I. What If: Thrawn/Pellaeon
Three minutes doesn't seem like a lot of time. In reality, it isn't. In a lifetime, three minutes is barely a fraction of anything. A fraction of a fraction.
It feels so much longer when it's spent watching the man you love die.
Pellaeon sighed, closing his eyes against the memory of medics darting frantically around the Grand Admiral. There was no point in reliving that again. He had tortured himself enough with the memory already and managed to pull himself out of the threatening gulf of depression some time ago. There was no point in turning back to that. Wallowing in guilt and misery served no positive purpose. Asking 'What could have been?' for the thousandth time wasn't going to suddenly change anything.
He had responsibilities now. An Empire to watch over. Decisions to make.
Though, Pellaeon supposed he had already made up his mind on one of those decisions.
Suddenly faced with it he felt rather foolish. Maybe he should have thought this out a little more. Waited a bit longer. He had been dealing with this feeling for quite a while now. He could deal with the constant weight of it gnawing at his insides for a little while longer. He was a grown man. Past such things. He should have waited. Should have had better control. Should-
"I love you."
The words are rushed, and Pellaeon winces at how nervous he sounds even as a weight lifts off his shoulders.
He has never been more grateful to hear the obnoxious beep of the heart monitor spiking as Thrawn smiles at him, his hand tightening around Pellaeon's. "I have waited a long time to hear you say that."
The apology forming on Pellaeon's tongue dies as Thrawn pulls him closer. Anything he might have attempted to say is promptly forgotten when warm lips press against his own, a hand cupping the back of his head as Thrawn's other hand twists to interlace their fingers.
Pellaeon wraps his free hand around Thrawn's waist, holding onto him as tightly as he dares while the other is still recovering from his injury. Someone moans and Pellaeon is sure that it's him. At the moment he can't really bring himself to care. Not when Thrawn's pulling away just long enough to mutter a quick "I love you too," before pressing against him again.
Pellaeon allows himself one more 'What could have been?', more than just a little curious at what his life would have been like if he had spoken up sooner.
II. Admittance of the Best Sort: 4-LOM/Zuckuss
Zuckuss held onto the Ankarres Sapphire long after everyone had left his presence. This would be the natural thing to do, seeing as how the gem had healing properties and 4-LOM had placed it on his chest in order to help the Gand's lungs. It really was helping in its own way. Already he was breathing easier and his hacking had subsided into the occasional cough. He almost wishes he had asked 4-LOM to retrieve the stone for this purpose earlier, though he knows he would have never actually requested such a thing. At the moment though, he wasn't clinging to the rock just for what it was healing physically. In his pondering since the gem had been placed onto his chest by his partner he had come to a realization.
Seemingly without noticing it, 4-LOM had placed the stone directly over his heart. There was an admission in that somewhere. A telling admission. One that Zuckuss found he rather liked. Zuckuss didn't like to jump to conclusions but he couldn't help but sigh happily as he thought about it. 4-LOM had gotten comfortable enough with Gand anatomy after his accident to know where his lungs were. Yet he had placed the Sapphire over his heart.
Thinking about it made Zuckuss smile. Not that he was jumping to conclusions.
Every once in a while he would have to move the gem closer to his lungs when the ache was too much to bear, but he always found himself sliding it back over to where his companion had originally placed it once the pain settled down. Somehow that felt better than just pressing it to where he hurt.
Maybe he would bring it up to 4-LOM after his lungs were healed. There was a chance that he was making assumptions and he didn't want to scare off his friend if the Sapphire's placement was just a fluke. He would bide his time and see what his friend did. See if he did something else that would give Zuckuss some rare insight into the droid's feelings. He would meditate on it.
Though, Zuckuss thought as his hands tightened around the gem, something tells me I won't have to meditate very long.
III. Confession: Thrawn/Pellaeon
Thrawn reaches forwards instinctively before he realizes what he is doing and freezes, his hands centimeters away from the beautiful set up before him. He isn't going to ruin Pellaeon's hard work with an old habit. Instead he allows one of his hands to gently settle the neck of the vase, his other hand just barely brushing the edge of a dark green leaf with his fingertips. The colors- pink, orange, and red- almost seem to glow in the dim light of his quarters.
The urge to touch and prod and examine is strong, but Thrawn pushes it away. Not all art is meant to be manhandled, after all.
Pellaeon clears his throat behind him, and Thrawn glances over his shoulder to see the Captain shifting his weight nervously, almost averting his eyes when he sees Thrawn looking at him. "Well," he says, his tongue darting out to wet his lips nervously. "What do you think?"
Thrawn turns his head back around to face the bouquet. "This is absolutely beautiful, Pellaeon," he says, moving his hand away from the leaf towards one of the flowers but not daring to actually touch any of its petals. "You would have made a wonderful florist."
He can hear the shuffling of feet and can easily imagine Pellaeon standing up a bit straighter. His Captain was always receptive to praise. Not a bad thing, certainly. "Thank you, sir. They took a long time to grow, but it was worth it."
He sounds both pleased and nervous. Thrawn is sure the man is blushing.
"I'm glad you feel that way," Thrawn says, lowering his hands to the table. He would certainly agree with the sentiment. He finally turns back around to fully face Pellaeon, giving him a smile as he speaks. "You can rest assured that they will be well taken care of."
He was correct about assuming the man would be blushing but Pellaeon is smiling all the same as he tells Thrawn that he knows that his work could not be in better hands. Thrawn's smile merely deepens and Pellaeon's face darkens to a lovely shade of red in response. It's a pity the man is so nervous, but it is to be expected. Giving flowers to a commanding officer isn't exactly a popular habit in the Empire and there was no way for Pellaeon to know that Thrawn would accept the gift, politely, if at all.
Finally taking pity on the other, Thrawn dismisses the Captain for the night. Pellaeon lets out a breath that he had apparently not realized he was holding and nods once before wishing the Admiral goodnight, turning on his heel and leaving.
Thrawn allows himself a single pang of regret at not keeping the other longer before he turns back towards the flowers. He doesn't fight the smile that spreads across his lips as he picks up the vase, glancing around the room to find a suitable place for the flowers. He really does regret sending away the other man now. He could have used Pellaeon's help in picking out a spot.
After a few minutes, Thrawn settles on setting the vase down on his work desk. Deep enough into his quarters to avoid being seen by prying visitors, but somewhere where they will still be enjoyed. He considers bringing Pellaeon back here to see if he would approve of his placement but decides against it. No reason to put the other on further edge. Pellaeon had been nervous enough just knocking on his door with the flowers, hands almost trembling around the vase.
Thrawn supposes he would have been nervous giving flowers to a superior officer too. Especially ones that so vibrantly declared feelings of love and admiration.
No, Thrawn will spare Pellaeon the embarrassment of seeking him out so soon. However, he doubts that he will spare him of the knowledge that he is quite fluent in many forms of communication, flower language being one of his personal favorites.
IV. There: Thrass & Lorana
Thrass almost shivers in disgust as he turns another page of the city's local newspaper. Honestly. What sort of backwards planet had they stumbled on that still printed paper?
With a sigh he folds the newspaper closed and tosses the useless thing onto the small table in front of him. Not that he had expected it to have any valuable information. Certainly nothing pertaining to the man he was looking for.
Cursing in thick Cheunh he buries his face in his hands and leans forwards until his elbows hit the table's surface. This was agony. He was never going to find Thrawn like this. Not on such a small planet. Certainly not one that still used newspapers. What was he even doing here? Out of all of the stops they had made, this one had to be the most useless. At this rate they wouldn't find his brother until he was eighty- if they ever found Thrawn at all.
That makes him pause. He has thought about the possibility of not finding Thrawn before. Considered it, like a child considers the death of a loved one. Seemingly impossible, but the possibility of it always hovering just overhead. It's a dark thing to consider, although realistic. There is a whole galaxy to be searched after all, one he can barely wrap his head around even with Lorana's help.
What if all of this was pointless? What if he had came out here for no reason, dragging Lorana around for nothing? Thrawn could very well be dead, though he refused to believe that. She had a family to return to, he was sure. People who loved her, would be happy to have her back home with them, safe and sound. He was being selfish by keeping her from them, even if she insisted that she was more than happy to help Thrass find his brother.
It just seemed wrong. He doubted he and Thrawn were an outstanding example of what good family relationships looked like, but they still loved each other and Thrass could not imagine life without having known his brother. He wanted Lorana to have that sort for connection with a relative.
On the other hand, he truly did enjoy her company. She was a good travel companion, always positive that things would work out, enthusiastic but not enough to be overbearing and obnoxious with it.
No, he hated to admit it, but he had grown rather fond of Lorana. He wasn't going to send her away just because he thought something was good for her.
A noise from deeper in their hotel room tells Thrass that Lorana has finally woken up, the sound of the heavy door to the bedroom being opened and shut, it's hinges creaking with the movements. He lifts his face out of his hands in time to see Lorana come around the corner and shuffle into the kitchen area where he stood.
Yawning and muttering a greeting, Lorana began to make her way over to the caf machine.
Thrass wished her a good morning in return, watching her as she got a cup down from one of the cabinets as the machine chugged in the background.
A minute later Lorana finally approached him, sitting down on one of the stools next to him while swallowing a few gulps of the awful smelling liquid in her cup.
Glancing down, Lorana saw the newspaper and snorted. Thrass hid a smile of approval behind his hands as she picked up the offensive thing and tossed it into the small garbage can nearby. Turning back to her cup she took a long swallow of the sludge before looking up at Thrass. "So, where to today?"
Lorana couldn't help but grin lazily over her mug as Thrass groaned, pressing his forehead back into his hands. "Anywhere but here."
V. Acceptance and Support: Thrass, Thrawn
The surface of the planet is freezing. Deathly so. If their parents knew where they were right now the two boys would certainly not need to worry about the cold killing them before their mother and father did. But here they are. Lying prone on a thick sheet of ice and snow. They did't come here for the adventure of traversing Csilla's unforgiving surface like others might. They came here for the silence.
Thrass lays with his ankles crossed and his hands overlapping on his stomach, eyes closed against a soft breeze. Annoyance bubbles almost constantly beneath his calm exterior, with family pressuring him to figure out what he wants.
Thrass knows what he wants.
He wants a career in politics and a lovely home for himself. Simple. Neat.
That's why he can't understand why no one will accept the answer. The first part is swallowed easily enough- heads nod and people murmur in approval at such a choice. It's the second part that always gets them. 'Just yourself?' Someone always asked. 'Won't that be lonely?'
If he has to listen to one more person ask that question he will commit homicide.
Why would they care if he wants to live alone? It was none of their business. It's not like he's doing this to himself as some sort of punishment. He just doesn't want to be with someone. He doesn't see others that way. He's tried to explain it when people ask questions, but they aren't interested in listening. They just assure him that he hasn't found the right person yet and then continue. Like that's assuring him.
Once an aunt asked him if he was broken. The moment she apologizes for asking him that will be the moment he apologizes for telling her to fuck off.
Thrawn stares up at the sky, eyes unwavering as his gloved fingertips dig into the snow. He is tense in a way that has nothing to do with the cold but he isn't sure why.
Thrawn knows what he wants. Has known for years. He has goals set for himself, a plan to follow so he can reach that dream.
He wants to join the CEDF. Wants it more than anything else.
Only two people know this.
He wants to tell others, but the few he has tried to tell always cut him off. Tell him not to worry about that career stuff till he is older. He doesn't want to wait. He wants to prepare and study and do anything else that will give him and edge over all the other who want to join.
Thrass knows that this is what he wants. He had looked up from the book he had been reading when Thrawn told him, looked his brother up and down before finally telling him that he would be good at it. He had later offered Thrawn help on finding out information on joining the military if he wanted his help. Thrawn took his brother's help with a thank you and a rare smile.
The other is a woman who already wears a black uniform, who had crouched down to his height in the middle is a sidewalk and gave him advice and encouragement when he confronted her on earning his own uniform. He wishes he had asked her for her name. He only knows her family from the green patches on her uniform. He wants to know who to thank.
Only his brother and a stranger support his decision to go into the military. One part of him tells him not to worry about it. The other is just a little bit upset at how much the small number hurts.