Everyone who attended the University of Coruscant- and many who didn’t- loved Dr. Vanto. He was kind, fair, and the kind of person who’s smile was an antidepressant in its own right. Sure, he might occasionally go a little too fast through a particularly tricky mathematical theory, but he would always slow down and apologize if someone expressed confusion. He spoke freely of his personal life, often talking at great lengths about his husband, who it was obvious he loved dearly.
Only those who took classes from Dr. Thrawn genuinely liked the man- though not everyone who took a class from him had learned to like him. He was strict, but fair, and never really said much outside of the topic that he’d decided on for the day. He would never allow himself to get sidetracked, though many had tried. He never spoke about himself unless it was to briefly mention a deduction he’d made about such-and-such culture from a museum he’d visited. He rarely repeated himself, especially if the person who’d asked the redundant question hadn’t been paying attention. Somehow he always seemed to keep an accurate count of who was focused on the lecture- making sure to call almost exclusively on those who weren’t.
There wasn’t much overlap between Dr. Vanto and Dr. Thrawn’s classes- With the formor being a professor in the math fields, the latter being exclusively interested in the art fields. They both mainly taught higher level classes, so someone would have to be extraordinarily interested in both subjects to have taken a class from both.
Laken Vash, a Togrutan woman, was one of the few. She was going into architecture and was hoping that Dr. Thrawn’s classes would give her a boost into how to make her designs appealing to whichever culture that she was designing buildings for. Dr. Vanto, obviously, was teaching her all the math for structure specifications and cost estimates that she needed.
Keeale Tanphi, a friend of Laken’s, was only in Thrawn’s classes, claiming she wasn’t cut out for ‘that high level shit that Vanto teaches’. Keeale was completely enamored with Thrawn- not that Laken could blame her either. The Chiss was attractive, as she could admit. So enamored was Keeale that she was currently taking two of his classes, the one that Laken was in- ‘Understanding Culture through Art’, and another- ‘Selonian art of their Classical era’. Keeale had signed up for the classes after going to a lecture of his on ‘Coruscanti architecture and its effects of classism in the society’ the previous semester- something Laken had been required to go to for one of her architectural classes at the time. Keeale had gone with and become infatuated immediately.
Keeale came back to their shared room after her Selonian art class, eyes bright and excited. “Laken! Laken, listen!”
Laken looked up from the miniature holo of a building she had been studying intensely. “Yeah? What’s up?”
“Okay, okay, okay. So we were in the middle of class, ‘kay? And Thrawn was lecturing about the differences between early classical era Selonian art and mid classical era Selonian art, but that doesn’t matter, anyway. Some girl came in- I think she’s one of his masters students- and,” She paused for dramatic effect, “Gave him a bagged lunch.” She nodded as if that was supposed to be important
“And? Sure that’s a little weird, but you had to have been pretty bored for that to be this interesting.” Laken looked back towards her holo.
“No! No, get this, she said, and I quote: ‘Hey your husband said you forgot this this morning.’”
This made Laken look up again, “He’s married?”
Keeale nodded excitedly.
“And to a man, that’s two strikes against you.” Laken teased.
“I literally don’t care, because think about it. Unless this girl just happens to know Thrawn’s mystery husband and happened to run into him, that means he probably works at the University.” Keeale’s eyes shone with delight as she gave her theory.
Laken swung her legs off the bed and landed down next to Keeale. “Holy shit.”
“This is actually the first piece of information on Thrawn’s personal life that has been learned ever.”
“How did he react? What’d he say?” Laken was almost desperate for information, but she knew that she’d never learn any more from the man himself.
“He took the bag from her and thanked her quietly, and I swear he was blushing. Had like, a purple tinge to his cheeks.”
Laken mock gasped, “He emoted?” She was kind of surprised, though. Thrawn rarely liked to show how he felt, never showed any weakness.
Laken glanced over at the clock, “Ah, kriff. I lost track of time, I need to go to Calc.”
Keeale snorted, “Now there’s a class with no lacking of personal information on the professor.”
Laken grinned, “He talked for a full five minutes at the beginning of last class on how his husband had just learned that he liked milk in his caf. Like, he’d just never bothered to try it until he accidentally grabbed Vanto’s mug. Vanto was in hysterics. Said his brother-in-law would get a real kick out of it.”
Keeale laughed, “It’s on the list?”
Laken nodded. “The caf incident was added, we already knew he has a brother.”
For as much as they knew about Vanto’s husband, he’d said once that he didn’t want them knowing who he was so they didn’t harass him. It’d become a goal of his students to figure out who it was. Vanto seemed to be genuinely amused by it.
Laken looked over that list as she walked to Calculus.
Information on Dr. Vanto’s Husband
- Non-human (species unknown)
- Likes museums (art)
- Genius (may be biased?)
- Finished learning Basic from Dr. Vanto
- Met when Dr. Vanto was in the Navy (Dr. Vanto was in the Navy?) (Yes Vel, look at the plaque on his wall sometime)
- Dr. Vanto knows his husband’s native language but NO ONE ELSE DOES??? (He’s made jokes in the language but no one seems to be able to figure out what language it is)
- Favorite color is blue (might have been a joke)
- Has a brother
- Dr. Vanto’s parents didn’t like him at first, due to possible xenophobia (maybe something else??)
- They got married on Lysatra and then later on his husband’s home planet
- Home planet is very far away
- Main owner of their pet ysalamir Tisasci (named by Dr. Vanto’s husband, Dr. Vanto thinks the name is stupid, though won’t say why) (Dr. Vanto sometimes calls the ysalamir Bircisb, and his husband hates it) (what’s a ysalamir?) (Vel please just look these things up on the holonet it’s a furry orange lizard)
- Can’t cook to save his life (burnt soup once)
- Tactical genius- could have been incredible in the military (could be biased?)
- Beautiful/pretty/handsome (could be biased?)
- Good with droids and mechanics
- Good at everything he tries (definitely biased; contradicts point 13)
- Once fell off the bed because he was crowded out by Tisasci, Dr. Vanto thought this was very funny. Dr. Vanto’s husband apparently did Not
- Likes caf with milk
- Only tried caf with milk when he accidentally grabbed Dr. Vanto’s mug
She arrived at Calc, and sat down next to Linyas, another girl in architecture that also took Thrawn’s classes. As they got started, and Dr. Vanto was walking around looking at their work on that day’s warmup, it was only by happenstance that he was looking over Laken’s work when Laken turned towards Linyas and said:
“Did you know Dr. Thrawn has a husband?”
Linyas raised her eyebrows, but Dr. Vanto beat her to speaking. “He told you?” He sounded surprised.
“No, my roommate was in his classroom and apparently some girl came in and delivered a sack lunch and said that his husband said he’d forgotten it at home.”
Vanto let out a hearty laugh. “Oh, really now? How did he react to that?” He was grinning and had a wild gleam in his eyes.
“Apparently he just took the bag with a blush.”
Vanto laughed again, “Aw, bet he hated that.”
“Chiss blush?” Linyas seemed quite surprised.
Vanto snorted, “Just like anyone else- you just have to know what to say.” He leaned in close as if about to tell them something of dire importance, “As for Dr. Thrawn, it’s not real hard. If you say that I told you to tell him that my husband is way hotter than his, I promise he’ll react.”
He gave them one last grin, and moved on, chuckling to himself.
Laken turned to Linyas, and they both started giggling. “Oh my god.” Laken said, staring at her friend, wide-eyed.
“So,” Linyas said, “We’re telling Thrawn that, right?”
“Duh.” Laken pulled out her datapad, opening it to where she’d left off reading the list. She added:
- Hotter than Dr. Thrawn’s husband (definitely biased)
Linyas leaned over her shoulder and snickered when she saw what she’d typed.
The lecture started, and they stopped talking to listen, eager for Calculus to be over so that they could head to their Understanding Culture class.
“Don’t forget to study for y’all’s test next week, have a good day! Good luck with your next class!”
Laken wondered if she was imagining things when she thought she saw Dr. Vanto wink at her after dismissing them.
Laken and Linyas were the 3rd and 4th people there respectively. Dr. Thrawn himself hadn’t even arrived yet. Even when he did get there, they waited patiently- they knew better to interrupt class with a nonsense question.
Finally the end of class arrived- Thrawn asked whether there were any questions. A few seconds passed before Laken raised her hand. Linyas giggled. Keeale, who’d noticed them acting strangely all class, perked up, hoping to get more information on Thrawn’s mysterious husband.
Thrawn’s eyes narrowed, picking up on the fact that the question wasn’t going to be about art, “Ms. Vash?”
“Dr. Vanto has a message for you.”
Thrawn’s eyes narrowed further.
“He said to tell you his husband is way hotter than your husband.”
Thrawn seemed to have not expected this, he raised his eyebrows a fraction, before sighing and shaking his head slightly. To Vanto’s credit, his ears turned a slight shade more purple than the rest of him.
Whispers spread through the class.
Thrawn looked towards the door. “If you could kindly step inside the classroom instead of lingering outside like a stray?”
The door slid open to reveal Dr. Vanto. He was grinning.
“Dr.” Thrawn greeted. “I’m not surprised that you’re here after what Ms. Vash told me you’d said.”
“So that was it? Just logic, or did my feet create a shadow under the door?”
Vanto’s grin widened.
“As for your claim,” Thrawn turned off the holoprojector that he’d been using during class before looking Vanto directly in the eyes and donning a sickly-sweet smile that didn’t seem to fit him at all, “You’re absolutely right.”
Vanto stood stunned for a moment as the grin slid off his face. He gave a snort before doubling over with his laughter.
Thrawn looked pleased with himself.
Finally, once Vanto composed himself, he just shook his head, still beaming, “You’re a right bastard, you know that?” He paused, “Rav’hn vah.”
Thrawn shook his head, a small smile coming over his face.
“Or… Ravri’ihah vah?”
Thrawn’s eyes widened, and the purple tint reached his cheeks. He collected himself quickly, “Ch'acan'b her csei s nuvci, visahot.”
Vanto grinned, then saluted. “I’ll hold you to that, sir.” He replied cheekily, his Wild Space accent coming out stronger than normal. He gave a short nod before exiting the room.
No one dared to talk for a full ten seconds. As Thrawn was beginning to pack up his things, there was something to his expression that puzzled Laken. He still held the tint of purple in his cheeks, but there was a small smile on his lips.
Finally a man in the corner of the room snickered.
Thrawn fixed him with a stare. “Dismissed.”
Everyone started talking at once as they began to get their things together and leave the room.
“Um, what was that?” Keeale asked, “Like, what… what the hell just happened?”
“’I’ll hold you to that, sir’?” Laken repeated, “And what were they saying, what language was that?”
“I… I think it was the same language that Vanto sometimes talks in, the same one that he jokes in, the same one that his husband knows.” Linyas said softly.
“Yeah!” Laken exclaimed, “That word- what was it- rav’hn? He’s said that before. I think it’s an expletive. He said it when he accidentally flung his pen across the room.”
“And when he stepped on his sandwich.” Linyas added.
Laken nodded, “Okay, so why would Dr. Vanto, his husband, and Dr. Thrawn all know this one language that no one else can identify?”
They were all silent at that.
And then Keeale sat up- a weird sort of look on her face. “Hear me out, guys- I don’t know Dr. Vanto as much as you guys do, can I see that list that you have about his husband?”
Laken obliged, pulling out her datapad. “What’re you thinking?” She asked curiously.
“Hold on,” Keeale scanned the list with her eyes, “Alright,” She grinned, “Let me paint you a picture. Vanto is in the navy, but I don’t think that his husband was at first. Cause think about it, Vanto finished teaching him basic. Most planets just, teach everyone basic along with their native language. But- and we know Vanto’s husband is a nonhuman- for whatever reason, his people never taught his husband basic- whether that was normal for their people or not. So here’s my theory. I think his husband is from way out in the outer regions, and that he was, I dunno, abandoned or something and the Navy found him and took him in. It’s not normal for the Imperial Navy to have nonhuman members- sorry Laken,”
Laken shrugged. She knew how some people felt about nonhumans, she’d gotten pretty used to it at this point.
“Anyway, so I don’t think that they met in the Navy in the sense that people would think. I think Vanto found his husband on some mission.”
“So, hold on,” Laken was catching on, “If that did happen, all we’d need is someone to look into the records to when Vanto was in the Navy and look at missions, and we might figure out-”
“Shut up.” Linyas interjected, “I’m thinking.”
Laken did as she was told, figuring Linyas probably had some sort of plan.
As they watched Linyas think, her eyes were flitting around as if looking at some invisible text in front of her.
She looked up at them, “I think I know who Vanto’s husband is. And I think I know who Thrawn’s husband is.”
“Okay?” Keeale prompted.
“So, this language that no one else knows. There’s no Chiss that attend this school that I know of. So, the probability that this language is a Chiss language is high. But, you’re asking, ‘What about Vanto’s husband? Why would he know a Chiss language?’ Unless of course, he’s a Chiss himself. Now do you guys remember that one time Watalla told Thrawn that he was thermal? Thrawn didn’t know what it meant, he figured out it was an insult just fine, but he didn’t know what it meant precisely. So hear me out, I think whether Chiss teach their children basic isn’t a matter of importance, because Thrawn doesn’t have a full understanding of the intricacies of basic, meaning he probably learned basic later on in life. Meanwhile, do you know any Chiss other than Thrawn? No. Sure maybe there are other Chiss around, but listen- the whole incident today? Thrawn agreed that Vanto’s husband was hotter Thrawn’s husband. That’s kriffin’ weird until you think- what if they’re each other’s husbands?”
They were quiet- the world around them bustling, but they were walking in stunned silence.
“Holy shit!” Laken shouted, pulling a full 180° in the middle of the walkway. “Guys come on- I think I know how to confirm this.”
She pulled out the list on her datapad again, looking through it. “It all fits. Nonhuman, check. Art, check. Genius, check. Mystery language, check. Blue? Definitely a joke, but it fits. Home planet is far away, check. Attractive, big check. Holy shit, Linyas you kriffing nailed it!”
They arrived at Vanto’s office and quietly clustered around the door, listening close when they could hear talking inside.
“-like for dinner?” Vanto’s drawl was loud enough to hear without getting close to door.
“I would be perfectly happy with whatever you would like to make.” Thrawn’s distinctively soft voice could be heard through the door, even though they had to strain to catch it.
They all stared each other, silently celebrating that this all but confirmed Linyas’ theory.
“You don’t sound happy.”
There was a sigh that they suspected came from Thrawn.
“Eli, you must be aware that the students will figure it out after that stunt you pulled today.”
A pause, “Yeah. I know you hate to involve your personal life with work, but gods, it’s so hard to see you around and not be able to do more than talk like colleagues.”
“Holy shit!” Keeale mouthed.
There was another pause, as if Thrawn was carefully considering his words. “I understand. It’s not me that I’m worried about. I am… well aware of public view on nonhumans. I know that interspecies relationships can be… frowned upon. Your own parents-”
“That wasn’t cause you’re not human that was because you’re Chiss, that’s different.”
“My point about interspecies relationships still stands. I am unconcerned about my own wellbeing, I can handle myself in an altercation.”
“Like ya’ did back at the Academy?” Vanto grumbled.
“Physical or otherwise,” Thrawn continued without responding to Vanto’s interjection.
“I can get myself out of trouple should the need arise, and if I get fired, I have contingency plans. I must be constantly vigilant because that is the nature of being a nonhuman from the unknown regions. You, however, have no need to go through the same ridicule, and I don’t intend to force it upon you by being public about our relationship. I have no doubt that you could hold your own in any situation, but the situation that you would be placed in should people on Coruscant know we are married would be an entirely unnecessary one.” Thrawn’s voice remained as cool and collected as always, but there was a thread of heat, anger- one that was obviously not towards Vanto, but towards the rest of the galaxy for its indifference and cruelty.
There was another sigh, probably from Vanto this time, “Thrawn, it’s sweet of you to think of my wellbeing, but I couldn’t care less about what anyone else thinks. Anyone who doesn’t like me because I love you can shove it up their ass. Hell, I want people to know, I would love to be a sanctuary for those on campus who’re in our situation. If you’re willing, I want to tell my classes.” He said this as if he’d wanted to say it for a while.
“Why would they care?” Thrawn seemed genuinely confused as to why anyone would care about their professors’ personal lives.
Vanto snorted, “You know that they’ve got a list about all the things they know about you so that they can try to figure out who you are, I know I’ve told you about that.”
“They care because not all of them are human. Not all the humans who’re in relationships are dating other humans. I’ve got a real sweet kid- Jaxil Rennoc, he’s dating a Rodian girl, and he’s always getting shit from some of the boys in the back for it. I try to shut it down, but I don’t always catch it. They all know I’m married to a nonhuman, but if I tell them my story- our story- it gives kids like Rennoc a leg to stand on. It shows them that they can trust me, that I’ll always back them if they have problems. It shows everyone that I ain’t about to take that xenophobic bantha shit from anyone.”
“Alright.” Thrawn said after a moment, “Tell them.” His voice was even quieter than it had been, but he sounded sincere.
“Thank you.” They could all hear the grin in his voice.”
There were sounds of motion in the office, and Laken figured they were getting ready to head out. She motioned for the others to leave, and they snuck out through the hallways, not daring to say anything until they were all outside.
“Damn.” Linyas summed up quietly.
Laken and Linyas brought Keeale with them to Vanto’s calculus class the following day with a prepared story about her wanting to see if the class would be a good fit for her.
Vanto saw her before class, but said nothing, just smiled at them all with a knowing twinkle in his eyes.
Laken decided not to look too far into it.
“Alright,” Vanto grinned at the class, “Put away your datapads, I want to tell y’all a story.”
Low confused murmurs filled the room.
“You all know,” Vanto started as he began to pace up at the front of the room, “That I used to be in the Navy. I started out my training in shipping and supply. Three months before I was supposed to graduate, I was on this planet, and I was called out to help because I knew Sy Bisti. As we were studying this planet, we were attacked. All in all, we decided it was too dangerous to stay, and we ended up retreating and leaving the planet. With a stowaway. He’d been the one- the only one- that had attacked our camp. I was called in. The stowaway wasn’t great with basic, but could understand it for the most part, so I translated for him. Now, y’all’ve probably caught on by now, yes, this is the man that I would later marry. His name is Mitth’raw’nuruodo. We ended up here on Coruscant, and found ourselves meeting Emperor Palpatine, who sent us to the Imperial Academy, where I was to finish my training. Mitth’raw’nuruodo and I graduated- his training was expedited due to prior military experience with his own people. I was assigned as his aide and translator, and my hopes of a quiet job with shipping and supply were killed. Now I’m glad it happened, but back then… not so much.
“Long story short, I won’t go into all the nitty gritty details, Mitth’raw’nuruodo and I fell in love. Along the way, his tactical genius was recognized, and eventually the Navy decided they wanted more of him. So they sent him to teach here at the University to try to get people to learn how to reproduce his tactics. This of course, was the only the official story. The unofficial version- the true version- is that the Navy resented him. They decided that they hated him for being nonhuman, for being from the unknown regions, and because he knew that he was- and is- better and smarter than all of them. So they got rid of him. Sending him here instead of letting him rise the ranks, or even just sending him to teach at the Academy. But hey, if some human actually did learn from him and decide to join the Navy, even better. I, naturally, was pissed. I loved him, and they were being xenophobic shitheads to him, so I spoke up- against my then-boyfriend’s wishes. He wanted to protect me, hoped that I could keep my job. But I decided that I didn’t want to be part of an organization that would squander pure, raw talent just because it comes in the form of a nonhuman. I was dishonorably discharged, and yes, I am proud of that fact. I kept my lieutenant commander insignia plaque, just out of spite. Eventually was able to get myself a job at the University, teaching subjects that I love. And I thank Admiral Gendling every day for that dishonorable discharge.
“Skip forward a year or so, Mitth’raw’nuruodo and I decided to get married. We went to my home planet of Lysatra and I finally told my parents that I had been dating my former commanding officer, who had removed me from the path I’d been on all of my life, who was of a race that we’d been told myths about for all our lives- a race that we’d grown to fear. I told my parents that we were going to get married, that we wanted a small ceremony on Lysatra using human customs, then have another ceremony on his home planet using their customs. My parents weren’t understanding at first. They hated him, having only met him once at our graduation. They hated him based on stereotypes, rumor, and because he had ‘ruined’ my life by ‘forcing’ me to get kicked out of the Navy. We argued about it for some time, and eventually- after giving them an ultimatum of either going to the ceremony and not making a scene, or being uninvited, they decided to go. They told me that it was important to them to see me happy, and if this nonhuman man was going to make me happy, then they were going to have to work through that themselves.
“I’m telling you about this moment with my family because there are people in the galaxy that don’t understand the kind of relationship that I have with my husband. They don’t like that I’m human and he’s not. But that isn’t my problem, it isn’t my husband’s problem. It is the problem of the people that believe that they are better than others just because they themselves are human. I’m telling you about this moment because I know there are those of you that are going through a similar story. Because I want every single one of you to know that if I hear about any sort of harassment based on xenophobia, I will back the nonhuman every kriffin’ time. Not only will I back the nonhuman, my husband will as well. My husband who you might know better by his core name, Thrawn.” Vanto paused as people murmured in the class.
He smirked, “Any questions?”