Tryst was in. One of his moods.
Bacta couldn’t quite put his finger on the motivation or cause of Tryst’s restlessness, all he knew was that since the Mynock crew’s day had begun Tryst had been absolutely insufferable and it was starting to seriously tick him off.
It had started early that morning, when Tryst had (uncharacteristically, as he usually stayed in bed for as long as was humanly possible) pulled himself up to stick his head into the gunnery to bother Bacta. He had loudly demanded breakfast, and proceeded to lob a series of bad jokes relating to Bacta’s (non-existent) sleep schedule at him (“You look great! Getting your beauty sleep in huh? The lines have practically melted off your face.”) which Tryst evidently thought were hilarious.
Bacta had been busy quietly skimming through a dated medical text (a collection of research papers relating to force sensitivity and immune function that Lyn had been so kind as to acquire for him), and had only given his crewmate an annoyed look in reply. Unbothered, Tryst had pressed on chatting what was at best smarmy nonsense and at worst directly insulting, all with that osik-eating grin of his merrily plastered on his face. In the end no amount of annoyed looks perturbed him, and he only forcefully exited when Bacta unceremoniously shoved him down the hatch with his foot.
It had continued into the kitchen, with Tryst recovering from his undignified ejection an hour earlier to return and resume pestering Bacta while he ate. Bacta had of course caved, and made him breakfast as always. However Tryst seemed far more interested in stealing little bits of food off of Bacta’s plate, despite the clone’s weak attempts at swatting him away.
“This is great, how is it that you can conjure up a decent meal out of literally the WORST rations. See this is why we keep you around.”
“Y’know if my attempts at acquiring better supplies weren’t constantly vetoed maybe, just maybe we’d have better food.” Bacta snapped, moving to slap Tryst’s hand, but he was too slow and ended up with squashed egg all over his fingers.
“Missed me buddy,” Tryst grinned through a mouthful, tickling a piece of jerky to Bacta’s ear.
“Alright, breakfast’s over, go bother someone else.” Bacta got to his feet with a scowl, wiping his hand on his pants.
“Awww but I’m having so much fun bothering yo-” Planting his hand flat on Tryst’s chest, Bacta pushed him bodily out of the kitchen (satisfied with the resulting squawk and flailing limbs) and returned to finish what was left of his meal in relative peace.
Why Tryst had decided on a crusade to simply push all his buttons that day eluded him, but it certainly didn’t stop there. All Bacta knew was that Tryst’s smarmy grin was following him doggedly throughout the day, seemingly with some goal in mind as Bacta attempted to attend to all the routine domestic tasks that for the most part seemed beyond the other crew-members.
Sure he was used to some level of aggravation from Tryst, but certainly not to this extent and not focused so exclusively on himself. Tryst was practically ignoring the other crew-members, except to loudly talk to them about Bacta in his earshot.
It was a perplexing pattern. One second Tryst was strutting over, practically hanging off of Bacta while inquiring about (and interrupting) whatever menial task Bacta was focusing on. The next he was back to the personal insults, complaining about how boring and needless the task was, throwing some distasteful innuendos in the mix and obviously attempting to rile Bacta up to some end. Bacta would rebuff him, an hour or so would pass and Tryst would return to his relentless pestering and teasing.
After a particularly frustrating encounter, where Tryst had made several filthy comment about Bacta polishing his blaster, he’d turned to Lyn (ears still burning with outrage) to helplessly vent.
“I just don’t know what’s gotten in to him – it’s like – Its like a little dial that says 'Asshole Levels' in his head has been turned to its absolute limit and he’s driving me up. The. Kriffing Wall.” He groaned and held his head in his hands.
Lyn pressed her lips together in a sympathetic grimace and patted his arm.
“Hmm… Have y-”
“LOOK, look he’s doing it again I swear I’m going to-”
Bacta sighed sharply through gritted teeth and averted his eyes pointedly from where Tryst was chatting with Leenik and Neemo in the cargo hold. Lyn glanced at them, sipping from her mug (an ugly piece of crockery with a stylized rooster head as the handle and RISE AND SHINE emblazoned on it with filigree letters) with raised eyebrows.
“Don’t tell me what he’s doing.”
“Okay, what’s he doing.”
“He’s leaning against a crate and gesturing. He keeps looking at you and grinning. I…think he’s trying to get your attention.”
“Force, I know.”
Bacta dragged his hand down his face and looked up to meet Lyn’s pensive expression. “What?”
“Well...” she rubbed her thumb over her mug, deliberating. “Have you considered that something might be bothering him?”
“Bothering him? Lyn he’s been bothering me all day!”
“I know, I know!” She winced. “I’m just saying he’s being very. Persistent. I think something has happened recently between you two that he might be trying to draw attention to. And well... This is Tryst we’re talking about. In his mind this is probably the best way of doing it.”
Bacta looked blankly at her. “Lyn I have no idea what you mean. What happened?”
She lifted her hands up defensively. “Look Bacta, if I’m right I feel like that’s an issue you both need to figure out on your own terms.” She said delicately. “I’m not good at resolving this sort of thing and I get the feeling if I get involved it could get more complicated for the both of you.”
“But I don’t even know wh-”
“Sorry Bacta, I uh, have something I need to do. Somewhere else. Good luck!”
Lyn guiltily choked down her drink and absconded, leaving Bacta palms-up in disbelief with only his confusion.
Left to his own thoughts, Bacta mulled over what Lyn had said with growing unease. He had a vague inkling about what she had been referring to – but the truth of it seemed to evade him, feelings skittering out of the reach of his focus like a frightened bug, as ingrained habits and the familiar dull of lesai deflected any attempt at picking apart what it meant. It meant unearthing notions that he had resolutely put in the ground a good five years ago, with the trained efficiency of a soldier who’s only role was to be the protector, the healer, the commando – never anything else.
He shook his head lightly and got up from the booth with a tense sigh, focusing his energy yet again on the tasks at hand rather than the looming threat of a situation that felt entirely out of his depth.
“What now.” Bacta groaned, tilting his head to follow the roll of his eyes. He’d been deeply engrossed washing the Mynock’s odd assortment of dishes, when he’d heard the soft pad of bare feet against the kitchen floor as Tryst snuck up behind him.
“What is WITH you today? You’ve been driving me insane.”
He could feel Tryst smirking over his shoulder (he must have been standing on his toes), breath alarmingly close to Bacta’s ear and body almost flush to his.
“…Right. Tryst, are you annoyed with m-”
“Oh and I’m annoyed with you.” Tryst added flatly.
Bacta frowned, hands stilling in the dishwater.
“Tryst is this... is this about that letter.”
“The one we read to you?”
“Hm?” Tryst looked up at him with an unconvincingly innocent expression, dipping a hand into the water to swirl the bubbles around, fingers brushing close to touching the clone’s.
Bacta took a deep breath.
“Tryst...” He started delicately, “Have you been antagonizing me all day, just to get back at me for not... I don’t know, not knowing you weren’t strai-”
“Five. Whole. Years, Bacta.” Tryst dead-panned, annoyance finally breaking that smirk.
Bacta winced. “Yes, five years. I just. Honestly assumed based on your behav-”
“I JUST-” Tryst interrupted, register climbing indignantly “-I just can’t believe you thought I was straight!”
“Well I’m sorry,” Bacta snapped, letting the built-up annoyance of that entire day get the better of him. “You sure had us all fooled.”
“Ugh I would have thought you of all people-”
“What’s that supposed to mean?!” Bacta spat incredulously.
“WELL I don’t KNOW,” Tryst floundered. “You know!”
“YOU KNOW 'cus you’re – hm, okay.” Tryst frowned, gears obviously turning in his head.
“What?” Bacta demanded, angry and perplexed.
“Are you straight?” Tryst snapped testily.
“Wh-NO, I’m not as a matter of fact! Why is that even relevant?!”
“Could have fooled me.” Tryst parroted with a sneer. “Was starting to think you’ve just never been interested in anyone but whatever her name was – Shame Jewel? That was it right?”
“Kriff off.” Bacta growled dangerously.
Tryst didn’t, but his expression did shift from taunting to exasperated.
“I just… I just thought you’d be perceptive enough with your. Clone super senses or whatever or something to know that about someone.”
There's something about Tryst's expression, the way his voice curled into something close to hurt that made Bacta's stomach drop. “That’s not-WHAT senses-?” Bacta started to protest in absolute confusion, but was abruptly cut off by Tryst dropping a plate on the floor, smashing it with the utmost satisfaction.
“Oops. I was bored of this conversation anyway. See ya Suds,” Tryst said coldly, flicking dishwater in Bacta’s face and strutting angrily out of the kitchen, disappearing into his and Leenik’s shared space.
Bacta grumbled murderously and cleared away the broken plate, before returning to cleaning the dishes in a jerky and violent fashion. He was only calmed and apologetically softened when Tamlin appeared, Tony in tow and looking worried to tears at the dark clouds Bacta was emanating.
After a few happy hours spent with Tamlin helping Bacta with various other tasks (with plenty of time in-between for impromptu sparring and play), his head was finally clear enough to settle down at the helm and sort out the ship logs that had been piling up. In order to make sure each check-point and docking went smoothly it was important to ensure the details of their ship, cargo and travel routes matched up with the plethora of fake credentials they’d fed into the system. Any inconsistency could flag up suspicion, and while Tryst had been happy to blag his way through such encounters in the past (and for the most part succeeded), Bacta wasn’t willing to run that risk now that they had Tamlin.
A frown crept onto his face as he was reminded of the pilot, the events of the day interrupting his stream of thought.
He didn’t like it being like this. Tryst could be grating at times but Bacta preferred it when they were on good terms, when Tryst was happy, comfortable in his skin, relaxed and (ideally) not taunting Bacta at every turn. He realized he had probably really pissed him off, and it made his gut sink with regret.
The three of them- Bacta, Tryst, Leenik – had had a good few years to settle into a dynamic that worked. Now with the bounty, and Tamlin and Lyn and… The rest, it seemed that balance was being shaken up. Bacta supposed it was to be expected, but it sure wasn’t easy. New realizations were coming to light, old wounds, family grievances and traumas resurfacing and making themselves heard. Buried feelings.
He leaned back in the pilot’s chair and folded his arms with a sigh that still felt tight in his chest. All he wanted was to keep them safe. It was hard enough to do so in the face of the entire Empire and every other bit of space-faring scum on their tail, harder still when they were wrapped up in conflicts and misunderstandings that were his fault. His face crumbled slightly and that sick regret returned. Lyn had implied there was something serious underlying this whole mess with Tryst, but when pressed she’d deflected any further questions, and Bacta was finding it very difficult to examine his own emotions relating to the situation.
Lost in thought, he didn't immediately register the sound of the cockpit door sliding open.
“Hey Bacta. Watcha doooing.”
Bacta jumped in his seat, turning to see Tryst stride into the cockpit picking absentmindedly at his teeth.
“Tryst.” He said warily. “What’s up.”
“Nuthin, just seeing what you’re up to.” He chirped cheerfully, seemingly completely unaffected by their altercation earlier.
“Oh, okay. Aren’t you-”
“Oh and Lyn and Leenik kicked me out of the living space. She was trying to put Tamlin to bed and APPARENTLY Leenik and Nemo are too busy discussing drafts to talk to me. Lyn suggested I see what you were up to.”
“Alright. Well I’m-”
“Actually she told me to. With her boot. She actually kicked me, told me if I didn’t spend some time with you she’d put me out the airlock. Can you believe her?”
Tryst shook his head with a giddy smile and without missing a beat strode over to lean against the console Bacta was working at.
“Tryst – can you not, you’re going to set the whole-” Bacta started up, as Tryst seemed completely heedless of the controls.
“Oh hey relax! I had a special mode installed-” Tryst leaned down and flicked an unseen switch beneath the console, instantly dimming the lights of the controls.
“There, see? Nothing short of a proximity alert or toggling them back on will make the controls responsive. Pretty sweet huh?”
Bacta looked at him with a shocked and slightly disgusted face.
“Don’t tell me why you-
“It's so I can-”
“Yeah I said DON’T-”
“It's so I can have sex on the console.”
Bacta pinched the bridge of his nose and side-eyed him. He was beaming from ear to ear, and obviously extremely chuffed with himself.
“Okay Tryst.” Bacta said quietly, focusing back on his datapads, resolute in ignoring him until he got bored and wandered off.
His head was still swimming with the fact that Tryst was even there. He was sure he’d royally pissed him off, and yet here he was pleased as punch and eager to be in Bacta’s space. It didn’t make sense.
And then there was Lyn. Bacta didn’t put it past her fobbing Trust off on him for some peace and quiet, but the conversation they had earlier lingered in his mind. Was this an attempt of hers to try and force them to reconcile or bring to light… Whatever it was. What was she expecting?
There was a helpless, hopeful feeling at the core of all of it and he didn’t know how to handle it.
Silence stretched between them, during which Tryst grew progressively more and more fidgety. What started off as him leaning nonchalantly against the console shifted to a sit, shifted to him bodily laying across Bacta’s workspace, knocking the carefully organized piles of pads askew.
“TRYST-” Bacta jerked forward, eyes wide with bewilderment.
“Hey.” Tryst raised his eyebrows mischievously, propping his head up on his elbow and grinning in Bacta’s fuming face.
“Tryst this is ridiculous. Are you still mad at me? Why are you doing this. I just… Stacked those...” Bacta gestured helplessly at the pads. “They were organized...”
“Why would I be mad at you? Water under this bridge buddy.” Tryst rested his other hand on his hip, winking playfully. Behind the mischievous expression Tryst's jaw was set with a determination that still didn't warn Bacta for what came next. “How’s this for gay signs, that obvious enough for you? Or do I need to hit on you harder.”
Bacta felt a startled bloom of heat rush to his face.
“Want me to pull up any of my exes on holo?" Tryst continued, eyebrows raised. "I’m sure they could tell you all about my non-female escapades prior to meeting you. If you’re still in doubt. There was this one Twi’lek-”
Bacta’s brows were knit in flustered confusion, heart thumping in this throat as he started to dizzily realize what was happening. “Okay. I get it.” He averted his eyes, half shameful half-whatever that feeling was, and took one of his datapads so he had something to occupy his nervous hands with while he figured out what to do next.
“I’m sorry." He said finally. "I uh, it was really lousy of me to doubt what you were telling me – and to imply that – it was somehow you who was at fault for me not knowing rather than. Me. Its my fault.” He met Tryst’s gaze and swallowed.
“It hurts to trust that someone knows you, especially for as long as I’ve known you, only to find out that they don’t. I’m sorry. For not seeing you.”
He rubbed the back of his neck and cleared his throat, mind racing as he was trying to come to terms with what Tryst might be trying to make obvious to him. He had thrown the last five years they’d spent together in sharp relief, along with every signal and feeling that Bacta had disregarded as Tryst being – Well, Tryst – and himself being guilty of wishful thinking. He was still trying to determine through the wall of denial that was just standard for his state of being whether Tryst was genuinely flirting with him, or whether it was simply a point he was trying to make about Bacta being clueless to his sexuality. It was perhaps a stronger point than Bacta had been expecting, and he was left feeling helpless as to how to respond. Save for the relative safety of being with other clones, and yes even with his… Encounter with Rendezvous he still felt woefully unfit to deal with advances or overtures of others, let alone following through on his own attractions.
“I’m really not a very perceptive person I’m afraid.” He said finally.
Tryst had been studying him intensely, and when he was finished speaking he narrowed his eyes slightly and mumbled something resigned under his breath.
Bacta looked worried. “Wh-What was that?”
“Nothing! Apology accepted, forgiven and forgotten. What’s this.” Tryst seamlessly shifted his attention to the datapads still scattered across the table, picking one up and staring at it unimpressed.
“Uh-” Bacta’s head spun from the whiplash of changing topic so quickly, his relief at being forgiven mingling with residual annoyance as he realized Tryst was still disrupting his work.
“Tryst... You know what these are. I’m just making sure all our logs check out.”
Tryst got up on his hands and knees with a frown and started swiping messily through the previously orderly piles. “Can’t you just… get a computer to do it. Seems like such a waste of time. Oops.” Tryst knocked a good portion off the table attempting to yank the one he was holding out of his hand.
“Kriffing hell Tryst this is ridiculous." Bacta sputtered angrily. "I’m glad we had this talk – and I’m still, sorry by the way – but can’t you go bother literally anyone else?”
“Nope, I think I’m just fine bothering you. Also remember, I’m here because Miss Luroon would personally ensure my death by airlock otherwise.”
“These are really important…” Bacta said weakly. “If our inventory seems suspicious that could draw unwanted attentio-”
He broke off in annoyance as Tryst got up into a squat in front of him, arms resting on his knees, face smug and entirely too close for comfort.
“Loosen up. Worry lines by 17 really isn’t a good look you know, even if the rest of your face manages to make up for it.”
Bacta felt that heat climb his face again and scowled.
“You’re an asshole, you know that?”
“You love me.”
“You more than anyone on this ship drive me up the kriffing wall.”
“Yeah, but you love it when I do.”
“Sure. Whatever you say.” Bacta snorted, focusing on his pad to avoid Tryst seeing how flustered he was.
Tryst grinned, and moving in what was obviously supposed to be a smooth manoeuvre he instead ended up ungraciously tumbling into Bacta’s lap.
“Haaang on-lemme just-” Tryst wriggled, legs still at an awkward angle before he managed to tuck them both under Bacta’s arm, leaning back so the warmth of his weight was snugly seated in the clone’s lap, “-Get comfortable. Nice.”
Bacta glared open-mouthed at the pilot, confused as to why he didn’t just chuck him on the floor and storm off, just like all the previous rebuffs. Also extremely distracted by how nice Tryst smelled so close to him.
“Where were you? Looking at these boring old things right?” Tryst promptly slapped the datapad Bacta was holding out of his hand, and slid it delicately off the table with a clatter. “You know what I think? I think there are plenty of other things you could be focusing on instead.” His face was flushed with that insufferable excitement of his and Bacta felt absolutely lost in it.
“Are you properly flirting with me Tryst. Is that what this is.” He asked weakly, hearing how ridiculous it sounded as soon as the words left his mouth. The man was in his lap for kriff’s sake.
Tryst looked innocently up at him, hands roaming over the arm of Bacta’s that he could reach, squeezing and kneading aimlessly.
“You tell me! What are those clone senses of yours telling you? Wow you’re tense. And buff. You should relax more. Don’t stop working out though.”
Bacta felt a bloom of uncertain heat giddy his belly as he glared at the pilot in his lap.
“Who would have known that being a pursuit of your was as insufferable as it looked.” He mumbled.
However the stiffness had started to bleed out of his joints a little and he shifted to get more comfortable, still slightly dazed by how surreal, how reassuring it was having Tryst’s body draped over him.
Tryst’s eyes flashed with challenge and he chuckled wryly.
“Look Bacta baby I’m just testing some waters here now that our little misunderstanding is out of the way, so if you want me to back off just say the word. I don’t mind returning to giving you the professional treatment if this isn’t your thing, but I want to make it excruciatingly clear-” Tryst reached up and grasped Bacta’s chin, eyes glinting mischievously. “If we’ve been waiting for five years then I am dying to make this well worth your time.”
Bacta tensely studied Tryst’s face, heart in his mouth and a truly exasperated expression on his face. Tryst met his gaze defiantly, his thumb grazing across Bacta’s lower lip and roughly catching his five-o’clock shadow, sending a shiver down his spine that he was helpless to suppress.
Bacta’s lips slowly shifted to a thin smile.
He inclined his head gently, a fraction towards Tryst who instantly stilled.
“You really wanna risk that?” He murmured, voice a low inviting rumble. “I thought you were convinced a kiss with me was a death sentence.” Tryst’s grip on his arm tightened.
“Uhh-Wait are you-Are you actually-”
Bacta’s face split into a triumphant grin at the look of dawning realization on Tryst’s face, giddy with the heady feeling of having turned the tables on him.
“Stop," Bacta rolled his eyes "Don’t tell me, I’m sure that would actually turn you on, wouldn’t it?”
Tryst exhaled hard, eyes widening as Bacta brushed up the back of his neck with a firm hand, closing the distance between them and slowly, agonizingly slowly, brushing their lips together.
Just like that, they seemed almost to fold into each other. Tryst shivered, a soft ripple tucking himself closer to Bacta. He held Bacta’s face between his hands like something precious he was afraid to lose, inviting (no, coaxing) him deeper with a welcome mouth until he finally shed the last of his hesitation and took the control Tryst wanted him to.
The pilot’s chair creaked softly as he leaned, Tryst leaning with him and he braced his arm on the console for support, other hand resting possessively on the pilot’s back. Tryst shifted against him with a small, needy noise and dragged his palm down Bacta’s chest, earning him a shudder when he burrowed under the clone’s shirt, fingers feathering out over his belly to savour the fruits of Bacta’s midnight workouts with a pleased sound.
Bacta ghosted shaky fingers down Tryst’s clothed ribs, holding them there until Tryst made a demanding noise into his mouth and he was encouraged to finally slide his palms against skin, gently squeezing Tryst’s lovehandles and eliciting a delighted grin that they shared in together.
Quietly enjoying the touch and the sensation of being touched, so close to Tryst that the soft crisp scent of his clean sweat skin filled his head and his mouth, Bacta felt the coiled warmth in the pit of his belly urge him to more. But however hard it was to deny, the soft insistence of reason in the back of his mind was stronger.
Tryst’s enthusiasm suddenly increased, as if his internal deliberation had mirrored Bacta’s but decided on a completely different conclusion. He moaned softly, breaking the kiss but holding Bacta’s lip between his teeth. Bacta grunted, blearily opening his eyes and seeing the hot determination in Tryst’s face with delayed trepidation.
Tryst shifted, clumsily dragging his knee across Bacta’s belly so he straddled him, surging forward to kiss him again. His hand fumbled, finding Bacta’s and pressing it to his hip with a squeeze, intent on directing the clone’s touch where he wanted it. With his other hand he gripped at the clone’s belt, tugging and brushing the knuckles of his fingers against the curled threads of Bacta’s happy trail.
Bacta made a tense noise, fingers threading up the back of Tryst’s neck and through his hair, to suddenly close sharply into a fist, eliciting a surprised gasp from the pilot. Bacta held him off of him with a firm grip and a stern look, although he couldn’t help the corners of his mouth twitching in amusement at what he saw. Tryst was bright-eyed and completely focused, stilled like a scruffed cat but obviously excited at the control Bacta was taking even if it was to deny him.
After a moment Tryst made a move forward as if to kiss him again. “Ah-Ah," Bacta said sharply, raising an eyebrow. Tryst still looked at him expectantly, wetting his lips and squeezing the hand he had held against his hip.
“Stop. Slow down.” Bacta rumbled, loosening his grip on Tryst’s hair and brushing a dirty-blonde strand out of his sweaty face. A glint of concern entered Tryst’s eyes but he relaxed, shifting to rest his hands at Bacta’s sides and rubbing slow, calming circles with his thumbs.
“This is… Really nice.” Bacta finally admitted, exhaling heavily. “But we’re not going any further than this right now, is that clear?” Tryst opened his mouth in protest. “No Tryst, we’re not. We’ve got people on the ship who are trying to sleep not to mention our kid. And look, I know this is a natural pace for you but,” Bacta chuckled breathlessly. “It isn’t for me.”
“Five. Years,” Tryst whined in disbelief. “Bacta please! You’re killing me here!”
Bacta laughed and shook his head. “I’m not saying we go back to nothing just. I’m going to need you to wind it down a little bit. I can’t rush into something like this.”
“I’m sure my sister would beg to differ.” Tryst huffed sulkily, leaning back against the console and away from Bacta in protest. This only lasted for a few seconds, as it seemed the pilot quickly found it unbearable to be so far removed from touch, and instead opted to turn around, lying down with his back against Bacta and arms crossed in a huff.
Bacta snorted gently, softened by the ridiculous gesture of disapproval.
“Stop it Tryst.” He slowly pecked apologetic kisses up the pilot’s bare neck. “That was different. I’m not saying I regret it but, we were both inebriated. It wasn’t the best idea but it still happened.” He wrapped his arms around Tryst’s middle, firmly anchoring him with a soft smile. “It’s different with you. I don’t really know Renn, not like I care about you. So it has to be different, you know? I want this – I want us to be done right.”
Bacta hesitated, unsure about the adequacy of his words to encompass something concrete that he couldn’t even say he fully understood yet. He didn’t want Tryst to feel boxed in – just as he didn’t want to tie himself down into something unknown. All he knew was that this – Him and Tryst, whatever this was – felt good.
His worry dissipated slightly as he felt the pilot’s offended limbs soften against him, like a smug smile that seemed to permeate through every fibre of Tryst’s body. “Okay.” Tryst sighed, shifting and letting his head rest back against Bacta’s shoulder. “So… What now?”
Bacta considered, moving his head gently to sniff at the mess of Tryst’s hair with a muted smile that he could feel in his cheeks. “Well... as long as you’ve worked all the broken plates and antagonistic disruptions out of your system, we could hang out in my crow's nest for bit.”
Tryst looked up at Bacta’s face, his own lighting up hopefully. “Oooh good idea. Private. Oh wait isn’t it pretty exposed up there? Open stars all around – Oh wait that would be hot as hell actu-”
“No, Tryst.” Bacta chided gruffly. “I have some reading to do. I would appreciate your company but. No funny stuff.” Tryst pouted but then sighed and nodded in defeat.
Bacta processed what Tryst had been implying and snorted, noting the giddy tug he felt in his belly at the thought. “...Maybe some other time.” He quietly added with an appreciative glance up at the stars through the cockpit window. Tryst’s eyebrows shot up with a delighted grin.
Bacta stood up and swiftly lifted Tryst, manoeuvring him into a clumsy bridal carry, the pilot clutching to him with excitement. Bacta carried him the few steps to the turret hatch and gave him a boost before pulling himself up and settling in behind him, closing the hatch beneath them once they were both inside. After some awkward reshuffling of limbs (the bubble really wasn’t designed to fit two people) they managed to settle. Tryst drummed absentmindedly on his folded knees, and it took him up to a minute before he started to rummage through and inquire about the few possessions tucked away, much to Bacta’s chagrin.
Despite the disruption of his space (which, Bacta had honestly expected, so it was fine) he found it easy to flow into conversation, shifting along with Tryst’s sparse focus from topic to topic. It was a comfortable, familiar feeling and Bacta felt deeply relieved that rather than throw their dynamic out of whack, the added element of this intimate frisson they shared seemed to have simply deepened their bond.
Bacta eventually realized that they had been enveloped in a comfortable lull for a few seconds, and studied Tryst, who he noticed was quietly touching his lips with a far-away look.
“What’s up buddy?”
“Just wondering when I’m going to die.” Tryst replied matter-of-factly.
Bacta scoffed when he realized his train of thought, then quirked an eyebrow. “You do realize we’ve kissed before?”
“WHAT?” Tryst loudly broke out of his reverie and stared dumbfounded at Bacta who shushed him hastily.
“Yeah you uh. Might wanna work on being less impulsive when you drink, it worries me. Or just stop drinking as heavily when you do. You’ve kissed me a few times actually.” Bacta sheepishly rubbed his head.
“Oh.” Tryst leaned back and chewed at the inside of his mouth. “Huh.”
There was a tense quiet between them for a few seconds before Tryst blurted “Okay but that’s been me kissing you what if when you kissed me that activated the-”
Bacta rolled his eyes and reached over, grasping Tryst by the hand and firmly coaxing him into his lap. “C’mere.” Tryst followed without hesitation, wiggling into place with a satisfied hum.
Bacta smiled, wrapping an arm around his waist while the other hand meshed fingers smoothly with Tryst’s, warm brown eyes scanning his crew-mate’s face with a fond look.
He leaned forward and brought their lips together again for a moment, before breaking off and softly touching his forehead to Tryst’s.
“See?” He rumbled, kissing the dreamy-eyed pilot again with a grin. “I’m not cursed, Tryst. And to be honest you’re kind of killing the mood by insisting I am. Let’s just enjoy this, huh?”
Bacta paused, then pecked his chin thoughtfully. “Also uh. Speaking of, you know you’ve kissed Leenik too, right?”
Tryst looked at him inquisitively, but not completely innocently. “Have I? Oh. Yeah I guess I have huh.” He fell quiet, fingers fidgeting slightly. Bacta warily continued.
“And… You might want to… In light of recent events, that is, take a look at that too. I get the feeling he might like you and… Well, are you uncomfortable with that?”
“Does he? Huh. Are you?”
“No, I’m not uncomfortable. As long as you’re both happy and not… At odds with each other I really don’t mind.” Bacta said honestly.
He searched Tryst’s face with gentle concern, not sure if he had been right in bringing it up. Leenik was… a worry in a lot of the same ways that Tryst was, but he had a fragility and an unpredictable sharpness to him that Bacta knew indicated he was in need of more support than he was currently getting or allowing himself to receive. The last thing the rodian needed with everything that had been unearthed recently was for Tryst to string him along, and Bacta made a mental note to sit Leenik down at some point to hopefully start to resolve whatever they could of that mess, together.
Tryst seemed thoughtful, then sighed and shook his head with a smile. “I’m just irresistible it seems. That’s cool though, I don’t know where Leenik’s head is at but that could be fun to explore if he’s up for it. I just figured that... You know.” For a second, he seemed at a loss for words. "I'm not really his bread and butter."
Bacta raised his eyebrows. "Oh come on," Tryst huffed, shoving him in the chest. "Can't say I've never considered it. But you know what I mean. "
Bacta snorted. “Yeah, sure. Just be gentle on him alright? I just want you all happy. If you and Leenik have a chance to...Well,” Bacta squeezed Tryst affectionately and softly stroked his stomach. “-Try this then. All the better.”
Tryst was quiet for a few seconds before suddenly becoming tense. “You know, this doesn’t have to be anything like, serious. It can just be-”
“Tryst, its fine.” Bacta interrupted, guessing where he was going with that line of thought. “I don’t really know what this is – or whether its supposed to be anything specific, I’m just glad its… Us, y’know?” He frowned, annoyed at his inability to be eloquent.
“But with more kissing right?” Tryst added helpfully.
“Yeah Tryst. And more kissing.” Bacta chuckled, reassured.
“Aaand other stuff if you ever want. Anytime! You just let me know and I’ll-”
“I know Tryst, I’ll be sure to.” Bacta shook his head, and nuzzled his nose to Tryst’s with a knowing smile, silencing any other shared words between his lips.
A few comfortable hours later and Tryst had settled with his back against Bacta’s stomach again, intermittently nodding off. Bacta tried to quietly read without disturbing him, having cuddled the pilot well into a fit-full doze. Eventually he realized just how late it had gotten and guiltily nudged Tryst awake, who groggily assented that bed seemed like a good idea, even if he seemed reluctant to leave the instant comfort of Bacta’s presence.
Bacta watched Tryst’s messy mop of hair (a great deal messier than before, having been subjected to the attention of Bacta’s absentminded caresses) disappear down the hatch with giddy smile, before leaning back into his seat. He smoothed his hand over the dome of his head with a shaky sigh, coming to rest at the back of his neck where Tryst’s fingers had been laced behind his neck a few seconds earlier along with a final kiss.
The reverie was broken abruptly when he realized what a mess Tryst had left his possessions in, and he grumbled softly as he set to task tidying everything back to where it needed to be.
Several hours later he was distracted from his book by Lyn frantically knocking at his hatch.
“Bacta! Bacta something’s wrong with the controls!”
Realization hit him and he groaned loudly at the memory. “Kark, SORRY LYN-” He quickly made his way down and resolved the issue with a flick of Tryst’s switch.
Straightening up, he saw Lyn looking at him in bewilderment. “Why do we even have that?” “Tryst.” He sighed grimly. She pulled a face.
“Yeah don’t ask.”
Lyn fixed him with a sharp look. “You didn’t-”
“No!” He blurted indignantly. “Of course not. But uh… Actually, on that topic.” He looked at her sheepishly. “When we had that talk… Was that you trying to tell me that-”
“That Tryst was hellbent on seducing you knowing that he might have a chance with you after five years of thinking you were uninterested and unattainable? Yeah that’s what that was. I take it you figured that out, huh.”
Bacta facepalmed helplessly. “Yeah.” He groaned, muffled behind his hand. “Yep. Sure did.”
Scratching his eyebrows with a defeated sigh he glanced down at her. She smiled sympathetically. “Wanna talk about it?” She offered helpfully.
Bacta paused, then let out a breath he didn’t realize he had been holding, chest feeling lighter than it had for many months. “Sure. That would be nice.”
He invited her up into his pod for some relative privacy, and she seated herself legs folded across from him, hands cupped around her mug as she listened to him recount (a severely abridged version of) the events of that night and what had been discussed. He finished feeling… Good. Fond thoughts on Tryst who he knew was dead asleep at that very moment, anticipation for what the new day would bring him and the prospect of finding time to explore this new thing with Tryst further, and deeply grateful for Lyn’s kindness and investment in them both.
“Ha haaa.” She grinned triumphantly. “I knew I could give you guys the push you needed. I’m so glad I could help sort this out!” Bacta snorted. “That’s not what I remember. Thank you though, your cryptic advice was surprisingly helpful.” He sipped his drink thoughtfully. “Now there’s still Leenik and Tryst, how about you see to figuring that mess out, hmm?”
She closed her eyes and groaned, leaning her head back as realization dawning on her. “Ohhh noo Leenik… Don’t even get me started.” Her eyes suddenly snapped open, horrified. “Kriff Bacta, what if everything works out? How am I going to deal with you three being all lovey dovey around the ship! Argh!”
Bacta laughed heartily, putting his hand on her shoulder with a grin. “Reap what you sow! You should have realized what sort of people you were getting mixed up with when we took you in.” He snorted at her despairing expression. “If it comes to that, you’ll just have to deal with it. Come on, it wouldn’t be that bad. Force knows we could all use some more honest affection going round. Would be good for Tamlin to see us all closer together as well I reckon.”
Lyn balanced her head in her hand and smiled. “You never really leave dad-mode, do you?”
His expression softened and he averted his eyes to his caf, for some reason trying to hide the smile that seemed stuck to his face. It was a small thing but he usually tried to never use anything but “Uncle” when referring to himself in relation to Tamlin, and he hadn’t realized how important it was for him to hear the more obvious term applied to him in such a genuine, earnest way. “No, I guess not.”
She chuckled, leaning forward to kiss him chastely on the forehead. “You sweet, sweet wonderful man.” She murmured, before shifting, moving back down the hatch.
“We’re lucky to have you. We all love you, you know.”
He watched her go, heart light and hopeful and thoughts both in that moment and yet drawn to a future that seemed a whole lot brighter.
“I know.” He said, and for once believed it.