stop thinking about what Edward had said to him and he imagined that the fancy feasts and lavish baths were all part of him trying to care for the stone. He wasn’t even a human to Edward, just a vessel for the holocron.

 

Louis had wet a towel with cold water and laid it out on the tile of the main bathroom to lay on it. He was completely naked, a tiny and also wet hand towel laid against his stomach. Beside the towel he had set another dry towel folded neatly, just in case he got any visitors. Of course, Louis didn’t really get visitors. That would insinuate he had friends or people who cared for him who wanted to see him. Or that Edward was taking time out of his busy day to get people to shake him down. Not even torture was on Edward’s register when it came to Louis.

 

If anyone constituted as a visitor it would have been Marcellus. The room, Louis had discovered early on, was unlocked. He could potentially walk out at any time however Marcellus seemed to always be outside the door or even in the room when he woke up, hence why Louis kept the spare towel next to himself just in case he decided to pop up. Louis wasn’t sure if it was because Marcellus liked to mess with him or if he had been asked to watch out for him. Or maybe he was supposed to stand outside to make sure he didn’t go wandering around by himself. It seemed highly unlikely Edward would ask him to do that. He probably had him showing up to make sure the jewel was still okay and intact. (Perhaps he was worried Louis would do something hasty and try and get rid of it?)

 

Thinking about all of Edward’s potential motives had his head spinning and all Louis could do was lift the wet rag up from his stomach to his neck and sigh.

 

Four days. He had been on the Urania for four days. Louis held his hands up in the air and inspected the pink knuckles and chewed down nails. How had this happened? Four days on a ship with people he didn’t know and certainly didn’t trust.

 

He made fists and watched the way the veins rolled beneath his skin. That made a week of not being home. He hadn’t seen his parents or siblings in so long it made his heart swell with pain.

 

He flipped his index fingers up: his mom and dad. Then he flipped up his middle fingers for his sisters, the oldest of the bunch named Sylwia and Grazyna. Then his ring fingers for his nest sister Zosia and brother Slawomir. Lastly, he flipped up the tiny finger on his right hand for the youngest nestling, his brother Taszio. Seven fingers for the family he left behind on Dononter Minor. Seven days that he hadn’t seen them.

 

Louis dropped his hands onto his chest. They probably noticed immediately that he hadn’t returned home. He wondered what Levone told them. She must have walked back out to check on him and see he had disappeared. Would they think he had been attacked by an animal? Been eaten by a widow-maker?

 

Moving the wet rag to cover his face, Louis groaned. When that wasn’t enough he held his hands over his mouth and screamed into them. Satisfied, he let his hands drop to the ground beside him. Louis flipped the bottom half of the rag to reveal his mouth. “BD-5000?”

 

“Yes Louis?” came the droid’s robotic voice from across the room, over-pronouncing his name humorously.

 

“I have these bookshelves but no books.”

 

“Correct.”

 

“Could you get me a book? A book on holocrons, specifically?”

 

“This droid is not authorized to provide you that information.”

 

Louis ripped the rag away from his face and sat up a lot quicker than he meant to, his vision blurring at the edges. He faltered and had to wait for the spots to disappear, “What do you mean?” he cried out. “I can’t read anything about holocrons? I am the holocron!” he argued.

 

“This droid is not-,”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I get it. You’re not authorized to provide me that information.” He groaned and rubbed at his face. “Is this ship built on secrets? The Kingdom of Secrets: Imperial Star Destroyer Addition? Like, what is happening in this ship?”

 

Oh. Oh. Sometimes Louis was too smart for his own good. He grinned.

Chapter Text

Chapter Fourteen 

This Ain’t The Moon, This Is Burning Sun 

 

Nighttime was sort of a soft suggestion on the Urania Star Destroyer. At least for everyone not named Louis. Louis knew it was time for his retirement when Marcellus came knocking. (The door was unlocked. He could walk in whenever he wanted. Louis didn't know why he had a knocking compulsion.) He would knock four times on the door and BD-5000 would open it for him. It was curious for Louis who figured Marcellus would the sort to just walk into any room whenever he wanted. It seemed though he was treating Louis with a degree of respect. That brought up the question of Edward knowing. Did he know Marcellus, his trusted bodyguard, knocked politely on the door until the droid would open it for him? That seemed highly unlikely. Or perhaps Marcellus was just inherently polite.

 

Laughable.

 

There was four knocks on the door and BD-5000 walked over to the door. Louis sipped his water from the reusable pop can he had and watched with amused eyes as Marcellus entered the room with sweeping robes.

 

“Bedtime?” Louis guessed with a smirk.

 

Marcellus nodded. Louis gave an exaggerated sigh and took another large drink before placing the drink on the nightstand. Kicking the blankets up, Louis slid underneath before flipping them back over his shoulders and cuddling underneath them. He gave Marcellus a levelled look as he did so as if to prove he could be a good boy. Marcellus paused and seemed surprised by his obedience before he continued on.

 

He proceeded to do his usual walk around the room, hands neatly folded in front of him. Louis’s eyes narrowed at the broad black shoulders as he prowled about. Louis watched him stalk around the room, knowing very well there was going to be something different.

 

Louis was going to find out his secrets.

 

It had been a plan years in the making. Well, it actually, like, three days but Louis felt like he had been on the Urania for a lifetime. The plan called for, well, heavy planning, lots of observing and testing Marcellus’s patience.

 

Entering the bathroom as if he was going to find a monster in there waiting for Louis to go to bed, Marcellus checked everything within before whirling out and stalking across the room. He hesitated at the end of Louis’s bed, and Louis began to sit up but he rushed out before either one of them could say anything. (Not like he was going too, Louis thought. He rarely spoke as it was.) Louis frowned, unsure if the man could sense he had a plan or knew something was off. It made an uncomfortable knot in his stomach. He prayed to his Gods that it was nothing and his paranoia was causing him to over think.

 

Just like the other nights, BD-5000 went to the corner of the room and powered down. It was as if she was programmed to shut down after Marcellus came to visit. (Again, another curious thing about the Urania.)

 

The first night she had shut down when Marcellus had come to visit, Louis had freaked out and tried to wake the droid to see if she would kick him out or explain something. Of course, nothing happened and Marcellus waved him onto the bed, seeming disgruntled. The second night Marcellus had walked in, Louis refused to get on the bed. Marcellus picked him up by his arms like he was a toy and sat him on the bed. Louis had shot out of it, more like a disobedient child than a toy and Marcellus was reduced to setting him back on the bed three more times before Louis got tired of being picked up like one of his sister’s dolls and just stayed. The third night Louis had waited until Marcellus left the room before he followed, peeking out after him. He had turned left and disappeared like the humongous shadow he was. Louis, feeling brave, had followed him to the end of the corridor but heard people talking so quickly rushed back to his room.

 

Laying in the dark, Louis wasn’t sure how much time had gone by since Marcellus had left. It had eventually seemed long enough that Louis slid out of the bed. He was dressed in another nightgown, floor length with a ‘v’ down to his ribs. There were three little straps stretching across the neck opening and there were long chiffon sleeves hanging down over his hands. He wished he could have changed into something less flowing but all his clothes were supplied by Marcellus in the morning.

 

With one hand gripping the bottom of his robe to keep it up from his feet, he used the other to open the keypad on the door. Everyday BD-5000 would enter the same code and didn’t seem to care if he watched her or not so it was no hassle for Louis to recall and enter it.

 

The lights in the corridor outside were dimmed like the ship was accommodating to the night time schedule. Louis was surprised by this. During the night he could hear men and women walking -sometimes running- and talking in the hallways, sometimes for hours. Obviously, Marcellus wasn’t enforcing a curfew on any of them. Which, rude.

 

His feet were hot and sweaty and bare so when he walked the pads of them got stuck to the ground. Marcellus came and left by turning left so that’s where Louis would go. He skittered along the edge, a part of him worried that someone would jump out of one of the doors. He continued on anyways, his breath stuck in his throat like a bad virus.

 

The end of the corridor turned into one hall on the right and he immediately turned along with it. He followed the way Marcellus had led him on the way to see Edward but paused. Instead of going straight through the big glass corridor that he remembered so vividly from the first walk, he turned right. The right hallway led down into steps and he hesitated. He hadn’t ventured on any of the other floors before, not since Leyll Khel had brought him in.

 

Had Marcellus gone back to the main control room? Was he in there with Edward? That seemed so unlikely. It was night, why would they be there?

 

More determined, Louis went down the stairs.

 

Okay, so it turns out Louis probably wasn't actually a genius, despite his thoughts previously. Walking around the starship at night, wearing nothing but a silk nightgown was probably one of the dumbest things he had ever done. (He wondered what his mother would say if she found out. She didn’t like it when he let his curiosity get the better of him, so it wouldn’t be anything good.)

He was on the next floor. An unfamiliar place. Hesitating, Louis curled his toes and rocked onto his heels. He could just turn and head back to his room. He could. And he wasn’t going too. Louis wasn’t good at being bored and he wasn’t good at ignoring his own instincts. He knew he had to keep going. So he did.

 

It was such an odd thing, seeing the lights dim when they were usually so bright. It made the entire ship creepier. Louis felt as if he should have been able to see his own breath, like how it was during the nights at home. He kept walking further.

 

At some point, the doors seemed to have gotten bigger and he glanced over his shoulder with a frown. He had been so on edge about someone jumping out or seeing him that he hadn’t even noticed. Mentally berating himself, Louis noticed the entire hallway seemed to have bigger doors and he picked up his pace. They must have been offices instead of bedrooms, Louis figured to himself. Sort of like the layout for the Rigel from what he recalled.

 

He kept going until he made it to the end of the hallway which gave away to another set of stairs. He followed it but could tell innately that there was something different. He pushed away his instinct to run back up the stairs and powered on, his toes numb with cold. At the bottom of the stairs was another corridor and he could have rolled his eyes. Of course, there was another hall. The entire ship was made of hallways.

 

Taking one glance at it Louis turned to head back up. One foot made it on the first step when he paused. Louis glanced over his shoulder to look back again. It looked like a simple corridor like all the others. However, there was nothing at the end. It looked strange. Unnatural. Louis had to stare at it for another minute before he realized what was so unnatural.

 

It was because there was nothing at the end. No door, no give away to another hall or set of steps. It was just the hallway with six sets of large doors. The inner rooms were double doors, making them more distinct than the rest.

 

What were the chances of Louis stumbling upon something weird in the biggest fucking ship in the galaxy in one night?

 

It was a trick. It had to be. Louis couldn’t imagine he was just that damn good that he could find exactly what he wanted the first time he wanted too.

 

And then his forehead throbbed.

 

Oh.

 

Louis hadn’t even been paying attention to himself with how paranoid he had been creeping through the ship. He raised a shaking right hand in front of his face. The blue veins covering his bodies shimmered. Gulping, his raised his fingers to touch the gem. Hot.

 

So even if Louis himself wasn’t lucky, the gem sure as fuck made sure he went where he desired. He clenched his hands and veins shimmered again. It must have led him; he couldn’t think of anything else. The gem was feeding off of him, it was a part of him. It knew what he wanted and led him to it. Just like how it protected him out on the street that day. It could tell that Louis was in danger and kicked in, protecting its host. Like Edward had said. Absently, Louis ran his fingers over the gem, thinking. If it was acting on preservation instincts alone to keep the host, Louis, safe, then why would it lead him through the ship? Did it know that whatever he was going to find would help him in some way?

 

Abruptly, like a broken lightbulb, Louis’s blue veins turned on and bathed the entire hall in blue light. He gave a startled squeak and he flung himself into the double doors on the right side of the hall, stumbling over his own two feet. When his body hit the doors, the keypad which had been glowing red -meaning it was locked- beeped, turned green, and the doors fell open. (If Louis was thinking about it, he would have realized that it was because of the power of the Holocron fucking around.)

 

Louis fell on his face into the room, hissing when his forehead smacked the cold ground. The doors fell closed with a click and Louis was alone in the room.

 

Or so he thought.

 

 

 

 

 

Harry groaned and rolled over. His body was practically screaming at him, his back stiff and sore but he just couldn’t lay still for any longer. He groaned again and tried to roll his shoulders. They popped and he hissed, refusing to open his eyes. He was laying on something soft, thank the gods. Despite this, his body was still tensed and achy and a growl rumbled in his chest.

 

“Hey, hey, man you’re okay.” Came a voice from somewhere to his right. If Harry hadn’t been in so much pain he probably would have reacted violently but, too sore to move, he just snapped his teeth in irritation. “Sorry, sorry. I’ll back off. I’m not gonna hurt you,” the voice soothed.

 

He ignored the voice and arched his back, trying to loosen his muscles. It felt like his entire spine cracked from the back of his neck down right down to his hips. It sent tremors through his entire body and a sound akin to a whimper emerged from his throat.

 

“Ew, that’s so gross.” Came the voice again. Just because he could, Harry twisted his aching back again. It gave another crack and the voice groaned in disgust. Someone else snickered.

 

Body tired, Harry let his stiff shoulders fall back against the bed. He forced himself to open his eyes, his curiosity spiking. There was a blinding white above him and he was forced to squint. Harry raised his hands in front of his eyes to try and shield himself, turning in the bed to where he had heard the voices.

 

It was a couple of brunette boys. Harry blinked, trying to focus his eyes. Okay, there was only one brunette boy. Slowly, Harry pushed himself with one of his arms, his self-preservation instinct kicking in. His muscles protested the movement but he held back any more noises, putting on a brave face. Cautiously, he inspected himself. Dirty and sore, unsurprisingly. He’d been stripped of his top and he was bandaged on his arms, torso and there were butterfly stitches on his temple; he could feel them were the splitting pain was. He brought his fingertips to touch it but as soon as his fingers grazed the stitching, hot pain flared up and he quickly yanked his hand away.

 

“Here, take this.” Harry’s eyes snapped up. It was a broader man with short brown hair and rough whiskers. Harry wasn’t sure if he had been in the room the entire time or had just entered but he supposed it didn’t matter. (He could have been the other voice too. That would make sense.)

 

“Drugs?” He accepted the two cups from him. One was filled with water and the other had two green pills.

 

The man chuckled, “Don’t worry. It’s just pain killers.” Harry gave a stiff shrug before throwing the pills into his mouth and taking a drink. The pills went down easily. “You’re surprisingly trusting,” the man chuckled.

 

Harry snorted, “Not really. I just don’t see the point of you killing me after patching me up. Seems counter-productive.” He glanced down at the bandages on his body to prove his point.

 

“Well, you’re right there. I’m Liam, a doctor.” he held his hand out and Harry shook it.

 

“I’m Niall. I’m the one who found you,” the brunette perked up. Taking a better look at him Harry noted that he was dirty as if he hadn’t had a chance to clean up after spending a day outside in the dirt. There was a sweat stain on his chest. His pants had a rip on the left knee and his jacket was extremely dusty. The one side of his hair was matted down and the other was sticking straight up, pieces of dirt evident in the strands.

 

Shaking his hand too, Harry jerked his chin towards him, “Look a bit rough, mate.” he pointed out, cocking an eyebrow.

 

Niall chuckled and scratched the back of his head, “Yeah, I was helping Liam get you sorted. Dragged you from the wreck of the ship and everything,” he hesitated. “And I was trying to find my friend.”

 

“Louis.”

 

At the sound of the name, Niall’s entire body jerked, his eyes widening comically. Harry nearly laughed but he had something far greater on his mind. “Louis wasn’t with me?” He asked, eyes glancing around as if expecting the blue-eyed boy to pop out at any moment.

 

Liam’s head snapped between them, “Louis was with you?” He asked, shocked.

 

Harry groaned and dropped his face into his hands, his worry for Louis overpowering any of the psychical pain he was in. “Yes! He was with me! Where is he?” he tried to tame the fear that was creeping into his voice but he didn’t think he was very successful.

 

Stumbling to his feet, Niall looked between his companion and Harry in panic, “We don’t know!” He cried out, throwing his hands up in the air. “You were the only one in the ship wreckage when we found you! Oh, fuck! He could be seriously hurt!”

 

Yeah, he could be and Harry wasn’t with him. His heart clenched and he felt as if he could have been sick with the idea. And oh Gods, that also meant Louis could be anywhere. Gritting his teeth, Harry swung his legs over the side and looked at the men, green eyes shining, “We have to find him. I have to find him. Please.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Fifteen 

Halfway Sadness

 

Lifting himself up with his forearms, Louis shook his head, trying to find some semblance of balance after falling through the doors and hitting the ground like an imbecile. The floor seemed colder in the room than it had been in the hallway and Louis shivered in his light gown. He pushed himself to his knees, running his hands over his thighs to warm them up. (Gods, he needed his old clothes again.)

 

Louis looked up and he felt as if all the air in the galaxy had left. He had seen so many extraordinary things but nothing could compare to what was in front of him. A huge vertical tub filled with some sort of fluid. And inside… Was some type of creature. Louis couldn’t take his eyes off of the magnificent being. He looked like some sort of divine being, tall and pale and naked, with a kind face. Louis couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

 

The creature had skin that seemed almost blue, maybe from the tinge of the water. His limbs were longer than they should have been: long thin arms and long thin legs. His feet and hands were huge to and it seemed like fins wanted to start growing between his elongated fingers. His torso was also long and gaunt, arched as he floated, revealing his sharp spine bone. He -weirdly enough- had a cock, long and thin and flaccid resting against a skinny thigh. His neck was lengthy and his jaw was weirdly strong and square compared to the rest of its body. Broad nose, high cheekbones, and tiny ears. His lips were the same colour of his skin and his eyes were oddly large for his face. Large and green. And he had long brunette curls floating around his face like a halo.

 

“Harry…” Louis breathed, timidly reaching up towards the tank.

 

The creature tilted its head, a sad smile lifting at his lips. Slowly it brought up a large hand, resting his fingers against the glass. Louis scrambled to his feet and rushed towards the tank, pressing his hands against the tank where his was, the glass the only barrier between them.

 

“How do you…? How are you living in this?” He asked curiously, his voice barely higher than a whisper.

 

He obviously understood and he jerked his head, spinning his hair forward in the water to reveal the back of his head. There were tubes leaving out of the back of him and now that Louis was paying attention, he saw them leaving out of the top of the open lid of the tank. The tubes lead into some kind of huge machines behind him. Machines that looked otherworldly to Louis. They seemed scary and foreboding sitting behind the enchanting creature.

 

“You’re not Harry. But you look like him.” Louis murmured, inspecting the glass carefully. He messaged his palms against the glass as if he would be able to feel the being, perhaps even comfort him. “Do you have a name?”

 

 

The being pointed down to something at the bottom of the tank and Louis immediately bent down to inspect what he was indicating too. The bottom of the tank, the stand, was completely black and seemed to be filtering out air or something, Louis wasn’t sure how it worked. But etched on the top was C: HKD0094 - AS//UNSU

 

Louis narrowed his eyes and ran his fingers against it. “What does that mean? That’s you?” An eager nod from the creature. “Well, that’s not a very good name. You deserve something nicer.” He murmured, looking up into the green eyes. “What about…” He hummed and hawed, his eyebrows furrowing in thought. “Bahram?” A shake of the head. Louis pouted. “Um, Celio?” Another shake of the head. “You’re not making this easier for me, are you?” He giggled and the creature grinned widely. He had dimples. “Anhur?” The creature wasn’t pleased with that either, considering the way the dimples disappeared pretty fast. “Kalani?” The creature considered it for a long time, running his long fingers against the glass. “Is that a yes? A maybe?” The creature giggled and he pushed away from the glass, curled up into a ball and flipped around in the water surprisingly agile, even with the tubes.

 

“Kalani it is then.”

 

The creature, Kalani cooed happily, tapping his fingers against the glass.

 

Louis leaned against the container, staring up into the face of Kalani, “I wonder why they have you. You must be of some value to them…” This incited another purr from the creature and Louis smiled. “Don’t worry. I’ll figure a way out of here for both of us.” That was if Kalani could be sustained outside of the liquid. Louis barely knew how he was going to escape, let alone free the creature being kept in the tub. What even was he? He looked like Harry -and Edward- but as if he wasn’t fully developed. Louis’s mind was racing with possibilities of what he could be. A sibling? Would that make Harry and Edward siblings? Louis had been considering that possibility for the last few days, seeing as they were practically identical. Perhaps Kalani was another Edward or Harry? Louis wasn’t sure how that worked but he was struggling with logical explanations. The fact that Harry and Edward looked the same was too unreal but now Kalani? Despite the obvious differences Kalani had, his similar face was still oddly coincidental. Louis hated not knowing and he was determined that he was going to find out.

 

(What would his mother think? Him wondering around at night and being curious? She would be aghast.)

 

It seemed as if Kalani wanted to respond to the sentiment of freeing him but before he could Louis heard the sound of doors automatically swinging opening. Frowning, Louis hurried over to the doors and pushed them apart less than an inch so he could peer through. The double doors across were still swaying from being opened. “Fornuskrill!” He hissed, whipping his head over his shoulder to look at Kalani again.

 

“I need to get back to my room!” he told the creature. “I’ll be back to see you. I promise!”

Kalani gave him a wide-eyed mournful look that Louis couldn’t bare to withstand and he threw himself out the doors. Without pausing, he shot towards the stairs, his bare feet slapping the ground so hard it was practically painful. He made it back to his room in record time and threw himself onto the bed, scrambling to get under the blankets. Finally, underneath them, he threw the covers over his head and laid in the darkness, letting the heat sink into his skin. His heart was beating erratically in his chest, panting unevenly in hot puffs.

 

Then his door opened.

 

The erratic beating and breathing abruptly stopped and Louis laid completely still, blood pumping in his ears. He squirmed a bit, sticking his face out the edge of the hot blankets to let himself cool off. He closed his eyes halfway, letting black spots dance in the corner of his vision. Everything was blurred, but he was able to see shapes and outlines. Straining his ears, he could hear soft steps. A dark form came into his field of vision and he quickly shut his eyes, trying to keep his face relaxed and his breathing even. The soft clicking steps stopped and Louis could feel someone standing in front of him. He felt as if he would never breathe again, terrified to even move. He kept his ears strained, waiting for confirmation that the person moved away. They didn’t seem to want to, though. Louis thought he might day waiting for the person to leave.

 

Soft steps started towards him and Louis could have sworn something touched his cheek. He wanted to open his eyes so badly but the person felt close to him and he was too scared to dare even squint. Something touched his cheek, this time Louis was sure. It was leather, brushing against his cheekbone. It slid down his cheek to his jawline before it disappeared. The footsteps were a bit louder, sounding more eager to get away. Louis’s eyes shot open to catch the sight of a flowing cape whipping through the doorway. The door slid shut, leaving Louis alone once again.

 

 

Louis woke up, splayed out across the whole bed, his blankets twisted around him. He was laying flat on his back, staring straight up towards the white ceiling. Blinking, he brought his hands up to rub away the crusty bits in his eyes. After that he stretched, groaning at the feeling of stretching his sleep stiff arms. The stretch had lifted him from the bed and he let himself fall back into the warm mattress. He must have gotten hot during the night, seeing as how the blankets were.

 

Turning his head, Louis was prepared to ask BD-5000 what time it was -it felt so much later than the usual time he was awoken- but she wasn’t where she usually was. Instead, it was Marcellus, standing stock still against the wall, staring at him from under the hood. Louis froze and they stared at each other for about a minute before Louis broke the silence.

 

“So, this isn’t strange or anything.” He deadpanned, staring at Marcellus.

 

As predicted, Marcellus said nothing.

 

“Uh, how long have you been here?”

 

Again, Marcellus didn’t reply.

 

“What time is it?”

 

Marcellus stood up from against and walked over to him. Louis didn’t move, just stared up at him from where he was laying. Slowly, Marcellus reached out and gently pulled the blankets away from him and Louis let him untangle them from his legs, not moving to help. Louis giggled, which caused Marcellus’s head to snap up, his eyes catching the light from beneath the hood making them glint. His hands, still clutching the covers, stilled. Louis blinked up at him before his eyes glanced down at himself. The nightgown he was wearing had ridden up in his sleep, nearly all the way up to his waist. The v of the neck had gotten twisted, revealing his right nipple, soft and pink.

 

Louis blinked down at his revealed form before looking back up at Marcellus. The hooded man hadn’t moved an inch.

 

“What time is it?” Louis asked again, his voice sounded breathless.

 

Marcellus didn’t reply to his question once again, dropping the blanket from his right hand and pressed the leather glove against the inside of his thigh. Louis squeaked, eyes nearly bulging out as he stared at the hand. The leather felt way too hot against his flesh and the touch was so sudden Louis thought he might jump out of his skin.

 

Slowly, Marcellus slid his hand along his thigh, squeezing it softly. Louis’s eyes widened.

 

“Are you seriously going to touch me with your gloves on?” He asked. Louis wasn’t actually sure why that particular question came out. He had certainly not expected Marcellus to put his hands on him so intimately and he had definitely not expected to be so okay with it. Marcellus was a -rather- terrifying presence but Louis was so used to him that he didn’t seem to faze him anymore. And it seemed that Louis had grown on Marcellus to, if his tender touch had meant anything.

 

His question seemed to knock Marcellus out of whatever trance he was in because he yanked his hand away and was suddenly rushing out of the room, leaving Louis still sprawled on the bed.

 

“What just happened?” he blinked at the door, completely frazzled.

 

He rolled out of bed, spotting the pile of clothes neatly folded on the desk across the room. He stood up, the dress falling back into place on his body. He could still feel the heated touch of leather against his leg and he pulled the dress off his body awkwardly, reaching down to rub his hand against the spot. Naked, he approached the desk and picked up the garments laid out for him. It was a long black dress that he stepped into. There was no sleeves, just a simple tube. With a clip on the side under his armpit. At the top of the dress, in the centre was a small silver brooch with chains hanging down it. They fell down and wrapped up his sides to another brooch at the back. The dress was a dark black at the top and faded into a translucent fabric and he was able to see his feet through it. He hummed and kicked the fabric and watching it flutter around him. There were two sleeves also. They had an opening at the top that he had to use the tiny, identical silver brooch on it to fit his upper arm. The sleeves were huge, much like the ones on the nightgown. And, of course, to finish the look, was a silver collar. Sighing, he picked it up and hooked it closed around his neck.

 

“There,” he grumbled. “Now I am all dolled up. Look at me. So pretty,” he grumbled, smoothing his hands down the front of his dress. “All dressed up to sit in my room and ohhhh-,” he stopped talking and looked towards his door. “Huh…” He mused. He glanced towards the bathroom door, where BD-5000 was standing, ready for activation. “Marcellus didn’t get her to go get me food,” he muttered. “Instead he put his hand on my leg. Weirdo.”

 

Twirling towards the door, the bottom of the skirt twisted in the air around him elegantly, like he was some sort of princess. He didn’t stop to admire himself, hurrying over to the door and punching the keypad. The door swiped open, abruptly, revealing the hallway. Louis stepped out, freezing when he realized that Marcellus was standing right outside the door.

 

“You ran away and stood right outside the room?” Louis asked him, puzzled.

 

Marcellus stiffened but didn’t turn his head towards him.

 

“I know you heard me.” Louis frowned and crossed his arms. “You honestly owe me such a big, verbose explanation, it’s overwhelming.” Very slowly, Marcellus turned his head and looked down at him. Louis blinked and tilted his head to look up beneath the hood. Cautiously, he brought a hand up and looked the edge of the hood. Marcellus didn’t move. Feeling bolder, Louis gripped the end of the hooded and pushed it back off his head. It dropped down, revealing fluffy brown hair pushed back into a pompadour, the sides messy with twists and curls. His eyebrows were dark and furrowed over his magnetic eyes, green as the forests of Dononter Minor. That was all Louis could see, the black mask still covering the bottom half of his face.

 

He reached down to grab the mask but Marcellus snatched his wrist, holding it sternly. It was a solid grip but it didn’t hurt. In fact, it was rather gentle. He brushed the leather pad of his thumb against the underside of his wrist, against his veins. The touch was so soft and unprecedented that Louis gasped. Marcellus tugged him close to him, their chests brushing together and slightest fear flared up in the back of Louis’s mind. The man was so unreadable that Louis couldn’t tell if he was angry or not. And he definitely did not want Marcellus to be upset.

 

“I do not owe you anything,” He growled, his baritone voice rumbling through his chest.

 

Louis huffed, “You put your hand on my thigh. Do you think anyone can just do that?”

 

A snarl escaped Marcellus and Louis could make out his nostrils flaring beneath the mask, “They better not be.” His thumb was still making soothing circles on his wrist.

 

“Yeah? And what if they are?” Louis quirked a brow at him like a challenge.

 

Beneath the mask, Louis could make out a grimacing face, “I would hate to have to kill every man you have come in contact with.”

 

Well, how puzzling that was. Louis flicked his eyes down to look at Marcellus’s gloved hand enclosing his wrist before he looked back into his glowering eyes. “I have so many questions for you, it’s unbelievable,” he deadpanned. “Actually, I just possess so many questions in general, my entire being is now made of questions. I know nothing. I truly have no idea what you are on about. This ship is so fucking weird. Edward scared the stars out of me. The holocron may be eating me. Eating me, Marcellus! That is some scary shit. I could be dying, Marcellus. Dying. I do not think I am ready to die. Actually, I know I am not ready to die. I want to go home. I need to go home. But here am I, on this weird ship, with weird people and weird things. And I could be dying. Dying, and you put your hand on my thigh and got to see my nipple. It was very intimate. And then you said all those things. Many questions are happening. So many. Ugh. Nnnnnnn. I’m rambling. Rambling. Oh by the stars, I’m rambling. Why aren’t you stopping me? You just let me talk! Stop letting me talk. Just tell me something, quickly. You should start talking right now. Aren’t you bored?”

 

There was the shortest amount of silence after Louis managed to shut his mouth before Marcellus murmured, “Nothing you say or do could ever bore me.”

 

“Okay, that. Right there. What even is that?”

 

Marcellus looked confused, eyes flitting over his shoulder as if he was going to look for an escape route from the confrontation. He was still holding Louis’s wrist, though, so Louis wasn’t sure what the plan was in escaping. “I…” he began. He abruptly stopped. “Um…”

 

“Wow, Mister Silence is having communication issues,” Louis groused. “What a surprise.”

 

Marcellus hissed and something dark flashed across his face. “To seek favor,-” he growled like there were rocks stuck in the back of his throat, “or affection or-,” he made a choking noise and then he stopped speaking. He closed his eyes for the briefest moment as if he was willing himself to transport somewhere else. (Louis recognized that feeling.)

 

“Or?” Louis prompted. That resulted in grumbling from Marcellus and Louis was pretty sure he said something but doubted he would speak up if asked again.

 

Raising his eyebrows, curious about Marcellus’s mumbling, Louis took his free hand and grabbed Marcellus’s hand to gently pull it away from his wrist. He clasped the leather gloved hand between his smaller hands, inspecting the long fingers and the wide palm. His hand was double the size of one of Louis’s hands. It was unfair that Marcellus had such big manly hands when Louis didn’t. Louis would fight him for his big hands. And for his broad shoulders. And for the six pack he probably had underneath all the black. The only way Louis would be able to get him into a chokehold would be by standing on a bloody stool. How degrading. Louis was so short compared. So small. Insulting. He was insulted. Marcellus didn’t deserve to be so… so… big. Just rude.

 

Slowly, Louis grabbed the tips of his gloves to pull off but before he could even begin to pull Marcellus yanked his hand away, his eyes wide and panicked. Taken aback, Louis peered up at him, “Um, you really like those gloves?” he asked, drawing his hands to his chest in surprise. Marcellus growled, tucking his hands close. “Or are you just against skin to skin contact?” Marcellus huffed and leaned away from him, eyes narrowed into little slits. It was interesting to see him without his hood on, able to actually make out his eyes and the emotions expressed through his furrowing brows. Louis rather liked it. It made him much easier to read. And wasn’t as scary. (He could have been a creepy old man for all Louis knew. That would have made the hand on thigh and eyeing of his nipple so much weirder.)

 

Pulling his hand from beneath his cloak, Marcellus hit the keypad and opened the door to the bedroom. He gestured at the door angrily, trying to herd Louis back in. Louis cross his arms, pursing his lips. “No,” he told him sternly. Marcellus’s eyes widened as he took in the sight of Louis’s blatant defiance. Narrowing his eyes once again, Marcellus gestured more aggressively to the door. Louis reached out and hit the keypad and closed the door. “No,” he repeated.

 

Very slowly, Marcellus raised an eyebrow and started to reach out for the keypad again. Louis gave the back of his hand a smack, “No,” he repeated. “You can’t make me go back into my room and sit and do nothing for another day. I’m wasting away, Marcellus. Wasting away. Emphasize on wasting.”

 

Retracting his hand, Marcellus shook his head, “Go back to your room,” he commanded.

 

“You do not lock the door!” Louis cried, “I can leave whenever I want! And I want.”

 

They stared into each other’s eyes for a long moment before Marcellus grumbled, “And I want too.”

 

Louis leaned back, crossing his arms and smirking, “Yeah? And what do you want?”

 

Marcellus didn’t say anything at first, glancing around like he hoped someone would come by and put him out of his misery. Being able to see the top half of Marcellus’s expression made badgering him even better, Louis realized. He sort of wished he was able to see the lower half of his face too so he could see the unhappy twist of his lips or the baring of his teeth. Marcellus’s eyebrows were already so expressive, Louis bet that the rest of his face would be just as enjoyable.

 

When Marcellus didn't answer Louis prompted, “Are you ever going to answer any of my questions?” Marcellus didn’t reply and even if he planned on it, Louis didn’t let him. “I plan on leaving and actually doing something today. So that involves me actually leaving the room. And you’ll probably have to come with me because that seems like something you would do.”

 

Rolling his eyes, Marcellus waved him forward, ushering him off to venture through the ship. Louis grinned and peeked around his shoulder, “I can go anywhere I want?” he clarified.

 

“No.”

 

“Of course,” Louis rolled his eyes. “I’ll just walk and you’ll tell me ‘no’ when I go somewhere out of bounds. Is that how it works?”

 

“Are you going to spend all morning arguing with me?” Marcellus inquired.

 

Louis grinned widely, “Wow, you’re so attractive when you speak more than one stern word at me,” he teased. Marcellus reacted like he got slapped in the fast, taking a step backward with his eyes nearly falling out of their sockets. Louis was unable to stop the -obnoxiously, he noted to himself- loud laugh that burst from his lips. Recovering quickly, Marcellus huffed and grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed him down the hallway to encourage him to start walking. Louis’s laughter trickled into little giggles as he glanced up at Marcellus through his lashes. “You know…” he began in a singsong voice, “Your reactions are one hundred percent better when I can see your eyes. No wonder you wear the mask,” he snickered, covering his mouth with his hands.

 

Unsurprisingly, Marcellus merely grunted in response. Louis glanced up at him to see him strategically not looking at him. Louis giggled some more. “Okay, so, Marcellus,” he drew the name out playfully, “I figured we’d just go and see Eddy.” Marcellus’s eyes snapped to him within a millisecond. Louis grinned so widely it practically reached his ears. Louis imagined that Marcellus was sucking his lips into his mouth to stop from snarling like a feral cat. “I don’t know any other places on the ship other than that odd room Edward likes to sit in in that ridiculously large chair with all those strange people. And then there are all these weird doors that I have no idea what they even lead too. Who needs so many doors? Who needs these many rooms? Let’s be honest here.” There was a snort from Marcellus.

 

“Again, there you are. Not answering me. You making noises like that doesn’t do anything for me. It is the opposite of helpful. I’m not sure if you noticed or not. I figured pointing it out might be helpful to you. I’m not sure if anyone has pointed it out to you before because you’re so intimidating with your mask and cloak and gloves and angry eyebrows and all that but I think it is very important for you to know.”

 

Marcellus rolled his eyes, pulling his cloak tighter around himself. Louis wondered if he noticed that his steps were becoming heavier as they walked. Like a stomping, petulant child. Louis bit down on his lip to stop himself from smiling.

 

Louis started to head towards where he remembered the control room was that Edward hung out in but Marcellus waved him down a different hallway -the way he had gone when he followed Marcellus in the night- and then ushered him down a different corridor that Louis had never seen before. He frowned and glanced over his shoulder to the hallway that led down to the hall with Kalani.

 

Marcellus made a little noise in the back of his throat and Louis quickly pretended he hadn’t been looking behind them. “Okay, so I do not know where you are leading me and I find you very suspicious,” he announced. Marcellus hummed, sounding the faintest bit amused at his ramblings. Louis was impressed that he was able to get away with so much. He hadn’t even told him to shut up yet.

 

“Where are we going?” Louis decided to ask. He was pretty much saying everything else that came to his mind anyways; why not actually ask the important questions? “It would be nice if you would actually answer that question because I’m just walking here and I do not know where we are going. Are you leading me to the death chamber? Is there a death chamber on this ship? See? More secrets. Death chamber or no death chamber? These are questions I need answers too.”

 

“No,” Marcellus grumbled.

 

“No as in, no there isn’t a death chamber or no, you're not leading me to the death chamber right now?” Louis twisted around to look at him but Marcellus pushed him forward again.

 

“No,” he repeated. Louis wanted to think he sounded even more grouchy but really he just sounded the same amount of growly as usual.

 

Louis sighed and let Marcellus lead him through the corridors. They walked for several moments, Louis inspecting the doors as they went. Of course, it all looked the same to Louis and he was thoroughly confused by how Marcellus, let alone anyone else could tell where they were going when everything looked the bloody same.

 

A tug to the back of his dress caused Louis to halt. Marcellus was standing in front of a door and Louis could make out the lines of a frown beneath his mask. “Uh? Are we stopping?” A stern nod from Marcellus. “Okay then. Is this the death chamber?”

 

“No.”

 

“Oh, well, that’s good. Good that it is not a death chamber, that is.” Marcellus grumbled under his breath, hit the keypad which triggered the door to swing open and shoved him into the room. Louis yelped, “What the-,” he caught himself before he fell on the floor, “That’s very rude!” More grumbling came from Marcellus’s direction.

 

Shutting the door behind them, Marcellus slunk further into the room, leaving Louis where he was standing, peering around distrustfully. “Okay, I am starting to think this might be the death chamber after all.”

 

Marcellus didn’t respond and instead approached a console off to the side. It was the only thing that was in the room. The rest of it was grey and empty, with no windows or any other doors than the one they had entered. Louis walked into the centre of the room, his eyes narrowed as he got them to adjust to the darkness. Marcellus hadn’t turned a light on and Louis assumed that meant there wasn’t one or he was just being fucked with.

 

“This is a freaking death chamber, isn’t it!?” He yelped. Something that sounded like a chuckle came from where Marcellus was standing and Louis huffed. “I am going to be very upset with you if this is the death chamber,” Louis warned. “If I die, I will kill you.”

 

Louis didn’t get a chance to say anything more before Marcellus did something at the console. There was a trigger of lights across the room and suddenly there were blue stars everywhere. Louis gasped, realizing he was standing in a tiny galaxy of blue stars and planets, all circling around him. “Oh my Gods,” he gasped. “What is this?”

 

Marcellus slunk over to where he was standing, his eyes lit by the false stars around them. Louis blinked up at him, his mouth hanging slightly open. “What is this?” Louis repeated.

 

“Map,” deadpanned Marcellus, raising his hand to cup a planet called ‘Derra’.

 

“A map of everything?” Louis breathed out, gazing around in amazement. “Like, the entire galaxy?”

 

“Yes.” Marcellus walked around Louis towards the edge of the map and waved his hand around a planet. The section of the map enlarged, including the planet he was emphasizing; Dononter Minor.

 

Louis gasped and hurried over to where the planet was, cupping his hands around the planet like it was a delicate jewel. “My home…” he whispered, like a prayer. Marcellus hummed, and even though Louis couldn’t see it, he was smiling behind his mask, his eyes glittering as he watched Louis take in the sight of his home planet.

 

“This is amazing,” Louis gasped, “This is actually my home,” he paused and glanced over at Marcellus, “This map... Is of the whole galaxy? Every planet that exists?”

 

“In our galaxy? Yes. Every planet,” he walked over to the centre of the lights, “These are the Deep Core planets,” he began in his low, soothing voice and Louis turned and looked at the center. There were planets called Byss, Tython and Vulpter surrounding where Marcellus was standing. “This section is called the Core,” he gestured to the planets called Andara, Balosar and Coruscant, which was bigger than the rest, it's lettering bigger than the rest. “These planets are Colonies,” his hand waved towards plants called Phu, Fondor and Teyr. “And this is the Inner Rim-,” Mechis, Dargoilli and Wroona were planets by his hands, “-and this section is called the Expansion Region.” Marcellus waved his hands at where he had been standing earlier with Derra, pointing out the other planets around it with odd names like M’haeli and Vandelhelm. He walked further out where the planets were getting sparser and the lights were a bit darker. The lights were leaving his face, only casting on his shallow cheeks, “This is Mid Rim and your home is in this area called the Outer Rim.” Even though the planets were sparser and more spread out, there were more bolded names like how Coruscant was. There was Rattatak, Endor, Mustafar, Dagobah, Triton, Utapau and Tatooine.

 

Louis walked over to Tatooine, where there seemed to be a lot of lines and star clusters around it. There was also a line that started from a planet called Naos that went up to a planet called Denoo. There were several different lines that stretched through several planets. “What are these lines?” Louis asked, gesturing to them.

 

Marcellus walked over to him, waving towards Naos, “These are different routes. This one, in particular, is called the Smuggler’s Run.” Louis hummed, looking interested. If Marcellus hadn’t been wearing his mask, Louis would be able to see his smile. Louis was absolutely amazed by this information. He wanted to soak it all up like a sponge. He wanted to know everything Marcellus was willing to tell him.

 

“And these routes?” Louis asked, gesturing to the other lines.

 

“This is the Perlemian Trade Route.” He pointed at the planet Felucia, which highlighted and head up to Taanab. “Taanab’s agricultural projects feed billions in the Mid and Outer Rim.” He pointed at Coruscant next, the planet lighting up. “The Corellian Run is one of the largest hyperspace routes running through the galaxy. It contributed in making Corellia an economic superpower. Corellians held substantial power in the sectors around it.”

 

“Um, I don’t know anything about Corellia…” Louis admitted, sheepishly, heat flaring in his cheeks.

 

Marcellus didn’t seem worried, walking over to the Core planets and touching the planet in particular. It lit up and using two hands, Marcellus waved his hands, enlarging it. “This is Corellia. It’s the capital planet of the aptly named Corellian system, which also includes Selonia, Drall, Tralus and Talus. Collectively, these planets are known as the Five Brothers. As the largest planet and the closest to Corell, Corellia was often called the “Eldest Brother” or the “Eldest”.” When he mentioned Corell, a star lit up and enlarged. “Seven of the five worlds that orbit Corell can sustain life.”

 

“You know so much,” Louis gushed, impressed. He was almost embarrassed by how affected he was by Marcellus’s smooth voice, lecturing him so gently. Louis wiped his sweaty palms on the front of his dress, hoping the man didn’t notice the skip of his heart as they stood next to each other.

 

Marcellus, thankfully not looking at him, waved his fingers and Corell and Corellia shrunk down to their original sizes, “I spend a lot of time in here,” he admitted, almost shyly, arranging his shoulders away from Louis. Louis took in his hunched form, stars floating around his pale cheeks and illuminating the shadows cast by his eyelashes.

 

Louis licked his dry lips and walked up from Tatooine towards a dark patch of stars, several lines crossing through it. In the center of it were two large stars called Nad Hutta and Nad Shaddaa.

 

“What’s this?” He poked the Nad Hutta star and watched it twirl.

 

“This cluster is called Hutt Space.” Marcellus grimaced.

 

“Not a nice place?” Louis wondered.

 

Marcellus immediately shook his head, “Hutt’s are disgusting,” he grumbled.

 

Louis nodded understandingly, unsure who the Hutts were. “I can’t believe the galaxy is this big. This is the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.” he murmured. “I can’t believe there are these many planets… My family would never think…” he shook his head.

 

Nodding slowly, Marcellus waved his hands towards the very edge of the map, “And this isn’t even the complete universe…” He murmured. “This is Wild Space,” he explains. “It’s located ‘off the edge of the map’, no one knowing what was on the other side. In contrast, the so-called Unknown Regions were mapped but largely unexplored.”

 

“What makes it wilder than anywhere else?” Louis wondered, poking at some of the stars near him. They spun and glittered and he smiled, kissing at the ones that neared his mouth. Marcellus’s eyes followed the action, his mouth going dry.

 

Lowly in his throat, Marcellus managed to explain, “It’s classified ‘wild’ because it’s unexplored. A lot of thugs hunt around the edges, creating a border that nearly guarantees misfortune. It’s highly inadvisable to venture there.”

 

“Have you ever been out there?” Louis asked.

 

“Of course,” Marcellus huffed.

 

Louis grinned up at him, “Of course you have.” At Louis’s smug grin, Marcellus raised an eyebrow. Louis snickered, “Oh, don’t give me that look. I just knew something like ‘guaranteed misfortune’ wouldn’t stop you.” Marcellus hummed, waving stars away from his face towards Louis, smirking beneath his mask. Louis beamed when the star went gliding towards him and he caught them in his cupped palms to blow on them and watch them dance away.

 

Walking past the Hutt Space, he approached another dark sector, poking at a large planet labeled Yavin. “What’s this?”

 

Marcellus approached him, “Yavin is a gas giant,-” he began and he saw Louis’s look and he quickly added, “Gas planets are composed chiefly of various gasses. They have no solid, well-defined surface which renders them uninhabitable in themselves but some of them have a large number of moons. Typically, gas giants harbour little life unless their atmosphere comprises a layer capable of supporting oxygen-breathing species. Another characteristic of these worlds are the presence of planetary rings, made up of several million pieces of debris. In some cases, debris are rocky in nature and rich in ore. Due to their significant masses, these planets have gravity wells that create distinct hazards for hyperspace travel.”

 

“I have never heard you talk so much before.” Freezing, Marcellus turned and looked at him, his brows furrowed into a severe v. Louis beamed up at him innocently. “I mean, it isn’t a bad thing or anything. In fact, I rather like it. You should speak more often. Definitely. Especially when I ask questions. It would be amazing if you answered any if not all of my questions all the time. That would be the best. Outstanding. Terrific. Premium. Okay, I’m going to shut up now. Please tell me about Yavin. Explain, Mister Intellectual.”

 

Giving him a measured look, Marcellus began again, “Yavin is a gas giant, orbited by four moons, three of which are habitable. One of these moons, Yavin 4, once housed ancient Massassi warriors. Seen from space or from the surface of its moons, Yavin has a distinctly red hue.”

 

“Okay, now you are going to have to explain the Mass-ass-ass-ee warriors,” Louis joked, his tongue struggling with the pronunciation.

 

Marcellus rolled his eyes, unable to hold himself back from smiling beneath his mask. His eyes softened when he saw Louis’s beaming smile, the stars glittering around him, reflecting off his tender ocean eyes. “Very well,” he conceded.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Sixteen

This Chaos Is Killing Me 

 

“No, no, no, you can’t make me,” Louis dug his heels into the ground, whining. Marcellus grunted and tried to be gentle as he pulled Louis forward. He was holding onto Louis’s wrists, being delicate with his grip. The leather of his gloves was starting to sweat against Louis’s skin. Louis rolled his hands to try and use the sweat to his advantage but it didn’t work. Marcellus stared straight into his eyes, looking unamused. Louis huffed, scrapping his feet against the ground to try and back up into his room again.

 

“Louis,” Marcellus began sternly, loosening his grip a bit, “We are going. You can not fight this,” his slid his hands up beneath Louis’s sleeves, trying to dry the sweat up without releasing him.

 

Louis whined and tried to sink down into the ground with his bum sticking out far behind him but Marcellus tugged him back up, “I can fight this and I will. You can’t make me go!” He huffed, petulantly, pouting his bottom lip.

 

Sighing, Marcellus stopped pulling at him, letting his sink down. Louis was surprised as he yelped when his ass hit the ground and he gazed up at Marcellus with an absurd pouting face and big blue eyes. Another sigh escaped Marcellus and he bent down in front of Louis, resting his elbows on his knees. “Louis, you can not get out of this dinner. Eadh’hard will be very displeased if you don’t show up and I have no interest in explaining it to him.”

 

“Will you get in trouble?” Louis asked with a grin.

 

Marcellus looked decidedly unamused, pressing his hands together like he was praying to any God out there to send him the patience to deal with Louis. He rubbed his fingers against his eyebrows and sighed. “Louis, that is not the point,” he stressed.

 

“Wait.”

 

At the serious look on Louis’s face, Marcellus peered at him with a raised eyebrow, his hands clasped in front of him again. “If I agree to go to dinner-,” Louis began, “-does that mean you’ll take off your mask to eat?”

 

Without saying a word, Marcellus lurched forward and snatched Louis up, causing him to cry out. Throwing the smaller boy over his shoulder, Marcellus had to move the abundance of folds of the dress away from his face as he marched out of the room. Louis groaned and kicked his legs, sending the skirt of the dress flying up into the air. Marcellus hissed, catching the legs with his other arm to anchor them against his chest. “Stop,” he growled.

 

“Okay, look here Marcellus, I will not be having dinner-,”

 

“This is not a suggested event.”

 

“Oh, I figured with the way you are manhandling me, you savage!” At that, Marcellus bounced him on his shoulder, causing him to whine. “Marcyyyyyyy,” he drew the name out in a high pitched voice, a low snarl emitting from the masked man in response.

 

“Do not try and fight me. You will not like the consequences.” Marcellus warned, applying pressure to Louis’s legs, causing the boy to groan and press his face against Marcellus’s cloak.

 

Trying to push his weight back, Louis pressed his arms against his Marcellus’s back to over some support, lifting his head up awkwardly, “Fine, fine. I do not even care anymore. Take me to the food.” Marcellus tried to hoist him back onto his shoulder but Louis fought against him, pushing back and trying to slide down his front more so he wasn’t hanging like an awkward dead animal. Grabbing fistfuls of his cloak, Louis managed to set his stomach against Marcellus’s shoulder, trying to wiggle down even more. Without strain, Marcellus pushed him back up, catching his hips against his shoulder, cupping his bum with a wide-palmed hand. “Okay, maybe hands to yourself there, buddy?” He wiggled against his shoulder and Marcellus gave a light tap to his bum. Louis groaned, “Fine, I get it. You have no rules,” he rolled his eyes.

 

Without responding, Marcellus marched them through the halls until he made it to a set of double doors where he typed in a code that triggered the doors to slide open. Marcellus walked in and waited until the doors closed before he gently set Louis down on his feet. Louis huffed, fixing his skirt from where it decided to stick to Marcellus, revealing his bare legs. “Stupid dress…” he grumbled, smoothing it down.

 

There was a chuckle behind him and Louis recognized the voice immediately. Freezing, Louis stared up at Marcellus with pursed lips and narrowed eyebrows. Marcellus smirked and grabbed his shoulders, spinning him around. The room reminded Louis a bit of the control centre with a side of huge windows revealing the blackness of space outside, littered with the lights of faraway stars. In the middle of the room was an absurdly long wooden table. At the head of the table was Eadh’hard, smirking.

 

Louis groaned and dragged himself over to Eadh’hard, pouting with his arms crossed. “I was told there was going to be food.” He eyed the table distastefully, shifting his weight anxiously between his feet.

 

Eadh’hard drew his hand up from his lap, long pale fingers glittering with rings and he waved at the chair beside him. At the long rectangular table, there was only two chairs; the one he was sitting at and the one beside him on the right side of the table. The polished wood table was void of anything on top of it, especially void of food. That was what Louis was concerned about the most. “Why isn’t there any food?” Eadh’hard waved his hand towards the chair again.

 

Sighing, Louis trudged over to the chair, pulled it out aggressively and sunk down into it. “This is dinner, correct?”

 

There was a moment of silence before Eadh’hard waved his hand again, the rings clinking together. Marcellus walked over to a set of doors on the far side of the room, the furthest away from Eadh’hard. Louis groaned. “It is like the food keeps getting further and further away,” he mourned. Marcellus moved away from the door as a bunch of men walked in with trays of food. They approached the table and began to sit down in front of Eadh’hard and Louis and another man came and set plates and cutlery in front of them, arranging them neatly. However, Louis could make out the slightest trembling as the man set down Eadh’hard’s plate, obviously too close to the man for comfort. Louis could sympathize.

 

When he was setting the plates, the man was obviously more comfortable being near Louis, his arm brushing against Louis’s shoulder. Awkwardly, Louis began to lean away from the touch. Within a second, Marcellus was there, grabbing the man and hauling him out of the door. Louis yelped; he hadn’t even seen Marcellus move and somehow he had crossed the room, grabbed the man like a small child’s toy and was tossing him through the door he had come from.

 

Louis blinked, stunned and met Eadh’hard’s eyes. He smirked at the blue-eyed, “Looks like Marceau’Llus is fond of you.” Louis froze and looked over to Marcellus who also had stiffened, still standing by the door he had thrown the man threw. Louis could make out the lines in his shoulders from how hard he had tensed.

 

Eadh’hard chuckled, “Aw, he’s embarrassed. It’s okay Marceau’Llus. I’m not upset. Come here,” he curled his fingers, beckoning Marcellus forward. Stiffly, Marcellus turned on his heel on the floor towards them. Since the morning, he still hadn’t put his hood back up, leaving his hair and eyes open for the world to see. “I can tell he’s grown quite fond of you. He’s willing to take his hood off around you.”

 

“I have been working on the gloves next,” Louis deadpanned. “I have seen his hair and I am not impressed.” He leaned forward, sniffing aggressively to try and make out any of the hidden foods beneath the silver cloches. “I have been thinking about brushing his hair but I don’t know what that will do to those curly bits on the side of his head. You see those?” Louis gestured up to Marcellus, not taking his eyes off the trays, his hips wiggling eagerly in his chair.

 

A weirdly sincere laugh escaped Eadh’hard’s mouth, “What an intriguing concept you’ve brought to my attention,” he mused. He looked up at Marcellus, smirking. “What do you think, Marceau’Llus? Willing to let the holocron run a brush through your hair?” Marcellus shifted uncomfortably, keeping his eyes locked somewhere across the room. “Aw, he’s ignoring us now. Cute.” Eadh’hard joked.

 

Louis peered at Eadh’hard, glancing up at Marcellus before glaring at Eadh’hard again. He then raised his hand to cover the lower half of Eadh’hard’s face, closing one eye. “Huh…” he mused. He dropped the hand and looked back up towards Marcellus. Eadh’hard raised an eyebrow, reaching a bejewelled hand out to pick up one of the silver cloches to reveal an array of colourful fruit underneath. Louis gasped, excited, lurched forward and snatching the entire plate, pushing all of the fruit onto his plate. He set the empty tray back on the table, grabbing fistfuls of the fruit and shovelling it into his mouth. Eadh’hard quirked a brow reaching out to lift up another tray top. Louis leaned forward and began to sniff at what was on the plate. “Huh…” he mused. He pushed more of the fruit into his mouth to make room on the plate. He grabbed the newly revealed plate and pushed all the whatever it was onto his plate and placed the empty tray back.

Eadh’hard sighed and lifted up another cloche.

 

Louis ignored Eadh’hard and instead picked up his fork and began to shove the mashed up whatever it was into his mouth and holy crap, it was so good. He began to shovel the food into his mouth, barely leaving room for himself to breath. Who needed to breath when there was food? Certainly not Louis. “So good…” he mumbled around a mouthful of food. Eadh’hard gave him an inquisitive look before glancing up at Marcellus with an impressed look. Before he could say anything else, Louis shifted towards Eadh’hard, “I have a question.”

 

This resulted in raised eyebrows. Eadh’ard glanced at Marcellus as if he would be able to tell if Louis was joking or not. Louis was definitely not joking.

 

“So, the cat man had me pulled out from a wreckage. Explaining the injuries and such,” Louis waved his hand in the air, brushing away that topic. “I was with someone. Did Leyll take him as well?”

 

It probably went against everything Eadh’hard was to answer questions to someone he barely deemed human and judging by his face, Louis could tell he definitely didn’t want to answer. However, he was also the sort of man that liked knowing what others didn’t and prided himself in being the smartest in the room. What a hard life he lived.

 

Glancing at Marcellus, Eadh’hard leaned into his chair, weaving his fingers together to either look relaxed or to stop himself from leaning over and strangling Louis. Louis couldn’t tell which but he supposed as long as he wasn’t being strangled, he was fine.

 

“Left your lover behind, hmm?” Eadh’hard said instead. Louis could have screamed with how unhelpful the man was.

 

“He is not my lover!” Louis snapped, face heating up resulting in Eadh’hard to smirk knowingly at him. “Look, his name is Harry and he is a bit of a mess and I need to help him,” he rushed out, leaning forward in his chair.

 

At the name, Eadh’hard froze and looked up at Marcellus. “Well…” He murmured, “I think you’ll be happy to know that no Harry was at all discussed. Leyll wouldn’t dare keep something such as that from me.” His eyes got a strange glint to them and Louis could tell just by seeing Marcellus out of the corner of his eye that he wanted to crawl out of his skin.

 

“Is he your brother?” Louis wondered, aloud, immediately regretting his lack of filter. 

 

Eadh’hard’s entire body paused and he seemed almost frightened by the idea. Instead of a scathing remark, he said, “Definitely not, my little gem.” He seemed to be contemplating telling Louis something else, glancing back up at Marcellus. Louis was itching to find out the history. A question about Kalani was on the tip of his tongue but he forced himself to swallow it down, knowing he couldn’t let either of the men know he was snooping around the ship late at night. “Harry,” he said the name in such a peculiar way that Louis felt that it had to have some meaning of its own, “and I go way back. I have been trying to keep tabs on him. He is, however, quite quarrelsome.” A devious smile spread across his lips, “I’ll be sure to find him soon, though, little gem. So I can, of course, give him your regards.”

 

Louis bristled at the words, his tone silky and dangerous and causing the hair on the back of his neck to stand up. He was so tempted to yell and scream and demand to sent home. Sent back to Harry. He knew it would do him no good though and forced himself to keep calm. “Don’t call me ‘little gem’. I have a name.” He growled, sounding surprisingly like a frustrated Marcellus. If Eadh’hard had noticed he didn’t comment, just continued to smirk.

 

“Well, Louis, Marceau’Llus has been keeping me updated on your progress over the last few days.” Eadh’hard began instead, taking back the reigns of the conversation and Louis groaned, pushing more food into his mouth to shut himself up, glaring at the man. He had to repeat to himself that getting mad and causing a scene wouldn’t do him any good. Eadh’hard smirked. “He’s told me you’ve been…” Louis froze, his fork in the middle of impaling the weird, mushy, tasty food. “Meddling,” he finished. Louis forked the food into his mouth, eagerly.

 

Swallowing his mouthful of food, Louis said, “I think you used the wrong word.”

 

“Oh?” Eadh’hard smirked.

 

“Yeah, you said ‘meddling’. The only way to describe me is ‘exquisite’.” Louis deadpanned, pushing fruit into his mouth with his fingers.

 

“Of course. An oversight on my part,” Eadh’hard groused. He grabbed the last tray cover, revealing some sort of cooked meat. He gave Louis an expectant look, obviously waiting for him to grab and push it on his plate. Louis leaned close so he could sniff at it, running a fingertip across to rub some of the greases off onto the digit. Cautiously, he licked it, rolling the taste around in his mouth. He hummed and hawed, debating the taste. “Ehhh,” he responded, grabbing the entire thing of meat and dropping it down on his plate. He ripped the skin away from the meat and shoved it into his mouth, moaning happily.

 

That seemed to be the action that finally broke Eadh’hard, who pressed a hand to his cheek in shock. His mouth dropped open and his eyes nearly popped out of his skull. He looked up at Marcellus, aghast. Marcellus shrugged, helpless. (He was smirking under his mask.)

 

Sighing, Eadh’hard leaned over with a fork, stabbed the skinless meat and dropped back on the original tray. Louis froze and wide-eyed him. “What?”

 

“What?” Eadh’hard repeated, cocking an eyebrow.

 

Louis huffed, “What?”

 

“What?” Eadh'hard smirked. 

 

“What?”

 

“What?”

 

Louis looked up at Marcellus, “What?” The masked man looked down at him with soft eyes and shrugged. “I…” Louis looked back at the meat, “I want that. Please give that back.” He pouted at Eadh’hard. He reached out for the meat again but Eadh’hard caught his hand.

 

“No, we are not barbarians.” He pushed Louis’s hand back to his side of the table.

 

“Says one of the nine vigo leaders of the Black Suns. You kill people!” Louis pointed out, popping a piece of fruit into his mouth. And then another. Deciding his mouth could take it, he pushed two more pieces in, grinning around it. Saliva escaped from the corner of his mouth and Marcellus grabbed the cloth napkin and pressed it into Louis’s hand for him to wipe his face with.

“Killing is a refined art,” Eadh’hard responded, nose wrinkling at the sight before he grabbed a large knife that was laying on the table. He began to cut the meat into thin slices with practiced ease, the slices folding neatly onto the tray. Louis rolled his eyes and mouthed the words mockingly up towards Marcellus, who merely rolled his eyes in amusement. “I can see you, you know.” Eadh’hard mused, the knife ticking the end of the tray, the sound of metal on metal grating to Louis’s ears. Louis rolled his eyes again, crossing his arms and huffing.

 

“I can also hear you grumbling under your breath,” Eadh’hard pointed out. Louis’s ears burned red and he tucked his chin against his chest and firmly sealing his lips together. Eadh’hard chuckled, “Aw, don’t do that. You won’t be able to shove food into that pretty little mouth of yours if you keep it shut like that.”

 

“Shut up…” Louis muttered, grabbed a slice of meat with his hands and eating it.

 

Eadh’hard sighed, “Do you even know what utensils are?” he looked up at Marcellus, “Does he know what utensils?” Marcellus shook his head, causing the vigo leader to sigh. “Very well. Now-,”

 

“Is there going to be a sweet afterward?” Louis interrupted, grabbing another piece of meat and tearing into it. He hadn’t thought he was going to be a fan of the meat, but it was delicious.

 

Just as he was about to take another bite, Eadh’hard reached out and caught his chin, forcing their eyes to meet. Louis whined and tried to pull back but the man didn’t let him, staring at his face with dark eyes. “You will not interrupt me again, little bird,” he murmured. Louis hissed and tried to yank his face back again, the piece of meat dropping from his fingers so he could grab Eadh’hard’s wrist. “You will not like the consequences.” He brushed his thumb against Louis’s lips, smirking.

 

Staring straight into Eadh’hard’s eyes, Louis picked up a piece of fruit and pushed it into his mouth.

 

“As I was saying, Marceau’Llus has mentioned, several times, that you have proven to be a meddlesome little brat.” Louis huffed. “I will, however, forgive these indiscretions. You see, I am a very forgiving man, Louis. Very understanding.” He reached a hand out to stroke along Louis’s exposed collarbone. Louis looked down at the fingers with a frown. (Marcellus also looked down captivated by the sight of the pale fingers caressing Louis’s soft skin.) As he spoke, Louis thought about how he had Leyll’s hand severed without remorse.

 

Louis reached up and brushed Eadh’hard’s hand away from his neck, frowning. Marcellus tapped Eadh’hard’s shoulder twice and the vigo leader leaned back into his seat, crossing his arms. “You’re absolutely right, Marceau’Llus. I should tell him.” Louis looked wildly between the two men, his eyes wide.

 

“Did he say something? Can you understand him?” He asked, amazed.

 

Eadh’hard hummed, smirking.

 

Louis looked up at Marcellus, gripping the front of his cloak with his free hand, “What are you saying? Speak to me, strange apparition.”

 

“Eat your meat,” Marcellus deadpanned. Louis sighed and released his robe, grabbing another slice of meat and taking a bite from it. Eadh’hard chuckled, taking his fork and stabbing a piece of fruit off of Louis’s plate, popping it into his mouth.

 

“Look here,” Louis pulled his plate closer to himself, “Louis does not share food,” he warned.

 

Rolling his eyes, Eadh’hard pushed his fingers together, “And, on the topic of you being a meddling brat, I was going to tell you that we’ll be stopping at an ecumenopolis.” He gave him a measured look. 

 

Louis groaned, “Yeah, yeah, I know, a city that covers an entire planet.” He rolled his eyes. Eadh’hard and Marcellus looked at each other, impressed.

 

“Well, yes,” Eadh’hard mused. “We need to fuel up. And I have a meeting.” He rolled his eyes, tapping his fingertips on the table and letting his rings click together.

 

“With who?” Louis, asked, sitting up straighter in excitement.

 

Thinning his lips, Eadh’hard stole one of the remaining pieces of fruit on Louis’s plate, “It’s none of your business,” he sneered.

 

Louis rolled his eyes, “Well, I know that. But I want to know, anyways. And if you don’t tell me I will just make Marcy tell me.” He shrugged and shoved some more of the weird tasty mush into his mouth. It wasn’t as hot as it had been originally but Louis didn’t care. It was still good.

 

Eadh’hard blinked, frowning, “Marcy?”

 

“Well, Marcellus.”

 

“Mar…. Cellus?”

 

“Um, yes?”

 

Louis and Eadh’hard gave each other weird looks and then they both looked up at Marcellus. “Marcellus,” Louis answered, pointing at the guard. The man in question rolled his eyes, folding his hands neatly in front of himself.

 

“Marceau’Llus,” Eadh’hard pronounced carefully, his lips curling downwards in disapproval.

 

“Yes, that’s what I said.” Louis reached out for another piece of meat and then hesitated, “Are there going to be sweets? I want sweets.” At that, Marcellus hurried over to the door and opened it, letting the same men from earlier to rush in. They cleaned up the plates and trays, replacing them with new ones. “Oh thank the gods!” Louis gushed, picking up his new utensils and wiggling in his seat like an eager child. Marcellus walked back over and stood between the two chairs politely. Eadh’hard pulled the cloche off to reveal a beautifully decorated cake.

“Perfect!” Louis gushed.

 

A new, large knife was placed at Eadh’hard’s hand and he took it and began to cut the cake just as adeptly as he did the meat. “Do not touch the cake with your hands,” Eadh’hard warned. “Use your fork.”

 

Louis sighed, put upon, but he nonetheless used a fork to shovel a piece of cake off and drop it onto his new plate. Without pause, he began to shovel the cake into his mouth, smearing the icing around his mouth in his gluttony. It only took a couple of minutes for the entire piece of cake to disappear, leaving just the smeared icing on his lips.

 

Eadh’hard lifted his own piece of cake onto his plate and looked over Louis. He sighed, rubbing his forehead, “Marceau’Llus, please take the holocron back to his room. I’m done looking at him.” Louis hid his smile; Eadh’hard was at least referring to Louis as him! Louis wondered if he had even noticed the change.

 

Pouting with his stained lips, Louis reluctantly stood from the table, “I guess this wasn’t so bad Edward. Thanks for the food.” He rubbed his hands clean on the cloth napkin before he rubbed the dress down to make sure it didn’t catch on the chair. Eadh’hard stiffened and jerked his head at Marcellus to urge him to get Louis out quicker. His eyes were narrowed into slits at the butchering of his name.

 

Seeing the vigo’s thinned patience, Marcellus hurriedly waved his hands, ushering Louis out of the dining room and through the halls back to his room. Louis didn’t pay much attention to the walk, to concentrated on the taste of cake in his mouth. His tongue lapped out on the corners of his lips, tasting the icing left behind. “This tastes really good. I should have had another piece before Edward rudely kicked me out!” They made it back to his room in record time; Marcellus typing in the code and shoving Louis in as soon as the door slid open.

 

“Hey!” Louis whined, stumbling into his room with a pout. The pout didn’t last long because Marcellus tugged the mask off his face and crashed their lips together. Marcellus’s hands were cradling Louis’s face, holding him close and cradling him like he was the most important being in the galaxy. His mouth was hot and needy and Louis could feel his tongue swiping along his lips, taking away the remnants of icing. A whimper escaped Louis, his hands fisting the thick, black robe at his shoulders. Marcellus grazed his teeth against his bottom lip, the feeling so sudden that Louis pulled back. Marcellus took his hand and wrapped it around Louis’s waist, pulling him close and peppering hot, open-mouthed kisses on his jawline. Louis whined and pulled Marcellus's head away by grabbing handfuls of the wild, curly hair so their eyes could meet.

 

And herosklehev shenistrill, Marcellus had the same face as Harry and Edward. Louis gaped at him, “Herosklehev shenistrill!” he blurted.

 

Marcellus nodded his head sincerely, echoing Louis's words in basic language, “Holy shit.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Seventeen 

Give you Eyes Of Blue 

 

Stepping out of the shower, Harry hesitated, before he decided to turn and inspect himself in the mirror. He was standing in the bathing room supplied to him by the men of the Rigel. Along with a tray of food and a pile of clothes, not to mention the medicine, they were keeping rather good care of him. Better care than Harry had experienced in the hands of others. Skin darker than what he was used too, he noticed that he had also lost a considerable amount of weight, able to make out the faint outline of his ribs. His hips weren’t as soft and his hands looked rough and worn-in. And his hair. Harry had never let his hair grow so long before. It was thick and heavy and filled with kinks and curls. He imagined that if it was straight it would be even longer, probably past his chest.

 

Kaijack Thyncli had been particularly fond of his long locks (as well as his appearance in general) when he had been in the elomin’s possession. Harry supposed he should be thankful that out of anyone, he had been found by Kaijack. Kaijack wasn’t as abhorrent with his slaves as others were, such as the Hutts. Still, his notoriously volatile nature made him a force to be reckoned with. Harry had had no intention of getting on the man’s bad side. Stealing an escape pod and… Well, escaping was probably the definition of getting on his bad side. He figured he’d deal with that issue later (if not ever).

 

Popping open the medicine cabinet, Harry inspected the contents. A small first aid box, a toothbrush, toothpaste, several bottles of narcotics that Liam had left, a small comb, rolls of gauze, scissors and surgical tape. Staring at the contents for a lot longer than he should have, Harry picked up the scissors and closed the cabinet, gazing back into his reflection. Despite resting in the soft bed, he still looked uncannily tired, eyes dark and puffy and the hot water of the shower had made his skin flushed and fingertips wrinkly. He felt older than his body and he wondered, rather vainly, if he was starting to show it. (He wouldn’t mind it, if that were the case. Perhaps Kaijack wouldn’t want him back that way.)

 

With the slightest shaking of his hands, Harry used his left hand to pull his hair back into a makeshift ponytail, inspecting the way his face looked with the drying curls pulled away. Boldly, he picked the silver scissors up, took a deep breath, and sliced through the bulk of hair.

 

When acting rashly, there was always about five seconds of immense regret and Harry felt that immediately when he pulled his hand away to look at the dead lump in his hand. In the five seconds of regret, Harry felt like he might cry, holding onto his hair but he looked back up into the reflection of the mirror. It was still a bit long around his forehead and ears but… It wasn’t bad. Harry felt himself breathe again and he dropped the chunk of hair onto the counter by the sink. Then, with more carefully hands, he began to gently pick at the longer threads and began to snip. He snipped around the sides, keeping them extremely short before he twisted so he could see the back in the mirror before doing the same thing. He kept the top longer, enough that he could bury his hands in it when he ran his fingers through it. It was odd, seeing so much of his forehead after so long. Running his fingers along his widow’s peak, Harry took in the dip of his hairline cautiously. He… Didn’t hate it. That was good. He would get used to it. It was new. It was his. And, the most important thing of all, he was his again too.

 

.

 

Louis wished he could have laughed at the pure lunacy of what had happened but it was like that Marcellus had stolen the air right from his lungs. After their initial utterance, they were encompassed by a thick, painfully awkward silence.

 

Louis couldn’t pull his eyes away from his face. He looked weirdly young, something he hadn’t expected at all. His resemblance to Harry was more obvious than the Edward’s in some peculiar way that Louis couldn’t quite place. Perhaps it had less to do with appearances and more to do with general disposition. Whereas Harry had an underlining current of experience and risk hanging at the corner of his adoring smiles and in the softness of his eyes, Marcellus was the opposite. Running just beneath his skin was a serenity, and, dare Louis even think it, tenderness that Harry himself possessed. Louis could feel it with every press of his gloves against his skin, every quirk of his lips beneath his mask and could practically taste it on his lips as he kissed away the icing. What made Edward different than them was that he didn’t seem to possess that latent component his duplicates did. He exuded sharpness and menace; there was no buried decency that Louis had detected. And if there was, he had it smothered and caged.

 

“Mar-,” Louis began, his voice sounding far away even to his ears. He barely managed to utter the first syllable before Marcellus had twisted -uncharacteristically ungainly- and rushed out of the door, his hand slamming on the keypad gracelessly. Cloak flapping after him, he disappeared out the corridor, leaving Louis to stand in his room by himself.

 

“Louis?”

 

Louis practically screamed, whipping around to face, to his immense relief, BD-5000. “Oh thank the stars!” He grabbed his chest as if that would calm his heart rate down. “Um, you aren’t going to tell anyone, particularly Edward about this, are you?” He then added softly, “Pethskaremesk dorsoknertrill.” Please don’t, in his native language. It almost felt foreign to speak in the Zhab tongue once again, having adapted to the english language everyone else used. He mentally berated himself for letting his mother tongue slip away for so long.

 

BD-5000, unmoved by the show of emotion in his voice, responded, “I am to report any concerning affairs directly to Master-,” Louis held his breathe, “Marceau’Llus.” Louis released his breath, relaxing instantly.

 

“Okay good, so you were programmed by Marcellus?”

 

“Master Marceau’Llus is who I report too.” That answer was good enough for Louis. He walked past the droid, unhooking the chains and stripping out of his gown. He bunched it up and tossed it in the corner of the room by an empty bookshelf, knowing it disappeared by the time he woke up.

 

There was a pile of night clothes sitting on the desktop, where Marcellus always left them and he sighed, pulling them apart to inspect them. The top was a skimpy thin tank top that wouldn’t even make it to his belly button. Unamused, he pulled it over his head and he was right with how light and small it was on his body. the thin straps fell off his shoulders immediately, revealing his collar bones and the smooth plains of his chest. It ended just under his ribs, floating around him and Louis resigned himself to the revealing top. He then grabbed the bottom which was a floor length skirt. It had two long stilts up the front, exactly where his legs were, and had a long ribbon tied around his waist to act as a belt.

 

Dressed in the soft, unfortunately skimpy, nightwear, Louis collapsed into the bed, kicking the blankets up so he can bury himself beneath them. He had a feeling that Marcellus wasn’t going to show back up, check for monsters under the bed and then tuck him in after. It made him a little paranoid that he didn’t know what Marcellus was doing or what he was thinking. Running his teeth along his bottom lip, Louis recalled the feeling of Marcellus’s lips against his, how soft and surprisingly needy he was. The way his mouth tasted sweet like the icing he was licking from Louis’s own mouth. Louis hummed, running his fingers along his bottom lip, feeling like he was a love interest in a sappy romance text that Levone tended to enjoy.

 

Louis rolled over and buried his face into his pillow, groaning. He wasn’t sure how it happened; how everything between him and Marcellus had led up to that kiss. Louis knew he would be plagued with thoughts of it, how oddly satisfying it was, how abrupt it was and how, to Louis, there was absolutely no lead-up. Wasn’t there suppose to be something that alerted someone they were going to be kissed? (If not, there should be.) Louis hadn’t seen any signs that Marcellus had… desired him in any way, let alone physically.

 

Biting into his pillow case, Louis squeezed his eyes shot, completely and utterly confused. What did the kiss mean? On the negative side, it could have been some sort of power play, to show he was still the one in control. Or it was an order from Edward, who wanted to use Marcellus to manipulate Louis. Louis’s heart fluttered because it could have been a sincere kiss. Marcellus could possibly find him… endearing.

 

Unlikely, Louis thought negatively, releasing the pillow from his mouth and rolling onto his back. The corners of his eyes burned with unshed tears and his heart felt like a stone in his chest. Did the kiss ruin everything? He and Marcellus had been getting along; he hated the thought that a simple thing such as that would ruin it. Marcellus had, after all, run out of the room after he realized what he had done.

 

Louis angrily rubbed at his eyes, his palms becoming damp from the tears they were smudging away. Restless, Louis threw himself out of the bed, pacing around the end of the bed. Goosebumps crawling across his skin, Louis stalked over to the desk and picked up the soft white fleece cover on the chair and arranged it around himself like a giant cloak. Feeling antsy and sick, Louis decided he had to do something. He had to get out of his room. Or course, the only answer was to go and visit Kalani.

 

With BD-5000 powered down in is room, Louis rushed towards his door, peeking out to make sure no one was lurking about (specifically Marcellus) and when he deemed it was all clear, Louis hurried down the corridors to where he knew Kalani was residing.

 

When he had been walking through the hallways of the ship, Louis had pulled the blanket up over his head to create a hood to shield his face from anyone if he had the misfortune of running into anyone. When he disappeared into the room that held Kalani, he pulled it down and just wrapped it around himself. There was a soft cooing noise and Louis whirled around to the tank standing in the centre of the room where Kalani was wiggling excitedly in the water.

 

Louis beamed, “Hi Kalani,” he murmured, approached the captured creature. “I feel like I haven’t seen you in years,” he pressed his palms against the glass and Kalani cooed again, pressing close to where Louis was, looking completely delighted at the sight of the boy.

 

He debated what he should say to Kalani. Mention that he wasn’t any closer to getting them out from the ship or maybe that he was for some reason having dinners with Edward and kissing Marcellus in his spare time. He was sort of ashamed that he didn’t have a way to help the beautiful creature and while he was trapped and hooked up in the tank, Louis was out eating amazing food and kissing boys who were surprisingly really cute under their mysterious mask. (And fucking looked like Harry.)

 

“I really need to find out why I know three men who are absolutely identical,” he mused out loud, tracing the line of Kalani’s jaw through the class. Kalani perked up and moved to the edge of the tank and began to tap on the glass, pointing to the glowing monitors that were sitting to the left side of the room. Frowning, Louis stood from his crouched position and strode over to the screens, looking at the bright blue displays and unusual letters scrawled across.

 

It was safe to say that Louis had no idea what anything on the screens meant but Kalani had pointed out the screens so they must have meant something. He ran his fingers across the screen and they glowed brighter, causing Louis to nearly jump out of his skin when the room was illuminated by the bright, artificial light. He tapped his nails across a screen that had a weird circular graphic on it with different numbers around it. Not sure what to do with that, he moved to another screen, which had a full body photo of Kalani with arrows pointing to specific parts. The full body photo rotated, changing up which parts would be highlighted and shown information. He slid his finger across the screen absently, stroking the imagine of Kalani with interest. The display immediately changed, showing a twisted ladder, complete with its own highlighted bits. Kalani must have seen what he was looking at, because he made a cooing sound, kicking his legs excitedly.

 

Humming to himself, Louis clicked one of the parts. A small menu popped up, reading: Incomplete chromosomes; results in deformity. Frowning, Louis exited out of the menu and clicked another bit. It read: Needs a complete DNA match in order to successfully clone cells. He got rid of that menu and opened another one. Deformed cells evident. Original cells required for continued alterations and potential successful completion.

 

None of the words made sense to Louis. It seemed like there was something missing from all the texts and he craved to know what it was. It was talking about Kalani obviously, saying he was some sort of deformity. Were they looking for a way to fix him? What original cells did they need?

 

Louis wasn't able to investigate further because there was the sound of footsteps getting unnervingly close. Freezing, Louis looked around the room wildly, trying to figure out where he could hide.

 

Kalani was making whimpering noises, trying to encourage him to hide. (He didn't need to be told twice.) The left side of the room was filled with mostly just monitors and computers and the back of the room had large tanks and machines that Louis wasn’t able to identify. On the right side of the room were three smaller monitors and a large machine behind them, not quite against the wall. Louis rushed over, intending to hide behind it before he realized there was a small doorway with a roll up door hanging over it, closed about three-quarters of the way. In order to lift the cover up, one would have to input a code on the small keypad next to it. Deciding to risk it, Louis dropped down to his tummy and wiggled underneath. Making sure he was completely in, he pulled himself up into a crouch and waited.

 

The sound of the doors alerted Louis that whoever it was had entered, their footsteps heavy and angry. They didn’t last for very long, however, and Louis peeked out. He was, fortunately, able to see the front of the man from around the side of the large machine that was sitting beside the entry way he was looking through. It was, unsurprisingly, Edward, his face contorted into anger and his arms crossed tightly over his chest. His eyes looked abnormally dark in the distance and he was glaring art Kalani, who seemed unfazed by his appearance.

 

The doors opened again, quick and heavy steps coming through. Edward didn’t even turn and look at who it was; he continued to stare at Kalani with an unreadable expression.

 

“Sire-,” came an anxious male voice, “I-I know this isn’t-,”

 

“You’ve made no progress, Niuk.” Edward’s voice was brittle and unfeeling with a certain uptick to the way he pronounced the man’s name that made Louis’s skin crawl.

 

“I-I know, sire. Bu-But there isn’t much I can do, you-you see,” the man stuttered, moving closer so Louis could see him. He was short, probably around Louis’s height and pale with mousy brown hair that was long in the back that curled by his ears. He was heavier set, his face round and soft. He was wearing one of the regulation uniforms that many of the other men and women wore around the ship, only with a long white jacket over top of it. The military top and white coat were both hanging open, revealing a thin white shirt underneath that had a sweat stain through the center of his chest, curls of chest hair poking out from the top.

 

“Yes, I know,” Edward muttered, “Not much you can do….” He seemed to be thinking about something, eyes following Kalani’s movements.

 

“Ye-yes, sire. It’s-It’s just that your blood-,” Edward obviously knew what he was going to say and he wasn’t happy with it because he suddenly whirled to face the man, his face morphed in rage.

 

“My blood isn’t ENOUGH! It’s not good enough! Just a cheap imitation of the real fucking thing! You don’t think I know that, you pathetic little-!” He shouted, his voice vibrating through the room. Tubes to several of the machines exploded away, cutting off the rest of his insult, and twisting into the air like dying serpents. Niuk’s eyes flickered from Edward to the dancing tubes, gulping audibly.

 

“I-I’m sorry, sire…” Niuk sounded as if he was close to tears and Louis’s heart went out to him.

 

Edward turned away from him, sneering, “I’m sure you are.” He brought his hands up and made fists, watching the muscles in them flex, “It won’t be long…” He murmured, “I will have him back soon and he won’t get away again.”

 

Frowning, Louis leaned forward, eagerly awaiting more information. He had just stuck his nose out from beneath the door before a hand clamped down over his mouth. Eyes popping open as wide as they could, Louis immediately began to struggle, twisting in the arms of his unknown assailant, cautious to make sure he didn't make any noises to alert Edward. Louis was pulled against a firm chest and the hand on his mouth pushed his head back, forcing him to look up.

 

It was Marcellus, holding an index finger over his covered mouth to silence him. Sagging in relief, Louis nodded to show he understood. Marcellus released his mouth slowly and let him resume his eavesdropping.

 

Louis was conflicted by the fact that he had originally wanted to avoid Marcellus but he figured that between him and Edward, he would take Marcellus any day. He hoped that Marcellus wasn't too mad at him for sneaking out of his room and venturing to a place that was most definitely off limits. (If Marcellus was supposed to be watching him, running out of the room after kissing him wasn't exactly top notch security.) With the man hunched behind him, exuding a massive amount of body heat, Louis didn't feel fearful of him. In fact, he was mostly comforted by his presence and he wondered what that said about him as a person. Marcellus was obviously not interested in telling Edward about his appearance in the off-limits room but Louis reminded himself that that didn't mean he wouldn't punish Louis after.

 

His gut clenched at the thought and he gnawed on his bottom lip, glancing over at the man. Marcellus was merely peering at him, his eyes unreadable. The unblinking scrutiny made Louis's face heat up and be quickly ducked away, pressing himself forward so he could hunch and peer through the opening.

 

And, as if Marcellus couldn’t get any weirder, he wrapped his hands around Louis’s hips, as if to keep him grounded, or perhaps even just to keep him close. It wasn't a harsh grip and if Louis really wanted to dwell on it, he would say it was as if he was trying to comfort him.

 

Trying to ignore the heat of the leather hands on his hips, Louis focused back in on Edward. The blown tubes were whirling around in the air dangerously as if they were about to strike at Niuk. The man was obviously thinking the same thing as Louis, eyeing the writhing piping distrustfully.

 

Edward paced in front of Niuk, muttering, “I’m going to find him. He’s been practically thrown into my lap by my own gem-,” Louis cocked his head curiously at that, “It’s uncanny timing. My gem and my original, both practically given to me. This will be done soon. All of this will be finished soon. Finally.” He turned back towards the machine and waved his hand. The tubes slid back into their slots, miraculously repairing themselves. He looked back at Niuk, “I will have the original blood soon.” He strode past Niuk and disappeared out the doors.

 

Niuk watched him leave, visibility relaxing when the Vigo disappeared from sight. He turned, gave Kalani a long look before he followed after Edward. Louis didn't leave his hiding spot, not wanting to risk one of them coming back. Instead, he shyly wiggled back in Marcellus's hands and sat back up, turning to the cloaked man.

 

"How did you get in here?" He whispered, moving his legs from underneath his body, crossing them out in front. His knees pressed against Marcellus's legs and the man pointed upwards. Louis followed his pointer finger to a large rectangular vent hanging open.

 

Louis's eyes widened, "By the Gods, you are quiet," he muttered. Marcellus smirked beneath his mask, preening. Louis peered back down beneath the door, "Will they come back?" He asked.

 

Marcellus raised his hand and pressed it against the wall, closing his eyes. Whatever he was doing seemed to have worked in his favour because he soon opened his eyes and shook his head, "Gone," he muttered. Trusting him, Louis nodded and dropped onto his belly and slid out, scrambling quickly out of the way so Marcellus could follow him. Instead of copying Louis, he must have done something to the door because it slid all the up. Louis rolled his eyes, muttering 'show-off' under his breath and held his hands up so Marcellus could lift him up, which he immediately did, completely effortless.

 

Up on his feet, Louis peered up at Marcellus through his lashes. He wanted to ask if he was mad but he didn’t want to bring up the fact he disobeyed the rule. Louis hoped that if he didn’t say anything about it then Marcellus wouldn’t either.

 

Kalani cooed from behind them, drawing their attention. Louis perked up, rushing away from Marcellus over to the tank. The creature inside looked visibly relieved at the side of Louis, pressing his large palms against the tank and kicking his legs behind him. Louis pressed his hands against the side of the tank, right where Kalani’s hands were. “Hey, buddy!” Louis gushed, gazing at the creature. “Are you alright? What they said, it isn’t bad is it?” He asked worriedly.

 

Kalani shook his big head of hair, beaming with his beautiful dimples. He murmured something to Louis, soft sounds through the water at him. Of course, no understandable words were distinguishable but the sounds were soft and comforting nonetheless.

 

Louis was distracted enough by Kalani that he hadn’t noticed Marcellus skulk up behind him, watching the interaction with curious eyes. While Louis hadn’t noticed Marcellus’s approach, Kalani had and his eyes focused in on him immediately. He narrowed his big eyes, his body tensing as if he was ready to propel himself out of the tank and maybe even take Marcellus out. It threw Louis off initially at the sight of his aggressive stance, but he turned around and made eye contact with Marcellus and nearly laughed.

 

“Kalani, Kalani, do not worry. He’s not going to hurt you. I will not let him,” Louis soothed, not knowing that Kalani was worried about Louis, not himself.

 

Marcellus tilted his head, interested in their interaction, "Kalani?" He murmured, frowning.

 

Louis nodded, "He needed a proper name and he seems to like it just fine." He glanced up at Marcellus, "This is barbaric, what you are doing to him." He spoke softly as if he was afraid of Marcellus actually hearing his words.

 

Marcellus did hear them though and he simply cocked a brow, "Barbaric to fix him?" He inquired, a bit of a bite to his words.

 

"Well, what is wrong with him?" Louis asked, narrowing his eyes. Marcellus could tell by the way he shifted his shoulders away from him back towards the tank that the boy heard the coldness that had leaked into his voice. He immediately regretted it and winced, trying to arrange his face into a softer expression despite the fact only half of it could be seen.

 

"Incomplete cells." Marcellus deadpanned, waving a hand towards the monitors to the left of them. Louis followed the movement with his eyes, running his teeth against his bottom lip. He wondered if Marcellus thought such a short answer would be enough to satisfy him and nearly laughed. Perhaps he just hoped it would be enough. He didn't look like he was itching to drag Louis out of the room but Louis also knew he hadn't quite excelled in reading his eyes yet so he could have been dismissing the issue. With the way Marcellus's eyes seemed to be soaking up Louis's expression, Louis felt more like an open book than he had ever before. He didn't notice that Marcellus was watching his lips with intense eyes, his mouth drying up thinking about how he had tasted.

 

"I know," Louis shook his head, "I have been snooping, you know." He gave Marcellus a half smile, unsure if telling him was a good idea. Marcellus gave a short nod, however, his face still impassive, albeit soft around the edges.

 

“He was…” Marcellus sighed and focused his gaze upon Kalani, who was watching them tensely. “He was Edh’hard’s glory. And now he’s Eadh’hard’s shortcomings.” He winced as if saying something insulting to Kalani wasn’t his intention. Kalani himself didn’t seem fazed by his wording but Louis supposed that he had to put up with the likes of Edward most days so hearing Marcellus’s soft voice wasn’t too much of a hardship, even if what he said was a lot harsher then Louis would have liked.

 

Running gloved fingertips along the side of the tank, Marcellus took a moment to compose himself -like admitting so much to Louis was physically exhausting- before he turned to look back at Louis, “I am taking you back to your room. This instant.” Knowing that trying to get out of it would be as successful as him trying to get out of dinner with Edward, Louis didn’t even protest and let the man grab his upper arm and lead him away from Kalani, sending one last forlorn look over his shoulder to the creature as they left.

 

 

 

Marcellus made a displeased sneer at the state Louis had left his room, mainly the clothing he had just shucked off and thrown onto the ground before he had rushed off to see Kalani. Smirking to himself, Louis dropping into his bed, curling up as small as he could as he pulled the blankets up over himself. Marcellus hovered as he did so, waiting until Louis was still and situated on the bed before he approached.

 

“I’m guessing you won’t be telling Edward about tonight?” Louis found himself asking, his voice a lot softer in his darkened room. He felt weirdly vulnerable laying in bed, gazing up at Marcellus even though he spent most of his time in thin, revealing outfits out and about the ship. Perhaps because of the intimate setting of the bedroom, with Louis lying in the bed beneath the searching eyes of Marcellus.

 

“No,” Marcellus muttered. He seemed to be debating something in his head, wringing his hands together. Before Louis could ask him what was wrong, Marcellus perched himself on the edge of the bed, quite abruptly, his shoulders tensing as if he was waiting for an inevitable rejection. Louis merely blinked, happy that he wasn’t being antsy on his feet anymore, though he was surprised he sitting so close.

 

“Marcellus,” Louis whispered, feeling brave. He scooted up slowly, so he was sitting up facing the man. “I… I’m going to find out everything, you know that right? Edward made a mistake bringing me here; keeping me here. And I’m going to find out what his deal is. Whether you help me or not.”

 

Not initially responding, Marcellus slid up closer to Louis, “There is much you don’t know.” He admitted and Louis nearly rolled his eyes, because yeah, he knew that, “And I can’t imagine you sitting by and letting Edward use you as he pleases. But… He’s my brother and I will die before I let anything happen to him.”

 

Louis took his words and tossed them around in his brain, trying to analyze everything he said. “You… are brothers…” He mused. “And Harry?” At the name, Marcellus’s face went strategically blank. Louis huffed, “I know that you and Edward are connected to him somehow. You all have the same face and when I mentioned Harry to Edward he seemed to know something. Well, he acts like he knows something about everything-,” Marcellus smirked, “But I know you have a connection to Harry. He’s your brother too?”

 

Not responding right away, Marcellus stared back into Louis’s eyes, as if hoping he would back down from the line of questioning if he put it off long enough. However, he had spent enough time with Louis over the past days of his captivity to know that wasn’t how he worked. “Yes…” Marcellus muttered, “We are… brothers.”

 

“I don’t believe you,” Louis blurted, “Well, not in that way.” Marcellus cocked an eyebrow. “I mean, it’s just that there has to be more. And this is not just me projecting onto you my greater desire to find a reason for my puny existence in this vast world but the fact that I know there is something more. Between you three and with Kalani and I know you do not want to tell me. And I don’t know if that is because you just can’t-,” the ‘because of Edward’ bit was left unsaid but was implied heavily, “Or because you are ashamed. It does not matter because I will find out in the end.” Louis let his mouth snap shut, his chest heaving. While a part of him felt better getting that all off his chest, another part of him wound up tight, afraid he said way too much. The darkened room and the gentle sound of their mutual breathing had given him a false sense of security.

 

Eventually, Marcellus sighed, “I know,” he murmured, “I know. You’re going to find out everything.” He brought up one of his glove-clad hands and it hovered in the air just above Louis’s cheek. It seemed he had to talk himself into it actually touching Louis’s skin, his fingertips skimming across his soft skin. When Louis didn’t flinch, he let his hand fully cup his cheek, his thumb stroking him gingerly. “I want you to find out everything,” He admitted and with his other hand he snagged his mask down to his neck. He scooted even close to Louis and rested their foreheads together. Louis could feel his smooth skin pressed against the raised gem on his own forehead but didn’t dare move away from the touch.

 

Their pressed foreheads and the gentle touches from Marcellus were so affectionate, so intimate it made goosebumps run across his skin. Louis allowed himself to chew on his bottom lip, nervous with the way Marcellus was gazing at him through his lashes like he was beautiful. Tugging Louis’s lips out from his teeth Marcellus leaned forward, brushing their lips together. It was just the softest touch and Louis sighed at the feeling, his face burning when he realized he had made an audible sound. However, it seemed to spur Marcellus on and he quickly bridged the gap between them. He crushed their lips together, grabbing Louis by the back of his head and bearing down on him, heavy and clumsy. With a fierce sloppiness, he opened his mouth and made a low moan in the back of his throat, sending feverish chills down Louis’s back when their tongues nudged against each other.

 

Floundering underneath the brute force of his kiss, Louis wrapped his hands around his cloak, holding him close. His body felt firm and solid, ungodly strong against Louis’s slimmer form. He was almost a reassuring weight, like Louis knew that Marcellus wouldn’t let anything happen to him. With their bodies pressed together, his mouth became less harsh, more intimate and searching and sweet, which nearly drove Louis mad. Louis had made an embarrassing loud noise against his gluttonous lips which made Marcellus draw back and looked at him curiously like he was gauging his reaction and wondering if he was doing the right thing.

 

Marcellus leaned in to kiss him again and Louis tensed up and moved his hands to press against his chest, lightly. He stopped and looked at him questioningly. “Why?” Louis managed to ask, his voice hoarse, like Marcellus and sucked it away with his kiss. “This is the second time… Why?” Louis could barely get the words out to articulate what he really wanted to ask. Why seemed to be the only word he could truly manage.

 

Looking almost ashamed, Marcellus whispered, “I didn't know…. I didn’t know I was starving until I kissed you. Until I tasted you. I’ve alway been Eadh’hard’s second. I’ve never had anything special to me other than my brother. But you… I can’t stop thinking about you. W-worrying about you,” He stuttered, pressing their foreheads against each other again as if the physical touch would help calm him down, “I… I don’t ever want to be parted from you. I want to keep you safe. I want to keep you happy. And I’m not sure if I can do both.” The last sentence was the softest whisper that made Louis’s heart beat so fast it felt as if it could beat right out of his chest.

 

Face burning, Louis had to force himself to pull his gaze away from Marcellus’s, feeling lost. And, as if it didn’t want to be left out, the holocron began to heat up against Marcellus’s forehead, the intricate blue swirls and loops spidering along his skin glowing bright blue. Louis tried to jerk away, abashed, but Marcellus didn’t let him, his eyes taking in the sight of his glowing veins reverently. “Louis… You’re exquisite. And unique. And so good.” His voice sounded wrecked and raw and it did something to Louis’s gut when he heard it. “I want to do better… For you. Will you.. Will you let me?”

 

“Yiresksenth.” Yes.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eighteen 

Take You Home (I’m A Black Star) 

 

Louis wondered how things had accelerated from zero to hundred so fast, in terms of his relationship with Marcellus. It had seemed like they had just begun bonding, at least to Louis. But, obviously, it wasn’t the same for Marcellus. He said that he wanted to keep Louis safe and happy. Louis liked to think he wanted that for others too but the more he thought about it the more the term ‘loved ones’ popped up into his head. Loved ones. Surely Marcellus didn’t classify him in that blanket term? It seemed implausible that Louis was considered someone he loved but then again, Louis doubted that he had many people in his life he could even trust, let alone be considered a loved one. He doubted that Edward allowed many people to get close, especially to his brother and personal bodyguard; it would be way too risky.

 

In a way, it made him sad, that because of his job, Marcellus didn’t have those connections. But then again, did Louis? He had his parents and his siblings, and Levone. And now, maybe the members of the Rigel? Niall and Caflice and Byff, Liam and Zayn. Not quite loved one, but friends. Louis’s heart longed to be reunited with them. They felt like unfinished business, a figurative itch that he needed to scratch. It seemed unfair that his time with them was cut so short but perhaps it was for the better. He could have a chance to be with them again; he knew it. Harry had called himself a mess but Louis felt that out of the two of them, he was the true mess. He wanted to sort himself out, to learn to control the fucking holocron before he did something truly contemptible.

 

Louis jerked up from the bed in surprise. He hadn’t even thought of that before but it seemed like the most obvious answer to everything. Without a doubt, he knew that Marcellus would help him.

 

Feeling giddy, Louis threw his legs over the side of the bed and rushed into the bathroom for a quick shower, shucking his nightgown off, rinsing himself off with cold water and scratching his scalp with his blunt fingernails, the shampoo creating thick suds. Rinsing his hair thoroughly, Louis hopped out of the shower and grabbed his towel, rubbing at his hair but letting his body drip dry.

 

BD-5000 had returned with a tray of food, including a warm bowl with what looked like oats in a thick, steaming liquid. It was topped with a sprinkle of some sort of spice and it smells sweet and yummy. To the side of it was a warm bun, cut open and slathered with butter and long cuts of an unknown meat that also smelled mouthwatering. There was another reusable can of fruit juice and Louis beamed. “Thank you BD-5000.” He took the tray and barely even hesitated in spooning the porridge into his mouth. The texture was unusual and thick but it was so sweet and pleasant that Louis didn’t even care. He finished his food in record time, his stomach full and pleasingly warm.

 

Pushing his tray to the foot of the bed, Louis splayed out, humming to himself. Full with tasty food and his body still damp from the freezing water of his shower, Louis felt completely content. (As long as he didn’t think of his family. Clearing his mind like Levone taught him was getting worryingly easier and easier.)

 

Louis wasn’t sure how long he laid on his bed, his skin slowly drying. Eventually, he forced himself to stand and walk over to the desk where his new pile of clothes was. They were all black but were very similar in style to the white outfit he had worn previous. The only real difference where the bottoms where instead of the long skirt with the cuts up the fronts it was just a big skirt with tons of fabric gathered on it. He slid that piece on first, tugging it on to right beneath his belly button, it ending a couple inches above his ankles. He then struggled with top, also black with three chains hanging around the neck with an opening at the chest and a piece of translucent fabric hanging from the shoulders down to the back of his knees. He then put on the armbands, the three thinner ones on his upper bicep and the shiny gauntlets on his forearms. The shoes were little strappy things that he struggled with getting on, his toes catching on the thin straps.

 

Fully dressed, Louis walked over to the door and slid it open. Across the hall was Marcellus, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest and his eyes focusing down the hall. His mask was up covering the lower half of his face and his cloak hanging around his shoulders. His hair looked disheveled as if he had been running his fingers through it. He looked exceptionally broody but also exceptionally alluring.

 

When Louis emerged from the room Marcellus looked up, the tops of his cheeks turning pink at the sight of him. Eyes drinking in the outfit Louis was adorning, he stood up straight and shifted on his feet nervously. Louis realized that he probably didn’t know what to do with him now that he had laid his feelings all out on the table. Louis hadn’t even thought about acting differently and it made him freeze. Was he suppose to say something? Were they going to act differently around each other? Louis couldn’t imagine that being a good idea, with Edward lurking around.

 

Without thinking too much about it, Louis rushed forward and gave Marcellus a tight, brief hug to reassure him. He didn’t want Marcellus to feel self-conscious around him. He liked the snarky tough-guy act he put on; it was cute.

 

“I have decided something!” He told Marcellus, boastfully, beaming up at him as he pulled away. Marcellus quirked a brow, looking intrigued though a bit regretful that Louis had pulled away. “I have been doing a lot of thinking," Okay, he hadn't been thinking that much, "and I have decided I need to practice or train or something. Whatever it is. I can’t just keep glowing like a weird…” He paused, trying to think of an adjective to describe his affliction.

 

Marcellus thought of one for him, “Star?” He offered, admiringly.

 

Louis blushed, “I-I guess,” he mumbled. “I… Um, I do not-I don’t want to hurt anyone,” he admitted, lowering his voice as if he was afraid someone was listening in on them.

 

Marcellus sent him a long look, his lips twitching under his mask. “I understand,” he murmured, “I’ll do anything I can to help.” He seemed suddenly embarrassed by the remark and turned on his heel and started down the hallway. Louis looked at him, surprised but then hurried after, trying to get close to him but not close enough to step on the hem of his cloak.

 

Padding after Marcellus, Louis realized that they were headed to the main control room, where Edward resided in. Shoulders slumping, Louis reluctantly continued after him, not looking forward to seeing Edward so early in the morning. Well, it wasn’t that early -not that Louis could tell- but seeing Edward at any time was enough to ruin the rest of his day.

 

Entering the room, Marcellus and Louis walked along the far edge, making their way to the far platform where Edward was standing, his hands tucked behind his back as he gazed out the window.

 

“Nice to see you again,” Edward deadpanned, “How I've missed your smart mouth, little gem.” He glanced over and saw his brother and Louis watched in amazement as his face softened. While Louis had been thinking about how Marcellus had never had the chance to actually know anyone well enough to be considered a loved one, Louis hadn’t thought that Edward was perhaps the same way. He had been spending too much time demonizing him in his mind to consider something so empathetic about the man.

 

“I’m assuming he’s trailing after you like a little, lost puppy, Marceau’Llus?” Edward teased, “I can see why you’d have a hard time resisting that little pup’s big blue eyes.” He gave a wicked grin, eyes glinting. Marcellus gave a stiff nod, his face not giving anything away. Edward’s mouth twitched downwards as if his brother’s silence was unusual, and he glanced between the two of them. When he looked at Louis, Louis made sure that he gave the most obnoxious grin he could possibly muster. Rolling his eyes, Edward curled two fingers at Marcellus, “Come here,” he murmured, walking further down on the platform, Marcellus following without question.

 

Frozen, Louis helplessly watched the two of them walk off together, making out the movements of Edward’s mouth as he muttered to his brother. His eyes didn’t move from Marcellus’s face but Louis’s intuition told him they were talking about him. It made him agitated and he shuffled on his feet to stop himself from rushing over and tackling the two brothers. Keeping a careful eye on their interaction, seeing Marcellus place a hand on Edward’s shoulder as if he was comforting him. Antsy, Louis bit his lip, stressing about all the things they could be saying. He doubted Marcellus would be saying anything bad (especially after last night) but Edward was still his brother.

 

Just as he was about to start chewing his nails, Edward and Marcellus walked back over to him, Edward smirking confidently at him. Louis froze, glancing around as if he would see someone else Edward could potentially be smirking at. Which, of course, there wasn’t. It was just him.

 

“I trust that you’ve eaten and you won’t be trying to gnaw on my arm or cloak or chair for sustenance,” Edward sneered, cocking a brow and curling his lips.

 

Louis rolled his eyes, “If I was to eat anyone, it would be Marcel. He’d taste better and would most likely be healthier. I’ve heard black hearts affect the nutrients in the meat,” He huffed, trying his best to sound just as pompous as Edward. At his words, Edward’s eyes narrowed into daggers and he jerked forward as if he was ready to wrap his hands around Louis’s neck but Marcellus moved quickly, pushing himself between his brother and Louis. With Marcellus’s back to him, Louis stuck his tongue out over his shoulder at Edward, who snarled at him.

 

Marcellus whipped his head over his shoulder to see what provoked his brother and Louis quickly arranged his face into the mask of complete innocence, holding his hands up in the air to show he was a patron of virtue. Marcellus obviously didn’t trust his expression but didn’t say anything, just relaxing his grip on his brother when it seemed he wasn’t lunging for Louis anymore.

 

When he realized that Edward wasn’t going to say anything anymore, Louis muttered, “I have eaten, by the way. It was good.” Marcellus smiled behind his mask and slid away from his brother, moving off to his side. Edward looked surprised that Louis offered up such inconspicuous information and gave a stiff nod, giving him a cursory glance before walking over to the large window, overlooking the darkness of outside.

 

“Marceau’Llus has informed me of a conversation between you two.” Louis rolled his eyes. “You’re afraid.”

 

Louis jerked at that, “I never said that!” He responded, heatedly.

 

Edward nodded, “I inferred,” he tossed a shit-eating grin over his shoulder and Louis huffed. “I know you don’t know how to handle the gem. You’ve never been taught. You’re naive in the ways of the Force. It’s unfortunate when you have so much raw potential.”

 

“And what are you going to do about it?” Louis asked hackles raised.

 

Edward looked like he was thinking hard about his question, running his fingers down his throat, absently, “I would get nothing out of helping you…” He mused. “It’s so much easier for me to just feed you and keep you in your room, out of my way…” He smirked and Marcellus looked alarmed at his brother’s reaction as if he hadn’t expected it. Louis had though and he merely crossed his arms and rested his weight on his left leg, looking unimpressed.

 

“Are you afraid of helping me?” Louis asked, watching his profile carefully. There was the slightest twitch of his eyebrow and Louis suppressed a grin. He wasn’t sure what word triggered the reaction; afraid or helping. “Are you afraid I’ll hurt you?” He grinned wider, watching the way Edward’s shoulders tensed.

 

Marcellus stepped over to Edward and murmured, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear.” Edward’s eyes flickered over to him, his lips curling down before he gave a curt nod and turned back to Louis. Marcellus seemed relieved that he listened to his words.

 

“Courage and cowardice exist in every man, Louis. You just have to get over it.” Edward announced, and, without any more prompting, he drew the weapon from his hip, triggering the red plasma blade and he surged towards Louis.

Chapter Text

Chapter Nineteen

I Could Make You Happy (Every Goddamn Single Day) 

 

When a man runs at you with a burning blade, with the intent to kill you when you know he already has a body count bigger than your hometown population, Louis knows two ways someone can react. At least, back at home, it’s how animals had two ways of reacting: fight or flight.

 

There were, of course, the physical effects, the subsequent reactions triggered in an effort to create a boost of energy, such as increased heart rate, tunnel vision, shaking and flushed face, dry mouth and dilated pupils. There were also physiological changes, like the increased blood pressure and increased blood flow to the muscles, blood clotting in order to prevent excessive blood loss and increased muscle tension, in order to provide the body with extra speed and strength.

 

Animals, Louis knew, could respond to threats in many ways. Some could try to escape when threatened but when cornered, would fight. Some will freeze up and play dead when touched in hopes the predator will lose interest and others stand perfectly still so that the predators don’t see them.

 

Louis’s body seemed to think standing perfectly still -like Edward wouldn’t see him that way for some ungodly reason- was an acceptable respond to danger, however, the holocron did not. In the blink of an eye, the blue veins marking Louis’s body lit up and it was like Edward was moving in slow motion; Louis could make out the way he pushed off with his left foot, the way he gripped his sabre in his right palm and even the thick furrow line between his brows. The holocron did what it needed to do to protect it’s host, freezing the lightsaber in the air.

 

The Force holding Edward’s saber was indescribably stronger that Edward and brought him to a complete halt. Time went back to how it was supposed to be and Louis watched Edward’s face twist into unadulterated surprise. He flicked his eyes up to look at Louis, slowly moving his hand from the hilt of the sabre. The lightsaber stayed where it was, hovering, the blade sizzling through the air. Louis blinked at it dumbly.

 

He hadn’t consciously thought of stopping the lightsaber, just that he was scared and he didn’t want Edward to kill him. What had Marcellus said? Train yourself to let go of everything you fear. What did Louis fear? Fear of losing his life?

 

“Do something.”

 

Louis jumped, pulling his eyes away from the lightsaber to look back at Edward who was staring straight back, intensely. “W-What?” Louis hated that he stuttered but his tongue didn’t seem to want to work right.

 

“You’re holding it.” Edward looked undeniably angry and Louis was surprised he hadn’t throttled him yet. He held out an open palm. “Send it back to me.”

 

“I literally have no idea how to do anything. I don’t know how I’m doing this.” Looking back at the sabre, he waved his hand, the sabre mimicking the action. He waved his hand again, watching the blade slice the air, mirroring him.

 

Send it to Edward… He narrowed his eyes and wiggled his fingers again. The blade sizzled but didn’t do anything, still hovering.

 

“You’re stressing too much,” Came Marcellus’s quiet voice. “Stop overthinking. You aren’t Louis. You are part of the Force.” Louis grits his teeth. How was he suppose to stop being himself? Is that what happened when Edward charged him? Suddenly he wasn’t himself but part of some mystical force? Edward and Marcellus didn’t seem invested in the concept of fear but Louis couldn’t think of anything else that triggered his reaction.

 

Because fear was the closest he got to a primal emotion? The only time he wasn’t thinking? Fight or flight was an animal response and when he got into a situation that triggered that reaction, he seemed to be the most attuned to the Force and the holocron. How was he suppose to trigger that same response without being scared for his life? How did Edward and Marcellus do it? Well, Edward seemed to be a pot of simmering rage more than ninety-five percent of the time so perhaps he wasn’t the best role model.

 

Of course, there was Marcellus. He must follow his own advice, Louis figured. Did he disassociate from himself? Loose the Marcellus part of himself and focus on his own existence as part of the Force? For some indecipherable reason, that thought made Louis sad. Was that why he was so quiet? Was he always keeping himself one with the Force?

 

Louis focused on how that made his stomach feel, how it felt like there were stones sitting in it. He thought about how soft Marcellus’s face was underneath the mask and how gentle his hands were. He was gentle. And while it was Marcellus who said he wanted to keep Louis safe and happy, Louis couldn’t help but want the same thing for him. He was kind and soft beneath his mask and robes and leather and Louis wanted him to stay that way. The idea he could turn into Edward made his stomach churn.

 

It must have worked, focusing on other things like Marcellus had alluded too because while Louis was thinking about how darling Marcellus was, Edward’s lightsaber trembled, shut off and flew back towards its owner. Thankfully Edward’s reflexes were excellent, as he caught the flying hilt immediately.

 

Edward cocked an eyebrow, “There we are.” He congratulated, “Good boy.”

 

 

 

 

There was only so much training in the Force someone could do in one sitting. That was something Marcellus and Edward both knew, having been training their whole lives, according to them. It was physically and mentally exhausting, Louis discovered.

 

After an admirable time training, Louis was sitting on the ground, leaning against the wall with his legs curled up to his chest. He rested his head against his knees, his chest heaving and sweat rolling down the back of his neck. He scratched at the line of sweat irritably, hating the way it felt against his fingers. Edward was lounging in his chair, his long legs sticking out in front of him. He didn’t seem at all tired or even phased as if he hadn’t spent the last hour and a half trying to kill Louis. Marcellus was standing to the left of Louis, looking about as exhausted as Edward, which to say, not at all.

 

Louis was beginning to regret asking Marcellus for help. Maybe it would have been easier to just not learn the ways of the Force. What would learning the Force even do to benefit him? He was going to be killed for the gem anyways. Given to Zidar or whoever and have the holocron extracted from his skull.

 

He chewed on the skin on the end of his fingers, making himself anxious the more he thought about it. By the Gods, he just wanted to go home and see his mom. He missed her and his siblings so much it was like someone had punched a hole in his chest. Louis didn’t think it was possible to his miss his family that much; so much that it physically hurt. He pulled his fingers away from his mouth and ran his hands through his hair instead. The sweat on his forehead pushed his bangs up and made all the hair stick up.

 

Huffing, Louis rubbed his face into the soft fabric of his skirt, wiping away the leftover dampness. He heard a chuckle and lifted his head a minuscule so he could look past his knees. Of course, it was Edward; Louis wasn’t surprised at all. He narrowed his eyes at the man, pushing his sneering lips into his skirt. “What?” He snapped.

 

Edward smirked, “You look tired, my little gem,” he murmured, grinning.

 

“Yeah, having someone try to kill you does that to a person.”

 

“I wasn’t trying to kill you, little gem. I was trying to help you. I can see where you can get the two confused, however.” Edward laughed, throwing back his head. Louis watched the long column of his pale neck get exposed as his head fell back. It was unfair, how sinfully beautiful he was and Louis wanted nothing more than to claw his eyes out with his chewed down nails. Edward eventually stopped laughing and he inspected Louis with curious green eyes, “I can see that you're debating whether or not this was a good idea. It doesn’t matter in the end now, does it? If you decide to try and embrace the holocron or not.”

 

Louis nodded, “I know. I’m going to end up dead either way. When you decide to get rid of me.” Marcellus stiffened but Louis didn’t look at him, focusing on the strongly surprised expression that flitted across Edward’s face. He recovered spectacularly fast, smirking down at Louis. “Now, why would you say something like that, Louis? I wasn’t trying to break your spirit, despite how quarrelsome you are. I don’t want to break Marceau’Llus’s heart.”

 

Frowning, Louis glanced up at Marcellus, who was staring at his brother with an indescribable expression. “What… do you mean?” Louis found the bravery to ask. Marcellus didn’t even seem to be breathing by the time Louis managed to utter the question.

 

Instead of answering, Edward tossed his brother his signature devious smirk. “It’s almost a waste, isn’t it? Having the holocron attached to someone who doesn't understand the power it wields, let alone respect and want it.”

 

“Who do you think would benefit from it then?” Louis asked, “You?”

 

Edward looked surprised by the question but smiled, “You don’t think I’d benefit from having it?”

 

“I think you’d benefit, I’m not sure anyone else would. At least with me, it’s a loose-loose situation.” A deep chuckle came from Marcellus’s whose eyes twinkled with mischief and Edward grinned as if the sight of his brother laughing was enough to make his day.

 

"I can think of plenty of people who benefit from your naivety." Edward teased, "Combined with the power of the holocron, you are a desirable morsel.”

 

"Between you and Leyll, I'm starting to figure that out," Louis muttered. Marcellus tossed him a comforting smile from behind his mask, his shoulders tensing at the mention of the feline vigo. Louis wondered if Marcellus was thinking about how he wished he could have cut off more than feline's hand. Judging by his apparent affection for Louis, Louis could only imagine his reaction if he ever found out about how Louis was treated by the vigo leader on his ship. He was almost afraid to think about it.

 

Louis wondered how strong Edward -and Marcellus- were when they weren't holding back. Edward was holding back to probably about less than a quarter of his strength with Louis, thankfully. Louis couldn't even imagine what Edward could do at full capacity. Vividly, Louis could recall how fast Marcellus moved when he sliced Leyll's hand off and he shuddered to think of what he could do if he really wanted to hurt someone. He supposed that as the possessor of the fabled holocron he should have power similar to the brothers but Louis doubted he could ever reach that kind of skill. He hadn't ever been particularly talented, as proven during his time as a younger boy on his home planet, and he doubted this would wind up any different. It was almost funny, how the universe, the gods, whomever, decided to place the holocron on him, the most unworthy candidate of all.

 

While deep in his own thoughts (Louis wouldn’t go as far to say it was self-loathing), either Edward or Marcellus -probably Marcellus if Louis was being honest- had summoned BD-5000 from his room. He hadn’t noticed until she was standing over him, her hands clasped together and her droid eyes boring into him. Immediately he became aware of how hungry he was and he licked and smacked his lips together, hoping he would receive another platter of good food like he had in the morning.

 

Raising to his feet, Louis stretched, his body immediately protesting his actions. Perhaps a bath would be in order after returning to his room... Ready to follow after BD-5000 back to his room, Louis found himself pausing to look back at Marcellus and Edward.

 

“Go, relax and fill yourself once again. We will be arriving at our destination soon,” Edward muttered, glancing out the window like he was prepared for something to jump out into view.

 

“And our destination is?” Louis asked, frowning between the brothers. Marcellus glanced at Edward also, and Louis wondered if he was expecting the vigo leader to snap at him for his question or perhaps even lie.

 

Edward did neither, answering easily, “Nar Shaddaa.” Louis could tell he was being truthful by the expression of shock that morphed on Marcellus’s face immediately after he answered. However, the answer really didn’t mean anything because Louis didn’t recognize the name. It obviously wasn’t one that had caught his interest when he had been in the map room with Marcellus. He looked at Marcellus imploringly.

 

Marcellus sighed and turned away from his brother to answer Louis’s nonverbal question, “Nicknamed the Smuggler’s Moon, it’s a notorious moon, home to a large underworld dominated by bounty hunters and crime lords.”

 

Louis’s eyes widened and he looked at Edward, alarmed, “Why are we stopping there?” The first thought that came to his mind was that Edward finally decided to sell him off to the highest bidder and obviously no place would be better than a place literally called the Smuggler’s Moon. 

 

Rolling his eyes, Edward moved away from the window he had been pacing in front of and dropped in his chair. Leisurely, he took his cloak that he had draped over his chair and wrapped it around himself as if he was settling in for the long haul. “I have important business matters to attend to. You and Marceau’Llus shall be accompanying me. It shouldn’t take long if he knows what’s best for him.” The last sentence was more of a mutter as he narrowed his eyes, gazing at somewhere far off. Louis wondered who would voluntarily ask for an audience with Edward and even more, what they would have to offer that would make Edward even consider stopping to actually meet with them. (After all, Leyll had the holocron in his possession when he met with Edward and he ended up not only giving up his hold of the holocron but also left with one less paw than he had arrived with. Louis bet that he was one of the lucky ones.)

 

Realizing that Edward had no more interest in speaking with him, Louis decided it was for the best to leave alongside with BD-5000. Walking around the far side of the room on the catwalk, Louis glanced over his shoulder to see Marcellus muttering something to Edward, clutching at the cape he had hanging over his chest almost anxiously. Louis paused at the doorway, ignoring the looks of the soldiers at their computers glancing up at him. Marcellus looked nervous about something, an unusual look on him to be sure. Louis didn’t like it and a part of him wanted to run back and comfort him. He didn’t seem to need to because Edward reached up and grabbed Marcellus’s gloved hands in his. The image of the two brothers clutching each other’s hands was probably something Louis wouldn’t forget.

 

 

As soon as Louis made it back to his room, he collapsed on his bed, pulling his knees close to his chest. He wanted to soak in icy water but felt too lazy to even move. BD-5000 made sure he had arrived in the room before leaving. Louis wondered how close his room was to the kitchen because it didn’t seem to take that long for her to return, clutching a tray in her hands. Louis’s eyes were immediately drawn to the bright pink drink and he smacked his lips obnoxiously, eager to try it.

 

On the plate was some sort of starch, not quite bread, resembling something more along the lines of a flattened bun with a thick, warm, sweetly smelling syrup doused on top of it. Using the side of the fork to cut up the food, Louis rubbed up the access syrup onto the piece of bread and greedily shoved it into his mouth. It was warm and soft and gooey and insanely sweet, filling his mouth with the sticky substance. It didn’t take long for Louis to consume it all, scooping up the remains of the syrup with his fork and licking it off with painstaking detail and devotion.

 

Setting the plate back down on the tray laying on the bed, Louis took the bright drink and walked into the bathroom. He ran the water, making sure it was the perfect temperature of cold against his fingertips before he plugged the drain and let it fill the stone bowl. He balanced his drink on the thick edge of the tub stone. Slowly and painstaking, Louis began to peel his clothing away from his body. He unhooked all the clasps and pulled off all the jewelry, making sure he had nothing left. He gathered all the pieces into a messy pile and pushed it close to the bottom of the tub so he wouldn’t step on any of it. Finally, he stepped into the bowl, careful to not knock into his drink, and sat down gingerly, the cold water lapping over his thighs and splashing up his torso. The cold water made good bumps run across his skin and shivered, pleasured by the familiar soothing feeling. He hadn’t realized how hot his skin had become during his time training with Edward but he was far above his average temperature. Being able to wash away the remnants of his sweat was practically cathartic.

 

Picking up his drink, Louis took an experimental sip. It was also sweet, nowhere near as sweet as the syrup, and it was thick and nearly as cold as his bathwater. It was thick and tasted like berries and Louis immediately loved it.

 

Louis almost wished he could feel content like this every day. Submerged in cold water and drinking something sweet that made his stomach flutter. But, he wanted that at home. Though, he wondered, if was he was able to be at home at that very moment, would he be completely and utterly content?

 

The question made him and freeze and sigh. It was like he had become his own worst enemy: every time he was even a little bit alone his mind wouldn’t shut up. It was like every negative thought and feeling that he had ever experienced came back tenfold and his mind wouldn’t shut up until he ruminated on it enough that he was thoroughly depressed.

 

Letting his head drop back onto the edge of the tub, Louis let out an absurdly loud groan, hating the way his thoughts worked. He didn’t want to think about things anymore. He didn’t want to be so upset and afraid all the time. He remembered the feeling of Marcellus pressed against him and whined, sinking further into the water and sipping more of his drink. While sitting in the icy water, drinking his frozen drink he could recall how freaking hot Marcellus was -temperature wise. His heavy black robes only added to how hot his leather clad palms were and how his lips felt like burning against Louis’s own. Thinking about it made his stomach clench and churn until he was uncomfortable and hot between his thighs. Setting his glass back on the edge of the tub, Louis rubbed his palms against the top of his thighs. He could feel his cheeks burning in embarrassment, hating how his body responded so primally to just mere thoughts. Running his blunt nails along his soft, thick thighs, partly wondering if he had always been so soft and round, Louis noticed his veins were starting to faintly glow. The holocron hadn’t heated up, the glow too faint to really activate anything, Louis figured.

 

Louis watched the faint light that seeped from his body, glowing under the stillness of the chilled water. With more aggression than he intended, he squeezed the sides of his thighs, grabbing handfuls of his soft flesh as if he was trying to squish away the burning in his stomach. The harder he pressed his nails into his flesh, the more the pain distracted him from thinking of things he didn’t want to think about, like his family, how he was supposed to die for something he didn’t even want nor believe in and even the feeling of Marcellus cradling him. He didn’t want to think of any of that.

 

The bathroom door, which had been pulled halfway closed, suddenly whipped opened, slamming loudly when it hit the edge of the wall. Louis spun around, the water sloshing around his hips and splattering up onto his chest. “Marcel!?” He squeaked, unable to get all the syllables out of his mouth fast enough. The man’s sudden appearance made the blue glow suddenly turn on tenfold, flooding the entire room and making the gem heat up.

 

Freezing, Marcellus stared back at Louis as if the sight of him lounging in the tub was so foreign and unusual he forgot how to function. Tripping over his own two feet, Marcellus fumbled, grabbing at the doorway to steady himself but nearly missing, his hand waving through the air before finally smacking the wall, his fingers managing to wrap around the edge. Louis blinked, an endeared smile tugging on the corner of his mouth.’

 

“What can I help you with?” Louis asked, cocking his head, purposely playing coy with the bashful man in front of him. It seemed to effect Marcellus just as much as much as Louis hoped it would and it seemed like the man was about to fall over, teetering dangerously on his heels, the leather of his gloves squeaking against the wall with the amount of pressure he was applying. Louis could have sworn he even heard the wall groan in pain in Marcellus’s grip.

 

Realizing the man was clearly compromised, Louis turned back to rest his shoulders against the edge of the tub, picking up his cup to sip his frozen drink leisurely. He figured waiting for Marcellus to compose himself was the only way to go. He obviously couldn’t jump out of the tub. That would be helping nobody.

 

It only took two sips of Louis’s drink for Marcellus to recover and Louis figured that was to do with whatever training he underwent alongside Edward to make him such a formidable man. Marcellus edged closer to Louis, not daring to get too close or even move too suddenly, like Louis was a rare specious of creature he had to be cautious with, lest his spook him and cause him to flee. Louis nearly laughed at the idea; it would take a lot of encouragement to get him to jump up and run out of the tub, naked and bared, in front of Marcellus.

 

It wasn’t like Louis had an issue with nudity, no, not at all. It was more like he had an issue with nudity around Marcellus specifically. And, if Louis really thought about, around Edward and Harry if it would ever come to that. With Harry and Marcellus it was more of an attraction issue (and by the Gods Louis did not want them to know how weak they made him feel.) while as with Edward, Louis was too afraid to be around him in general, already feeling exposed and naked, like he was spread out like a grand feast for the man whenever he so much as looked at Louis. He couldn’t imagine how he would feel actually naked with Edward’s eyes on him. Even thinking about it made Louis want to crawl out of his skin and curl up in his bed and never emerge.

 

“I… I brought the clothing that Eadh’hard specifically wants you to adorn during the meeting.” Marcellus managed to mutter, his eyes tracing the delicate lines of Louis’s shoulders and the sharp turns of his collar bones when he twisted around to look at him again when he spoke.

 

Swallowing another sip, Louis asked, “What is wrong with the clothing I was wearing earlier?”

“Nothing. Just… Not what Eadh’hard wants you to wear.” Marcellus muttered, his eyes glancing down to Louis’s chest for the briefest moment before his eyes flickered back up to meet Louis’s inquisitive gaze.

 

Louis nearly rolled his eyes because of course, Edward would want to control what he was wearing. Probably something that screamed ‘I belong to Vigo Leader Edward Blah Blah” or whatever his full name was. “When he said we were arriving soon…?”

 

=“Within the day. We need to fuel up.”

 

“Who are we meeting with and why are we going with Edward? Well, it is understandable that you would go with him but why would he want me to go? I’m not any good… At, well, anything. It would probably be better if I stayed here.” Staying where Edward wouldn’t be and allowing Louis a better possibility of escape. Even if the thought of leaving Marcel made something howl mournfully inside of his gut.

 

“Eadh’hard has requested that you stay close to us. He doesn’t… trust anyone else with you. I may protect him but I also protect you. As for who we’re meeting, he’s told me it’s man who wishes to make a deal. He told me nothing more on the matter.” Louis almost didn’t believe that. “He doesn’t think it’s very promising but his curiosity has been piqued.” Louis wondered if that meant there was a good chance that the meeting partner was going to wind up leaving with a missing limb, or maybe even end up dead.

 

Shifting so he would be more comfortable in the water, Louis curled his legs beneath him and propped an arm up on the edge of the tub. Louis used his other hand, the one that had been resting in the water, and ran it through his hair to push it away from his face. One stubborn strand fell back down over his forehead and Louis wet his hand even more before pushing it back. “Does Edward meet with everyone who wants an audience with him? Or is there something special about this person in particular?” His hair curled back over his forehead and Louis huffed in annoyance, dropping his head a bit so he could cup some water in a small palm and splash it onto the short strands so he could control them.

 

Marcellus, who had been watched Louis’s actions with captivated eyes cleared his throat, wetting the inside of his mouth and then swallowed loudly. The sound was oddly loud and awkward coming from the reserved Marcellus but it was almost nice to hear; it made him seem a lot less like the inhuman Edward. And, especially with the mask covering his face, it was nice to see -or at least hear- any kind of emotion or reaction. Anything that would differentiate him from his brother was nice, Louis thought.

 

“Eadh’hard’s choices are unique to his mood.”

 

“And this is what mood?”

 

“A rare good one.”

 

Louis grinned at that because even if Marcellus seemed unfailingly loyal to his brother, he wasn’t naive to his defects. “Hopefully it is a good mood that will stick around. I don’t think I could bare through having to witness your brother getting truly and sincerely angry at someone.” And then him most likely killing them.

 

Even though Louis couldn’t see Marcellus’s mouth from beneath his mask, he could have sworn the man smiled at that. “I will protect you,” was all Marcel said. His eyes drank in the sight of Louis’s tanned, naked skin one last time before he backed up, rather ungracefully considering his previous shows of dexterity, and walked out of the room, the door sliding shut behind him.

 

Louis watched his exit, frowning. Though he understood that Marcel had ended the conversation -most likely in the most hurried but polite manner he could, Louis always hated watching him walk away. He wanted to speak to him some more but didn’t know what else to say. He was also naked in a bathtub and would rather have something to cover himself. He didn’t want Marcel to notice the way his body lit up like lightning whenever he was around.

 

Realizing he had already spent an unreasonable amount of time in the tub and that it would probably be in his best interest to get dressed as soon as possible so he wouldn’t have to make Edward wait, Louis stood and stepped out of the tub. Though he was tempted to drip dry, the ridiculously high chance that Marcel was passing around in his bedroom forced him to grab the large fluffy towel and pat halfheartedly at his hair and rub along his body. He wrapped it around himself and grabbed his cup, with only had a couple of mouthfuls left before hitting the door open with his elbow. With his one hand holding the cup, he was using his other to hold his tool up around his chest, the hem of it brushing against his knees.

 

He had been right. Shuffling around in his room like a caged animal was Marcel, looking irrationally bothered by something that Louis immediately wanted to sooth away. Louis walked over to his desk, making a large arc around Marcel and setting his cup on the edge near the new pile of clothing that was sitting there. “Are you going to watch me get dressed?” Louis asked absently picking at his clothing. They were all white, unsurprisingly. Whoever picked out his clothing (Edward?) didn’t seem to know any colors other than black or white. What Louis did notice was different was the golden jewelry, as opposed to the usual silver or ebony.

 

Predictably, Louis’s words slammed into Marcellus, making his back snap up ramrod straight and he marched over to the door and walked out, making sure it was completely closed when he was gone. Smiling to himself, Louis shook his head in amusement and let his towel drop and pool around his feet so he could get dressed.

 

The first piece was a white dress with a low scoop neck, no sleeves but with a full skirt. It had a translucent cape hanging from its shoulders, thicker than the last one he had worn. Overtop of the skirt, attached at the waist was a thin overskirt with an embroidered floral design, the bottom hem cut to make it look like flower petals. There was another pair of strappy sandals, white to match his outfit that he had to fight a bit to get onto his feet, still not used to such a pointlessly intricate garment. All he had left were the gold pieces, including golden gauntlets which he was able to snap on after having done it so many times before, leaving a huge necklace and another piece he assumed went on his head.

 

He went for the necklace first, which looked more like a cage, covering his entire neck and fanning out over his collarbones and shoulders. At the front and centre was a large golden pendant hanging, sitting just in the hollow of his neck. Louis twisted his neck around, feeling the way the golden chains pressed against his flesh, forcing his neck up. Grunting in irritation, Louis picked up the last piece, already wishing he could peel the clothing away.

 

The last piece of jewelry had a golden triangle with delicate chains hanging from the sides. At each chain end were more triangles, more like pyramids. On the corner of each triangle were hair clips. Carefully, Louis took the middle triangle and pressed it against his forehead, awkwardly pushing the clips into his damp hair. The little pyramids fell down and smacked him on the nose. Growling, Louis pinched one between his index and thumb in each of his hands and pushed the clips into the strands of hair at his temples. Satisfied he had nothing left to do to get presentable for Edward, he stalked over to the bedroom door and opened it, revealing Marcellus standing impassively to the left of his door.

 

Louis wondered if Marcellus was excited for the stops on the planets, excited to stop being confined to the ship and being exposed to something else even if it was for a little while. Being stuck on the ship was making Louis nauseous and desperate for something else. Even though he had asked if he could stay on the ship, it had been because he was hoping for a chance to run off and maybe find a way to contact Niall and not because he wanted to spend more time on the damned thing. He imagined that Marcellus was relieved whenever they had to stop. Of course, he probably had to stick close to Edward but his brother probably didn’t just stay on the ship. Louis couldn’t imagine Edward just lounging around in his chair (Or room. If he had a room.) the whole time they were parked somewhere. He probably ventured off and bullied old people or stole toys from children or killed people or something of the sort.

 

“I can’t wait to be on solid earth again…” Louis muttered, recalling the way dirt felt between his toes or how cold wind was almost like burning against his cheeks or even how the sun used to filter through the canopies of the leaves to warm against his family’s hut.

 

Marcellus glanced over at him, picking up his quiet comment but didn’t say anything. Flicking his eyes up Louis’s form, he took in the sharp of his body in the dress, the fullness at the hips and the tightness across his chest. The gold headpiece sitting against his forehead seemed to make his eyes glitter even brighter and it felt like a punch to the chest. Marcellus figured that if someone wanted to know what it was like to be blinded by the sun, all they would have to do was stare at back into Louis’s gaze. Composing himself, Marcellus began to walk, confident that Louis would follow him.

 

Rather than going to meet up with Edward, Louis found that he was leading him to the guts of the ship, following hallways that Louis had been marched through with Leyll the feline vigo. He guessed that they would be leaving through the same bay doors that he had originally entered through.

 

Keeping close to Marcellus’s side, Louis found that his intuition was correct. He was lead through a large open doorway that had uniformed men and women marching back and forth through it. Marcellus swept in, hunching himself close to the wall. Brushing his arm against the flapping cloak, Louis made sure he didn’t stray far from his shadow man as his eyes wandered the bay. It was immensely high like they had neglected to put any floors in this part of the ship so they decided to fill the walls up with tiny ships to make up for it. Tie-fighters, a small voice offered in the back of his mind as he whirled around to inspect the walls. The tie-fighters were lodged into little holds on the walls and Louis guessed that they were attached to the wall somehow so nobody could just fly one out. Not like Louis would ever dare to do that. Flying with Harry had been enough.

 

While there were already so many ships attached to the sides, there were also larger ships along the ground that uniformed soldiers and ambiguously gendered armoured troopers were fiddling with, whether they were opening panels, gassing them up or even just climbing inside the pits and making sure everything was working as they should be.

 

Abruptly, throwing Louis off, the ship started to snarl like an angry animal, sputtering, and hissing. There were the grinding and clanking of metals and instinctually Louis reached out to grab at Marcellus’s cloak. Marcellus paused, looking over at him with furrowed brows. Instead of saying anything, Louis tried to convey his what the fuck feeling with large eyes and trembling lips. It seemed to work and Marcellus twisted his cloak out of his grasp before popping the clasp off from around his neck and throwing it over Louis’s shoulders. While the hem on Marcellus landed just above his knees, on Louis it was mid-calf and Louis peered with curious eyes up at the man, unsure what he was doing. Without pause, Marcellus, pulled the hood up, letting it droop over Louis’s face, it stopping just at the tip of his curved nose. Before Louis could wrench the hood back in a panic he was pulled into Marcellus’s body, smothered in the heat of his chest and encased in the wrapping of the shadow man’s sinewy arms.

 

Frozen, Louis focused on his breathing and making it match with Marcellus's, his heartbeat louder than even the grinding sounds the ship was making. Louis wondered how he would know holding him would help but his tongue felt too fat and heavy to even form any words, let alone ask a question. Timidly, Louis twisted his tiny hand up away from where he had it curled against his ribs to pluck at the ties that held Marcellus’s robe shut, pulled tight across his muscled form. He was hyper aware of how Marcellus’s large hand felt stretched across his shoulder blades, his other one against his lower back, almost low enough to touch his arse. Louis wondered if Marcellus would be brave enough to lower his hand and that thought alone was to make his face heat up like fire, the gem flickering blue on his forehead. A look that must have been concern passed through Marcellus’s eyes and Louis couldn’t even begin to organize his thoughts so settled for shoving his face aggressively into the panels of the man’s chest.

 

The ship made one last roar before the grinding of gears were heard and Louis could feel wind pulling at the cloak, brushing it away from his legs and tugging playfully at the skirt of his dress. When the grinding finally stopped and the sounds of the city started to filter into Louis’s ears, he pulled his face away from its hiding spot and looked out.

 

Nar Shaddaa, complete with darkening skies and dusty ground.

 

There was a frenzied movement from behind Louis and he twisted in Marcellus’s grasp to turn. It was Edward, pallid and imposing in his own dark cloak, his muddy curls rustling over his face in the breeze. He didn’t seem fazed at the sight of Louis wearing his brother’s cloak or even the fact Marcellus’s hands were cradling him. He merely said, “Come with me, little one,” his eyes barely lingering on them before he strode past them down the ramp and onto the chalky earth.

 

Marcellus pulled a hand away from Louis’s back to rest it on what Louis knew to be a haunting red blade, hotter than any fire he had ever seen. He watched his brother walk out onto the foreign planet with careful eyes and muttered, “As I am the reaper.”

 

Unsure what he meant, Louis allowed him to pull away and adjust the hood on his head so it sat just above the golden headpiece. Hand still hovering against his shoulders, Marcellus led Louis out after Edward.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty 

Sweet, Sweet, Dove 

 

There were immediate perks to traveling in a plebeian way with Edward. Much like Louis, he obviously didn’t enjoy the open topped death traps that Louis had to suffer through with Niall. Instead, he pulled something small, something the size of a marble from a compartment from his belt and he gave it a lazy toss up into the air. Louis watched it twirl up into the air and then watched it plummet back down towards them. Instead of it just dropping onto the ground, it blew up into a large carriage, something Louis wouldn’t have even noticed if he hadn’t been watching it absolutely captivated. It was completely silent and didn’t even make a sound when it turned from a small marble into a fully functioning land vehicle.

 

Barely outstretching his hand, Edward extended his pointer and middle finger and gave them a lazy flick. The side of the large silver vehicle opened, the door raising upwards to reveal the inside. All that was inside was a cushioned seat along the back and the window at the front.

 

Edward didn’t move, just merely standing near the opened pod. Before Louis could question him, Marcellus gently prodded his lower back, ushering him into the pod. Louis stepped up and dropped into the bench, scooting over to the far end to press against the wall. Marcellus followed in after him, his sabre bobbing against his thigh as he stepped up and sat gingerly beside him, prying the cloak out from beneath his thigh to wrap over Louis’s legs with care. Edward was the last one, stepping up and standing in front at the window. The door slid down completely silent, enclosing all of them into the pod. Curling his fingers tightly over the edge of the bench, Louis braced himself for the takeoff of the pod.

 

Thankfully, unlike the pod Niall had driven, this one didn’t jerk as it began to move, gliding up high above the ground before making its way away from the landing strips into the city. Unlike Trantor, this city didn’t have sky high buildings made out of metal. The buildings were all stone, smooth like rocks shaped by the river. Nothing was high, more spread out and broad and Louis could see them go on and on, disappearing into the sky. The sky looked like it was getting ready to storm and instead of paved streets, they were all pulverized dirt, worn down from years and years of walking and vehicles.

 

Interestingly enough, their pod was being driven by merely the simple flicks of Edward’s fingers. It was inordinately smooth like they were barely moving and it was utterly silent. Louis figured that if he was more accustomed to the open topped vehicles that he probably would have been unnerved by the quietness and even the cleanliness of the silver pod. And while Louis wasn’t particularly a fan of things that were so unnervingly opposite of his home but he preferred the controlled travel to what he had to experience with Niall.

 

The pod finally stopped in front of something that almost resembled a temple. It didn’t have a doorway at the bottom of the building, only stairways that lead up onto second and third floors. It was smoothed down beige stone and the entire building looked like it was carved out of one large rock. Louis traced his eyes up the curved stairs along the side as the pod pulled forward next to it, stopping and lowering close to the ground. When the pod pulled to a full stop, Louis didn’t move out of his spot, just pulled the cloak tighter around himself and turned his gaze to eye Edward. Again, Edward didn’t move. Without prompting from his brother Marcellus raised to his feet and pressed his fingertips against Louis’s shoulders until he raised to his feet, eyes wide and curious.

 

Following Marcellus out of the pod, they both stopped to turn, watching Edward finally extract himself after them, his eyes not even sweeping over them. Stepping down, he turned on his heel and the door dropped down to seal up. Edward flicked his pointer and middle finger and the vehicle immediately shrunk to its originally size, hovering in the air above Edward’s head. He merely held his hand out, cupped, and let the marble drop down directly into his palm. Louis rolled his eyes but it came off more fond rather than annoyed, much to his chagrin.

 

Pocketing the tiny pod, Edward immediately began to walk up the steps, not stopping to check to see if his brother and Louis would even follow him. Louis briefly wondered what his reaction would be if they decided to run off and nearly laughed imagining steam coming out of his ears and snickered to himself. Rather reluctantly Louis began to follow, along with Marcellus, taking care to grab handfuls of his cloak and skirt so he wouldn’t trip. The stairs went up along the front and curved around the far side to a huge set of arched doors but the stairs continued to wind around the entire building. Louis had no doubt that if they continued to walk, there would be more doors, perhaps even identical.

 

Louis nearly laughed when Edward waved his wrist and flung the doors open. He looked so ungodly bored Louis couldn’t understand why he would even bother bringing himself to attend the meeting if he was going to continue to act like such a diva. Seeing the expression on his face, so reminiscent of a pout, it nearly drove Louis wild because he looked more like Harry than he should have been allowed.

 

The inside of the building was a bar, Louis realized, following the pouting Edward inside, Marcellus close to his side. It had elements much like the Camaka Lounge but was also so vastly different it took Louis a moment to recognize it for what it was. Its bar was on the side opposite from the door, the wall filled with a myriad of coloured bottles, glittering beneath the lights that bathed the room with warm, orange light. The seats were all cushioned and well-loved with stone accents to match the interior. The sides had polished stone tables squeezed in the crevices of circular booths, a low hanging light above each one.

 

Pausing for a mere second, Louis watched the pout smooth away on Edward’s face and he turned to the right, heading straight for one of the booths. Louis hesitated, almost afraid to see who would be occupying the booth in wait and found he couldn’t force himself to move until Marcellus tapped his bicep in gentle encouragement. He reluctantly dragged his feet after Edward, his breath stuck in his throat as he braced himself.

 

It was anticlimactic, really, when Louis was able to peek around the edge of the booth. It was just a man. A man whom he didn’t recognize, nursing a dark ale in a polished tumbler. He was swarthy skinned with black eyes and black curls he had cut close to his head and brushed neatly into place. He had days old scruff along the bottom of his face and a cut going through his right eyebrow but other than that he had no distinguishing features. In fact, if Louis hadn’t been following Edward to the table and had to find the man himself, he probably wouldn’t have even noticed this man. There was nothing particularly special or eye-catching about him whatsoever and, for a man who would willing seek out a meeting with Edward, nothing sinister or cunning seemed obvious in his appearance.

 

Louis didn’t want to say he was disappointed. But, ultimately, he was. And, thinking about it, Edward probably was too.

 

When Edward paused to take in the sight of the man smirking at them, Marcellus led Louis close to the table, urging him to perch on the edge of the bench so he could stand beside him. Louis was conscious to not let himself get too comfortable in case things went awry and made sure the distance between him the stranger was a respectable length, not eager to be closer to him than he had to be. Edward, instead of sitting on the other side of the bench like Louis figured he would, he flicked his fingers towards the table behind them and one of the heavy chairs zipped away to stop an arm’s length away from the outer side of the table, the one side not surrounded by the booth bench. Finding it acceptable for himself, Edward dropped into it.

 

A boy would have been working behind the counter of the bar, who appeared around Louis’s age began to approach but from one stern look from Marcellus hurried away. They would not be staying for drinks, apparently.

 

“Eadh’hard Thraken Ka Djo, vigo of the Black Suns. To finally see you in the flesh is an honor,” The man murmured, the corners of his mouth twitching into something Louis supposed was a smile.

 

Edward tilted his head in acknowledgment, “I’m sure it is.” Louis ducked his head to stop himself from laughing out loud. The man seemed taken aback by Edward’s frank answer but he quickly schooled his features. Before he could say anything -perhaps more flattery to get on his good side and butter him up before asking him something- Edward cut in, “Speak quickly. I have little interest in chit chat.”

 

Pursing his lips, it seemed like the man wanted to scold Edward for interrupting him but he reminded himself who he was speaking to and saved himself before he could make a fatal mistake. Instead, he merely declared: “I want you to kill somebody for me.”

 

A cold sharp laugh escaped Edward’s lips and he twisted in his chair, looking ready to leave. “I didn’t realize I had earned myself a reputation as a killer for hire. Perhaps I should remedy this.” Louis had no doubt that the last statement meant the extermination of those who believed in such a thing, starting with this man.

 

Floundering, the man quickly shook his head, his hand clenching at his glass tightly, “No, no. I didn’t mean that. I think it would be mutually beneficial.”

 

“Don’t waste my time.”

 

The warning in Edward’s voice was so sudden and sharp it sent chills through Louis. The man cleared his throat and fumbled with his glass, causing the drink to slosh close to the edge. “The death of Zayn Malik.”

 

Louis’s head snapped up, the hood nearly tossing right off his hair. Thankfully Edward and the man were paying no attention to him but Marcellus was, his eyebrows furrowed in concern. It couldn’t be a coincidence that this man knew Zayn, could it? The same Zayn Louis just happened to know. How many Zayn Maliks were there in the entire universe? Louis felt like he knew five people in the universe and this man just happened to want one of them dead. It was incredibly suspicious to Louis.

 

Louis never thought he would hope Edward would kill someone and yet…

 

“Zayn Malik, the son of Yaser Malik, the leader of the Blades of Orion. How unusual. Very specific.”

 

“Not just Zayn, his father too of course,” the man quickly corrected.

 

“Less unusual. Much more predictable.” Edward rolled his eyes, “What makes you think after their deaths you’ll be put in charge of the Blades? That they would even follow you?”

 

“Who said I wanted to take control of the Blades?”

 

“You did, just now when you said you wanted the Maliks dead. I’m not a moron like you seem to think I am. If I were you, I would start to tread lightly. I happen to have a very light trigger finger and it seems like you’re in the line of fire. How unfortunate.”

 

Edward’s quiet voice and light threat seemed to do the work and the man sat up straighter, gulping audibly to try and gather his courage -and his wits- for the rest of the discussion. “I’m already the second. If Yaser is killed, I would be put into power but Zayn is a notorious little shit and I know he would stage a rebellion to usurp me. With him out of the picture, there would be no one to oppose me.”

 

“And the mutually beneficial part?” Edward was starting to sound bored again but Louis couldn’t have been more amped if he tried. His blood was pounding in his ears like a drum and his feet were twitching so bad he was afraid they may just tap straight off his ankles and disappear into the bar. Licking his lips, Louis gripped at his knees with blunt nails, trying to force himself to stay still and not do something embarrassing.

 

“I can get you anything you want!” The man declared confidently, looking pleased with himself.

The answer seemed to make Edward lose interest completely. Louis could tell by the ways his eyes shut down and his stomach flipped realizing how well he was coming to know Edward and his expressions. “I have no interest in anything I want. It seems we’re done here.” Edward stood up, prepping to leave and Marcellus took a step back to give him and Louis room to vacate the booth.

 

“I can give you the holocron!”

 

All three of them froze. A feeling akin to fear bubbled up in Louis’s throat and he made eye contact with Edward when he froze. To Louis’s amusement, he looked as confused as Louis felt but he hid the expression under a mask of indifferent quickly. He turned and looked back at the man.

 

“What did you just say?”

 

The man seemed to realize what he said definitely got the attention of the vigo and he grinned triumphantly. “The holocron. Us, The Blade of Orion, have it in our possession. In return of the deaths of Yaser and Zayn Malik, I will give you it.”

 

Edward narrowed his eyes at the man, sweeping his gaze up and down and Louis wondered if he was reevaluating the simple-looking man in front of him. “Your name?” Edward asked instead, throwing the man off again. Louis was amused and, no matter how much Edward pissed him off, impressed with the way Edward controlled a conversation. The man didn’t seem to expect any of the things Edward said and had to change to accommodate him. Louis hated to admit how much he admired it.

 

“Mercurius.”

 

You're kidding.

 

Louis recognized the name immediately, his mind racing back to the conversation between Zayn and Liam. He was the lieutenant of The Blades of Orion, the one who had answered the call with Zayn aboard the ship. Zayn had told him they hadn’t found the holocron though. He was afraid if he did, he would tell Yaser that he had found it instead of Zayn and take the glory. So either Zayn informed someone else who told him, wound up telling him anyways or Mercurius was lying to Edward’s face.

 

By the Gods, Louis hoped it was the last one and he would get the pleasure of seeing Edward cut the man’s hands off. Or Marcellus. He wasn’t picky.

 

“Mercurius, have you seen the holocron with your own two mortal eyes?” Edward asked, voice low and dangerous. Louis hid a smile, hugging the cloak tighter around himself to keep himself hidden from any prying eyes.

 

Without even wavering, Mercurius nodded, “I have.” Louis could have screamed at the blatant lie, half furious and half amused. He could barely believe the man’s audacity.

 

Edward nodded his head slowly, “That is enough.” He turned away from Mercurius, much to the man’s confusion and began to walk out of the establishment. Louis hopped to his feet and, along with Marcellus, hurried after him.

 

Louis would have given anything to know the thoughts going through Edward’s head and wondered if he would tell Marcellus later. If so, Louis might be lucky enough to get them out of him instead. He was a much easier victim to Louis’s charms than Edward.

 

Moving with the quickness of someone in a rage, Louis and Marcellus were forced to pick up their speed to keep close to Edward. Louis had no doubt there would be a punishment for someone -hopefully not him- in the near future, judging by the way Edward was moving. Was it the lying that pissed him off, Louis wondered. The man’s arrogance while doing so?

 

The three reached the front of the building but before Edward could pull out the expandable vehicle, Mercurius came rushing down the stairs, looking harried. Louis took several steps back, making sure he was behind Marcellus who had braced himself, his eyes as cold as river rocks and his fingers twitching for his weapon.  

 

“Vigo Eadh’hard! I… Do we have an accord?” He seemed honestly confused and if he wasn’t trying to hire Edward to kill Zayn and his dad, Louis may have felt bad for him.

 

Edward turned and face him, looking cold and impassive. “I dislike many things Mercurius. However, I loathe being lied too. Not only have you tried my patience, wasted my time but you have had the gall to lie to my face. I was being lenient, walking away from you yet, here you are, insistent on playing with fire.”

 

Mercurius blanched, looking stunned at his response, “I have not-!” He tried but Edward waved him silent with a flick of his hand.

 

“The complete and utter arrogance-,” Edward snarled, his face twisting into an ugly snarl that had Mercurius and even Louis reeling. It seemed like Marcellus was ready to draw his weapon to dole out any punishment his brother wished to befall Mercurius but Edward twitched his pointer finger at him and that was enough to subdue his protector into standing steady again.

 

It seemed Louis realized, he didn’t want Marcellus to act because he was going too. Just as quick as Louis remembered him to be, he drew his lightsaber, the blade blazing the colour of dried blood -a dark and rusty red- and he slashed at Mercurius, two swift strikes before he retracted his blade and hooked it back into its place on his hip. As if he hadn’t just attacked a man, he pulled out the silver marble of his vehicle and tossed it over his shoulder. As it had done earlier, it hovered above the ground for a moment before blowing up to its proper size. The side door opened up and Edward turned away from Mercurius with a disgusted sneer and stepped into the ship.

 

Louis could barely move his eyes away from the man. The first strike had sliced right through the tender flesh of his armpit up to his shoulder, letting his right arm fall away like a broken branch. The blade was so hot no blood even poured, the wound cauterizing immediately. The second swing went right across his face, splitting open the skin with a sickening sound. Louis wished he could wash the sound out of his brain, the way the sizzling blade opened up the man’s flesh as easily as a blade could open up the skin of an avocado.

 

The cut went from the right side of his jaw, over his nose, completely deforming it, to the outer corner of his left eye. His body collapsed onto the ground and he looked dead. His body didn’t twitch or show any signs of life; it just lay there on the dirty earth and Louis imagined himself puking with the way his stomach was rolling around inside. He counted to ten and then down to one and then back up to ten. The repetition calmed him down some, enough that he wasn’t going to loose his guts any longer.

 

Edward had just killed Mercurius and Louis had watched it happen.

 

He reminded himself that he had been hoping for that. That meant he wouldn’t be trying to kill Zayn or his father anymore. But was taking his life the only way? Was Louis as bad as Edward, for allowing him to kill another? Who was worse, the killer or the one who let the killing happen?

 

Louis almost let himself fall to his knees at the side of the crumpled body but Marcellus swept in, grabbing his upper arms firmly and lifted him into the ship. Without intending too, Louis’s body collapsed into the bench seat, the hood of the cloak finally falling away from his flushed face. Marcellus sat down beside him, considerably closer than he had last time and Louis concentrated on the heat of his body next to his as Edward piloted the pod back to the ship.

 

 

 

 

When Louis opened his eyes, he was standing on the roof of a temple. Walkways of smooth polished rock, large spires at each corner of the roof with a thicker one in the centre, looking like it could touch the sky. On each side of the temple, a sprawling city, all made of the identical grey rock the temple was made of.

 

“Louis.” At the sound of his name, he froze, turning away from the centre pillar he was facing to look behind him. He knew the voice but was almost to scared to hope.

 

It was Harry. With his large, glittering eyes and a beautiful cascade of tree bark coloured curls. He looked completely identical to when he had last seen him, wearing the odd dark red sashes across his chest with the tight black pants under the ripped away skirt and the knee-high armoured boots.

 

“You’re… You’re not really here, are you?” Louis murmured, not daring to move any closer.

 

“Neither of us are,” Harry admitted, walking towards him. Louis couldn’t help but take a step back in surprise but he immediately regretted it, seeing the flash of hurt in Harry’s eyes. Harry paused and seemed to debate moving forward again and, thankfully, decided to continue, until their chests were nearly brushing against each other.

 

Tilting his head back to look up into Harry’s face, Louis asked, “Where are we?”

 

Harry grinned widely, his dimples popping out, “You tell me.”

 

Before Louis could scold Harry and tell him that this temple was obviously Harry’s, he realized they weren’t there any longer. It must have happened quicker than a blink, the scenery around them changing. They were standing in a forest, the ground wet with an inch of water that was soaking Louis’s mostly bare feet. It was shockingly cold, sending goosebumps across his skin. The trees around them reached up and disappeared above their heads, the trees weaving together to create a thick canopy, nothing but slivers of sunlight streaming through.

 

“We’re… home?” Louis could barely believe the words falling from his mouth as he looked around because it couldn’t be but yet… He had grown up in these very trees. There was no way he could mistake them.

 

“Dononter Minor then?” Harry mused, gazing around with sincere interest. “It’s very wet.” He declared and Louis giggled at that.

 

“Of all the things you could say, all you can manage is ‘it’s very wet’?” Louis teased.

 

Harry grinned, “Well, I think it’s the most noticeable. I could also say that there’s a lot of trees. Or that it’s very green. Those are also very important facts.”

 

Louis laughed, “Oh Gods, shut up!” He shoved at Harry’s chest, causing the other boy to laugh and scramble to stay on his feet and not drop backward into the water.

 

As Harry regained his balance, Louis began to push through the underbrush, his feet squishing into the soft ground as he waded to where he knew his home village sat. He knew the forest better than his own reflection and even though he knew he wasn’t truly home, the trees and other flora were all perfectly identical to what he knew.

 

They weren’t that far away from the village he noticed, sliding down a ravine with running water that he splashed around in. He walked along it, making sure to splash as much as he could. Louis could hear Harry following him, copying his loud splashing. Eventually, Louis walked out of the water, walking up the steeper side of the ravine, nearly crouching forward onto his hands and knees to scramble up the side. Making it to the top, he turned around to look at Harry who was standing at the bottom grinning up at him. Louis rolled his eyes, “Stop looking at my bum, pervert,” he ordered, blushing and hurrying away, not watching Harry laugh as he crawled up the ravine after him.

 

Louis veered to the right, the ground sloping down and through the trees, he could start making out the familiar area of his home. Grinning, Louis picked up his speed, nearly tripping over himself to maneuver through the foliage. Finally, his feet slid through the muddy earth, his hands absently pulling at the green near his hips, this fingertips caressing the leaves that brushed against him.

 

And then he was standing in his home, with muddy huts built low to the ground, with downtrodden paths and carefully cultivated plants around the homes with beautiful plump berries and damp, full leaves. Everything looked the same as it looked when he left, only completely devoid of any life. He couldn’t hear anyone other than Harry near at all and there was no movement from the huts.

 

Frowning, Louis walked down the paths of the huts, making it to his family home. Not a sounds came from inside. “Where is everyone?” He asked out loud, not necessarily meaning it for Harry.

 

Harry answered anyway, “This is just a dreamscape. The Jedi Temple was my dreamscape and this is yours. It’s just a place your heart calls home. We’re not really here and it can’t be filled with artificial life like animals or people. Just what you identify as truly home. Where you feel the safest and the most at peace.”

 

Turning away from his home, Louis looked back at Harry, “Then why are you here? If it can’t create artificial life?”

 

Harry grinned, “I’m not artificial. I’m real. I, uh, mind melded you.” He ran a hand through his long curls, shaking them out sheepishly.

 

“So we’re actually speaking right now? But in my head?”

 

“Yeah. It’s a Force trick. I had to search out your mind and you’re obviously asleep so it was easier for me to connect with you. I would have done this sooner if I hadn’t been so weak.” He looked regretful, clenching his hands with a punishing strength, “You’re being held by someone?”

 

Louis nearly laughed, “Yeah, your brother.”

 

Head snapping up from where he had been gazing at his hands, Harry’s eyes were wide, alarmed. “My brother?”

 

Leaning his hip against the side of his home, Louis nodded, “Yeah, Edward.” Even though he had butchered the pronunciation, Harry still seemed to know who he was talking about and he nodded eagerly.

 

“Did he actually call me his brother?” It looked like something akin to hope shining in his eyes and Louis was reluctant to answer.

 

“Um, no. I just assumed.” Louis admitted. Harry deflated but nodded, looking unsurprised.

 

“It’s a good guess but we aren’t biologically brothers,” Harry admitted, catching Louis’s attention.

 

“If you’re not brothers, then why… You, Edward and Marcellus… You’re all…”

 

Harry smiled, “Eadh’hard and Marceau’Llus are my clones, not my brothers.”

 

“Herosklehev fornuskrill!” Holy fuck.

 

Harry must have understood what he said because he laughed, “Yeah, I know. I was cloned as an infant, only two at the time, and they were aged up and trained as, uhh, super soldiers.” Instead of continuing on with an explanation, he angled himself away from Louis and narrowed his eyes, focusing on the side of the hut and raising his hand. The side of the house began to tremble, morphing and creating several bumps along the side like a rock wall.

 

“Hey, watch it! This is my house, you wanker!” Louis protested, moving away in surprise.

 

Laughing, Harry hooked his feet into the lowest spots and boosted himself up the side, scrambling upwards until he was sprawled along the top. Louis’s usual spot. Louis quirked an eyebrow, amused before pulling himself back and crouching down slightly. He leaned his weight back before pushing up with the strength of his thighs, scaling the side easily. He grabbed the roof with his palms and knees, crawling up to sit beside Harry.

 

Harry raised an eyebrow, “Show off.”

 

Louis beamed, “It’s all in the thighs, love.”

 

Harry’s eyes slid down to eye his legs and Louis immediately punched him in his deceptively muscular bicep. Harry beamed innocently at him, leaning away slightly as if he was afraid Louis was gonna start beating him up just for the sake of it.

 

Louis smirked, endeared by the man. He waited for Harry to continue talking but he didn’t. Instead, he continued to gaze at Louis, trying to memorize him as if he would never see him again. Louis wondered if he should have been unsettled by it but it just worried him instead because it wasn’t like he was going to die. They were going to see each other again. Clearing his throat, Louis asked, “Edward and Marcel are clones of you… But why?”

 

The smile dropped off Harry’s face and he ran a hand through his hair again, pursing his lips, “It’s uh… A long story.”

 

If Louis was a cat, the hair on his back would have been standing up, “Don’t do this to me. You melded your mind with mine after I’ve been kidnapped and practically sold to your clone brother thing. And if I didn’t have this bloody stone in my head, he probably would have killed me already. He honestly has some anger issues. So don’t give me this shenistrill on it being a long story because I think I deserve to know it.”

 

Silence eclipsed over them and Harry ran his hands over his face, curling his legs up close to his chest and heaving a deep sigh. Scratching at his hair he swung his head up to look at Louis, his face severe looking, “You’re right, Lou. Absolutely right. You deserve to know the truth. All of it.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 21
Keep Your Electric Eye On Me, Babe

“I’ll tell you the truth.”

“I trust that you will,” Louis responded. “I trust you.” He added, more softly.

Harry smiled, turning towards him so that his knee and calf was pressed up along the side of Louis’s leg. “I remember seeing you after you were born. Your face was all red and… and blotchy and you used to cry all the time. I was allowed to hold you. I must have been four or five at the time. I remember how blue your eyes were.” His eyebrows furrowed, trying to recall, “I…” He shook his head, “Our parents were friends, you see. Your biological parents, I suppose you know them as. We lived at the temple. The Jedi Temple. Our parents trained as Jedi.” He paused and seemed to be considering something, “I’m not sure what you know of the Jedi but they have a history of being killed. Quite unfortunate. In order for the Force to be balanced there needs to be light and dark. Jedi and Sith. The Jedi represents, or at least, is suppose to represent, honesty, compassion and mercy and self-sacrifice, and kindness… The Sith is the opposite, of course.”

As he talked, Louis leaned closer towards him, pressing his fingers against the soft fabric of Harry’s black pants. The feeling of warmth seeping through the pants was ungodly real like it was more than just a dream.

“The Jedi temple was ancient, decrepit before it had been slowly fixed up by the new members of the Jedi Order. Full of ghosts, not the literal kind but the kind that come from a bad, sordid history. A sad history. We weren't supposed to dwell on it. An old proverb went along the lines of ‘fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering’ which was something we were supposed to remember. It’s hard to ignore fear, though. Especially as a child. And you just grow into your fears.” There was something in Harry’s eyes as he spoke. Something long ago and haunted, just beneath the surface.

“I’m not sure if you know anything about your birth parents,” Harry admitted and Louis shook his head, adamantly. He knew nothing about them other than the fact they shared the same blood and they left him on Dononter Minor.

Harry nodded his head, understanding, “Their names were Adiara Fel and Korvas Fel. Your mother was short, had the same eyes as you with long hair she held up. She had an amazing way of doing her hair, dividing it into strands to wrap into braids, curling them around the crown of her head. Your father, just a head taller than Adiara, was so quiet, introverted, with pale eyes and his hair about jaw length. He and my father were close, just as our mothers were. There was a history between our families, I believe. Something that had gone on for so long it couldn’t be explained to me as a child in any other way other than history.”

As if seeking comfort, Harry pulled Louis even closer, pulling his legs over Harry’s thighs and running his hands up his legs, his palms hot and reassuring against him. Louis allowed himself to sink against Harry, his voice washing over him. Every word he spoke seemed to make Louis’s heart inflate like the information was being pumped directly into it. It was uncomfortable but not painful, creating a tightness in his chest that pushing his palms against didn’t help.

“We had left the temple, I remember after you were born. I wish I hadn’t been so young. Everything seems so far away, just out of my grasp. I remember the scar on my dad’s face, though after we left. How red and angry it had been. It had ripped up the whole left side, just on the outside of his eye. My mother used to rub a salve into, every night. He must have gotten it the night before we left…”

For the first time, Louis interrupted, “Why did we leave the temple? The six of us, why did we go?”

Harry frowned deeply at that, “I was never told and I never found out. Not from my parents and not from yours,” Harry admitted.

Louis nodded, frowning and thinking, “We left the temple when you were young but I remember seeing you back there when you were older…” He furrowed his brow, his mind recalling forward the image of Harry, about sixteen in the temple with the man he called his ‘master’, some sort of teacher.

There was a flicker of surprise in Harry’s eyes before he quickly arranged his face into a gentle smile, “You’re right. I did return to the temple.” He licked his lips, the next topic a cause of anxiety, “My father, he… He wasn’t a bad man. People make bad decisions. Even for the best of reasons. He’s… He’s the reason Eadh’hard and Marceau’Llus are alive. He became obsessed with lineage. Specifically my mother’s. It must have been something he read or found at the temple. I don’t think my mother even knew. My father was obsessed with the lineage and the history of the Jedi. Specifically a prophecy about my mother’s ancestor, the man who destroyed the Jedi. A child created by the Force, not man. My father took a blood sample from me, as a toddler and created another infant. He created Marceau’Llus.”

Goosebumps ran along Louis’s arms at the image of this man who was Harry’s father. He didn’t think he would ever want to meet him. Pushing away the fear, he found himself focusing on the fact that Marcel was the oldest. He had always assumed he had been younger than Edward. Their dynamic made it seem like he was the youngest.

“Marceau’Llus wasn’t what he wanted, however,” Harry continued, “I think he wanted to dispose of him. He wasn’t a real infant, he didn’t come from my mother but Mom wouldn’t let him. I remember her holding Marceau’Llus close to her chest, just like when she would cradle you. She loved him. He was my brother, as far as my mother was concerned. As far as I was concerned too. My father then made Eadh’hard. He was better, apparently. Closer to what he wanted. Even though he was cloning me, he was trying to alter the clones, focusing on the genes passed on by my mother.”

“What genes were these?” Louis found himself asking, completely captivated by Harry and the string of words falling from his lips, each word seeming to weigh more than the next.

Harry sighed heavily, seeming just as affected as Louis was by his story, “The genes of a Skywalker. Specifically my mother and I’s ancestor, Anakin Skywalker.”

The name should have, perhaps, meant something. But Louis didn’t know it. The name and the history of it meant nothing to Louis but he was aware, quite suddenly, that Edward had been created to be this man. He hadn’t been created out of love, but to become something else, someone else. A great amount of sympathy bloomed through his chest for the man he considered to be a complete villain. With everything Harry told him, it seemed like things could start to be put together in Louis’s head. Everything with Edward, everything he kept under severe lock and key and everything Marcel kept simmering beneath his skin, like Louis could brush his fingers against it if he tried hard enough (He wanted to try.).

“I returned to the temple after my father was killed. Our families had split up long before that and it was just my parents and I. My mother died before Eadh’hard had been created but at least she had been around to save Marceau’Llus. She was a good person, the best person, really. Better than what my father deserved.”

A question hung at the tip of Louis’s tongue and he was almost afraid to ask it, however, he knew he needed to, “How… How did your parents die?”

“I can only answer part of that question,” Harry admitted, “My mother… She left home one day and never came back. I never found out more. If my father knew, he never told me and the truth followed him to his grave. I remember his death quite vividly. The screaming woke me up. I slipped out of my bed and wandered toward’s my father’s lab. I was forbidden from going in there but as a child, I guess I didn’t have a good concept of what the word ‘forbidden’ meant. I got to watch my father get killed by his own creation. Eadh’hard smashed his face into a panel and then proceeded to beat him to death. I ran away that night.”

Louis could have cried at the heartbreak that soaked Harry’s words, at the tears gathering at the corner of his eyes and collecting onto his eyelashes. He wanted to gather the man into a warm blanket and keep him close to his chest as if that would protect him from the past and everything else yet to happen. With a thick voice, Louis whispered, “And Edward wants you now,”

Harry nodded, “I don’t know what happened between them but I do know that he wants to finish what my father, our father, started. And,” he gulped loudly and Louis could see the way his eyes glazed over, tears beginning to drip into the heavy bags beneath his eyes, “And I’m afraid, Lou. I’m afraid he’s going to succeed.”

Without hesitation, Louis cupped Harry’s face and pressed their foreheads together, “It’s okay Harry. It’s okay to be afraid. But I won’t let anything happen to you. I will never let Edward hurt you.” He gave a weakly playful smile, “You trust me, right?”

Shoulders slumping, Harry beamed back, a tear trailing down the left side of his face before it dripped down onto Louis’s lap, “Always.” And Harry pressed his face against Louis’s hair, cradling him close, seeking comfort from him, even if he wasn’t truly there. It seemed to be enough.

It seemed like Louis could have spent forever in Harry’s embrace. He wouldn’t have minded if he could, finding an innate comfort in the other man’s hold. It seemed to take a while but eventually the world around them began to run, like a wet paint and Harry’s warmth faded away.

 


When Louis opened his eyes, he became aware of someone sitting at the foot of his bed. He didn’t immediately sit up to see who it was, instead, he resigned himself to stay sprawled. The blankets had twisted up around his hips, his naked legs sticking and bare feet sticking out, the rest of the blankets pulled up close to his chin where he was clutching the edge in tight fists. Burrowing his cold nose into the fuzzy blanket, Louis sighed, realizing he was too awake to fall back asleep. And he had to see who was sitting on his bed like a creep. Probably Marcellus.

He curled over and shoved his face into the pillow, pulling the blanket over his ears. The soft bed was nice but the feeling of the soft marsh under his feet and the undergrowth brushing against his legs and even the sitting on the hut with Harry had been better. However, nothing would beat him seeing his family again. Louis never thought he would crave seeing his mother so badly.

Realizing he didn’t want to lie in bed plagued by his thoughts, Louis decided to crawl onto his knees and sit down, the blanket dropping off his back. Clumsy with sleep, Louis turned around to look at the still body. Dark curls and black robing, of course, Louis yawned, crossing his legs in front of him. Rubbing his palms against his eyes, he worked the sleep out of his eyes, yawning again. Pulling the blanket back over his lap, he looked more closely at the man across from him. And realized he was mistaken.

It was Edward, sitting cross-legged with his hands resting on each knee and his eyes closer. He looked totally and utterly relaxed. Freezing up, Louis looked around his room. BD-5000 wasn’t even around, leaving just him and Edward. With seeing Edward, there was an immediate fear that felt like a cold grip on his heart, intensified even more when he recalled Harry’s words. Running his hands over his face Louis forced himself to push that aside. He didn’t want Edward to know that he was becoming aware of his past, and he didn’t want him to know how truly scared and helpless he made him feel. Louis didn’t want to be scared and helpless. Ever since the misadventure had begun, his primary emotions had been fear and helplessness and he wanted that to end. Edward was just a man. A man who had been created by creep, with no love in his life, with no one else other than his brother. (Focusing on that was so much easier than thinking about how the man killed his creator with his own bare hands.)

“Um, Edward?” He managed to get out, his voice a lot quieter than he intended. He cleared his throat and tried again, “Edward?” There was no response from the man. Feeling braver without the man’s eyes piercing through him, Louis shifted closer, as close as he dared and repeated the man’s name again. There was still no reaction. Taking a deep breath, Louis reached a hand out, running his fingertips lightly against the back of his left hand. He didn’t even twitch. “Are you dead?” Louis asked aloud, knowing full well that he wasn’t.

When Edward didn’t show any sign of hearing his question, Louis lifted his other hand to touch Edward’s right thumb. While his left hand was palm down resting on his knee, his right one was resting on the side in a loose fist and Louis was able to push and tug on the fingers playfully. It was like Edward was completely unconscious as if he was placed under a curse. “Are you cursed?” Louis wondered, his eyes widening at the thought. “I mean, it would be just like you to get cursed right on my bed to make it the most inconvenient for me as possible.”

Grabbing the wrist of the loose fist gently, he raised it a couple inches above the vigo’s knee before dropping it. It bounced against the knee cap before sliding off onto the bed, enticing not even a twitch from the man. “Oh, like this couldn’t be weirder,” Louis grumbled, picking the hand up and placing it back on the knee. “I wonder if I dumped water on you…” He shook his head at his own thought. He didn’t want to get his bed all wet.

“Do you need a doctor?” he leaned closer, threading their hands together to make it as if Edward and he were holding hands. Able to use the statuesque vigo for support, he leaned in closer to him, closer than he would have ever dared if he were awake.

He was so pale, Louis noted in amazement. He did not get out enough, at all. His lashes weren’t as long as Louis’s own but they curled against this cheekbones in a wide fan, quite prettily. His nose was perfectly straight and broad with just the slightest blip on the end that hooked down that Louis hadn’t noticed before. Oddly, his lips looked torn up, like he chewed them. Louis hadn’t noticed that either and it made him frown. Edward didn’t seem like someone who would chew his lips. Louis assumed his arrogance wouldn’t allow for such a thing (A sign of insecurity?) but it seemed like he was wrong. (Had he made too many assumptions about Edward?) Louis let his eyes move from his lips to his chin and jaw, where he noticed the barest hints of stubble, little strands he had missed while shaving perhaps. It nearly made Louis smile, seeing little things that made Edward so human and like his original and even like his brother clone. Little things like a chewed lip, unshaven chin hair and the dark bags under his eyes all added to his humanness.

He must work hard to seem invulnerable, Louis mused. He let his eyes wander along the curls brushed back around his ears, thinking about how wholesome the curls made him look. Weirdly misleading. One stray lock twisted up along his jaw, close to the corner of his lip and Louis wondered if he could feel it grazing the skin. Experimentally, Louis let out a deep exhale from his nose, watching the hair shrivel at the breeze. When Louis quit, it stilled against Edward’s skin again. Louis snickered, giving a small shift to his hands as he adjusted his weight on his knees. Playfully, Louis puckered his lips and blew against the hair, giggling when it was blown beneath his jaw and caught onto another curl, hooking them together. Pleased, Louis decided to start pulling away from the frozen man and go search for Marcel, who would have undoubtedly a way to fix whatever was wrong with him. (And maybe explain why he was in his room in the first place.)

As Louis pulled again, his nose knocked against Edward’s and he frowned, knowing he had not been that close. Pulling back slightly, he let his eyes adjust and focus on the man’s face. The man’s face which had a pair of very dark and intense green eyes staring back at him.
 “Oops,” Louis managed to croak.

“Oops,” Edward echoed, an (a really fucking devious) smirk curling up onto his lips. He squeezed Louis’s hands in his and Louis jumped, having forgotten he had gripped the man’s hands in the first place. He tried to tug himself away but Edward didn’t let him, applying pressure with his thumb against the back of Louis’s hands, hard enough to make him wince. His heart sped up to an alarming speed in his chest and he had to count to ten several times to try and steady it.

“Look,” Louis muttered, “You’re the one whose in my bedroom. I didn’t ask you to be here, you…You… You weirdo!” He huffed, looking down at his crossed legs instead of at Edward. Edward playfully tugged on Louis’s hands, making him fall more into him. Louis hissed and tried to pull back, aware that his face was turning red.

“It’s called meditation.” Edward chuckled as if he was talking to a small child. Louis rolled his eyes and tried to pull away again but Edward only allowed him to scoot back so far. “A mental technique,” he continued and Louis mentally compared his tone to Marcel’s, “allowing me to get my mind into a deeper state of relaxation and awareness. It enhances my emotional control over myself and allows for a better connection to the force.”

“Emotional control?” Louis echoed, “You?” He smirked.

“Hm, yes, yes, very hilarious.” Edward bared his teeth in what Louis guessed was a smile. It wasn’t a very convincing one if it was, Louis thought. “Are you familiar with mediation?”

Louis nodded his head, “Of course. I have practiced it several times.” He huffed, letting his hands go limp to see if Edward would relax his hold for long enough that he would be able to wiggle his way out. “It was a practice I had to do frequently at home.” He grumbled. “Though I wasn’t aware there was any use for it other than for Levone to punish me.”

Edward hummed, nodding, “It allows one to focus and sharpen their mind, regain strength and to even heal wounds.”

“Is that why you’re here, meditating on my bed?”

“Hm, no. I was hoping that meditating close to the holocron, it would allow me to seek and access new ways of using the force. However, it seemed blocked to me.” He released Louis’s right hand and he quickly snatched it back, pressing it into a fist against his stomach. Edward raised his hand to brush his fingers across the jewel embedded in his skin, frowning in puzzlement.

“Do holocrons tend to block out pure evil? Because that would explain a lot,” Louis grumbled.

Dropping his hand away from Louis’s face, Edward sighed heavily, “I forgot how taxing your humor could be. However, I will take this moment to inform you of something you may find… fascinating. But, what is considered to be dark magic, Sith magic… Being consumed by the darkness of the Sith not only will make your age accelerate but it can also turn one mad. So, if I was ‘pure evil’ as you are so inclined to think, then I presume it would be a lot more obvious.”

“Wow, you sure have me convinced.” Louis deadpanned. His response made Edward roll his eyes and mutter ‘impertinent brat’ under his breath.

Releasing Louis’s other hand, Edward, with an uncharacteristically gentle touch, pushed Louis away from him and he slipped off the end of the bed, stretching and running his hands through his hair. “It seems that the close physical proximity to the gem does nothing for my meditation so there will be no reason for me to be in your presence any longer.” And with the slightest smirk, he added, “But I hope your sleep was satisfying.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 22
Like A Million Suns

Telling the truth was easier than Harry though it would be. It was like as soon as he began to speak, the rest of the words just spilled out like he was a broken faucet. He wasn’t ashamed to cry in front of Louis, never. Louis made him want to better, though. He wanted to atone for the sins of his family. However, he wasn’t sure if it was his place. But if it wasn’t his place, then whose was it? Eadh’hards? Marceau’Llus? Harry couldn’t imagine Eadh’hard doing something that wasn’t in his best interest and Marceau’Llus was at his beck and call, a puppy following at his heels. If there was something tragic in Harry’s bloodline, he wanted to right it. He didn’t want to be the descendant of famed Anakin Skywalker. He didn’t want to be Harric Ka Djo, son of Jacen Ka Djo the monster. He wanted to be who he created for himself. The true him; Harry Styles.

And Harry knew that staying true to himself had something to with Louis. He had to protect him. Or at least try his best to keep himself safe from those who wanted to harm and even kill him. Even if it meant dying in the process, Harry realized. Because, in the end, it was Louis who was going to end the reign of Zidar and the nine vigos, including his own clone. He was going to bring an eventual peace, a safety to the galaxy and Harry had to help him succeed.

Of course, in order to do that he had to find Louis first.

But that also meant finding his brother, which had never been on the top of Harry’s list of priorities. And it wasn’t like Eadh’hard was the easiest to find. Of all the vigos chosen by Zidar, he was the one most notorious for his wanderlust, much to Harry’s chagrin. It meant he could pop up at any moment or could be anywhere without Harry’s knowledge which began quite aggravating while trying to avoid him or especially if he was trying to find him.

“If you keep chopping your vegetables like that, they’ll be nothing but mush.” Niall pointed out, around a large mouthful of bread.

Harry sighed loudly, “Sorry, I was just thinking.”

“About Louis?” Liam asked. He was sitting beside Niall, across the table from Harry. Harry had to admit, for the slim size of Niall he could pack away an impressive amount of food. He probably burnt up all the energy with his exuberant flailing and flapping mouth. Despite these qualities, Harry was quite fond of him.

Harry gave an awkward laugh, “When aren’t I thinking about Louis?” He grumbled. “I know where he is.” He admitted and watched as Niall practically threw his fork across the table at him like the words had zapped straight through him.

“AND YOU DIDN’T THINK TO MENTION THAT?” Niall snarled, his sharp cry almost sounding like a wounded animal. Harry wasn’t hurt by his outburst, understanding the other man’s desire to find Louis again. If Harry had been in his shoes, he would have responded in a similar manner, no doubt. Louis had a way of getting under one’s skin in the best of ways.

Sighing audibly, Harry placed his own cutlery down, running his hands through his short hair. The feeling of the short length started him so much he nearly ripped his hands away before he remembered he had cut his hair. Running his blunt nails along his scalp, he admitted, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier but it’s been all very sudden. He’s with… He’s with my brother, Eadh’hard. It’ll be near impossible to get him back.” Even saying his brother’s name out loud could cause a shudder to run down his spine. Admitting who he was and their relation felt like a shameful secret and, perhaps, it was.

“Eadh’hard Thraken Ka Djo?” Liam asked, watching Harry and Niall’s conversation intently, his own plate of food forgotten. Even hearing someone else acknowledge him felt like a hit to the stomach. It was like speaking or even hearing his name could bring the foul taste of every horrible thing Eadh’hard had ever done back into Harry’s mouth. The idea that Louis had been held with him for so long frayed all of his nerves.

“One of the nine vigo leaders under Zidar’s control. The one in the same.” All three men at the table jumped at the new voice chiming in. Zayn walked into the dining room, looking messier than Harry had ever seen him before. The silver dye in his hair was fading out, filling in with black and it looked like it hadn’t been brushed in a few days, the back standing nearly straight up.

Liam’s face morphed into concern, “Zayn, what’s wrong?”

Zayn’s face screwed up into a tight, pinching sneer, “It was my father. Mercurius hasn’t responded to his last few calls. He was supposed to report back to him last night and he never did and he didn’t meet up with the convoy. He wants us to go find him.” It seemed to Harry that that was the last thing that Zayn cared about and, in Harry’s opinion, it was the last thing he wanted to be doing also. While he wasn’t sure of the history between Zayn and Mercurius, he could tell there was bad blood and Harry didn’t want to waste his time chasing after someone who didn’t deserve it. Well, he didn’t want to spend his time chasing someone who wasn’t Louis, in all reality.

Niall immediately shook his head, “We don’t have time to help that creep, Zayn! We have to get Louis! He could be handed over to Zidar any day now! He’s in danger, actual immediate danger.” Harry nodded, more to himself than the group at large. Who knew what his brother could possibly be planning? The different scenarios Harry could think of were unsettling, at the least.

“I know that Niall but I won’t disobey my father.” Zayn looked reluctant to even say those words and Harry imagined he spent a lot of time fighting against his own instincts and his father’s wishes. “If he wants me to go after that useless piece of trash I will. And I won’t argue about this with you.” And with that he turned around and stomped back out the door, leaving the men to their food.

 


Edward was on edge about something, Louis could tell immediately. There weren't any obvious physical indicators that he picked up while watching the man as opposed to just the general aura he gave off as he marched along the side of the street, his boots crunching the gravel beneath him. He didn’t seem to be walking any faster than normally but Louis still somehow found himself having to nearly bound after him, Marcellus close at his side.

The street was just as dirty as the rest of the city, dust blowing over the roads and rocks being kicked up by their toes as they hurried along. The air was thick and hot and Louis dared not breath it in, in fear of inhaling a mouth full of sand.

Edward finally stopped in front of a run-down building, something that resembled a lackluster temple. The sides were cracked and shoddily repaired, several times through the years it seemed. The steps to the front doors looked like that had been inlaid, raising the question, what had happened to the last set? Louis’s first instinct was to say the building was abandoned, seeing at it seemed like a complete dead spot in the busyness of the city. Everyone seemed to be trying to avoid it as much as possible, even throwing Louis and the brothers cautious looks and hurrying off as if they were afraid a huge tongue would shoot from the front doors to drag them in and eat them.

Unperturbed by the reactions of the strangers around, Edward flipped his cape away from his sides and began to stride of the stairs towards the door. He, unsurprisingly, didn’t knock, just merely pulled grabbed the stone handle and tugged. The stone door must have weighed less than it looked or Edward was putting on a good show of pretending it was light because the door practically flew open for them, revealing an empty lobby.

“Is… Is this the right place?” Louis asked, mostly intending for his question to be answered by Marcellus.

Edward answered instead. “Yes. I would know the smell of rot anywhere.” There seemed to be a double meaning to his words but Louis wasn’t quite sure. Reluctantly (as he usually was when it came to Edward) Louis followed him into the decrepit building, Marcellus bringing up the rear.

As soon as the three of them stepped inside, the door slammed behind them, killing the light and leaving them in the darkness of the stone building. “Are there ghosts here?” Louis wondered, hugging his arms around himself.

He expected a sneering response from Edward about ghosts but instead, the man lit up his lightsaber, bathing the darkened room in the burning light of the blade, “Don’t be foolish. Ghosts are tied to this plane by the bonds of love, There is nothing here that would hold them.” He began to walk deeper into the building and Louis shuffled quickly after him, not wanting to loose the light.

He led them to a set of stairs which seemed to disappear into a black hole and Edward, without wavering, began to walk down them. Louis froze at the top and glanced over his shoulder to make eye contact with Marcellus, who gave him a sharp nod. Sighing, resigned to his fate, Louis began to descend the stairs, his hands out to run along the stone walls to keep himself grounded and balanced. The steps turned to the right and Edward turned with it, the light disappearing with him. Suddenly inspired to keep up, Louis hurried, his feet scuffing along the ground and he nearly fell when he spotted the light at the bottom of the next set of stairs.

Turning off and sheathing his saber, Edward walked to the bottom, where the old lantern flickered beside a stone door. There was a moment of silence with them just standing before one of the bricks was shimmied and removed from the door, light seeping through the little opening. Louis could hear the faint sounds of people inside. A voice croaked out from just beneath the opening, “What is your business here?”

Edward didn’t answer his question. Instead, he said, “I will be seeing Rotta now or everyone in this shit hole will burn.” Louis rolled his eyes at the man’s over the top theatrics. (Though he knew the threat would be carried out if Edward so desired.)

Within a second of Edward’s threat, the door was pulled opened and light spilled into the stairwell, nearly blinding Louis in surprise.

“M’Lord, forgive me… I didn’t realize it was-,”

“Shut up. I am here to speak with Rotta.” Edward pushed past the man and carried on inside.

Louis followed, hunched in on himself, relying heavily on the presence of Marcellus behind him for comfort. The inside was brightly lit and even more huge than Louis had imagined like it was its own building by itself. Everything was lit by the white lights like sunlight,  and Louis immediately noticed how the floor dropped down into wide platform steps, like some sort of stadium deep within the ground. In the center of the stadium at the very bottom were women dancing, elegant and provocative, with a crowd around them, cheering and laughing and clapping; a band with an assortment of instruments was nearly lost in the downing of voices.

Each of the stadium layers seemed to have an activity for the members to enjoy, from gambling with dice at tables to a mechanics station to even some sort of work with the dividing of different colored grains into bags and loading them onto buggies. The temple on the outside had seemed small but the inside was like a whole world, a little private market, with awnings over little tables of goods and stands of exotic foods. Louis didn’t understand how something so vibrant could have been kept secret. There' s too much life to be so completely hidden beneath the ground, he thought in disbelief.

“Eadh’hard! What a pleasant surprise!” Came a booming voice. “If I knew you were coming by I would have had my girls given you a special performance.” The man who appeared had short hair with small pieces falling over his forehead, the color of moss. He had large golden gauntlets that turned into huge gloves as if his limbs were carved out of the precious stone. He had matching gold pieces on his calves, armored pieces at his knees turning into heavy boots. The last gold piece he had on was a huge piece around his abdomen and Louis wondered if he got punched there a lot and decided to put a stop to that. With all the gold the man was wearing, he could have been his own source of light, the golden shining and reflecting the lights from the ceiling like he was acting as his own mini sun.

Without answering, Edward flipped his cloak away from his left side and Louis watched his hand go to the little satchel he had tied at his hip. He had noticed the black linen bag earlier that morning but had thought nothing of it, another thing Edward had attached to his waist. But now, he untied it, loosened the top and tossed the contents on the ground between him and the new man.

It was a severed hand.

Louis could have rolled his eyes because of course Edward had a severed hand in a bag and was just carrying it around. Marcellus didn’t seem concerned that his brother was carrying around severed limbs and Louis figured that was a habit of his.

The man in gold raised his eyebrows before leaning down and picking up the hand. Louis pressed his hands over his mouth because that was so gross. The man sighed, looking almost sad, “I’m guessing this is all that’s left of him? Anhel was a good man, you know.”

Edward’s eyes narrowed like the tips of a dagger, “He was a paid assassin you sent after me, Rotta. I don’t expect there are a lot of ‘good’ men in your employment.”

Rotta didn’t seem fazed by Edward’s words, instead, he twisted the golden piece off of the pinky finger of the hand. It was like a ring, only it covered nearly the entire digit, other than the tip of the nail. Louis guessed that if The Blades of Orion had a dagger tattoo to symbolize their membership, Rotta had the golden rings for his.

“You have my attention, Rotta. Speak now before you lose it,” Edward ordered, crossing his arms over his chest and letting the cloak fall closed around him.

Rotta sighed, looking like Edward hadn’t just insulted him. Louis guessed he was used to Edward’s callousness seeing as that was how he was ninety-five percent of the time. The other five percent was him being enigmatic as fuck. “You never responded to my letters.” He gave an exaggerated pout and clasped his hands together like a blushing damsel.

“Don’t start Rotta. Any messages you’ve sent me have been seen and disregarded as useless trash, as most of your messages tend to be.”

“I’ll never understand what Loya sees in you, Eadh’hard. You are the biggest bastard I’ve ever met. I’m almost jealous. I’ve never been able to perfect the act myself. I’m obviously so charming.” He waved his hand towards the group of men who were lingering behind with eyes wide with admiration as they gazed at him. “Which is obvious because of all my admirers. While you have those mere two. One is some sort of bodyguard while the other…” He narrowed his eyes at Louis. Louis had never been more thankful for the thick cloak he had been given by Marcellus that morning. He didn’t want the prying eyes of Rotta anywhere near him. “Perhaps a whore.” Rotta beamed, “I didn’t know you were into sharing, Eadh’hard but I’m definitely not opposed. I must tell you Eadh’hard, you can’t just give me a whore whenever you want to start getting along but I won’t argue with you about it.” He let out a hearty laugh as if he was the funniest person in the room. Louis was not entertained and neither was either of the brothers. Louis could practically feel the fire pumping through Marcellus’s veins, raging just beneath his skin.

“I would rather eat my own tongue than to share anything with you, let alone a bed partner,” Edward spat out like the vilest of poisons, looking absolutely offended by his words. Louis grinned into his hand, not wanting the man to notice how pleased he was by Edward’s response.

Rotta raised his eyebrows like he was amused by the response instead of insulted, “Yes, I suppose you would have to have an interest in sex in order to have a bed partner, wouldn't you Eadh’hard?” He smirked. For a brief moment, Louis could have sworn he saw Edward’s face start to morph into a snarl like he was ready to leap at Rotta but it happened so quickly that if Louis hadn’t been watching so closely he probably wouldn’t have caught it. It didn’t seem Rotta had by the confident smirk on his face and easy going posture.

Composed and appearing calm, Edward muttered, “You’ve got my attention by the assassin but this will be the last time I come here. I warn you now, Rotta, do not attempt to challenge me again. You will not like the consequences.”

As if Edward was the best comedian in the land, Rotta let out another bellowing laugh and he reached a hand out to place on Edward’s shoulder as if to pull him close. Marcellus didn’t even need to pull Louis back, Louis already seeing the mistake before it happened and taking four rapid steps backward away from the vigo leaders. As soon as Rotta had reached out, Edward reacted by pulling out his lightsaber and triggering the blade. It sizzled, the red blade glowing like fire between them and casting an eerie glow on their skin.

While Edward had drawn his blade, Rotta had too, a matching bright red. At the close proximity, the blades sizzled and hissed, like they were being drawn together. Louis would have liked to have been as far away from the lightsabers as physically possible, the hissing and burning of the blades sending all his nerves on end.

Face severe, Edward had the look of a man ready to decapitate another without an issue while Rotta was grinning, looking too much like he was enjoying a game rather than waving a dangerous weapon around. With the drawn weapons, all of the men and women who had been hovering behind Rotta had taken hasty steps back, looking less scared and more intrigued and almost hungry for a fight between their master and the new-coming vigo. Louis was confident that Edward would be able to take Rotta no issue but another part of Louis reminded him that Rotta was also a vigo and was probably a lot more powerful than his sleazy mannerisms made him out to be.

And really, Louis had already watched him slaughter Mercurius; he wasn’t sure he was ready to watch him cut into another person like they were a prime cut of meat ready to served on a platter.

“I would watch your back, if I was you, Eadh’hard,” Rotta murmured, his voice barely audible with the overtone of hissing and spitting from the sabers.

“It would be unwise of you to threaten me, Rotta. I figured you’d be above such childish antics.”

“I’m not threatening you, Eadh’hard. I’m just offering you some advice. As a friend. I know you don’t have a lot of those so I would think you would want to keep me on your side.” The threat seemed pretty obvious and Louis could tell that Edward was not pleased with it by the way his mouth drew into a thin line and his eyebrows narrowed into a sharp crease. Smiling, Rotta drew away from Edward, turning his saber off and hooking it back onto his belt. “That’s just some friendly advice, though. Far be it from me to tell you what to do, Eadh’hard. I believe that’s the Underlord’s job, after all.”

Edward switched his lightsaber off but kept the hilt in his hand, “And you always do what the Underlord wants, don’t you Rotta?” His lip curled cruelly, obviously referencing something that Louis had no knowledge of.

Louis was impressed with how well Rotta kept himself in check around Edward and his sharp tongue but Louis caught the barest twitch in his face at Edward’s words. Obviously, it had been something memorable. “Mistakes have been known to happen, Eadh’hard. Not all of us like to lick the Underlord’s feet like an obedient puppy.” The words were spat out so rapidly that they surprised Louis, who figured that Rotta was going to keep himself calm in the face of Edward. Seems not. (And he had been doing so well too.)

The words, however, didn’t seem to get the reaction out of Edward that Rotta had planned. Instead, the words seemed to shut him down, the mischievous glint leaving his eyes and his lips falling into a neutral line. “I look forward to our next meeting, Vigo Rotta. Next time, don’t send an undertrained and unqualified mercenary to get my attention.” He pocketed his saber hilt into the stealth against his hip.

Rotta arranged his own features into a polite smile, “The pleasure will be all mine, I’m sure of it.” His muddy eyes drifted away from Edward to land on Louis’s hunched form, where they seemed to be stripping the robe off with a keen imagination and avid fervor. And, right before Louis’s eyes, his tongue flipping out from his lips, falling past his chin and to his chest, dripping with thick, viscous saliva. His tongue, a bruised pink, writhed and wiggled at Louis as if trying to entice him into some sort of slimy dance. Horrified, Louis looked up away from the tongue into the man’s eyes to find them not the brown they had been earlier, but a ghoulish orange, the pupils fat, vertical rectangles in the center.

Unpleased with Rotta’s display, Edward tossed him one last sneer before turning on his heel and walking away. Just as Louis turned to follow him, he caught the sight of Rotta slurping his tongue back into his mouth with a lascivious grin. Holding back the urge to retch, Louis hurried after Edward, Marcellus bringing up the back.

It was almost a relief to step back outside. Louis hadn’t realized how uncomfortable he had been in the strange, underground shelter. He wondered what would happen if something were to happen to the temple above them. Would it crash down on them, killing the population beneath and trapping the survivors? A chill ran over his skin at the thought of being trapped beneath the broken stone, in the darkened underground. Louis definitely didn’t want to return to Rotta’s palace, without the man’s presence and especially not with it. He was disgusting and unnerving and Louis wished he could burn the image of his slimy tongue out of his mind.

Pausing to allow Marcellus to fall into step beside him, Louis shuffled closer to the man than what was probably appropriate while walking down the sidewalk. “That man, Rotta, is another vigo?” He asked, keeping his voice low unintentionally as if he was afraid of calling Edward’s attention to him. Marcellus glanced down at him briefly and nodded, before looking forward again. “Whose Loya, the name he mentioned? Said she saw something in Edward…” He smirked, “An ex-girlfriend?” He asked, teasingly, picking his voice up a bit so Edward could hear his guess.

Much to Louis’s amusement, Edward made a growling noise, hunching down and resembling a petulant child at Louis’s accusation. Marcellus smirked beneath his mask but shook his head, “Loya is another vigo who is overly fond of Edward. Of course, much to Eadh’hard’s chagrin.”

“I am sure they would make a cute couple. Both vigo leaders, she’s probably a murderer too. They could go on murdering, psycho date nights together…” Louis mused, grinning crookedly at Edward’s back.

Of course, Louis’s teasing made Edward stop and look down at him. Louis felt like he was frozen as those dark green eyes swiveled towards him, narrowed and glowering. “As much as your sudden support and interest in my love life is flattering, I would prefer if you didn’t make assumptions,” He grimaced, “Especially while concerning Loya.” Louis nearly laughed at the way Edward’s face contorted into something akin to pain at just saying the woman’s name but managed to hold it back, just in case it pissed Edward off.

Seeing that Louis wasn’t going to press the issue of Loya, Edward turned and began to walk again, Marcellus and Louis falling into step behind him, once again. They walked in silence for only about a minute before Louis couldn’t help himself anymore and opened his mouth again, “Did Rotta send an assassin after you to actually kill you? Is that even allowed? You’re both vigos, after all,” Louis mused, eyes tracing the bouncing curls that sprung around Edward’s head.

Edward sighed; apparently even hearing Louis’s voice was a major chore. (Which, rude.) Marcellus spoke up for his brother’s sake, “Rotta has a history of sending low-level mercenaries on suicide missions to get Eadh’hard’s attention. It’s not unusual, however, with you… It’s dangerous to you while in Eadh’hard’s custody,” Marcellus admitted. “It was unwise of him to send a mercenary at this time.”

“But he does not know who I am. He thinks I’m a whore,” Louis pointed out.

Marcellus nodded, “And helpfully he will keep thinking that.” Seeing Louis’s offended expression, Marcellus added, “It would be wise to keep your presence known to as few people as possible. Especially away from the other vigos.”

“Don’t trust them?” Louis wondered, aloud.

Shaking his head, Marcellus said, “Each vigo is hand picked by Underlord Zidar. While they each share the title and position, they aren’t teammates or companions. They are each leaders of their own individual fractions and all have their own personal motives, which can cause civil disputes between them. If Eadh’hard and Vigo Rotta had engaged in a fight while he was in Vigo Rotta’s underground palace, it would have caused a fight between our two fractions and his own soldiers would have attacked us.”

Frowning deeply, Louis narrowed his eyes at Edward, “So, of course, with so much at risk, Edward decided to pull out his dumb lightsaber and tried to fight Rotta anyways?”

Marcellus’s lips twitched into a smile, “Precisely.” He watched his brother with a fond sparkle in his eye that Louis found much to endearing for his own good. “If you tell Eadh’hard to pick his fights, he’ll pick all of them, always.” Marcellus gave a low chuckle and, much to Louis’s amazement, Edward turned around and flashed a brief smile at his brother that somehow contained so much adoration for Marcel that Louis felt his own cheek burn and his heart flip. He felt like he was witnessing something private between the two men.

Knowing what he did about Edward from Harry, Louis found it peculiarly difficult to match that man up with the one he had become accustomed to, much to his own bewilderment. He tried to imagine Edward using his own fists to murder his father and the image that popped up was blurry and incomplete, like ink smudges in a book. While Louis knew that Edward wouldn’t hesitate in killing someone, the idea that he would do it with his bare hands, and to his own father… It seemed unusual, as Edward’s fondness for Marcellus was undeniable. Then again, he wanted to cut open Harry and experiment with him for his own gain, so perhaps Louis’s perception of him was clouded by the tenderness he showed Marcellus and even the little bit of courtesy he sometimes showed Louis too.

Sighing to himself, Louis wondered if maybe he was missing something. He must be because it just didn’t seem to be adding up in his head. Or maybe he had tricked himself, glorifying Edward in his mind more than he should of. He had already admitted to himself that Edward was a ruthless killer so maybe he was fooling himself in thinking Edward wasn’t capable of beating his own father to death.

Louis glanced between Marcellus and Edward as they walked, both with tense shoulders and dark, slanted brows. If Louis hadn’t seen Marcellus without his mask, he probably wouldn’t have noticed or even looked for the similarities between the two of them. With the coldest that Edward exuded and the sweetness Marcellus possessed, it wouldn’t have been Louis’s first guess that they were direct clones of the same man, practically brothers. If they were so similar in appearance, though, could they be similar in heart?

Chapter Text

Chapter 23
You’ve Got Stars Upon Your Head

It hadn’t taken that long to get from where the Rigel had been drifting in the mid-rim area to where Nar Shaddaa was located in the center of Hutt Space, especially seeing as the ship was pushed into hyperdrive, resulting in the time to be cut down exponentially. Harry was thankful for that, not wanting to waste any more time than needed when it came to finding the missing lieutenant.

“Of course he would be on the Smuggler’s Moon,” Niall grumbled as the ship lowered to the earth in one of the docking bays within the city. “I will not be happy to come face to face with any Hutt crime lords around here while looking for this piece of shab.” Harry turned and gave Niall a curious look at his use of the Mandalorian word for ‘shit’. Catching his eye, Niall grinned, “I’ve been on Mandalore before.” Harry could guess he hadn’t just ‘been’ there but he figured he could ask about the faux blonde's history another time.

“Don’t worry, there aren’t that many Hutt crime lords in the area anymore.” Liam shrugged on a dark jacket, zipping it up to his neck, “Rotta has made this planet his home once again. He’s had many of them killed already.”

Harry raised an eyebrow, “Vigo Rotta is on this planet? Is the man we’re looking for, Mercurius, acquaintances with him? Because that would make things a lot harder. I shouldn’t be seen by Rotta, in any case.”

Liam nodded in understanding, “It would be preferable for all of us to avoid Rotta. We don’t want him knowing what’s going on.”

"And if he’s involved in Mercurius’s disappearance?” Niall wondered, crossing his arms and cocking his hip, his tool belt jingling at the movement.

“Then we leave that bastard to die and tell my dad we tried our best,” Zayn piped up, shrugging on his own long leather jacket, the bottom of it dusting against his knees and the top of his boots. “And really, this would be the best case scenario.”

Niall grinned, “We can only hope, eh?” He chuckled.

The doors of the ship dropped open into ram, the wind whipping up and spraying dust into the air. The men raised their arms to cover their faces from the onslaught of harsh sand and hot air rushing at them. When the dust finally settled, Zayn swept down the ramp, his hair rustling in the newfound wind and his jacket flapping behind him. Harry took a moment to appreciate the overdramatic flair Zayn possessed before following him.

Boots crunching on the gravelly ground, Harry paused and inspected the planetary terrain of Nad Shaddaa. Nothing exciting nor beautiful, which wasn’t surprising considering it was a hub of crime and filth.

“Ah, the beautiful stench of decay of desperate living!” Niall stretched his arms out as if he presenting a grand masterpiece to the everyone. Liam groaned at his words, scrunching up his nose at the first whiff of the air.

“Of all the places Mercurius decided to go to…” Liam grumbled, looking anything but pleased with the city.

Zayn smirked, “It’d be almost fitting that he would die here, hmm?” He chuckled, side-eyeing the disgusted look on Liam’s face. “We aren’t even in the main city yet, Liam.” He pointed up to the skyline where taller buildings could be seen. “Rotta’s palace is an older area, however, worn from age, the older stone palaces have mostly been withered away. Most of the older buildings have been worn down from a millennium of weather and fighting and the older skyscrapers have collapsed and created rubble and debris along the ground. These skyscrapers are relatively new, having been rebuilt in the past century.”

“Look at you, a wealth of information,” Niall teased, hooking his thumbs on his tool belt.

Zayn snorted, “It’s because I need to write reports for my father. You never realize what kind of information you retain after bullshitting to your old man.” He twisted his neck to the side and the cracks were so audible they made Harry jump. It was so loud it sounded like he broke his own neck and, judging by the looks Liam was tossing him, it probably wasn’t any better than that anyways. Zayn grinned innocently at the doctor in response.

“So, do you think knocking on doors and asking people if they’ve seen this walking pile of shit around would do any good?” Niall wondered.

Shaking his head, Zayn began to walk along the gravel into the hanger, staying close to the side of their ship, the rest of the boys following. “His ship was spotted in the north hanger, located near the older buildings.” He pointed north as they exited out the other side of the hanger, the sun beating down on them.

“Why was he here in the first place?” Harry asked, using his hand to shade his eyes as he peered up. “I can’t imagine your father would send him here? That would seem rather risky.”

Dust kicked up around the group's feet, dirtying their boots and sinking into the bottom of their pants. “My father trusts Mercurius absolutely. If he decided to come here because of his own fiendish plan, my father wouldn’t question him at all,” Zayn admitted, looking agitated at this admission.

“Just because you don’t like the man, doesn’t mean he isn’t faithful to your father, Zayn.” Liam tried to pacify but the looks he received from both Zayn and Niall shut him up.

Frowning, Harry asked again, “How will we even begin looking for him? We can’t possibly check every building in the area.” It would be a waste of time and he doubted that between the four of them, that they cared that much to even look that much for the man.

“Oi, oi!” Came a voice and the sound of a speeder came roaring in over it. It was a man with dirty blonde hair that was curling around his ears and he had dark skin that wasn’t the usual companion to such light hair. In contrast to his skin, his eyes seemed unusually bright but they only served to remind Harry that he could be out trying to hunt down his brother to get back to Louis.

“Holy-!” Niall jumped when the speeder stopped, much closer to him than what would be considered safe. “Mother of Stars, Caflice!” He hissed, “You do this to me every time!”

Caflice’s responding laugh was drowned out by the arrival of another speeder, halting next to Caflice’s. This man had dark red hair, reminiscent of rust, twisted into a braid. His skin was dark also, more like burnt toast from being outside for too long. His most notable feature was his mechanical arm.

Tossing a grin at him, Caflice teased, “Nice of you to catch up, Byff.”

“Shut your-,”

“Boys!”

They both fell silent at Zayn’s sharp reprimand. “You guys are going out and speaking to any locals about the whereabouts of our esteemed lieutenant and you’ll contact me through our coms, got it?” Zayn held up a small handheld device that both Caflice and Byff pulled out of their pockets in acknowledgment.

“Aye, aye, sir!” Byff chirped. Nothing else was said between them as the men on the speeders pocketed their comms and took off, the engines roaring off as they disappeared into the dust.

“And now, we’re going to a pub for drinking?” Niall asked, stretching his arms above his head with a cheeky grin.

Zayn frowned, “No, now we hit the plaza.” At Harry’s curious side eye he added, “It’s a ground market, filled with imported wares and goods and exotic foods. It was built on top of the rubble of an old temple. Very popular.”

“So…” Niall furrowed his brows, “We’re gonna end up drinking there?”

Zayn sighed, “Yes, Niall, we’ll probably end up drinking there.”

Niall cheered.

 


Louis wondered if Edward was too riled up to go back to the ship after his confrontation with Rotta. Instead of leading them back to the ship, he had led them to a market. The ground beneath was odd, like it had been stitched together like torn flesh but it was old, packed down stone. They were standing at the end of a narrow alley filled with little kiosks stacked with hot, savory smelling foods with thick steam was rolling up into the air. The chattering of the crowd was overbearing and any words spoken were lost, creating only a persistent buzzing of noise.

Standing at the end of the alley, Louis made sure he was close to Edward and Marcellus, afraid that if he was too far away someone would swoop in and harass him. Or Rotta would show up with his creepy tongue and try to touch him with it… Louis hunched down, wrapping his cloak around himself as tight as possible as if it served as a shield from his own thoughts and from his surroundings.

Arms crossed, Edward was leaning against the side of the wall, his hood hanging low on the back of his head. His eyes were alert and focused on his surroundings but Louis could practically see the gears turning in his head.

Leaning in close to Marcellus, close enough their sides were brushing against each other, Louis asked, “Is Edward planning on killing him?” He asked softly. Marcellus glanced down at him, cocking his head to the side, curiously. “Rotta, I mean.” Louis elaborated. “Is that why we’re staying here?” The smell of food had reached his stomach and Louis rubbed at his tummy absently, imaging an ‘all you could eat’ buffet waiting for him in the alley. If he wasn’t so wary of all the people, he probably would have been tempted to run over and try his luck in grabbing food and then hiding behind Marcellus and Edward and see how things played out.

Marcellus’s gaze flickered back out into the passageway and Louis imagined he was gauging the threat level of everyone near them. “It will be Eadh’hard’s prerogative on how he wishes to continue,” Marcellus answered, ever the loyal soldier. At his words, Louis gave an unpleased scowl and Marcellus sighed. “The history between Eadh’hard and Rotta has always been tense. I wouldn’t be surprised if Eadh’hard decided to… get rid of him.” Marcellus looked over to his brother, who hadn’t reacted at all even though they had been standing right next to him and obviously had been talking about him. Louis grinned at him and at the soft language he used as if he was afraid to say murder or kill. Like Louis was oblivious to his brother’s faults. Louis smiled, watching Edward’s face as his eyes were far away.

Suddenly, Edward’s eyes narrowed in on something and without saying anything to either of his companions, he surged forward into the alley, nearly disappearing into the messy bustle of people if it weren’t for the top of his dark curly head that Louis was still able to make out. He was taller than the rest of the population and wasn’t able to completely hide from Louis’s sights unless he ducked down. Louis tried to imagine Edward with anything but a ramrod straight back and his nose in the air and somehow could only imagine Harry with his hunched posture and adorable dimples.

“Should you be following him?” Louis wondered aloud, watching the man’s head bob above the crowd.

Marcellus gave the slightest tip of his head, “I have orders to stay with you. However, if Eadh’hard does require assistance, I am able-bodied.”

“You are probably quick enough to reach him in seconds,” Louis mused. “Though I am sure our illustrious leader is quite capable of defending himself in the face of rowdy shopping crowds.”

A soft chuckle tickled his ear and Louis looked up and could see an amused sparkle lighting up Marcellus’s dew green eyes. He beamed at the sight, a pleasant heat curling in his stomach at the adoring sight.

“Eadh’hard’s weakness is definitely not rowdy shoppers,” Marcellus agreed, a smile evident in his voice.

Louis’s smirked widened, “Oh, I wasn’t sure Edward had a weakness. Are you confirming he does?”

There was a particularly loud shout from somewhere in the market pace and then a harmony of loud voices echoing after it, like something of note had happened. Louis and Marcellus turned to look and Louis could make out the dark head of hair belonging to Edward as he turned to inspect the commotion also. His eyes then flicked back to Marcellus and Louis, as if to make sure they weren't getting up to their own mischief. Relief filled Louis when he realized that Edward wasn’t the cause of the disturbance. He was almost surprised realizing Edward wasn’t a part of it. He almost wished to see the expression on his face if some commoner started yelling at him. Though he didn’t want to see what he would do to said commoner afterward.

Marcellus glanced at him from the corner of his eye, “I wasn’t sure he had one either,” he admitted. Edward caught his gaze before turning his attention back at the kiosks.

Before Louis could ask him what he had meant, there was a shout from the alley. “Eadh’hard!” The call had caught Marcellus’s attention too and he drew the hilt of his lightsaber, not igniting it just yet. That confused Louis at first surprised Marcellus hadn't leaped forward, blade blazing red. But then Louis spotted the man who had called out Edward’s name.

It was Harry.

He must have felt Louis’s eyes on him because he’s gaze moved from his clone to him and his grim expression brightened. The crowd had begun to thin around him and Louis could make out Niall, Liam and even Zayn standing with him.

Edward had spotted the group (His rescuers, Louis supposed.) and immediately withdrew his own lightsaber, igniting his blade. It flared up like an angry flame, sizzling and snarling as it cast an angry red glow. The sight sent most, if not all, of the citizens running away, yelling and shrieking as they scurried around like rodents.

Completely taken aback, Harry’s steps faltered and Louis wondered why he would be so shocked at the sight of Edward drawing his blade, especially at him, considering all that Harry had told him. From beside Harry, Niall drew his blaster but Zayn waved him down, smirking. “What were you thinking Niall, going to shoot a Vigo point blank? In front of his own guard?” Zayn’s eyes slid over to where Louis and Marcellus were standing. Niall followed his gaze with a severe frown, his eyes lighting up with recognition at the sight of Louis.

“Harric-,” Edward began, his voice deep and seemed to vibrate right off the walls. Harry’s gaze, which had been lingering on Louis, whipped to Edward’s face, his eyes wide and Louis swore they seemed watery. The sight of the glossy green eyes, so big and unusually dark, rimmed with red, seemed like a punch to the gut for Louis. He didn’t want to see that expression, the look of despair on his face, again. He conjectured it was -perhaps- caused by the sight of his clones.

Edward was about to speak again, raising his saber up from where he had it hanging near his hip to nearly shoulder height and Louis wondered for a brief, horrific moment if Edward would dare slash towards Harry. The results were unknown as a laser blast smashed into a vender’s cart near Zayn and exploded the wooden stand, sending the debris up into the air.

The boys reacted instantly, leaping away in horror at how close the blast was and holding their arms up to protect themselves. Edward pivoted around hastily towards the source of the blast. Just as another shot came, Edward flicked his saber up, catching the blast before it could hit him. It was one of those black armored soldiers and Louis could tell immediately how utterly confused Edward was. He glanced up at Marcellus and even with the lower half of his face covered Louis could tell he was just as baffled as his brother.

“Edward!” Louis called, unsure what was happening, “What-?” He began just as Marcellus surged forward, smacking an advancing soldier in the neck with the hilt of his saber. The hit disoriented the soldier enough that Marcellus was able to press the end of the hilt against his abdomen. He then ignited it, the blade blasting forwards straight through his body.

Just as Louis saw this event, a sharp pain shot through his head like a bullet. It happened so suddenly Louis wasn’t even aware his body crumpled to the ground with a soldier picking him up like a rag doll. The soldier made his escape with the unconscious Louis. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 24
And The Stars Look Very Different Today

Blinking, Louis was aware of how bad his head hurt. It was a sharp agony, throbbing at the base of his skull and even on his forehead. His view was odd and it took him much longer than a minute to realize he was laying down. Completely and utterly confused, Louis tried to reach his hands up, only to realize his body felt like lead.

There was noise up above him and Louis figured he must have been some sort of basement of what, he decided, must have been some sort of ship. The ship wasn’t as smooth at the Urania or the Rigel and Louis could feel it tossing as it soared.

“Dumb gem…” Louis muttered, slowly rolling over to his side, “Aren’t you suppose to protect me?” As if it knew what he was saying, it flared hot for a brief second to get its point across. Grunting, Louis rubbed at his head with the balls of his palms, applying pressure like he was handling a hammer to his own skull. He felt like his eyes were ready to pop out of his skull and he couldn’t stop the tears from gathering in the corners and flicking onto his eyelashes.

Clumsily grabbing at the ground in front of him, Louis clambered to his knees and scooted to the closet wall. Using it, he managed to get up to his feet, his head immediately being rushed with blood and nearly sending him onto his ass at the sudden pressure. “Here lies Louis. May he rest in piece,” Louis whispered. scrunching his eyes shut and clutching at the bridge of his nose, right between his eyes.

Pushing on his face, Louis hobbled around the room he was being kept in, but it was oddly devoid of anything. Not a chair, a box or even a blanket. There was some more walking from above him and Louis balanced in the center of the room, legs spread as far his shoulders and he thrust his arms upwards, smacking his palms against the metal ceiling. It rattled and his palms pinched at impact, making him wince. “Can’t you fix this?” Louis wondered out loud, directing his question to the crystal upon his head. It didn’t heat up or even twinge as it usually did. Maybe ignoring me Louis mused, partly amused and partly annoyed. In retaliation, Louis smacked his hands against the metal again. And then again. And again and again. He did it until his hands started to burn and swell red and his arms felt like soggy weeds.

“Fornuskrill!” Louis yelled, changing so he was hitting with the back of his hands instead, and immediately regretting it when his wrists cracked painfully and his knuckles scraped against the metal. A devastating, sobbing noise bubbled out of this throat and he shrieked, “Fornuskrill!” again, smashing his palms against the ceiling. It was the last time he had to do, however as it seemed to upset the holocron attached to him. To stop him from injuring himself any further, the holocron warmed up and glowed, using the last thrust of Louis’s hands to blast the sealed doorway upwards, the metal snarling and warping against the force.

The opening revealed the black-armored soldier who had captured him. Or, Louis presumed so. They all looked alike anyway. Louis was sure under his mask the soldier was startled, judging by the way his shoulders tensed and his hands froze in midair.

“TN-2187, incapacitate the prisoner!” The mechanical sounding voice of another soldier ordered from somewhere above and behind Louis. TN-2187 hesitated with his gun before pulling out a baton from his utility belt.

The gem’s glow had slowly but steadily made it’s way down the intricate vein designs of his skin until it lit his whole body. At the sight of the baton, the gem responded with a force push, shoving TN-2187 back to smack into the far end of the ship. The baton slipped from his hand and dropping onto the ground. Curious, Louis held out his hand and watched as the baton wiggled before rolling towards him, dropping straight into his opened palm.

Laughing out loud, Louis allowed himself to hug the baton to his chest for a brief moment before twisting around to see if he was able to spot the owner of the other voice from above. “JR-2817, subdue him!” The voice ordered again and there was a faint, “Yes, sir,” following the command.

Another soldier approached the edge of the opening and Louis stupidly held the baton out in front of him similar to how Edward held his lightsaber when in a defensive position. JR-2817 drew his gun, aiming it at Louis. (Louis wasn’t sure if it was a head shot he was aiming for or what, but it made him highly uncomfortable to have a gun pointed at him, no matter what the aim was.)

“Pethskaremesk dorsoknertrill?” Please don’t, Louis asked, weakly, wincing at his own voice crack.

“Dispose of your weapon,” JR-2817 ordered, unperturbed.

“Um, nernosk.” No.

“Dispose of your weapon immediately,” JR-2817 ordered again, voice crackling through the mask.

Louis looked down at his hand, inspecting the way he was holding the baton like it was much more fearsome than it really was, wondering if he could do something with it. The holocron flared up as if to say, ‘Of course you dummy! We can do anything!’

And despite everything, it was a rather comforting thought. We can do anything! Louis smiled and turned his hand so his palm was upwards, the baton laying on it. JR-2817 nodded and lowered his gun about an inch before Louis reacted, snapping his arm up before he thrust it out. The action sent the baton soaring upwards, far deadlier than it should have and it smashed JR-2817 right in the visor. Louis could hear it crack on impact and could see JR-2817 reaching up to clutch at the injury before he was sent into the wall. The back of his helmet smacked against the wall and he went limp on the ground. The baton rolled across the ground before falling down into the pit, back into Louis’s hand.

“Damn it!” The voice hissed, “Don’t do anything stupid, kid!”

“Stupid…” Louis repeated slowly, focusing on how he would escape more than he was listening. He gave a light jump, brushing his fingers along the edge of the pit’s mouth. He hummed to himself, backing up as he stared down the rim. He had lived on Dononter Minor long enough he had picked up certain things, such as jumping. Dropping low, his bum hanging between his legs as he crouched, he tucked the baton into the dainty silver belt that sat on his hips. It gave him a sense of lopsidedness but he pushed the feeling away, trying to focus on the feeling of his bunched thigh muscles and tightening of his calves. And then he launched himself up. Louis possessed enough strength in his legs that by concentrating and pushing himself up, he was able to scale the height of the chamber, landing up on the floor of the ship.

He landed clumsily on all fours, something his father would have chastised him for but was rather proud of himself and felt smug about it.

The ship was tiny, unusually so, and Louis wished Niall was around to identify what kind it was. Both JR-2817 and TN-2187 were laying unconscious and the last one was sitting at the controls, tugging at a wheel to steer and glancing apprehensively over his shoulder. Louis debated grabbing the gun and holding it to the soldier like they had with him but decided he didn’t want to shoot someone. (His mother wouldn’t want him to shoot someone and he didn’t think he could ever look her in the eye if he did.)

“Oskrill,” Okay, Louis started, gulping loudly, “Take me to the nearest planet right now.” He pointed the baton at the soldier who glanced over his shoulder at him. The soldier glanced at his two unconscious comrades before looking back up at Louis.

“Please return back in your chamber so I may return you to Underlord Zidar safely,” he said instead.

Louis narrowed his eyes and waved the baton like one would a flag in front of the soldier’s turned face, “Nernosk!” No! “That's not what I said! Listen to me right now or I will have to hurt you!”

The soldier practically oozed confidence when he asked, “You can pilot a ship of this caliber?”

Doing the best acting of his life, Louis puffed his chest out and gave a cocky grin, “Of course.” He clicked his tongue impatiently, “Now do as I say before you get hurt!” He jabbed the armored shoulder with the head of the baton and the soldier grunted. Louis imaged the soldier’s face was pinched up in annoyance underneath the helmet.

The soldier looked back out the front window and was completely still for about thirty seconds of what Louis guessed was him internally debating with himself. Finally, it seemed like the soldier was resigned to listening to Louis, as he pulled a lever and pushed two buttons. The lights on the dash lit up and the ship began to make a slow turn left, nose pointed down as it went. With large eyes, Louis watched the view from the window, taking in the sight of far away stars, body braced in fear of seeing another ship. It wouldn’t do any good if the soldier’s friends found them. They really needed to land soon so Louis could pull a disappearing act.

Finally, tired of standing, Louis dropped into the co-pilot chair, the back of his head singing now that the glow of the holocron had died down again. With one hand he rubbed at his face, pushing his nose in a misguided attempt to relieve the pressure and he had the other hand gripping the baton tightly, resting lightly on his knee in case the soldier tried anything stupid.

It took only about fifteen minutes of complete silence before they started to descend towards a planet. It was a dark yellow, nearly olive in color, and Louis was able to make out squares of lights, glowing from cities patching across its surface. The soldier flipped a switch above his head, speaking, “Entering grid location O-7, diameter 9,200kms, planet Mandalore.”

Chapter Text

orChapter 25
Far Above The Moon (Nothing I can Do)

“Okay, so you stay here…”

“AC-2781,” the soldier deadpanned from where he was sitting cross-legged, tied up next to his unconscious -and also tied up- companions inside the same pit Louis had awoken in. His helmeted head was hanging back so he could look up at the lip of the chamber to see Louis’s face peering down.

“Yes! So, AC-2781, stay here and do not do anything stupid.” Louis smiled, pleased with himself. AC-2781 scoffed and turned his head away, rather petulantly, Louis noted, smirking. Turning on his heel, Louis walked the short distance to the door and inspected the code panel to open it. “Hey, AC-2781, what’s the code to open this door?”

“With all respect, go fuck yourself.”

Louis gave an exaggerated pout at the door, running his fingertips over the control panel and humming to himself. “Holocron…” He muttered towards the gem, “How about you help me with this, hm?” He rapped against the buttons imploringly. The holocron did nothing. “Want me to hit the door some, just like the last time?” He started to smack his palms against the door, wincing when the impact irritated his already sore hands. “Ugh, you’re such a pain! Don’t know why anyone wants you…” If Louis didn’t know better, it seemed like the stone was pouting and just as Louis was about to bring his hands done to slam on the door again, it force pushed the door straight off the side of the ship, sending it flying several feet before crashing to the ground.

And then it was weirdly quiet.

Blinking, Louis looked down at his hands with intrigue, “Good work!” He chirped, jumping out of the ship, feet landing on soft earth. He sighed happily, wiggling his toes in his sandals, reveling in the feeling of the great, free wilderness around him. The air was cool, but not unpleasant, and smelled like dewy underbrush. While the air wasn’t as damp as his home planet, nor as cold and the ground was far drier, but it had enough similarities that it soothed all his frayed nerves and edges.

With a smile gracing his lips, Louis began to walk off into the forest, spotting the tops of buildings through the pointed tips of trees. He would need to make it to the city and hopefully find a way to contact Harry and Zayn.

 

Occupied with the sound of his feet falling, Louis hadn’t been paying too much attention to his surroundings. Definitely not as much as he should have been. He could hear the undergrowth crackling beneath his weight and the leaves rustling against each other as a breeze blew through. There were birds, somewhere too high for him to see but other than that, Louis wasn’t looking out for a potential threat. (Perhaps the return to a place so akin to his home had given him a false sense of security…)

“Awfully risky to be in the Forest of Fenn all by yourself, dear one.”

The voice washed over him, giving the same effect as stepping into an ice shower. It was a woman, voice deep like an ocean and just as brittle. There was an edge to it, like when trying to speak to a dangerous animal that you knew could snap and rip you to bits at any moment.

“Excuse me?” Louis whispered, swallowing audibly as his eyes darted around, searching out for the voice. Ahead of him, near the right, a figure began to form from out of the shadows. The first thing he saw was the skin of the woman’s face, so pale it was practically transparent. The rest of her was swathed in black like the shadows dressed her. As she glided towards him, deadly quiet, Louis forced himself to stay still, refusing to back away despite the fear beginning to bubble in the pit of his stomach. Hopefully, if she tried anything, the holocron would step in.

She smiled, cold and impassive, moving to stand before him. “Perhaps I was mistaken, dear one. It was risky for me to approach you.” She inclined her and continued to smile, staring straight into him with burning red eyes, just like the blades of Edward and Marcel’s sabers.

Louis gave a nervous laugh, “Oh yes, I am Louis the Great and Powerful. Very fearsome.” He joked, shuffling his feet.

The corner of her mouth twitched and Louis wondered if she was amused by him or possessed a feeling similar to Edward: disdain. Something passes through her eyes as she stared into him and Louis felt as if she had been trying to read his soul and was suddenly successful. She stepped closer to him, enough he had to angle his head to look up at her.

“I can’t help but worry for you, dear one,” she admitted softly, bringing a hand up to run cold fingertips along his jaw. It was such a fleeting touch Louis forgot to react to it, eyes glued to her.

“Why would you worry for me? Do you know me?” He paused before adding, “Who are you?”

Her black lips quirked upwards again, “Oh yes, I know you. The illustrious holocron. Eadh’hard’s even more illustrious heart.” Louis’s brows furrowed in puzzlement. “While we’ve never had the pleasure of meeting before, I’ve had the pleasure of being assigned to find you and even less of a pleasure of hearing about you from my colleague.”

Tempted to take a step back, Louis held himself firm, not wanting to insult the specter of a woman. “Who's your colleague?” He dared to ask.

She got a strange glint in her eyes, “Loya. Perhaps you know of her.”

Louis gulped, “Oh yeah. I’ve heard that name.”

“And she’s heard of you, Louis. She’s looking for you and she will find you.” The woman warned. “She always finds who she’s looking for Louis and you can only hide from her for so long.” Her arched brows furrowed in worry and an odd sensation took hold of Louis and holocron hummed against his skin. It was like she was reaching out and touching his very insides and it took an embarrassing amount of time before Louis realized she touching the Force, not him specifically. It must be because the stone is -possibly- so in-tuned with the Force that it feels like it's me! Louis realized, partly awed and another part horrified.

“I can hide from her,” he promised, “I… I need to find my.. my friends.” (Yeah, they were his friends, weren’t they.) The woman shook her head, her lips falling into a severe line. (Louis wondered if she thought him naive. Perhaps he was, thinking his friends would be enough to protect him from this woman.) “Loya is a vigo. Overly fond of Edward?” Her eyes pinched in confusion before she realized he just mispronounced ‘Eadh’hard’s’ name and a look similar to amusement flicked across her face.

Overly fond is a weak description of what she feels for him,” she murmured. “She has a nasty habit of killing those who get too close to him.”

Louis winced, “He hates me so I do not think that will be a problem.”

Her eyebrows raised, “Does he?” It didn’t really seem like a question, more like she was testing him on something and -even standing in such a beautiful forest- it put him on edge.

“You are a Vigo,” Louis declared instead.

She grinned, revealed sharp teeth like a feline. “Oh yes. Banish Grainer of Dathomir.” She stepped back so she could give a mock bow and Louis nearly smiled at the sight. Her hair was black inky, pulled into dozens and dozens of thick braids that fell all the way down to her waist, with little horns poking out along her skull, giving her an interestingly distinct look, combined with her shadowy eyelids and eyes like fresh pools of blood.

Louis was curious to know if everyone from Dathomir had such an unmistakable look to them. He was even more curious to know why she was on the planet of Mandalore. Looking for him perhaps? Or as a Vigo, was she supposed to be stationed here? The soldiers would have had to know that she was on Mandalore if they worked for the same organization. Nevertheless, she didn’t seem to want to kidnap him and take him to Underlord Zidar. Neither had Edward... Louis reminded himself.

Much to Louis’s chagrin, his thoughts must have shown on his face and she bared her teeth in a grin, “I have no interest in taking you to Zidar nor taking you for myself. My actions are completely self-indulgent,” she admitted. Louis quirked a brow, waiting for her to elaborate but she didn’t. “I won’t be able to help you much, dear one,” she said instead, “But when you need me, I’ll be there.” She pressed her lips -as cold and black as an ebony stone- against his forehead, just below the holocron before moving around him, walking through the trees the way she had come.

Turning, Louis watched her leave, not moving ahead until he was sure he was alone. His mind was swirling, regurgitating her words over and over. He had assumed that all the Vigos were out to kill him but Edward hadn’t, Leyll probably would have (or just tortured him) if he hadn’t had the debt with Edward, Rotta has probably very similar intentions as Leyll. Banish hadn’t and in fact, she all but said she wanted to protect him. (There was nine in the total and Louis had met Leyll, Edward, Rotta and Banish and had information on Loya. So there are still four unaccounted for, he realized.) 

His lips curled into a smile, grass squishing beneath his feet as he ventured further into the forest and hopefully closer to the city. What would be the chances of him meeting all nine of the -most- terrifying rulers of the galaxy within days (and living through it)? I couldn’t possibly have that much bad luck!

Just as Louis thought this, something snagged onto his ankle and yanked. It was a rope, pinching his skin and catching about two inches of skirt hem in it. The tug pulled him straight off his feet, upwards towards the trees until he was hanging upside down, arms dangling above his head, his thin cape nearly brushing against the ground. The big white skirt, which had been caught in the rope, half fell down to reveal his toned legs, high up on his thigh. Bumps ran along the newly exposed skin and Louis hissed.

Just his luck.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26
And Your Prayers, They Break The Sky In Two

There had been about thirty seconds of panicked thoughts as Louis realized that holy shit, he was in a forest by himself, hanging upside down and was either going to end up hanging for the rest of his days, dying of dehydration and/or starvation or a predator was going to find him and devour him. Both ways were as horrifying as each other so he didn’t really have a preference.

He had probably only been hanging for just over five minutes, already sore and tired and his mind suitably bored, when he heard something. With the blood rushing into his skull, it took a lot longer for him to identify the sound then it should have. Leaves, rustling and branches cracking under a weight. A creature of some kind? Louis wished he had more saliva he could swallow to gulp, but his throat was noticeably dry.

“Oh!” came a masculine voice from where beneath him, out of his line of sight. “Oh man, I’m so sorry about this!” The person came into view. Thin, the man had a black, neatly trimmed beard and moustache paired with long locks flowing over his shoulders. His eyes were soft and dark, contrasting with the shiny silver metal of the armour he was wearing. There was a chest piece and codpiece, along with plates over his shoulders and shins and gauntlets. Around his waist was a red leather strap where guns were hanging on both hips. Hanging on his back was a ratty brown cape that seemed older than everything else he was wearing. He reminded Louis of the soldiers and he thought, I’m going to die here.

However, the man was smiling. Rather pleasantly. He walked over to one of the trees to Louis’s left and Louis tried to spin to keep his eyes on him but it was hard to propel himself with no grounding. He swung his arms for rotation and tried to get the man in his sights again but before he could get a rhythm going the rope let loose for such a brief moment only half a shriek could escape Louis’s lips. The man called out another apology before proceeding to lower Louis down slowly, As soon as his hands reached the earth, the man paused, allowing Louis to pull himself forward so that when the man released the rope more, he could fall onto his stomach.

As soon as his body was lying slack on the ground, Louis flipped around and pulled the rope open, releasing his throbbing ankle. The armored man walked up to him as he did so and Louis was impressed with how quiet he managed to be covered in steel or whatever the armor was created from.

“Hello, friend!” The man greeted warmly, smiling down at him. He held out a hand and Louis grabbed it, allowing him to haul him to his feet. He stumbled, the blood rushing back to all his limbs and the soldier grabbed his shoulders to steady him. “Woah, careful there! What’s your name, little buddy?”

Louis huffed, not keen on being called little but the man’s smile was infectious and he couldn’t stop himself from smiling back. “I’m Louis. Who are you and why did you have a rope trap?”

The man laughed, “Sorry about the trap, my friend. I’m a bounty hunter and a lot of marks tend to run through the Forest of Fenn. This entire forest is littered with traps. I’m honestly surprised you’ve only encountered this one. And, I’m St-,” The rest of the name was lost in clicks and hisses and Louis froze, eyes wide in terror at the horrendous pronunciation. “However, you can just call me Steve.”

“Steve,” Louis deadpanned.

The bounty hunter grinned, “Steve,” he confirmed. He held his gloved hand out and Louis took it, giving it a quick shake. “Now then Louis, what’s brought you out to the Forest of Fenn?” he swept some of his hair off his shoulder with the back of his hand, paying steady attention to Louis.

Unsurely, Louis began to speak. “I was uh… Kidnapped but I sorta took over the ship and came here. I need to contact my friends.” He wasn’t sure how much was safe to explain but he figured erring on the side of caution would be for the best. Steve hadn’t seemed to recognize him nor did he seem like a bad guy but Louis reminded himself that that didn’t mean he was trustworthy.

Steve pressed his lips together, thinking and nodded, “Alright how about you come to my house bud, and I’ll give you some food and drink and then we’ll find out a way to contact your friends.” A stricken look passed across Louis’s face and Steve saw it immediately, “Oh, don’t worry Lou! You don’t have a bounty on you otherwise I would have seen your face before so you’re not worth me kidnapping you or anything.” Seeing that he was still hesitant Steve tacked on, “How about I start walking to my house and you can decided if you wanna follow or not? My front door will be open for you.”

Seeing Louis nod, Steve tossed him one last smile before he began to walk away. Louis watched his boots flatten the grass and kick up dirt as he went, debating whether it would be the a smart move. It would probably be smarter than standing around a -apparently notoriously dangerous forest. With that thought, Louis rushed after him, making sure to keep a respectable distance between as so he could pretend he wasn’t following him.

Mandalore must have been the name of the city and the planet, Louis figured as he followed the bounty hunter. The city was like nothing he had ever seen before, a mix of modern and ancient architecture. Everything was smooth, from the sides of buildings to the pathways, much like the ships he had been on. Contrasting were circular fountains made of white stone with beautiful carvings engraved along the edges. There were patches of beautiful wildlife, encircled by carefully measured off sections, less than a foot higher than the walkways. The buildings were all different heights, connected by crisscrossing pedways, giving the city a new layer to behold. The windows all shimmered blue in the bright sunlight, giving off the impression of being near water, much to Louis’s amazement.

There were other people out walking and Louis noticed a distinct lack of ships. Everyone seemed to be moving on foot and he even spotted several people riding on the back of a large animal. Like Steve, everyone seemed to be wearing armour, some with less than what he wore and others with even more. The people riding the large mammal creature even had helmets on, oddly similar to the dark soldiers working for Zidar, yet with a distinct face to them. Louis debated what the armor meant, if Mandalore was some sort of military state like what he had read about. It was so peaceful looking, Louis had a hard time grasping that idea and then wondered if it was religion. Afraid of asking, Louis decided to keep quiet on the matter, picking up his pace to cover the distance between him and Steve.

Steve noticed him out of the corner of his eye and tossed him a pleased smile. He turned off to the left of the large fountain, walking up to one of the taller buildings with the skyways connecting it to others and entered it, pausing to hold the door open for Louis.

Ducking in, Louis peered around. There were potted plants standing around the edges of the room with comfy looking couches in each corner with wooden tables covered in magazines. In the center was a large circular desk where a droid was stationed in the middle. On the far wall were doors for elevators, five of them, lined up all nice and neat, polished and shiny.

Unsurprisingly, Steve led him to the doors, picking the one second to the right. The door swirled up when he entered a code into the panel next to it and he stepped in, hooking his fingers into his belt, looking comfortable and relaxed. Louis was impressed. Either he didn’t think Louis was a threat or was that confident in himself he didn’t care. Seeing as when he found Louis, he was stuck in one on his traps, Louis guessed he didn’t see him as that big of a threat.

Walking into the elevator next to the bounty hunter, Louis pressed himself into the far back, his hands flat against the panel and his legs braced, rather funnily angled. Steve pressed one of the higher buttons and Louis cursed under his breath realizing it wasn't going to be just a short little trip in the damned moving room.

And he was correct. It took much longer than Louis deemed necessary and they even had to stop along away with different people -human and otherwise- coming aboard to get off on a higher floor. After the third time it happened, Louis was starting to get annoyed, wondering how Steve managed to stay so mellow and patient.

Finally they got off at floor 28 (“There’s 34 stories so we’re at a good spot.”) and Steve led him down a long hall, turning to the right and stopping at the second door on the right. He pulled a small card, about the size of Louis’s palm, out of his belt and scanned it against a box right next to the door. Immediately the door clicked open And Steve pushed it open, stepping inside and holding it open with his hip as he tugged his boots off. Glancing down the hallway on each side, Louis stepped in after him, letting Steve push the door closed with a hip bump.

“Ba’buir!” Steve called voice gentle but laced with excitement.

“Ner cyare grandson, yaim shal kyr’yc!” Louis listened careful to the tics and swooshes to the language, trying to piece it together. He knew the word grandson but not the rest of the words. He glanced at Steve, frowning but Steve didn’t translate, just merely grinned.

“Shoes off please, Louis,” he implored and Louis reached down to tug the straps off his feet. Kicking the little sandals close to the wall beside Steve’s boots, Louis wiggled his toes and looked at Steve for approval. Smiling, Steve led Louis into the house.

The front door led straight into a hallway with a large closet on the right and some sort of intriguing laundry room on the left. The end of the hall led straight into the living room, a kitchen a little bit out of the way, hidden behind an island counter top dividing it from the living room. On the opposite side was a hallway leading to what Louis could only assume was the bedrooms.

Walking up from the hallway, Steve moved towards the kitchen, where a small woman was standing. She was about a half a head shorter than Louis with dark eyes and hair the colour of the white orchids that grew back on Dononter Minor. Her face was round and soft looking, covered in thick wrinkles that spread from her eyes, nose and mouth across her cheeks, chin and forehead. Dressed in a long robe, she had armoured shoulder pads over top of it, very reminiscent of Steve’s.

Leaning over the counter, she was kneading dough with short fingers, her sleeves pulled back out of the way. Louis watched her moved the dough around, quickly and efficiently splitting it into small even balls and placing each one on a rectangular metal pan. She was humming softly, a soft smile playing across her withered lips.

“Don’t cuyir impolite. Introduce gar burc’ya,” she cooed, picked up the pan and going over to the heated oven, pulled the door open and sliding it in. She then closed the door, rubbing her hands along her thighs and smoothing down her dress.

Steve smiled, “Ni ceta, ba’buir.” He gestured to Louis, “Ba’buir, this is Louis. He found himself on the other side of one of my snares.” Her face morphed into one of concern and her dark eyes flicked down to Louis’s feet. “Don’t worry ba’buir! He’s alright! Now, he’s a bit skittish so be gentle with him, eh?” Steve joked, beaming at the small woman, eyes filled with affection for her.

Ba’buir -Louis wasn’t sure if that was her name or some sort of title but seeing as she had called Steve ‘grandson’ the name could be grandmother in their native tongue- walked over to him, reaching out to run her weathered, soft hands against his cheeks very gentle. She made an intrigued noise, inspecting the stone in his forehead. She then gave Steve a pointed look. He smiled sheepishly.

“Kaysh is o’r grave buruk,” her voice sounded like a warning and Louis raised his eyebrows at Steve.

“She believes you’re in grave danger,” Steve translated, calmly.

Louis snorted, “That’s a bit of an understatement.”

“Kaysh liser not cuyir olar,” Ba’buir warned Steve, her face pinched. Louis gave Steve another look and he scratched the back of his head rather sheepishly, looking reluctant to translate for Louis again. Louis wondered if she said something rude about him and nearly grinned at the thought.

Steve sighed, “I couldn’t just leave him out there. That would be far most dangerous than having him wandering the streets.” He pointed out. There must have been something else in his words because Ba’buir nodded, lips pursed into a thin, severe line. Something else passed across her face and Louis wondered what she was thinking that had Steve so concerned. “Don’t worry, Ba’buir. I will help him get out safe. Get home.”

Ba’buir seemed to he debating something with herself before she nodded and turned to Louis, “Hungry?"

Chapter Text

Chapter 27
Now The Moon is Dark

It was like Ba’buir had shoved as much food as possible down Louis’s throat within the short time frame of him arriving at her and Steve’s home. He could feel how bloated his tummy was, hanging over the edge of his skirt and he felt infinitely more tired.

“Come on buddy, I’ll show you to the couch for some sleep,” Steve murmured, eyeing the drowsy Louis from across the table. Louis’s eyes fluttered for a moment, caught somewhere between sleep and unconsciousness but he managed a half-hearted nod. Rubbing at his belly, Louis managed to stand on his feet, yawning so wide it hurt his jaw.

Placing a hand on his shoulder, Steve led him over to the couch, pushing him to sit at the end. He disappeared for a minute only to come back with a fluffy blanket and pillow in his arms. “Alright, here we go.” He placed the pillow at the end and unfolded the blanket before laying it on Louis’s lap. Immediately, Louis toppled over onto the couch with a content sigh, practically sinking into the cushions. Steve may have said something else but Louis was already drifting off, the words lost to him.

 

“Lou…” Something ran across the edge of his nose, bopping the end. There was a giggle. “Looouuu…”

Louis whined and curled up tighter, his eyes still heavy. His body didn’t feel as bloated as he had remembered it and his mind not as weary. He was aware he was laying on a comfortable, albeit familiar mattress and was pleasantly cozy beneath the sheets. He had no desire to move in any way and was on the verge of falling back to sleep…

“Lou, you gonna get up, or do I just get to stare at your pretty face?”

Louis couldn’t stop himself from giggling at the voice cooing playfully above him and he forced himself to open his eyes. He was laying on a bed, a bed he was definitely familiar with. His eyes snapped up to the head hovering above him. Smiling lazily at the sunny face, Louis reached up and tugged at one of the curls. “Harrehhhh,” he mumbled, slurring the last bit of the name.

Harry snickered, “What a precious babe!” He teased, giving a light tug to a bit of Louis’s hair in retaliation, the one piece that had grown out and curled by his temple. Louis blinked up at him, bringing his hands to his eyes to rub away the sleep.

“How’d you find me?” He asked, confused, forcing himself to look around.

“Technically, we found each other. I was longing for you and the stone brought us together.”

Louis grinned, “Aren’t you romantic?” His eyes flittered around the room again, “But why here?”

“You’ll have to answer that for me, Lou. I’m unsure where we are,” Harry frowned, glancing around and rubbing his hands along the pearl white sheets.

“This is Edward’s ship. This is the bedroom he gave to me.” Saying ‘gave’ seemed odd, as it insinuated that they had some sort of relationship which would allow Edward to give gifts to Louis who would, in turn, accept them.

Harry didn't bat an eyelash at what he said, instead he just smiled, looking around rather fondly, “I’m happy you were being treated well under the care of my brother. I was concerned for your welfare.” Then his eyes narrowed, “Where are you now, Louis? We’re looking for you.” He grabbed Louis’s hand and tangled their fingers together. “Are you safe?”

Louis nodded his head, “Yeah I’m safe. I’m on a planet called Mandalore.”

Fear flickered across Harry’s face, “Mandalore?” Louis could feel a slight shake in Harry’s hand against his grip and he forced himself to sit up, grabbing Harry’s other hand.

“Have you heard of this planet?”

Nodding, Harry explained, “It’s a planet in the Outer Rim Territories. The home world of the Mandalorians. They’re a fearsome and warmongering people who fought the Jedi and raided their temple eons ago! They wear distinctive armor and are feared throughout the galaxy!”

It took a moment for Louis to understand what he was saying but he began to put it together, “Armour. Steve and Ba’buir wear armor… They’re mandalorians… Warmongering? Steve doesn't seem like the warmongering type!” Neither did old lady Ba’buir for that matter…

Harry raised an eyebrow, “Steve?” He stressed the name, looking highly amused by the simplistic name.

“Yeah, Steve.” Louis narrowed his eyes, “Harry,” he mocked, quirking an eyebrow.

Sniggering, Harry pointed out, “Doesn’t sound like a scary warmongering madalorian.”

Louis nodded, “My point exactly. Are you sure that information is correct? Plus, I thought the Jedi weren’t even real.”

“Who told you the Jedi weren’t real!?” Harry immediately jumped up in horror at the statement.

Louis rolled his eyes, frowning, “Well, Niall, first of all, but everyone in the Blades seems to think they’re a myth.”

Harry shook his head, looking like a disappointed mother. “That’s ridiculous. The Jedi was a group of force sensitive individuals that formed the Jedi Order. They studied, served and used the mystical energies of the Force. They have ancient origins and have been present in the galaxy for over thousands of generations. At least, we were.”

Something heavy settled on Harry’s shoulders at his own words and he sighed, trying to relieve the tension. Louis’s expression of a mixture of awe and horror. “What do you mean? You were..?”

“Yes, Louis. I was a Jedi, like my father before me.” There was a pause. “And so are you.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 28
The Darkened Shore Wouldn’t Bother Me

Louis pressed his palms into his hands giggled. A Jedi? Him? As if. Harry, on the other hand, seemed like a shoe-in. Louis could still see him walking through the temple with the helmet of curly hair on top of his head, the big brown robe draped on him like a child wearing their parent’s clothing. Louis wasn’t Jedi material. He wasn’t talented in anything, he wasn’t a good hunter or fighter. He was squeamish and disliked hurting people. How did that make him a Jedi? He and Harry weren’t cut from the same cloth.

As if Harry could tell where his thoughts headed, he smiled and shook his head, “I know you don’t believe me but we were both born to Jedi parents and raised in the Jedi temple. You were destined to become a Jedi, a great Jedi. Like your parents. Your mother was a genius. Your father commanded respect.”

Louis snorted, “And all they left me was a legacy?” A bitter tone ran through his words, biting off at the word ‘legacy’ like he was eating a sour candy.

Harry smiled, “Isn’t that enough?”

“They should be alive. They should have raised me.” As soon as he said that, Louis regretted it. Something like a rock bubbled up into his throat and his eyes began to sting, unshed tears gathering at the corners.

Entire face softening, Harry pulled him close, running his hand through the back of his hair. “Louis, your parents loved you. And your adopted parents love you. So many people love you,” he whispered, his lips brushing against Louis’s left temple.

Swallowing down the lump, Louis licked his dry lips and rubbed his fist against his eye to dry it, “I.. I know. It would just have meant more if they were here.”

“They are. Your parents are always with you. Never fear that you are alone.” Harry promised, pressing another kiss to the jewel on Louis’s forehead.

 

Louis woke to pots and pans clanging together. He blinked up at the ceiling above him and tried to figure out his surrounding and then he remembered Steve and smiled. It took another minute for him to remember his dream visit with Harry and he winced hating how vulnerable he had been. Knowing he couldn't change that, he stood, pushing the blanket off his lap onto the side of the sofa.

It wasn’t hard to find the bathroom in the tiny apartment and after washing up, Louis emerged. He was still dressed in the white skirt and top, along with all the jewelry from Edward and wasn’t sure if he was allowed to ask for different clothes from Steve.

Steve, who had been looking out the window near the dining table must have been proficient in reading minds because he turned and met Louis’s eyes with a beaming smile. “How about I lend you some clothes, Lou?”

Louis nodded dumbly, surprised but delighted by the offer.

The clothes he gave Louis were far simpler than the ones Edward and Marcellus gifted him with. It was a pair of tight stretchy black pants and a long sleeved high neck black shirt. On top of the shirt went a sleeveless robe he pulled left side over right and tied it to the side. Then, Steve gave him a heavy brown belt, with pouches around the entire thing and he buckled it up and let it rest on Louis’s hips. To complete the mandalorian look, Louis got azure shaded boots, heavy, armored on the calf and matching pauldrons and gauntlets. The last thing Steve handed him was a pair of black, soft leather gloves.

“Skraan!” Ba’buir called just as Steve finished buckling the gauntlets.

Steve grinned and for Louis’s benefit, translated, “Food. She made breakfast,” He paused and it seemed like he wasn’t going to add anything else when he muttered, “Keeps her mind off things.”

Louis wanted to ask Steve what he meant but decided against it and followed him out to the dining table. Ba’buir had laid out several different dishes, all piping hot and delicious smelling and Louis groaned happily. Without hesitation, he dropped into one of the seats and picked up one of the egg dishes, wrapped in a piece of fried meat with color vegetable toppings. He bit into immediately, humming joyfully at the delicious taste.

Steve chuckled and sat down too, not before pressing a quick kiss on Ba’buir’s cheek as he passed. “I usually cook but I think Ba’buir wanted to impress you,” Steve teased, grinning. Ba’buir grumbled something Louis couldn't understand from behind the island counter, placing dishes in the sink before walking over. Steve beamed, amused. 

Louis smiled around his mouthful of food, “I don't mind,” he mumbled, “Just hungry.” He swallowed, content. He then took a swig of the glass of blue milk standing near his plate, washing down the egg. Ba’buir nodded, looking pleased with his response. She then tossed Steve a look that Louis didn’t quite understand.

Steve grinned at her, however, obviously knowing what she meant, “He’ll come with me today. I’m picking up the bounty for Ponda Baba.”

Louis perked, “Who?”

“He’s a male Aqualish thug, who rescued Dr. Cornelius Evazan from me. I’ve been hunting that damned doctor for so long and then he slipped away. The doctor is a male human, hailing from the planet of Alsakan. He was a cosmetic surgeon but became gripped with a madness and left his patients horribly disfigured. I’ve run into him once before, pure accident and managed to disfigure his face but he escaped because of Ponda Baba. They’ve decided to issue a bounty for him and I’m going to pick it up. I have no doubt in my mind they’re still working together and I plan on getting them both."

Frowning, Louis nodded slowly, trying to imagine a man who would disfigure innocent people for his own entertainment. He hoped Steve found him; found him and had him thrown into a dark pit for the rest of his life, along with the man who saved him.

The glint of determination must have been evident in his eyes because Steve grinned and said, “And I’ll take you to the office to get the bounty registered under my name.” Louis nodded, happy to go with Steve and he picked up another steaming egg wrapped in meat and bit into it. “You’ll be able to see the oh-so-secret world of bounty hunting. Maybe you’ll even like it.” Steve teased and Louis snickered.

As if.

 

Opening his eyes, Harry was disappointed to discover he was alone in his own bed once again, no Louis in sight. He groaned and curled up, pressing his knees against his stomach. He laid like that for about five minutes before he decided he was too hungry to go back to sleep and he stretched out again, his legs long enough his toes poked out over the edge of the mattress.

Rolling over, Harry kicked his legs off the side if the bed, brushing his covers away from himself. Sauntering over to his private bathroom, he freshened up, running a comb through the short curls on his head before he headed over to his dresser, scratching at his belly button as he went. He pulled out a pair of tight black pants and a light pink shirt with buttons down the front. He did the shirt up to just above the butterfly tattooed on his ribs before grabbing the long black jacket he had hanging on a coat hook and pulled it on over top. The coat brushed against his knees and he debated buttoning it up before deciding against it and heading out of the room. The boots he put on had the slightest heel that gave a satisfying click against the ship floor.

He headed straight for Zayn’s office, not knocking before he opened the door. Inside, unsurprisingly, was Zayn, Liam sitting on the couch holding a star map. Niall hadn’t arrived yet but Harry hoped that when he did he would bring food.

“Ah, Harry, how’d you sleep?” Liam asked pleasantly, smiling up with soft, crinkled eyes.

“Good. It’s always a good sleep when I see Louis.”

Zayn perked up, “You saw Louis? What’d he say? Is he hurt? Who's he with?”

“He’s-,”

“Food is here!” Niall announced, the door sliding open to reveal him. His hair had dark brown roots that were becoming more prominent every day and despite looking sleep-rumpled, he looked chipper and sunny, like usual. In his hands was a huge round tray, filled with steaming, amazing smelling food. He brought the plate to Zayn’s desk and the dark haired man moved the papers on his desk so Niall could rest it on the top.

“What were you saying about Louis?” Liam asked as he stood to get to the food, leaving the star chart on the sofa.

Niall perked up, “You’re talking about Louis? I love talking about Louis!”

Harry chuckled, “I saw him last night. He’s safe and unharmed but when he was kidnapped he was taken to Mandalore.” Harry hadn’t ever been to the planet before but, as he had told Louis, he knew enough about it that he knew he wouldn’t ever willingly choose to go there. Not if he had a death wish. Or if he needed to risk his neck to go save Louis. That was enough to inspire him to do anything.

All the air seemed to be sucked out of the room and a look of pure horror morphed on Niall’s face, “Mandalore? He can’t be there! It’s too dangerous.” His voice squeaked at the end and Harry was worried he would send himself into a spasm of some sort by how tense he had become.

It wasn’t just Niall who look horrified, but so did Zayn and Liam but their looks of horror were overlooked by their expressions of surprise by Niall’s reaction. Harry frowned, wondering what Niall had on his mind. It reminded Harry that Niall had a habit of using Madalorian swear words when he wasn’t paying attention.

“Have you been there before, Niall?” Liam asked. Harry thought it was curious that Liam didn't know his own friend's history. 

The blond nodded, “A long time ago. It’s very dangerous there. It’s, uh, where I picked up the language,” he added, glancing nervously at Harry.

Harry narrowed his eyes, “And what’s there Niall? What is Louis in danger from?”

“Deel Sett. The mad tyrant of the nine vigos.”

 

The bounty office was brightly lit and the walls were covered in posters with drawings of faces, some beautifully rendered and others looking like they were created by children. There were come potted plants decorating the corners of the room and there were four desks with different species sitting at them. In front of each desk were two chairs turned to face it, like an office.

Louis was amazed at how chic it looked compared to what he had envisioned when Steve and he had walked over. Steve approached a green-skinned, reptilian humanoid woman with large pupil-less eyes, a slender snout, pointed ears and twin saucer-like antennae on the top of her head. Her skin had a rough, pebbly texture and she had long hair dark brown hair pulled up into a messy knot between her antennae.

“Tiaba, I’m here for my cool new bounty!” Steve teased the woman, charmingly grinning at the woman as they approached her desk. Her snout twitched as she smiled up at him.

“Ah, Steve, I knew you’d be in here today!” She pulled open a drawer to her file cupboard and began to flip through it until she found the one she wanted. It was labelled, “BOUNTY - AOKI, STEVE” Louis blinked, curious as he leaned in closer to get a look at the names in the drawer before she closed it but she was too quick and snapped it shut. Louis pouted.

“Here you go, hun!” Tiaba chirped, pulling out a couple of sheets to hand to him. "I knew you'd be in calling for it."

"You're a doll, Tiaba," Steve accepted them and flipped through them before beginning to read the first page. Louis noticed that it was covered in dates and locations, including planet coordinates and names of eyewitnesses and their witness statements above their names. The other page was information on Ponda Baba, including a picture of him paper clipped to the top. Louis thought he had an odd look to him.

He had a bald head, fur around the cheeks and large tusks that stuck out from his jaw underneath his mouth. He had two large black eyes and inky skin to match. In the picture, Louis could just make out a gray shirt underneath a faded orange jacket.

“What species is he?” Louis asked, knowing Steve had already told him.

Steve didn’t look up from the paper to answer, “Aqualish. Most come from the planet Ando though they can be found in most galactic communities.”

“Where’s Ando? Do you think Ponda is from there?”

“We have reports saying he was there so that’s definitely a possibility. Ando is in the Mid Rim region. They’re famous for their Andoan wine.” Louis nodded as if he knew what wine Steve was talking about even though he had no clue.

Louis inspected the front page at all the common sighting of the Aqualish thug, “Why does he and that doctor guy keep stopping at Nar Shaddaa?” The same Nar Shadaa he had been with Edward and Marcellus? There must be only one. Was that a coincidence?

“Ponda and the doctor are working to smuggle spice for Rotta the Hutt. One of the-,”

“Nine vigo leaders,” Louis finished grimly, scowling at the papers in Steve’s hand as he imagined the slimy, lecherous man.

Steve nodded, glancing at him from the corner of his eyes, “Yeah, them.” Taking one more glance at the papers, Steve smiled at Louis, “Alright, we can head back now. This was all I needed. Thanks, Tiaba, have a good day.”

“You too, sweetie.”

Louis and Steve walked through the door into the overhead sunlight, the leaves rustling around them as they began to walk. Around them were other people walking around, the street weirdly void of voices despite the present population. Everyone marched together. close and silent, with their armored shoulders hunched. Something was wrong to Louis but he couldn’t put a finger on what it was. Walking closer to Steve until their arms brushed against each other, Louis asked, “So, Steve, is it usually this quiet here?”

“I want to say for as long as I can remember,” Steve admitted, keeping his eyes ahead but Louis could see the way his knuckles whitened as he curled them into tight fists, “But I know this began in my teens. It’s when it got bad.”

Looking up from his fists, Louis inspected Steve’s profile, tense and almost angry, “When what got bad?”

“The silence.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 29
All The Clouds Are Made of Glass

“We shouldn’t go to Mandalore. But for Louis…” Niall sighed, pressing his forehead against the cool glass of the window.

Harry gazed outside him, “You would do a lot for him?”

“Of course, wouldn’t you?”

“I would lay down my life,” Harry admitted.

Niall snickered, “Great to know romance isn’t dead.” He grinned.

Harry tilted his head, “What? What do you mean?”

“Romance,” Niall drawled, “You’re keeping it alive and well, laying your life down for your true love and all that.” He grinned, pulling his eyes away from the stars to look at Harry’s reaction. Funnily enough, his eyes looked like they were ready to pop out of his head and his mouth had fallen open.

“True love? Me and Louis?”

Raising his eyebrows, Niall answered, “Yesssss,” drawing out the last syllable. “You, in love, Louis, in love. How much clearer can I be? Kiss kiss fall in love?”

Harry narrowed his eyes, processing the words carefully. “I’m not… Louis and I aren’t… Love?”

Laughing, Niall laughed and clapped a hand to Harry’s back, “Yeah Harry, you are. Even if you don’t know it. Everyone can see it. It’s okay though, bud, you’ll get there,” he chuckled. “Maybe when we get to Mandalore you can tell him.”

“Tell him… Tell Louis I’m in love with him…” Harry, pale with glossy eyes, peered back out at the stars.

 

“I’m in love with you,” Louis declared, rubbing his mouth with a napkin Steve had passed him.

Ba’buir laughed, eyes sparkling, “Oh, gar’re bid copikla, little gem. Ni will miss gar greatly.”

Louis tilted his head, trying to wrap his head around her words. He understood ‘little gem’ and ‘miss greatly’ and he extrapolated from that. He beamed at her, “I’ll miss you too. You and Steve both.” He blushed, raising his glass of blue milk to his mouth and sipping it sheepishly.

Louis directed his gaze outside the window, watching the setting sun cast a pink glow across the horizon. Though he couldn’t see much of the sky, the section he could see was beautiful and he thought about the view of the sky between the trees of his home planet. He sighed against the lip of the cup before sipping some of the thick sweet liquid.

He had spent most of the day shadowing Steve, who took the duty of chores very seriously. They had discussed some of the sightings of Ponda Baba and Steve told him about being a bounty hunter. Louis admitted to some of his adventures but was careful about the details he shared, just in case.

The day had drawn on into the night and Steve had been ushered out of the kitchen for Ba’buir to make an awe-inspiring amount of food for them to stuff away into their bellies. Between the three of them -mainly him and Steve- they managed to pack away most of it. Ba’buir watched them with eyes brimming with pride like they had saved a small pack of children, instead of eating their own body weight in food.

After helping Steve clean up the dishes and wishing Ba’buir goodnight, Louis collapsed onto the couch, groaning when his back hit the soft cushion. Steve chuckled, watching. “Not used to hard work?” He teased.

“Not as of late,” Louis admitted. “That’s what happens when you’re kept captive on one of those imperial destroyer ships for seven thousand years.”

Steve raised an eyebrow, looking more than just intrigued. Louis watched him open his mouth and close it before opening it again. “Goodnight, Louis.”

Louis smiled, “Goodnight, Steve.”

 

The door opened with a bang.

Louis’s eyes shot open and his entire body protested the action. It felt like he had been asleep for ten minutes but the smell of breakfast cooking and the rays of the sun filtering in through the window told a different story.

He was confused on how the sliding front door could make that sound but he realised, as he sat up, that it was caused by five bodies falling through it.

“Steve?” He asked, complete confused, rubbing at the armour on his shoulder. He should have taken it off before he went to sleep but figured he would be alright with it. A mistake he wouldn’t be foolish enough into making again. No armour, then sleep.

“Louis!” That wasn’t Steve’s voice that responded. No, in fact, it was Niall’s. The faux blond haired boy with his big eyes and wide, infection grin beamed at him from the doorway.

Louis blinked, stupefied, “Niall?” He rubbed at his eyes to make sure he wasn’t still drunk with sleep.

Another voice chirped, “Louis!”

And Louis knew that voice too, “Liam?”

“Louis! Thank the-,”

“Zayn? What-,?” Louis blurted, spotting the silver haired man amongst the group.

“Lou-,” Steve began but was cut off by a fifth body pushing his way through.

“Harry!” The fifth man declared, looking pleased with himself.

Unable to stop himself, Louis perked up, his excitement poorly contained, “Harry!” The curly haired man beamed and threw his arms open and without hesitation, Louis launched himself off the couch straight into his grasp. Without hesitating, Harry enveloped him in his arms and Louis sighed contently, trying to absorb as much of his warmth and affection as he could.

“Oh, Lou, I didn’t realise you were… runi bonded,” Steve said, looking surprised but albeit pleased.

Louis opened his mouth but Niall’s laugh covered up anything he was going to say. “Not su,” he told Steve, grinning. Louis’s eyebrows shot up at the use of the Mandalorian Niall had just flaunted and he met Harry’s gaze. Harry just shook his head, his lips still curled into a smile.

Steve nodded in understanding, smirking slightly in Louis’s direction, much to his chagrin.

Reluctantly releasing Harry, Louis pulled himself away from the warm body to inspect the group. Before he could ask his questions, Harry leant forward and pressed his nose right above his ear and whispered, “You’re exactly how I remembered you from my dreams, evening star.”

Louis faltered as Harry pulled away, his face burning like a forest fire. Fumbling, Louis’s mouth flapped uselessly before he managed to get out, “How are you guys all here? How did you find me?” He threw Harry a betrayed look and the man beamed, looking far too innocent for his own good.

Without commenting on Harry’s actions, Liam started, “Niall’s a gen-,”

“Idiot,” Zayn finished, cutting off what Liam was going to say.

“I’m a genius,” Niall boasted, looking delighted with himself. Zayn rolled his eyes. “I know this galaxy like the back of my hand and I know ships like I know my own boot tread! It wasn’t too hard to figure out where you landed and it took us even less time to find the ship!”

“You know your boot tread?” Liam asked, looking confused.

Niall raised an eyebrow, “You don’t?” Liam rolled his eyes and Louis snickered at them.

Still smiling, Louis chimed in, “So you found the ship that abducted me? Were the soldiers still there?” The soldiers that he had left tied up and stranded in the grounded ship, that was.

Zayn shook his head, “The ship was empty but we could see your handy work. Nice job on harnessing the Force.”

Louis smiled at him, acknowledging his compliment. He wasn’t sure if it was really him using the Force as much as it was him learning to work with the holocron. Was using the holocron considered him manipulating the Force? He still had so many questions about the properties of the stone, it was like he hadn’t even made any progress with it at all…

“Now that your friends are here, Lou,” Steve began and Harry shot him a look at the use of the nickname, “You and your friends should leave here as quickly as possible. It’s far too dangerous.”

Frowning, Louis narrowed his eyes at Steve, “Mandalore has been the most peaceful place I’ve visited yet. What’s the danger?”

Niall’s face darkened and he answered before Steve could, “Your new friend is right, Lou. Mandalore is dangerous. We need to leave as soon as possible. We have the pod from the Rigel hidden in the Forest of Fenn but it won’t be safe there for long.”

Louis crossed his arms, “I’ve spent my whole life not knowing things. This isn’t going to happen again. You need to tell me, Niall.”

“Gar are o’r buruk. Gar friends are staabii, evaar’la solus,” Ba’buir appeared behind Louis and he whirled to look at her.

Niall, the good friend that he was, translated for Louis before he had to ask, “She said ‘You are in danger. Your friends are right, young one.’ You should listen to her, Lou. We need to go.”

“You can’t just tell me I’m in danger and expect me to just go along with everything you guys say! That’s ridiculous!” Louis cried, throwing his hands up into the air. “And don’t think I didn’t notice you being weirdly adept in Mandalorian culture, Niall! You have a lot of explaining to do.”

“Can we do it while we head out to the ship?” Niall pleaded.

“Evening star, we should listen to him and head out to the ship,” Harry murmured, angling his head down so his words were more private for Louis. He placed a wide palm on Louis’s lower back that sent pleasant shivers through his spine. Louis opened his mouth to fight more but met Harry’s soft gaze and sighed, the fight draining from him.

“Okay, let’s head to the ship. But I want to know everything. I mean it, Niall.”

“Aye aye, Lou.” Niall gave a teasing salute.

Steve stepped forward, “Do you need me to guide you back to your ship?” He inquired.

Niall shook his head, “I remember, thanks, mate.”

Turning to face Louis, Steve smiled, his eyes looking dark and dewy with emotion. “I will miss you, friend. I wish you safe travels. Shereshoy'karir pirusti.” He knocked their foreheads together and Louis felt as if he might cry.

“I will miss you too, Steve. Always in my heart,” He promised, “Hunt well,” He turned towards Ba’buir, whose wrinkled face had turned up into a smile. “Thank you for taking me in, Ba’buir,” he whispered, rather shyly. She didn’t give him much chance for shyness, however, as she pulled him forward and buried his face in her bosom.

“Cuyir morut'yc bal shereshoy'karir pirusti, precious,” She whispered and slathered three kisses onto his head before releasing him. And with those words, Louis, along with the rest of the boys, stumbled out of the apartment belonging to Steve and his grandmother and headed out to the pod they had laying in wait.

 

“You still have to tell me,” Louis declared as they marched through the forest. Niall had led them through the city with amazing ease and they made it to the Forest of Fenn without incident.

Niall groaned and gave an exaggerated roll of his eyes. “It’s a long story-,”

“Don’t bullshit me you fake blond,” Louis deadpanned, causing a bark of surprised laughter to erupt from Zayn.

Liam, looking concerned, said, “Niall, you should tell us the truth. We deserve to know. I hate to think there’s been a part of you that’s been hidden from us… I thought we were family,” he looked away and something clenched in Louis’s chest at the vulnerability Liam was showing.

Sighing, Niall nodded in agreement, “I know, I know, I’m sorry. This hasn’t been easy for me either, okay? I just needed to keep you guy’s safe because you are my family.” Groaning, he ran his hands through his hair, “Okay, I’ll start at the beginning, like all good stories. I know that I’m an enigma-,”

“Truly,” Zayn drawled.

Niall ignored him and continued, “But I’m actually from Mandalore.” Zayn and Liam did brilliantly synchronised fake gasps making Harry and Louis giggle. Niall shot them a glare, “As I was saying, I’m from Mandalore but I was forced out after the death of my parents. I was about seven when they were killed in front of me by the Vigo known as Deel Sett.”

And there it was. The sixth Vigo had come into play in Louis’s life. Running his hands through his hair, Louis tossed them around in his head. Leyll, Edward, Rotta, Loya, Banish and now Deel. Three left unaccounted for.

“Deel is a true monster. He’s taken over Mandalore with his war droids and anyone who dares to oppose him is killed, including my parents. He controls Mandalore as a tyrannical overlord. Everyone has their place and it’s below him and the droids. Humans and humanoids are scum to him. I’ve seen true horror and it’s at the hands of this narcissistic piece of trash,” Niall finished with a snarl, his hands curling into tight fists like he was ready to start punching a tree. Seeing the strong reaction causes Louis’s steps to falter and he was worried he would have to step in and stop Niall from taking his anger out. Thankfully, Niall didn’t and instead unclenched his hands before tightening them again in a way to relieve his frustration.

Before Louis could stop himself he blurted, “We can’t let him get away with this!”

Niall snorted, “He’s gotten away with this for the past fifteen years. There’s nothing you could do to stop him.”

Louis raised an eyebrow, “Aren’t I the mystic holocron? Keeper of the Balance? Isn’t it my job to make him pay?”

Harry frowned, “It’s not your job to do anything, Louis. You didn’t choose to be the Keeper of the Balance.” His voice was concerned and soft but with an edge to it. Louis had no doubt Harry would fight anyone on his behalf when it came to his role in the war. (War? Was it considered a war at this point?) Louis bet if he told Harry he didn’t want to be a part of it that the man would whisk him away and protect him from anyone who wished to involve him.

“I know I don’t have to do anything,” Louis agreed. “But Niall is my friend. And friends help each other, don’t they? I’ve never had them before but I am pretty sure that’s how it works, Harold!” Louis was ninety-nine percent sure Harry’s name wasn't actually Harold (Edward had called him something else, hadn’t he?) but it had slipped out between his lips before he could stop it. Oh well.

“My name’s not Harold,” Harry pointed out, raising an eyebrow.

“Oh, I know that Harold!” Louis huffed. “That’s not the point though! Niall is my friend and I want to help him, no matter what my role is.” He turned to look at the particular man, who was gazing at him in awe.

“Lou…” Niall whispered, “You’re my best friend.” He launched himself at the shorter man, snaking his arms around his neck and crushing their chests together. Smiling, Louis wove his arms around Niall’s body, sighing against him. Having Niall admit to their friendship was everything and Louis felt like his body was as light as a feather and he could just float up into the air.

No one paying attention to the rustle of the leaves behind them and no one saw the ray of sun streaming down, glinting off of mechanical eyes that were watching them. Just as Niall and Louis pulled away from each other, the droid stepped back, retreating to go inform its master of its discovery.

Chapter Text

Chapter 30
Love Without Your Heart Beat

For a little landing pod, this is pretty cute, Louis thought to himself, smiling as he walked up the steep ramp into the enclosed ship. It was round at the front where the cockpit was with a longer, flatter back end. There were five seats with buckles, excluding the two seats in the pit and had a bed area with two bunks and a small kitchenette.

“Pretty fancy, aye?” Niall asked, beaming, “Made her myself I did!” He patted his chest, “I call her, Immram!”

Louis grinned at his friend, “She’s beautiful. Never seen anything like her,” he admitted, running his hand along the closest wall.

“Course you haven’t!” Niall declared proudly, walking further into the small ship. “She has a fully stocked fridge, completely functional appliances and comfy beds. Sleeps four at a time.” He gave Louis and Harry a look, “But two can fit in a bed if they cuddle up nice and close.” Harry grinned, winking at Louis who felt his cheeks heat up. He studiously looked away from Harry’s coy, dimpled smile.

“Carrying on, I equipped her with hyperdrive, deflector shields and life-support systems. Primary armament is a pair of L-s1 laser cannons, coupled with a powerful sensor suite. It doesn’t have missile tubes, but they could be added if necessary,” Niall rambled, his grin stretched ear to ear. Louis was happy to see him like this, especially after being told about his parents. Louis wondered if Harry felt the same way he did, felt the need to help give justice to Niall for his parents. If he could Louis would give justice to his own parents… He reminded himself of what Harry told him, how he saw his own clone beat his father to death… Edward… Louis sighed, forcing himself to keep smiling despite the look of concern creasing Harry’s brow.

Louis, eager to get the attention away from his thoughts, walked up to Niall, “How long have you been working on this?”

Waving a hand like it was no big deal, Niall answered rather bashfully, “Well, it’s been my pet project for a few years now. A few bugs could be-,” His voice dropped off and Louis was about to ask him what was wrong when he felt it. The ground was quaking.

“What’s happening?” Liam asked from where he had been standing by the cockpit with Zayn. “Mandalore isn’t known for having ground tremors.”

Frowning, Harry walked over to the open ramp, ducking down to begin to descend it. He froze halfway. “Harry?” Louis called, walking after him despite Niall’s bumbling protests. Sliding down the ramp to stand next to the other man, Louis understood exactly what made him freeze.

There were dozens and dozens of droids surrounding the ship. All of them were shiny silver, reflecting the sun off of them and all of them were carrying a gun about the size of Harry’s bicep, which was truly saying something. What drew Louis’s eye though was the man standing in the centre, moving slowly to approach them as the droids shifted out of the way for him.

Lithe in build, he had near human features with sky blue skin and white feathers styled for hair. He was wearing white and grey robes, a long white cape held on by a silver neck piece flowing behind him. His arms all the way down to his fingertips were wrapped in a white silky textile but his boots were more practical, with a heavy tread and with straps keeping them tight to his leg.

There was something about his face, the way his indigo eyes were, that made Louis immediately uncomfortable. He felt the need to place some sort of shield in front of himself to hide from the man’s scope like eyes.

“What I heard was truth,” the man announced. His voice sounded like the grinding of metal, deep and course, clashing greatly with his delicate, birdlike facial features. “The holocron has graced my planet with its presence.”

Before Louis could stop himself he snapped, “This isn't your planet! This planet belongs to the Mandalorians!”

A thin, downy eyebrow was raised on the man, “Your insolence shall be your undoing, Holocron.” He waved a finger to the droid beside him and it raised its gun and fired.

The red laser shot forward and for a moment, there was no doubt in Louis’s mind he was doing to die. However, about a foot away from him the blaze stopped, floating frozen in the air. The blue skinned man looked as intrigued as Louis felt surprised. Feeling an instinctual response, Louis waved his hand and the laser turned around, facing the droid. The droid, incapable of fear, simply stood and Louis almost felt bad for jerking his hand forward, sending the laser straight into the droids eye. It burst against the metal and the head flew back, cracking right off and rolling to the ground.

Sticking his foot out, the blue skinned man stopped it from rolling and inspected the damage. “You cut off its main circuit. Impressive. Most would assume I keep it in the chest, where the human heart would be. However, I picked the brain, far easier to work maintenance on and allows me to change protocol with a simple flip of a switch. Just how it should be.” He bent down and picked the head up, and with adept hands, he flipped open a back panel and shoved his fingers inside. There was a hiss and a click and the mouth began to flap. Another switch clicked and the mouth stopped and the other eye lit up again with an artificial light. He handed it to the decapitated droid who placed it on his neck and hooked it back on with adept fingers.

“Deel Sett,” Niall muttered, stepping out from behind Louis.

Something shone in the man’s eye. “How intriguing.” He mused, “What a pleasure it is to see you once again, Prince Niall. How are the King and Queen doing?” He chuckled, “Oh, right. I killed them. How droll.”

 

“Eadh’hard, please reconsider,” Marceau’Llus muttered, following after his brother to his room. His brother’s steps were longer and harsher, the boots thumping against the floors like an angry animal. An angry predator.

“No, Marceau’Llus. He is better off with Harric. I was a fool.” Stopping at a door, Eadh’hard turned and pressed his flat palm against the small, side console. The small screen then scanned his hand and the door opened into his bedroom. Sliding in, Marceau’Llus followed after him, standing just in front of the door as it slid shut.

Stopping near his desk, Eadh’hard slid his cape of his shoulders and threw it over the back of his desk chair, sighing as he went. Marceau’Llus watched him with keen, worried eyes. “You are not a fool, brother. You have always followed your heart when it came to choices. Do not stop now. Not with him, please brother.” He swallowed loudly, “Please, not with him,” his voice softened as he begged.

Eadh’hard began to pull at the sash around his waist that came up over his shoulders until it unravelled, leaving him in the black tunic underneath that was loose and open on his chest. He unbuckled his belt and threw it on top of his cloak, running his hands through his curls, his brother’s words hanging heavily in the air like a thick fog.

“Eadh’hard, listen to me please,” Marceau’Llus begged again, stepping forward. Eadh’hard didn’t respond initially, instead, untying his robe and letting it drop off his shoulders and letting it pool to the ground.

“I am, brother. I’m hearing every word you’re saying and it’s not making my decision any easier. It was selfish of us to keep him with us. And it was for selfish reasons we were keeping him.” Eadh’hard turned towards him, approaching him slowly with a slumped expression, looking almost ashamed.

“You obviously haven’t gotten over this if you’ve sent spies to check on him.” Marceau’Llus pointed out, crossing his arms.

Eadh’hard sighed, “No I am not. He… Bewitched me…” Marceau’Llus smiled at that. “I haven't received the report yet on his coordinates,” he sounded almost apologetic.

“I know. Because I intercepted it.”

Raising a brow, Eadh’hard inspected his brother as if seeing him from a new light, “And?”

“And he’s been taken to Mandalore, you idiot!” Marcellus shoved a gloved fist forward to hit Eadh’hard in the chest but his brother caught it in time, tugging the glove off so he could clasp his bare hand between his.

A sigh: “Brother, I have no doubt our beloved is fine. You worry too much. Your heart is much too pure.” He pressed a kiss to the back of Marceau’Llu’s knuckles. “You were always the better half of me.”

Trying to tug his hand away, Marceau’Llus’s face burned, “And now Louis is. And he’s in the territory of Deel. Are you really going to let him wander around Mandalore without protection?” Marceau’Llus could only think of every horrible scenario that would happen to his little blue bird in the hands of a monster like Deel Sett and his brother’s cavalier attitude was starting to upset him. While he had vowed to protect his brother at the cost of his own life, he wouldn’t mind laying the boots to him sometimes either.

Grazing his lips against Marcellus’s knuckles one last time, Eadh’hard released his fist before he placed his hands on either side of his brother’s face, drawing him closer. Hooking his thumbs on the hem of Marceau’Llus’s mask, he dragged it down to reveal his brother’s mouth, raw and red from being worried with his teeth, “Will it bring you comfort to go after him? Is that what your heart desires?”

Marceau’Llus sighed, “I wouldn’t force you to do anything Ed, you know this.”

Smiling, Eadh’hard whispered, “My heart only desires to make you happy. We will find him once again, brother.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 31
Lady Stardust Sang His Songs

Knowing your friend’s parents had been killed by a psychotic, hatred fuelled, megalomaniac, droid making monster with a god-complex was one thing. Finding out he was actually the prince of an entire planet was another. Partly betrayed and partly impressed, it seemed to take Louis more time to compute what Deel had just said than it should have. Harry had handled the information quite regally; his eyes opening wide for a fraction before his lips curled into a hateful sneer. Louis himself felt his mouth fall open and his eyes bulge as he looked between Niall and Deel, completely stunned. It wasn’t like Niall was the most obvious choice for a secret prince.

Niall must have seen his expression -a mixture of shock and something akin to betrayal- and he flinched like he was physically hit. Deel noticed Niall’s reaction and something that must have been a grin spread across his face. It was horrible and twisted and so utterly insincere and it made Louis’s skin crawl.

Louis’s mind flipped Deel’s words around and he couldn’t stop thinking that this man, whatever he was, had killed Niall’s -cheery and helpful and bloody kind Niall- parents. Rage bubbled in his stomach like a burning acid and Louis wondered if he was capable of killing. He felt like it, quite suddenly. He felt like he could lunge forward and dig in fingernails into Deel’s eyes and rip them out, clawing at the man’s throat and making him bleed. For a moment the desire was so strong Louis had scared himself. It hadn’t felt like him. It felt like something else. Something churning and powerful, laying dormant inside of him. Something out of his control. (And really, hasn't everything been out of his control as of late?)

Deel inspected Louis, a morbid look of curiosity glinting in his eyes like Louis was a particularly interesting species of insect. “Are you scared of me, Holocron?” He asked, his voice deadpan.

Louis snorted, his eyes nearly rolling back in his head, “Afraid of you?” Louis hissed back, a searing, barely controlled anger was running just below his skin, like a pulsing, writhing fire. He could feel his veins pumping and his throat had dried up as his lips curled into a ferocious snarl. “Afraid of you!?” He cried out and Louis could see Harry’s face twist into worry beside him but it was too late for him to calm down. His heart was thumping like a wild animal in a cage and his forehead was burning, burning, burning. “You’ve destroyed homes and lives and are running people into the ground with fear! I can see the real you!” Light began to pour from the veins running along his skin, making it look like there was a light inside of him, trying to burst through the cracks. Harry took a shaky step back from him, eyes wide as saucers. “You’re a wreck. You’re barely alive! That’s where all this power got you. You hide behind these hideous creations, unable to stand by yourself. You’re ugly, you’re foul!”

Louis’s cry was so full of rage there was a moment of uncertainty in Deel’s face before he forced his mouth into another awful smile. “You see nothing that you don’t want to see, Holocron. I see now - you are truly nothing special after all. I wondered, you see. I had wondered why my fellow vigos had been so obsessed with you. Do not worry, I will destroy you and end their fascination.” He flicked his wrist and all the droids lifted their guns.

It had startled Louis for a moment, realising that Deel wanted to completely destroy him, not even take the holocron from his skin but the next instinct that overcame him was a surge of protectiveness. They would all be killed just for the sake of him. His new friends. His new family. His boys. It wasn’t rage that bubbled and coursed through his veins then. It was something very different and something, Louis realised, that was immensely strong, stronger than any fear he had ever felt. It was love. He loved these boys and he knew right in that moment he would have laid down his life for them.

The gem was still glowing, the light brighter and spreading further than ever before and, like an animal following its instincts, Louis jumped forward. The power in his legs propelled him straight at Deel and the man’s eyes widened for a fraction before a dried jumped in front of him. It didn’t hinder Louis at all. With a mere look from Louis’s luminous eyes, it’s head twisted around several times before circuits began to burst and it crumbled to the ground like a broken marionette. There wasn’t enough time for another to jump forward before he reached Deel.

Louis threw an arm forward, catching Deel’s raised arm. His fingers began to burn straight through the flesh and a strangled noise escaped the vigo as he struggled to free himself from Louis’s grip. “Kill them!” He snarled, trying to shake Louis off him.

Immediately, there was commotion behind Louis and he heard Niall swearing and something burst, like a small explosion before the air around him tingled. Harry had drawn a sabre from his waist, identical to Marcellus and Eadh’hard’s. Instead of the red blades they had, his was vivid blue, like the ocean. It was sizzling the air and cut through the droids like toys. The blade even blocked the lasers from their blasters and Harry was able to ricochet them back at other advancing droids.

The skin under Louis’s hands burned and crumbled and Deel’s other hand came forward, about to grab at Louis’s face. He dropped Deel’s arm, standing flat on the ground and allowing the stone to push away from him. Deel made an odd noise, not human or animal and Louis could see something akin to uncertainty flicker in his eyes. He grabbed at his burned arm, bewildered as he peered at it.

Louis didn’t understand for a moment what was wrong and why Deel wasn’t reacting to him before he saw it. It may have been flesh he had burned off Deel, with blood oozing and torn sinew but it wasn’t bone beneath it all. (A blaster laser shot through the air at Louis and holocron repulsed it, sending it flying back into the fray of droids.) Beneath Deel’s skin, beneath the muscle, was a metal bone.

“You’re… You’re a droid,” Louis gasped, looking down at his blood covered hand, perturbed.

“No…” Deel whispered, “No, I am superior. I am insurmountable and predominate compared. I create and take life. I am a god.” His body was trembling and despite the hatred that had consumed Louis, a compassion erupted at the sight of the shaking man. Shaking droid?

“You’re nothing but a droid, Deel.” Louis murmured, sympathy bleeding through his words and Deel’s eyes flashed up, his nostrils flaring in a barely constrained fury.

“NO!” He roared, spit flying from his words, “I AM A GOD!” He threw himself at Louis and his weight smacked into him. Louis’s back smashed into the earth and they grappled with each other and the fleeting thought that he wasn’t being very dignified for a god passed in Louis’s head as he threw Deel’s weight off of him.

Deel rolled over onto his knees and leapt back on him, his knee landing painfully in Louis’s rib. His heavy hand came crashing down into Louis’s throat and the force startled him. A beginning of bruise began to heat against his Adam's apple and his tongue writhed inside his mouth. He felt like he could puke against the force of the hand on his throat. It was a feeling, unlike anything Louis had felt before. He kept trying to scream but nothing was happening. It was like Deel had destroyed his voice. Blood kept trying to push it’s way up to the brain but the hold against his throat wasn’t allowing it. Louis’s head felt like it was in a big bubble and the holocron kept flickering like a broken light, blazing blue in Louis’s eyes. Complete and utter panic was overtaking Louis’s body and his heart trembled in the confines of his chest. His fingers caught the torn skin of Deel’s arm and he tugged at it, unable to flinch was Deel hissed with fury, spit flying from his mouth.

“You are fortunate, Holocron. The last thing you’ll see is God himself, looking down on you.”

Louis was absolutely sure he was about to pass out. He couldn’t fight the overwhelming confusion that had consumed him, the erratic beating of his heart but the dimming of his mind. The pain that had engulfed him was so intense and scorching, there was no doubt in his mind that he was going to die soon.

And then the pressure on his neck stopped just as black spots began to swarm his vision. Louis shuddered, coughing and spluttering, turning his head so he could dry heave and sob, salty water dripping down his face, snot running over his top lip. He looked back up at Deel, confused on why he stopped before something wet dropped onto his face.

Blood.

Blood was dripping out over Deel’s bottom lip, his eyes wide and frozen staring down at him, almost unseeing in a look Louis thought might have been true terror. Protruding from Deel’s stomach was a dagger, silver, long and thin and unlike Louis had ever seen before. It was beautiful and intricately, made with obvious care and devotion. And it was dripping hot blood all over Louis’s stomach. The horrid stench of the metallic liquid made Louis dry heave again and he tried to squirm out from beneath the vigo’s statuesque body.

“That’s for my parents,” Niall declared from above, a wound on his upper bicep bleeding fresh and his hair a sweaty mess falling over his forehead. Holding the hilt, he twisted and Deel made a choked sound, more blood bubbling out from his lips and dripping onto Louis’s face. “And that’s for trying to kill my best friend.” He ripped the dagger out before he plunged it down again, straight through Deel’s throat. Deel choked, more blood spurted out on Louis and he gagged again, flinching away from the excess spray splattering his face. “I hope you burn.” Niall ripped the dagger out again and used his boot to shove him off Louis. Deel’s body twisted, twitching several times, blood still spraying from his wounds before it went stock still. As soon as that happened, every other droid that was left froze up, before powering down, dead.

“Louis!” Harry rushed over, gathering Louis in his arms and trying to rub away the blood on his face. It smudged and stained Harry’s hands but the man didn’t seem to care, tears gathering in the corners of his forest green eyes.

Louis held his throat gingerly, afraid that if he let go it would crumble like a broken toy. He had never felt so delicate before and he wanted to scream but his throat was in so much pain he could only manage a choked sob, tears leaking down his face and running moist trails through the drying blood.

Liam and Zayn approached them. Liam looked scruffy for once, his clothes wrinkled and tattered, bleeding just beneath his eyes and a bruise blooming across his right cheekbone. Zayn looked similar, hair more out of sorts than Louis had ever seen and had a scrape on his chin that was oozing red.

Dropping to his knees, Liam pulled the handheld scanner from his belt and ran it around Louis’s head, his brows furrowed in concern. “Strangulation…” He muttered, “Consequences include difficulty breathing, raspy, hoarse or loss of voice, coughing, difficulty swallowing, drooling, nausea, vomiting, changes in behaviour, hallucinations, headaches, dizziness, urination or defecation, miscarriage, swollen tongue or lips.” He began to inspect Louis’s face, pulled Louis’s eyes open wide, peered into his ears, checked his mouth and chin and then his scalp. He inspected Louis’s throat, which hard turned a nasty dark purple. He moved down to Louis’s chest and shoulders, pulling away his shirt checking the skin. “No signs of external abrasions other than on the throat. Shows signs of bruising under the eyes and red sclera. Petechiae on the chest.”

“What’s on his chest?” Harry asked, looking alarmed.

“Petechiae are the pinpoint red spots on his skin,” Liam explained, pulling back the collar of Louis’s shirt. These may persist for a few days and I’ll need to check on them for changes. The indicate the scope of internal damage produced from the assault.” He gave Louis a comforting smile, “Alright bud, you’re okay but I want you on vocal rest so no talking and I want you on a liquid diet to sooth your throat. I need you to tell me if you have trouble breathing or if you’re dizzy or nauseous or having involuntary urination or defecation. Okay, bud?”

Louis nodded but flinched when his throat flared in pain and he hissed.

“Let’s get back to the ship, lads,” Zayn instructed, looking around at the graveyard of broken droids. “I’m sending a call to my father.” He watched Harry list Louis delicately to his feet and the group made their way to the ship, smoking from the damage several droids had made to it.

Niall sighed and cracked his knuckles. “I’ll check out to see what they did.” He moved away from the opening of the door and went around the back. Louis could hear him popping a panel and swearing and he managed a smile.

Everyone was alive and relatively okay and that was the most important thing to Louis. Nothing else came close. He let Harry hobble him over to the beds and he rolled onto the bottom bunk, groaning. The sound didn’t quite leave his chest and Harry gazed worriedly at him. “I’ll get you some water,” he muttered, disappearing for only a moment before he returned with a bottle. He twisted off the cap and gave it to Louis who sat up and brought it to his lips. He tried to gulp it but it burned and he sputtered, the water spraying out and running down his chin. Grunting at Harry’s expression, he waved Harry off when he tried to grab the bottle and tried for a sip. He managed to swallow, despite the pain. He managed a couple more swallows before he realised he was starting to sweat from the concentration of it and gave the bottle back. An exhaustion that was nearly indescribable was settling deep in his bones, his head feeling too big for his body and his limbs feeling oddly weak.

“Go to sleep, Lou,” Harry whispered, bringing up a finger to brush away a strand of hair from Louis’s forehead, “I’ll be here. I’ll protect you, okay? You can finally rest, you brave, brave boy.” He pressed a kiss on Louis’s forehead and Louis sank back into his pillows, physically uncomfortable but, at long last, at peace.

Chapter Text

Chapter 32
Just Like That Bluebird

When Louis awoke, he was being cradled in Harry’s arms, laying between his long tree-trunk like legs and laying against the hard panels of his chest. He was like a big blanket, curled around him protectively. Rubbing the sleep away from his eyes, Louis tried to suppress a yawn, his throat still immensely sore. In fact, his entire face felt sore and he couldn’t get rid of the smell of blood which had burned into his nose. His face felt dry and he reached up and felt around, realizing someone had tried to clean away most of the blood.

“Lou?” Came Harry’s sleep thick voice and Louis tried to twist to look up at him but froze when he realized he was too sore for that so he just sunk back into Harry’s chest. Harry made a rumbling sound like a pleased cat, the sound coming from deep in his chest causing Louis to smile. “How do you feel?”

Like not talking, Louis thought, sighing and closing his eyes.

As if he could tell what he was thinking, Harry ran a hand through Louis’s hair, “I’m sorry, evening star. I’ll take good care of you until you’re ready to speak again.” Louis smiled and began to doze off again, safe and content in Harry’s arms.

Awaking again sometime later, Louis noticed he was in a different room but still laying on a bed. Harry wasn’t curled around him and Louis felt like letting out an angry yowl in protest. His throat was too sore to do that, unfortunately. Kicking the blanket off his legs, Louis turned and inspected the room. It was much like the room on the Rigel. White and clinical and not as big as the one he had on Edward’s ship.

Stumbling onto his feet, Louis inspected the room, running his fingers along the top of the desk and spinning the chair absently. He didn’t have much time to kill before the door slid open and Liam came through, holding a tray with a large cup of something blended that had Louis freezing in place. Falling through the door behind him was Niall, Harry, and Zayn, all three of them looking relieved to see him.

“Hey Lou,” Liam chirped, “Sit down and try this. It’s filled with berries and several other fruits and some nutrition powders to help with your throat.” He explained, handing the cup to Louis as he sat down on the edge of the bed, Niall joining him immediately. He sipped it, meeting Harry’s eyes over the brim of his cup and feeling his face heat up. Much to Louis’s delight, the drink felt amazing on his throat and Liam beamed when he saw Louis began to drink greedily from the cup. Halfway down the cup, Louis nudged Niall and pointed around the room.

With an easy grin, Niall seemed to know exactly what he wanted to ask, “Orionis, the hub of the Blades of Orion, piloted by Zayn’s father. This is where it all happens, my friend.”

Louis quirked a brow, wondering what really happened on the ship. One thing he had learned from living with Edward and Marcellus was that there was more to the ship than what appeared at face value. He was sure there were some sordid secrets lurking around the Orionis, just like on the Urania Imperial.

“Lou,” Liam interrupted his thoughts, “I’m concerned with your recovery so I would like to recommend submerging you in the bacta tank.” He pulled out his scanner and had it hover just above Louis’s face. Louis knew why though. His entire face felt sore and bloated and it had a dull, throbbing feel just beneath his eyes. He suspected there was some serious bruising happening and definitely had no desire to inspect his face in the mirror. He could just imagine what he would see.

Giving Niall a pointed look, Louis raised his eyebrows in silent question and Niall immediately launched into an answer. “Bacta is a fluid that can accelerate healing and treat major injuries. It’s a gelatinous substance with insane healing qualities. It can help the body regrow tissue, including nerves, skin, and muscles.” He glanced at Liam who grinned and nodded, pleased with the description.

“It can also be used to aid in the healing of concussions, internal organs, and broken ribs. It can also be placed in small dishes to help regrow fingernails, mend cuts, burns, and other injuries.” Liam added, inspecting Louis’s chest which was still covered in red pinprick marks.

Louis thought about it. His face, throat and even chest were in such a constant state of pain that ‘submerging’ himself in the bacta had to do more good than harm. And Liam and Niall seemed confident in it and Louis had no doubt in his mind that if they weren’t sure about it, they wouldn’t recommend it.

“Okay,” he managed to rasp, his throat flaring up like he had poured acid down it and he immediately regretting trying to speak. Yes, he would do the bacta tank and hope to the Gods that it would heal his searing throat. He would try just about anything to get rid of the consistent, throbbing pain.

After Louis finished his chilled drink, Liam and the other boys led him out of the room and down through weaving corridors. There were men and women hanging out, wearing casual clothing, so very, unlike the Urania Destroyer. Finally, they stopped at a set of double doors that led into large lab and Louis was taken aback by how much it looked like the room Kalani was set up in, complete with a big tank filled liquid, just like Kalani’s.

“Alright Lou, I just need to hook you up to some vitals. Strip down to your underwear so I can hook it all up.” Louis froze for a moment, looking around at the big eyes of Zayn, Niall, and Harry. Their faces were bright red and they all shuffled, looking embarrassed.

Niall was grinning though and chirped, “I’ll help you undress, Lou!” He laughed, his cheek a pleasant pink and Harry made a growling noise in the back of his throat.

“Niall, I think Louis can undress him self,” Zayn deadpanned, grabbing Harry and Niall and forcing them to turn their backs on Louis. Niall whined, his shoulders slumping.

Liam laughed, “He’ll be submerged in the tank in his underwear so we’ll all end up seeing him anyways but the concept of some privacy is nice, though unnecessary,” he told them as Louis pulled his shirt off and bent down to undo his boots, kicking them off. He undid the button and zipper on his pants and wiggled out of them, struggling a bit to get them off over his hips. He managed a grunt at Liam, speaking his arms out to show he was undressed. His skin was covered in tiny pin picks of red and bruised seemed to have blossomed over the entirety of his body and Louis could see the look of concern pass over Liam’s face.

Despite this, Liam began to grab items off a table next to the tank and brought them over to Louis, eager to get the boy submerged and healing. The first piece was a thick, white belt, done up over his hips. The piece after was a harness that hooked over his shoulders, under his armpits with a trap clasping over his chest. It was attached to a pulley that would lower and raise him from the tank. The last piece was what appeared to be a gas mask, hooking over his ears and attached to a long black tube. Liam slipped the mask on, the sound of Louis’s raspy breathing amplified through the filter.

“One last step, Lou,” Liam murmured, picking a small bottle and a needle up. He inserted the needle into the top of the bottle and turned it, pulling the plunger of the syringe so that it was filled with a clear liquid. Louis made a soft noise of question through the mask and Liam gave him a reassuring smile. “It’s just a mild sedative so you don’t freak, okay?” Louis gave him a shaky thumbs up. Plucking the needle from the bottle, Liam grabbed an alcohol swab and cleaned the joint of Louis’s elbow. “Just a prick, okay?” Before Louis could even try to nod, Liam pushed the needle in. It pricked and Louis flinched but within a second Liam was pulling the needle away.

Setting the needle back onto the table Liam whipped his hands on another alcohol swab. “Okay now stand right here,” Liam instructed, ushering Louis to stand beside the tank. He then walked over to a console and began to tap his fingers on the screen. Almost immediately the pulley lifted Louis, who felt small and vulnerable as his feet were pulled from the floor. He was raised about seven feet into the air before he was slowly lowered into the tank.

Toes submerging first, Louis realized that the bacta was thick like jelly and he hissed into the mask as it seeped between his toes and over his foot as he was lowered. It was like being swallowed alive, the warm gelatine sucking him in faster than the pulley was dropping him. Whatever Liam had given him though seemed to be working because Louis couldn’t even manage to feel panicked; just sleepy. Sleep seemed just out of reach though as his body dropped the rest of the way into the bacta, unit his head was the only thing left. Louis tried to take a deep breath but the mask stopped him and there was a message going through his brain that he was going to drown but he couldn’t muster enough energy to be even the slightest bit scared. Eventually, his head slid into the gelatine and he was fully submerged. Through the glass he saw the sight of his boys, their eyes big and worried gazing at him. Louis managed to wonder if this was how Kalani felt before he drifted off, not quite unconscious but not quite awake.

 

Cold air rushing his body caused Louis’s eyes to fly open. He was being pulled out of the bacta tank, feeling fully rested and lighter than ever. The pulley dropped him gently onto the ground but he couldn’t hold himself up but luckily, he didn’t need too. Harry came rushing over, grabbing onto his slick, warm body and holding him against his side. “Liam!” Harry snapped, looking concerned but the doctor merely smiled.

“Don’t worry Harry, everything went perfect, just as I expected. He’s a bit weak from the sedative I gave him and from behind submerged but he should be good and back to normal in a few hours.”

“All his bruises are gone,” Zayn assessed, peering at Louis with critical eyes.

Liam chuckled, “Of course, it healed all the damage on his body. He’s like a newborn pup now.” He began to unhook Louis, pulling the belt off him and detaching him from the pulley, allowing him to rest all his weight onto Harry. Pulling a towel out from underneath the table, Liam gave it to Harry and helped him maneuver the limp Louis so they could wipe him clean of the slick remnants of the tank. Then Liam pulled out a big white gown, with a box cut body and tee-shirt sleeves. “Here you are, bud.” He helped Harry pull it over Louis’s body, the hem ending just under his knees and the fabric catching on his hips but bagging around his chest oddly.

“Attractive,” Louis deadpanned, beaming when he realized his voice was back to normal and not an inch of him was sore.

“Don’t worry, bud. You make everything look cute!” Niall reassured, giving him a thumbs up, causing Louis to blush and laugh, embarrassed but pleased. Niall tossed a wink at Harry who rolled his eyes, a reluctant grin curling at the corner of his lips.

“Now that I’m all healed, I’m gonna need some food, pronto,” Louis announced, grabbing at his soft stomach. “Some solid food, please.”

“That,” Zayn declared, “We can do.”

Lead through the corridors again, Louis relied on the solid presence of Harry beside him, leaning when he felt too weak to walk straight. He was lead into a large, rectangular cafeteria, tables and chairs set in rows down the length of the room. Louis dropped into the nearest chair, groaning in relief. He felt too light like everything was too fast and he was smaller than he was before. It was like the bacta had peeled away everything bad from his skin and left him the size of an infant. It was the oddest feeling he had experienced and he hoped it passed soon.

It didn’t take Niall long to bring back a plate of something for Louis to consume. It was on a long saucer, nearly the size of his forearm. It looked like some sort of pastry, a flat piece of hat seemed to be bread, flattened and wrapped around a variety of meat and vegetables, sauce oozing from the edges. Louis didn’t even hesitate, trying to shove as much into his mouth as possible. It was gooey and crunchy, sauce running into his mouth and there was enough spice it made his nose sniffly. It was perfect and he was super freaking hungry. He felt like the bacta tank had emptied him completely and he was running on nothing, not even dregs of the last meal he had had.

Louis had just finished the wrap when the cafeteria doors burst open. Everyone jumped and whirled around to look, other than Louis who was licking the remains of the sauce of his fingers, still too out of sorts to muster enough care to check what was happening. (He was now content with a warm, full belly, no burning injuries and his friends around him, safe.)

“Zayn, my boy!” A deep voice greeted. Louis deemed it a kind voice, belonging to an older man. Reluctantly, he turned to peer over his shoulder. The man looked like an older version of Zayn, with short, dark, hair with was sticking up and a nicely groomed beard on his chin. He was shorter than Zayn but not by much, and much stockier, less lithe. He had dark twinkling eyes, deep laugh lines around his mouth and crinkles at the corner of his eyes. “I’m happy to see you’ve got your friend all sorted out! I’ve been wanting to speak to you for a while, Louis.”

But Louis was too distracted to answer. Zayn’s father, Yaser, had walked in with another man. He had dark skin, a crooked nose, and long inky black hair brushed away from his face. There was an old scar that started from the temple and made its way down to the throat. There was a noticeably newer scare that started at the left ear, crossed the old scar, and ended above his nose at the tip of his eyebrow. While Louis’s didn’t recognize the face, there was something else for him to recognize. A metal arm.

The image was so jarring Louis could suddenly vividly remember the smell of burning flesh and the sight of the severed arm rolling uselessly to the ground.

Of course, Mercurius. Yaser’s right-hand man and the same man who tried to have Edward kill Zayn and his father. The same man who claimed he had met the holocron before and lied to Edward’s face, resulting in a savage cut to the face and a chopped off arm. Which he deserved, in Louis’s opinion.

Bolting out of his chair, still to light and awkward for it to be elegant, Louis blurted, “I’m going to be sick,” before he rushed out past Yaser and Mercurius and out the cafeteria doors. Harry was hot on his heels and managed to catch up out in the corridor, yanking on Louis’s arm and bringing him in close.

“Lou, what’s wrong?”

“I’m going to be sick,” Louis answered, more faintly this time, sweat running down the back of his neck.

Harry grabbed both sides of Louis’s face, gently, inspecting his complexion before brushing his hand against Louis’s forehead. “You feel hot, love. What happened? You were just fine.” Harry’s eyes were so wide and worried that Louis struggled within himself, debating whether he should tell him.

Realizing Harry probably wouldn’t let it go, Louis ink against the wall, glancing back and forth along the corridor to make sure they were properly alone. “It’s the man. The man who was with Zayn’s father. I’ve met him before.”

Harry’s eyebrows furrowed, “Where?”

Louis launched into the story of meeting him on Nar Shaddaa and how he had disguised himself and told Edward he wanted Yaser and Zayn killed. He told Harry about how Edward had reacted badly to him lying and he cut open his face and chopped off his arm. By the end of it, his heart was thumping and the weight was returning to his body. He was starting to feel grounded again.

“We need to tell Zayn,” Harry declared once Louis had finished.

Louis gasped, “No way! Mercurius can’t know I know!”

“It won’t matter, Lou. They’ll have him executed for treason.”

“But what if he escapes?”

“Then we’ll defeat him, just like we did with Deel and his war droids.” Harry flinched, recalling that Louis had nearly died in that fight.

“Defeat who?”

Both Louis and Harry jumped, pushing away from each other in surprise. Louis hadn’t realized they had practically wrapped around each other as he had been talking.

Thankfully, it had only been Niall and Louis immediately shook his head, trying to end the conversation. Harry sighed and decided to not listen to Louis, much to his chagrin, “Louis, hiding it won’t solve anything,” he berated. “Niall, get Zayn and Liam, we have something important to tell you all.” Louis sighed but, reluctantly, nodded.

Chapter Text

Chapter 33
The Stars Are Out Tonight

“No, Niall, we can’t throw him off a cliff.”

“I don’t know, that seems like a valid plan to me,” Zayn shrugged, “Backstabbing bastard wants me and my old man dead and was willing to seek out a vigo for help. I’d say that pushing him off a cliff would be a nicer punishment than what he deserves.” Liam looked like he wanted to protest but Zayn raised his eyebrows at him.

Liam sighed, “You’re right. Him trying to have you and Captain Yaser killed is inexcusable but I don’t think is something we should handle ourselves. He is the Captain’s right-hand man, so he should be made aware and be able to carry out the punishment as he deems fit.”

Zayn huffed, “I was one of the targets too, Liam. Shouldn’t I get a say?”

“Your father is still the captain, Zayn,” Liam berated, frowning deeply.

“And he trusts Mercurius. If we quietly got rid of him, he’ll be none the wiser,” Niall pointed out, crossing his arms across his chest. “Maybe Louis should ask Eadh’hard to kill him. I’m sure he would when asked by that cute little face.”

Louis puffed his cheek out, face flushing at Niall’s statement. Niall beamed, “That’s the money maker I’m talking about.” He winked at Louis and Louis burst out laughing.

“Okay how about this,” Zayn said, rubbing at his chin, “All those who say we should tell Yaser, raise your hand.” Liam and Harry raised their hands. “All those who want to shove him off a cliff?” Zayn raised his own hand alongside Niall. The five boys exchanged glances then they all turned and looked at Louis, who blinked back innocently.

“Louis, you gotta vote,” Niall pointed out, frowning.

Louis groaned, “I just do not know though. There are positives and negatives to both.” He hesitated before, “I don’t want the responsibility,” he admitted. Harry’s face softened and he gave the rest of the boys' a guarded look as if daring them to push Louis further on the matter. Louis thought, amused, that Harry looked ready to pounce.

Zayn sighed, shaking out his hair, “How about this; we don’t say anything and wait to see if Mercurius fucks up. Then we take him out, no hesitation. I’ll tell my father it was on my orders and explain to him everything that Louis saw. Agreed?” Everyone nodded and that was that.

 


Louis spent the rest of the day exploring the ship with Niall and Harry. Apparently, Harry hadn’t been given the full tour of the ship, the boys too preoccupied with caring for him while he had been in bed and in the bacta tank for close to twenty-four hours. Louis personally though the ship was rather boring. There was no map room like on the Urania nor was there any trees to relax under or waters to wade through. The more of the ship Niall showed him and Harry, the more of the outdoors Louis missed. Having that reprieve from ships out on Mandalore had been a life saver. Louis couldn’t imagine anything better than weaving through thick undergrowth, smelling, the dewy trees or disappearing into the shadows of the heavy green canopies of leaves. There was something so fulfilling about being in places that reminded him of home.

After Niall had thoroughly shown them the spectacular of the ship, the rooms of smuggled wines and spices, rooms with men playing card games and drinking, rooms filled with weapons of every imaginable shape and size and even prison rooms, they headed to the cafeteria again.

When they entered the cafeteria it was filled with people milling around, the buzz of chatter momentarily stunning Louis. Few people glanced at him, fewer people than Louis had thought would, much to his relief. Niall led him and Harry to the back where the buffet of food was laid out and thrust plates into their hands. Immediately, Louis began to dish up the honeyed meat, the savory, buttered potato cuts, and the grilled greens. He filled his plate to the brim, grabbed a cup of blue milk on the way and followed Niall and Harry to one of the empty table ends. (As Louis began to shovel the food into his mouth, biting chunks off the meat instead of cutting it, he couldn’t help but notice that Harry’s plate was mostly covered by the greens with a big slice of bread with something slathered onto it and very little potatoes.)

“Louis, my boy.”

Louis froze and looked up at the owner of the voice. Of course, it was Yaser, holding his own plate of food, followed closely by Mercurius who had balanced a plate on his non-mechanical hand.

The two men sat down at the table, beside Niall and adjacent from Louis and Harry.

“I hope you’re feeling better. You left in quite the rush this morning,” Yaser commented, cutting into the meat rather delicately, a look of concern twisting at his lips.

“Y-Yeah. I’m much better,” Louis managed, swallowing an embarrassingly humungous mouthful of food. He wondered if he was supposed to apologize to the man for running out on him but decided to shut his mouth instead, watching nervously at how Mercurius sawed his food into tiny bits.

Yaser nodded, “That’s good. I was concerned you were still feeling unwell. I heard you performed admirably in the face of Vigo Deel. I would have liked to have seen that.”

Pushing his potatoes around his plate Louis mumbled, “I didn’t do much. It was Niall really.” At the sound of his name, Niall grinned widely at him from across the table before he shoved half a piece of bread into his mouth. Louis ducked down to his food, snorting.

“Don’t be so modest, my boy. I heard you can do some good work with that.” He gestured towards the stone on Louis’s forehead, as if it was a weapon he wielded. Louis bit the inside of his cheek and gave a short nod, uncomfortable under the stares of Yaser and Mercurius, who was eyeing him and gingerly raising his fork to his mouth with his mechanical arm.

“I’ll have to have you come along and help with our next operation.”

Louis had shoveled most of the food into his mouth so fast he nearly had nothing left. He would probably have to lick the plate, he realized. “Next operation?” He asked, frowning down at his plate.

Yaser nodded, “Of course. We’re headed to Ando to pick up some of their Andoan wine and taking it to Alsakan. They have a ban on alcohol and my contact, Taelros, is going to be giving some big coin for us to bring some in.”

Catching Harry’s gaze in the corner of his eyes, Louis swallowed nervously, recognizing the names of the planets much to his horror. HIs expression must have shown just how uncomfortable he was because Harry piped up, “Uh, sir, I’m not sure if it would be in Louis’s best interest to be put in the middle of another fray after so many already,” he pointed out.

Yaser paused and inspected Harry, as if seeing him for the first time, “Oh, I understand. However, Louis is one of us and he should be more involved in the business. I would never willingly put him in any willing danger. I’ve worked with Taelros before and we’ve always had clean exchanges. This is one of the safest jobs possible and I have no fear that Louis could complete it without a hitch.” Yaser smiled serenely and Louis wanted to smack his head against the plate. Harry looked ready to argue some more.

He didn’t feel like a Blade of Orion. He didn’t feel like the holocron either. He just felt like himself; like Louis. (By the Gods, he wanted to go home so bad.)

“I’m sure it’ll be fine, Lou. I’ll go with you,” Niall chirped, eyes flicking between Harry and Yaser cautiously.

Yaser beamed, “Brilliant idea!”

 

 

Shrugging his jacket on, Louis eyed the pod distrustfully. "What do you know about Alsakan, Niall?" He inquired, glancing at the blond who was doing a walk around on the ship.

Niall hummed, running his fingers over the ship and tapping at it like the different sounds could speak to him, "It's an ecumenopolis in the Alsakan system in the core worlds. It's one of the core founders of the Perlemian Trade Route. It's an ancient, wealthy world that's been a major political player for centuries. It fought with Coruscant on the nature and shape of the early Galatic Republic and responsible for the seventeen Alaskan Conflicts." He paused, "Hm, yeah. They have a huge population but a high record of family violence, alcoholism, and saloon based political corruption so they started a prohibition about four years ago. We've been bringing in alcohol for Taelros for a while. He's a slimy guy but has a good head for business."

Louis nodded slowly, processing the waterfall of information Niall had poured out on him. "They started seventeen wars?"

Laughing, Niall pulled open the door of the pod, waving him inside, "Heck yeah they did. I tell you about it over some drinks, babe." He winked at Louis as he got into the pod. Louis rolled his eyes but grinned as he climbed into the small ship.

The Orionis was hovering just above the planet of Alsakan, filled with illegal Andoan wine ready to be smuggled into the city and Louis and Niall were being sent in first to meet with a man called Taelros. Louis wasn't that worried about, the confidence of having an experienced friend with him and knowing plenty had made the same drop and everything had gone smoothly.

"Do you do this often?" Louis wondered as he strapped himself into the copilot seat next to Niall.

Buckling himself up, Niall hit a switch which closed the door of the pod, "Yeah, I didn't at the beginning because they didn't want me to botch anything up but now that I'm more of a senior member I get more responsibility. Zayn does a lot more drops than me, being Yaser's son and all. He's also pretty proficient with languages."

"Zayn?"

The ship began to wobble as it started it move down the launch bay, towards the opening mouth into the dark skies. "Yeah, he had a protocol droid for a little while and picked up a lot. He got destroyed in a shootout with some other pirates and we haven't gotten a new one yet. Probably would have been helpful when we met you!" Niall chuckled, pulling the gear shift next to his leg, the pod accelerating towards the planet's surface.

Louis hummed and nodded, eyes wide as he watched the stars fly by their window, the planet growing and growing until it was all they could see. The vague spikes of buildings began to clear up, revealing large metal towers and small stone spirals and thin little roads hidden under the canopy of infrastructure. The top of the city was brightly lit but Louis could see down into some of the streets where it looked cold and wet, lit be bright fluorescents.

They finally pulled down into a landing gear, hovering trying to find a spot to park on top of a medium sized building with a flat roof labeled "Pod and medium sized aircraft parking". They pulled into an empty spot, the spots on either side of them also empty and they parked the pod.

"Now we wait." Niall declared and then continued dramatically, "Okay, as I was saying about the Alsakan conflicts. The seeds of conflict were first sowed during The Great Manifest Period, the widespread colonization-," they got about five minutes into the prelude of the conflicts before there was a rapping on the door of the pod. Niall cut off, just as he was discussing the Perlemian Trade Route's political geography, and pulled the lever to lower the ramp to the door.

Startling Louis was the creature waiting. It was a tiny rodent-like being, covered in thick brown fur and large four-toed feet. He had big black eyes and large pointed ears like fans on the top of his head. "Oh.." he breathed to himself, fascinated by the creature.

The creature chuckled, "A newbie huh?" He stuck out a small, long-fingered hand, "Taelros; the pleasure is mine." Louis approached and shook his small, hairy hand, smiling.

"Louis," he offered and Taelros nodded.

"Alrighty Niall," he pronounced it "Neil", "Let's see the prize."

Niall grabbed a metal crate from the under a panel on the pod, dropping the panel back in place and shoving the crate across the floor towards Louis. Louis lifted up the lid to shows three rows of four bottles of dark wine, the bottle labeled "Galaxy Famous Andoan Wine; The Finest Flavors Available."

Taelros pulled a bottle out, inspected it before he cracked it open with a log nail. He sniffed with his large nose before he dabbed a bit on his tongue. He smacked his lips, humming. "Good. How much?"

"We have 80 more crates like this and Yaser is asking for 2000 Republican Credits."

Taelros clicked his tongue, rolling the bottle around in his hands. "Very well. We have an accord." He shook hands with Niall. "Bring it to the Writhing Rogue. You know the drill." He hooked the cap back onto the opened bottle before he lifted the crate and took off, unexpectedly fast for such a small creature carrying a crate nearly the same size as himself.

Niall turned, grinning at Louis, "And we're in business!" They high-fived and climbed back into their seats.

The boring part of being the dealers was that Louis and Niall had to fly back up to the ship, help Byff, Caflice and several other smugglers Louis didn't recognize haul the alcohol crates into a bigger pod, and fly back down.

Sore and sweaty from the manual labor, Louis was almost relieved to be parked down on a building again. They parked on top of a shorter one, swathed in shadow from the other buildings with a hatch they parked over. Their ship opened up at the bottom and as soon as they parked a man popped up through the hatch.

"I'm here for the drink." He deadpanned and Niall laughed.

"Here Tigg, start loading," Niall and Louis started to pull crates towards him and win one large arm, he would grab one and sent it down. They did that for what seemed to be forever. Louis felt like his arms were gonna fall off with all the lifting and pulling. Eventually, they had finished and they were able to close up the pod and sliding down the ladder, following Tigg into a large room with lanterns hanging around the room, flickering an orange glow against the metal crates.

“Into the hole, boys!” Tigg laughed, opening up another hatch, light filtering through along with chatter and upbeat music sounding far way.

Niall laughed, “Don’t mind if we do, Tigg. See you on the other side,” Niall winked at Louis and led him over to the hatch. He let Louis go first before he followed. It was another ladder, leading into another dark room, this time storing old furniture and a bunch of purring freezers. Niall led him through the room and out a heavy door, which he shoved with his shoulder. The door led out to a staircase where they had to climb down two floors before they arrived at where the thumping of the music was the loudest. Niall practically threw open the door and shoved Louis through it, hooking their arms together.

Unlike the last bar Louis had been to, this one was brightly lit and far more spacious. It smelled sweet like candy with only a hint of perspiration and the music wasn’t skull-crushingly loud. There was a man with a face like a bird - long, hooked nose, thin face and beady eyes with long wild hair- on stage singing, rolling his hips and cooing into the microphone, his band playing behind him. There were colorful lights streaming down on him, swirling along the floor.

The bar was along the side with a huge wall of colorful bottles behind it with attractive men and women racing along the inside, during and staring drinks, tossing glasses between them and throwing old cups into water filled sinks.

Niall pushed them up to the bar and got the attention of a man with dark eyes and skin, with short little curls and a wide pleasant mouth. “Two Coruscant Craters, please.” He tossed some coins onto the counter and the man swiped them off before grabbing three bottles off the back counter and mixing them. The cups he brought back were about the height of Louis’s hand and filled only halfway with something bright orange.

“Bottoms up!” Niall hooted and threw back a huge gulp.

Much more cautious, Louis took a sip, wincing at the way it burned the top of his mouth even though it was tangy sweet on his tongue. He took another sip to try and wash away the flavor but it only made it worse and he sighed to himself.

“Drink that and dance with me, Lou!” Niall ordered, chugging the rest of his drink before ordering four shots of Primes. (Whatever that is, Louis thought.) Immediately Niall threw back two of the shots, grinning widely.

“Niall, will you be able to drive after drinking all this?” Louis wondered but Niall laughed and waved the question away.

“Louis, I’m an expert flier and I’m not even wasted. I know my limit. I don’t know yours though so let’s investigate.” He wiggled his brows, playfully.

Sighing, Louis chugged the rest of his drink and picked up one of the shots. He heard someone start shouting, “Drink it up, motherfucker!” from somewhere in the club and he rolled his eyes and dipped his tongue into the drink. If he thought the Coruscant Crater was sour, then Primes was way worse. Putting on a brave face, Louis screwed up his nose and threw the drink into his mouth, opening his throat and letting it slid down. He immediately regretted it, with his eyes watering and mouth feeling furry and hot.

“I hate you, Niall,” Louis managed to utter, rubbing his tongue on the back of his hand, which made it even grosser.

Niall laughed, “Want me to kiss your mouth and make it feel better?”

“You are an asshole, don’t touch me,” Louis deadpanned as Niall shoved him towards the dance floor. His response made his friend burst out laughing but tug him close and start moving.

It took Louis a lot longer than it should have to realize that Niall was in fact dancing and he tried to copy his movements but his body felt stiff and awkward. He couldn’t control his feet or move his hips in the same way and he could feel his face burning as he tried to copy Niall, feeling the flow of the music around him.

He could hear the man singing, crooning into his mic above him, “I’ve been told about you…” He sang, “Heart shaker, you must be true, Oh stars, I’ve been told about you…. Roll your eyes, baby, drop to your knees, you’re a charmer, you must be true. You gotta cling to me and pay your dues!” The beat picked up and Niall suddenly twirled Louis, causing him to laugh. Niall twirled him one more time before pulling him close and holding their hands out together like they were about to start doing the waltz. Niall dipped him playfully before pulling him close. They danced around like lunatics, out of tune with the music and cackling at each other until the song ended. It was something slower, the man’s voice softening.

“I’ve struggled to keep my hands clean, running from this social machine.” The song started, “But my baby likes the fever, she likes the combat. Don’t fight me, cause I’ll never let you down.” People were coupling up on the dance floor and Niall and Louis embraced, giggling at each other, “When I’m stumbling, she’s got a way to make me feel fine. I won’t, I won’t ever let you down, she said to me. I won’t ever let you down. Nothing she does is wrong. I won’t let you down.” Niall and Louis swayed, snickering and throwing their hips side to side. “Come on and hold me tight, I won’t let you down…”

Red-faced and sweaty, Louis couldn’t help but have fun. His head felt a bit funny, the corner of his eyes a bit foggy but he felt good. He felt grounded to the moment with Niall and he didn’t want it to stop. He wanted to have fun and be silly with people he cared about. He wanted to stop being scared.

And of course, just as he thought that a man grabbed him, tugging him from a surprised Niall and pulling him into his body. It wasn’t a human male, Louis realized as he twisted, trying to get away. He wasn't human, merely humanoid, with a navy blue skin and bald head with hair on his cheeks and large tusks that stuck off his jaw. He had two large, unnervingly black eyes, staring down at Louis like he was an interesting object he had found. His hands were huge and hairy, with five digits, and Louis pushed them off of his hips in surprise. The man made angry noises that Louis couldn’t understand and he turned and looked at Niall whose face had morphed into a sneer.

“Look here, touch my friend again and I’ll cut your hands off,” Niall snarled, pulling Louis away from him, his normally kind eyes blazing.

The man said something else in his language and Niall scoffed, “You understand me well enough so surely you know that no means fucking no.”

Louis opened his mouth to chime in but another hand spun him around. Louis wished he hadn’t. This man was more human than the other species but his face was horribly disfigured and he knew immediately why. “Cornelius Evazen,” Louis whispered, grimacing.

The doctor looked surprised, “It’s Doctor Cornelius Evazen actually,” he sneered. “It’s no matter though, you won't remember after I scoop that pretty stone out of your head.” He paused and looked over Louis’s shoulder, “Ponda likes you. Thinks you’d make a good mate for him. I’ll just have to fix you up a bit. You’re not perfect yet.”

He grabbed Louis by the hair and the stone immediately reacted, flaring up and pushing him off of Louis brutally, hair pulling roughly with the force of the psuh. Louis snarled at the feeling, hands shooting up to apply pressure to the spot.

“Go fuck yourself!” Niall snarled, drawing out the beautiful dagger he used to kill Deel from his boot and used the hilt to smack Ponda Baba, the doctor’s thug friend, on the side of the head. Ponda barely reacted and instead grabbed Niall by his face and threw him into a group of people dancing. And, like clockwork, everyone started brawling. Their scuffle turned into a full out brawl and Niall was lost somewhere in the crowd.

Groaning, Louis shoved the doctor away when he reached out to grab him again and Ponda snatched him from behind again, wrapping his big meaty arms around Louis’s tiny waist. Concentrating hard, Louis let the stone burst to life and he flung himself off of the Aqualish brute, launching himself at Cornelius and sending him to the ground. He yelled in surprise and struggled to get to his feet and, impulsively, Louis lifted up his foot and smashed it against the doctor’s face. He felt the man's disfigured nose crunch under the force.

“By the way,” Louis began, “The bounty hunter who did that to your face? He says hi.” And then Louis brought his foot down right on Evazen’s crotch and he let out a high pitch, strangled scream, his eyes watering as he tried to curl up on the floor, holding himself.

Ponda, recovered from being thrown, lifted a big hand and smashed Louis’s cheek. The force sent him flying into the ground where the back of his head cracked against the hard ground. It was an odd moment of clarity that Louis realized he had passed out. He wasn’t sure how it worked but he knew it had only been a few seconds. His entire head throbbing and he felt something hot running down his neck. He kept trying to open his eyes but it wasn’t working, everything was black. Unable to stop himself, tears started to leak down his face and he laid on the ground, hoping something would wake him up.

Hands grabbed Louis and pulled him to his feet, “Louis! Louis are you okay?” It was Niall, his voice panicked and high pitched.

“Niall, I can’t see! I can’t fucking see!” He clawed at Niall’s shoulder’s, disoriented and terrified and Niall crushed him to his chest, stabilizing him.

“It’s okay, Liam will fix you up. Shit, Lou, you’re bleeding so much. Don’t fall sleep. Stay with me bud.” Everything was so loud and confusing but Niall was like an anchor, holding Louis in place and Louis made a dumb sound of agreement, unable to nod his head from the heavy, pulsating pain.

“Come with us.” A voice, distinctively female, ordered and before Louis knew it, Niall had thrown his arm over his shoulder and was practically carrying him as they pushed through the brawling crowd to the outside of the building.

The street was wet when they stepped out, splashing each other's ankles as they staggered out of the doors.

“Who are you?” Niall asked, “You killed the Aqualish guy.” Louis felt vindictively pleased hearing that he had been killed. Struggling to stay awake, Louis tried to balance on his own feet but everything felt wavy and out of sync. He growled in an annoyance.

“My name is Aleena. I was sent by my mistress.”

“Who's your mistress? Are you one of Gigi’s girls?” Niall wondered aloud. Someone laughed from down the alley. Louis felt Niall shift to look and he ducked his head down so his chin was pressed against Niall’s shoulder, feeling wretched and ashamed and utterly horrible.

“Hm, the lovely Holocron, it’s such a pleasure to see you. Oh, don’t hide your face darling. You look beautiful covered in blood and crying.” Louis recognized that slimy voice immediately.

“Rotta,” he croaked. “I thought you were still on Nar Shaddaa,” he tried to growl but it sounded feeble even to his own ears.

The girl, Aleena, huffed, “Go home, Rotta. You’re not wanted here.”

Rotta laughed, “In fact, I am. You see, Holocron, your little friend Taelros made a deal with me. He’d tell me when you were here and I would give him some goods in exchange for his services. So now I’m here to pick up my goods. You.” Louis wished he could go back and punch that little rodent. Of course, he would double cross him after years of trusted service. Louis just seemed to have that luck.

Niall groaned, “Seriously? Can everyone just fuck off? Louis is injured and I need to get him some medical help right now. I don’t care about anything else and I will fight you both if I need too.” Louis wished he could see because he would love to see Niall beat the shit out of Rotta.

Louis could hear Aleena unclipping something and Niall muttered in his ear, “Girl just brought out two lighting pikes. Shit.” Niall adjusted his hold on Louis’s waist as if he was getting ready to pick Louis up and book it far away from the girl and Rotta. Louis braced himself against Niall, just in case.

There was more shuffling and the girl said to Niall, “If you agree to come with me peacefully I will give you a bacta bandage for your friend.”

Much to Louis’s utter bewilderment, Niall didn’t even hesitate when he said, “Deal.”

“I don’t think-,” Rotta began to say but then there was the sound of splashing water and Rotta cursing. There were some more scuffling sounds and something was hissing in the air that Louis recognized. The burning blades.

Ducking to mutter in Louis’s ear, Niall hissed, “Two more girls just showed up with lightsabers. This is gonna be a shit show.” Lightsabers, yes, that’s what they were. Louis wished he would see them. He could just imagine the way the edges would burn in the dark of the alley, how they would reflect off the puddles and light up the street.

Aleena sighed, “Here, you greedy worm.” There was the sound of clinking and something hit the ground. It sounded like money to Louis. “Take this and leave.”

There was a brief moment of silence before there was some jingling. “I look forward to seeing you again, Louis.” Louis almost couldn’t believe he would be that easy to bribe but then he remembered it was Rotta after all and realized it wasn’t that hard to imagine.

“Fuck off!” Niall snarled and Louis nearly started laughing because he could just imagine Rotta’s reaction to that reply. There was the sound of scuffing against the gravel and then Rotta’s footsteps descended down the street into a faint whisper and then into nothing. Louis let out a loud breath.

Aleena approached them, turning off and hooking her electric pikes on her back once more, the other girls joining her sides, “Very good. You will accompany us, receive a bacta bandage and then meet our mistress,” she instructed curtly.

“Who's your mistress?” Louis managed to ask, tongue sitting heavy in his mouth and lifting his face up to where he assumed she was standing. It must have been off because Niall grabbed his chin gingerly and pushed him to face in the right direction.

Louis could hear the smile in her voice when she replied, “Mistress Loya has been looking forward to this meeting for a long time.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 34
I’m Only Sleeping In My Head And I Can Fly

Much to their annoyance, Niall and Louis were loaded into an open topped pod, squished between the two girls who weren't Aleena. The ship lifted up several meters from the ground and began to zip between the buildings, the motor puttering at it propelled along.

Louis buried his face into Niall’s shoulder and let the other boy hold him. “Don’t fall asleep, Lou,” Niall muttered, his voice just loud enough to be heard over the wind. Louis grunted and nipped at his shoulder to show he was listening, swishing his eyes shut as hard as he could. The wound on the back of his head had faded into a dull throb and the blood had dried, rusting against the back of his neck and matting his hair.

The pod stopped weaving so much, keeping in a more consistent line, “Lou, the buildings are disappearing,” Niall narrated softly, “They’re becoming rubble and opening up into fields with sparse trees and thick undergrowth. It’s swampy.” Louis could smell what he meant. It smelled similar to home, with wet flora and humid air. “There are more trees starting to show up. Further, ahead I can see a building.” Louis’s hands clenched tightly and Niall rubbed at his shoulder. “It looks like a castle. Like a giant white pearl out here amongst all the green,” Niall whispered in awe.

Slowly, the pod began to break, sliding to a halt in front of the building before gently descending onto the ground with a soft thud. Louis could hear the girls on either side of him and Niall move and he felt the girl next to him twist and climb out.

“Come on,” Aleena ordered, grabbing onto Louis’s other arms and helping Niall haul him out of the pod. Stumbling, Louis tried to get solid footing on the softened ground. Holding onto Niall, his feet squished along the earth as they made their way up to the building. There were three steps to walk up that Louis tripped over, gripping tightly to Niall before they were brought inside.

Their footsteps echoed immediately as soon as they stepped in and Niall breathed, “Holy shit.” Louis hummed, pressing his fingers harder into Niall’s arms and stumbling. He was exhausted and sore and still couldn’t see. He just wanted to rest but he knew he shouldn’t. He needed bacta again and he didn't it soon. He wasn’t sure how long it would take him before he went crumbling to the ground.

Finally, after walking down a long, echoing corridor, there was the sound of doors being pushed open. Niall made an odd squeak from beside him and led him into the room with the girls who bowed and echoed, “Hello, Mistress.”

“I see you brought back what I asked. In… Acceptable condition.” The voice was high and cold, smooth like marble. Louis felt the urge to wrap himself in a blanket as if it would protect him from the sound. There was nothing kind or comforting about it.

Aleena answered, “We found him this way, Mistress.”

“I saw,” Mistress Loya responded and Louis frowned, wondering what that meant. Had she been watching them somehow? How was that possible? “Take the blond one and throw him away.”

“Hey!” Niall called, alarmed and Louis threw himself around him.

Snarling, Louis hissed, “Don’t you dare touch him. Lay a finger on him and I’ll rip it off.”

Mistress Loya laughed, “Oh sweet, sweet child, you can’t even see, let alone fight three fully-trained warriors. Trained by my own hand, I might add. You may want to rethink that statement, you disgusting simpleton.” There was no heat or anger in her voice, she spoke as if everything was fact laid out in front of her. It chilled Louis more than it upset him to be insulted.

Louis hadn’t been able to see but the two girls who weren’t Aleena had gone and retrieved two cages, shiny gold and polished to perfection. Glittery and beautiful, the girls stationed one on each side of the room, facing each other and swung the doors open. Aleena wrestled Niall out of Louis’s grip and while Louis couldn't see it, he heard Niall snarling and sneering biting remarks as she threw him into the cage. The two other girls pushed him more delicately towards the other cage and Louis heard Niall call, “The bacta bandage! You said you would give him one!”

Loya sighed, waving a thin pale hand in the air, “Of course. Kana, give the little whore the bacta bandage and be done with it.” Louis flinched and waited and the girl, Kana, pressed something square into his hand. With clumsy fingers, Louis ripped it open and a long damp cloth fell out like an uncoiling snake. Taking the cloth, Louis began to wrap it around his head, making sure it covered the wound on the back of his head and having it sit over his eyes. He tucked it in when there was none left.

Kana and the other girl pushed him into the cage and he fell back onto his ass in surprise, tilting his head up as if he would be able to see them if he tried hard enough. The cage door slammed shut and he heard Niall groan, “Zayn is going to kill me.” His head drooped and it banged against the bars of the cage. Louis sympathized.

 


“Don’t give me that look.” Eadh’hard rolled his eyes. Of course, Marceau’Llus did not stop, his eyes narrowed into little slits at his brother. Eadh’hard looked down and inspected the informant they had following Louis, who was laying on the ground, drowned in a puddle of his own blood.

“You can’t kill everyone who tells you something unsatisfactory,” Marceau’Llus pointed out.

Eadh’hard snorted, “Of course I can.” He paused, “You punched him,” he pointed out.

“He deserved it.”

Falling into step next to each other, they headed back to the tie fighter which they had taken from the Urania to meet up with their informant on Ando. A planet primarily covered in water, The Blades of Orion had stopped by and picked up an absurd amount of stock containing Andoan wine. Eadh’hard had no doubt in his mind that Louis was with them again and he knew exactly where they were going.

“Alsakan.”

Eadh’hard looked over at his brother, a look of surprise flicker across his face.

Grinning, Marceau’Llus said, “Alsakan. That’s where they headed.” The grin quickly turned into a frown, “And of course, you know whose there.” With that being said Eadh’hard hurried even quicker towards the tie fighter and Marceau’Llus hurried after him, eyebrows furrowed in concern.

The two brothers climbed into the tie fighter, their backs against each other. Marceau’Llus was sitting in the gunner chair, facing out the back of the ship and Eadh’hard sat in the pilot’s chair. Lightweight but highly durable the tie fighter shot up into the atmosphere, hovered just above the planet before it spread off towards the Urania.

The Urania had been floating, going unbelievably slowly through the stars. They caught up with it easily and Eadh’hard contacted the ship through his comlink, informing them where they were headed. And with the Urania trailing behind them, the brothers headed off at the speed of light towards Alsakan.

 


Over the comlink, one of the soldiers from inside the Urania informed Eadh’hard that there had been a brawl in the Writhing Rogue and the several uniforms had shown up and had come back reporting nothing but sporting wide smiles. There had been a lot of reports about the Writhing Rogue for a few years but nothing was proven. Nothing had talked about brawl until now. The brothers were confident that Louis was involved. It seemed like his sort of poor luck that something like that would happen with him.

As soon as they arrived at Alsakan, they landed their tie fighter onto of a building, just two down from the Writhing Rogue and, showing off, Eadh’hard jumped off the top of it. Marceau’Llus rolled his eyes but followed after, pushing off the top of the building and free falling. He landed heavily on the ground, dropping to his knees for balance before he pushed back up to his feet. Eadh’hard had already begun to make his way down the building, his boots kicking up water that sat in the divots in the road.

Eadh’hard threw open the door of the Writhing Rogue and let his eyes sweep over the crowd. And then they locked onto some that Marceau’Llus also spotted. Groaning to himself, Marceau’Llus dropped back behind Eadh’hard, grimacing as they approached the slimy, lecherous vigo known as Rotta.

Storming over, Eadh’hard slammed his hand on the bar top in front of Rotta, the vigo not even flinching.

“It’s good to see you again Eadh’hard.” Rotta sipped from his frosted glass, not even looking up.

“If you have anything to do with my missing holocron, I will cut you open and feed your insides to rodents,” Eadh’hard snarled, his fist twitching on the table top and Marceau’Llus guessed that his brother was just barely restringing himself from throttling the other vigo.

“Hmm, for once it wasn’t I who took the precious holocron,” Rotta sighed, “Your girlfriend is very angry. You know how jealous she can get.”

Eadh’hard’s eyes flicked to Marceau’Llus, whose eyes flicked to Rotta and back. His brother seemed to get it and Eadh’hard growled, “What are you even doing here then, Rotta? Surely you aren’t here for the illegal drink.”

Swallowing a large gulp, Rotta turned in his chair to face Eadh’hard looking fed up, “I was obviously here to take the holocron and have him service me… In every way…” He chuckled, “However, I find myself the slave to the coin and this was exploited. So now I have more gold than one man could possibly ever want and no holocron. Though I suspect he will be back in my grasp to after you free him from your maniac girlfriend.”

Moving frenzied, as if possessed, Eadh’hard grabbed the back of Rotta’s head and smashed it against the counter top. Gotta gasped, blood spurting from his nose and he managed to cry out, “Are you fucking deranged!?” before Eadh’hard drew his lightsaber and plunged it onto Rotta’s back, right through his stomach. Marceau’Llus almost leaped back, surprised by his brother’s sudden brutality.

“Eadh’hard!” Marceau’Llus hissed, eyes bulging as he took in the limp, slumped form of Rotta the Hutt, blood spilling from his wound and pooling onto the ground around the bar stool.

People started screaming and someone yelled, “Not this shit again!” Eadh’hard yanked his lightsaber back, turning it off and dropping it back into its sheath. He turned to his brother, jerking his head to encourage him to start walking and they left the Writhing Rogue, people gathering around the slumped body of Vigo Rotta. Eadh’hard and Marceau’Llus left hastily, missing the gasps of surprise as the Vigo’s body began to melt away…

Allowing Eadh’hard to stomp past him, Marceau’Llus had to hurry to catch up with him falling just a step behind, “Ed, brother, are you sure that was a wise decision? You know Zidar won’t be happy with you,” he warned, eyes flicking up the street as they kicked through the water back to where they were parked.

Much to Marceau’Llus’s chagrin his brother didn’t reply, simply launched himself off the pavement back to the roof where the tie fighter waited. Sighing, Marceau’Llus pushed off the ground, pushing himself up through the air and arching up before he landed with a thump on the roof. He walked over and climbed into the tie fighter with his brother. “Are we going to see her?” He asked, grimacing.

“Of course,” Eadh’hard growled, putting the ship into gear and taking off for Loya’s palace.

Marceau’Llus hated a lot of places that he forced to go with his brother but Loya’s castle was in the definite top five. It was mainly because of her, in all honestly but the palace was also unnerving in itself. It was excessively large and made completely of white marble and there was nothing inside. There was no furniture in the entire palace other than in the throne room, where her opulent throne sat, along with exquisite and intricately made golden cages in rows, running up and down the ceiling.

And, to one’s surprise, when they arrived at the marshy land, the palace sat stoic and polished, looking undeniably grim and ominous. They both stopped and took in the site of it and Marceau’Llus could see a twitch in his brother’s eye. Marceau’Llus knew he hated a lot of places, but so did Eadh’hard and, in particular, he hated Loya, perhaps even more then Marceau’Llus. Marceau’Llus didn’t have to put up with her in the same capacity.

Looking as if he regretted everything that led him up to this point in his life, Eadh’hard began to march forward, the ground squishing beneath the heel of his boots. The brothers marched up the steps, tracking mud across the polished white ground and made their way down the long corridor. Their footsteps were echoing loudly, neither of them bothering to hide their presence and Eadh’hard waved his hands to send the doors to the throne room crashing open.

There was Loya, laying across her throne, her long silver hair flowing off her shoulders to dangle above the ground. Her skin was as white as the marble she surrounded herself with, and she looked as immobile and cold as it. She had pale pink markings around her eyes, making the pale blue iris’s look much bigger than they actually were. She was trapped in a long pearly cloak, the sleeves slit open to show her long, white arms and the robe beneath was wrapped loosed, showing her skin all the way down to her belly button, the swell of her breasts evident.

Pale eyes flickered up to eye the brothers as they walked, her lips slowly drew into a lazy smirk. Marceau’Llus looked away, glancing up the ways to the golden cages, immediately spotting Louis’s small body curled up inside of the first one on the left. Freezing for the briefest moment, Marceau’Llus marched on next to Eadh’hard, his face hardening. Eadh’hard didn’t look up but there was no question in Marceau’Llus’s mind that he knew Louis was hanging above them, a wrap around his face, obscuring a majority of his face from view.

“I saw Rotta, laying dead in that abhorrent club,” Loya announced. “I didn’t see you though, my darling. I was worried about you. You were obviously worried about me too.”

Eadh’hard remained silent, staring at her with unreadable eyes.

“Don’t play with me, darling,” she cooed, “You know I can’t see you.” Her eyes flickered to Marceau’Llus and she raised her lip into a sneer before she quickly schooled it back into a charming smile. For a diathim, Marceau’Llus thought, she really wasn’t that pleasant. Diathims were also known as angels, famous for their beauty. While Marceau’Llus could see the point about beauty, she was such an unpleasant person there was nothing angelic about her that he could see. Being near her was unnerving but Marceau’Llus had to keep himself reserved, he didn't want the Seer watching him too closely.

Well, Seer was the title Loya took. She had precognitive sight, able to see the most predictable immediate outcome. However, it seemed as though she wasn’t to see anything Eadh’hard did which made him absolutely enticing to her. As far as Marceau’Llus could tell, she desired nothing more in the world than to own his brother, dissect him with her tongue and devour him in the most intimate of ways.

Loya curled a finger towards Eadh’hard and he approached her, his steps echoing through the throne room. He walked until he was right in front of her chair and she reached out for him, and, much to Marceau’Llus’s astonishment, he let her. Her long slender fingers curled around the sash around his waist and pulled him forward. Marceau’Llus’s eyes flickered up to Louis’s small form curled inside of a golden cage. Eadh’hard leaned forward and Marceau’Llus could just make out the sound of them whispering to each other. Whatever his brother was saying was causing Loya’s face to burn red, her pupils widening to maker her eyes big and black. She kept biting her lip and shifting her legs as if she wanted to spread them open and let Eadh’hard fall on top of her.

Marceau’Llus was becoming impatient. He wanted to jump up and rip open the cage door and pull Louis into his arms where he would be safe again. He could see himself doing that very action when he realized he had made a mistake. Loya made a soft gasping sound and her face whirled towards him, morphing into a horrible snarl.

“How dare-!” She started, shoving past Eadh’hard to try and get to Marceau’Llus but Eadh’hard grabbed her arm and pulled her against his chest. It looked like she was ready to faint, gazing up at him, her lips slightly parted and her eyes blown wide.

Eadh’hard whispered something, running a gloved finger down her porcelain face and they leaned towards each other. Marceau’Llus flinched, forcing himself to look away.

There was a buzz, a hiss and the sickening sound of something splattering against the ground, sounding thick and hot. Marceau’Llus looked up. Loya’s body was slumped against Eadh’hard and she was gazing up at him, her face slack and mouth open. Through her stomach was a blazing red lightsaber. Carefully, Eadh’hard drew his lightsaber out of her body and she crumbled to the ground.

There was a gasp and a squeak and Marceau’Llu looked up to see a blond boy in one of the other cages, watching with wide, tired eyes. They made eye contact and the boy pointed to where Louis was, still curled up and seeming rather catatonic. Perhaps a companion of Louis’s…

Raising a hand, Marceau’Llus focused on the chain hanging the blond boy above the room and he squeezed his fist. The chain snapped but before the cage could plummet, Marceau’Llus waved his hand again and the cage gently fluttered to the ground. As soon as it touched the marble floor, the door flew open and the boy rolled out onto the ground, He scrambled to his feet and hurried over to Marceau’Llus

“Louis!” He panted, “You gotta get Louis! He’s injured!”

Hearing this, Eadh’hard waved his hand and the chain holding Louis snapped and he curled his hand and manipulated the force until Louis’s cage was sitting flat on the ground. With another wave of his fingers, the door flew open and all three rushed forward towards the cage. Louis was curled up, his face wrapped in a white bacta bandage. Blood had seeped through the back of the bandage and there was blood all over his back and matted through his
hair.

“Shit!” the blond hissed, stepping back and rubbing his face with his sweaty palms. “Is he okay!? He’s alive, right?”

“Silence,” Eadh’hard hissed, pulling Louis out of the cage and inspected the head wound carefully, pushing his fingers around the wound, tenderly. “He needs more bacta.” He carefully unwrapped the wrap from Louis’s head.

Groggily opening his eyes, Louis’s blue orbs were unseeing in the light of the palace, unable to even make out the lines of Eadh’hard, Marceau’Llus and Niall above him.

“Uh no,” Louis grumbled, “This is not how it’s going to be.” And then, rather promptly, he curled back up and fell asleep. Marceau’Llus and Eadh’hard exchanged glances.

“Oh man,” Niall ran his hands over, “He’s fucked up. This is so bad. This is so, so bad.” He was practically prancing on his feet, rolling back and forth anxiously.

“Quiet!” Eadh’hard snarled. “We’re taking him back to the Urania.” Eadh’hard paused, “And you’re coming too.”

 


Louis opened his eyes and he could see again. “That’s what I thought,” he muttered, blinking several times to let his eyes adjust to the brightness of his room. And it was his room. The room he had on the Urania. He was laying on the bed, the blankets pulled up to his neck tucked around him. There was a lightness, a wrongness to his body that Louis recognized from being in a bacta tank again.

Laying there, it was like floating and if Louis concentrated hard enough, it was like being in the clouds, his body light and surrounded by the soft comfort of his bed. He didn’t wanna close his eyes, he was tired of seeing just blackness. He wanted to see everything, never close them again. He felt afraid of sleeping; he didn’t want to close his eyes and end up waking up to blackness again. Luckily, he didn’t feel tired anymore. He felt fresh like he came out of a cool rain. However, he was hungry.

Unsure of how long he had been out of it, Louis figured it could have been close to a day or two since the last time he ate. Lucky for him, he didn’t need to wait long. The door burst open and Louis was expecting to see the thin form of Marcellus sweeping through the door. Instead, stalking in like a large predator was Edward, clutched in his hands a tray of food.

Thrusting it onto the bed next to him, Eadh’hard paced in front of him, muttering under his breath. Louis strategically ignored him, grabbed the tray of sliced grilled meat, fried potatoes, and bright, steamed greens. He didn’t even use a fork, instead, he grabbed the meat slab with his hands and folded it, shoving as much of it as he could into his mouth. He then grabbed a handful of potatoes with his other hand and shoved them into his mouth messily, slurping at the garlic butter dripping over his hand.

“Truly animalistic,” Edward grumbled, wrinkling his nose. Louis ignored him. “You’ve been with Harric,” he suddenly and it took Louis longer than it should have to remember who Harric was. “The boy who was with you was a Blades of Orion smuggler.” Another pause. “How are they treating him?” Him being Harry, that is.

Louis snorted into his greens. “Like you care. You want to kill him.”

“You think I would hurt my own-,” Edward’s voice cut off and it seemed whatever rage he had been doling out to Louis had suddenly turned inwards. Louis wondered what he was going to say, what he had been planning on calling Harry. His original? His clone? His brother? He shoved more potatoes into his mouth.

Edward made a frustrated noise. Louis wondered how hard it was for him talk so candidly with him. “I’ve been trying to help him. He seems to be under the impression that if we ever do see face to face again I will-,”

Louis cut him off this time, “Kill him. Experiment on him.” He offered and Edward nodded grimly. “Maybe it’s because he saw you kill your own father? The man who created you.” Louis rolled his eyes, pushing the last of the meat into his mouth, licking at the garlic butter left on his hand.

Going stock still, Edward stared at Louis with wide eyes, “He was witness to… He never told me…” He grimaced, either because he realized how vulnerable he suddenly sounded or because he realized there had never been a chance for a sit-down chat between him and Harry.

Finished pacing, Edward sat down, directly across from Louis and spoke, very slowly, “Listen very carefully little gem.” He ordered, “I didn’t kill our father because of some narcissistic desire or psychotic reason to overthrow the family but because of what he told me. He had failed with Marcel and he had failed with me, despite me being closer to the desired result. From my blood, he created another clone.” Louis’s eyebrows shot up, “A clone so incomplete that my father raged in his offices for hours, ripping apart books and slicing his desk into wood splinters with his lightsaber. He realized that Marcel and I were useless in all the ways he desired us. The only one he truly needed was Harry. But not like he was. He needed access to everything Harry was. His blood, his cells, his brain and his heart. He was going to take Harry, who was merely a toddler at the time and lay him down on one of the tables Marcel and I were so used too and, like he did with us, poke and prod and bleed him. Only, Harry wouldn’t make it out alive. He was going to harvest him like cattle, take his bits and try and improve his failure.” Louis had wanted to cover his face with his hands as if that would protect him from the words, the story sinking into his flesh and burning his nerves raw they were shaking and covered in food and he couldn’t do anything with them. “I… Despite my flaws, little gem, I love my family. My brothers and would do anything -everything- in my power to protect them. So I did.”

“Then why would you help Zidar get the holocron?” Louis wondered and Edward nearly smiled at him.

“You don’t know why the holocron is a part of you yet. Why it chose you out of everyone in the galaxy.” Louis nodded. “The reason our parents left the temple was that they stole the holocron. You were a sickly infant, born a month and a half premature. You weren’t going to make it. The Jedi, unfortunately, believed it was what the Force wanted. Kismet. Your mother wouldn’t hear of such a thing. In the dead of night, she along with my own mother snuck into the temple room where it was being held and snatched it. Their husbands, packed and carrying my brother, met them at the doors and they disappeared into the night. The holocron sensed how compromised you were and latched onto you. It absorbed your physical form, allowing itself to manifest in such a way,” he tapped his fingertips along the blue veins that tattooed Louis’s skin, “and it allowed you to take the strength from it, keeping you alive and healthy.”

“Then why would you want it? You’re healthy,” Louis pointed out, sounding almost upset. All his words were rushing through his body. He didn’t feel light anymore from the bacta tank. He was feeling heavier and heavier.

Edward nodded, “It’s not for me that I want the holocron.” He admitted, “It’s... for my brother.”

“Marcel?”

“No…I believe you call him Kalani.”

What?”

“The failed clone my father took from my blood was Kalani, the reason he needed Harry. If my studies are correct, if I am able to remove the gem from you and give it to Kalani he should form into… Well, he should be given a complete form.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 35
They Are The Stars, They’re Dying For You (But I Hope They Live Forever)

A sharp intake of breath and: “You knew I was visiting Kalani?” Louis blinked, eyes wide and taken aback.

Edward gave him a dead-eyed look, “Nothing happens on this ship without I knowing. You sneaking out of your room and snooping wasn’t that hard to discover.”

Debating it for a moment, Louis said, “But you just let me?”

“Now you’re assuming I care that much.”

“But you care if I get killed,” Louis pointed out, hands still messy with food. Edward pulled a black handkerchief from his within his robe, much to Louis’s amazement and grabbed his wrists so he could begin wiping at his hands.

“Yes, but I have altruistic reasons for that.” Edward rolled his eyes, inspecting Louis’s hands to make sure they were as clean as he was able to get them.

Laughing, Louis grinned widely, “I didn’t realize you even knew that word. Doesn’t seem like it would be part of your diction.”

Edward released Louis’s hands, dropping the handkerchief on the empty plate between them. “You’re really going to focus on my surprising diction after everything I told you?”

Louis rubbed his palms against his thighs, “Well, I need to tell Harry that you aren't out to kill him. And one of us needs to tell him about his father.” He gave Edward a pointed look. “He needs to know he still has a family. A family that cares for him. He needs to know he's not alone. It’s… important he knows that.”

Eyes lighting up, a smirk curled at Edward’s lips, “He’s not alone though, is he, little one? Not when he has you, so loyal and dauntless at his side.”

Face heating up, Louis dragged his eyes away from Edward, chewing at his lip. “You want to kill me though, don’t you?” He dared to ask. “Take the gem for Kalani.” His face screwed up in concentration, daring to look back up at Edward.

The man in question merely rose a neat eyebrow, “Hmm, you are mistaken, as usual, little gem.” Louis huffed. “There are other ways to remove the gem without killing you. You’re alive and healthy. You don’t need its life source anymore. You can be sustained on your own. You just have to want to give it away.”

“Want to?”

Edward nodded, “You’ve spent this entire time keeping it safe and wanting it protected. You’ve bonded with it. It’s defined who you are up to this very moment.” His face softened in a way that reflected Harry’s and Louis’s heart leaped. “But you need to know it’s okay now. You don’t need to keep fighting.

Louis’s face pinched, “No, I do. I do need to keep fighting.” There was such a conviction in his voice that Edward’s eyebrows shot up in surprise and he leaned away, looking intrigued. “I do need to keep fighting and I will. But I don’t need the holocron, I agree with you. I want Kalani to have it.”

 


Niall’s eyes were narrowed at Louis, inspecting him like he was looking at a stranger. “You can’t just give up the holocron!” He hissed at him, gritting his teeth and looking like an angry toddler.

“I will not be giving it up,” Louis promised, “I’ll just be giving it to Kalani.” He paused and seemed to think about. “Eventually,” he added. “He’ll be in too much danger now and Edward agreed. Zidar has to die first.” Niall flinched at the sound of the name. “When he’s gone and the hunt for the holocron dies out, then I will give it to Kalani so he can be fully restored and safe.”

Sighing, Niall nodded, “Okay, that makes sense but you're just putting yourself in more danger, especially if you wanna target Zidar.”

Louis shook his head, “I don’t want to target him. He will come to me. He will come for the holocron and I just have to be ready.”

Niall looked like he wanted to argue, “I’m so mad at you for agreeing to this but I also wanna agree with you. Damn you,” he sighed, rubbing at his face and leaning against the window more heavily. They let silence fall between them before Niall piped up, “Don’t you think it’s weird that Eadh’hard cares so much -supposedly- about his brother but he didn’t have a name until you arrived and decided to name him?”

Louis sighed, smiling, “I asked that already, don’t worry. Edward said that he was going to wait for Kalani to pick a name for himself so he and Marcellus were just calling him ‘brother’.”

Humming, Niall nodded his head, looking less than pleased, as if hoping he had found some kind of loophole. Running his nails along his teeth, he added, “By the way, what in the stars are you wearing?”

Louis rolled his eyes, “Please, don’t ask.” Thankfully, it was one of the tamer outfits Louis had been given. It was a long black dress with no sleeves. There were separate sleeve pieces to slide on. On the front of the dress and on the side of the sleeves were large silver triangle gems, intricate chains drooping off of them and wrapping around his body. Picking at the silver broach on the center of his chest, Louis grumbled, “I’m just happy to be out of my old clothes, honestly.”

Snorting, Niall grinned, “At least you got new clothes, even if they are odd. I’m still stuck in these. They’re starting to chaff down south,” Niall grumbled, rubbing his crotch. Louis laughed and kicked at him, the dress flying up in the air around his feet and making Niall laugh and slap at him. Missing with his slap, Niall grabbed his ankles and held them, letting Louis kick and wiggle like a trapped animal, squealing with laughter.

Struggling with Louis’s flailing legs, Niall curled his body over top of his feet and held them there. “Do you suppose they’ll give us a ship?”

Louis paused with his kicking, looking curiosity at Niall. “Do we need a ship?”

“Of course, we’ll need a ship to fly back into Orionis.”

Before Niall could say anymore, Edward came storming into the room. They were in Louis’s room so Louis wasn’t surprised but Niall sure was, jumping and twisting towards the door in shock, still holding Louis’s feet. Edward let his gaze sweep over them, merely raising an eyebrow at their antics before announcing: “I have contacted your ship and your… Captain. He will be opening the loading bay for your return. You shall take one of the many tie-fighters which shall then become the personal belonging of Louis.” He made a face like saying Louis’s name left an off taste in his mouth.

Louis raised an eyebrow, “Why would you leave it with me? Niall at least knows how to fly ships.” Edward stared at him. “Oh, right, got it.” Louis gave him a thumbs up. “Thank you, I guess. For the ship.” Louis gave a shy smile, which looked ridiculous with his feet still up and being held by Niall. Edward sighed and waved a hand, indicating to them to hurry up.

Niall dropped Louis’s feet and let him stand, them both walking over to the door, past Edward. Edward grabbed Louis’s bare shoulder, stopping him. “You remember our deal?” He furrowed his brow seriously.

Louis smiled, nodding, “Of course. I will not go back on my word. It’s a promise.” Edward still didn’t look convinced and for a second it seemed like he was going to grab Louis and throw him onto his bed and then lock him in - again. Louis held up his fist, his pinky stretched out.

Edward stared at it, gaze flickering to his face, “What is this?”

“Hook your pinky with mine,” Louis ordered, giving Edward a pointed look. Edward looked ready to refuse and Louis pouted, his bottom lip trembling and he wiggles his finger encouragingly. Edward groaned and hooked his pinky, which was icy cold, with Louis’s.

“Why are we doing this?” Edward grounded out, bearing his teeth agitatedly.

Louis grinned, “It’s a promise,” he explained, softly. “We made a promise and it’s can’t be broken.” Seeing Edward’s furrowed brow he added, “And friends don’t lie.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 36
And You Sigh In Your Sleep (And Meaning Returns With The Day)

Toweling off his hair, Louis felt like he could get rid of all the sweat from the Writhing Rogue, every touch from the doctor and his goon and every scathing insult from Loya. He felt like he had scrubbed it all off in the freezing cold water which he had soaked in for far longer than he thought he would. His fingers and toes were all pruned and he could see where the skin was peeling back from worrying his nails between his teeth.

There was a knock on his door and Louis paused, "Just a moment," he called, rushing to grab some clothes. Apparently, people weren't as comfortable with nudity here as they were back home.

Pulling on a pair of loose joggers and a long sleeved shirt, Louis answered the door.

It wasn't who he expected at all.

"Captain Yaser?"

The man smiled, his beard lifting up at the corner of his mouth. “Louis, my boy, it's good to see you. I was very concerned when I heard what happened," his thick brows furrowed and beneath his mustache Louis could make out the pinching of his lips.

"Were you?" He wondered, tired. "Or were you worried for the holocron?"

Yaser seemed surprised by his response and said, “Well, you're one in the same."

Louis shook his head, not even bothering to argue with the man. He wasn't the stone and the stone wasn't him. It may have helped him, may have saved him and his friends but they weren't the same. The holocron only did what Louis willed it too. It was a gun and Louis was pulling the trigger.

"I'm tired." Louis murmured, and Yaser nodded.

"As expected after your ordeal, my boy.”

"Don't." Louis was struck by how cold his voice was, thick with weariness.

Yaser frowned, “Don’t what, Louis?”

"My boy." Louis's eye twitched. "I'm not your boy."

Despite smiling, there was something hidden beneath the stretched lips Louis didn't like. Like sea monsters lurking beneath the surface, gluttonous and craving blood. Yaser shook his head, a sense of finality to it like he wasn't used to people back talking him, “Yes, you are. You wear my tattoo. You're one of my boys now, Louis."

"No. I decide who I belong too and I belong to myself. I belong to the tide and the sky, I belong to the stars and galaxies and the moon is my Mother. They belong to me and I belong to them and no one else." He spoke with such a fierceness Yaser took a step back but then he realized what he had done, and his face burned like molten fire.

"Listen here boy, I-,"

"No. My name is Louis, not boy." Louis's voice was much louder than he planned, "instead of being concerned for me, maybe take some time to pay attention to your own son. A son who loves you and respects you."

Yaser frowned, face still red, "Zayn? What's he got to do with this? This is between you and me, boy.”

Louis shook his head, sneering, “No, this is between you and Zayn, your son. Your boy. Instead of chasing after me, pay some attention to him. He deserves something from you. Even if it's just words." He spat, something old and dormant uncoiling in his belly. His father had never given him the time of day at home: Louis was a failure for a male, not a good hunter or fighter. He was abnormal and would never be the son his father had always wanted. Zayn was more than Louis. More than Louis could have ever hoped to achieve and his father would barely acknowledge him. He wanted to tear something apart. Maybe the room, maybe himself... maybe Yaser.

Yaser stared at him for a long moment before he whispered, "I worry for him, more than you know. But-," he paused, "It doesn't matter now. It's too late." He wouldn't meet Louis's eyes.

"Too late to be worried?" Louis wondered, frowning, surprised by the man’s candor.

"Too late to guide him." Yaser corrected.

Something yearned inside of Louis, "Guiding should be the same as love and it's never too late for that."

 

 

Taking a large swig from his water glass, Louis was aware of Niall’s eyes of him. He was still dressed in the long, loose gown, his feet curled beneath him and his dress floating off the edge of the chair. Niall had changed as soon as they had arrived back on the Orionis into a pair of black pants and a white tee, a black vest thrown over with his usual large, beat up, brown utility belt hanging on his hips. He was leaning against a large window, smirking at Louis.

They were in one of the game’s rooms on the Orionis. There were smugglers playing something called liar’s dice at big round tables. The entire far side of the room was a big window and on the other wide was a drink bar with several men sitting at it, faces buried in their cups.

The room was just barely silent other than the clinking of classes, the shaking of dice and the muttering of the soldiers. Louis rather liked the vibe in the room. Nobody seemed on edge and the drink made a sweet smell throughout the room. Louis liked that the smugglers didn’t seem to care he was there, barely even glancing at him or Niall. (Though Louis supposed, Niall was a common occurrence in the ship; they wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the games room.)

Louis drank greedily from his glass until it was empty and his lips were shimmering and cold. He smacked his lips and glanced over at the bar, debating whether he should get another water. Niall followed his gaze, his arms crossed across his chest. Then his eyes wandered to the tables. “We should play liar’s dice.”

Louis followed his gaze, “How do you play?”

Niall seemed thrown off by the question before he grinned, “Alright; I’ll teach you, and then we play.” Louis nodded his head eagerly. “We need two or more players.” He gestured to the two of them, “and a set of dice. All players roll once and the bids relate to the dice in each players hand, plus the concealed dice in the other player's hands.”

“How do you bid?” Louis asked, frowning and setting his cup down on the small side table next to his chair.

“Let’s say we’re playing and we each have five dice. I’ve rolled one two, one three, and three fives. I bet between the both of us, there are three fives. You have five dice and roll one four, two sixes, a three and a one. You say no, that’s a lie.” Louis nodded. “But, because I was telling the truth, I would win the round and you would lose a dice.”

Louis hummed, glancing at the table of men, “And we keep going until only one person has dice left?”

Niall grinned, “Exactly. Do you get it?”

Nodding, Louis beamed back at him, “Let’s play!”

Jumping to their feet, Niall pulled him over to one of the large green velvet top tables that looked like they had seen better days. They pulled out their old rickety chairs and Louis was careful with his gown as he sat, the man across the table from him eyeing him like a piece of meat. Niall plopped down beside him and grinned, “Wanna play with us McInek? Louis here is a newbie. Wanna teach him the ropes?”

Before McInek could answer another man came up from a different table. “Oh, I’m sure McInek would love to teach your friend the ropes.” He chuckled, revealing golden front teeth.

Niall rolled his eyes, “Shut your mouth, Rance.” He handed Louis his dice and opaque cup, used to jiggle the dice around in and hide their rolls from each other. Rance grinned a slimy look on his weathered face and fell into one of the other chairs. Niall narrowed his eyes, “Gonna play or watch?”

“Eh, I’ve played so much, figured I could do with a bit of watching.” His eyes swept over Louis’s shoulders and Niall seethed.

“Roll the fucking dice McInek,” He ordered as he and Louis juggled their dice around in their cups. McInek jumped and forced himself to drag his wide eyed gaze away from Louis and focus on the game at hand. Holding their cups, they shook the dice around before slapping them down on the table top.

Louis tilted his cup up. He had five dice: a three, a six, a four and two fives. He glanced at Niall who gave an encouraging smile. “I bid that there are two fives.” He muttered, glancing around unsurely.

Niall nodded, “Good, Lou,” he praised, “I bid four fives.”

McInek licked his lips, glancing at Louis, “Five ones,” he announced.

Louis frowned. Five ones? Bullshit. There was no way he had five ones! Louis wanted to see this man’s five ones. That was complete shit. Probably no one had any ones. Freaking lousy liar. “Um, I call a lie,” he announced unsurely, surprising McInek and Niall beamed like a proud father.

“Show,” Niall announced, lifting his cup, Louis, and McInek following his lead. Louis glanced around. He and Niall didn’t have any ones and McInek had one. So fucking dumb. Fucking McInek.

McInek threw one of his dice into the center of the table, showing it was out of play. The three of them shook their dice in their cups again, dropping them onto the table before tilting the cup up to peer down.

They continued playing, Louis shuffling under the gazes of McInek and Rance who was keeping a close eye on him and grinning, lighting up a smoke and puffing at it as he stared. Louis found himself growing increasingly competitive the more they played and Niall even seemed surprised by how into it he got. At one point he shouted at McInek, “I see your trickery! Lie!” and Niall burst out laughing, “Lou, chill out man.” He patted Louis’s shoulder and Rance watched with hungry eyes.

Eventually, Louis and Niall knocked McInek out, much to the man’s surprise, leaving Niall and Louis to face each other. Louis still had four dice and Niall had three by the time McInek had been knocked out, much to Louis’s surprise. He love it when Niall called him out and it proved to be a mistake. He was thriving.

In the end, Louis won with three dice and Niall was beaming like a proud mother. “Go fuck yourself McInek!” Niall declared, high-fiving Louis and throwing a fist into the air. McInek rolled his eyes, huffing, picked up his cup and dice and headed to one of the other tables.

Rance leaned forward, “Wanna play with some stakes?”

Niall paused in his cheering and crossed his arms, “What do you mean, Rance? What the fuck do you want?” He looked unamused, angrier than anything. Louis wondered if he had a history with Rance. He would have to ask.

“I win and I get half an hour with-,”

Niall pulled back his fist and punched Rance straight in the nose, sending him flying out of his chair. Louis watched in amazement, curious to know what his sentence had been leading too. There was a loud crunch when Niall’s fist connected with the man’s nose and blood spurted into the air, splattering onto the green topped table. Louis frowned, wrinkling his nose in disgust.

Everyone in the room paused what they were doing to watch, looking keen and hopeful for a good fight and almost eager to jump in.

“Oo, what’s going on here?” It was Caflice, along with his friend Byff. Louis beamed and waved eagerly at them, feeling like it had been forever since he had last seen them. “A good ol’ brawl, eh Niall?” Caflice teased as he walked up to them, ruffling Louis’s hair good-naturedly.

Niall was seething though, “Take this piece of shit to detainment. I’ll tell Zayn why.”

Caflice raised his eyebrows, walking around the table and grabbing Rance but the back of his shirt, “Make a play at little bird?” He asked, indicating to Louis. Niall nodded and Caflice shoved Rance toward Byff who caught him and began to drag him outside of the games room.

Caflice sighed, crossing his arms behind his head, “Aw man, I wanted to get drunk and fuck some people over in dice. Always making work for me, eh Niall?”

With Rance gone, Niall was more relaxed, smiling again. “You look better when you work, hun,” he teased, slapping him on the back. “You know I like it when you work it for me.”

Caflice sighed, “Only because you treat me so sweetly.” As he walked out of the room he tossed Louis a wink.

Turning to Louis, Niall jerked a thumb towards the bar, “I need a drink.”

Louis nodded, “Me too.”

“Oh?” Niall raised an eyebrow, “What do you want?”

“A water, of course.”

“Of course.” Niall laughed.

With their drinks, they moved back to their original seats, Louis tucking his feet under him again, his toes cold and curling up into the chair. Louis began to chug his water, gulping loudly as the room resumed its regular tempo. “I’m surprised he let you go.” Niall suddenly blurted, taking in the image of Louis curled up in the chair, smacking his wet lips together.

Raising an eyebrow, Louis glanced around to see if anyone was paying attention to them anymore, “What do you mean? Rance?” he tilted his head, confused. No one was looking at them still, even with them talking. Not even McInek was looking, probably wouldn't after what he saw happened to Rance he was too scared too.

“No, no, not that slime ball. Eadh’hard. I thought he wanted to keep you for himself.” Niall admitted, looking like he had been mulling the topic in his head around for a while.

Louis wanted to laugh, gazing at his friend in concern. It seemed to be an odd thing to be suddenly concerned about, “We’ve come to an arraignment. It’s okay,” he reminded him, reassuring him with a wave of his hand wrapped around his cup. He gave Niall a soft smile.

It didn’t seem to be as reassuring as he wanted because Niall froze, staring at him, mouth gaping, “You didn’t!” He cried, obviously forgetting what Louis had meant.

Blinking, Louis looked around again, shuffling in his seat, “Didn’t what?” He took another sip.

Niall slapped his face, groaning, “Agree to become his sex slave!” He hissed, looking alarmed with bulging eyes.

Louis blinked dumbly up at him, “What?” He had to stop himself from giggling hysterically at the sudden exclamation. He was pretty sure he had told Niall the deal already but they had both been a bit out of it so many he messed up on the details…

“Yes, what?” Came a new voice. It was Harry walking up to them, weaving past men to get to Niall and Louis’s sitting are. He was wearing a pair of tight black pants tucked into his high red boots and a black tee shirt that was tight and stretched across his broad chest and showed off his fantastic biceps. The ink on his arms looked dark and fresh in contrast to the black fabric. He dropped into the chair next to Louis, looked relaxed, with his hair damp and fresh smelling, sticking up with wild curls. His eyes were glittering like the gem on Louis’s forehead and he looked tanned and beautiful and Louis could have honestly cried. (Preferably in Harry’s strong, muscular arms.)

Pulling eyes away from Harry’s arms to Niall’s knowing face, Louis asked, “Yes, what about me being a sex slave?” Harry raised his eyebrows and Louis shrugged at him.

Niall sighed, “You said you made an arrangement. Does that arrangement include sex with Edh’hard?”

“What!?” Louis and Harry cried out at the same time, causing Niall to jump. “There will be no sex involved with me and Edward!” Louis promised. “Gross!” He shuddered, thinking of Edward’s cold skin and colder eyes.

Harry opened his mouth and then paused, “Why would it be gross?” He wondered, aloud, looking worried with his eyebrows scrunched.

Louis raised an eyebrow at him and Niall’s head was whirling to look between them. “Have you met your brother?” Louis asked, quirking a brow.

Harry nodded, “Yeah, a few times. He did kill our father, after all,” he pointed out.

Louis winced, “Okay, I probably need to talk to you about that,” he paused, “or Edward does.” Harry sighed, looking reluctant to talk about the matter anymore. He gave Louis a curious look though, obviously wondering what Louis needed to speak to him about.

“So we’ve established there will be no sex between you and Eadh’hard?” Niall asked, looking far more interested than Louis thought he should have been.

Rolling his eyes, Louis sighed, “Yes Niall. I don’t want to have sex with Edward.” He paused, “The deal, remember? The one I told you about on the Urania?” He held Niall’s gaze for a long while and the blond’s face heated up.

“Ooh, right. That deal. That good deal that you made that I hated but now hate less.” He nodded his head and seemed to muse on something. Louis could practically see the light going off in his head.

Immediately, Niall turned to Harry and began to make jerking hand motions that Louis didn’t understand. Harry began to mirror them, shaking his head no vigorously. Niall began to nod just as violently. “I hate you both,” Louis deadpanned. They both paused, gave him faux hurt looks and then looked back at each other, shaking and nodding their heads still.

“Louis, Harry has something to tell you!” Niall suddenly announced, dodging Harry’s well-aimed punch at his arm.

“Oh?” Louis turned and looked expectantly at Harry.

Niall quickly shook his head, “No, no. It’s important, really important.”

“Life and death important?” Louis’s muscles tightened and he looked ready to jump out of his chair.

Niall nodded his head eagerly, “Yes, yes! Louis, you have to hear the poor man out!” He cried dramatically, pretending to swoon.

Harry groaned, “Oh stars, Niall, shut up. Louis, he’s pulling your leg, don’t listen to this bleached nerf herder.”

“Who are you calling bleached, you tattooed ruffian!”

Continuing as if Niall hadn’t spoken, Harry said, “It’s not life and death important and honestly, you don’t need to know anything. It’s mostly Niall being a pain.” He shot Niall a glare and the blond beamed angelically.

Louis raised an eyebrow, “Well, now I’m curious.” He grinned and watched Harry groan and kick his legs out, stretching out like a long cat, grimacing like the conversation was putting him in actual physical pain. Louis giggled and copied him, kicking out his legs from underneath, making sure his dress fell down with him. He slid down in the chair and pouted, copying Harry’s expression.

Niall pretended to wipe away a tear, “Birds of a feather.” He glanced at Harry and rolled his eyes, “You emotionally stunted curly haired-,” he broke off and made a strangling motion with his hands. “Louis, Harry is in lo-,” Louis nearly screamed in surprise when Harry suddenly jumped forward, launching off the chair and tackling into Niall and sending them both to the floor, Niall shrieking. Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing to look and Louis groaned, covering his face with his hands. Embarrassed, he leaped to his feet and walked out of the room, cheeks burning. He didn’t see Harry shooting up off Niall and hurrying after him.

Just as Louis rushed through the door, all the lights shut off and the low muttering of the ship raised into excited talk and confusion. Louis froze, looking down either way of the hallway to see it was empty, the doors living the way closed. It was hard to make out anything but what was near him, the hallways leading into black abysses.

Someone grabbed his arm and Louis jumped, whirling around to meet Harry’s eyes. “What’s happened?”

“I’m not sure; the power must have shorted. I wonder why the generator hasn’t kicked in yet.”

Just then Niall came shooting out of the game room and went running down the corridor past them. Louis and Harry blinked after him, startled by his sudden appearance and disappearance. They exchanged looks, “Well, seems like Niall is on it.” Louis mused, trying to make out the silhouette of Harry. He could see the curls of his hair bouncing on his forehead and the jut of his cheekbones and jaw, even in the darkness.

"What did you wanna talk about?" Louis asked abruptly, trying to not smirk and falling against the wall of the darkened corridor. He glanced around again. “I don’t think Niall would bring it up if he didn’t think it was important. Or maybe he just wanted to bug me. I’m sure he thought it was important though. I trust Niall. I think you should tell me. Do you think Niall will have this figured out soon?" He wondered aloud. He paused and nearly starting to bang his head on the wall. He needed to learn to stop babbling.

Harry chuckled, looking unfazed. "I'm sure he will, Niall seems to be good with everything." He placed on hand on the side of Louis's head, allowing himself to lean his weight on it. "I did want to tell you something, actually.”

Louis snickered, “Shocker.” He beamed, pleased.

Harry huffed and continued, “Sometimes I've been putting off." He screwed his face up as if berating himself for it. Or berating Niall for bringing it up. Louis was practically squirming with excitement.

Louis was grinning but then his expression fell in realization. "Is it bad?" He dreaded.

Harry shook his head quickly, “No, no, nothing like that. Well, I think it's good. I hope you do too." He admitted and Louis admired the bright pink his cheeks went, even noticeable in the dark and how his little sheepish grin made a dimple pop out. Louis immediately poked it, eyes wide.

Harry burst out laughing and made to bite at his finger and Louis squeaked, tugging his hand away.

"Is it about Edward? Have you… decided to talk to him?" Louis asked, keeps his eyes open for another dimple pop. He had been trying to persuade Harry to talk to his clone brother since he and Niall had been returned to the ship but of course, Harry wasn’t keen on the idea. Louis wasn't going to stop though. Either Harry heard the truth from Edward or Louis would tell the stubborn man himself.

Immediately Harry said, “As long as you haven't agreed to be his sex slave.” Louis barked out a surprised laugh and Harry looked like he wanted to punch himself for his instinctual response. Sighing and shaking his head as if trying to ignore himself, Harry opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again. "Uh, no. It's actually not about Edward. I.. I haven't decided yet." He admitted, sounding thrown off by his own answer. Louis, however, was delighted. "No, this is something entirely different." He used his free hand to grab one of Louis's as if seeking out support. Louis held on, biting his lip and hoping it was going to be okay. They had already been through so much, Louis wasn’t sure how much more he would be able to handle. But, if it was good news…

Louis wondered if he should help Harry out some more: he seemed to be a bit weak and shaky. Louis was about to offer help in getting him back to the room so he could lie down (maybe he wasn't feeling well?) when Harry opened his quivering mouth again.

"Louis... I.." Harry took a deep breath, shaking. He closed his eyes tightly, his lips trembling and dry. He licked at them (Louis watched with avid interest) and tried again, "Louis, I love-," there was an explosion and light filled the corridor once again.

Before they could even react to the sudden light and the aftershock, Niall, Zayn, and Liam came sprinting out, emerging from a corner at the end of the hall, faces panicked. "Where have you two been?” Zayn gasped, face contorted into pure panic.

Liam looked just as worried but Niall rolled his eyes and muttered, “Trying to get it on.” Everyone ignored him.

Louis blinked and exchanged looks with Harry, who had released his hands in the shock of the explosion, "What's happening?" Louis asked as Niall strode over and gave him a quick hug.

"My father is dead," Zayn announced, face flushed and voice shaking. There were tears brimming in his eyes but he kept blinking them away. "And Mercurius and his traitors are taking over the ship." There was another explosion, deeper within the ship that made the floors vibrate. "We gotta escape: now.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 37
You Refuse To Talk But You Think Like Mad

There was another explosion that shook the ship and the doors were opening in the hall, people flooding out of them and running in either direction, shoving the boys around. Louis probably would have been lost in the crowd if Niall hadn’t been holding onto him, keeping him with the group. Then, someone shot a blaster and voices were suddenly yelling.

“We gotta get going!” Zayn yelled and they took off down the corridor. They started pushing past the confused and angry smugglers, running down stairs onto other floors. And then they ran into Rance, his ugly face twisted into a wide grin.

“Been looking for you, Horan.” He told Niall. He pulled his blaster off his hip and held it out, seeming unfazed by the fact there were five of them and one of him. “The old man got what he deserved and now you will too.” He cackled, cocking the gun. His nose was still twisted and red from Niall’s earlier punch dried blood around the nostrils.

Louis huffed and concentrating on the feeling of the force around him, waved his hand, sending the blaster up into the air. Rance jumped, looking horrified before he pulled another smaller blaster from his boot. Rolling his eyes Louis waved his hand again and the smaller blaster shot up into the air, both blasters just hovering.

“What the fuck is this?” Rance hissed, “I’ll just kill you with my bare hands, Horan. And then I’ll take your little whore for myself!” He lunged forward but Liam moved just as quick, throwing a big arm right into his face. His elbow hit Rance right in the eye, sending him on his back and knocking him out.

Niall cheered, “Damn Liam! Knew those muscles just weren’t for looks!” He clapped the doctor on his back.

Liam grumbled, looking embarrassed but pleased and shoved Niall playfully away. Louis let the guns gently levitate down, giving the large one to Liam and the smaller one to Niall. Niall pouted and Liam switched with him, rolling his eyes.

“Rance!” Another man yelled and suddenly the corridor was flooding with smugglers and not ones who supported Yaser apparently. The same one yelled, “Get Zayn! Bring Mercurius his head!” And suddenly there was blaster fire everywhere.

Louis tried to concentrate on stopping it, some of the blasts shooting off to the sides in his effort. They rushed back to the end of the corridor but suddenly the ship was locking down. Doors were swinging shut and even the blast doors through out the corridors were falling shut. “Get the blast doors back open!” Someone yelled.

“We’re going to be sitting ducks in here!” Liam pointed out, whirling to look at Zayn.

Before Zayn could even begin to answer he was cut off however but a loud cackle from Niall, who had pulled something open on the wall. “Into the garbage chute, fly boy!” Niall announced, smacking Liam in the arm. Exchanging reluctant looks, the boys threw themselves into the chute, one by one.

Louis was the third one down, right after Liam and Zayn. Harry and Niall followed after him. They fell down into the garbage room, the ground covered in thick sludgy water and scraps of metal, piping and old trash.

“Oh, what an incredible smell you've discovered!” Zayn grumbled, trying to stand on some of the garbage to get away from the dark waters beneath. All the boys flailed around, trying to get away from the splashing cold water sloshing around their calves.

They clambered to the sides and began to push on the walls, swearing and trying to find a way out. Niall swore, “It’s magnetically sealed,” he snarled, slapping the wall. He slid off some of the garbage, nearly falling into the water. He rubbed at his sweaty forehead.

“It could be worse,” Liam offered, clutching at the wall.

Just then something in the water moved, bubbles floating to the top. “It’s worse,” Harry gulped, trying to get himself out of the water too.

Louis squeaked, “Something moved past my leg!” He scrambled up the shambles of trash, grabbing on to Harry’s arm for balance. He lost his balance though and fell back into the water, the trash giving out beneath him and sending him slipping to the ground. “Frick…” He grumbled and tried to get back up out of the water. He was too late though. Something grabbed his ankle, tight and slimy, and pulled. It pinched and hurt so much Louis let out a strangles gasp and then Louis was pulled under water. He could hear the boys yelling for him, splashing through the water but he was being pulled and tugged like a rag doll. It yanked him back and forth, rolling him around, the tentacle curling around his entire body, coiling around his neck. It wasn’t the worst pain Louis had ever felt but the lack of air from being submerged underwater was being excruciating. He hadn’t been able to get a breath before he had been pulled under.

He kicked and flailed and the grip loosened enough he was able to get his head above the water for a deep breath. The boys were yelling for him and Niall, the closest, lunged and tried to grab him but he was pulled under again. Trying to stop panicking again, Louis concentrated on the stone, on the feeling of the force around him as he curled his fingers around the tentacle around his neck. Then, the stone lit up, bathing the water bright blue. It ignited, hot and steaming in the water and the force around him burst. As soon as that happened the tentacle recoiled, allowing Louis to scramble back up to the surface.

He was immediately grabbed by Harry and Niall, tugging him to his feet out of the water, moving him towards the piles of junk to the sides of the garbage. “What happened?” Harry asked, moving a hand to cup Louis around the waist to keep him balanced.

“I don’t know, but at least it let go. Now it’s gone, somewhere.” Louis huffed, eyes scanning the water. They all fell silent and inspected the water, watching it with baited breathe.

Zayn broke the silence first, “Niall, can you tell us what floor we landed on?”

Niall nodded and pulled something out from his jacket pocket. It beeped to life and Niall began to click away on it, raising it around the room. A light came out of it and it flitted around the walls. “Detention level.”

Zayn cursed, “We need to get to the hanger, get to a ship and get away as quick as possible.”

“I’ve got Immran all fixed up!” Niall declared, looking eager. “She’ll be the perfect getaway ship.” He glanced at Louis, “Not all of us will fit in your tie-fighter, Lou.” He sounded sympathetic but Louis merely shrugged a wet shoulder, feeling water-logged and heavy in his soaked gown.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” Liam grumbled and Niall rolled his eyes, flapping his mouth around in a mocking gesture. Louis giggled, holding onto Harry’s arm, the man’s arm securely around his waist, keeping him close. And then, there was a groaning sound that made them all freeze.

Exchanging looks they realized there was groaning and creaking and then the walls were closing in. The boys screamed, scrambling to the walls and shoving themselves against it. “What the fuck!?” Niall yelled, “What is this bullshit?”

“Garbage smashers!” Liam called back, pressing his shoulder against the wall as he tried to slow it down. Louis was copying him on the opposite wall, clinging to it and trying to push it back. Harry grabbed some piping, a long piece that was heavy and metal, twisting it so it was pushing between the two walls.

“One thing's for sure, we’re all gonna be a lot thinner,” Niall groused, heaving against the wall.

“Niall, can’t you shut down the garbage smashers?” Zayn yelled over the crushing of the garbage. The walls were starting to get really close, the boys almost on top of each other.

“I don’t have authorization!”

“Give it here!”

Niall thrust his communicator into Zayn’s hands and he fumbled with it, tapping away. There was faint beeping as he typed, the boys groaning and yelling as the walls continued to push in. Zayn began to yell into the com, “Shut down all the garbage smashers on the detention level!” He yelled, “Shut down all the garbage smashers on the detention level!” All the other boys began to yell it too and Zayn was shaking the com.

“Shut down all-!”

The walls topped and began to open again, the trash falling back into the water and boys falling away from the wall.

“Holy shit!” Niall gasped, rushing towards Louis and grabbing him in a hug. “Now we gotta get out of here.” Just as he said that the holocron lit up, bathing the garbage compactor in bright blue light.

“I think I know.” Louis grinned.

The thing about being trapped in a trash compactor for an extended amount of time meant that Mercurius’s smugglers had been confused and had left the corridor they had been in. Focusing on the force, Louis helped himself and boys climb up out of the chute, feeling dead on his feet by the time they made it to the top and back into the corridor. Allowing Harry to help him, the five boys rushed to the hanger, luckily not running into any smugglers. However, the hanger had them crawling all over. There were a handful of ships already missing that Louis assumed had been taken by the smugglers loyal to Yaser.

“I see Immran,” Niall hissed as the five of them poked their heads around the corner, looking out onto the hanger. “We should make a run for it.”

Liam rolled his eyes, “No, we’ll get killed.”

Louis shook his head, “No we won’t. I won’t let that happen.” He pointed to the holocron.

“Louis, you’re exhausted, you shouldn’t!” Harry hissed, shifting Louis so their sides were flush against each other.

Shaking his head, Louis reassured, “No, I’m fine. I’ll be able to divert any blasts. It’s easier than carrying five grown men up a garbage chute.” Harry sighed and met Liam’s eyes. Liam looked helpless but Zayn nodded his head and that was that.

Running across an open hanger knowing that everyone wanted to kill them was one of the most adrenaline inducing experiences of Louis’s life, which was saying a lot. He had to concentrate on the force, the feeling of it around his boys and himself. When the smugglers Louis didn’t recognize started shouting and shooting at them, the blasts rocketed off as if they were hitting an invisible force field, shooting up and disappearing. It seemed to piss the smugglers off even more and their yelling began louder and much more aggressive. Niall flipped them the bird as he managed to open the door to the Immran and Louis waited for all the boys to rush in before he did, waiting again for the door to close. As soon as it snapped shut he let himself fall onto his butt, exhausted and hungry.

Niall and Zayn threw themselves into the pilot and co-pilot seats, while Liam and Harry help Louis to his feet, dragging him onto one of the beds and dropping him on it. Louis groaned and curled up, burying his head into the bed. He was jerked around as Niall and Zayn had a shaky takeoff, shooting through the open mouth of the hanger.

“What the fuck!” They heard Niall yell and Harry and Liam exchanged worried glances.

It was Louis’s tie-fighter. Two of the smugglers had jumped into it and were shooting at them. The hit the side of the Immran, setting red lights and blaring alarms off. Louis groaned, covering his ears.

“Niall, what’s happening?” Liam called, face pinched with concern.

“Fuckers are on us! They really want us dead!” The tie-fighter shot again, hitting them on their already injured side and sending them twirling through the stars, shrieking.

“We have to land!” Harry called, “Take us to the nearest planet!”

Up front, Niall shook his head, “We don’t wanna go there, trust me!”

Zayn groaned, “Niall, take us to the nearest planet, it doesn’t matter! We’ll die out here!”

“We’re going to die down there!” Niall argued, hitting switches and pulling levers, looking frantic and buzzed.

“Niall, we’re open season for these guys!” Harry panted, making sure Louis wasn’t rolling off the mattress.

Groaning, Niall typed something in the map coordinates changes, “Fine! I’m sure we’ll have a great time! Just us and Jakku!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 38
Just Walking The Dead

The ship was spiraling straight towards the earth. Louis was unconscious, his body in Harry’s arms as the ship sailed straight down towards the planet’s surface, fire engulfing the entire right side. When it collided with the ground, sand shot up into the sky, grabbing at the wreckage of the ship like the claws of a monster. It extinguished the fire but began to suck and eat greedily the ship.

Harry was certain they were going to die as the sand began to pool inside of the ship but then Louis began to glow, lighting up the entire ship. There was a hissing noise and then another explosion, this one of air around them. Harry, curled around Louis, went shooting straight into the air and was tossed to the side, landing on his back in the hot field of sand. He groaned, adjusting Louis’s weight and looked around. He could see Niall, Liam and Zayn also scattered around the sand. The ship had been peeled open like a fruit, sanding filling into and slowly sucking it into the ground.

Groaning, Harry lifted himself to his feet, Laying Louis down carefully he began to look around, realizing it seemed to be only them for miles, “Zayn?” He called, voice panicked, “Liam?”

Before he could call for Niall, the blond popped up, “Holy shit!” He exclaiming, scrambling to his feet, brushing the sand off himself. He rushed over to Zayn, grabbing at his arm as Liam pulled himself up to help.

Zayn got his feet, looking around. “This is Jakku?” He asked, coughing and rubbing away sand from his clothes.

Niall nodded, “Unfortunately. There’s nothing here but the Niima Outpost. It’s nothing but a barren wasteland.” He paused, “There’s actually more of a history to Jakku but probably only Louis would be interested.”

Zayn snorted, “You’d be right.” Niall pouted.

Liam frowned, ignoring their banter, “We need to find the Niima Outpost then. Which way is it?”

All the boys fell silent, glancing around the barren sand, clueless. The sun was beating down on them, sizzling their skin and they were anxious to get moving. Thankfully, Louis’s holocron flickered to life and Harry and the boys hurried to where he had been left lying. Harry helped him sit up, scooping him up in his arms and letting him lean against his chest. Louis, still mostly unconscious, pointed past Liam, to the west. “That way…” He whispered, sagging into Harry and snoring.

Niall smiled affectionately and Zayn nodded, “You heard the man. That way it is.”

 


They had been hiking for hours under the blazing hot sun and through the slippery, burning sand. Niall had taken off his jacket and he and Harry had fit over Louis so his shoulders wouldn't get burnt. He was hanging off of Harry’s back, his arms resting on his shoulders and face buried in the crook of Harry’s neck. Harry was holding him by his legs, sweat sticking Louis’s chest and Harry’s back together as they walked.

Eventually, must to the relief of the boys, the boys came across a tall Dune and on the other side was the outpost. It was a junkyard settlement, filled with scavengers that salvaged materials from technology left over from the Battle of Jakku. They would take their finds to the Niima Outpost and exchange the goods for supplies. “The outpost’s main gate utilizes architecture akin to that found on Hutt worlds such as Teth,” Niall muttered absently, glancing sadly at the still unconscious Louis.

Harry smiled, “Be sure to tell Louis that when he wakes. That would interest him.” Niall beamed, nodding.

The four of them slid down the side of the dune, sand kicking up behind them and Louis jiggling along on Harry’s back. Scrambling towards the end, they picked up their pace until they were nearly running for the outpost, tired, hot and thirsty. Zigzagging through the runty booths and tables, they collapsed at a large fountain, splashing it up on their faces.

Harry had paused at the fountain edge, gently sliding Louis down to the ground and rearranging him so he was sitting up. Harry cupped some water in his palm and gently poured it out over Louis’s face. He did this several times, his own throat killing him. He was patient though, cupping up some more and using his other hand to open Louis’s mouth, pouring it inside. Asleep, Louis still managed to swallow, sighing in relief. Smiling, Harry allowed himself a drink, alternating between himself and Louis, being rigorously careful with the other boy.

Liam looked up from the fountain, mouth, and chin still wet, “We need to get Louis somewhere to rest. He needs food, water, and shade. We all do.” Harry nodded, his face determined. They were starting to interest the occupants of the crowd though and Harry shifted Louis in his arms, paranoid.

A couple of men with face wrappings were approaching, causing the boys to hastily stand up, Louis leading against Harry. The men spoke something in an alien dialect Harry didn’t recognize. Zayn, however, did. He narrowed his eyes, “No, he’s not for sale.” They spoke something else and Zayn shook his head, “We don’t care the price.” One of the men lunged and Zayn dodged him, giving him an upper cut that sent him straight onto his back. People were staring, even more. The second thug rushed at Zayn. He threw a punch and Zayn grabbed his arm, twisting it up painfully and sending a kick to the man’s side. He crumpled into a heap. The first thug jumped up again and Niall whipped out the blaster Louis had taken from Rance which he had shoved in his pants and shot the thug in the foot. He cried out, falling over, clutching at his bleeding foot.

There was murmuring through the outpost and Zayn turned to Niall, “Really?” He asked, exasperated. Niall grinned sheepishly, tucking the gun away. Zayn rolled his eyes before turning to one of the occupants of a table. In the same alien dialect the thugs had been using, Zayn asked the lady a question, something Harry couldn’t translate. After she responded he turned back to the boys. “They get their food and water from trading at the Concession Stand, run by a man named Unkar Plutt.”

Liam nodded, “Good, we need to speak to him.”

It turned out that Unkar Plutt wasn’t really a man so much as he was blobby skin. He had a disgusting face like he was a melted wax figure, his hands big and bulging like they were overly swollen. He was behind the protection of a barbed wire gate, only a small section to slide goods through on a counter at the Concession Stand. His beady black eyes zeroed in on Louis resting on Harry’s back.

Immediately he said, “100 rations for the boy,” posting a fat finger at the snoozing Louis.

Zayn rolled his eyes, “Not for sale. I’m sure your goons already told you that.”

Unkar Plutt grinned, “You want food, you give me the boy. I’ll accept nothing else.”

Niall pushed in front, eyes narrowed, “You’re a junk dealer. You own junk, not riches. And the boy is a fucking treasure, you disgusting blobfish!” He pulled something from his utility belt and slapped it onto the counter, “I want 20 rations for this, end of the deal.”

Unkar Plutt laughed, “As I just told you, the boy or nothing. You try my patience, scum.”

Niall whipped out his blaster, pointing it at Unkar head, “You listen here-,” he began but was cut off.

“Fancy seeing you boys here, terrorizing the local tyranny.”

Niall nearly fell over in shock but quickly pulled himself together, “Gigi!”

The woman beamed, “The one and only.” She turned to Unkar Plutt, “You’ll forget this happened if you want to keep your hide.” Unkar’s face twisted into a snarl but he fell silent, eyes still lingering on Louis.

Gigi smirked, turning back to the boys, her blonde hair much longer more yellow than the last time Niall had seen her. “Follow me boys. I’m about to save your asses.” Niall pocketed the gadget from the counter quickly.

Saving their asses involves dragging them away from the Concession Stand, marching them through the stands towards the blinding sun. Squinting through the light Harry could make out a large ship, not quite the size of the Orionis but close enough. The side of the ship was open and there were women unloading varying sizes of boxes, trading them for credits from the Jakku locals who were stalking away with the crates.

“Girls, we have something almost as good as credits, These sorry sacks are stranded and injured,” Gigi announced as they approached. Louis groaned against Harry’s neck and he shifted the boy. Gigi glanced at them, “One in particular. Sophia, come with me!” An older girl with long raven hair and a wide mouth jumped to attention, looking worried.

“What happened to him?” She asked, her voice was husky and low like she was afraid to wake him up.

“Too much,” Harry responded. “He needs water. Lots of cold water.” Liam gave him an odd look from the corner of his eye but Harry didn’t bother specifying anymore.

Sophia nodded, “We can do that. We have plenty of water stored on the ship. I’ll run him a bath.” She hurried to the ship, the boys following. Zayn hesitated next to Gigi but she waved him off and he followed the boys onto the ramp and into the mouth of the ship.

Sophia led them into a room that reminded Harry of the one he had been given when he was with Zayn. Instead of white it had dark gray walls and pale blue bed sheets and had a set of double doors that were open to reveal a large bathroom, the tub looking like a nest set up in the corner, with high curved walls.

Hurrying over to the bathtub, Sophia began to run water, waving her hand beneath it to check the temperature. “Make sure it’s cold,” Harry reminded, allowing Niall to help him slid Louis off his back. Niall held Louis under his arms and Harry turned and picked him up.

“Alright, undress him and help me lower him into the water,” Sophia instructed. With great difficulty, Harry and Niall and pulled his jacket and unclipped the sleeves from his arms. They slid open the side zipper on the gown and pulled him out of it and Harry picked him up, lowering his burning, dry skin into the cool water.

As soon as Louis was submerged in the water, he sighed and his eyes fluttered. Harry was kneeling beside the tub, balancing Louis so his head stayed above the water. Groaning, Louis opened his eyes, bringing a wet hand up to rub at his face. The cool water must have shocked him because he froze and looked around. Then he realized that everyone was staring at him. He squealed and tried to duck away and Harry chuckled, holding him loosely.

“What is happening!?” Louis hissed, face bright red.

Niall beamed, “Lou, you’re alright!” He lunged forward and grabbed the sides of Louis’s face with his chaffed hands and pressed sloppy kisses to his forehead and top of his head. “Oh Lou, you beautiful boy!” More kisses came and Louis groaned, laughing and trying to push his friend away.

Sophia giggled, “I’ll have Jade help me get some food and drink for you boys.”

Pushing Niall away, Louis looked up at the woman, curious. “You’re part of the Lok Revenants,” he blurted. “You work with Gigi.”

Raising her eyebrows, Sophia nodded, “I am, how did you know?”

Louis blinked, “I… I’m not sure. You feel the same as her, I guess.” He frowned, “I do not know how to explain it.” No one pushed him for more answered, just pleased to see him okay. Louis sighed happily in the water, “With all you staring at me, it is starting to weird me out. Also, I’m so thirsty I may start drinking this water.” He cupped some in his hands.

Niall slapped his cupped hands, “Someone get this boy some water!”

 


“Where are you headed now that you've sold the spices?” Zayn asked Gigi as her, along with her crew, sat with them in the mess hall, a buffet of food laid out in front of them. The boys had devoured their first plates before they even considered beginning to talk. Louis was sat between Harry and Niall who kept loading food on his plate, much to his pleasure. He was being more messy than usual, using his fingers, sauce smearing across his face.

The one member of Gigi’s group, Jesy, snickered when she saw him and muttered something to her friend Leigh-Ann. Louis ignored them, the food far too enjoyable to even bother with the whispers at the table, about him or not.

Gigi took a swig of her wine, smiling, “I’m headed to Naboo. The girls have been working nonstop for the past year and we’ve been involved into many skirmishes that have involved the unsavory sorts. Naboo will be a nice sanctuary away. Man, it’s nice being the boss.” She winked at Perrie, the beautiful purple twi’lek who beamed at her girlfriend with utter reverence in her big blue eyes.

Zayn nodded his head, his fork pausing before he even lifted it off the plate, “If we may have use of one of your pods, we’ll be out of your hair before you even enter the Naboo atmosphere.”

Gigi tilted her head, “Hm, Zayn I thought you knew me well enough to know I don’t like it when you leave without an explanation.” Zayn rolled his eyes and Niall and Liam snickered at each other. “You haven't been very careful with this precious boy,” she indicated to Louis, “And you’re on the run. But from who?”

“On the run?” Zayn mused, “Why do you think we’re on the run?”

“It’s called women’s intuition, Zaynie.” Zayn looked dubious and Gigi sighed, “I heard your two numpties talking about it.” She pointed at Liam and Niall who had the decency to at least look embarrassed. Zayn groaned and slapped Niall on the back of his head.

“Hey, Liam was talking too!” Niall whined but Zayn ignored him.

“There was a coup on the Orionis,” Zayn admitted, “My father is dead.”

All the girls at the table seemed to freeze up, exchanged horrified and nervous glances. Taken aback by the answer, Gigi sputtered, “Yaser? He can’t… Who?”

That was all she needed to say for Zayn to reply, “Mercurius.”

Gigi nodded, frowning long and hard. She cast her eyes around the mess hall at all the girls who were part of her family. Louis had paused in his eating to watch. He wondered if she was afraid something similar would happen to her. Finally, she looked back at Zayn, “I’ll kill him for you.” She suddenly declared and everyone seemed surprised by the answer. “Zayn, you’re like a brother to me. I’ve known you too long to just let this go,” She told him, fiercely. “Yaser was a good man. Sometimes selfish, but aren’t we all. Selfish but inherently good.” Zayn nodded, letting his eyes drop from hers. Louis could imagine the sight of tears collecting in the corner’s of his dark eyes and his stomach lurched in empathy.

“I… appreciate the offer, love,” Zayn told her. “But I think the boys and I need a break.” He glanced at said boys and all of them, other than Louis, nodded in agreement. Louis looked around at them. He hadn’t noticed how tired they all looked. Even Harry had puffy dark circles under wary green eyes and his finger nails had been chewed down to practically nothing.

Gigi eyed the boys too, pursing her puffy lips, “I understand, Zayn. Naboo will be a good rest for all of us and we can come up with a plan that doesn’t end up with your head on pikes.”

Zayn chuckled, “That would be amicable.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 39
Wear That Dress When You Dine

The closer the ship, known as Sol, drifted to Naboo, the more about the planet Louis seemed to find out from the human encyclopedia that was Niall.

Naboo was a small pastoral world in the Mid Rim, located near the Outer Rim Territories. Unlike most other worlds, the ancient planet lacked a molten core and was instead comprised of a conglomerate of large, rocky bodies that made up a network of tunnels and flooded caves, home to ravenous sea beasts. Naboo’s interior was rich with plasma, a naturally occurring energy unique to the planet and, coupled with the lack of molten core, gave the planet an enigmatic reputation, making it an extremely rare phenomenon in the galaxy.

Naboo’s surface was comprised of a vast array of different landscapes, from rolling plains and grassy hills to swampy lakes caused by the water-filled network of deep-sea tunnels. Besides its natural features, Naboo was considered a world of classical beauty due to the aesthetics of its population centers.

According to Niall, Naboo was inhabited by two societies: an indigenous species of intelligent amphibians called the Gungans, and a group of peaceful humans who were referred to as the Naboo. In the distant past, a cultural misunderstanding resulted in a serious quarrel between the Gungan and human colonists. Both sides refused to acknowledge their responsibilities in the rift and the two groups were ostracized from each other for the longest time. The situation had lasted until an event called the Invasion of Naboo. A group called the Trade Federation invaded and the humans and Gungans were forced to, well, join forces.

They comm-ed in and were able to get a landing mat set for them in the city center. The bridge lowered, freeing the smugglers from the confines of the ship. Louis followed a group of girls, Liam and Zayn walking along side with Gigi as she stopped to speak to a man about allowing Sol to reside within the hanger until further notice. He seemed hesitant on the matter and Gigi thrust some credits into his hands. He suddenly beamed and waved them away with a reassuring smile. Gigi smirked, winking at Zayn and Liam before she turned and followed her girls out of the ship hanger.

“I know the guy who runs the Gallo Peaks Inn. It’s pretty fancy accommodations, you may find it out of your league, Zaynie.” She grinned widely like a shark but with her big eyes and rounded face it looked like the face of a cunning child, more mischievous than sinister.

Zayn rolled his eyes, “I’m sure me and the boys can suffer through it. I don’t want to spend more than a hundred credits a night, though, so make sure your friend gives us a good deal. I don’t know how much longer we’ll be-,” he paused and glanced around, “-on the road so we need to save as many credits as we can. Mercurius took hold of nearly all the funds. We were lucky to get what we have right now.” He frowned deeply, lines running along his forehead. It made him look older and reminded Louis of Yaser. He could see a likeness to the man in the shadow of Zayn’s cheeks and the worry in the creases of his eyes. The likeness was haunting; Louis able to see the now dead man in Zayn’s face and he prayed his friend’s fate wouldn't be the same.

“We’ll take the train out to the hotel,” Gigi told them, her eyes flitting around the grounds and Louis could imagine her tallying everyone up in her head. Obviously, they had everyone because she smiled and turned to Zayn, “We’ll pay for the train ride. You already owe us anyway.” She winked.

Sighing, Zayn had no choice but to agree.

 


On the top five best experiences of Louis’s life, riding a train was one of them. He never wanted it to end. He could have lived on that train. It had moved like nothing else he had ever experienced and kept itself firmly on the ground like vehicles should have been made, in his opinion. It made these ‘glugging’ noise and the wheels hammered along, dirt spitting up as it went. It would move along hills and slopes, swerve around trees and glide between houses and from the window, Louis could see everything.

And every inch of Naboo was beautiful.

Everything about it was so picturesque that it gave one the sensation that they could just pick it up and hold it in their hands, cradle it in their fingers and protect it. Louis felt as if he had missed Naboo his entire life and didn’t realize it until he breathed in the sunlight and smelled the cool breeze swooping down from the mountains. How could you miss someplace you have never visited? Louis wondered.

He supposed it didn’t matter. He was there and while he wasn’t able to cradle the planet in his hands, he felt it vibrating through every pore on his body, like he -or the holocron- was trying to suck it all up into him, consume it and let it hide within him. It felt like he had been born with Naboo. Not on it or even near it but like he and Naboo were the same waters and same air, the same sky and clouds.

“You can feel it, can’t you?” Harry whispered when they stepped off the train. He still looked tired but there was a lazy sort of happiness to his face, like the sort of content-ness one got in a familiar place. “You can feel the Force rushing through you, surrounding you. You’re practically consuming it,” his voice was low and husky and seemed to shoot straight through Louis’s body. He merely nodded in response, his tongue feeling heavy in his mouth. Harry smiled wider, his dimple cratering in the side of his face, “You’re more relaxed. You feel safe here. The holocron is focusing. Meditating. This is good,” he reassured, his fingers dancing down Louis’s spine comfortingly. Louis relaxed. “Once we’ve all rested in the hotel, I’ll meditate with you,” Harry promised like it was the simplest thing in the world.

The last time Louis had meditated he had seen glimpses of Harry’s life. He wondered, would that happen again? He supposed it didn’t matter but there was still an aching part of him that wanted to know every inch of Harry. (He wondered if he inspired the same kind of burning, all consuming curiosity in Harry.)

Gallo Peaks Inn was like a palace but not like one Louis had ever seen. It was beautiful and welcoming. Something about it seemed to cast a warmth over its domain, something soft and comforting. It was like going home after a long road trip. Only your family wasn’t there to greet you.

It was beautiful and towering, partly made of stone and partly of logs. It had peaked roofs with the distinguished pearly green tiling that most of Naboo had. It had fancy gold accents along near the rain gutters and around the door and the big front windows. The front windows were glowing orange from the light inside, bathing the front patio in its glow. They had to walk up what felt like hundreds of steps to get to the front doors

Pushing open the double doors, the boys and Gigi and her girls stumbled through, Gigi and Zayn headed to the front counter. Louis was too distracted by the open room to even pay attention to them. The ceiling was tall and arched with pillars zigzagging across it. There were weathered, soft leather chairs and couches throughout the entire room, a giant fireplace as the center feature of the room.

Zayn walked back up to the group. “I got two rooms for us. One person will have to take the pull out and then the four others will have to split into pairs.”

Before he even finished speaking, Niall cried out, “Harry and Lou are partners!” and shoved Louis straight into Harry. Harry groaned, grabbing Louis and stabilizing him. “And I dibs Zayn because he doesn’t snore!”

“I don’t snore!” Liam cried.

Everyone ignored him. Zayn raised an eyebrow, “Harry and Lou? And here I figured you would take this as a chance to cuddle up to Lou as much as you could before we left, Niall.”

Niall rolled his eyes, “Oh please Zayn, I know how to share-,” Zayn snorted, “And I can cuddle with Lou whenever I want. Harry has to fight for his affection.” Niall whipped around to look at Harry with narrowed eyes, “Unless he doesn’t want Louis’s affection?” He hissed, seething. Louis flushed and glanced up at Harry who looked unfazed by Niall’s mercurial nature.

“I think Lou and I will get along quite well,” Harry drawled, raising his eyebrows up like a parent waiting for their kid to back talk them. However, Niall was pleased with the answer and saw no reason to throw a tantrum, beaming like a little angel.

Handing a key to Harry, Zayn asked, “Who wants custody of Niall?”

Niall pouted, “Don’t you wanna share a bed with me, Zaynie?”

“You cling.” Zayn turned back to Harry and Louis, “What him?”

Louis smiled, “Where ever Niall wants to sleep. I wouldn’t mind having another friend in the room,” he admitted. He blinked prettily at Niall, hoping he would pick them to stay with.

It seemed, however, that Niall had other plans and leaped onto Zayn’s back, “I wanna sleep with Zayn!” He cried, burying his face in Zayn’s neck who rolled his eyes and tried to throw the weight off.

“Ugh, fine. You can room with me and Liam, you little leech. Don’t know why you don’t wanna spend time with your best friend over there, though.” Zayn grumbled, jerking his head towards Louis who was pouting at the loss with big watery eyes. Harry’s big arm was hanging around his shoulders.

Niall dropped from Zayn’s shoulders, “Don’t cry, little Lou. Big, meanie Harry will take care of you.” He stuck his tongue out at Harry, whose eyebrows flew up.

“Meanie?” He repeated, looking stricken.

Niall opened his mouth and Louis jumped in, “Can I have the key card? I bet we get a nicer room than Zayn!” He snatched the card from Harry’s fingers and saw it read L28. “Let’s go!”

 


The room was better than anything Louis could have hoped for. The entire far side was huge windows leading out onto a little patio made of wooden slates with a railing surrounding it. It looked out over snow peaks mountains, thick forests tangled beneath.

The room was as long at it was wide, with a multitude of seats throughout its entirety with a double sided glass fireplace in a rock centerpiece in the middle working as a divider. There were sliding wooden slats that opened up to a bedroom, just off the sitting room. There was a bed, larger than anything Louis had ever seen before, covered in plushy white comforters and ornate pillows littering the top end. On either side were two small tables and lamps and a huge window to the left, looking out into the trees where they could see a river just down from them. On the other side was another sliding slate, leading to the bathroom which had double mirrors and double sinks, a toilet and a huge jacuzzi tub.

“Oh.” Louis could barely feel his limbs, all the blood was rushing to his heart to keep it pumping in the face of the opulent room. He could barely breathe and he was tempted to just fall into the bed.

Harry was gazing into the room too, the hint of a frown on his lips, “There’s one bed,” he pointed out.

“There’s one bed,” Louis agreed, not really getting the problem. “I call dibs on the left side.” He saw Harry’s wide eyed gaze and added, “Niall taught me about dibs. Close your mouth.” Harry’s mouth shut with an audible click. “Do you think it would be acceptable for me to just go to sleep? It’s not even nighttime…” As he talked he crawled onto the bed, tugging extra pillows off onto the ground and kicking up the blankets to slid unearth and curl up onto the best bed the galaxy had ever created.

Harry smiled, “I’m sure Zayn will forgive you for-,” Louis didn’t hear what Zayn would forgive him for as whatever Harry was going to say fell on deaf ears as Louis was already drifting off into a dreamless slumber.

When Louis woke up, the room was dark. Completely and utterly dark. There was soft breathing in the room and it was hot, sweat wetting the back of his neck and underarms underneath the covers. Louis slowly and as quietly as possible began to peel the blankets away. As soon as he started a shape to his left began to move. He froze and carefully rose up to look. Usurpingly, it was Harry.

His face was the definition of peaceful, his eyelashes resting against his cheekbones and his plush lips laying slightly open as he gave soft, breathy snores. He looked young, like the boy Louis had first seen in his meditation vision and his heart did a little flip. So much had changed since then, it was hard to remind himself that he was the same boy. He seemed so different now. Stronger. Fearless. More steel than porcelain.

Slipping out of the bed, Louis kept his eyes glued to the slow rise of covers that made up Harry’s form, being mindful to not wake him. Then, with as much stealth as he was able, Louis tiptoed through the room, grabbed the keycard on the table by the door and slipped out into the hallway.

Despite it being night, the lights were still on and Louis expected the was in case there were people like him getting up at night. He wondered if there were still parts of the hotel open and functioning during the night. Perhaps a game room where guests could play liar’s dice…

He began to wander, his mind wide away and his eyes big, taking in everything around him. He was mindful of which was he was going so he knew how to get back to his room. It wasn’t that confusing of a building, luckily, and Louis found he wasn’t too concerned. He could hear the trees rustling outside and the sound of water. Immediately, he went for that. Unsure whether it was the river or a pool, Louis decided he wouldn’t mind seeing either so he continued on through the deathly quiet hotel.

Eventually, he made his way back to the lobby. There was a tired looking woman at the front desk who didn’t look up from her book when he passed. He weaved through the soft leather couches to the back of the lobby where the entire wall was glass doors looking out over a patio above the pool. Cracking open one of the doors, he slipped through it out onto the patio and immediately froze. It was cool out and his sweaty body protested the feeling of the cold air and he hissed, rubbing his arms. He debated about going inside but he really wanted to go to the pool so he powered on, shivering against the night air as it caressed his hot skin.

Walking along the patio, he made it to the far side where there was a large staircase that lead to the ground patio where the pool was, along with a spattering of deck chairs and tables. Along the edge of the pool, there was a dark figure hunched over, their feet splashing in the pool water.

Immediately Louis drew himself over to them, recognizing the untidy hair as he drew near. “Zayn?” He asked softly, crouching down beside him.

The man didn’t look up, just inclined his head to show he had heard him. “You must have been tired,” Zayn murmured, “You were out for a long time. Feeling better?”

Louis nodded slowly, inspected the silhouette of Zayn’s face. There were tear tracks disappearing into his beard. Slowly, Louis lifted a finger up and touched the wet mark on his face and Zayn’s eyes flickered to him, surprised. “Heartsick?” Louis whispered.

Zayn nodded, Louis’s finger dropping away. “I think… It’s my fault.” He licked his lips, “I could have told my father, I could have warned him…”

Louis imaged the man’s face, the dark eyes, and thick brows. The way the man’s beard would twist with every move of his mouth. “Would he have listened?” Louis wondered, not intending for his question to sound so absent like he was asking the stars rather than Zayn.

“Bastard didn’t listen to anyone,” Zayn muttered. “It’s like I can’t turn off all the things I didn’t say. They keep replaying in my head and I keep imagining his eyes. I keep imagining him being proud of me. I keep imagining me telling him I loved him. I don’t think he knew… Why I didn’t I tell him?” The question was barely a whisper and Louis imagined the stars answering him, the moon singing him the truth. And his heart dropped deep in his chest and he wished they would answer. If anyone deserved an answer from the Gods, it was Zayn, who looked more lost than Louis had ever seen someone.

“I can’t stop thinking about all the things we didn’t do, all the things I’ll never know about him. Did you know he was a smuggler since he twelve?” Louis shook his head, “He worked for his parents, grandparents I never met. I don’t even know how they died, he never told me. My mother, they met during a raid. She was an officer going after the Blades. I don’t know how they fell in love. I don’t know why she loved him. She died when I was young. An illness. My father was never the same after that. I know he loved her, Gods did he ever love her. But, I never really knew her. Not like how a son should…” Zayn paused, his flow of words ebbing off like a broken stream. “You must miss your family.”

Slowly, Louis smiled, gazing at the man, “I miss my mom. I miss my siblings. My dad… He probably doesn’t care I’m gone. He may even be happy about it. I… wasn’t the best son. Not for him. I wasn’t a great hunter or a great warrior.”

Something harsh passed over Zayn’s face and he whispered, “War doesn’t make one great. My father knew that.” He kicked at the water.

Louis mulled his words around in his head. He had never heard that before but the wisdom in it was undeniable. He wondered if the thought had ever occurred to his father. Had he ever realized Louis had other strengths? That there was more than just what the village was made up of? Did he…Did he miss Louis? He suddenly felt sick to his stomach and Louis forced his eyes up to the sky, making the tears run back into his eyes so they wouldn’t streak down his face.

“You have other parents, don’t you?” Zayn asked softly. “Lucky enough to have two sets, eh?”

Frowning, Louis inspected the small smile twisting Zayn’s mouth. He supposed Zayn was right. He hadn’t considered it that way but it was almost like he had a spare pair, in case there was something wrong with the other, like having two pairs of shoes. Shaking that thought from his head, Louis tried to imagine what his birth parents looked like. He would have to look like them in some way, wouldn’t he? Perhaps he had his father’s thin face, pointed nose and pointed chin. And his mother’s caramel hair, soft and feathery. He smiled, imagining them. There was something bittersweet about it.

“You mother…” He whispered to Zayn. “Do you… Look like her?” He wondered, glancing at Zayn.

Humming, Zayn kicked the water again, “Supposedly. Perhaps that’s why my father was so distant from me. I reminded him too much of her.” Louis tried to imagine a woman with dark skin and darker eyes, tall and willowy with a clever smile and a confident sort of way about her.

“Or maybe that’s why he loved you so much…” Louis whispered and Zayn’s head whirled to look at him. His eyes seemed alarmed but the words slowly washed up and over him and he nodded, smiling.

“That’s… a nice thought.”

And then they sat, their feet in the water, beneath the stars, appreciating each other’s silence and company until the sun began to climb into the sky.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 40
About The Way We Love

When the sun finally settled itself into the sky, Zayn yawned and stretched his arm high above his head, kicking his legs out and wiggling his wet toes. Louis copied him, watching his dark eyes droop with exhaustion. He doubted Zayn had slept at all since his father had been murdered.

“You should go to bed,” Louis muttered, curling his feet away from the water and standing. He had shed his shoes to put his feet in the water and after having them in the lukewarm water all night they were white and pruned like an elderly man’s hands. He smiled at the thought, standing and kicking the excess water off his ankles.

Zayn stood along with him, picking up his boots and letting the water drip off his feet and pool on the spot he was sitting. “I will,” Zayn promised. “You should return to Harry so he doesn’t worry about you.” He gave Louis a knowing smile but Louis didn’t quite get what he was hinting at (did he miss something?) so he just smiled back, a bit unsurely.

They walked up the steps to the porch together and slipping into the lobby. There were people sitting in it. Some had steaming drinks and some had bags and looked like they were waiting. Nearly everyone was with someone and chatting quietly. The fire was lit and kept hissing, licking into the air and flicking sparks around in its hearth.

Diving up and saying goodbye, Louis headed to his room and Zayn to his. Louis hurried, hoping he would be able to wake Harry up so they could get food. His stomach was practically eating itself. He made it back to his room in record time and scanned the key card he had stuffed in his pocket. The door clicked open and he rushed in but then froze. It seemed amazing in the room. Part of the room, the side where the bedroom and bathroom were had steam pouring from it and smelt like pine and rain while the other half of the room was savory, like freshly cooked foods. Following his nose, Louis went towards where he smelt food, tossing the key card on the side table as he went.

And there was Harry, hair wet and curling around his little ears. His back was blissfully bare and Louis could make out every twitch and ripple of muscle as he moved around a table, pulling off lids and popping fruit in his mouth. He was wearing a pair of tight black pants, riding low on his hips and Louis could make out his lower back dimples, just above his arse. He imagined running his fingers down the dip of Harry’s spin and pushing his palms against his lovely shoulder blades and his mouth went abruptly dry. Smacking his lips, Louis blurted, “Food?”

Unsurprised by his sudden appearance, Harry turned, smiling wide enough he had a dimple on both cheeks. Louis forced himself not to let his eyes wander down the plains of his chest or down further to his soft hips. “I got enough for two Lou’s and myself,” Harry teased, grinning wide. “You got up early today.”

“Yesterday,” Louis corrected. “Got up late last night. I was with Zayn,” he elaborated, “Down by the pool.”

Harry nodded slowly, mulling the information over in his head. “And Zayn… Is he holding up okay after losing Yaser? I know.. losing a father can be tough, even if you're not close.” His teeth scraped against his bottom lip and Louis watched it with attentive eyes, his stomach fluttering.

“I… It’s tough but Zayn is strong. And brave. He holds his cards close to his chest.” Louis added, frowning. “I don’t think he’ll be okay for a long time,” he admitted and Harry nodded, sadness twisting his expression downwards. “But, I think if he allows himself to grieve…” Louis trailed off, unsure how to finish his sentence. He watched Harry pop berries into his mouth, staining his lips red.

Swallowing, Harry asked, “Have you ever heard the story of the bird on the branch?” Louis shook his head, walking over to the food, and grabbing a piece of toast with a bright colored jam on it. He folded it and shoved half of it into his mouth. “A tired bird was resting on a branch for support,” Harry began, “It enjoyed the view from the branch and the safety it offered from dangerous animals. Just as it had become used to that branch and the support and safety that it offered, a strong wind started blowing and the branch started swaying back and forth, with such great intensity, that it seemed that it was going to break. But the bird was not in the least worried for it knew two important truths. One was that even without the branch it was able to fly and thus remain safe through the power of its own two wings. The second is that there are many other branches upon which it can temporarily rest.” Louis blinked, absorbing the story. He shoved the rest of the toast into his mouth, slowly as he mulled the story over. Harry continued, “This supposedly represents the ideal relationship between ourselves and our relationships,” Harry said, popping another berry into his mouth, “We have the right to enjoy them, but can’t as long as we are dependent on them and are afraid of losing them. They are all in a state of change and can disappear at any time. Does this make sense, evening star?”

Louis hummed, frowning at his crumby fingertips. “I think it’s sad,” he paused, “Am I your evening star if it’s the morning?”

“Morning star then,” Harry corrects effortlessly. He offered Louis a plate with those two of those flat cakes covered in dark syrup and drizzled chocolate and white whip on top. Louis snatched it with a grin. “Why is it sad?”

“Because it says you should not depend on others too much. I don’t want things to change.” He met Harry’s eyes, “They will though, won’t they?” He asked, voice a bare whisper.

Harry’s eyes melted like green pooled and he murmured, “Everything changes. Morning star; evening star. But I won’t let it change you and me.” He was so earnest, so honest and his eyes seemed to be able to read Louis’s very soul and he forced himself to look away. Harry, however, took his thumb and finger and grabbed Louis’s chin, gently tilting his head so their eyes met again. “I think I lied, morning star.” And then their lips met. They met like crashing stars and Louis knew this was where he belonged. Not on Dononter Minor, not with the Blades of Orion, not with the Black Suns, but here, with Harry.

Harry’s kiss was greedy, furious in all the right ways. No heat. Just lighting. Or maybe that was what his touch teased out of Louis? Some of the force - vivid streaks of light dusk in all its violent glory seemed to crackle around them. Still holding his plate, he leaned into Harry’s kiss and the world around them peeled into nothing. Louis felt like he could stand on chasms of time, stand on the stars like they were blooming flowers in the morning dew. They kissed until they couldn't breathe. Harry tugged Louis’s plate away so their bodies could melt against each other. And then they kissed more, kissed until they needed the touch of one another like breath itself.

Their lips fell away from each other and Louis whispered, “You taste like home and berries.”

Harry chuckled, resting their foreheads together letting them breathe each other in, “You taste like peach jam and the all the stars in the galaxy.”

“All of them?”

“All of them.”

 


There was something to be said about kissing one of your best friends. There was another thing to be said if you wanted to kiss one of your best friends. And there was a final thing to be said if you actually did kiss said best friend.

Louis found his food tasted lackluster compared to the taste of Harry’s mouth, sweet and tangy and needy. (If needy was a flavor, it would taste like Harry.) While it satisfied his hunger, there was another part, a part that needed Harry that wasn’t. It was if what little of Harry he had had just wasn’t enough. Louis wasn’t sure how to fix this problem. It was like he wanted to consume him, drink him, bathe in him, devour him in ways Louis found he just couldn’t describe. And there was a light, a sparkle like a little bit of stardust glinting in Harry’s eyes that made Louis think he felt the same way.

In all honesty, Louis wasn’t sure how he to describe how he felt. There was a part of him that was so utterly complete he felt like his body was light enough to just lift up and float away into the galaxy. There was another part of him that was grounded, tied to Harry’s weight like they had been shackled together by something. Louis felt as though everything in the universe and lined up, all of it had moved to accommodate him and Harry, them. Everything lead to Harry and Louis felt as if his heart could just fucking burst. He wanted to know if Harry felt the same; if he understood how Louis felt. Every time Louis managed to open his mouth to try and speak, try and explain how it felt like every molecule of his body yearned for Harry, his tongue would just shrivel up like a dead plant in his mouth and his lips would snap shut.

Harry had opened the doors to the patio, a light breeze blowing the long curtains into the room. It smelled like the sunlight and sweating trees, sweet to Louis’s nose, but not quite like it was back on Donontor Minor. (Louis wondered if he should still call it home when he had Harry by his side… He then wondered what his mother would say if she knew he had made a home out of a person.)

Louis was laying on the bed, staring out the large bay windows out into the trees. Harry had made the bed but Louis had destroyed it, yanking the blankets down just to cover his chilly feet and pushed most of the decorative pillows to Harry’s side. His stomach was bloated from eating way more than he probably should have. When Harry had said he got enough to two Louis’s he hadn’t been joking and Louis made sure he didn’t let a single bite go to waste. He wondered as he absently stroked his tummy if he should do something to work the food off. He frowned; if he did that he would get hungry again.

“Harold?” He called, turning onto his back.

“Yes, morning star?” Harry called back, sounding amused.

“How much food is there?”

There was a beat of silence and then, “Are you still hungry?”

Louis giggled, “No! But later I will be. I want to walk around,” he admitted.

Harry poked his head in from the patio, his hair mostly dry from being out in the sun, “There will be enough food for you here for as long as we stay,” he paused and gave a wicked grin, “maybe.” Snatching one of the smaller ornate pillows, Louis flung it at Harry’s face who merely pulled himself back, laughing. “I’m kidding, love! Just kidding! Let’s go for a walk, okay?” He laughed.

Huffing, Louis rolled himself off the bed and stretched, yawning widely. Harry watched him with reverent eyes, his lips pulled up in the barest hint of a smile. Louis could feel a blush creep up on his cheeks and strategically ignored it, brushing past Harry with a playful huff and grabbing the keycard.

The two made their way down to the foyer and Louis made a beeline for the glass doors, wanting to peer out at the pool. Harry followed loyally behind him, standing next to him at the doors to look. “Too bad we don’t have the money to get frivolous things like swimsuits. It would be nice to go swimming…” Harry sighed wistfully.

Louis frowned, inspecting the people rushing around the pool wearing swim trunks and the girls wherein unusual underwear sort of pieces. “Why do we need specialized suits? Can’t we just go in with nothing?” He wondered out loud.

Someone laughed loudly before Harry could even begin to respond. “Do it, Lou! Jump in the pool naked, I dare you!” It was Niall, beaming and looking well rested. He was wearing a black tee shirt with a hole on the right side of his rib cage, his big utility belt and a pair of baggy black pants he had tugged into boots, looking far more relaxed than Louis had ever seen him. His hair was nearly all brown, other than the tips and he had darks scruff dusting his chin. It made him look older, less like a young boy. Louis thought the look suited him. He looked more like the rugged smuggler that he was.

“Don’t encourage him, Niall,” Liam laughed. His hair was clean and quiffed and Louis was close enough that he could smell apples from him. He wasn’t sure if it was the pristine white shirt he was wearing or his clean hair but it was nice either way.

Zayn was the only one who didn’t look refreshed. Louis guessed that even though he had gone back to his room in the morning, he hadn’t gone to sleep. He had dark bruises under his eyes and his hair was wet and flat, something Louis wasn’t used to seeing. He had also shaved his beard, which had grown scruffy over the past couple of days (and probably horribly dirty from Jakku). There were nicks from the razor along his jaw and his skin was more pale than usual, noticeable without the thick facial hair. He was wearing a large black sweater, something Louis thought belonged to Liam, that fell down to his thighs, paired with skinny black pants tucked into large boots. He looked… soft. Vulnerable in a way Louis wasn’t used too. It was almost like he could fit Zayn in his pocket and just hold him, protect him. (It was despairing that he couldn’t.)

Louis eyed Niall, knowing he was kidding with him but not quite catching the hint. “I’ll go swimming if you come with me, Niall.”

The three other boys groaned and Niall beamed, “Deal!”

Zayn shook his head, “Please don’t get us kicked out from here. Gigi pulled a lot of strings for us to be here.”

Niall pouted and whispered, “Another time,” to Louis, pretending that the other boys couldn’t hear him. Louis beamed, nodding his head vigorously.

“You know, Louis,” Zayn began, ruffling his hair as if he wanted to style it. He let it tangle on the top of his head and continued, “I was thinking you should take this time to meditate. Maybe try and master the force, more so than you have. It would be handy.” He tried to sound off handed but Louis could tell it was something he had been thinking about, perhaps one of the reasons he hadn’t slept.

“I don’t really know where to start,” Louis admitted.

A hand touched his lower back and Louis nearly jumped out of his skin, whirling to look at Harry with big eyes. Harry grinned wolfishly, “I can help you there, love.”

As soon as he finished speaking Niall made a gasping noise, close to almost choking and he grabbed at his mouth and neck like he saw a specter. Everyone turned and looked at him. Liam’s eyes widened, “Niall, are you alright?” He reached out and grabbed Niall’s shoulder who just kept nodding.

“I’m fine!” He squeaked, still staring at Harry and Louis in awe. Louis’s face heated up and Harry sighed. “Just… choking,” he sputtered, hopping from foot to foot like he had to use the restroom. “Louis, you, me, now!” He lunged forward and grabbed Louis’s arm and dragged him through one of the doors out to the porch. The other boys blinked but Zayn quickly turned back to Harry, eager to discuss Louis’s lessons.

Niall cupped Louis’s face, inspecting him for something, perhaps a blemish of some sort? Louis let him, eyes wide with wonder. “You don't look any different but you are definitely different.” Niall declared.

“Different how?”

“In love different, that’s how you numpty.” Niall flicked Louis right underneath his gem, making him flinch.

Pouting, Louis huffed, “I don’t know what you're talking about.”

“You’re convincing no one, sucker. You and Harry totally had sex, I knew it!”

Louis shoved Niall back, his face burning, “We did not! Don’t be crude!”

Niall’s eyes narrowed and he inspected Louis more closely, “You’re right, bro. I was wrong. This isn’t a sex glow.” Louis rolled his eyes, “You definitely kissed though.” Louis’s face burned brighter than a strawberry. Niall grinned, “I knew it! I knew this would happen. You just needed the stars to align. The where, when, who, why and how just had to line up!”

“I hate you,” Louis deadpanned as Niall threw his arms around him and pulled him into a hug, rubbing their cheeks together, aggressively.

“This is so exciting, I’ve been trying to get him to say he loves you for forever!”

What? “What?”

They both froze, Niall still wrapped around Louis, “He didn’t say it, did he?”

Louis huffed, “Um, no.”

Just then the door opened and Harry poked his head out, “Louis, wanna try some meditating?”

Louis gulped as Niall slowly released him, looking paler than usual. “Uh, sure, Harry,” he squeaked. Niall flinched and Harry frowned, glancing between the two boys.

“Uh, did I miss something?”

“NO!” Both Louis and Niall cried out together, making Harry jump.

Harry chuckled, “Alright, weirdos. Come on, Lou, I think we can find a good place near the stream. You know the one under our room?” Louis nodded dumbly, still staring helplessly at Niall, who mirrored his expression.

When Louis turned to follow Harry, Niall slapped his arse, making him squeak and jump, twirling around to look at him with a wide eyed expression. “Go get that boy!” Niall hissed so only Louis could hear him. Louis nodded, face flushed and hurried to reach Harry.

Harry led him out to the stream, walking about a step ahead. Every now and then he would glance over his shoulder at Louis and smile so wide his dimples would show. It made Louis’s heart skip every time. He couldn’t stop thinking about what Niall said, about Harry being in love with him. If Harry had told Niall, it must have been true. Louis wasn’t sure what the next course of action was. It wasn’t like a fight, he couldn’t just rely on his instincts and hope he didn’t get killed… Or was it the very same? He supposed Harry wouldn’t actually kill him but he knew Harry had enough power over him emotionally it might as well be physical death. (His mother would be disappointed he let a boy have so much power over him and this time, he was inclined to agree with her.)

They stopped just far enough into the trees others couldn't see them and right near the stream. Bending down, Harry unbuckled his boots and kicked them off, tugging his socks off too so he could roll up the ends of his pants and wade into the water. Hesitantly, Louis copied him, mind still occupied with thoughts of Harry. “Here, Lou,” Harry murmured, waving him over to a rock just on the edge of the stream, big enough to sit on. Louis wondered if it was some sort of weird, slightly fucked up symmetry that he was back in a forest, about to sit on a big rock and mediate. He wasn’t sure he liked it.

Nonetheless Louis carefully sat down on the rock, crossing his legs in front of him, water tripping off his toes onto the cold stone. Cold from the icy water, the stone seemed to burn through his pants but Louis ignored it, closing his eyes and resting his hands on his knees. He heard soft splashes from Harry moving around and concentrated on it. In the quiet stillness of the forest he could hear Harry’s soft puff of breaths and he imagined the shape of Harry’s lips, like pink flower petals. He could imagine the curl of his bow, the droop of the corners and the cracks through the centre. He could see the soft hairs peeking at the corners from where he missed in shaving, the mole near the corner of his mouth, far enough it was almost on his jaw. It was like every piece of Harry’s face had been imprinted in Louis’s mind. It was hard to concentrate on anything else when you had something as beautiful as Harry to gaze -longingly- at. Or imagine to anyways.

Louis let himself reach out -not physically- and concentrate on what was around him. The air was thick but not unpleasant and he was able to feel the beating of life through out the forest and hotel that lay behind him. It was like every heart was beating inside of him, he could feel every life around. They were all connected; connected to him, thriving and breathing, moving in gentle waves around him like he was submerged in water.

And then something was tugging on him. Pulling him from Naboo and out into the stars. Part of the force was calling him. There was something he had never felt before. It felt like a rip or a bubble in something smooth. Just a little imperfection that had been hidden away but now Louis suddenly felt. He couldn’t pull away from it, too intrigued with how it felt. If the life around him was beating, this was pulsating.

He reached out for it, letting himself brush against it. The bubble rippled and he pushed at it. It didn’t move when he pressed against it, just rippled like he was throwing pebbles in water. Humming, he applied more force to his push and his force and the bubble’s force twisted together before snapping back. Frowning, Louis pulled away from it, letting himself wander. The air, the force, other than that bubble was smooth, like a sheet of paper. There were no other rips or blemishes in the force, none that he could feel. Everything was as smooth as glass other than that weird impregnable bubble he had discovered. Louis wondered if Harry knew about it and pulled himself out.

Opening his eyes his gaze immediately fell on Harry, who was sitting on another stone just down from him. He had his legs curled up beneath him, balancing rather precariously on the rock. Sensing Louis’s eyes on him he looked, “That was short.” He smiled.

Louis shrugged, “What do disturbances feel like in the force? Do they happen?”

Harry’s smile turned serious, “Yes, they happen often. When there’s an imbalance usually. They feel like blemishes in the air. Or it’s a catastrophe, it can feel like someone has sucked all the air out from around you. When you get angry, I can feel the force ripple around you,” Harry admitted.

The bubble must have been some kind of disturbance, of what, Louis wasn’t sure. “There’s a planet,” Louis began, and there’s something wrong with it. It’s pulsating and surrounded by something. I couldn’t feel it properly. It was…odd,” Louis explained, frowning as he tried to recall how it felt when he pushed against it.

Looking concerned, Harry stood from his rock, “What planet? Where was it?”

Louis closed his eyes, frustrated with himself that he didn’t know it. Marcellus or Niall would have known what it was. “It’s… it looks like it’s covered in water. There were rocky islands… It’s old, it sings to me in old tongue. The force is strong there, strong and ancient…” Louis whispered, pushing himself harder than he was used too, desperate to grasp the planet, try and feel for it. When he opened his eyes, he looked at Harry’s face and he knew immediately what he had said stuck a cord with him. “You know.” Harry jumped, looking confused. Louis elaborated, “You know what planet I’m talking about.”

Harry nodded, rather grimly. “Yes. But you’ll need to train more before you go there. And you’ll need one of these.” He pulled his lightsaber from his belt, showing Louis the hilt.

“And how go I get one?“ Louis wondered.

Smiling, Harry said simply, “You build it.”

 


“What do you envision?” Harry asked softly, walking behind Louis. They had moved from the stream into the forest where there was nothing but distant chirping of birds above in the trees.

Louis opened his eyes, frowning. I see blue. Like the sky. And I see a forest. My lightsaber is light in my hands and feels like smooth bark. I… don’t know if that’s possible though…” Louis admitted, frowning.

Harry smiled, wide enough to show his dimples, and said, “No, that makes perfect sense. I couldn’t see you using a metal sabre so I’m not surprised. It was probably Brylark Bark, the only wood as strong as metal and possible to be used for a hilt.” He tapped at his chin with a long finger, “I wonder if there are any trees on Naboo. We should ask a local.”

So they traipsed back to the hotel, Harry falling into step next to Louis as they walked through the trees, back to where the stream was. They followed it up back to the lodge, walking up the stairs to the porch and through the big glass doors to the lobby. “I know who to ask, stay here.” Harry hurried off to the front desk and Louis dropped into one of the big chair, curling up into it.

Picking at his nails, Louis debated on what he knew. He supposed he knew a lot, in the big picture of it all. He knew about Edward and his father and his feelings about family, including Harry. He knew, apparently, that Harry was in love with him. While not important in the big picture of what was happening, Louis could barely stop thinking about it. He wanted everything else to stop, just so he could revel in the feeling, bask in Harry and his honeyed voice and dewey eyes and bronze skin. He wanted to spend time with his friends without being concerned about being attacked or kidnapped. He wanted to see his mom and siblings again, let them know he was alright, that he was alive and he found people who loved him, people who accepted him. People he loved too.

Loved. He knew he loved Harry, like he loved Niall, Liam and Zayn. But did he feel for Harry the same way the curly boy felt for him? Louis chewed his lip. How did one know? How did one look within theirselves and decided, yes, these feelings are love? Did he dare ask Niall? Would Niall even know how to answer that? Niall knew a lot but did he know about love? Perhaps Gigi would be a better person to ask… She had been with her girlfriend for who knows how long and they seemed to love each other, as far as Louis could tell. Which offered a new question: how could Louis tell they were in love? It felt instinctual, like how he knew his mom loved his father. Even if they didn’t say it, it seemed to speak with every little gesture and even in the simple everything little things they said. That begged the question… Was that how others saw him with Harry?

“Lou!” Louis jumped, looking up from his hands to see Harry bounding over to him, beaming widely. His dimples were massive, like craters in his cheeks and Louis was immediately endeared. “I know where we gotta go!”

Louis stood, eager, “They have the trees here?”

Harry nodded, “Yeah. At the top of the Gallo Mountains.”

“Of course, at the top,” Louis rolled his eyes. “What is the plan then?”

“I know.” Harry grimaced, “I think we should tell the boys and head out tomorrow, early in the morning and then we have the whole day to make some ground before night falls. Bernon, the man at the front desk said it only takes about a day to get to the top but it does tend to get perilous towards the end, especially considering the wild beasts out there, closer to the top. People usually only go up in crowds and with a trained guide.” Harry smiled, “I figured between the two of us, we should be alright.”

Louis nodded, “That makes sense to me. We’ll need to bring supplies though if we’re gone for a couple days though.” He frowned, trying to make a mental list of what they would need to bring.

“We can go into town tonight,” Harry said, “Let’s tell the boys first though.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 41
Morning Star You’re Beautiful

“No, no way.” Everyone groaned when Zayn declared this. It was expected and everyone was exceptionally put out by the announcement. Louis crossed his arms, frowning deeply at the other man. He wasn’t surprised Zayn disagreed with their plan, he didn’t want them splitting up, but Louis had thought he would at least understand. It was a responsibility Louis had to fulfill, something he thought Zayn would sympathize with. Out maybe he just didn’t see it that way…

“It’s way to dangerous for us to be splitting up, let along traipsing through the forest to the top of mountains!” Zayn continued venomously, shaking his head. “No way.”

Louis raised his eyebrows, “I wasn’t asking for permission,” he began, softly, “I need to do this Zayn and I will with your agreement or not.” The finality to his voice seemed to surprise the other boys and they all whipped around to look at him, shocked.

Harry frowned and glanced between the two of them, “Zayn, I understand what you mean and why you’re hesitant-,” Zayn snorted, “but this is something Louis needs to do, something he wants to do and I think things would be better if you agreed and we parted on good terms rather than us being mad at each other. Louis and I can handle ourselves if something bad were to happen, which I highly doubt.”

Liam stepped forward, “Why don’t we all go?”

Harry shook his head, “It’s usually something a Jedi does themselves, it’s pushing it for even me coming along. I’m not his Jedi master, which makes this questionable as is…”

Growling, Zayn shook his head, “You aren’t even Jedi! Fuck their rules!”

Taking a step back, Louis saw how hurt Harry was. Harry quickly arranged his face into an impassive mask but Louis had seen the shocked hurt flash across his eyes. “That’s where you’re wrong Zayn. Harry is a Jedi and I am a Jedi, and this is something we will do. With or without your consent.” Feeling like the conversation was done, Louis whirled on his heels and stormed out of the hotel room, stomping down the hallway back to the lobby, headed for the porch outside. He could hear steps following him but he didn’t stop, not until he reached the lobby where he let the other fall into step with him.

Unsurprisingly, it was Harry. He looked worried, his eyebrows scrunched up and his mouth twisted down at the corners. “Evening star…” he began but Louis shook his head.

“We are still going. Let’s head into town.” Harry nodded in agreement.

They had to board the train to get back into town, which didn’t hurt Louis’s feelings at all. He pressed his nose against the window, watching the trees fly by and the clouds roll like toys in the sky. He could imagine himself jumping off the train and rolling through the undergrowth, disappearing into the forest. Disappearing and never being heard from again. He could build his own house, maybe let his friends come and visit him, and live as a hermit in the forest, listening to the chugging of the train as it drove past him, syncing to his heartbeat. He smiled wistfully out the window, imagining his hermit life, unaware that Harry was gazing at him with wide, soft eyes, his lips bearing the slightest hint of a fond smile.

Much to Louis’s disappointment, the train pulled into the station in Naboo and they, along with a scattering of other people, got off, weaving through the station to emerge onto a road, bustling with people. Louis tossed his gaze back and forth, taking in the sight of the city. harry grabbed his hand, linking their fingers together, “Let’s go this way.” He tugged Louis to the left and they began to walk along the side of the street, the ground crunching beneath their feet.

“I’ve made a list, a mental list,” he grinned, “Of all the things we’ll need,” Harry’s eyes darted around the street and Louis tried to keep up. Harry seemed to be excited, his steps picking up and if Louis hadn’t been holding on he probably would have been left behind. Harry’s legs were too long compared to Louis.

It turns out Harry enjoyed shopping, more than Louis thought possible. He could remember his first shopping trip with Niall even though it felt like it had been years ago. Shopping with Harry was very different. For one, Harry didn’t leave him alone to get attacked by the vultures that made up the public population. (Thankfully, Naboo seemed to be the least suspicious place Louis had visited so far.) For another, Harry was actually very efficient when shopping. He knew what he wanted and didn’t waste time. A few times Louis saw him glance at other items as if he wanted to start browsing but then he would stop himself and continue on with the mission.

They were in a shop, peering at jackets when a woman carrying a beautiful dress whirled by. She met Louis’s eyes and beamed, “Excited for the festival?” She asked, glancing between him and Harry. Louis glanced up at Harry, who was looking up from the jackets, confused.

“What festival?” Louis asked, releasing the sleeve of the jacket he was holding.

She seemed surprised but she recovered and beamed widely, explaining, “The Festival of Lights, of course!”

Louis blinked dumbly at her, “The Festival of Lights?” He repeated, slowly, “What are you celebrating?” He asked.

Smiling, she still seemed surprised, “It’s to celebrate Naboo joining the Galactic Republic. That was ages ago though, we don’t really care for it anymore.” She laughed and waved a hand in the air like brushing something away. Harry and Louis exchanged glances. “There’s games and fireworks, the annual lantern lighting. Live music, a variety of different food vendors-,” Louis perked up, grinning, “-and some art instillations. And that’s just some of the stuff that’s happening. It’s only three days away so now would be the time to get your costumes!”

“Costumes?” Harry asked, glancing back at the jackets.

The woman laughed again, “Oh, of course! People dress up as their gods! We get plenty of travelers here so we get to see the figures of so many different religions! It’s very exciting. Of course, you don’t need to dress up, but it’s a very popular option. I run this store-,” She gestured around, “So if you have any costume needs in the next three days, come by and ask for Kirie!” Blowing a kiss, she twirled away, grabbing a couple more outfits on the way and headed to a back room in the store.

Harry looked down at Louis, “Sounds like fun,” he mused.

“She said there was food,” Louis pointed out. “I think we should go.” Harry laughed, turning back to the jackets. “It’d be fun to experience some culture,” he added, watching Harry’s face closely for a reaction.

His mouth twitched into a smile, “Yeah, excited for the culture?”

Louis hummed, pulling out a black jacket, light and water resistant. “Sure, I love culture. Cultural music, cultural art, cultural food, you know me. All about it.” His nose scrunched with how wide he was smiling up at Harry.

“If Zayn is less mad at us when we get back, maybe we can persuade him and the boys to come too.” Louis nodded in agreement, imaging how excited Niall would be. “Hopefully the days we’re gone will let him cool off.”

Louis smirked at him, “Or help him stew in his own anger.”

Harry frowned, “I hope not. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, morning star. I’m sure he’ll miss your face within an hour.”

“Damn, it would take a whole hour?” Louis teased and Harry shoved him playfully, grabbing his own dark jacket.

After buying light jackets, they hit several other stores where Harry bought a large pack, filling it with a map, a flashlight, a first-aid kit filled with bacta bandages. He got matches and a small tool which had different ends to it such a knife, clippers, pliers, wire cutters, hammer, whistle and others. He got a couple of water bottles, packets of dehydrated food and along with a pot, and a large sleeping bag. Louis got a smaller bag and they split the items between the two of them.

Harry was much more relaxed after they had bought everything and had slowed down his pace as they walked through the street, peering into windows and wandering into shops. There were lots of people buying costumes and goods in preparation for the festival and there were decorations being strewn throughout the entire city. Many of the shop windows had been changed out to represent scenes from different religions, deities in the from and center with lanterns framing the outer edges.

One window, in particular, caught Louis’s eye and he paused to look at it as Harry entered the store. It was a painting of a woman with dark skin, red painting around her eyes and on her lips. She had blood red flowers on top of her head, woven through thick black curls and another chain of them drooping down from around her neck, covering her naked breasts. Her lower half was covered in a red wrap, tied at the front and bejeweled with glistening gold beads. She was holding fire in her cupped hands and her hair bled down into a large stone behind her figure.

“You like Kenina?” A soft voice asked.

Jumping, Louis turned and looked at who spoke to him. It was a woman, draped in a silver cloak, the hood pulled over her head, obscuring her face from view. Louis could just make out the jut of her chin and the tip of her nose. “I’ve never seen her before. She’s beautiful.”

The woman nodded, “She’s the goddess of fire, lightning, dance, volcanos, and wind. She’s known for her power, passion, jealously and capriciousness.” Louis nodded, captivated by the painting. Perhaps dangerous, or powerful would have been a better word to describe her. Enchanting, ensnaring. Beautiful seemed lackluster in the face of who she was. Seeing his reverent gaze, the woman added, “There’s a famous song about her.”

Louis blinked, in awe. “What’s the song?” He breathed.

He thought he saw her smile and in a low voice sang, “You’ve never seen fire until you’ve seen Kenina, but after the eruption, she will lay dormant, just for a while. I’ll hold you close, in my arms, talk in the heat. For now, Kenina sleeps…”

“Oh…” Louis whispered, gazing at the painting of the goddess, “That’s beautiful.” He hesitated, “Thank you for sharing,” he added, shyly.

The woman lifted her head up more and Louis could make out the lower half of her face, “You’re welcome. Thank you for listening.”

Inspecting her, the way the cloak draped over her shoulders, how she shrouded herself very carefully next to him, Louis couldn’t help but ask, “Who are you?” He realized it came out rather rude and winced but he saw her lips curl up into a smile.

“I’ve never had a name,” She told him. “I grew up an orphan.” Immediately Louis thought of Kalani and how he hadn’t had a name either. He bit back his urge to ask her what she wanted to be called and instead just nodded. She was watching his reaction carefully and asked for his name.

Louis flushed, “Oh, I’m.. uh, I’m no one interesting,” he told her, shyly.

“I’m sure that’s not true. You have an adventure about you.” She grinned, showing off straight, pearly white teeth. A dimple cratered on the left side of her face and Louis’s eyes were immediately drawn to it.

“I do?” He asked, pulling his eyes away from the familiar dimple.

“You have a lot of things about you,” she told him. “It’s highly alluring.”

He blinked at her, startled, “Oh, thank you.”

She bowed her head, tugging on her hood, “Your friend is coming back. I hope to see you again, Adventurer.” Just as she spoke, Harry slipped out of the store and in the seconds it took Louis to glance at him exiting the shop, she had disappeared down the bustling street.

Harry met his gaze, noticing his confused expression, “What’s wrong, love?”

“Oh, just, uh, this painting.” Louis pointed at Kenina. “I was just appreciating her.”

Harry nodded, “She’s…” A look crossed his face as if he was searching for the right word.

Louis smirked, “Ensnaring?”

“Exactly.” Harry pulled his eyes away from Kenina and inspected Louis, “Ready to go back to the hotel?”

Louis perked up, “Yes! We need food immediately.” He blushed, remembering the morning, the last time he ate and Harry’s lips lifted into the slightest smirk as if he knew what he was thinking.

“Yes, I think so too.”

 


The train had nearly lulled Louis to sleep, his face falling against Harry’s shoulder several times, the smack waking him up each time it happened. Harry chuckled each time, adjusting himself so his shoulder wasn’t so high compared to Louis’s face. Dozing, Louis felt as if the train ride was only a quarter of its usual time. When they reached the station Harry had to pull Louis off his side and they picked up their bags and lugged out of the train and onto the station platform. The walk to the hotel was short and Louis spent it clinging to Harry’s arm, his muscle flexing beneath Louis’s tiny hand, much to his enjoyment.

When they made it back to their room, they threw the bags onto a couple of chairs in the sitting room and Louis launched himself onto the bed, his face buried in the pillow. He called for Harry to get him food, the pillow muffling the sound.

Harry laughed, “What was that, love?”

Louis repeated himself, not moving an inch.

Harry came over and grabbed his shoulders, lifting him slighting, “Yes?”

“Food, Harold.” Louis croaked.

Harry dropped him back on the bed and Louis grunted. “That’s a good idea,” he jumped onto the bed next to Louis, “Call me when you finish ordering.” In immediate retaliation Louis rolled, pushing himself with his legs and colliding into Harry. it was obviously surprising by the way he yelped and was flung off the side of the bed onto the ground and with a loud bang.

Louis shot up, barking a laugh when he saw Harry’s disgruntled face.

“You’re such a brat!” Harry pouted, shooting up and grabbing Louis’s ankles to pull him off the bed.

Louis shrieked, “Unhand me, Harold!” He was curled up, trying to slap at Harry’s hands but it did nothing to loosen his hold. Harry tugged him until his but was hanging over the edge of the bed, grinning like a wolf. If he let go, Louis would fall straight onto the ground.

“What were you saying, Lou?”

“Nothing!” He squeaked, laughing. “Harry!” He tried to roll away, grabbing at the bed sheets to tug himself up. Abruptly, Harry released his ankles and before Louis could even scream, they were caught, resting in his hands again. Louis froze, blinking.

“Jedi reflexes,” Harry said proudly.

Louis rolled his eyes, “Didn’t save you from falling off the bed.”

Harry huffed and dropped him on the floor.

After Harry taught Louis how to call up room service, the two went to bed. While Harry seemed to fall sleep right away, Louis lay awake, listening to his breathing. He had too much on his mind, he was too restless to be sleeping so early. He knew he would probably be paying for it in the morning but his legs ached to stand and his mind was whirling, jumping from one topic (Harry, Harry, Harry) to the next (I miss my mom.. I wonder what she’s doing).

Finally, Louis turned on his side, coming face to face with Harry. He eased himself closer until he could feel the heat exuding from him. Kicking off the duvet carefully, Louis pushed himself even closer until Harry’s gigantic arm was pressed against his chest. Rolling his eyes, Louis grabbed the dead weight of the arm and tossed it over his waist, letting it be an anchoring weight on his restless body. Daringly, he shoved his face right against Harry’s neck, breathing in his scent. That seemed to be enough to soothe him. Immediately his body stopped its shaking and his eyes fluttered shut. While his mind was still awake, his thoughts stopped jumping around and he started thinking about how wonderful Harry felt and how he didn’t want to leave his arms. And then, he drifted off to sleep.

 


“Louis, get up.”

“No.”

“Lou, come on.”

“No.”

“You knew this was gonna happen,” Harry pointed out, raising an eyebrow. Louis peered over the top of the duvet and huffed, blowing a raspberry at Harry before he buried himself back into the bed until all Harry could see was a tuff of caramel coloured hair. (He couldn’t help but notice Harry was wearing just a towel around his slim waist, his hair dripping water down his chest.) Sighing, Harry walked around the side of the bed, wrapped his big paw like hands around the blanket and then tugged it.

Louis yelped when the blankets were pulled from his body, leaving him exposed to the cool air.
“Nooooo,” he whined, clawing at the blankets. When he realized he couldn’t get them back, he just curled up in a ball and tried to go back to sleep. However, he was too chilled and much to awake so he groaned and forced himself to sit up. Harry beamed as he grabbed his clothes and disappeared into the bathroom. He came out moments later, dressed for the day and toweling his hair off.

“Your turn, Lou.”

Reluctantly Louis rolled off the bed and stumbled into the bathroom to stand under the blast of cold water, washing his hair and scrubbing down his body. When he emerged, he wrapped himself in a largest, fluffiest towel he could find and hurried out to the room. Harry wasn’t there so he took the chance to change into his clothes quickly, a pair of tight black pants and a white tee shirt. Wrapping his hair in the towel, Louis wandered out of the bedroom to where Harry was standing at the breakfast cart, mixing some tea for himself, a cup already waiting for Louis.

Louis didn’t even need Harry to say anything, he just rushed forward and began to pile his plate high with food, knowing he was going to have to survive on the dehydrated food packs for a couple of days. Harry chuckled, lifting his own plate out of the way so Louis wouldn’t accidentally grab it in his rush for food.

“I’ll miss you the most…” Louis whispered to the food cart, shoving scrambled eggs into his mouth.

Harry gave a crooked grin, “Don’t worry, we’ll be too busy for you to miss food.”

Groaning, Louis swallowed loudly, “For some reason, I was afraid you would say something like that.”

Packed and ready to go, Louis felt antsy, like he was forgetting something. He wondered if it was because he felt bad about leaving on bad terms with Zayn or because he hadn’t seen Liam or Niall since the argument.

Harry was checking his bag, muttering under his breath and Louis was shifting his weight between his feet, watching him. “Can we… see Niall before we leave?” Louis dared to ask and Harry’s head shot up, looking surprised.

Nevertheless, he smiled, nodding, “Of course we can,” Harry reassured and Louis found that most of his restlessness left him. Harry closed up his bag and threw it over his shoulders and the two of them left their room. Louis was moving quickly towards Niall’s room, eagerness in ever step. Because he was walking ahead he missed Harry’s fond smile as he took off down the hall.

Just as he turned to where Niall’s room was he forced himself to skid to a stop. Niall was slipping out from his hotel room, chewing his lip like he was a fugitive on the run. Freezing, Louis and Niall beamed at each other before they rushed forward, throwing their arms around each other and twirling. Harry had to slap his hands over his mouth to stop from laughing. It was like lovers being reunited after being away from each other for months. He noted to himself that Niall and Louis had to see each other at least every two hours or they would get with drawls.

“You’re still going!” Niall hissed, keeping his voice down incase Zayn was listening on the other side of the door.

“Of course!” Louis nodded sagely, looking severe, “This is something I need to do. It’s my… my destiny I suppose.” He pointed at the holocron on his forehead and Niall glanced at it, frowning.

“You control your own destiny,” he reminded Louis.

Louis sighed, “I know, but I feel like this is something I have to do. And this is me talking, not anyone else.”

Niall stared into his eyes for a long time, as if searching for something, before he nodded seriously, “Then you have to do it. And be safe of course.”

Snorting, Louis waved a hand in the air, “I’m always safe.”

Harry and Niall exchanged looks and Harry said, “I’ll keep him safe.”

Whipping around, Louis pouted at him but Niall beamed, “Good, he better come back in one piece. You’re only gone for two days right?”

Harry nodded, “It takes a day to get up to the top, we’ll need a piece that would be adequate for a saber hilt and then we’ll spend the night and head out the next morning.”

“Harry bought us dehydrated food,” Louis whined, clinging to Niall, who gasped like he just found out Harry punched kittens in his spare time.

“What the fuck, Harry?” Niall snapped, affronted, “He’s a growing boy!”

Harry rolled his eyes, “I hate you both. You’re ridiculous.” In perfect sync, both Louis and Niall stuck their tongues out at him before they turned to each other, tongues still out. They stared at each other for a brief moment before they both started snickering, one arm around the other’s shoulder and the other hand covering their mouths.

“You need to promise me, Lou,” Niall said when their laughter died off, “That you won’t end up hurting yourself again and that you come back in one piece.”

Louis beamed, “I can do that.” He promised and he hooked his pinky with Niall’s, shaking it. Dropping their hands, he wrapped his arms around Niall and pulled him into another hug. They held each other for along moment, long enough that Harry began to shift restlessly. Finally letting go, Niall planted a sloppy kiss on Louis’s cheek and slapped his arse, sending him on his way.

Harry didn’t say anything to Louis until they walked out of the hotel, heading to the path that led around the back into the forest. “Really? Slapping your ass?”

“You wouldn’t understand,” Louis said dismissively.

Grinning wolfishly, Harry drawled, “No, I haven’t had such a pleasure.”

Louis turned bright red and picked up speed, refusing to look at Harry.

 


They were about an hour in when Louis, licking his lips, asked, “Do you think Niall misses me?” Harry stumbled over his feet in surprise but shot up right quickly, tossing him a look over his shoulder. They were still on a trail and it was getting humid as if it was getting ready to rain. The trees hooked themselves together above them, hiding the sky from their view.

“I have no doubt in my mind. He’s probably sitting outside of our room wailing as we speak,” Harry mused, looking as if he was imaging him. He smirked at the image his mind conjured.

Louis beamed at the thought of Niall missing him.

Harry chuckled, slowing down his pace so he was right beside Louis, “Are you missing him?”

“Of course,” Louis huffed, “But I’m missing Liam and Zayn too.” He hesitated, chewing at his bottom lip before added, “If I get eaten out here and that’s the last time I talk to Zayn…”

Rolling his eyes, Harry reassured him, “Trust me, you’re not gonna get eaten. I wouldn’t let that happen.”

“You can’t stop me.” Louis pouted his lips.

“Well, you’re not going to willingly walk into the jaws of something that wants to eat you, will you?”

Louis paused, “Well, I think it depends on the circumstance, to be completely honest.”

Harry swore under his breath, “Oh brother.” And then, louder he said, “What do you mean?”

Humming, Louis explained, “Well, if in order to save my family, I had to be eaten, I would do it. Or to save you or any of the boys. Why?” He narrowed his eyes, “You wouldn’t let yourself be eaten for me? You’ll just kiss me and not get eaten?”

Barking a laugh, Harry said, “I would let myself get eaten for you… And in essence, die for you… But I would also fight for you so we could be together.” His eyes twinkled when he turned to Louis and asked, “Is that a good enough answer, morning star?”

“If you have to ask, I think you know the answer!” Louis huffed, crossing his arms like a petulant child. His heart, however, was racing like a speeder in his chest, ready to combust and he felt his face burn like the sun. Harry was so casual about such declarations but he hadn’t said anything about being in love like Niall had said. Louis wasn’t sure if Harry was just too embarrassed to say it, if he had lied to Niall or if he had changed his mind. Maybe he had decided Louis was too annoying or simple looking, wasn’t talented or unique enough. Louis’s heart dropped into his stomach. By the stars, he hoped not. He didn’t think he would be able to handle the rejection.

But that brought up the question; was he in love with Harry? Tripping over his own feet, Louis wondered if maybe while on a day long hike with the man himself, it wouldn’t be the best place to dwell on such things. He wondered what would Niall do if he was in the same situation. His mind immediately went to drinking and he pushed that idea away. He would save that for later. What would Harry do?

Louis glanced at Harry from the corner of his eyes. His face was scrunched in concentration and his lips were doing the tiniest pout Louis had ever seen and he wanted to scream.

He’d make a list… A mental list like he did when we were shopping… Louis concluded. That seemed easy enough. He just had to dissect his feelings and break them down into a list format. He could do that, easy.

One…. Uhhh, hm, one… Got it!

1: Harry was definitely a highlight of his day. He was charming and curly and dimpled and always made Louis’s heart do skips in his chest.

Perfect!

2: He found himself thinking of Harry more often then not. Right before he went to sleep, right when he got up, when he was showering, even sometimes when he was eating. That meant something? There wasn’t a lot he thought about when he was eating but Harry was definitely one of them. He seemed to have a bunch of things to always say, sitting on the tip of his tongue when he saw him, like a part of him was going to burst.

3: Love was selfless, wasn’t it? Louis imagined what his parents had, how his mom always made sacrifices to make his dad happy and vice versa and realized he would do that for Harry. He wanted to make Harry happy, he wanted to see him laugh and smile so bad parts of him ached with the need.

4: What wouldn’t he do for Harry? He already confessed he would let himself get eaten by a monster/creature. What else could someone do to prove their love?

5: Harry was weird, Louis knew this. He was weird himself, he supposed. But their weirds seem to compliment each other. He wasn’t embarrassed by Harry, how he ate with his tongue sticking out or how he stumbled and skipped when he walked, like he didn’t know how to control his long legs. Everything about the curly haired boy was endearing. There wasn’t anything Louis didn’t like.

6: Louis could imagine bringing Harry home to meet his mom. His dad, of course, wouldn’t approve but his mom would love Harry. His heart contracted whenever he thought of Harry meeting his younger siblings. They would love him so much and, he thought, Harry would love them too.

“Louis-,” Harry began but Louis ‘shhh’ed him.

“I’m thinking very hard right now, curly. Can’t you tell?”

Harry giggled, “That’s what I was worried about.” He stepped over a root, “I was afraid you were going to wander into the forest and I would never see you again. I don’t think I could have handled that.”
Louis waved a hand, “Oh, don’t worry, you’d find me. We always find each other. It’s destiny.”

Where was I? Ah, yes. Number seven.

7: Now, Harry was no Niall but that didn’t mean Louis didn’t trust him. He didn’t have the same qualities of Niall (Niall brought different things to the table than Harry) but he definitely made a great friend. He was witty and playful and helpful. He supplied him with food and took him shopping and they seemed to be able to talk about anything. He had a response to everything Louis said and Louis never got bored with hearing his drawling, deep voice. Louis considered that being best friends (Were they best friends? Would Harry agree?) a definite positive in the scope of it all.

There was something else nagging at Louis that he couldn’t put his finger on. He kept glancing at Harry, hoping it would come to him but it seemed just out of reach. He sighed quietly to himself, running his fingers through his hair. He was absolutely sure there was one more thing to add to the list but it seemed just to be out of his grasp.

He decided to sit on the last one and see if it would eventually come to him. It had to at some point, didn’t it? He was sure the walk would invigorate him and help him come to a conclusion.

 


He was wrong. The walk drained him like a life sucking monster. Only it was a monster he couldn’t fight. The worst kind. Every single muscle was sore, even his shoulders. And his hands! How did hands get sore on a hike? They weren’t even being used! Louis felt like he was climbing out of a body of water with how sweaty he was. It was running down his face and pouring down the back his neck like a waterfall. It was one of the worst feelings, up there with being strangled. Louis snorted to himself. If he was being honest with himself, being strangled was the worst thing he had ever experienced in his entire life. Being blinded was a close second. Hiking was in the top five for sure.

The only good thing about hiking is that every now and then Harry would stop and hand him a ration and Louis would devour it, taking a healthy swig of his water bottle but being careful to ration it. The stops, however, were few and far between and Louis felt as if his legs were ready to snap off by the time Harry announced, “We’re here,” in a deep breathy voice that sent shocks through Louis’s entire body.

Harry didn’t look like he was sweating, Louis realized in horror as he finally dropped his backpack off his shoulder. He looked damp and glistening like polished marble and Louis was horrified by the tiny voice in his head going, ‘Lick him clean.’

Louis told himself he could do no such thing! Not until he finished his list, at least. He had to set some standards for himself.

It must have been colder higher up, Louis realized. However, he was too hot and soaked with sweat to be able to tell the difference in temperature. His mother would have told him to take a soak in some cold tree water but, unfortunately, the ground was completely dry and Louis found himself falling to his knees and then falling backward like an injured animal.

“Moisturize me,” Louis ordered. he heard Harry choke out a laugh and wander over to him, grinning.

“Please don’t die on me. I don’t think I’ll be able to put up with Niall if you do.”

“I’ll come back as a spirit and watch you two fight,” Louis promised, wiping at his forehead with the hem of his shirt.

Dimple popping, Harry said, “I won’t be presumptuous and assume you’d cheer for me.”

Louis nodded, head still against the ground, “Clever boy! If you presume anything, presume I hope you both die horrifically in battle in my name and become spirits who work as my spirit body guards and fight others for me, making me the king of the spirit realm.”

Harry nodded, “I work only to serve you, my king,” He mocked, grinning widely.

Louis beamed up at him, “Good, you’re getting it!” Before he could say any more, however, a rabbit came shooting past them, disappearing into the bushes. The forest became wealthy quiet and Louis shot up, looking around. He met Harry’s eyes, concern reflecting in the green depths.

“Why…” Harry began softly, “Has that been the only small creature we’ve seen up here?”

Louis opened his mouth to respond but then, deep in the forest was a rumbling. Going stock still, Louis’s mouth fell open and he watched in horror as Harry’s face morphed in terror.

“Harry..?” He could barely breathe, his entire body rigid like he had somehow morphed into rock.

“Don’t move,” Harry ordered, his lips barely moving, “It’s a Nexu and we’ve just found her den.”

There was snarling somewhere behind Louis and he closed his eyes, trying to calm his heart beat. The snarling died down and Louis did something incredibly stupid: he, albeit gingerly, turned his head to look. His body seized in terror at the sight of the beast and immediately the holocron on his forehead flickered to life at the worst possible time.

The creature howled, tearing at the ground with it’s hooked claws, spewing dirt into the air. And then, shaking it’s broad head, saliva dripping down from its fangs, it charged.

Chapter Text

Chapter 42
Be My Love, We Will Be Gods On Nite Flights

If Louis was to be completely honest, he had no idea what a nexu was before that very moment. Harry obviously did though judging by the horror on his face. The nexu was agile with a streamline body like a large cat. It had a broad, flat head with four glowing red eyes and sharp quills down its spine. Its teeth were about the size of Louis’s hands, spanning the length of its long jaws. her feet had three long claws, resembling bird talons with the middle one longer than the others. Louis imagined she could use it to hook into his flesh and rip him apart with one pull. At her back was a long, fleshy tail, split into two long ends that sounded like whips in the air, smacking around as she prowled.

When she charged, she yowled a gross, beastly sound that sent chills down Louis’s spine. Her four eyes glittered, staring straight through Louis as she bounded towards him, spitting and snarling. Before she could reach him, Harry leapt forward, taking the brunt of the charge. He had pulled the hilt of his lightsaber out of his belt and caught it between her jaws, snagging on her long teeth.

She howled, dropping onto her hunches to try and break free and Harry was tugging at his hilt. He yanked it free and she reared up, swiping her paw at him and howling at an ear-piercing level. Harry moved just as quick as her, grabbing her long talon and yanking. He pulled at her and she whined in pain as he reached for her and grabbed her leg, tossing her over his shoulder in a show of brute strength. Louis squeaked, realizing how close she was and scrambled to his feet, kicking his bag out of the way as he stumbled away.

The holocron was still glowing, making her eyes reflect eerily as she stared him down. She snarled and charged again, snapping her jaws as she went for his head. Louis threw himself to the side, rolling along the ground out of her way. Her claws snagged into the ground and she ripped them out, howling in anger. She whipped around, about to go after Louis again, who was still recovering from his roll. Harry leaped towards her, bashing the side of her head with the hilt of his saber.

Yowling, she smacked Harry away, her claw catching on his arm and tearing the skin. Harry made a pained gasp and stumbled back, falling on his ass, blood spewing from the wound grotesquely. “Hey!” Louis cried, sounding more choked up then he wanted, “Back off of my Harold!” He picked up a peddle from the ground and threw it at her. It smacked her in the ear and she turned towards him.

Harry hissed and stumbled up to his feet, clutching his arm close to his side, “Louis, stop!” He hit the trigger and the saber lit up, sizzling the air. The nexus’s head spun around and she cowed her head, growling low in her throat. She hunched down, her butt in the air, lashing her tail side to side.

Louis gulped, watching her carefully, “Wait, Harry…” She snarled, the sound drowning out his voice and then she kicked up dirt at Harry, swiping at the lightsaber. She caught her talon on the hilt and knocked it from his hand. It bounced on the ground, the blade shutting down and the hilt rolling away.

Harry swore and lunged for it but she was quicker this time, lunging forward with her mouth wide open. Louis watched in horror as Harry’s body went through the air, the nexu’s jaws opening wide enough to grab his torso and rip him in half. Blood was pumping loudly in his head. Thump. Thump. Thump. “STOP!” Louis screamed, throwing his arms forward. The jaws were snapping shut. Harry wasn’t moving fast enough. Tears were streaking down Louis’s face. “I LOVE HIM!”

Time stopped. Harry was frozen in the air and nexu was resembling a statue. Louis was stock still, staring in horror at the dramatic scene in front of him.

Unconditional. That was the word. The word that had been on the tip of Louis’s tongue all day. Unconditional love.

Louis walked shakily over to Harry and grabbed him by the shoulders, yanking him from the jaws of the creature and pushing him to the ground. Immediately, Harry was brought back to life, gasping and grabbing at his chest. His face morphed into confusion when he realized he hadn’t been eaten and that the nexu wasn’t moving.

Louis walked towards the nexu and placed his hand on the top of her head, right between her eyes. There were flashes, flashes of darkness like a cave. Her parents abandoning her. Her living in the mountains by herself. Her mate, them bonding and living together. Her mate dying by poachers, taking his fur. Beaten, she managed to escape. Escape back to her babies, her kits. She would protect them with her life. Her family was everything.

“She’s protecting her babies…” Louis whispered. “We don’t want to hurt you, or them. We want you to be safe.” Louis told her. Her eyes blinked up at him, his hand still resting on her. “Do you understand me? We want to leave you in peace. We bring you no harm. Do you understand?” And then, very slowly, she nodded, her head knocking against his hand as she moved.

“No harm, I promise on my life. Please leave me and my mate in peace,” Louis murmured, “I promise no harm.” She began to purr, low in her throat and bowed her head. Crouching, she wiggled backward, away from his hand. With her head bowed she dragged herself away, her tail dragging along the ground.

She disappeared out of sight and Louis fell to his knees, his heart practically beating out of his chest, his hands shaking.

Harry crawled over to him, pool still leaking from the wound on his arm. “I don’t know what you just did but it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. You’re the most amazing star this universe has ever created.” With his dirty hands, he cradled Louis’s face in his palms and kissed him, a soft and lingering touch of his lips against Louis’s. They breathed in each other’s exhales and Harry’s arms gently tightened around him. Even injured he was holding Louis close.

“Harry…” Louis mumbled, his face burning, shifting to meet the green eyes. Harry looked incredibly sappy, an incredibly emotional expression on his face. Louis licked his lips, trying to calm his heartbeat. “Why are you looking at me like that?” He flushed, squirming in Harry’s hold.

“You said you loved me,” Harry whispered, his breath puffing against Louis’s face.

Louis looked over his shoulder, chewing on his lip, “Maybe?”

Harry beamed, looking tired and pale, “It’s a good thing, evening star. Because I love you too.”

Louis was almost positive his heart stopped beating. His eyes flicked to look at Harry, “Are you… sure?”

“Oh stars, Louis. I’ve never been surer of anything in my life.” And they kissed again, their lips sealing together like a promise. They kissed until Louis’s heart had started back in his chest and Harry’s wound had dried. It was Harry who pulled away first, looking soft and in awe, “My arm really hurts.” He announced, sounding sheepish.

Jumping, Louis smacked his forehead, “Of course!” He jumped to his feet and rushed over to where he had left the bag, yanking the zipper open. he pulled out two bacta bandages and ripped their covers open. He hurried back to Harry, dropping to his knees and unwrapping the bandages, Pulling them open, he began to wrap the moist wraps around Harry’s arm. Harry sighed in relief, his head falling back as he groaned in pleasure. “That feels better?”

“Immensely.” He paused, “I want to kiss you again. I want to kiss you all the time,” he admitted.

Blushing, Louis grumbled, “Okay, calm it down lover boy, we have job to do.”

“And we can do that and kiss, I swear.” Harry grinned, cheekily.

“Maybe,” Louis conceded. Harry beamed like he won a magnificent treat.

“After my arm feels better, we can try and find one of those trees and pull off a branch. You’ll need to form it into a useable hilt using the force,” Harry explained.

Louis smirked, “Sounds easy enough.” Harry grinned back at him.

“Should be simple,” Harry teased.

They rested for about twenty minutes, Harry humming under his breath and Louis wrapping his arm in thick wads of bacta bandages. Louis didn’t stop until his arm was wrapped to his satisfaction, meaning it was about three times bigger than it should have been. The wrapping was sloppier than Louis thought it should have been but he reminded himself he wasn’t being judged on aesthetics. The color seemed to return to Harry’s face as they waited, his breathing evening out as he hummed a tune, sounding less out of breath then when he started.

“I think we can start walking,” Harry announced, flexing his arm cautiously.

Louis ‘hmmed’, watching him carefully, “You know what the tree looks like, right?”

Harry nodded, “It’s a distinct tree. Thick red trunk and smooth,” he explained, getting to his feet slowly, still stretching his arm out as if he was trying to figure out how it worked.

Grabbing their bags and hitching them over their shoulders again, the two boys began to walk, Louis keeping an eye on Harry. Smacking his lips, Harry didn’t look up from his arm and said, “You told me Eadh’hard would have something to tell me.”

Louis puffed his cheeks out, blushing and nodding. “Yeah… I do not think I’m the right person to tell you-,” he began but Harry shook his head adamantly.

“No, I want to hear it from you. I would rather hear it from you than him.” His eyes darted around the forest, watching for the Brylark tree carefully but Louis could tell his mind was distracted by his thoughts of Eadh’hard.

Sighing, Louis debated on how to tell him what Edward had told him, in the gentlest way possible. “It was about your father,” he started and immediately regretted when Harry’s head swung towards him, eyes wide and watery and mouth fallen open in shock. “It was why he killed him.”

“I think I know why,” Harry hissed, “He doesn’t need to tell me why.”

“I think he does.” Louis huffed, “He didn't kill him because he’s a monster. He killed your father because he was the monster.” Harry’s feet stopped and it took Louis three steps to realize and he froze, turning to face Harry again.

“What?” Harry hissed, his shoulders trembling and Louis rubbed at his eyes, worried and tired. He wished it was Edward telling Harry, not him. It was harder than he thought it would be and the sight of Harry’s face contorted in pain was a horrible sight for him to bare. He wished he could swallow the words up, chew them up and destroy them before Harry could have heard them. But he reminded himself this was something Harry had to hear. He needed to know the truth. He had been running from his clone brothers for so long because of something he thought had been true. He needed to step out into the light, realize the truth.

“Your father raged and raged, he wasn’t in his right mind. He was trying to perfect a clone. A clone of you. And he would have sacrificed anything, even you. I don’t know what his motivations were but it was bad enough he would hurt you, his own son…” Louis sighed, his gaze focusing on his feet as they walked.

Harry was silent, his own eyes focused somewhere far ahead of them. Louis, bringing his eyes up to look at the curly haired boy, opened his mouth to continue but Harry interrupted him. “I see a tree.” Louis’s head snapped in the direction Harry was looking.

The tree could have been a king among its kind: it was huge with a thick smooth trunk, a mix of pale brown and russet red. It’s thick foliage hung heavy, nearly dragging along the ground. It smelled sweet and dewy and Louis inhaled deeply, sighing in pleasure at the scent. It was soothing. Even though he had never smelt it before it seemed to be able to transport him home.

“We should set up here,” Harry murmured, his mind still far away. He walked forward and pushed some of the foliage curtain open and let Louis follow him into the shade of the tree. Letting the curtain drop, it was like the tree had made some sort of private home for them in the middle of the forest. Louis felt his heart race like a rabbit as he gazed at the lean form of Harry in the shade, the ripple of muscle as he dropped his bag and began to pull items from it. It seemed far too intimate. Louis wondered if it was a good idea. He supposed they had already shared a bed…

As Harry began to set up a camp spot for them, Louis approached the tree, running his fingers along the smooth bark. It was like a stone that had been carved down by the river for years and years. It was smooth, but naturally so. Louis loved it. He couldn’t think of something better for his lightsaber hilt.

As he walked around, he would tug on the foliage, trying out the branches and feeling them spring in his hold. He leaned against the other side of the tree, hidden from Harry’s view and thought about how the brunette made his heart race and his palms sweat. He was so lost in his thoughts of Harry that he nearly didn’t hear the cracking from somewhere above him. It took him a moment to realize what it was and when he did he cranked his neck back to look.

A bird? He wondered, twisting his head to try and get a better look. And then something clunked him right on the head. He cried out in surprise, falling to his knees in shock. He was so surprised, the gem lit up, heating up his sore head.

“Lou?” Harry had rushed around the side of the tree, eyes wide with panic. He looked horrified at seeing Louis on the ground and he dropped to his side. “What happened? What’s wrong?”

But Louis was grinning, gazing at what had hit him on the head. “Fate happened,” he announced, picking up a straight, smooth branch, about the size of his forearm. He held it up for Harry to see. “My hilt hit me on the head!” He laughed and Harry grinned widely, dimples popping out.

“You are the chosen one, after all,” Harry teased, “Come on, I’ll show you how to craft it.”

 


Night had fallen quickly. Far quicker than Louis had wanted. He had been working with Harry and the branch for what seemed like forever, the only light from the fire licking into the air. Harry had been trying to show him how to concentrate the force into something akin to a tool to use with his hands. It was a lot harder than he thought and he couldn't seem to get the holocron to come to life to help him. (Was he too tired? Was it actually not meant to be?)

“Go to sleep, love. You can try again in the morning,” Harry murmured, rubbing at his sleepy eyes as he fell into his sleeping sack.

Louis nodded, not stopping, “Sure, sure…” He muttered, trying to get the force to work for him.

It must have been a couple of hours before something began to happen. Harry was gently snoring and the sound was something that Louis could concentrate on those over the hollow sounds of the forest. His mind kept wandering, lingering mostly on his family but thoughts of his friends and Harry would also pop up. Was Harry a friend? Was that what he was considered to be? Louis pouted, eyes locked on the hilt. He was. Harry was his best friend, a different kind of best friend than that of Niall.

He needed a word to describe what he and Harry were. There was something on the tip of his tongue…

They were… Unconditional? That was a word, wasn’t it? It meant that no matter what, Louis’s feelings wouldn’t change. Well, Louis figured that after everything they had been through, it was a great feat of love that kept him and Harry together. Nothing had changed them yet, not badly at least. It seemed to make them stronger, in a way. That had to mean something.

Yes, he and Harry were unconditional. His heart started to beat faster and his palms grew sweaty but he didn’t care. He and Harry were unconditional. The holocron lit up and the Force around his fingers began to push back, moving his hands for him. The hilt started to take shape but Louis’s mind wasn’t concentrating on it. No, he was still thinking of the people he loved. He was still thinking of Harry. He didn’t stop until the holocron’s light faded away, leaving him only the light of the fire. He didn’t stop until the force stopped moving his hands, twisting his fingers through the air. And when he did finally stop, he was holding a lightsaber hilt.

Tears gathered in the corner of Louis’s eyes and he laughed. He laughed so hard he fell back onto the ground, clutching the hilt to his chest. He had done it. He was a Jedi, like his father, like his mother before him. The laughter turned into choked sobs and tears ran down the side of his eyes into his hair and he couldn’t have been happier.

Chapter Text

Chapter 43
I’m Not A Wandering Star

“Louis, this is great!” Harry exclaimed, jerking Louis awake. Before Louis could even begin to wake up Harry was pressing wet, affectionate kissing to his forehead and cheeks. Louis blinked, stunned and confused, trying to focus in on Harry. Harry pulled away and Louis realized he had fallen asleep without tucking himself into his sleeping bag. The hilt of the lightsaber had rested on his chest the entire night, as he laid dead asleep, not moving.

“Thanks!” Louis grinned, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he scooted up onto his butt.

Harry inspected the hilt carefully, resting on his knees. It was hollow and smooth, the outside a swirly blend of both red and the light brown of the bark. The hilt was about the length of two of Louis’s hands and small enough he could wrap his entire fist around it. In Harry’s hands, the hilt looked tiny, dwarfed by his abnormally large palms. For Louis’s hands, however, the hilt was a perfect size.

“All we need now is a kyber crystal. That’ll be our next quest,” Harry grinned and Louis yawned, his mouth stretched out into a smile still. “But for right now, we need to head back to the hotel.” Louis nodded and pushed his sleepy head forward into Harry’s so he could steal a petal-soft kiss. Harry’s body sagged and he leaned in, turning the kiss into something far hungrier, needier, his wide hands coming up to cradle Louis’s face. Louis sighed into Harry’s mouth and he let himself be lost in the kiss.

 


“No, we’re not going.” Zayn’s voice rang out as Louis and Harry entered the hotel. Louis’s eyes landed on the tips of blond hair he knew belonged to Niall and he nearly sagged onto the floor in relief.

“Zayn, I think it’ll be a nice break for everyone. We are here to relax and -,” Liam began but Zayn cut him off.

Zayn shook his head, “And lay low. Going to a crowded festival is not laying low. We’ll be too exposed and it’ll be dangerous.”

“Are we talking about the Festival of Lights?” Louis asked from behind Niall, grinning. Three heads swung up, Niall’s mouth falling open. Before Louis could even begin to move Niall had leapt out of his chair and threw himself into Louis, sending them both onto the floor.

Rubbing their cheeks together, Niall cried out, “I’ve missed you so much, my little baby! You’re so precious!” And then he placed a sloppy kiss on each of his cheeks which made Louis grin and roll his eyes.

“I’ve missed you too buddy,” Louis told him, throwing his arms around his neck and hugging him. Above them, Louis could hear Harry and Liam greet each other and Harry greet Zayn but the dark-skinned man was resolutely silent.

Eventually, Niall stood up off of him, dragging Louis to his feet too. “It’s good to have you guys back!” Niall declared, “Zayn has been a bitch since you left.” Zayn’s nostrils flared and he narrowed his eyes. “My point,” Niall deadpanned. “I’m been trying to persuade him to let us go to the Festival of Lights. It’s a-,”

“Yes!” Louis clapped his hands excitedly. “Harry and I talked with this lady before we left and she told us about it.” He moved his eyes to lock gazes with Zayn. “I don’t know about you guys but Harry and I are going.” He added, his voice steely. Zayn rolled his eyes, looking away and crossing his arms.

Sick of the attitude, Louis turned to Niall and Liam, “I’m exhausted. I’m going back to our room. Make sure to wake us up before the festival.” He beamed. On that note him and Harry headed off for their hotel room, Harry digging the keycard out of his bag.

When they made it to the room, Harry unlocked it and Louis rushed inside, dropping his bag onto the ground and making a b-line for the bedroom. Without taking off his stinky clothes, Louis dive-bombed onto the bed, sighing as he sunk into the soft mattress. He still smelt like fire and he felt like he could smell his sweaty feet but he didn’t care. The mattr