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It started with a kiss. Innocent enough, perhaps. Certainly ill-advised given their circumstances.

But still, only a kiss.

It doesn’t seem fair for so small a thing to have such consequences.

There are so many reasons why that kiss was a bad idea. The least of which, they had both chosen to ignore in the moment; but the biggest of which, neither of them had any idea of at the time.

Thrawn groans, shivering and thrashing. He’s so cold, too cold; and his eyes won’t focus. Everything above him is blurry heatshadows and painfully bright light.

He is here. Somewhere. Near.

Thrawn can taste his scent on the air and he wants. He wants more.

He can hear talking, the words thrumming in and out of hearing like so much nonsense.

Thrawn tries to speak, tries to tell him, has to tell him. He figured it out, he knows what’s happening to him. But he can’t make his mouth form the words properly, and then there’s a voice again, closer, and a heatshadow leaning over him, and his heart leaps with relief and desire— finally— but no, it’s wrong, it’s all wrong— that shape isn’t him, the smell isn’t right .

There’s a sharp sting in his arm but it feels like someone else’s limb; it can’t be his, because that arm is cold and he’s so hot, too hot; so Thrawn ignores it and reaches out, desperate; straining, sweating, needing…

Everything goes dark.

Chapter Text

“I think perhaps we have had enough for one night, Commander Vanto,” Thrawn said, tugging him away from the bar.

Vanto grinned, the expression lighting up his entire face. “Yes, sir, Admiral Thrawn, sir!”

Eli — no, Vanto, Thrawn reminded himself firmly as he pulled his commander out of the noisy, crowded establishment by one hand — had been all but bouncing excitedly ever since they had left the High Command assembly with their new rank plaques. 

This latest promotion had come after the resounding success at Botajef, and while Thrawn was certainly pleased — Commodore to Admiral was a huge step — this was only Vanto’s second promotion, this time to full Commander. He was, understandably, quite thrilled, and Thrawn had let himself be talked into going out for a celebratory drink. Or drinks, as it had transpired. 

Thrawn had been skeptical at first, but it had turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable and he had gotten slightly more caught up in the celebration than he had intended.

They were only on Coruscant briefly, however; assigned to unoccupied quarters back at the Academy for the night before their scheduled departure early in the morning to rejoin the Chimaera. While Thrawn would not say either of them was drunk, exactly, they had certainly both had enough to qualify as intoxicated, and it would be better if they were not completely exhausted and hungover for their journey the next day.

Once they had exited the bar, Thrawn released Eli’s — Vanto’s — hand again, stifling the small pang of regret that accompanied the action. Vanto kept chattering exuberantly while they headed for the nearby Academy, about nothing and everything all at once. Thrawn glanced at him as they entered the institution, a fond smile crossing his lips. The conversation had been much more subdued, and distinctly less friendly, the very first time they had walked into the Academy together. Not that Thrawn could blame him for that. 

This was far more pleasant, and as they traversed the maze of deserted corridors towards their temporary shared accomodations, Thrawn was not quite able to convince himself that he really ought to put a stop to the way they kept lightly bumping against each other while walking.

As they neared a hallway intersection, a mouse droid zipped around the corner towards them and Vanto jumped aside with a startled yelp, stumbling over Thrawn. Thrawn caught him easily, but overbalanced, and they staggered into the wall together as the little droid disappeared down the corridor behind them, his commander snorting with laughter in his arms.

“I swear, those damn things time the corners on purpose so you don’t see ‘em coming,” Vanto said, brown eyes still dancing with amusement as he looked up at Thrawn.

Amusement, and… something more. Something Thrawn had seen in those eyes before.

Desire.

Desire that mirrored his own; desire that they kept hidden as much as possible but that was not hidden now. Now, it was right there on the surface, shining in the heated gaze that was still locked on his; thrumming in the rapid beat of the heart he could feel pounding against his own; whispering in the hitched and shallow breaths that passed between them as the moment stretched longer and neither of them moved.

Until Eli leaned forward in the tiniest of motions, tentative, cautious, maybe even a little afraid; slowly closing the miniscule gap that remained between them.

Their lips brushed gently, and Eli tasted of whiskey and heat.

Thrawn knew he should pull away but Eli’s unique scent was filling his airways and the roaring of his own blood was filling his ears, and he found himself pulling Eli closer instead. And then Eli’s arms were around him, mouth hot and inviting as it opened on his, tongue flickering, testing; then twining with his own, soft and probing giving way to urgent and hungry in the space of a single breath.

They were both panting by the time Eli finally drew back just enough to look at him, eyes bright with nervous excitement; arms still around Thrawn’s waist and Thrawn’s back still pressed to the hard wall of the corridor. Thrawn’s pulse was racing through his veins, his mouth was tingling from Eli’s, and he buried his face in Eli’s neck; kissing, nipping, tasting the hint of salty sweat on the smooth brown skin.

Eli’s small, stuttering moan vibrated through his throat and over Thrawn’s lips, and he forgot entirely where he was, burrowing under Eli’s collar, seeking more of that warm, soft skin, until— 

“Sir- Thrawn,” Eli gasped, “we shouldn’t- here- someone could see-”

Dizzy, breathing hard, Thrawn pulled away as awareness of their surroundings slammed back to him at Eli’s words. Eli stepped back, leaving Thrawn’s front suddenly chilled at the absence of that warm body against him, and Thrawn saw his throat bobbing as he swallowed hard.

“You are right, E- Commander. I—” Thrawn had been about to apologize, but Eli cut him off.

“Come on, we’re almost back at our room,” he said, his eyes burning into Thrawn despite their lack of luminescence, and Thrawn followed Eli down the hallway, his protests dying unformed on his lips.

His head was still spinning by the time they made it to the privacy of their quarters, possibly from the alcohol, possibly from desire; most likely from a combination of both.

This was, without doubt, a terrible idea.

And if Eli wanted it, Thrawn was going to do it anyway.

Eli turned to face him as Thrawn locked the door behind them, and Thrawn managed to get out the words “Are you certain?” before he was shoved up against the wall.

Yes,” Eli whispered against his lips, and Thrawn stopped caring about anything but Eli’s mouth, losing himself in another kiss that was demanding and needy and utterly wonderful.

Thrawn responded in kind, hungry for more, wanting what he had thought he would only ever have in his dreams until now. Eli’s hands were pulling his tunic open, slipping beneath his undershirt and pushing it up to bare his stomach until they were touching, skin hot on skin, and Thrawn had no clear memory of having undone Eli’s uniform as well. He was so hard it hurt, and Thrawn ground himself against his commander, seeking friction; Eli groaning in response and his weight pushing Thrawn more firmly against the wall.

Panting breaths and soft gasping moans; hips thrusting and hands moving down to fumble more clothing open; and before Thrawn knew it, Eli’s hand was down his pants and pulling him out into the open air.

Eli finally broke the kiss, looking down, and Thrawn followed his gaze, the sight of Eli’s hand wrapped around his erection tearing a shivering groan from his throat. It had been so long, so very long since Thrawn had been touched, and he trembled, burying his face down into the warmth of Eli’s neck once more.

That hand was stroking him, firm and sure, and Thrawn thrust desperately up into Eli’s grip, completely uncaring of the whimpered moans that were muffled into Eli’s shoulder as he hurtled towards release. The briefest twinge of regret passed through him, that he should be unable to control himself well enough to draw this out longer, and then that was forgotten as well as his tension peaked in a rush, orgasm ripping through him and his legs threatening to give way as he pulsed out in Eli’s hand.

Thrawn shivered, feeling a slight flush of embarrassment heat his face as he pulled away from Eli’s neck, but Eli was grinning; wearing an immensely pleased expression as he nuzzled against Thrawn’s cheek, lips seeking Thrawn’s again to draw him into another kiss.

“I think I’m flattered,” Eli murmured against his mouth when they paused for breath, and Thrawn could not help the quietly shaky laugh that escaped him. His thoughts were a little more coherent again, but he still felt giddy; light-headed and reckless in a way he had not felt since he had first explored the pleasures of the flesh in the fumbling and uncertain manner of youth, many years ago.

He had gained experience in such matters since then, however, and human anatomy was nearly identical to Chiss— particularly in all the currently relevant aspects.

“I believe it is your turn,” Thrawn said, and then sank to his knees with his back still against the wall.

Eli’s undershirt was wet, splattered with Thrawn’s come; his uniform trousers straining tight over his erection, and Thrawn made quick work of Eli’s fly before tugging down his pants and underclothes. Eli groaned above him as Thrawn pulled him out and closed his lips over the swollen, weeping head of Eli’s cock without pause, closing his hand around the base and sucking him in with a little moan of pleasure in the back of his throat.

He tasted wonderful, the sticky sweetness filling Thrawn’s mouth as Eli’s hot, hard length slid along his tongue; and the heady smell of him was stronger here too, complex and musky under the piney hint of the human’s favoured cleansing agent.

Fingers threaded lightly through Thrawn’s hair as he worked his hand and mouth up and down Eli’s cock, his other hand on the human’s thigh, feeling the tremors running through him and the tension rapidly growing in the large muscles of his leg.

“Gods, Thrawn, that’s… kriff, that’s amazing,” Eli gasped, leaning forward over him. Thrawn sped up, the sounds of Eli’s pleasure filling his ears; the gasps and moans spurring him on until they turned into something resembling words once more. “Oh, fuck- I can’t… I’m gonna-” 

Thrawn sucked Eli down as far as he could manage — it had been a long time since he had done this so it was not that far — but it was apparently still good enough because Eli cried out above him, shaking, cock throbbing in Thrawn’s tight grip and against his tongue as Eli came down the back of his throat.

Thrawn kept going through it, swallowing around him, easing off as Eli’s tremors faded until he finally went limp, leaning heavily against the wall. Licking his lips, Thrawn released Eli’s slowly softening cock and glanced up with a smile to see his commander gazing down at him, eyes dark and heavy, lips red and swollen and still parted as he caught his breath.

Bracing against the wall, Thrawn slid back up onto his feet, Eli giving him room and then half-collapsing against him with a breathless giggle. Thrawn felt his own smile growing as their eyes met again, and he drank in the broad grin that had spread over Eli’s face before lowering his head for yet another kiss; this one slow and deep and sloppy.

Thrawn wrapped his arms tightly around Eli, temporarily shoving away the more responsible thoughts that were trying to push their way back into his pleasure-hazed mind, but finally broke the kiss to rest their sweat-damp foreheads together.

“It is getting quite late, Eli,” he said softly, hearing the regret that coloured his tone. Not regret at what they had done; regret that it had to end.

“Mmmm… yeah, I guess you’re right,” Eli said with a sigh, planting a last light kiss on Thrawn’s lips before turning away, taking Thrawn’s hand in his.

Thrawn hesitated only briefly before allowing Eli to pull him across the room. They both kicked off their boots and crawled into the nearest bed where they cuddled up together, Thrawn curled around Eli’s back, Eli holding Thrawn’s arm tightly against his front.

Eli was asleep within minutes, his breathing becoming slow and steady in the quiet room, and Thrawn slipped into unconsciousness along with him before much longer.

 

When Thrawn re-awoke, abruptly as he always did, he was lying on his back. Eli was still asleep, facing towards him now with one arm draped across his stomach.

Neither of them had bothered to undress or even clean up before falling into bed. Thrawn’s uniform was tangled around him, sweaty and uncomfortable; the fabric of his undershirt stiff in places, crusted with his own dried come where Eli had pressed up against him afterwards.

Eli mumbled something incoherent as Thrawn carefully extracted himself out from under his commander’s arm, then slipped out of bed and padded softly across the darkened room to check the time on his datapad. They still had well over an hour before they needed to leave and go meet their shuttle, so Thrawn dug out a change of clothes from his bag and went to use the refresher and shower.

Standing under the spray of hot water, trying to soothe the light but constant pounding in his head, Thrawn reflected that he may have been more inebriated last night than he had thought, and groaned.

After showering and dressing, Thrawn packed away yesterday’s dirty clothing and sat on the second bed, messing up the bedding to make it look slept-in. Eli was still asleep and there was plenty of time yet before they had to leave, so Thrawn let him rest while he attempted to deal with his own roiling thoughts.

No one could know, that was without question. The repercussions of what they had done, should anyone in the Navy learn of their indiscretion, would be severe for both of them. Thrawn could not risk that for himself and his goals; nor did he want to see Eli’s career ruined. And though it was not immediately of concern, and would likely never be at all, Thrawn was uncomfortably aware he would be well and truly ostracized from the rest of the Chiss if his intimate liaison with an alien was ever discovered. The attraction alone would be bad enough, in their eyes.

Focusing on his breathing, Thrawn closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind, but images of the previous night filled his head instead. Images, sensations, and the burning desire to taste Eli again. To feel more than just Eli’s hand around him as he climaxed next time.

But there could be no next time. There should not even have been a first time. And as the superior officer, it was Thrawn who had failed in his responsibility by allowing anything to happen at all.

The worst part, the selfish part that left guilt churning deep in his belly, was the knowledge that given the chance to go back, he would still do it all over again. Because it had been worth it to be with Eli just once.

Thrawn’s chest tightened painfully. Hopefully Eli would understand and eventually be able to forgive him.

By the time the alarm on his and Eli’s — Commander Vanto’s — datapads went off, Thrawn was once again in control of his thoughts, and at least superficially in control of his emotions as well.

He turned off his alarm without looking and remained cross-legged on the second bed with his eyes closed while Eli — Vanto — got up, turning off his own alarm before toggling the room lights on without a word and disappearing into the refresher. When he emerged again, freshly showered and wearing a clean uniform, Thrawn finally opened his eyes.

They looked at each other in awkward silence for a moment before Thrawn cleared his throat. “Commander Vanto, I… must apologize for my lapse in judgement. It will not happen again.”

There was a long pause, and then E- Vanto sighed, crossing the room to sit on the other bed, rubbing both hands over his face. “I guess that wasn’t the best idea we’ve ever had, was it,” he said wryly, voice muffled in his hands.

Thrawn snorted softly. “It was not.”

There was another pause.

“Do you regret it?” Vanto asked, looking up again, and Thrawn met his gaze, heart twisting in his chest at the vulnerable expression on his commander’s face.

“Not for a moment,” Thrawn said quietly.

Vanto swallowed hard, and Thrawn pretended not to notice he was blinking more rapidly than normal.

They just sat there in the heavy silence for a few more minutes before finally gathering up their things and leaving to catch their transport, back to the Chimaera and duty.

 

Chapter Text

It just wasn’t fair.

Eli stifled another sigh and pushed the thought out of his mind again, forcing himself to keep staring at his datapad even though he wasn’t really seeing what was on it. At least they weren’t far from the Chimaera now, where he’d be able to escape to his quarters and back into the comforting routines that were normal everyday life. Maybe then he would finally be able to focus again.

This little trip had felt like the longest two days of his entire life, and he couldn’t wait for it to be over with. He kept reminding himself that it could have been a whole lot worse— the journey would have been at least twice as long if the Ninety-Sixth Task Force hadn’t had a planned rendezvous with a re-supply convoy near Felucia that coincided with their return from Coruscant.

He wasn’t sure he could have handled this weird limbo for another day, let alone two or three. Stuck in what amounted to a single room for two days solid, trying to make himself get work done when he couldn’t concentrate on a damn thing; trying to act normally and hoping nervously that neither pilot was picking up on the awkward tension in the air.

Or maybe there wasn’t any awkward tension in the air; maybe it was just him. Thrawn seemed unbothered and had spent the trip quietly absorbed in his work, just like he always did. Occasionally asking for Eli’s input or giving him some task or other take care of. Just like he always did. Not a hint that anything out of the ordinary had taken place.

In some ways, the normalcy and familiarity was reassuring, but it was also making Eli feel like he would explode with frustration from bottling up all the thoughts that were racing around his brain in pointless circles while trying to act like he wasn’t doing anything of the sort. They hadn’t exactly had much chance to talk before heading out, and though it was only the two of them plus two pilots, there still wasn’t a whole hell of a lot of privacy on board a Lambda-class shuttle. Not enough to talk about anything so personal, that was for sure.

Not that Eli even knew what else there was to say if they could talk about it.

At least today was better than yesterday. Yesterday had been… awful. He’d spent the whole day exhausted and headachy, his stomach churning quietly. Half of it was probably the turmoil in his mind rather than the hangover and lack of sleep, given that the water, painkillers, and anti-nausea meds he’d downed shortly after they’d lifted off from Coruscant had really only helped a little.

And as if all that hadn’t been uncomfortable and distracting enough on its own, feeling sick and miserable was apparently still not enough to stop a lurch of arousal getting him half-hard every kriffing time Thrawn so much as looked at him.

It had been a relief when enough time had passed that he could reasonably excuse himself to go crawl into one of the bunks in the back, even if he had wound up tossing and turning for half the night anyway. He’d been in and out of sleep enough to see the pilots taking their sleeping shifts, but didn’t know if Thrawn had come back there at all. Either Eli had missed him coming and going, or he had just slept out there in his chair and then kept working.

It must be nice to just not care, Eli thought sourly; then promptly felt guilty for thinking it, knowing it wasn’t really fair of him. Thrawn might be handling this better than he was; might be good at that currently very irritating ‘I have no emotions’ thing that he did; but Eli would be lying to himself if he pretended he hadn’t seen his own feelings mirrored on Thrawn’s face before they’d left to catch the shuttle.

Never mind that his feelings had been such a disaster of conflicting emotions and fatigue that he still hadn’t quite worked them all out for himself, despite remembering it all way too clearly.

First there’d been the wave of half-conscious disappointment and longing that washed through him when he woke up and Thrawn wasn’t holding him anymore. And then — once his bleary mind had finally worked out exactly why he’d been expecting his kriffing Admiral to be holding him at all — the very large and panicked dose of oh shit, what the hell were we thinking followed immediately by ow, my head… oh, right. We weren’t. 

In the shower, the brief, bright hope that maybe it wouldn’t have to be a one-time thing slowly dwindling away as harsh reality sunk in instead. Then the hurt at Thrawn’s flat statement that it wouldn’t happen again, even though he’d only been saying exactly what Eli already knew anyway.

The fear lurking in his gut when he hadn’t been able to stop himself from asking if Thrawn regretted it, not sure he actually wanted to hear the answer— and the sudden swell of… sadness? relief? something …that had twisted up Eli’s stomach and closed up his throat at Thrawn’s unhesitating reply that he didn’t.

And running underneath it all, even now… the bittersweet knowledge that it had felt too right for him to ever think of it as a mistake; that despite being more than a little buzzed at the time, he had known exactly what he’d been getting himself into, had done it anyway, and would do it again.

Eli sighed, pulling up some inventory reports on his datapad to try a different distraction.

It just wasn’t fair.

 

Two more days and some much-needed sleep later, Eli was standing on the bridge of the Chimaera and taking notes as the latest exercise for Thrawn’s task force wound to a close.

It was early on yet, but the training maneuvers had been going really well so far. Thrawn didn’t seem happy, though, and Eli was a little concerned. Not that Thrawn ever seemed happy-happy, of course, but… well, he should be pleased with the force’s performance, or at least satisfied.

Only he wasn’t, and Eli didn’t know why. He had gotten pretty good at reading his commanding officer over the years, and there was no escaping the fact that Thrawn seemed downright… agitated today.

Still entering in some final notes, Eli drifted closer, watching and listening discreetly as Thrawn discussed the results of this exercise and went over the plans for the next one with Commander Faro.

And nope, it definitely wasn’t his imagination. If it were anyone else, Eli would have said the admiral was in a bad mood, but Thrawn didn’t really have moods, exactly. Now that Eli thought about it, though, he had seemed a little off yesterday too, and it was definitely worse today.

A small flicker of anxiety tickled through Eli’s stomach as he wondered if it had anything to do with him.

They still hadn’t said a word to each other about what had happened back on Coruscant, and Eli had been kind of hoping at this point that they would just… go back to the way things were. He’d finally started making peace with the fact that no matter how badly he wanted it to, nothing could ever come of the whole thing; comforting himself with the knowledge that at least he’d gotten the chance to be with Thrawn just once. Even if it did still hurt, he’d get over it eventually, and he’d been optimistic that they wouldn’t let it affect their friendship or their working relationship. But if something was bothering Thrawn enough for him to be actually showing it like this…

Eli barely stopped himself from chewing his lip nervously as he closed down the files he’d been working on during the exercise.

“Thank you, Commander Faro,” Thrawn said, abruptly cutting her off mid-sentence. “Send me a full report as soon as possible.”

“I- yes, sir,” Faro said. “I’ll… send a reminder to all the Captains to get their assessments done immediately.”

“Dismissed,” Thrawn said curtly.

Faro shot a pointed look at Eli as she turned and left, and he cursed inwardly. That wasn’t like Thrawn at all, and Faro obviously expected him to sort it out.

“E- Commander Vanto, with me,” Thrawn said as he turned and strode towards the turbolifts.

Eli blinked in shock, frozen in place for a second before hurrying to catch up with the admiral. He must have misheard. There was no way Thrawn had just almost called him Eli.

Thrawn didn’t say a word as they waited, and once the doors to the lift closed behind them, he just stood there and stared at Eli without even selecting a deck.

“Is everything… okay, sir?” Eli ventured, getting more concerned by the second. Thrawn’s jaw was tight; his posture one of coiled, barely controlled tension, almost like he was expecting an attack at any moment. Maybe something had happened—

“I cannot stop thinking about you, Eli,” Thrawn said, his voice low and heated, taking a step closer in the already close quarters of the unmoving turbolift.

Eli’s eyes widened. That was not what he’d been expecting.

The sheer intensity of Thrawn’s gaze was an almost physical pressure, and for a moment Eli couldn’t breathe, his heart thudding painfully in his chest. “I- me neither… but… sir, we can’t- I mean, we shouldn’t—”

“No,” Thrawn cut him off, voice so low now it was almost a growl, “we shouldn’t. But do you want to?”

Stars, yes,” Eli managed, his own voice hoarse, and in a single motion, Thrawn slammed a palm onto the panel of buttons and shoved Eli up against the wall of the turbolift.

 

Eli had been in Thrawn’s quarters aboard the Chimaera plenty, but never in the bedroom part of it until now. Any other day he would have been curious about the room, the glimpse into Thrawn’s private space, but right now he wasn’t paying attention to anything around him as Thrawn tumbled him onto the bed, mouth hungry, hands tearing at his uniform.

Eli was doing the same, Thrawn’s breath hot in his mouth as they panted against each other, wriggling out of tunics and fumbling pants open and down with an almost frantic desperation. Thrawn finally pulled away with a growl to stand up again, eyes boring into Eli as they ripped the last of their clothing off; easier now that they weren’t getting in each other’s way. Eli had a split second to take in the sight of Thrawn standing beside the bed, naked and hard, blue chest heaving and red eyes staring at him with undisguised need and desire, before Thrawn was on him again.

Eli moaned and closed his eyes as Thrawn’s mouth found his neck, arching his back into it as Thrawn’s weight pressed him down into the mattress. Thrawn was moving between his open legs, hard cock rubbing against Eli’s own between them; teeth sharp and tongue wet on the sensitive skin of his neck.

“Thrawn… Thrawn, please, I want you, I want- sir, please-” Eli barely recognized his own voice, raw with need, begging without quite knowing what for. He felt like every nerve was on fire, his mind racing and jittering as he tried to pay attention to every single touch of Thrawn’s body on his, his hands gripping Thrawn’s back so hard his fingers ached.

And then Thrawn was shifting down the bed, leaving a trail of licks and bites down Eli’s front as he went. Eli gasped, hips bucking up as wet heat closed over the head of his cock, sucking him in. Thrawn pushed his legs up, hands spreading him open, and Eli let him, tilting his hips back, loud moans escaping his lips as he felt Thrawn’s tongue run down the underside of his cock to his balls before swiping hot and wet over his hole.

Eli shuddered as that tongue slipped inside him, his fists clenching in the sheets. Thrawn moved up again, fingers running over Eli’s entrance instead, raising Eli’s cock to his lips with the other hand and sucking him in again until he felt himself hit the back of Thrawn’s throat. Eli groaned and another shudder ran through him as Thrawn started working up and down his aching cock, fingers still at his ass.

“Do you- do you have… lube, or… something-” he managed to gasp, eyes riveted to the sight of blue fingers wrapped around his cock as it slid in and out between dark, wet lips.

Thrawn pulled off him long enough to look up, eyes blazing and hand still stroking. “Bottom drawer,” he answered, and then went straight back to sucking Eli’s cock.

Eli twisted around, shuffling sideways a little until he managed to get one hand into the drawer of the small bedside table that he hadn’t even noticed was there, fingers closing on a likely bottle after a moment that he hoped was the right thing.

It was, and minutes later Eli’s fingers were curled in soft black hair with Thrawn’s mouth hot around his cock and Thrawn’s fingers buried slick in his ass. A final semi-coherent thought filtered through his brain, that he sure hadn’t seen this being part of his day today, and then Thrawn found his sweet spot and Eli wasn’t aware of anything but Thrawn and now.

Thrawn’s fingers inside him were stroking in time with the quick rhythm of his mouth, and Eli wasn’t even bothering to try and hold himself back, vaguely aware he was sweating and moaning; his tension building, coiling, burning inside him as Thrawn worked him higher.

“Fuck, Thrawn- Thrawn-” was all he managed to get out before he came, hard, Thrawn’s name tearing from his throat. He could feel himself clenching on Thrawn’s fingers, could feel his cock throbbing in the wet heat of Thrawn’s mouth, and it seemed to go on forever before he was fully spent, gasping and twitching, his muscles like jelly and his head spinning.

Thrawn pulled off and out, crawling up the bed between his splayed legs, and kissed him hard and deep. Eli moaned at the taste of himself on Thrawn’s tongue as it pushed into his mouth, hot and demanding, and he shuddered as the tip of Thrawn’s cock pressed against his hole.

“Eli-” Thrawn’s voice hitched, and Eli could hear the strain in his voice, could feel Thrawn nearly vibrating in his arms, and oh gods he wanted to feel Thrawn inside him, wanted it so badly it was a physical ache.

Yes,” he whimpered, still panting, “yes, Thrawn, please, do it-” and then Thrawn was kneeling upright, groaning as he worked lube over his cock, the sight and the slick sound sending a lurch of arousal through Eli’s gut even though he’d just come.

He watched, breath fast and shallow, as Thrawn lined himself up before leaning down over top of him again on one elbow, their eyes meeting, and then with another deep groan that Eli felt to his bones, Thrawn was pushing forward, pushing into him — slick and hard and stars he felt huge — sliding deeper — it hurt but it felt good, so good — and Thrawn paused, buried deep inside him, both of them panting and Thrawn’s eyes still on his. 

Eli made himself relax into the stretch, drinking in Thrawn’s expression; and he didn’t know how he had ever thought that face wasn’t expressive. He tightened his arms around Thrawn, wrapping his legs around Thrawn’s waist, gasping as Thrawn started moving inside him, pulling back and thrusting in again.

Thrawn’s arm slid around him, under his shoulders, other hand gripping his hip, rocking in and out, faster and harder. It was almost too much but Eli didn’t care, bucking his hips up to meet Thrawn on every hard thrust and urging him on, wanting more.

He could hear something that sounded like words falling from Thrawn’s lips between the panting grunts; not in any language Eli understood, but he understood his own name and that was what Thrawn gasped out as he stiffened in Eli’s arms. His hips snapped sharply forward one last time as he came, body jerking, back arching and hands tightening; and Eli was panting yes-yes-yes as he felt Thrawn filling him up, spilling out deep inside him.

His head swimming as he tried to catch his breath without much success, Eli gripped Thrawn tighter, ignoring the burning in his arms and legs; and Thrawn was holding him just as tight as they nuzzled at each other, their lips meeting in short, breathless kisses as they trembled against one another.

 

Eli didn’t know how much time had passed before his quivering legs finally gave out, slipping off Thrawn to fall limply to the bed. Thrawn was softening inside him, and the admiral reached down between them, pulling out carefully, a quiet whimper escaping Eli’s lips as Thrawn slipped out of him and left him suddenly too empty.

Thrawn rolled off to lie beside him, one arm across his chest, nuzzling into Eli’s neck with soft, contented humming sounds, and Eli just lay there for awhile, slightly stunned, his still-ragged breathing loud in the quiet room.

It was nice; it was more than nice, it was everything he’d been wanting, but… As the sweat cooled on his body and the ability to think slowly returned, Eli found himself getting nervous and uncertain, little tendrils of doubt curling in the pit of his stomach.

He didn’t want to ruin the mood — would much rather keep floating in post-orgasmic bliss like Thrawn was obviously doing, still mouthing gently at his neck — but he was honestly pretty damn confused at this point, and the last few days were really not something he wanted to repeat. 

Turning onto his side so they were face-to-face, Eli was just opening his mouth to say something along the lines of ‘we need to talk’, while wincing internally at how cliched that was, when Thrawn’s desk intercom buzzed loudly in main room.

Thrawn’s eyes widened and they both froze for a heartbeat before breaking apart and jumping out of bed like it had suddenly caught fire.

They were on-duty, they were still kriffing on-duty; how in the hell had he forgotten that little detail… Eli bit out a curse, looking frantically around for his clothes. Thrawn hadn’t even bothered, striding out of the room stark naked, and Eli could hear him talking as he answered.

Eli was pretty sure Thrawn’s clothes were the ones all over the floor, his own the ones strewn about the bed. He was about to start yanking them all back on but froze again as he realized his ass and thighs were sticky, wet with what was undoubtedly a mix of lube and— and Thrawn’s come.

Knees going treacherously wobbly at the thought and his cheeks flaming, Eli stifled another curse, gathering up what he hoped was all of his clothing and heading for the ‘fresher to clean up and dress as fast as he possibly could.

“I will be there shortly,” he heard Thrawn say, just before the ‘fresher door hissed shut behind him.

Dropping his clothes to the floor in a heap, Eli leaned back against the door with a groan.

So much for talking.

 

Chapter Text

Thrawn finally returned to his quarters at the end of the day and hesitated in the doorway to his sleeping chamber for a moment, surveying the mess of tangled bedding that was still there from the afternoon’s… activities.

He eventually sank down onto the edge of his bed with a small sigh, resting his head in his hands and trying without success to ignore the faint smell of Eli and sex that still hung in the air. The rest of his day had been busy, and had not given him the chance to sort out his thoughts, let alone speak with Eli— Commander Vanto— 

Thrawn groaned. His behaviour today had been entirely unacceptable and he had no idea what to do about it.

What he wanted to do was ignore sense, rank, and regulations, and spend tonight and every night with Eli in his arms. But what he should do was apologize to Commander Vanto — again — and then this time make certain he actually kept his word that it would not happen again, regardless of how difficult it became to do so.

The return trip to the Chimaera alone had sorely tested his self-control. He had been painfully aware of every sound and movement Vanto made in the enforced close quarters of the shuttle, his scent pervasive in the small space and a constant reminder of what Thrawn wanted but could not have. He had not even made it back to the Chimaera before he resorted to masturbating in the small refresher on the second day, need and shame warring within him as he quickly brought himself to orgasm, thoughts of Eli filling his mind.

That had helped, somewhat; and once they were on board the Chimaera, it was at first easier to ignore his desire. But that had not lasted. By the second day, he was irritable and entirely unable to focus, all his concentration bent towards controlling his physical response to Vanto and fighting the ever-growing urge to pin his commander to the nearest wall and taste him again.

Which he had eventually failed at completely, doing just that in the turbolift the moment they were alone together.

His memories after that point became slightly blurry; a hazy mix of pleasure and desire; Eli’s release filling his mouth and Eli tight and slick around his own cock as he came.

At the very least, Thrawn owed it to Eli — Commander Vanto — to speak to him about what had happened today. If Vanto even wanted to speak to him. The commander had been tense and withdrawn the rest of the day, disappearing immediately at the end of his shift, and Thrawn feared his rash actions may have irreparably damaged their relationship. 

If that proved to be the case, he would have only himself to blame, and he did not think he could forgive himself for it.

Steeling himself, Thrawn rose and exited his quarters again. Being his aide, Commander Vanto’s quarters were immediately beside his own, and it was still early enough that Vanto was unlikely to be asleep already. There was, fortunately, no one else in the corridor to see him as Thrawn tapped at the door panel to request entry; then waited with his hands clasped behind his back, a part of him hoping the commander was not even in his quarters at the moment.

The door slid open to reveal a pajama-clad Eli Vanto, hair tousled and feet bare, looking up at him with an expression that flickered rapidly from politely curious to startled and then settled on wary. Tense.

Thrawn swallowed, his mouth dry from nerves. “May I have a word, Commander? If I am not disturbing your rest.”

There was a long pause as Vanto just looked at him. “No, sir, you’re not. I was just…” He hesitated, glancing up and down the corridor; then sighed. “Come on in.”

Thrawn entered, uncertain where to begin as the door hissed shut behind him, not knowing what he actually wanted to say now that he was here. Vanto removed the need for him to decide by speaking first, standing several paces away with his arms folded defensively across his chest.

“Permission to speak freely, sir?”

Thrawn felt his throat tighten. “Of course.”

“If this is the part where you tell me how you’re sorry and that it won’t happen again, I’m gonna kriffing lose it.”

Thrawn opened his mouth; then shut it again, completely at a loss. Vanto’s voice was strained and a flush of heat, sharply visible in the infrared, was creeping up his neck above the plain grey t-shirt.

“That was not my intention,” Thrawn finally said into the thick silence.

“What was your intention, then?” Vanto asked, his voice still tight.

Thrawn dropped his gaze to the floor, no longer able to meet his commander’s eyes. “I do not know,” he said quietly.

There was another pause, longer this time, and then Vanto sighed heavily.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his tone softer, frustrated. “That wasn’t fair. I just… I don’t understand. You ignore the whole thing completely for four days, you snap at Faro for no reason, and then… and then the whole thing in the turbolift out of nowhere, and… it’s just not like you. Acting like that, suddenly just going back on your decision. I honestly have no idea what I’m supposed to think at this point. What I’m supposed to do.

“I am also… uncertain how to proceed,” Thrawn said, still standing stiffly in front of the door and staring at the floor between them. “I certainly did not intend to ‘go back’ on my decision when I made it. The regulations against fraternization, particularly across ranks, exist for good reason. The potential consequences to us both cannot be ignored, and more importantly, I do not wish to abuse my station with you. Even inadvertently. But…”

Thrawn hesitated, looking back up at Vanto - Eli - and meeting his eyes again.

“But I care for you, Eli. Far more than I am supposed to. I had thought I could keep my feelings and desires under control, but I was wrong. And for that, I do owe you another apology. It was unfair of me to put you in the position I did today, particularly after promising that I would not.”

“I care about you, too, Thrawn,” Eli said softly. “I just… this week was a nightmare. I can’t go through that again.”

“Of course,” Thrawn said, feeling truly miserable at what he had done; at what he would lose because of it. “I will understand if you request a transfer to a different command.”

“What? Why would I… Thrawn, I meant the whole having amazing sex and then pretending it didn’t happen and not talking to each other for days thing,” Eli said. “That’s… what I wanted to talk about today. You know, after.”

Thrawn blinked. “Oh.”

“Maybe you didn’t notice, but I wasn’t exactly complaining about the, ah… position you put me in at the time,” Eli said, lips twitching into a small grin, and Thrawn felt himself flush. “What I meant was, we need to make a decision about this. Together. And then actually do it.”

Eli’s expression sobered again, but without the tightness that had been there up until now, and a tension lifted from Thrawn’s shoulders. Perhaps he had not destroyed their friendship after all.

“I know we shouldn’t let this go anywhere, but… I don’t really care. I want to anyway,” Eli said. Thrawn opened his mouth to respond, but Eli cut him off before he could. “Hang on, just… let me finish before you answer, please. I need to say this.”

Thrawn inclined his head in a nod, and Eli continued, his voice growing more intense with feeling as he spoke.

“I want to be with you, Thrawn. If it’s the power imbalance you’re worried about, I’m not. I trust you. So long as we’re open and honest with each other, I can’t see it being a problem. But I need to know what you want. If you don’t want this, if you’re not sure or you think getting caught is too big a risk to take, that’s fine. I can understand and accept that. But you have to tell me, and then we have to stick to it either way. I can’t handle going back and forth on it. And I can’t do casual, either. Not with you.”

Thrawn kept silent, waiting.

“That’s… that’s it,” Eli said. He sounded suddenly hesitant, discomfited; almost as though he was taken aback by his own short speech. “I don’t mean you have to decide right this minute, if you need time to think about it-”

“I do not need time,” Thrawn said, his chest tight with emotion. “I want to be with you as well, Eli. Even if I should not.”

Eli’s throat moved as he swallowed. “We would have to be really careful,” he said after a moment.

“Yes.”

Uncrossing his arms and dropping his hands down to fidget at his sides, Eli opened his mouth briefly and then closed it without speaking. Thrawn could see heat rising in the human’s cheeks again.

Thrawn cleared his throat into the silence. “Amazing?” he asked mildly, and Eli snorted out a laugh, a smile twitching on his lips.

“You are unbelievable, you know that?” he said, reaching out with one hand, and Thrawn took the invitation, closing the gap between them and taking Eli’s hand in his.

“I truly am sorry, Eli,” he said softly. “I did not mean to hurt you in any way.”

“I know,” Eli answered, stepping forward and letting go of Thrawn’s hand to wrap both arms around his waist.

Thrawn returned the hug, pulling Eli closer, and Eli rested his head against Thrawn’s shoulder with a quiet, shivery sigh.

“Are you sure?” Eli asked after a pause, his words muffled in Thrawn’s uniform tunic. “It’s not exactly gonna be easy… we’ll always have to hide it and everything.”

“I am sure,” Thrawn answered, holding him tighter. “Are you?”

Eli looked up at him. “Definitely.”

Thrawn gazed down into the warm brown human eyes, breathing in Eli’s scent and feeling at peace for the first time since waking up in the morning on Coruscant. Eli shifted against him, tilting his face up further, and Thrawn leaned down hesitantly, a little afraid he might be misreading Eli’s body language.

But then Eli’s lips pressed against his and Thrawn heard the content humming sound Eli was making in the back of his throat, and he relaxed, letting his eyes drift shut and losing himself in the soft warmth of Eli’s mouth.

For the first time, their kiss wasn’t urgent or frantic; instead it was slow and gentle, tentative; curious, even, as they explored each other, all light touches and soft caresses of tongues, lips, and teeth. Thrawn ignored the desire stirring in his core, taking simple comfort in Eli’s touch, sensing that Eli needed the same from him.

Eli pulled back before long to look at him again, a quiet smile on his lips. “I think I do need to go to bed, though. I haven’t exactly been sleeping well the last few days,” he said, and Thrawn detected a hint of apology in his voice.

“I believe I require the same,” Thrawn said with a wry smile.

“Thank you, though,” Eli said, and Thrawn cocked his head to one side in question. “For coming to talk. I probably wouldn’t have slept much again otherwise.”

“I am… extremely glad that I did,” Thrawn replied, holding Eli a little tighter.

Eli gave him another kiss, this one just a light brush of lips against his, but still enough to send a fresh thrill through him. “Maybe I could… come over tomorrow night?”

Thrawn smiled. “I would like that.”

 

With a contented but tired sigh, Thrawn finally lay down in bed for the night. He hadn’t even bothered to shower or re-make his bed after saying goodnight to Eli and returning to his own quarters. His shorter sleeping schedule meant he could easily take care of such things in the morning.

Like Eli, he had not been sleeping well since Coruscant, but despite his fatigue he found himself restless. His mouth was still tingling from Eli’s and his nose was filled with the faint but still-present scent of Eli on his bedding, intensifying the arousal that had begun building in him in Eli’s quarters.

Turning onto his side, Thrawn closed his eyes and buried his face into the pillow that Eli had been lying on earlier that day, slipping one hand down to his cock, already fully hard and flush against his stomach. He pressed his palm slowly down the underside of his erection with a groan of relief, pushing his hips forward into it and imagining he was pushing himself up against Eli again instead.

Wrapping his fingers around his shaft, Thrawn started stroking himself slowly, increasing his pace little by little; occasionally working his palm over the sensitive head of his cock with a shiver and spreading the slick precome around as it welled out. Before long he was panting open-mouthed into his pillow, almost able to taste Eli on the fabric as he fisted his cock harder; feeling his testicles pulling in tight to his body and the muscles in his stomach twitch and quiver as he brought himself closer to the edge.

The vivid memory of Eli’s cock, hard in his mouth and pulsing spurts of come hot into the back of his throat abruptly pushed Thrawn over that edge without warning. He came with a grunt and a shudder, letting himself spill out onto the sheets; onto the bed he’d fucked his commander in only hours before.

Still panting, little aftershocks running through him, Thrawn squeezed his fingers up the length of his cock a few more times to coax out the final small pulses of come and then wiped his hand off on the sheet. Vaguely aware he had mouthed a damp spot onto his pillowcase, fatigue finally creeping back in, he turned over, rolling away from that and the much larger wet patch he’d left on the bed in front of him.

Just before sleep finally claimed him, Thrawn’s last thought was that Eli might be in his arms at this time tomorrow, and he drifted off with a smile on his lips.

 

Chapter Text

The day finally over, Eli tapped at the door panel for Thrawn’s private quarters and waited, a thrill of nervous excitement fluttering through his stomach. 

He made sure to keep his face straight and his posture relaxed in case anyone came by, reminding himself once again that it really wasn’t unusual for him to be meeting with Thrawn at odd hours. The officers all knew their Admiral could be slightly… eccentric at times, after all, and nobody would think there was anything weird about it if they did see him. Unless Eli was being weird. He tried not to think too hard about whether or not he was acting normally, which at this point was becoming about as easy as not thinking about a purple bantha when someone says ‘don’t think about a purple bantha’.

Fortunately, his worries about whether or not he looked suspicious to casual passers-by amounted to nothing because no one did come by during the brief time that passed before the door hissed open in front of him, the sight of Thrawn on the other side sending another little lurch of excitement through his stomach.

“Good evening, Commander,” Thrawn said, gesturing for him to come in and then locking the door behind him.

“Sir,” Eli responded automatically, and promptly cursed himself mentally as they both stood there awkwardly for a moment.

Eli finally cleared his throat. “So, um… how does this part work, anyway?”

“This part?”

“Yeah… the part where we switch from ‘Commander Vanto’ and ‘Sir’ to…” Eli hesitated, nervous — a small corner of his mind suddenly worried that maybe Thrawn had changed his mind again — then pushed forward. “To Eli and Thrawn.”

Thrawn’s lips quirked up in just a hint of a smile. “I imagine we simply do so. But perhaps we should begin again.”

“Uh-”

“Good evening, Eli,” Thrawn said, that little smile staying on his lips as he stepped closer. His tone was different now, warmer and somehow private in a way that sent a little shiver of delight up Eli’s spine.

“Hi,” Eli replied, aware he was suddenly grinning like an idiot but not caring in the slightest. Warmth bloomed in his chest, worries forgotten as he looked up into the bright red eyes. He reached out and took Thrawn’s hand in his, twining their fingers together. “I’ve been thinking about you all day.”

Eli winced inwardly at the line as soon as the words left his mouth. They’d been kriffing working together all day so of course he would have been thinking about Thrawn. 

“As have I,” was all Thrawn said, though; and then his other hand was slipping around Eli’s back, he was leaning down while Eli tilted his head up, Eli’s heart was irrationally thumping in his chest — it wasn’t as though they hadn’t done way more than this already — and then Thrawn’s lips were on his, soft and warm and inviting. For just a moment, Eli couldn’t breathe, and then a quiet, unstoppable hum of happiness rose in his throat, lightheaded excitement spreading through him to mix with the arousal flaring up hot in his core. 

Thrawn pulled him close, lips parting for Eli’s tongue as their kiss deepened. Pressing himself up against the admiral, Eli let go of Thrawn’s hand, running his own hands up the well-muscled arms to slip one around behind Thrawn’s neck and through soft, dark hair. He lost himself in Thrawn’s mouth like that, in the feel of his lips and the taste of his tongue; in the heat of his breath and the slide of his hands as they traveled over Eli’s body, warm and strong and leaving a trail of tingles in their wake. 

Eli couldn’t get enough of Thrawn, either; wanting to explore and map out every last centimeter of him. It was wonderful, not being frantic or rushed or fuzzy-headed, able to think clearly and just enjoy the feeling of Thrawn holding him as he held Thrawn in return. Eli couldn’t say how much time had passed before the long, deep kiss turned instead to light, breathless touches of tongues and lips that slowed and eventually stopped. 

Resting his forehead against Thrawn’s, Eli grinned. Thrawn’s hands had made their way down to his ass and were now holding Eli firmly against him. There was no mistaking that the admiral was just as eager as he was, and Eli slipped his own hands down to cup Thrawn’s ass too. He was still a little too sore for a repeat of yesterday, but… there were plenty of other things they could do.

“I don’t know about you, but I could definitely use a shower,” Eli murmured, shifting his hips in the barest suggestion of a thrust, and he felt Thrawn’s hips twitch forward in response.

“That is an excellent idea,” Thrawn said, a slow smile spreading over his lips. His grip tightened briefly as he planted a quick kiss on Eli’s mouth before letting him go and leading the way to the ‘fresher.

Following him in, Eli looked around curiously as Thrawn started the shower running. He had just enough time to appreciate how much roomier the admiral’s ‘fresher was compared to his own before Thrawn pulled him close and into another kiss. 

The next few minutes were a blur of tongues and lips and teeth; of hands fumbling at clothing; punctuated by Eli’s occasional snort and giggle at the inevitable awkward stages of undressing, until they were both stripped down with steam from the shower building up around them. Thrawn got into the shower first, and Eli just stopped and stared for a moment.

Thrawn looked gorgeous; water coursing down his body under the spray of the shower, damp hair falling down over his forehead above glowing eyes, their familiar red light softened and diffused by the steam hanging in the air. He was watching Eli curiously with that slight questioning tilt of his head that Eli had come to know so well — though admittedly under very different circumstances — and Eli bit his lip with a grin, his gaze travelling down and then back up to meet Thrawn’s eyes again. 

Thrawn also looked as hard as kriffing durasteel at the moment, and Eli couldn’t wait to taste him this time. 

Eli managed to get his legs working again, stepping in and sliding the door shut behind him. He pushed his admiral back against the steamy wall of the shower as the hot water poured over them both, pressing himself up against Thrawn and nuzzling into the curve of his neck. Thrawn’s hands ran down his back, pulling Eli tightly against him, his cock a thick rod of heat against Eli’s stomach. Sliding one hand down between them and the other over one firm ass cheek, Eli briefly covered Thrawn’s mouth with his again, a moan of desire welling up in his throat.

Catching Thrawn’s bottom lip between his teeth, Eli pulled back to meet Thrawn’s eyes again, hearing his admiral’s breath hitch as he palmed Thrawn’s cock and started rubbing him slowly, his own throbbing erection pushed firmly up against the front of Thrawn’s hip.

“Eli…” Thrawn murmured, his eyes fluttering shut, his breath coming faster as Eli leaned in once more and their lips met in another kiss. 

Eli melted into his mouth, sensations washing through him; the heat of the water running over them both, the feel of Thrawn’s cock hard in his hand and Thrawn’s bare skin on his as they moved against each other, desire burning hotter in his gut with every passing moment. He eventually broke the kiss again, both of them breathing hard, and met Thrawn’s heavy-lidded gaze. 

“I guess we should probably actually, y’know, shower at some point,” Eli said, huffing a slightly breathless laugh.

“Indeed,” Thrawn said, his voice husky and his lips curving up into a quietly intense smile that made Eli’s knees go weak.

 

A short time later, Eli was on his back in Thrawn’s bed with Thrawn’s face buried in his neck, the admiral’s weight a solid warmth moving on top of him.

Eli groaned as teeth nipped again at his skin and his hips thrust up almost of their own volition, grinding his already aching cock against Thrawn’s stiff length. Thrawn started to shift down the bed between his legs, but Eli caught him under the arms and tugged him back up. 

“Not so fast,” he said with a grin, rolling them both onto their sides so they were facing each other. Running his hand up Thrawn’s chest and over his shoulder, Eli planted a kiss on his lips. “This time it’s your turn first.”

Thrawn caught his wrist, gently pulling his hand up to press a kiss against his palm. Eli shivered as Thrawn’s tongue flickered over his skin, dragging up along his first two fingers, the red eyes holding his gaze as Thrawn rested Eli’s fingertips on his bottom lip. 

“The two activities need not be mutually exclusive,” Thrawn murmured. Not looking away, he gave Eli’s fingers another suggestive lick and then took them slowly into the wet warmth of his mouth. Eli groaned, his cock twitching as the sensitive skin of his fingertips slid over Thrawn’s tongue, both soft and rough at the same time.

The sight of his fingers gradually disappearing between the dark lips was way hotter than it had any right to be, and Thrawn kept looking into his eyes the entire time. Eli was panting by the time his fingers re-emerged from Thrawn’s mouth, just as slowly as they’d gone in and glistening wet with saliva. 

“You make a very good point,” he managed, a little breathless, and Thrawn smirked slightly as he released his light hold on Eli’s wrist. 

Eli nudged Thrawn over onto his back and twisted around so he was facing down the bed on all fours. Taking his time, he worked his way down Thrawn’s chest and stomach, nipping and licking and kissing a meandering trail over the still-damp blue skin and grinning to himself at the soft, breathy grunts Thrawn let out against the outside of his thigh as he did. 

Thrawn’s legs were open for him, one down on the bed, knees bent, and his hand slipped up the inside of Eli’s thigh as Eli dragged his tongue down the line of Thrawn’s hip and towards his center. Thrawn groaned, hips bucking up and cock twitching against his stomach as Eli licked down the length of his shaft from tip to base, slow and teasing; and then a little further, briefly tonguing his balls before moving back up to mouth lightly at the very tip of his cock. 

As Thrawn’s hand tightened on his thigh, Eli dropped down onto one hip, spreading his legs wide as well and finally sucking Thrawn’s cock into his mouth, feeling the admiral shiver against him. His short moan was muffled around Thrawn’s cock as fingers closed tight around his shaft, the taste of Thrawn’s precome sharp and bright on his tongue. 

Eli drew Thrawn in deeper, moving his hand to Thrawn’s hip to tug his admiral closer, wanting to take as much of that thick cock as he possibly could; wanting to make Thrawn writhe and moan. He could feel Thrawn’s panting breaths coming hot and fast against him and then he groaned in the back of his throat as wet heat closed around the head of his cock and sucked him in, taking him deep from the very first stroke.

They worked each other like that, hot wet mouths licking and sucking; hands stroking, squeezing, touching; and it was slightly awkward but Eli couldn’t have cared less. Thrawn was rock hard and heavy in his mouth, moaning as Eli sucked him in and out, hips moving as he thrust gently in time with Eli’s movements; and the whole time his tongue and lips and hand were sliding up and down Eli’s cock until Eli’s head was spinning with pleasure.

Thrawn was almost too fucking good at this, and Eli knew he wasn’t going to last a whole lot longer. He was panting so hard he eventually had to pull back and try to catch his breath, Thrawn’s cock popping noisily out of his mouth and wet with thick saliva. Eli slipped his hand from Thrawn’s hip to close it around his admiral’s shaft instead; then he gasped, panting even harder as Thrawn literally swallowed him down, throat squeezing around the head of his cock. 

“Oh gods, Thrawn- ahh - fuck-” was all Eli got out before devolving into incoherent moans as his cock slid in and out of Thrawn’s tight throat. He managed to keep jerking his hand spastically up and down Thrawn’s spit-slick cock, just the tip of it in his open mouth; desperate grunts and whimpers falling from his lips as Thrawn drove him higher. 

Eli could feel his balls pulling up tight, tension coiling hot and urgent inside him, building and building and building; until he tipped over the edge and came with a wordless cry, shaking, his cock pulsing out into his admiral’s throat. He felt Thrawn swallowing around him, he was still coming; and then Thrawn was jerking forward into his fist, his come spurting up over Eli’s lips and cheek. 

The taste of him filled Eli’s mouth for the first time, hot and thick and sharp, covering his tongue as he trembled, moaning and gasping. He heard Thrawn making muffled whimpering noises, still sucking at him gently and shuddering, and Eli worked Thrawn through his orgasm as best he could, mouthing at the head of Thrawn’s cock and jerkily pumping the last pulses of come out onto his tongue while his head spun and aftershocks shivered through his body.

Still panting, Eli managed to regain control of his limbs long enough to twist around and crawl up beside Thrawn, wiping his face on his forearm as he went. He collapsed down onto his side next to Thrawn and Thrawn immediately pulled him in for a kiss.

It was wet and sticky; filthy and perfect. Eli’s own taste was mixing with Thrawn’s on his tongue and little shivering whimpers and panting moans were passing between them as they pressed themselves against each other, limbs twining and hands gripping sweat-slicked skin over trembling muscles.

Eli felt like he was floating as his breathing slowly steadied and his mind cleared. A smile spread across his face, their kiss first turning into scattered brushes of Thrawn’s lips against his; and then ending. Eli rested his forehead against Thrawn’s and Thrawn gazed back at him, red eyes heavy and a truly relaxed-looking smile on the dark lips.

“See… amazing,” Eli murmured without thinking, and felt heat rush to his cheeks as his brain caught up with his mouth. Thrawn actually chuckled, a soft, rich sound Eli had never heard before.

“Yes,” Thrawn said, nuzzling into his neck, nudging him onto his back and curling up against his side with an arm across his chest and one leg intertwined with Eli’s own. 

Trailing his fingers idly over Thrawn’s arm, Eli let out a deep, contented sigh, his eyes drifting shut and the smile staying on his lips as Thrawn pressed soft, wet kisses to his skin. He knew he’d eventually have to get up and get dressed to go back to his quarters for the night, but this time he was damn well going to enjoy the post-orgasmic bliss first.

 

Chapter Text

“The performance statistics you wanted compiled, sir.”

“Thank you, Commander Vanto,” Thrawn said as he took the proffered datapad, purposely not quite meeting Vanto’s eyes. He had already caught himself getting distracted more than once over the course of the day’s exercises, when the commander was standing in close proximity as he was now. 

But looking forward to tonight was no excuse for letting his mind wander on duty. Even if Eli’s scent was almost unfairly enticing. Ignoring the heat that was once again starting to pool in his groin, Thrawn focused his attention firmly onto the lists of numbers displayed on Vanto’s datapad and off of Vanto himself.

“Do you want to run this one from the top again, sir?” Faro asked.

“No,” Thrawn finally said, still scanning the data. “That will merely discourage the crews further.”

Faro looked at him curiously. “Further?”

“Yes,” Thrawn said. It was as he had suspected. “The cruisers are having difficulty with the transition between the second and third maneuvers, the Shyrack particularly so. This is causing a lack of coordination as the other ships try to compensate, and the fleet’s overall performance has in fact been declining with repetition as the crews become frustrated. Running the same exercise yet again at this stage will only decrease morale.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll let the captains know,” Faro said.

“No,” Thrawn said again, handing the datapad back to Vanto. “I will speak with Captain Brento privately. The purpose of these training exercises is not only to practice tactical maneuvers, but also to accustom the ships and crews of the task force to working together under a new commanding officer, and with the Chimaera.

“And it wouldn’t help that to cause hard feelings by singling out one ship so early on,” Vanto said in sudden understanding, Faro nodding slowly as he spoke.

“Precisely,” Thrawn said. “This has been enough for today. You may inform the captains that we will begin again tomorrow by breaking down the maneuvers in question and having the entire fleet run through them step-by-step. We will reassess the situation with the Shyrack at the end of the day.”

“Yes, sir,” Faro said. “I’ll let the crews know they’re off the hook for the evening.”

“Thank you, Commander. I will be in my quarters, should I be needed,” Thrawn said, turning to take his leave of the bridge.

“You won’t be joining the officers in the mess first, sir?” Faro asked. Vanto glanced up, and Thrawn paused, considering. 

“No,” he said at last. He was hungry, but he still had work to do. “It will be better if I contact Captain Brento immediately to resolve the Shyrack’s difficulties.”

“I can bring something up for you, if you like,” Vanto offered. He had performed such tasks before as Thrawn’s aide and his tone was entirely casual, but Thrawn detected a faint increase in his commander’s facial heat as he spoke.

“Thank you, Commander. That would be appreciated. There are some other matters I will wish to discuss with you then, as well,” Thrawn replied, before nodding to Faro. “Commander Faro, you have the bridge.”

 

Thrawn disconnected the call with Captain Brento and sat back in his chair, thinking. The captain of the Shyrack had been wary and defensive at first, but had become noticeably more relaxed and open by the end of the discussion. Thrawn suspected she had dealt with unpleasant and possibly incompetent commanding officers in the past, but she seemed capable enough herself. It would be interesting to see how things went tomorrow.

The door chime cut into his thoughts and Thrawn checked the video feed on his desk monitor, a small thrill of anticipation running through him. As he had hoped, it showed Commander Vanto in the corridor, fidgeting slightly and holding a small tray. Smiling to himself, Thrawn rose and went to open the door for him.

“Excellent timing, Commander,” he said as Vanto entered, reengaging the privacy lock before taking the tray and returning to his desk with it. “Thank you.”

“It was no problem, sir,” Vanto said, following him over. He was lightly flushed and still fidgeting. “You, uh, you said there was something else, too?”

Thrawn looked up at him across the desk, and time seemed to stutter slightly as their eyes met. Arousal flared up hot and sharp in his core as vivid memories from two nights before flashed through his mind; memories of swallowing Eli down while spilling out into the warmth of his mouth, and Thrawn had to fight a sudden and nearly overwhelming urge to sweep the tray of food and his datapad off his desk and replace them with his commander instead. 

“Yes,” he finally said, wrestling his self-control back into place with no small amount of effort. Responsibilities first; then pleasure. He pulled up a file on his datapad and sent it to Vanto. “I have found some potentially interesting information regarding a large number of supposedly unaffiliated and independently-owned mining facilities across Imperial space. I would like to know what you think.” 

Thrawn ate quickly and methodically, not really tasting the food. He watched Vanto scan through the file, shifting to lean absentmindedly against Thrawn’s desk as he became steadily more absorbed in its contents. His features gained the distant yet focused look he got when working with numbers and lists; a familiar expression and one Thrawn had always enjoyed seeing on him. 

“Huh,” he finally said, straightening up again. “That is interesting. I’ll go through it properly as soon as I get the chance.”

“Please inform me if you find anything that merits further investigation,” Thrawn said, pushing away his empty tray. Vanto still tended to underestimate himself and his talents, but he had least stopped questioning his own value quite so much over the years.

“Of course. I- uh, was there… is there anything else you need? Sir?” Vanto asked. Thrawn could see the mild increase in the rate of his commander’s breathing in the rise and fall of his chest, and realized that his own breathing was slightly more rapid than normal as well; his cock heavy and already thickening slowly between his legs.

“No, Commander, that will be all,” Thrawn said, rising to his feet to stand beside his desk with his hands clasped behind his back, but making no move towards the door. “You may consider yourself officially off-duty.”

Eli’s posture shifted, his already heightened facial heat increasing further and a grin spreading slowly over his face. Thrawn smiled in return and Eli crossed the distance between them in just a few quick strides, coming around to join Thrawn and tossing his gloves to the desk next to Thrawn’s.

Thrawn slipped his arms around his commander’s back, pulling him into a tight embrace as Eli’s head tilted up for a kiss, his hands snaking around Thrawn’s neck to tug him down. Eli’s mouth was like a drink of clear, pure water on parched lips, soothing tension Thrawn had not fully realized he had been carrying, and his pulse throbbed insistently in his cock as it filled further, stiffening rapidly to strain against the thick fabric of his uniform trousers. Thrawn thought he could almost get lost in Eli forever, in his taste and his warmth; the feel of his lips and tongue sending shivers of pleasure dancing under Thrawn’s skin.

Eli eventually pulled back just a little to break the kiss, but his hips remained firmly pressed against Thrawn, fingers toying with Thrawn’s hair at the nape of his neck. “I take it you missed me,” he murmured with a smile.

Thrawn rested his forehead on Eli’s and breathed in. Eli’s scent was strong today, nearly intoxicating and purely him. It was exceedingly pleasant, and a relief to finally allow himself to enjoy Eli’s nearness like this; to enjoy the anticipation and arousal coiling hot and sharp in his belly rather than continuing to battle his own desires for control. None of his previous lovers had ever affected him to such an extent; but then, he had never cared quite so deeply for anyone before Eli either.

“That is an accurate assessment, yes,” he said, nudging his hips forward a little and slipping his hands lower to cup the firm roundness of Eli’s backside, squeezing lightly. Eli’s smile widened into a blatantly pleased grin. “But I hope that you found Senior Lieutenant Hammerly’s birthday celebration enjoyable yesterday evening.”

“Yeah, it was a lot of fun!” Eli said. “You could’ve come too, y’know.”

“Perhaps.” Thrawn smiled wryly. “I imagine everyone enjoyed themselves far more without their commanding officer present, however.”

“Well… you may be right about that, for some of them, at least,” Eli said with a snort of laughter.

“Oh?”

“By the time I left, Skerris and Hammerly seemed to be enjoying themselves quite a bit, if you get my drift,” Eli answered, brown eyes dancing with mischief. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t make it back to his own quarters last night… But you didn’t hear that from me.”

Thrawn chuckled. “Understood.”

I missed you, though,” Eli said, biting his lip. “But it was pretty late by the time I left and I didn’t want to bother you—”

“You would not have bothered me, Eli,” Thrawn said softly. “Far from it.”

He pressed his lips to Eli’s again and Eli whimpered, the soft sound muffled as his mouth opened for Thrawn’s tongue. Further conversation was abandoned as the kiss became suddenly urgent in the space of a heartbeat. Thrawn’s erection had not abated in the slightest while they talked, and he could feel the growing heat of Eli’s cock as it stiffened against his leg.

In one quick motion, Thrawn hoisted Eli up off the floor, his commander’s arms tightening around his neck. Thrawn deposited him onto the edge of the desk, lowering him onto his back without ever breaking away from their kiss, and Eli’s legs wrapped around his hips.

Eli moaned, his head dropping back onto the desk as Thrawn thrust against him, and Thrawn buried his face in his commander’s neck, burrowing under Eli’s collar to lick and suck at the smooth, lightly salty skin. Losing himself in Eli’s taste, feeling Eli’s hips undulating against him, Thrawn tugged Eli’s belt and uniform tunic open, pushing up the tight undershirt and then reaching down to unfasten his commander’s pants, eager to taste more of him.

“Thrawn- Thrawn, wait,” Eli panted, one hand cupping Thrawn’s cheek and his body suddenly tense.

Thrawn looked up from where he’d been pressing nipping kisses down Eli’s bared chest and nuzzled into Eli’s palm instead. “Is something wrong?”

“No, I just- I haven’t washed since I showered last night,” Eli said, a blush brightening his flushed cheeks even further.

“I do not care,” Thrawn murmured, tilting his head to mouth at his commander’s hand, running his bottom lip up Eli’s thumb, licking at the sensitive pad and feeling the fine ridges and grooves of Eli’s skin against his tongue.

“Well I do,” Eli said with a laugh, propping himself up on his elbows and leaning forward with a grin to plant a quick kiss on Thrawn’s lips, his face still glowing with excess heat. “But, uh… we could maybe bring that lube of yours into the shower with us,” he added, biting his lip, one corner of his mouth remaining quirked up in an endearingly crooked smile.

“We could indeed,” Thrawn murmured, kissing him back, his commander all but melting beneath him, and a soft hum of pleasure welled up in the back of Thrawn’s throat.

As much as he wanted to taste Eli then and there, Eli was obviously uncomfortable with that at the moment. His idea was a most attractive one, in any case. Thrawn had been very much looking forward to having his commander writhing on him again, wonderfully tight and hot around his cock, and he pushed himself upright, offering a hand to pull Eli up too.

“I shall join you momentarily, then,” Thrawn said as Eli hopped off the desk, and Eli grinned at him again before heading to the refresher.

 

By the time Thrawn joined Eli in the shower, the hot water was already steaming up the air in the refresher. He had tried to take his time undressing and fetching the personal lubricant from his bedside table to give Eli the chance to wash in private, having learned during their first shower together that his commander was shy about such things.

Sure enough, after giving him a warm smile and a kiss, Eli turned away to face the wall as Thrawn quickly soaped himself up and rinsed off. Finished, he slid his arms around Eli from behind, pulling his commander close and leaning down to mouth at his neck, licking the water from his skin.

“Mmm… all done?” Eli asked, hands slipping back to lightly grip the outside of Thrawn’s thighs, and Thrawn could hear the smile in his voice.

“Yes,” Thrawn murmured, tilting his head to bite gently at Eli’s neck, just under his jaw. Even in the warmth of the shower, Thrawn could see faint pulses of heat thrumming under the skin there in time with Eli’s heartbeat. 

Eli tilted his head back against Thrawn’s shoulder with a soft gasp as Thrawn slipped his hands down his commander’s stomach and over the lines of Eli’s hips, sliding over the wet skin until his fingers encountered the slightly coarse, curled hair just above his cock.

Tamping down on his own impatience in favour of exploring Eli, of pleasuring him thoroughly, Thrawn teased him, touching him only lightly as he slowly ground his erection up against Eli from behind and the hot water poured down them both. Eli’s cock filled rapidly under the caress of Thrawn’s fingertips, swelling and thickening along with the soft, building hums of pleasure Thrawn felt as much as heard vibrating through his commander’s bared throat.

Thrawn finally removed his hand to a quiet sound of dismay from Eli, and reached up to aim the spray of the shower onto the wall next to them before he sank to his knees, trailing his lips and tongue down Eli’s leanly muscled back as he went. Leaning down a little, he nipped at the back of Eli’s thigh, drawing another, sharper gasp from his commander.

“Bend over,” he said, and as Eli did so, leaning forward against the wall of the shower with a little whimper, Thrawn slid his hands up to spread Eli open in front of him. Eli groaned and trembled under Thrawn’s hands, spreading his feet wider and bending further as Thrawn leaned in and lightly ran his tongue up over the tight pucker of Eli’s hole. 

Listening to Eli’s moans, Thrawn licked into him, soft at first and gradually increasing the pressure; alternating between circling his tongue over Eli’s entrance and pressing it inside him, not stopping until Eli’s legs were shaking.

“Turn around,” Thrawn murmured, his voice low and hoarse, his cock achingly hard and throbbing with want and need between his thighs.

Eli did, straightening up and turning to look down at Thrawn, mouth open as he panted, his cheeks bright and his eyes dark pools of desire. His cock was jutting out in front of him, hard and flushed a deep red, and it twitched as Thrawn gazed up at him, sliding both hands up his thighs. The clean, fresh scent of him was overpowering and Thrawn finally closed his lips around the swollen head of Eli’s cock the way he’d been wanting to do all day, drawing him deeper and unable to help the moan of pleasure that welled up in his throat as Eli slid in along his tongue. 

With Eli’s stiff heat filling his mouth, Thrawn reached blindly for the small bottle he’d left on the floor of the shower and then shifted, getting both arms under Eli’s legs. He worked them up over his shoulders, gradually taking all of Eli’s weight as his commander leaned back against the wall with a breathless laugh that turned into a groan when Thrawn sucked harder at the cock still in his mouth.

Thrawn quickly lubricated his fingers, spilling excess gel over his hand in his haste; then discarded the bottle once more and ran his fingers over Eli’s entrance. Eli groaned again, hips shifting on Thrawn’s shoulders and his cock twitching against Thrawn’s tongue, and Thrawn kept him pinned firmly against the wall as he slipped a finger into Ei’s tight hole. 

Working him open with two fingers and then three, Thrawn slowly curled them forward to find and stroke the small structure inside him. As he had the first time, Eli shuddered, gasping when Thrawn rubbed his fingertips across it with the barest hint of pressure, cock twitching again at the touch and almost immediately covering Thrawn’s tongue with the sticky sweet taste of his precome. 

Thrawn continued, sucking in time with the movement of his fingers, increasing his pace gradually until Eli was nearly writhing on his shoulders, hands clenched tightly in his hair, and Thrawn thought he could nearly come like this himself; untouched; Eli’s cock hard and leaking in his mouth, his ears filled with the sounds of his commander gasping and moaning as Thrawn fingered him faster.

Gods, Thrawn- I need- fuck me, Thrawn, please, I wanna feel you,” Eli wailed between panting breaths, his thighs tightening and his voice desperate.

As Eli’s words sank in, Thrawn belatedly remembered the entire point of the exercise had been to get Eli ready to take him, and his neglected cock throbbed insistently between his legs at the reminder. Pulling his fingers out of Eli and his mouth off Eli’s cock, Thrawn reached down to lubricate himself thoroughly, glad of the excess gel he’d spilled on his hand earlier. 

His knees protesting slightly after the hard floor of the shower, Thrawn got Eli’s legs hooked over his elbows instead and then pushed to his feet in one steady movement, arms wrapped tightly around his commander’s narrow hips. Eli yelped, his arms tightening around Thrawn’s neck as he slid up the smooth wall of the shower.

“Are you… I’m not too heavy?” he asked, still panting.

“No,” Thrawn answered, his voice unsteady from desire rather than exertion as he reached down with one hand to grip his own cock while keeping Eli pressed firmly against the wall. “Are you comfortable like this?”

Eli nodded enthusiastically and Thrawn lined himself up by feel alone, groaning as the sensitive head of his cock rubbed over Eli’s entrance.

Yes- there- right there,” Eli gasped, then whimpered as Thrawn thrust up, letting Eli sink a little lower and down onto his cock at the same time, a moan falling from his own lips as Eli’s slick heat enveloped him.

Eli’s mouth found his in a needy, breathless kiss as Thrawn let go of himself to get a firm grip on his commander’s waist with both hands. Eli felt almost impossibly tight around him, even open and ready, and Thrawn slowly sank deeper inside him with another groan, Eli panting yesyesyes against his lips as he did, until he was as deep as he could get in this position.

As Thrawn started thrusting in earnest, Eli’s head fell back and he let out a long, continuous moan, the pitch rising and dropping as he was jolted up and down on Thrawn’s cock. Thrawn buried his face back in Eli’s neck, biting and sucking, keeping just enough presence of mind to ensure he kept his mouth well below the neckline of Eli’s uniform collar. 

Eli’s hand dropped down off Thrawn’s neck, his knuckles grazing over Thrawn’s skin as he pumped his own cock hard and fast between them. Thrawn groaned, sinking his teeth into the flesh of his commander’s shoulder, maybe too hard but Eli didn’t seem to mind, his gasping, semi-coherent moans filling Thrawn’s ears and urging him on.

“Oh fuck, yes- harder, harder- please… yes- yes- Thrawn- fuck-”

Thrawn kept pounding up into his commander with a growl of effort, as hard as he could, and then Eli was clenching around him, crying out and shaking in his arms; and the sound of his own name ripping raw and wild from Eli’s throat while Eli came on his cock was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard. 

“Eli-” Thrawn gasped, his own orgasm starting to coil deep within him as he continued thrusting, Eli’s passage still squeezing, spasming around his cock; and Eli was murmuring, whimpering in his ear— 

Yes, yes, come in me Thrawn, please, come for me-” 

Only a few more desperate, uncoordinated thrusts; and then Thrawn shuddered, white-hot release crashing through him as he came with one last hard jerk of his hips, his cock pulsing out inside Eli’s tight heat as the muscles of his core twitched and clenched uncontrollably.

Eli’s chest was heaving against his own, one hand still trapped between them, and Thrawn realized he had pinned his commander even harder to the wall in the throes of pleasure. Still trying to catch his breath, legs suddenly shaky, Thrawn took some of his weight off Eli, easing carefully out of him and lowering him to the floor, giving him time to get his legs under him again.

Eli covered Thrawn’s mouth with his in a breathless kiss, and Thrawn held him close, tremors still shaking them both. Running his hands up Eli’s arms, Thrawn realized his commander’s skin was somehow… rough, entirely covered in tiny bumps that had not been there before, and he pulled back from the kiss, sudden concern piercing through the post-coital haze of bliss.

“Are you well, Eli?” he asked, searching the slightly glazed-looking brown eyes.

Eli looked slightly confused. “Yes, why wouldn’t I be? That was… that was incredible.”

“Your skin is… it seems to be reacting to something. Do you need to go to the medbay?”

Eli stared at him in confusion for another brief moment and then his expression changed, shoulders shaking and lips twitching in what Thrawn recognized as barely suppressed laughter. “No, that’s- those are just goosebumps. Chiss don’t get those?”

Relaxing at Eli’s lack of concern, Thrawn ran his fingers lightly back and forth over Eli’s skin, noticing the hairs on his arms seemed to be somewhat raised as well. “We do not. What is their purpose in humans?”

Eli shrugged, and Thrawn saw him shiver a little. “Sometimes we get them from being touched, but usually it’s just a reaction to being cold.”

Mentally reprimanding himself for forgetting that Eli had been up against the wet wall and not physically exerting himself to the same extent that he had been, Thrawn reached up to return the showerhead to its proper position, and Eli sighed as the water hit him again.

Thrawn drew him into another tight embrace, making sure he was still getting the brunt of the hot shower. “Is this better?”

“Mm-hm,” came the contented-sunding hum as Eli snuggled in to rest his head on Thrawn’s shoulder, and they just stood there for a time, holding each other under the warm spray of water.

 

Once Eli had warmed up and they had both washed themselves off again, they finally shut the water off and got out of the shower to towel dry. Eli sighed as he picked up his underclothes from the floor, and Thrawn spoke up before he could put them back on.

“You are more than welcome to stay here for the night, Eli,” he offered slightly hesitantly, unsure why he should be so nervous at making such a simple offer; a small part of him worried that he had perhaps misinterpreted his commander’s sigh. 

Eli paused, meeting Thrawn’s eyes. “Really? I… but what about tomorrow? If someone sees me leave in the morning…”

“I will be awake well before the morning shift change. It would be a simple matter to rouse you as well and to check the visual feed of the corridor in front of my quarters before you depart.” Eli was looking at him seriously and Thrawn’s stomach tightened with a trickle of anxiety. Perhaps he had over-stepped— 

“I’d love to,” Eli said softly, and Thrawn’s tension eased instantly. 

Eli dropped his clothing to the floor again as Thrawn reached out to take his hand, and they made their way to the bedroom naked, crawling under the covers together. 

Lying on his back with Eli’s head on his chest and one arm across his stomach, Thrawn idly ran his fingers through his commander’s damp hair, turning his head to press a gentle kiss to Eli’s forehead. Eli hummed, shifting, his arm tightening briefly around Thrawn’s waist.

“Wait, how do you have a video feed of your door?” Eli asked a moment later, his voice thick and sleepy.

“I installed it after taking command of the Chimaera,” Thrawn answered. “It seemed a sensible precaution against potential infiltration or assassination attempts.”

“That makes sense,” Eli mumbled, his words turning into a deep yawn. “I’m glad you did… I don’t know if I could handle it if something happened to you.”

Thrawn’s fingers stilled in Eli’s hair as his throat tightened with emotion, but Eli did not appear to notice, his arm limp and his breathing already taking on the slow steadiness of sleep. Thrawn resumed lightly stroking Eli’s hair, unable to find sleep himself. 

Despite his fatigue and a bone-deep feeling of contentment, he still felt oddly restless. The hour was a little earlier than the time he usually retired for the night— but Thrawn had absolutely no desire to extricate himself from under Eli’s arm in order to get up and continue working, and so he just stayed there, simply enjoying Eli’s presence; his scent, the feel of his warm body, the soft sounds he made in his sleep; laying awake for a long time but eventually drifting into unconsciousness as well.

 

Chapter Text

… Eli drifted slowly, slowly up, out of sleep… disappearing fragments of dreams mingling with vague impressions… 

… there was warmth, and there was movement… and Eli shifted but didn’t fully wake, not yet… 

… he was too comfortable, and some part of him knew it was still too early… much too early, but… 

… there was movement, and there was warmth… it was soft and wet and… 

nice, and Eli shifted again, humming, drawn further from sleep… 

… until he surfaced gently into the waking world.

His mind was still fuzzy, his eyes still closed as his brain slowly processed sensations; the rustling of fabric and a soft warm pressure moving along his skin.

His bare skin, and it felt good, and Eli’s eyes finally fluttered open, a quiet, humming moan drifting from his lips.

As he looked down to see his bare stomach bathed in a red glow in the darkness, Eli simultaneously remembered where he was — in Thrawn’s bed — and realized that warm pressure on his skin was a mouth — Thrawn’s mouth — and then he moaned again, louder, as that mouth closed over his cock, hot and wet, and drew him in. 

“Mmh- stars, Thrawn-” Eli croaked, then cleared his throat, trying to rid his voice of the hoarseness of sleep. “I- what… mmmf…” He trailed off into another short, breathy moan, his sleep-addled mind still trying to make sense of the unexpected sensation of pleasure that was sliding up and down his cock— his stiff cock, and somehow he’d only just noticed that part.

There was a soft slurping sound that sent a pleasant tingle through his core and that wet warmth left him, red eyes turning up towards him in the darkness. 

“Do you not like it?” Thrawn murmured, his breath whispering over the head of Eli’s cock as he spoke, and then his tongue flickered lightly over the tip and pulled a whimper from Eli’s throat.

“Kriff, yes, I do… I just… wasn’t expecting- ahhh-” Eli trailed off again as he was enveloped in the heat of Thrawn’s mouth once more, his admiral’s lips sliding right down to the base of his shaft and then back up again, tongue swirling slick over his cockhead.

Letting his eyes drift shut again and relaxing back down into his pillow — no, Thrawn’s pillow, he remembered with a smile — Eli lost himself in the sounds and the sensations as Thrawn slowly worked his cock, letting out the occasional muffled hum of pleasure around him. Eli opened his legs wider with a low groan when Thrawn moved to tongue at his balls for awhile instead, cupping and licking and sucking, one hand lightly rubbing his spit-slick cock and the other gently squeezing his thigh.

Thrawn didn’t seem interested in speeding up as he returned his attentions to Eli’s cock again; hot, wet mouth moving up and down in slow, almost lazy movements, and Eli wasn’t complaining, reveling in the oh-so-gradual build up of tension inside him, his breath coming in sleepy huffs and quiet moans. He was still too dopey from sleep to feel any kind of urgency, and the whole thing felt distinctly dreamlike, a never-ending wash of steadily growing pleasure.

Despite Thrawn never speeding up, not as far as he could tell, Eli still gradually built higher and higher under that talented mouth and tongue; until his blood was thrumming through his veins, his hips moving of their own accord under Thrawn, his whole torso undulating in drawn-out, sinuous movements in time with Thrawn’s slow, steady rhythm. He was panting now, too, he realized; soft gasps of breath, though he hadn’t noticed when that had started. His hands were clenching and releasing in the sheets while he squirmed, whimpering Thrawn’s name and murmuring little wordless sounds of need as he inched almost imperceptibly closer to orgasm on every sucking stroke; and still Thrawn kept his exquisitely torturous pace until Eli was nearly sobbing with pleasure and need.

He could almost believe that Thrawn was going to keep him teetering there on the brink forever, writhing and wanting; and then Thrawn hummed again as he sucked Eli down, a pleased sound; and the vibrations seemed to shiver through him from head to toe, nudging him over the edge. Eli shuddered, nearly convulsing on the bed as he came with a gasp, pulsing out into his admiral’s mouth; Thrawn’s tongue still licking and caressing and drawing out the orgasm that finally crashed through him, his tension cresting in intense, rolling waves of pleasure that felt like they would wash him away with them. 

Thrawn kept sucking him all the way through it, his head riding the motions of Eli’s bucking hips. He finally stopped and slowly, slowly pulled off only once Eli had twitched and quivered his way through the aftershocks. While he lay there panting for breath, slightly stunned, Thrawn crawled up the bed beside him and nuzzled into his neck, pressing himself up against Eli’s side. Eli could feel Thrawn’s cock against his hip, cockhead moving slick against his skin as Thrawn stroked himself, mouthing harder at Eli’s neck and making little urgent noises in the back of his throat.

Turning onto his side, head still spinning and fuzzy, Eli reached down to cup Thrawn’s balls in one hand and buried his face into his admiral’s shoulder in turn, licking and nipping and sucking. Thrawn groaned, his breath hot on Eli’s neck and his wrist sliding across Eli’s forearm as he jerked himself off hard and fast, his cock rubbing hot and wet against Eli’s stomach. His balls were already drawn up tight, round and firm in Eli’s hand; and in no time at all, Eli felt him suddenly spasm with a muffled grunt. A whimper escaped Eli’s lips as Thrawn came on him, taut body jerking against him in the dark and hard cock spurting out over his skin, the slick heat coating his belly and running down to soak into the sheet under him.

Once Thrawn’s hand finally stilled, Eli slipped his over Thrawn’s hip and snuggled right up against him, smearing the sticky mess between them and not caring one bit. It was a pretty good bet Thrawn didn’t mind either, given that he merely tugged his hand out from between them and wrapped his arm tightly around Eli’s back.

“Well. Good morning,” Eli finally said, his slightly breathless chuckle muffled into Thrawn’s shoulder. He pulled back to rest his forehead against Thrawn’s, finding his admiral looking back at him through half-lidded eyes, the soft smile on his lips barely visible in the dim red glow. “That was… a surprise.”

“A pleasant one?” Thrawn murmured.

“I’d say so, yeah,” Eli answered. His grin turned into a yawn instead and he immediately ducked his head, blushing. “Sorry, I’m not used to being up so early… What time is it anyway?”

“Early,” Thrawn said, his voice muffled as he nuzzled back into Eli’s neck again, nibbling just under his ear.

Eli snorted out a giggle, squirming. “Aah- quit it, that tickles!”

“Apologies,” came the murmured reply as Thrawn obligingly shifted and started mouthing at Eli’s collarbone instead, arm still wrapped around him and one leg snaking in between his.

Eli shook his head with a slightly bemused smile, settling down again as Thrawn’s mouth wandered across the top of his chest and over to his shoulder, licking and sucking gently at his skin. He realized he never would have expected the normally reserved Chiss to be so… to be such a cuddler. 

It was a pretty nice thing to have been wrong about, really, and Eli just relaxed for awhile, drifting in semi-wakefulness; enjoying the closeness and the feeling of Thrawn wrapped around him practically from head to toe.

Eventually though, he started getting restless — both from being a little nervous about not actually knowing what time it was, as well as from a different kind of need that was starting to make itself known rather urgently — and he finally pushed himself up to one elbow.

“I’ll be right back,” he said, planting a kiss on Thrawn’s cheek. “‘Fresher.”

Thrawn made a quietly disgruntled sound but removed his arm. Eli extricated his limbs one by one and then hopped out of bed, fumbling his way to the door and over to the ‘fresher. When he was done, he cleaned himself up a little too, blushing to himself at the realization that he was definitely going to need another shower before starting his shift this morning. 

After getting a drink of water and gathering up yesterday’s clothes from the floor, Eli dug out his datapad to check the time as he headed back to Thrawn’s bedroom. It was just barely past 0400h. No wonder he was still so damn sleepy, even if he had gone to bed earlier than usual last night.

Thrawn’s red gaze followed him back in, and Eli dropped his clothes in a heap in the corner before setting an alarm for 0530h. That would be early enough for him to sneak back to his own quarters while the corridors were still quiet, as well as leaving him plenty of time to get ready and hit the mess for some breakfast before his shift started. He left his datapad on the bedside table, another huge yawn cracking his jaw as he crawled back into bed next to Thrawn.

“You know, you didn’t have to wake me up quite so early,” he complained good-naturedly, smiling to take any sting out of his words, and Thrawn just hummed in reply, rolling over and wrapping a long arm around him once more. Eli snuggled in with Thrawn spooned up behind him this time, grimacing briefly and then wriggling around until he’d shuffled them away from the now-cold sticky patch where they’d been lying before.

Sighing happily, Eli relaxed and closed his eyes again, twining their fingers together and feeling Thrawn’s chest moving against his back with the admiral’s deep, steady breathing. Thrawn’s mouth found his neck again, soft and gentle, and Eli drifted off again with a smile on his lips and Thrawn’s hand in his.

 

Eli woke up for the second time with his alarm, feeling much more rested. He shut it off and rolled over, flinging his arm across Thrawn’s stomach. Thrawn was already awake — or maybe still awake, if his sleeping patterns were the same as they’d been during their Academy days on Coruscant — propped up a little on his pillow, his face illuminated by the datapad in his hand. He was still naked, but his skin was clean and his hair damp. He must have gotten up and showered while Eli was sleeping.

“Good morning, Eli,” Thrawn said, slipping an arm around Eli’s shoulders and pressing a kiss to his forehead.

“Mm… mornin’,” Eli answered, snuggling in closer; then smirked and added, “Again.”

Thrawn tensed under him, just a smidge, and Eli shifted to look up at him questioningly.

“Eli, I hope my actions earlier were not… presumptuous,” Thrawn said, setting his datapad aside. Eli couldn’t see his expression in the dark room without the light from the screen, but he sounded concerned. “If that was inappropriate of me, I apologize.” 

Eli smiled, finding Thrawn’s hand by feel and taking it in his. “No, that was definitely the nicest way I’ve ever been woken up, I gotta say.” 

Thrawn relaxed, and Eli felt his admiral’s lips brush over his forehead again. 

“Just… y’know, maybe not so early next time,” Eli added with a laugh; then blushed as he realized exactly what he’d said. “I mean- if there is- not that you have to, again, or anything,” he stammered, and Thrawn squeezed his hand reassuringly. 

“I can assure you, I thoroughly enjoyed it as well,” he said, and there was something low and heated threading through his tone that sent a shiver down Eli’s spine and made his cock give a hopeful little twitch of interest.

There definitely wasn’t time for another round though, so Eli ignored it and just lay there entwined with Thrawn for a few moments more. His head rising and falling gently with his admiral’s breathing, he could hear Thrawn’s heartbeat thumping strong and steady in his chest, and Eli’s stomach did a little flip as the thought floated through his mind that he could really, really get used to this.

“Guess I better get moving before it gets any later,” Eli finally mumbled with a sigh.

“Indeed,” Thrawn said, his arm tightening briefly around Eli’s shoulders before letting go, and Eli reluctantly sat up and climbed out of bed.

Thrawn toggled the lights on and pulled out some clean clothes to start getting dressed. Eli grimaced at his own clothes briefly; then tugged his pants on, doing them up with a little extra care and stuffing his underwear into one pocket. Just because he needed a shower anyway didn’t mean he really wanted to put them back on dirty.

Unsurprisingly, Thrawn finished dressing first, and Eli sat down on the bed to tug his boots on before following the admiral out into the main room of his quarters. He had already pulled up the secret hallway feed on his desk monitor, and the corridor was deserted.

“Well… I should probably go, then,” Eli said, reluctant to just leave without a proper goodbye but feeling suddenly awkward now that they were both back in uniform and not far from returning to ‘sir’ and ‘Commander Vanto’ for the rest of the day.

“Do not forget these,” Thrawn said, handing Eli his gloves. 

“Oh, right. Thanks.” Eli blushed; he’d completely forgotten he’d left them there last night. At least one of them was paying attention.

As Eli fumbled his gloves on, Thrawn came ‘round the desk to join him. He looked up again to see a tiny, knowing smirk on his admiral’s face, and then blushed harder as Thrawn’s hands slipped around to rest on his lower back and pulled him close.

“Will I see you tonight, Eli?” Thrawn murmured, putting just a hint of emphasis on his name.

Eli grinned, rising up onto his tiptoes to meet Thrawn’s lips with his in a light kiss. “It’s a date.”

Thrawn smiled back, that private, intimate smile Eli already loved seeing on him; and then they both let go again. The hallway was still clear, so Eli finally slipped out and went next door to his own quarters.

After showering and changing into a clean set of clothes, Eli just stood in front of his ‘fresher mirror for a minute. A moment of concentration; of shifting mental gears; and then the broad grin he’d been wearing was replaced with his usual mild, quietly attentive expression. He’d had a lot of practice during his years with the Imperial Navy in keeping that look plastered on his face regardless of how he was actually feeling, and it was definitely coming in handy lately. It wouldn’t really do for him to suddenly be in a suspiciously good mood almost every morning. People would start to wonder what had changed.

Once he was satisfied that both his face and his mind were firmly back in Commander Vanto, aide to Admiral Thrawn mode, he straightened his tunic and gave himself a brisk nod in the mirror. 

Snagging his datapad on his way to the door, Eli headed out to get some breakfast, his mind already on that data Thrawn had sent him yesterday. There were a few other files he really needed to cross-reference that with, to start… hopefully he’d be able to make some time for it today, even with the Fleet’s continued training maneuvers. Somehow he doubted he’d end up actually working late this evening. Not on data, anyway.

A small smile crossed Eli’s face before he caught himself. He was already looking forward to tonight.

 

Chapter Text

Thrawn frowned at his desk monitor, mentally chastising himself for letting his mind wander again and allowing anticipation to distract him simply because Eli would be arriving soon. He should have already finished going through the reports for the evening, but it had been a long day already, and the headache now nagging at his temples was not making it any easier to concentrate.

Fortunately, today had not been quite so busy as the previous day. With the Ninety-Sixth now on patrol duty, officers’ schedules were not as consistent as they had been during the three weeks of training maneuvers. Those had been completed to Thrawn’s satisfaction just over one standard week ago, and the Chimaera had set out along with the rest of his task force to patrol the smaller hyperlanes in the Thanium sector for the next month; barring any special orders from Headquarters. 

It had been fairly quiet thus far, and though nothing of particularly great import had happened yesterday, the day had run long and it had been much later than usual before Thrawn and Eli had been able to go off-duty. Eli had been quite tired and Thrawn could not ignore the veritable mountain of work left for him to do, so after a quiet meal together in the nearly empty mess hall, they had both retired to their own quarters. As was always the case when Eli did not spend the night, Thrawn had missed his company; had missed holding him as they fell asleep and waking up next to him in the early hours of the morning; had missed his taste and the feel of his skin. And one’s own hand was always a rather inadequate replacement for a lover’s touch.

But it had been the responsible choice. Despite continuing to work in his quarters for several hours after parting ways with Eli, Thrawn had still not been able to finish everything before conceding that even he needed to sleep before it got any later. He already dealt with yesterday’s unfinished tasks tonight, but he did not want to leave today’s remainders for tomorrow yet again, and he was starting to get frustrated with his inability to stay focused. 

Repeatedly interrupting his work to check the time would not bring his commander here sooner, and more importantly, he had intended to be finished for the day before Eli arrived. Though Eli would not be bothered if he continued working, Thrawn knew he would be much less inclined to do so at that point. His self-discipline became… difficult to maintain in Eli’s presence, particularly in a private setting. 

Despite the time that had passed since they first became intimately involved, Thrawn still felt just as enamored with Eli as he had at the very beginning. He did not believe he had allowed his distraction to affect his performance as Admiral and as commander of the Chimaera, but the mere fact that he still had to monitor himself closely was slightly unsettling. 

He should perhaps have expected as much, however; given the complete absence of romantic or physical relationships in his life for many years until now. Their relationship was certainly not an unpleasant distraction — quite the opposite — but if Thrawn was being honest with himself, it would be something of a relief when the early infatuation stage finally passed and left him in better control of himself once more.

Aside from dealing with his occasional lapses in focus, the past weeks since he and Eli had decided to pursue this course of action together had been exceedingly pleasant. They spent most evenings together in Thrawn’s quarters; and Eli frequently stayed the night, returning to his own quarters while the corridor was deserted before the first of the morning shift changes without incident. There were certainly no indications that any officers or other crewmembers were at all aware of the changed nature of their relationship, and they had both been watchful for such. 

Thrawn, of course, could not fail to notice the signs of interest Eli still exhibited around him on-duty; the faint smiles, the increases to his heart rate and facial heat, the way his pupils dilated and his scent changed slightly when he was aroused. That interest had already been apparent to Thrawn long before they became lovers, a result of his Chiss senses combined with his attention to detail, and his intimate knowledge of Eli had only increased his awareness of his commander’s attraction. Eli was impressively adept at concealing his desires when necessary, however, and the signs were subtle enough that it was highly unlikely they would be noticed by the casual human observer.

Their precautions certainly seemed to be working well, and Thrawn had also given Eli access to his quarters to facilitate matters. Eli only used his code cylinder when there was no one in the corridor to see him, of course; otherwise he still requested entry as he normally would, but it allowed him to enter without being seen whether Thrawn was present or not.

Thrawn smiled. Eli had used that access to surprise him one memorable evening, after Thrawn had insisted on dismissing him for the day while finishing off a particularly long and tedious conference call in his office on the bridge level. Upon returning to his quarters, Thrawn had been greeted first by Eli’s scent and then by the sight of his commander reclining on the bed, naked and hard, leisurely stroking himself with a smirk on his face and a deep blush in his cheeks. 

Closing his eyes for a moment, Thrawn took a deep breath and tried to clear his mind of memories and fantasies, with little success. He looked again at the report on his screen, still entirely unread seventeen minutes after being opened, and finally admitted defeat. It was nearly 2200 hours already; he could come back to these last files in the morning when he was properly rested. He just needed to make a list— 

The door to his quarters hissed open, and a small thrill lurched through Thrawn’s stomach as he looked up to see Eli walking in with a smile, turning to lock the door behind him. 

“Sorry I took so long, I kinda figured you’d need time to finish up anyway,” Eli said, coming over to stand behind him. “How’s it coming?”

Thrawn sat back in his chair as Eli’s hands slid down to rest on his chest. “My work remains unfinished. I will complete it tomorrow morning instead,” he answered, still slightly irritated with himself. 

“Don’t let me get in your way if you need to keep going,” Eli murmured with a light kiss to the top of Thrawn’s head, and Thrawn groaned softly as Eli’s hands moved up to start kneading at his neck and shoulders. “And don’t worry, I’m not reading over your shoulder.”

“I was not concerned that you were,” Thrawn said, already pulling up his calendar to take note of exactly which reports remained to be read and compiled with the rest. 

Typing up his list quickly, he verified it once more before closing down all the files, then leaned his head back against Eli with a quiet groan of relief as his commander’s strong, skilled fingers worked some of the tension from his upper body. Though his lower body had different ideas, the arousal that had already been stirring within him flaring up at the feel of Eli’s hands on his skin and at the familiar scent of him on the air.

“Headache again?” Eli asked softly, his hands gentle but firm as they moved up Thrawn’s neck to the base of his skull.

“Yes,” Thrawn admitted, tilting his head forward to give Eli better access, and Eli brought one hand forward to brace his forehead while the other continued the massage. “But it is only minor.”

“Mmm… well maybe I can help,” Eli murmured, his tone both amused and suggestive. He had undoubtedly noticed the growing erection already pressing up against the fabric of Thrawn’s uniform trousers. 

“I do not doubt that you can,” Thrawn replied with a slight smile, and Eli came around the chair to stand in front of him instead, trailing the fingers of one hand along the back of his shoulders.

Eli leaned down to cover Thrawn’s mouth in a kiss, and Thrawn readily parted his lips for Eli’s tongue to slip in and twine with his own. Opening his knees wider, Thrawn slid his hands around behind Eli’s legs to tug him closer, inhaling Eli’s scent, his breath already coming faster with anticipation and his headache slowly easing further. 

“You have showered recently, Eli,” Thrawn finally murmured with a smile. He did not entirely understand why Eli remained unbothered if Thrawn had not yet had the chance to shower when he was so insistent on having done so himself; but Thrawn did not mind one way or the other, so long as Eli was comfortable.

“Mm-hmm,” came the reply against his lips, and then Eli’s tongue was in his mouth once more. The tension of the day melted away as they kissed, replaced by the much more pleasant tension of growing desire. Thrawn felt Eli’s breath quickening along with his own as the kiss deepened further, quickly becoming more intense; needy on both sides.

Without looking, Eli reached down to remove Thrawn’s belt, then opened his uniform tunic and pushed it aside before swiftly unfastening his trousers as well. Thrawn’s breath hitched slightly as his commander drew out his stiff cock before finally breaking the kiss. Pulling back until their eyes met, a mischievous grin on his lips, Eli held Thrawn’s gaze as he sank to his knees between Thrawn’s open thighs, and Thrawn groaned as Eli’s tongue ran up the underside of his shaft from base to tip.

Eli still did not look away, a smile tugging at the corners of his open mouth as it hovered just off the head of Thrawn’s cock, his wet pink tongue darting out to lick and tease. Thrawn twitched, his cock attempting to jump in his commander’s firm grip as Eli’s tongue was replaced by his lips instead, pressing lightly against the head of Thrawn’s cock and not quite sucking him in.

“I thought I may as well put the time to good use while you finished working,” Eli murmured, the heat of his breath and the movement of his lips against Thrawn’s cockhead as he spoke sending shivers up and down Thrawn’s spine.

“Indeed?” Thrawn managed.

“Mmmm,” Eli hummed against him, and then Thrawn groaned again with pleasure as the wet heat of Eli’s mouth enveloped his cock. 

Moving his hand to Eli’s head, Thrawn twined his fingers gently in the wavy brown hair as Eli worked up and down his hard length, the sensation as well as the wet sucking sounds sending jolts of desire shivering through him until his breath was coming in soft pants. 

Eli pulled off again before long though, his reddened lips and Thrawn’s purpled cock both glistening with saliva as he turned his gaze back up Thrawn’s face once more. 

“I… may have also used the time to get ready in other ways, too, if y’know what I mean,” Eli said, and Thrawn saw his already heightened facial heat increase further in a deep blush.

“Is that so?” Thrawn asked in mild surprise, a small smile spreading over his lips as he slipped his hand from Eli’s hair to caress the line of his jaw instead, the arousal in his core flaring hotter still at the imagined sight of Eli preparing himself… pleasuring himself. He had not done that in advance like this before. Thrawn was always more than pleased to take on the task, but this sent an unexpected thrill of excitement coursing through him nonetheless.

“Uh-huh,” Eli murmured, still blushing as he nuzzled into Thrawn’s palm.

Thrawn’s smile deepened and he sat forward, sliding both hands down Eli’s front and nudging him to his feet. His commander’s erection was obvious, straining out against the front of his uniform trousers. Thrawn had a sudden suspicion based on the position of it under his clothing; a suspicion that solidified into certainty when he slid one hand up the inside of Eli’s thigh to squeeze his cock through his pants.

Eli made a small noise in the back of his throat, his hips swaying forward into Thrawn’s touch. Releasing his grip and lightly stroking Eli’s cock instead, no more than running his hand back and forth over the taut fabric, Thrawn could feel the shape and the hard heat of him even through the thick material.

“You are not wearing underclothes,” Thrawn said with a smirk, and it was a statement rather than a question.

“Well… I didn’t think I’d be wearing them for long anyway,” Eli answered, slightly breathless.

Thrawn bent his head, slipping both hands around to Eli’s backside, pulling him closer and mouthing at his stiff cock over top of his clothing; breathing in his scent as it intensified with his increasing arousal. The pleasantly musky, complicated smell that was uniquely him was always so much stronger here, and Thrawn nuzzled harder into Eli’s crotch, pulling a moan from his commander’s throat, his own cock twitching above his open pants. 

“You wish me to have you right now, Eli?” Thrawn murmured, finally pulling back enough to look up and meet the beautifully dark brown eyes above him, slipping both hands under Eli’s tunic and slowly undoing the fastenings of his trousers. “Right here, perhaps?”

Eli groaned, nodding as Thrawn tugged his pants down just below the curve of his buttocks, his cock more than hard enough to spring out on its own. “Gods, yes.”

Smiling, Thrawn pushed Eli’s tunic up out of the way with one hand, still holding the back of his thigh with the other; then lowered his head once more, humming in pleasure as Eli’s cock filled his mouth, velvety heat sliding in over his tongue until it pushed into the back of his throat.

Keeping his teeth carefully covered, Thrawn sucked hard enough to draw another, deeper groan from Eli’s throat as he slowly pulled his mouth off Eli until his commander’s cock popped back out from between his lips, briefly regretting the loss of Eli’s taste as he did. He loved working Eli to his release like this first, and his own cock leapt again at the mere thought of Eli’s come filling his mouth; but he was also aware of how much more intense Eli’s orgasms were when he came while Thrawn was fucking him instead. It had been some time since they had done that, Thrawn realized; at least a week.

Rising to his feet, he covered Eli’s mouth with his in a long, deep kiss, pressing himself against his commander and rubbing their cocks together with small shifts of his hips. Eli whimpered into his mouth, his hips bucking forward, and Thrawn kissed him harder in response.

“You are certain you are ready?” Thrawn finally asked, breathing hard. “I can fetch the lubrication from—”

Eli didn’t let him finish, cutting him off with another, briefer kiss. “Yes, I’m sure… I want you, now. Here,” he breathed.

Thrawn nipped at his commander’s earlobe, tightening his grip on Eli’s backside. 

“Bend over for me,” he whispered into Eli’s ear, his voice low and husky with desire. He would be lying to himself if he pretended he had never imagined it, bending Eli over his desk like this; and it seemed he had not been the only one to entertain the notion. 

Eli’s breath hitched, the heat of his pulse fluttering rapidly in his neck; and then he turned around to bend down across the desk that came halfway up his thighs, leaning on his elbows with his feet spread as wide as his pants would allow. 

Coating his palm in a generous amount of saliva, Thrawn reached down to lubricate himself with it as well as he could. He was ready to stop immediately if necessary, but hoped Eli had been able to prepare himself thoroughly enough. 

Eli’s breath was already coming rapidly in short, sharp pants as Thrawn stepped in close behind him, pushing his uniform tunic up his back and out of the way. Thrawn rubbed the head of his cock over Eli’s hole, pulling a gasp from Eli’s throat. Eli did feel ready; wet and open, and Thrawn lined himself up, gripping his commander’s bare hip in his other hand and pushing just the head of his cock into Eli’s entrance with a groan.

“Kriff, yes, Thrawn… don’t stop,” Eli moaned, his head dropping down and one hand moving to his own cock.

With another groan, Thrawn slowly pressed forward until he was deep enough to let go of himself and move his hand to Eli’s other hip. A shuddering sigh fell from Eli’s lips, his back arching to meet Thrawn’s thrust. He was certainly well-lubricated, but noticeably tighter than usual, so Thrawn paused, remaining unmoving until he felt Eli relaxing around him. 

“I’m good,” Eli said, his voice slightly muffled and with a distinctly plaintive note to it.

Widening his stance, Thrawn pulled out a little, then rolled his hips forward in a long, slow thrust that pulled a moan from his own throat to mingle with Eli’s. Eli pushed back to meet him until Thrawn could go no deeper, the front of his hips pressed against Eli and his cock enveloped in his commander’s wonderfully tight heat.

Setting a leisurely pace for the moment, Thrawn simply enjoyed the view of his cock disappearing in and out of Eli and the sounds of pleasure that fell from his commander’s lips to mix with his own soft grunts. He could see the muscles in Eli’s lower back flexing as he moved with Thrawn’s thrusts as well as the movement of his arm as he stroked himself; slowly at first, but gradually speeding up. 

Thrawn increased the pace along with him, eventually sliding one hand up Eli’s side and leaning forward until he had one elbow down on the desk and his face buried in Eli’s neck, his other hand keeping its tight hold on Eli’s hip. Eli was panting hard, head resting on his forearm, his increasingly urgent gasps and moans muffled against the desk under him. Still thrusting in long, deep strokes with Eli tight and slippery around him, Thrawn nipped and sucked at Eli’s neck just under his uniform collar, tasting the salty hint of the sweat sheening his skin.

Eli’s tension built rapidly as Thrawn fucked him harder, the undulating movements of his body under Thrawn’s becoming more intense and the movement of his arm getting faster and jerkier. Thrawn’s orgasm was drawing closer as well; he could feel sweat beginning to collect along his own spine under his uniform, and he shifted his feet and hips, adjusting bit by bit until— 

“Oh fuck, yes- right there,” Eli gasped, his back arching almost convulsively as his hips jerked back to meet Thrawn’s thrust. 

Keeping that angle, Thrawn increased his pace further, his thrusts getting shallower as he withdrew less on each one in favour of speed; and Eli let out a keening moan, trembling under him, chest heaving and arm pumping even faster. Thrawn could hear snatches of speech tumbling from Eli’s lips, mainly yes and fuck interspersed with wordless gasps and whimpers that nearly made him lose control entirely.

“Come for me, Eli,” Thrawn growled, his voice strained and hoarse with need, his mouth never leaving Eli’s neck; and Eli shuddered under him, crying out again.

“Yes- yes- Thrawn-”

“Come on me,” Thrawn hissed through teeth clenched tight with the effort of holding back his own orgasm; and the words had barely left his mouth before Eli spasmed against him with a long wail that might have been Thrawn’s name, bucking himself back and forth on Thrawn’s cock as he came.

Thrawn kept fucking Eli through his orgasm for as long as he could; but was rapidly pushed over the edge by Eli clenching around his cock, moaning and shuddering beneath him. His own orgasm ripped through him in white-hot waves of pleasure, his hips still thrusting erratically and Eli’s name tearing from his throat in a gasp as he spilled himself deep inside his commander. 

Panting for breath, feeling Eli’s chest heaving under him and Eli’s legs trembling against his, Thrawn finally levered himself upright, gently rubbing at Eli’s hip. He had been holding onto his commander tightly enough that Eli would likely have small bruises there by morning. Still bent over, Eli hummed quietly, his hips wiggling ever so slightly under Thrawn’s hand, and Thrawn smiled. He had learned fairly early on that Eli enjoyed it when Thrawn left the occasional mark on him, be it from fingers or lips or teeth. 

Eli shivered, a whimpered sigh escaping his lips as Thrawn carefully pulled out; and then he finally straightened up as well and turned around so they were face to face. Eli’s hair and tunic were completely disheveled, his eyes heavy and a thoroughly contented smile on his lips, and Thrawn pulled him close with a pleased smile of his own. Eli leaned into the embrace, his forearms on Thrawn’s chest and his sticky hand held carefully up off Thrawn’s uniform.

“I, uh… may have made kind of a mess on your desk,” Eli said, his still-flushed cheeks reddening further. 

“It is easily washable,” Thrawn said, distracted. Eli’s fingers were coated in come, and precome as well. Thrawn could smell them both on him, and without thinking about it he guided Eli’s hand to his lips. 

Eli’s breath hitched as Thrawn sucked two fingers into his mouth. Eli’s familiar taste immediately exploded on Thrawn’s tongue; first the sharp tang of his come, and behind that, the sweeter hints of the precome he must have spread over his own hand for lubrication. Thrawn hummed in pleasure, suckling on Eli’s fingers until they tasted only of his skin. Finally releasing them, he dragged his tongue up Eli’s palm and up over his other two fingers as well, gradually licking Eli’s hand clean.

“Stars, Thrawn…” Eli breathed, and Thrawn opened his eyes, not remembering when he had closed them. “You… didn’t have to do that.”

“I wanted to, Eli,” Thrawn murmured, still flickering his tongue over Eli’s skin and feeling an inexplicable twinge of disappointment when he realized he’d already gotten it all. 

Eli leaned in and nuzzled against Thrawn’s cheek, mouth finding his and drawing him into a soft yet needy kiss as he twined their fingers together. Thrawn lost himself in Eli’s mouth, Eli’s lips and tongue moving soft and wet against his own. Eli’s taste still lingered in Thrawn’s mouth, his scent strong with sweat and arousal as it always was after he came.

Thrawn couldn’t be sure how much time passed before Eli broke their kiss, and he immediately buried his face into Eli’s neck instead, craving the feel and taste of Eli’s skin on his tongue. 

“Shower and bed?” Eli asked, and Thrawn could feel the vibrations of Eli’s voice against his lips. “I can wipe this up with a spare towel or something.”

“Mmm.” Thrawn held Eli tighter and kept mouthing at him, not wanting to let go long enough to walk to the shower just yet. Eli laughed, squirming in his arms, and Thrawn reluctantly let himself be pushed gently off of Eli’s neck. 

“You better not be leaving any hickeys that high up, Admiral,” Eli said with a grin, his tone teasing. 

His playful grin was infectious, and Thrawn smiled back. “Apologies, Commander,” he replied, leaning in for another kiss before they finally pulled apart and headed for the refresher together.

 

As he so often did, Thrawn awoke the next morning curled around Eli’s back, his erection nestled firmly along the cleft of Eli’s buttocks. It was still too early to wake him, however, even in a pleasant fashion; and Thrawn forced himself to gently extricate his arms and legs from Eli’s before rolling back and sitting up.

Eli mumbled something unintelligible and followed in his sleep, flopping over to sprawl on his back, snoring softly. In the dark room, Thrawn could only see him in the infrared, his form a beautifully complex and gently shifting heatshadow against the cooler bed. 

The warm imprint on the sheet where Eli had been lying a moment ago was already fading, and for a short time, Thrawn just watched Eli sleep; eyes tracing the patterns of the heat emitted by his body. The intensity changed in a noticeable gradient from lower in his extremities to high in his torso and head; and Thrawn could always see more detail in the dark like this as well, the hints of Eli’s features in the heatpatterns of his face and the steady beat of his heart in the heat that pulsed rhythmically in his neck.

Thrawn could also see the increased heat of arousal still radiating off his own groin, and he finally climbed out of bed to verify the hour on his datapad and use the refresher before he gave in to desire and woke Eli too early. 

Eli never minded if Thrawn roused him around 0500 hours, but more than half an hour still remained until then. And as much as Thrawn would prefer to spend that half hour with Eli in his arms before easing his commander slowly awake with gentle touches of lips and tongue and fingers, he needed to use the time to complete yesterday’s work. The time after Eli left for his own quarters and the beginning of their shifts on duty was the slot that Thrawn reserved for his own private research, such as watching for signs of Nightswan’s activities and familiarizing himself with species and cultures native to Imperial Space, and he preferred not to lose that time to regular work when he could avoid it.

Fortunately, Eli was a heavy enough sleeper that the light from Thrawn’s datapad never bothered him, so Thrawn padded back into the bedroom and settled in next to Eli to do his work, hoping he could finish early enough to wake Eli well before he had to depart. 

As it transpired, Eli awoke early on his own. Thrawn was just starting the final report when Eli began stirring beside him, eventually waking up by the time he was halfway through it.

“Good morning, Eli,” Thrawn said, and Eli looked up at him, blinking sleepily.

“Mmph… g’mornin’,” he answered, voice thick and slushy. 

Thrawn resumed his reading, raising his arm out of the way with a smile as Eli wriggled closer, settling in with his head on Thrawn’s chest and his arm across Thrawn’s stomach. He did not say anything further while Thrawn finished, but from the rhythm of his breathing, Thrawn did not think he had gone back to sleep either.

Finally done, Thrawn set his datapad aside with the screen set to stay on so there would be some light for Eli to see by; then shifted down the bed to press a kiss to the top of Eli’s head. Eli hummed quietly, and Thrawn felt his mouth open and then close again. 

“Did you sleep well?” Thrawn asked when Eli did not speak.

Eli murmured an affirmative and then paused, fidgeting, and Thrawn recognized it as a sign that he felt awkward.

“Is there something wrong?” Thrawn prompted, slightly concerned. Nothing of note had happened before they went to sleep last night; not that Thrawn was aware of.

Eli glanced up at him, his face flushed in the dim light; then he quickly cast his eyes down again with a small shrug of his shoulders, chewing on his lower lip.

“No- no, nothing’s wrong, I was just…” Eli paused, fidgeting again, and Thrawn could hear light embarrassment in his tone as he continued haltingly. “Well… I was just wondering if… I was wondering if you knew that you, um… sometimes you suck on my fingers in your sleep.”

The last came out in a rush, and Thrawn felt Eli tense slightly into the silence that followed.

“I… was not aware of that,” Thrawn finally answered, feeling his own face heat with embarrassment. He opened his mouth to continue; then closed it again, unsure what to say. 

Eli looked up at him again, some of the nervousness gone from his posture but the blush still in his neck and cheeks. “It’s not a big deal, I just… wasn’t sure whether you actually knew.”

“I did not. Do I… does this happen often?” Thrawn asked.

Eli shook his head, his hair tickling against Thrawn’s cheek. “No, you don’t do it every night or anything. I mean… not that I’ve noticed, anyway. I just… I woke up earlier to go to the ‘fresher and… well… yeah. You were definitely still asleep though. It’s happened a few times, so…” Eli trailed off with another shrug, and there was another silence.

“I apologize for making you uncomfortable, Eli. I-” Thrawn started; then paused. He had been about to say he would stop doing it, but was unsure how he would actually accomplish that when he had been entirely unaware of what he had been doing in the first place.

“No, no you didn’t. Make me uncomfortable, I mean. That’s not what I meant,” Eli said, and he finally looked back up to meet Thrawn’s eyes with a shy smile. “I really don’t mind it. It… well, it feels kinda nice, actually. And it was really hot when you did it, y’know, yesterday. At your desk.”

Impossible though it seemed, Eli blushed harder, biting his lip again. A sense of relief washed over Thrawn as he finally understood that Eli’s embarrassment was not caused by discomfort or distaste at Thrawn’s actions; he was simply shy about his enjoyment of it.

“I was just wondering about it because, well…” Eli cleared his throat. “You seem to really like, um… y’know, using your mouth a lot. I wondered if maybe it’s just always been a… a thing for you or something.” 

It was Thrawn’s turn to flush harder, though he was not certain whether or not it was visible to Eli’s eyes in the dim light. Despite Eli’s imprecise choice of words, it was fairly obvious what he meant by ‘a thing’; and the truth was that Thrawn had never had this… fixation before. Certainly, he had always enjoyed providing his partners with oral stimulation, but it had never aroused him to quite the same degree as it did with Eli.

“It is perhaps difficult to explain,” he finally said. “It was not ‘a thing for me’, as you put it, in the past. But I have found your taste extremely enjoyable since our first night together on Coruscant. And… I simply like the feel of you in my mouth. Very much, in fact.”

“Really?” Eli asked, his expression self-conscious but pleased.

“Yes. I have wondered if…” Thrawn paused to collect his thoughts; then began again. “Before you, Eli, I had not had a physical relationship or liaison of any kind since joining the Empire. When you and I became sexually involved… given the number of years since I last had any sort of intimate encounter, it is not unreasonable to conclude that our first night together may have had something of a lasting impression on me.”

Eli’s expression was blank for a mere second; then a look of understanding abruptly crossed his face as he made the connection, evidently remembering exactly what had happened that night on Coruscant. 

“Ahh… That does make sense,” Eli said, his tone hesitant. “Is it… is that a bad thing?”

“It is only a hypothesis,” Thrawn answered with a small shrug, taking Eli’s hand in his and bringing it to his lips to brush a kiss over Eli’s fingertips. “It may or may not be related. But if pleasuring you in this manner is something we both enjoy… I cannot see why it would be a bad thing, regardless of the cause,” he continued, holding Eli’s eyes with a slight smile and flicking his tongue along the pad of his commander’s index finger.

Eli’s eyes widened a fraction and his breath caught. “Well… when you put it that way…”

Thrawn’s smile deepened, and Eli’s eyes fluttered closed, the rate of his breathing increasing as Thrawn sucked briefly on his finger before leaning down to kiss him instead. Eli moaned softly as his lips parted for Thrawn’s tongue, his hand slipping around Thrawn’s bare hip. 

Without pulling back from the kiss, Thrawn shifted down the bed and onto his side, pressing himself up against Eli through the bedding that was tangled between them. Even through the fabric, he could feel the heat of Eli’s arousal, and he slipped one knee between Eli’s thighs, grinding against his commander, his cock stiff against Eli’s hip and Eli’s hot and hard against his leg.

Thrawn moved his lips to the corner of Eli’s mouth instead; then trailed suckling kisses along his jaw to his neck.

“Ahh- Thrawn… let me taste you, too,” Eli breathed into Thrawn’s ear before he could move any lower.

A wave of desire strong enough to leave him slightly dizzy washed over him, spreading out from his core in a pulse of heat. The position Eli laughingly referred to as a ‘sixty-nine’ had become a definite favourite of his; and hearing Eli ask for it like that, after their conversation…

Thrawn groaned, biting Eli’s shoulder hard enough to make his commander gasp loudly before shifting to face down the bed instead, pushing the covers out of the way as he went— and the shrill tone of Eli’s alarm pierced the intimate silence just as Thrawn settled down on his side and pressed his lips to Eli’s taut stomach.

“What- no, fuck- damn it,” Eli cursed, twisting away to stretch across the bed and fumble for his datapad to shut off the alarm before dropping down onto his back with an annoyed sigh.

Thrawn knew he should stop; knew they should get dressed so Eli could leave. But there was still plenty of time remaining before they were actually on duty, and at the moment he wanted nothing more than to taste Eli properly again; to feel the waves of heat hit his tongue when Eli spilled out into his mouth. 

Propping himself up on one elbow, Thrawn continued trailing wet kisses down the line of Eli’s hip, breathing in the increasingly powerful scent of Eli’s arousal and idly noting the light marks left by his own fingers the night before.

“Mmm… Thrawn, what’re you… we need to get up,” Eli said, slightly breathless.

“There is time,” Thrawn murmured, moving inwards and running his tongue over the head of Eli’s cock with an appreciative hum.

Eli’s hips twitched up and he let out a soft groan. “But, the shift change…”

“We have the camera,” Thrawn answered, licking him again, his own cock twitching eagerly against his leg. Eli shifted and Thrawn looked over to see his commander watching him, propped up on both elbows with his lips parted and his tongue running over his teeth. 

“If you’re sure,” Eli said with a crooked smirk.

In answer, Thrawn turned his head again and sucked Eli’s stiff cock into his mouth with a groan of desire.

He was definitely sure.

 

Chapter Text

Eli groaned as he fumbled for his datapad with his eyes closed, turning off his alarm and burrowing back into the blankets with a shiver. He was drifting off again when Thrawn’s voice and a hand on his shoulder pulled him unwillingly towards wakefulness.

“Eli.”

He started to answer but it turned into a dry cough instead. Swallowing, Eli winced at the unexpected scratchy pain in his throat and finally cracked his eyes open to peer towards the red glow of Thrawn’s eyes in the darkness.

“I did not wish to disturb your rest early, but I believe you are ill,” Thrawn said, his tone soft, concerned.

Eli felt a cool hand on his cheek, and slowly realized he was sweaty all over despite feeling chilled. 

“Yeah, I’m not feelin’ so hot,” he croaked, pulling the blankets tighter still with another shiver.

“On the contrary, your body temperature has been abnormally elevated for some time.”

Eli couldn’t help chuckling at that, wincing again as it scraped over his sore throat. “It’s an expression. Means I’m not feeling well, no.”

“I will take you to the medbay,” Thrawn said. Eli heard him get out of bed, and a few seconds later the room lights came on.

“No, it’s fine,” Eli said hoarsely, squinting at the bright light and forcing himself to uncurl a little despite the protests of his joints. What felt like every single muscle in his body was filled with a quiet but deep ache. “I’ve just got a fever. I can go over on my own… I should go back to my quarters first anyway.”

Thrawn looked at him appraisingly for a moment, a small furrow in his brow. For a brief moment, Eli found himself hoping Thrawn would insist anyway, despite knowing that the Admiral of the entire kriffing ship escorting him to sickbay because of a mild fever would look… odd, to say the least. Especially at this time of morning.

“Very well,” Thrawn finally said. “But if your condition worsens, you will call for medical assistance.”

It was almost a question, but not quite. 

“Yes, sir,” Eli said, shooting Thrawn a weakly teasing smile. He pushed off the covers and sat up, coughing again as he leaned down to grab his clothes from the floor.

Thrawn left the room while Eli dragged his clothes on as quickly as his achy muscles would let him. He always had hated fevers. The aches and chills; the over-sensitive skin and low, niggling nausea; the tight chest and sore throat. He’d had worse than this before, but he still hated it.

Just as he was tugging his second boot on, Thrawn returned with a cup of water. Eli took it gratefully, swallowing the tepid liquid slowly in small sips. It didn’t help his sore throat much, but it did help the parched, gross feeling in his mouth.

“Thank you,” he murmured, handing the cup back and then leaning forward to rest his head against Thrawn with a sigh.

“You are welcome,” Thrawn replied quietly, his free hand moving to stroke Eli’s hair lightly. “You will keep me informed?” he asked after a minute or two of silence.

“Mm.” Eli murmured an affirmative, letting himself enjoy the comfort of Thrawn’s touch for a moment longer before sitting up again and pushing himself to his feet. 

Slipping his datapad into his pocket with a gaping yawn that was cut short when it thoroughly disagreed with his throat, he followed Thrawn out for the usual hallway cam check. The corridor was empty, as it always was this early; and after getting a goodbye kiss on the forehead, Eli slipped out of his admiral’s quarters and next door to his own, where he set himself another alarm and shakily kicked off his boots again.

Crawling back into bed fully clothed and curling up under the chilly blankets, Eli was asleep again within seconds despite his aches and shivers.

 

“Well, it’s not a terribly high fever, at least,” Dr. Kajit said. “When did the symptoms start?”

“Woke up with them this morning,” Eli answered, watching her scroll through his bloodwork readout as he stiffly shrugged his uniform tunic back on. 

“You didn’t feel sick last night?”

“Nope. Just a little tired maybe, is all,” Eli said, ducking his head under the pretext of fiddling with the fastenings of his tunic and hoping she wouldn’t notice his blush. 

He’d been feeling something last night, but ‘sick’ didn’t come into it. Though he had fallen asleep embarrassingly quickly after Thrawn had finished him off. He barely even remembered the admiral crawling back up the bed to curl up with him.

“Well, congratulations,” Kajit said wryly as she prepared a hypospray. “You’re the latest victim of the flu that’s been going around the Chimaera and I daresay you won’t be the last. The good news is, it’s not a bad one. I’m giving you a light immunobooster and coding you in for two days off-duty. Get plenty of fluids and rest up, and you’ll be fine.”

Eli tilted his head for her to administer the booster. “But—”

“No buts,” the doctor said firmly, raising a stern eyebrow in his direction. “Admiral Thrawn can survive without his aide for two days. If he doesn’t like it, he can take it up with me. The last thing this ship needs is you running around infecting the entire command structure instead of recuperating. Understood, Commander?”

“Understood,” Eli said sheepishly, sliding off the examining table. “Thank you, doctor.”

Pulling out his comlink to give Thrawn the doctor’s verdict, Eli headed towards the turbolift on wobbly legs. He hated to admit it, but going straight back to bed and sleeping for the next two days did sound like a great idea right about now.

 

Doctor Kajit had been right, of course. Two days later, Eli woke up before his usual shift finally feeling back to normal. He’d spent most of the last two days and nights just sleeping. The fever had broken sometime late yesterday morning, fortunately, leaving him a little weak and shaky, but even that seemed to have passed overnight.

And he was positively ravenous, hungry for the first time since supper the night before getting sick. He hadn’t felt like eating at all until now, though around midday yesterday Thrawn had come by with some kind of hot, sweetened tea that had been heaven in a cup after having nothing but water for a day and a half.

Eli smiled as he stepped into the shower. Thrawn had sent him an innocuous message first, ostensibly checking in on his recovery and asking to speak with him briefly when it was convenient — they were always careful about the content of any written messages; and even spoken communications over comms, just in case — and then shown up with the drink not long after Eli had answered, shooing him back into bed and hushing Eli’s protests that Thrawn hadn’t had to do that.

“But… what if someone saw you?” Eli had asked as Thrawn herded him back to bed, still carrying the lidded mug for him.

“Eli, I assure you I ascertained the corridor was empty.”

“Oh, right… but I don’t have a video feed, how will you know when it’s safe to leave?”

“Given that I am leaving this with you,” Thrawn said drily as he set the mug down on the bedside table after Eli climbed back under the covers, “I have no doubt that any who might see me exit your quarters will merely assume I am rudely disturbing your rest with work. As commanding officers are, of course, known to do.”

Eli smiled at that as Thrawn sat next to him. He sipped gratefully at the hot drink while Thrawn updated him on the routine events he’d missed, glad of the company after more than twenty four slightly delirious hours cooped up alone in his quarters. Faro and Hammerly and a few of the other officers had sent him get-well-soon messages, but messages were never quite the same as being around people.

The brief update finished, Thrawn stopped speaking and just gazed at him for a moment before leaning in to give him a not-entirely-chaste kiss.

“You shouldn’t… I don’t wanna get you sick, too,” Eli protested; though admittedly somewhat feebly.

“You were almost certainly contagious prior to becoming symptomatic, Eli. It is highly unlikely that I will contract the illness now if I did not before,” Thrawn murmured, gently cupping Eli’s cheek in one hand and leaning in again.

Eli hadn’t stopped him that time, melting into the kiss and wishing he didn’t still feel quite so drained. Thrawn had finally pulled back with obvious reluctance; and for a moment, the familiar look of undisguised desire in his admiral’s eyes had made Eli wonder if Thrawn was going to take things further.

But just as he was considering whether he actually had the energy for it or not, Thrawn had almost seemed to give himself a little shake and then gotten up, leaving to head back to his office near the bridge.

Eli had been slightly disappointed; then had given himself a stern reminder that he was recovering and Thrawn was on-duty and it really wasn’t the time, and had promptly dozed off again. 

Laughing a little at himself at the memory, Eli pulled his boots on and headed out for some much-needed breakfast with a definite spring in his step. He was actually ridiculously excited to get back on duty today. He felt good, he was finally getting out of his quarters again, and of course he’d be seeing Thrawn during the day, even if it was only in a professional aspect.

At least, it would be for now. Eli was definitely looking forward to spending some quality time with him tonight. 

After breakfast and the usual meeting of the Chimaera’s command staff at the start of the shift, Eli spent most of his morning catching up on administrative work, which only mildly dampened his enthusiasm at being back. 

He hadn’t missed all that much, fortunately. The Ninety-Sixth had set out rimward from the Belderone system just before he’d come down with the flu, tasked with hunting smugglers along the Perlemian Trade Route. So far they had stopped and boarded a few lone freighters and one merchant convoy for spot checks at secondary hyperlane intersections, but they had all cleared inspection without incident.

Thrawn being Thrawn, the admiral had also sent him a handful of semi-recent datafiles and reports concerning shipping and piracy in the area at the morning meeting, with a request that Eli go through them and report back this afternoon with any ‘patterns of note’ he might find. That sort of assignment generally meant Thrawn already had a suspicion there was something in particular to find, but Eli was faster at the actual datawork needed to pinpoint the details. 

Thrawn’s schedule had a couple hours blocked off for a meeting with some bigshot or other back in High Command to start the afternoon, so after breaking for lunch, Eli found himself an unused officer’s workstation up on the bridge and got to work. He wouldn’t have time to do a full analysis, of course; but Thrawn did this sort of thing enough that Eli knew he just wanted a preliminary report to start, and then they’d discuss where Eli should focus his attention from there.

He finished compiling his notes just after Thrawn’s meeting was due to wrap up, and sent the admiral a quick message letting him know the report he’d asked for was ready. Turned out the meeting had finished on schedule, so Eli cleared the terminal and headed over to Thrawn’s office.

The door was already unlocked when he arrived and Thrawn looked up as Eli entered, a small smile flitting across his lips. 

“Commander. It is good to see you well again,” Thrawn said as the door slid shut.

“Thank you, sir. I’m glad to be back on my feet,” Eli replied, not entirely able to hide his own smile as he crossed the room and pulled out his datapad. “I finished going over those files you sent this morning.”

Thrawn tapped at his screen and Eli heard the door lock engage; then the admiral rose to meet him, studying him intently without answering. Eli flushed as Thrawn reached up and lightly brushed his cheek, trying to tamp down on the lurch of interest that twisted through him in response. He really had missed Thrawn’s company. In more ways than one. 

“You are certain you are fully recovered, Eli?” Thrawn finally asked, taking his hand. The bright red eyes were still gazing at him, and he could hear both concern and something a little more heated laced through his admiral’s tone. “I must admit I have been somewhat… anxious.”

“Yes, s- … Yes, I’m fine now,” Eli replied with a nod, a little thrown off. Thrawn normally never acknowledged the private aspect of their relationship while they were on duty. It just kept things… simpler. It was nice though, knowing Thrawn had been worried about him. “Really. I feel a lot better today.” 

“I am glad to hear it,” Thrawn said, his tone deepening.

Eli’s breath hitched, his heart beating faster as Thrawn stepped closer still and bent his head to meet Eli’s lips in a kiss that should have been brief but then wasn’t. 

A soft moan welled up in Eli’s throat at the feel of Thrawn’s lips, at the slide of Thrawn’s tongue moving on his; and he finally broke away before he got any more caught up in it, breathing hard. If his heart had been beating fast before, it was racing now. He knew the door was locked, it wasn’t like anybody could walk in on them; but the knowledge of where they were at the moment, so close to the bridge and…

Clearing his throat and resisting the urge to reach down and adjust himself, Eli tried to get his breathing back under control. 

“Right, so. The, um… the files you sent,” he managed, wresting his eyes away from Thrawn’s burning gaze and onto the list of notes on his datapad. Thrawn still hadn’t released his hand, and Eli could feel the warmth of his grip even through the leather of their gloves.

“Proceed,” Thrawn murmured, pulling Eli with him as he sat down again until Eli was standing between Thrawn and the desk, his legs practically straddling one of Thrawn’s.

With his cheeks feeling like they’d burst into flame if they got any hotter, knowing he should object but not quite able to make himself do so, Eli made a valiant effort to give his report despite Thrawn staring up at him with a tiny smile and raising Eli’s hand to his mouth to start sliding the tips of Eli’s gloved fingers back and forth across his bottom lip.

He made it about three stammering sentences in before looking down and getting trapped in the blazing red eyes gazing back up at him. Without looking away, Thrawn closed his lips over two of Eli’s fingers and drew them into his mouth, and Eli finally trailed off into a breathy sound that was embarrassingly close to a whimper.

Eli already enjoyed Thrawn’s odd fixation far more than he ever would have expected to, and this suddenly brought it to an entirely new level. He could feel the movement of Thrawn’s tongue and the warmth of his mouth, but it was all… muted through the leather; all except the pressure. That was somehow magnified instead, and Eli couldn’t help the quiet groan that left him as Thrawn sucked his fingers deeper and then slowly pulled them back out.

“Stars, Thrawn… I… this isn’t—”

“I have missed you, Eli,” Thrawn murmured, and another whimper escaped Eli’s lips as Thrawn sucked on his fingers again; harder this time. He was still trying to convince himself to finish his sentence that this wasn’t a good idea, when Thrawn’s other hand ran up the inside of his thigh and squeezed his already fully hard cock through his uniform trousers, completely scattering his thoughts. 

Ahh- kriff, Thrawn—” Eli breathed, and Thrawn hummed around his fingers, still sucking as he used both hands to make quick work of Eli’s fly. 

Eli groaned as Thrawn pushed his tunic aside and drew him out, his hips jerking forward as his admiral’s fingers wrapped firmly around his shaft. He barely had time to process how different Thrawn’s hand felt through the glove he was still wearing, before Thrawn bent down, his mouth slipping off Eli’s fingers and onto his throbbing cock instead.

The wet, sucking heat contrasted sharply with the cool, textured feel of the leather, and Eli’s legs just about buckled under him at the paired sensations. Thrawn slid down to the floor on his knees and Eli slumped back, leaning against the edge of the desk and holding onto it with both hands for support. 

Staring down and gasping as Thrawn started sucking his cock with a muffled moan of pleasure, Eli knew they really should not be doing this, but just couldn’t quite bring himself to care. Thrawn still had one hand on Eli’s cock; and as Eli watched, he reached down with the other, not even slowing as he undid his own trousers one-handed to pull himself out as well. 

The sheer thrill and the feel of Thrawn’s hot wet mouth, combined with the sight of the admiral sucking him off while almost frantically pumping his own cock at the same time, had Eli panting for breath and hurtling towards release in no time at all. He managed to keep just enough presence of mind to stay quiet, at least; his chest heaving as he gripped the edge of the desk so hard his fingers ached. 

Thrawn suddenly jerked, his rhythm faltering and his long, low moan vibrating around Eli’s cock; and the realization that Thrawn had just come all over the floor of his office with Eli’s cock in his mouth shoved Eli right over the edge. He managed to jam a fist to his own mouth just in time to muffle his gasps as he came, hard; his legs shaking and his cock pulsing out in the heat of Thrawn’s mouth, Thrawn’s gloved fist tight around the base and tongue moving slick along his shaft drawing out his orgasm until Eli saw stars. 

Stunned, he just stood there for a moment, leaning against Thrawn’s desk and trying to catch his breath with Thrawn still mouthing gently at his spent cock. The oversensitivity finally dragged Eli out of his stupor and he straightened up with a groan, not quite able to form any coherent words just yet.

Thrawn pulled off and looked up, licking his lips with a soft, pleased smile, and sanity finally washed back over Eli like a splash of cold water as he caught sight of the mess on the floor between his boots and all over Thrawn’s glove from jerking himself off. 

“Shit, hang on, I’ll go get you some…” Eli trailed off, awkwardly stuffing himself back into his pants and doing them up as he hurried over to the tiny closet of a ‘fresher to grab a fistful of thin disposable handtowels. The door was locked, yes, but if one of the other officers showed up wanting to speak with Thrawn, they would have to make up some excuse to buy time while they cleaned up before opening the door. 

It was always Thrawn’s prerogative as commander of the ship to make someone wait without having to actually give any reason for it, of course; but Eli couldn’t help being paranoid that it would look suspicious. And in any case, he really didn’t want to find out whether he could keep the blush off his face in that situation.

Thankfully, Eli didn’t have to find that out because they weren’t interrupted while getting themselves presentable again; or while finally going over his report and discussing the areas that merited deeper investigating, either. Since there wasn’t much else he was needed for until the task force arrived at the next hyperlane junction Thrawn had decided to wait at, Eli headed for the bridge to keep sifting through the data. 

Still a little distracted as he walked down the short hallway, Eli nearly jumped out of his skin when he turned the corner and almost ran straight into Karyn Faro coming the other way.

“Woah, heads up, there, Commander,” Faro said with a chuckle.

“Sorry, ma’am,” Eli said, blushing. “Guess I was a little lost in thought.”

“Don’t worry, happens to all of us sometimes. The Admiral working you hard already, I take it?”

Eli nearly choked on his tongue and had to remind himself there was absolutely no way Faro knew what had just happened in Thrawn’s office.

“As usual,” he said, forcing his face into what he hoped was a wry grin.

Faro laughed; then her expression sobered, turning pensieve. “Does he seem himself to you today, Vanto?”

“Uh- well, yes. Why do you ask?” Eli asked, a little thrown off by the sudden change in subject.

“Just between you and me, he was a little touchy yesterday afternoon. Irritable, even.”

“What, Thrawn?” Eli said, surprised. 

“Yeah, I know, it was odd,” Faro said with a small shrug. “Nothing big happened yesterday to put him on edge, that I know about anyway. And he seemed off to me at the meeting this morning as well. You know him better than I do, I thought you might have some insight.”

“I didn’t notice anything. Maybe he was just impatient to get me working again,” Eli ventured with a laugh, holding up his datapad.

“Maybe so,” Faro said with another chuckle. “I won’t keep you from it, then. Glad you’re feeling better, Commander.”

“Thank you, ma’am. So am I,” Eli said, heading onto the bridge as Faro continued towards Thrawn’s office. 

As it happened, the same workstation he’d been at before was still free, so Eli settled in and brought up the files from his ‘pad to keep working. He had trouble focusing, though; unable to stop thinking about the conversation he’d had with Faro, or his and Thrawn’s little… interlude in the admiral’s office.

It was something he’d been semi-consciously avoiding thinking about for awhile now, but he couldn’t keep ignoring the fact that they had really been pushing their luck lately. There’d been a few times that Eli had even caught himself forgetting their relationship had to stay completely secret, he’d been so drawn in to the comfort and the near-daily routine of spending the evening and then the night together.

Come to think of it, he couldn’t quite remember exactly when he’d last slept in his own quarters, before coming down with the flu this week.

And Thrawn, well… Eli hadn’t wanted to think too hard about that either, but Thrawn had been showing a distinct and somewhat surprising lack of caution in recent weeks, starting with no longer worrying about Eli actually leaving before the first morning shift change and culminating in his initiation of this afternoon’s unexpected quickie in the office. 

The attention was hardly unwelcome, but combined with the fact that the admiral had apparently been out of sorts enough to actually let it show yesterday, it had Eli a little worried at how Thrawn was handling things. Hopefully Faro had been the only one to notice and wouldn’t think anything more of it, but… 

Eli sighed. He didn’t regret anything, not even close; but he couldn’t entirely quash the wistful thought that it sure would be nice if they didn’t need to worry about hiding things all the time.

But they did have to, and much as Eli didn’t want to do it, there was no denying it was well past time he talked to Thrawn about them toning things down a little before they went and got themselves caught. 

 

After getting supper and catching up with some of the other officers, Eli made his way to Thrawn’s quarters, feeling more than a little nervous. He’d barely managed to do any work that afternoon, too distracted by figuring out exactly how to bring his concerns up with Thrawn tonight. 

It didn’t help that he was apparently not entirely recovered after all. He’d steadily grown more tired over the course of the day, and was downright exhausted now.

Part of him wanted to just not deal with any of it tonight and go straight to sleep in the comfort of Thrawn’s arms instead, but he wouldn’t be able to sleep well anyway if he tried to ignore it all at this point. And on top of that, Eli knew he really needed the extra rest of sleeping in his own quarters and not having to wake up early to sneak out of Thrawn’s. 

There was nobody else in the corridor at the moment and Thrawn knew he was coming, so Eli took a deep breath and let himself in. The admiral was, unsurprisingly, at his desk working, but he looked up as Eli came in.

“Eli,” Thrawn said warmly, with that quiet, private smile of his. “I will not be much longer.”

“Take your time,” Eli said with a smile of his own, suddenly more relaxed and feeling just a little foolish, wondering why he’d made such a big deal of this in his own mind. Probably the fatigue. “I’m just gonna go lie down for a bit. Still pretty tired.”

“Of course,” Thrawn said, inclining his head in a small nod and turning back to his work.

In the bedroom, Eli didn’t even take off his boots, flopping down onto the bed with a sigh of relief, his feet dangling over the side. It never ceased to amaze him what just a couple days of bed rest and no food did to his stamina. He hadn’t even been on his feet that much, but his legs and back were aching like he’d been doing kriffing endurance training all day.

Eli was drifting in and out of a light doze when Thrawn finished, and he opened his eyes at the sound of the admiral’s footsteps approaching.

“Hey,” Eli said with a smile, pushing himself upright with a grunt of effort until he was sitting on the edge of the bed. 

Thrawn sat down next to him and Eli leaned in for a long, gentle kiss, humming contentedly as his admiral’s arm slipped around him, pulling him closer. 

Stars, he’d missed this. It had only been a couple days, but he’d still missed it.

They eventually, slowly, broke away, and Eli sighed, a renewed tickle of nerves dancing through his stomach as he rested his head on Thrawn’s shoulder. He knew they had to talk; he just… didn’t want to yet.

“What is bothering you, Eli?” Thrawn asked softly after a moment, and Eli huffed a small laugh. He really couldn’t hide anything from Thrawn, even if he tried.

Taking a deep breath and reminding himself for the umpteenth time that Thrawn was rational almost to a fault and wouldn’t take things the wrong way, Eli told him.

Thrawn stiffened a little when Eli explained what Faro had said earlier about his mood the day before, but didn’t interrupt while Eli poured out everything he’d been thinking about all afternoon. From his worries they weren’t being careful enough; to his concern about Thrawn’s sometimes unusual behaviour; to his own mild shame that he didn’t always manage to rein himself in at times when he knew he should, times like this afternoon in the office.

“—and I just… I don’t want to, but… we need to- we need to take a step back, I think,” Eli said, twisting his hands in his lap. “Not stop or anything, just… I don’t know. Things like what we did today, or me sneaking out of here every morning, sometimes even after the shift changes have started… We can’t keep doing that. We’re gonna get caught, or someone’s going to notice something and put two and two together. Hell, Faro already noticed you weren’t yourself with me off sick, and I have no idea if I actually managed to act normally after what we’d just done, and…” 

Eli trailed off, realizing he’d started repeating himself at this point, and shifted a little to look over at Thrawn, who still hadn’t said a word. The admiral was staring straight at the wall, his jaw tight and a frown creasing his forehead; obviously tense, though he hadn’t taken his arm away. Eli twisted on the bed, reaching over to take Thrawn’s other hand in his. 

“Please don’t think I regret any of it,” Eli said softly, his heart in his throat. “I don’t, I—” love you, were the words on the tip of his tongue, but he was too afraid to actually say them. “—I care about you, Thrawn. A lot. You… you know that, right?”

“Yes,” Thrawn replied, finally turning to look at Eli. His expression softened and Eli relaxed a little; then slumped tiredly against Thrawn’s side, suddenly aware of how completely drained he felt. Both emotionally and physically.

“You need to rest, Eli,” Thrawn said, squeezing his hand. “Am I correct in assuming you planned to return to your quarters for the night?”

Eli was on the verge of changing his mind, but… he obviously needed the sleep, and there was no point in making a big deal of talking about being more responsible from here on in if he didn’t actually do it.

“Yeah… I don’t really want to, honestly, but I’m pretty beat,” Eli replied. A sudden fear filtered into his sluggish brain, that he was giving Thrawn entirely the wrong impression by dumping all this on him and then just leaving. “I’d rather stay here with you, I really would. I’m just… so tired, and I’d have to get up early in the morning, and—”

“I understand,” Thrawn said, squeezing Eli’s hand again and standing up. “You are still recovering from your illness and require more sleep than usual. It is the most sensible decision.”

“You’re sure you don’t mind?” Eli asked hesitantly, climbing to his feet and following Thrawn back into the main room.

“I am sure,” Thrawn said, sitting at his desk. “I do not wish to delay your recovery, and I still have unfinished work that should be completed tonight.”

“So… you’re okay with— with everything I said?” Eli pressed. 

Thrawn’s expression was entirely neutral and for once, Eli was having trouble reading him. It was probably just his own paranoia making him nervous. 

“You said nothing that was inaccurate, Eli,” Thrawn replied, pulling up the hallway feed. 

There were a couple night shift officers chatting just a few doors down, and Eli got out his datapad so he could pretend to be finishing up some work as he left. 

“Alright, well, that’s good,” he said, hearing the relief creeping into his tone and mentally giving himself a wry shake of the head. First he spent all afternoon worrying that Thrawn would be hurt, and then he immediately questioned it when Thrawn wasn’t upset. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then,” Eli added, resting a hand lightly on Thrawn’s shoulder and leaning down for a kiss.

Thrawn tilted his head to meet Eli’s lips with his, reaching up to cover Eli’s hand with his own. The moment stretched longer, and Eli heard his admiral draw a sudden yet soft breath, felt Thrawn’s hand tighten briefly on his; and then Thrawn pulled away again. 

“Goodnight, Eli.”

“Goodnight, Thrawn.”

Eli exited Thrawn’s quarters with his face buried in his datapad, glancing up and exchanging a distractedly polite nod with one of the two officers as she passed him in the hallway just as he was opening his own door.

Shucking off his uniform and collapsing onto his bed in his underclothes, Eli dragged the covers over himself and fell immediately into a deep, dreamless sleep.

 

Chapter Text

After Eli left for the night, Thrawn remained seated at his desk for hours, staring unseeing at the screen of his desk monitor long past the time he should have gone to bed. 

Unable to stop running Eli’s words through his mind over and over and thinking back through their interactions over the course of their intimate relationship, starting with the night of their promotions just over eight weeks ago, he eventually came to an inescapable realization.

Eli was wrong.

Not about any of the points he had made or the concerns he had raised; in those, he was entirely correct.

It was the conclusion he had drawn regarding the necessary course of action at this point that was flawed.

Thrawn was thoroughly disappointed in himself that it had taken Eli coming to him like this, exhausted and distressed, for him to finally face the reality that they could not continue as they had been. That he could not continue as he had been.

And the more Thrawn considered his own actions throughout their involvement, the more he found his own behaviour utterly reprehensible. Eli cared for him, trusted him, and Thrawn had… twisted that trust to his own selfish ends. Had taken advantage of it. 

Yesterday, when Eli had been tired and ill, obviously in need of comfort, company and rest, Thrawn had been incapable of sitting with him for ten minutes without finding himself fighting the urge to climb into bed with Eli. Not simply to hold him, but to have him. To taste him. 

Thrawn had controlled himself then, barely; though apparently his continued distraction afterwards had been evident enough for Commander Faro to feel she needed to bring it up with Eli today. 

And now that he had forced himself to really think about it, Thrawn easily remembered numerous instances in which he had not been so restrained. Instances in which Eli had expressed reluctance to pursue sexual acts for entirely valid reasons— and Thrawn had dismissed his commander’s objections with barely a thought, concerned only with sating his own desires. 

Instances such as today in his office, when he had not been able to simply wait until the end of the day despite knowing the risk of their location, and many others before that as well. Starting with the day he had broken his word and accosted Eli in the turbolift shortly after their return from Coruscant.

Time and time again, Thrawn had ignored Eli’s concerns and convinced him to continue, placating him with logical assurances and excuses, knowing full well that Eli trusted his judgement; or using his growing knowledge of Eli’s body to arouse him to the point of no longer wanting to object, skillfully exploiting his physical and emotional responses.

It had been easy for Thrawn to ignore what he had been doing, largely because his own desires had centered around pleasuring Eli. But that did not excuse the fact that he had also been manipulating Eli. 

Had been using him. 

Less disturbing, but still disconcerting, was the manner in which Thrawn’s thinking so often became… clouded when in Eli’s presence. He had first attributed that to the infatuation of a new relationship, but his judgement had been slowly deteriorating over time rather than improving.

Despair settled like a lead weight in Thrawn’s gut as he found himself repeatedly reaching the same conclusion. Eli did not deserve to have his career and his reputation destroyed simply because Thrawn found himself caring less and less about the consequences should their relationship be discovered; because Thrawn was too weak to keep his desires appropriately leashed when Eli was near.

The truth was, Thrawn could not trust himself, and Eli should not either. He already knew he would prove unable to ‘take a step back’ as Eli had suggested, no matter how much he intended to do so; and he could not continue to ignore how deeply this relationship was affecting him, either. How much he had been allowing it to affect his mood and concentration, both on-duty and off.

Most importantly, he could no longer ignore that Eli deserved far, far better than a partner who would abuse his trust as Thrawn had been doing. 

 

Thrawn got no more work done that night or the next morning, and he hardly slept at all. He spent most of the next day sequestered in his office near the bridge, letting Faro take over and assigning Eli tasks that would keep him busy elsewhere. Thrawn could not have handled being around the commander while on duty any more than absolutely necessary, knowing what he had to do that night once their official shift was over.

The day seemed to both drag and race by at lightspeed, and somehow Thrawn suddenly found himself at his desk in his quarters once more, waiting for Eli to arrive after his evening meal. 

Thrawn himself had not been able to stomach more than a few bites of food today, and was feeling the bone-deep fatigue of not enough sleep combined with a lack of energy from poor nourishment. It was too late to change that now, however, and Thrawn had the brief, shameful thought that perhaps being irritable would help him go through with this.

The sound of his door sliding open startled Thrawn out of his self-pitying reverie and he looked up, his stomach lurching unpleasantly with nerves as Eli walked in, looking far more relaxed and rested than he had yesterday at this time.

“Hi,” Eli said, approaching the desk with his usual warm smile, his scent preceding him as it always did. Thrawn’s insides knotted tighter in a confused tangle of emotions and desires, but he pushed them all aside as much as he could manage.

“Eli,” Thrawn said, rising to his feet and clasping his hands tightly behind his back. “I have been considering our conversation last night in greater depth.”

Eli blinked and came to a halt, uncertainty flickering over his features. “Oh. Uh. Okay?”

Thrawn hesitated for a brief moment; then continued, gripping his own hands tightly enough to hurt in an effort to keep his voice steady. “I agree with the concerns you raised, and have reached the conclusion that the best course of action is to end our romantic entanglement now.”

Eli just stared back at Thrawn in disbelief for several long seconds, the blood draining from his face. “What? Thrawn, that’s not- that’s not what I meant!”

“I am aware,” Thrawn said, keeping his voice tightly controlled. “Nonetheless, it is necessary.”

Necessary? ” Eli burst out, flushing deeply, his face and neck flaring with sudden heat. Thrawn just looked at him, not trusting himself to speak. “That doesn’t- I don’t understand, I thought you were… I thought you were happy with this- with us!

“I am sorry,” Thrawn said. “Our relationship cannot continue.”

He would never be able to satisfactorily explain that the problem was he wanted to be with Eli too much. And while Thrawn knew he should at least admit how badly he had taken advantage of Eli’s trust, he could not bring himself to do so, knowing he was already giving his commander ample reason to despise him. 

Eli stared at him for a moment and Thrawn’s heart ached in his chest at the glimmer of tears he could see collecting in his commander’s eyes, at the raw pain and confusion in Eli’s expression. “Thrawn, please, we can talk about this, we can figure something ou—”

“You are dismissed, Commander Vanto,” Thrawn cut him off, keeping his voice cold and flat so it would not shake, so he could force the words out through the tightness squeezing his throat shut.

Eli stiffened as though he had been slapped, his jaw twitching and his chest heaving jerkily, his breathing irregular. His facial heat dropped as he went pale with shock; then intensified sharply once more, and Thrawn’s resolve wavered and nearly shattered as he saw a single tear overflow to run down Eli’s cheek.

Turning on his heel, Eli stormed out without another word and Thrawn was alone in his quarters once more.

His chest so tight he could barely breathe and his throat burning with sorrow, Thrawn sank back down into his chair and dropped his head into his hands, fingers fisting in his hair and the sharp sting of physical pain doing nothing to alleviate the terrible pressure of grief and guilt twisting within him. 

That pressure grew and expanded, filling him until there was room for nothing else, until he thought it would tear him apart; and for the first time in his life, Thrawn found himself wishing that Chiss could cry.

 

Chapter Text

The sound of his alarm dragging him slowly awake, Eli blearily opened his eyes and stared up into the darkness of his room.

It took a second or two before he remembered why he was still so tired and why his eyes were burning like he’d been hit in the face with a turbolaser— and then the memory of last night washed to the surface of his consciousness. 

Eli rolled onto his side and stared at his semi-lit datapad, still blaring away on his bedside table, but couldn’t summon the energy to turn it off and get up. 

Whereas last night he’d been an emotional wreck, torn between wanting to break something, possibly Thrawn’s face; and wanting to just lie down and cry — which he eventually had done, though it hadn’t helped at all — now he just felt numb. The pain was still there, he just… couldn’t process it anymore.

Eli finally reached over and fumbled one-handed at his ‘pad until the alarm shut off; then he bundled himself back up in his blankets and turned over to lose himself in sleep again. A small responsible voice in the back of his mind tried to convince him that at the very least he should really send a message to Thrawn and Faro saying he was sick again, but he didn’t.

The Admiral could just fucking deal with it.

 

Eli had no idea how long he drifted in and out of sleep, but he eventually had to drag himself out of bed to use the ‘fresher. His stomach growled at him insistently, so he drank some water, but otherwise ignored it.

Coming back out of the ‘fresher, he finally noticed the message alert blinking on his datapad, but ignored that too and went back to bed.

 

Hunger was what eventually drove Eli to get up sometime in the early evening. Hunger, and the knowledge that he really did have to pull himself together. If he missed more than just the one day, he’d be expected to report to sickbay again. Kajit would know he wasn’t actually sick, and Eli couldn’t explain what the real problem was, doctor-patient confidentiality or no.

He forced himself to take a shower first, which actually helped. Getting dressed in a fresh uniform also made him feel a little better, and he finally picked up his datapad to read the waiting message, a curl of dread wending its way through his stomach when he saw it was from Faro. Not actually calling in sick that morning hadn’t been the wisest decision he’d ever made— but he hadn’t landed himself in hot water, as it turned out.

Apparently Thrawn had ‘passed on the message’ that Eli had had a minor relapse with the flu. 

The brief, surprised ripple of gratitude was almost immediately overwhelmed by a renewed wave of anger and hurt, and Eli nearly hurled his datapad at the nearest wall.

Grinding his teeth and forcing himself to calm down, he sent Faro a quick reply that he’d gotten some rest and should be back on-duty again tomorrow, remembering just in time to add an apology for not contacting her that morning. 

Firmly pushing Thrawn out of his mind — or trying to, at least — Eli headed to the mess hall to get some supper, hoping he was late enough already that it would be mostly empty. It was fairly quiet, fortunately, and he was able to avoid talking to anyone as he ate, keeping his attention fixed on his datapad.

Despite having been absolutely famished when he sat down to eat, though, he abruptly lost his appetite only halfway through his meal. He finally pushed it away with a sigh, eventually getting up to dump the half-full tray and return to his quarters.

Back in his room, Eli found himself restless; unsurprising after he’d spent the day moping in bed, but annoying anyway. After pacing back and forth, getting more and more agitated as his mind churned pointlessly through everything he’d avoided thinking about all day, he finally went and changed into his gym clothes. He couldn’t really go to the ship’s gym when he was supposed to be recovering from the flu, but he could work out a little here at least.

In the end, he worked himself until his body was completely exhausted, and then kept going; and he finally managed to work through his thoughts a little at the same time. 

No matter how hard he tried, though, he just could not understand why Thrawn had suddenly decided to break things off simply because Eli had pointed out that they needed to take it down a notch before they got themselves busted. 

He also had absolutely no idea how he was going to manage to face Thrawn tomorrow when he didn’t even want to look at the admiral ever again. How he was going to spend the day pretending he wasn’t furious and heartbroken, pretending Thrawn hadn’t suddenly just dumped him without warning or reason.

This is why you don’t get involved with your superior officer… with someone you’re supposed to work in close contact with every kriffing day, a snide little voice whispered in the back of his mind, and Eli… Eli couldn’t argue with it.

Because despite how angry he was with Thrawn, he couldn’t escape the fact that he had never actually stopped to consider how he would deal with this situation. It had never even occurred to him, because he’d never expected Thrawn would do something like this.

The thought crossed his mind then that after all these years, after all this time— maybe he never really knew Thrawn after all. 

Somehow that idea hurt more than anything else up till now, and Eli suddenly couldn’t stop the tears from returning. He had no energy left to fight them, so he just curled up on the floor where he was, crying until his chest ached, until he was wrung out and hollow.

Exhausted and drained, but with his mind feeling clearer than it had all day, Eli showered again and went through his usual bedtime routine before crawling back into bed once more, where he actually, surprisingly, fell asleep.

 

The next day back on duty wasn’t as bad as Eli had feared. As it turned out, he only had to see Thrawn a handful of times over his entire shift, and never once ended up alone with him. Thrawn didn’t reprimand him for yesterday — which was fortunate; Eli was pretty sure nothing in the galaxy could have stopped him from utterly losing his shit if Thrawn had — and in fact, barely spoke to him at all.

The few times Eli did have to actually speak with Thrawn, the admiral was terse, distant and cold. Though Eli hadn’t expected anything different after the other night, it hurt anyway. He knew he probably wasn’t much better either; knew he wasn’t completely able to hide the fact that he was on edge, getting touchy and irritable about the smallest things.

Faro eventually asked if he was okay and Eli brought out his pre-planned excuse— that he was still just tired, that the flu had really hit him harder than he’d realized at first. He had no idea whether she bought it or not, but had trouble caring much either way. 

Thankfully, whether by accident or design, Thrawn assigned Eli a handful of time-consuming but mindless tasks that kept him busy and away from the bridge deck for most of his shift. And sometime during the afternoon, the admiral curtly informed Eli and Faro that he would be in his quarters if needed; then disappeared for the rest of the day. Eli managed to make himself scarce as well, in no fit state to answer questions about Thrawn’s mood again, and was more or less left to his own devices until his shift ended.

He wound up spending the evening wandering around the ship, unable to stand the sight of his own room for long but not feeling up to company for any length of time either. He went back to his quarters first after his shift before heading down to the mess, returned to his quarters again where he paced restlessly for awhile, and then eventually went to the gym and stayed there until he’d tired himself out enough to almost stop dwelling on everything. 

 

After heading back to his quarters for good, Eli showered and changed into his pajamas and was just settling in with a novel on his ‘pad that he’d been meaning to read for ages, when he was interrupted by a ring at his door. 

He ignored it, but it chimed again, and he finally tossed his datapad aside with an irritated sigh and went to open it, wondering who the hell needed to talk to him at this hour. Eli’s stomach tightened with nerves as it suddenly occurred to him that maybe Faro had decided to chase him down and interrogate him about the last couple days.

The door hissed open, and it wasn’t Faro.

It was Thrawn.

Eli froze for a second, the bottom of his stomach dropping out in surprise and pain, renewed anger immediately boiling up inside him.

“What the hell do you want? Sir,” he snapped, completely beyond caring that Thrawn could technically bring him up on charges of insubordination for that; forgetting until after the words had left his mouth that it would really not sound good if there happened to be anyone else within earshot.

The door hissed shut again behind Thrawn as he walked in, his burning red gaze locked on Eli.

“I want you, Eli,” Thrawn said, his voice low and intense, and Eli just stared at him in disbelief for a moment before finding his voice again. 

“No, I don’t fucking think so! It’s over, Thrawn. You can’t just drop me and then expect me to take you back because you suddenly want a fuck. Do you have any idea what—”

Eli was cut off as Thrawn suddenly moved, closing the space between them in the blink of an eye; and before he could react, Thrawn had covered his mouth in an almost bruisingly hard kiss and pushed him up against the wall. 

He vaguely noticed through his shock that Thrawn felt feverishly hot and was rock hard, grinding up against him. He managed to squirm away from the kiss but couldn’t break away completely, pinned to the wall by Thrawn’s sheer bulk as Thrawn immediately buried his face in Eli’s neck instead and started biting and sucking at his skin.

“Ow! What the hell do you think you’re doing? Thrawn- stop it, I don’t—”

Thrawn was talking, his voice low and muffled, but Eli could barely hear the words as he struggled for leverage; something about just let me and need you; and then Thrawn’s hands were on him, rucking Eli’s t-shirt up his stomach and pushing his loose sleeping pants down his hips, sending a white-hot bolt of shocked rage and panic flaring through him.

“What the fuck, I said no! ” Eli shouted, his voice cracking as he shoved Thrawn back as hard as he could, his heart racing with the surge of adrenaline. 

Thrawn easily caught both Eli’s wrists in his hands, the strength of his grip a sudden and forcible reminder of just how physically powerful he actually was; and Eli’s muddled panic crystallized into a sharp stab of fear— 

And then Thrawn released him again just as suddenly, taking a step back and staring at Eli, his red eyes wide and a look of pure horror on his face.

As their eyes met, Thrawn opened his mouth; then he abruptly turned and fled without saying a word.

The door slid shut once more and Eli just stood there staring at it, still shaking with adrenaline, confused and in shock. A deep, primal fear was still twisting through his guts, and the visceral emotion itself was nearly as upsetting as everything that had just happened. He hadn’t been afraid, truly afraid of Thrawn since… since he was just a nameless, faceless threat on that unnamed planet they found him on so long ago. 

As his trembling legs finally gave out, Eli sank to the floor with his back against the wall, wrapped his arms tightly around his knees, and cried; the huge, heaving sobs wracking his entire body until he thought he would break.


Chapter Text

“I said no! ” 

Thrawn burst into his own quarters, Eli’s shout still ringing in his ears.

He had almost— to Eli — 

His mind recoiled again in horror, the vivid memory of Eli’s wide, terrified eyes making his stomach clench until the sour taste of bile rose in his throat.

What was wrong with him?

This— this went far beyond weakness or a lack of self-discipline, this was— Thrawn didn’t know what this was. 

Feverishly pacing back and forth, he tried to focus his thoughts despite the headache pounding in his temples and the nausea still churning hot in his stomach; despite the persistently throbbing erection he didn’t even remember getting. He barely even remembered going to Eli’s quarters, for that matter; lost in a haze of near-mindless need— need to be with Eli again, to see him and smell him, to hold him and taste him.

When he’d actually gotten there though, gotten near Eli, all the vague thoughts that had been swimming through his head of begging for forgiveness had simply disappeared, and instead he had— he— 

He had to go back, had to tell Eli he never intended— 

No. 

Thrawn pulled up short, panting, with his hand reaching for the door panel. Shaking.

He couldn’t go back, couldn’t do that to Eli again, and Eli would never let Thrawn near him again after what he had done anyway.

His hands were shaking, and something about that was important. 

Thrawn turned away from his door with a growl, dragging his scattered thoughts together, desperately trying to focus, trying to control his breathing. He was still panting, his heart racing; and he was sweating, too, though he hadn’t noticed until now. 

Holding his shaking hands up, Thrawn stared at them, an awful suspicion creeping into his mind as he catalogued his symptoms.

Shaking hands. Headache and nausea. 

Sweating, indicating increased body temperature. Increased heart rate and respiration. 

Confusion, disorientation, anxiety. 

And a barely leashed desire for him, for Eli, a frantic need, but not to be with him; no, a need to taste him, his skin and his mouth and his come— 

A tortured sound welled up in Thrawn’s throat and he clenched his hands into fists until they ached, fighting down the haze of desire that immediately clouded his mind at the very thought of having Eli in his mouth again— even as a crushing, cold certainty settled over him. He recognized those symptoms from his medical training. Symptoms of addiction; of severe withdrawal.

His mind rebelled at the thought, it couldn’t be that, it couldn’t — but yes, it could, it must be— because Thrawn could trace his erratic behaviour back to the night of their promotions on Coruscant. Back to the first taste of Eli he had ever had.

Thrawn froze in the center of his quarters for a moment; then resumed his frantic pacing, unable to stand still, sifting through his memories for everything he had ever learned on the subject of addiction. 

It was not much at all; his training had focused on first aid and handling emergency situations, not on long term treatment of conditions or diseases. He had been exposed to addicts on occasion since joining the Empire, certainly— usually pirates and smugglers, or the forced addictions all too frequently seen in slaves; but sometimes even among Imperial troops as well. Narcotics, alcohols, various strains of spice; if a substance existed, the citizens of the Empire found a way to abuse it. Either personally or by administering it to others as a means of control. 

He had been shocked by the prevalence of it all, initially. Substance abuse was… extremely uncommon in the Chiss Ascendancy. He had a vague notion that Chiss physiology generally did not handle withdrawal well, but had never actually interacted with any Chiss dealing with addiction.

Thrawn had also never heard of someone becoming addicted to another being; but then, his people were insular to the point of xenophobia when it came to the idea of physical contact or intimacy of any kind with alien species.

Perhaps he had just learned the reason why that aversion was so deeply ingrained in Chiss culture.

Yanking at the constricting collar of his uniform tunic and fumbling at the clasps of the suddenly suffocatingly hot garment, Thrawn growled in frustration. Why had he never stopped to consider the potential for mismatches between human and Chiss physiology? The physical and anatomical similarity had made him too complacent, he should have been more careful — 

Biting out a string of curses, Thrawn hurled his tunic at the wall; then staggered as his legs tried to give out under him. He suddenly realized he couldn’t remember when he’d managed to eat last.

He shook his head to try and clear it, wincing as the movement only intensified the pounding in his temples. There would be time for self-recrimination later. What he had to do now was to keep himself under control and just wait until… until Eli was out of his system. Surely once he had fully metabolized or excreted whatever substance Eli’s body produced that caused his dependency, he would be able to function normally once more. 

Then he could explain to Eli what had happened. Then he could ask forgiveness.

Ever so slightly calmer now that he had a strategy to handle this, Thrawn carefully made his way to his bed. Sitting cross-legged on top of the covers, he did his best to clear his mind and steady his breathing.

Given the sudden increase in the intensity of his withdrawal over the course of the day, surely it would not be long before the worst was past.

All he had to do was stay away from Eli until he was himself again. 

 

Chapter Text

Eli woke up with a start to the insistent loud beeping of his comlink. Still half-asleep, he fumbled for it in the dark, nearly knocking it to the floor by accident.

“Vanto,” he croaked, blearily wondering in the back of his mind what kriffing time it was and why he felt like shit.

“I really hope you’re feeling better today,” came Faro’s voice. Her tone was unusually clipped, Eli noticed, and that alone woke him up a little more. “We’ve got a runner here, just like Admiral Thrawn predicted—” 

Eli’s stomach dropped out and his chest seized as memories from last night suddenly slammed into his consciousness. For a moment he couldn’t breathe, let alone speak, and he briefly lost track of what Faro was saying, only tuning back in partway through. 

“—I need to talk to him, but I can’t raise him on his comlink or his direct intercom, and he apparently never went to sickbay either.”

Sickbay?

“What?” Eli finally managed to ask.

There was a brief pause.

“He didn’t tell you? I got a message from him overnight saying he’d come down with that blasted flu now, too. I only saw it when I woke up, I just assumed you got it as well. Anyway, you’re right there, go find out why he hasn’t been responding—” Faro abruptly broke off, and Eli could hear her talking to someone on the bridge instead. “Do not lose that tractor lock! How long until the TIEs are in range?”

Eli opened his mouth, trying to think of a valid reason why he couldn’t go talk to Thrawn, not now, not today, not after— but Faro was back before he could come up with anything. 

“Go check on him, Vanto. If he doesn’t answer…” Faro hesitated, her voice lowering. “If he doesn’t open the door, an emergency med team will be able to get in. Call one if you have to. And keep me posted.”

The connection clicked off and Eli just sat there in the dark, not knowing what to think anymore.

He really, really did not want to see Thrawn right now, the mere thought setting a low, sick fear churning in the pit of his stomach and dredging up all-too-vivid memories of— of— 

Eli’s stomach clenched and he shook his head, trying to dispel the images and the remembered feeling of helpless panic. He didn’t want to go, but he couldn’t just refuse a direct order from Faro without a damn good reason… and he couldn’t handle the thought yet of telling her— of telling anyone what had happened.

On top of that, if Thrawn was sick, maybe… maybe it had something to do with… last night. 

A sliver of worry spiked through Eli’s gut at the thought. In all the time Eli had known him, Thrawn was always in control, calm and thoughtful even under stress. But last night… last night, that had not been Thrawn in control. That hadn’t been the man Eli knew. 

Maybe there was something really wrong with him.

And if there wasn’t, if it turned out he was okay— then Eli was damn well going to demand a fucking apology first and a transfer second.

 

Eli hesitated outside Thrawn’s door, anger and hurt still a confusing tempest inside him. Taking a deep breath, he pushed down the lingering tendrils of fear as much as he could and tapped the door panel to request entry.

He had expected a long wait, but instead the door slid promptly open in front of him to reveal a darkened room, illuminated only by the light that spilled in from the hallway.

Eli blinked, his feeling of unease growing, worming slowly through the nervousness already coiled in his guts. It was… not like Thrawn to leave his door unlocked, ever; whether he was in his quarters or not. 

More than a little unsettled, Eli peered into the room and took a tentative step inside, fumbling for the lightswitch.

“Sir?” he called, his voice coming out hoarse and strained. He toggled the lights on; then nearly jumped out of his skin when the door hissed shut behind him. 

He paused, ears straining; then took a few steps further, clearing his throat before trying again. 

“Thrawn?”

Eli stopped again, certain he’d heard a rustling sound from the bedroom and becoming aware that there was a faint but definite smell of… illness hanging in the air. Increasingly concerned, he started forward, pulling his comlink out— and Thrawn appeared in the doorway across the room before he got more than halfway there, blinking at the light and leaning heavily on the doorframe.

Pulling up short, Eli stared at him in shock. He looked… he looked terrible. Clad in nothing but his underwear, Thrawn was visibly coated in sweat, his black hair matted and tangled; and his skin — his normally deep blue skin had an awful ashen grey tinge to it.

“Th- Thrawn?” Eli finally managed, swallowing hard. Thrawn stared back at him, red eyes still burning brightly but somehow… blank. Unseeing. “Are you—”

Eli,” Thrawn rasped before he could finish, and Eli took an involuntary step back, his heart hammering in his chest as Thrawn suddenly lurched forward— 

And then it nearly stopped instead when Thrawn collapsed, crumpling bonelessly to the floor.

 

Chapter Text

Trailing along behind as the two medical droids rolled Thrawn’s stretcher out of the turbolift, Eli watched with his heart in his throat, silently willing them to move faster. Thrawn had been occasionally mumbling unintelligibly and shifting around a little, but as far as Eli could tell, hadn’t fully regained consciousness since collapsing in his quarters. 

Dr. Kajit gave Eli a sharp look when he kept following right on into one of the large, private care rooms in the officer’s wing of the medbay, but said nothing. Staying back by the door, Eli made sure to keep well out of the way as the doctor briskly but calmly ordered the droids around while she worked. He felt anything but calm himself, though, just barely managing to keep himself still and quiet as he watched Thrawn being transferred onto a medical bed; hooked up to an array of equipment and sensors; methodically stripped and covered by one of those quintessential sickbay sheets instead. 

He had no idea what each of the various machines and readouts were for exactly, or what Kajit was looking at; only that she was obviously running a bunch of tests and bloodwork. Eli kept trying not to look at the respirator looming in the corner, as though pretending it didn’t exist would mean Thrawn wasn’t going to need it. 

Thrawn was still breathing on his own, at least, though the movement of his chest as it rose and fell wasn’t entirely steady, not to mention too fast and shallow to be normal. And if Eli was reading the blinking vitals monitor properly, Thrawn’s heart rate was definitely too fast as well. 

Eli had absolutely no doubt of that. He’d fallen asleep with his head on that chest more than enough to know how slow and steady Thrawn’s breathing and heartbeat normally were.

His chest so tight with worry it ached, Eli just stood there helplessly watching the bustle of activity, wishing he could do something and knowing he couldn’t; his mind turning around in circles as he wondered just how much of the shit going on this past week was because of… this, whatever the hell ‘this’ even was. He had no idea what was wrong with Thrawn or why, no idea how he hadn’t realized that something was wrong. 

He should have known Thrawn wasn’t himself, should have seen it, should have done… something, anything.

Eli had no idea how long he stood there, watching and waiting, lost in a turmoil of confused thoughts and quietly gnawing guilt, before Kajit finally came over to him with a worryingly neutral expression.

“Is he going to be okay?” Eli blurted before he even knew the words were on his tongue.

Kajit regarded him steadily for a moment. “I don’t know, Commander. I’m still trying to figure out what’s causing his condition.”

“You- what? But… haven’t you been doing… you know, tests!

“Sit before you fall over,” Kajit said firmly, pointing to a chair by the wall that Eli hadn’t even noticed.

He sat, only realizing once he did that he was shaky.

“Yes, I’ve been running tests,” Kajit said. “His heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature are all too high already, and still climbing. But there’s nothing abnormal in any of his bloodwork. Not as far as I can tell, anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

Kajit regarded him in silence for a moment. “Commander, you’ve served with Admiral Thrawn for quite some time now, correct?” Eli just nodded, and she continued. “In all that time, have you ever seen him get sick? Go to the medbay for tests, treatment?”

Eli paused, racking his memories and coming up blank. “Not that I can remember, no… he’s been patched up more than once, but…”

“We don’t have full baseline records for him, Commander. And we certainly don’t have Chiss medical standards on file,” Kajit said bluntly, and Eli’s stomach sank. “I have no idea what’s wrong with him at this point. His physiology is strikingly similar to a human’s, but it’s not identical. I’m certain there is something unusual in his test results, but without anything to compare them to, I have no way of identifying anomalies.”

“But… surely you must have some ideas?”

“Well, it’s possible this could be some sort of reaction to that flu, but I think that’s extremely unlikely. He’s showing none of the respiratory distress expected with flu complications, and no signs of any kind of infection at all. In fact, from these symptoms and with a lack of anything obviously unusual in his system, in a human I would look for…” Kajit actually hesitated, and Eli looked up at her sharply.

“For what?”

Kajit regarded him seriously for a moment longer. “Have you seen any indication of substance abuse recently, or any time in the past?” she finally asked.

What? ” Eli said again, finding himself fighting a sudden urge to burst into hysterical laughter. The idea of Thrawn being an addict was just… he had seen the way Thrawn reacted to people who were. “No,” he said firmy, shaking his head. “Never.”

“His symptoms are consistent with severe withdrawal. I know it might be hard to imagine, but even the people we know well can be very skilled at hiding addictions.”

“I know,” Eli said. “I do. But I’ve never seen any signs, doctor, I’d swear to it. And I’ve worked with him almost daily for years. I’ve only ever seen him even drink a handful of times, and even that’s rare. The last time was…” 

A sudden thought struck him and his stomach tightened up. Surely this couldn’t somehow be from the drinks they’d had to celebrate? The drinks he’d convinced Thrawn they should go out for at that bar by the Academy?

“The last time was on Coruscant, just over two months ago,” Eli said slowly, suddenly worried this was somehow all his fault. “We… went out after our promotions to celebrate, and… well, we both had a bit too much, sure, but… I mean, that couldn’t be causing this, could it? We didn’t have that much!”

“No, I can’t see any way for that to be having this effect now,” Kajit said, “not if there’s been nothing else in the intervening time since then. My first thought was that he’d been drugged or poisoned, but—”

“He’s been poisoned? ” Eli burst out, shocked. “Why didn’t you say—” He jumped to his feet; if Thrawn had been poisoned, he had to get the Chimaera’s security forces on alert now —  

“Commander, if you would please let me finish,” Kajit said sharply. Eli stopped with his hand on his comlink, frowning, and the doctor continued. “That was my first thought, yes. But, I’ve found absolutely no traces of any known substances or metabolic by-products in his system. I would have reported it immediately if I had,” she added, with a slight note of rebuke in her voice.

“Right. Sorry,” Eli mumbled, sinking wearily back down into the chair. “But… I don’t understand, then, why…” 

He trailed off, staring numbly at Thrawn. The admiral was still sort of… twitching occasionally for no apparent reason. He was still sweaty, his skin still that horrible ashen blue instead of the deep, vibrant tone Eli knew so well. 

“What’s gonna happen to him, doctor?” Eli finally asked, throat tight, not certain he even wanted to hear the answer.

“I haven’t given up just yet,” Kajit said, her tone softening. “I’m still looking. But you do need to know that if I can’t find a way to treat him or if he doesn’t start to improve on his own soon… the outlook is not good. At this rate, it won’t be long before he starts having increasingly severe seizures, eventually leading to a fatal stroke or heart failure. I would estimate within the next twenty-four hours.”

Eli just sat there staring blankly at nothing, not wanting to believe what Kajit was saying. Thrawn was still mumbling, louder now than before, and Eli was almost certain he’d heard his own name in there more than once. He couldn’t make out anything else, though; had no idea if Thrawn was just muttering nonsense or if he was speaking in a language Eli didn’t know. 

“What about… I don’t know, what about the bacta tank?” he finally asked. “There has to be something we can do!”

“He’s not injured or infected with anything, Commander. Bacta won’t help if it has nothing to work on, and I don’t want to risk the shock of immersion in his current state when it’s unlikely to do any good anyway. I’m going to—”

Kajit cut off as Thrawn’s movements abruptly got more agitated, his limbs tangling in the sheet as he writhed. Eli jumped back to his feet, his stomach lurching with a confused mix of hope and panic. Thrawn’s eyes were already open, looking around wildly and then fixing on Kajit as she crossed the room to his side in two quick strides.

Eli’s own eyes were fixed on Thrawn, his heart hammering in his chest, everything becoming a confused blur. Kajit was leaning over Thrawn, talking, asking him if he could hear her— but Thrawn just thrashed around harder, getting louder but still making no sense, looking like he was trying to sit up. He narrowly missed clipping the doctor with one flailing arm, and Kajit barked out an order, taking a small step back and tapping quickly through one of the readout screens. One of the medical droids immediately took hold of Thrawn’s other arm, holding it unmoving in the kind of grip only a droid could manage as it injected him with something.

Thrawn didn’t even react to the needle or to the droid’s hold as far as Eli could tell, still trying to sit up, leaning towards the edge of his bed, his free arm moving as though reaching for something— and then whatever was in that injection apparently kicked in, because Thrawn slumped back down, eyes fluttering shut and head lolling sideways, the arm closest to Eli hanging limply off the side of the medical bed.

The droids re-settled him while Kajit checked the myriad tubes and wires connecting the once-more unconscious admiral to the bank of equipment, and for one wild, brief moment, Eli could almost have believed Thrawn was just sleeping quietly. 

If it weren’t for the fact that Thrawn was lying in sickbay after having assaulted Eli in his quarters last night for no apparent reason, that was. Surely this all had to be connected somehow. He couldn’t bring himself to believe Thrawn would just… do something like that otherwise. 

“What happens now?” Eli asked hoarsely as Kajit came towards him again.

“Well, in addition to the sedative, I’ve given him a delayed-action stimulant as well,” she answered, holding up a hand to forestall Eli’s question when he immediately opened his mouth to ask why. “The sedative should bring his blood pressure down to safer levels as well as letting him actually rest. The stimulant is because I do eventually need him awake and lucid enough to answer questions.”

“How long until he wakes up?”

“Normally, I would say a few hours. But I’m working by best-guess here, Commander. It could easily be less than that, or more.”

“Alright,” Eli said, then dragged the chair across the room and set it next to the bed, where he could keep a close eye on Thrawn but still get out of the way quickly if necessary.

Kajit just regarded him steadily for a moment, then lifted her shoulders in a minute shrug and pointed at a panel on the wall. “If you need me, hit that call button.”

Eli nodded, inwardly relieved she hadn’t tried to stop him from staying. There was no kriffing way he was leaving Thrawn’s side, not after what Kajit had said was coming if Thrawn didn’t get better soon.

Within the next twenty-four hours… 

His throat suddenly painfully tight, Eli swallowed hard, trying in vain to blink away the burning feeling behind his eyes. 

The door hissed shut behind the doctor as she disappeared into the main sickbay, and Eli wondered briefly whether she suspected there was more between him and Thrawn than a working relationship. 

Right now, he really couldn’t have cared less if she did.

 

Chapter Text

Eli shifted in his chair again, trying to find a more comfortable position without relinquishing his surreptitious hold on Thrawn’s hand under the edge of the sheet.

After contacting Faro to update her on Thrawn’s status, Eli had settled in to wait. Aside from getting up to pace a few times and to use the small adjoining ‘fresher once, he had been sitting in that chair for over two hours, worrying and fretting.

They’d been completely alone in the small room for most of that time. After the doctor had left, the droids had given Thrawn a thorough cleaning up— Eli had studiously averted his eyes for that procedure— covering him with a fresh sheet before disappearing to do who knew what else.

Kajit had come in regularly to check on Thrawn, and Eli had asked about her progress each time. But the answer was always the same— she was still working on it, Thrawn would wake up soon and be able to speak to her, and with any luck would have some useful information or insight about his condition, or Chiss physiology, or… something.

No one else came in. Standard protocol meant the news of Thrawn’s medical emergency and incapacitation would be strictly limited to a very small handful of senior officers only, and even they wouldn’t be told all the details unless it became necessary for some reason. Faro would have had to report the situation back to High Command, of course, and she’d be running the Chimaera in the meantime, keeping the ship moving through its daily business until Thrawn’s condition changed or new orders came in from Coruscant.

Eli found himself wondering what had happened with that ‘runner’ Faro had mentioned earlier. He hadn’t even thought to ask about it when he’d called her to report in, and part of him couldn’t believe that comm call he’d woken up to had happened only this morning. Only a few hours ago. 

His stomach clenched slightly as his thoughts shifted from this morning to last night, but Eli found himself seeing Thrawn’s actions in a different light now. Things he’d noticed at the time and temporarily forgotten in his shock and anger and panic suddenly seemed hugely important. Thrawn’s abnormally high temperature, his weird incoherence and frantic, uncontrolled behaviour— uncontrolled until the very end, at least, when he’d suddenly stopped, frozen with that look of horror on his face.

Lost in thought, desperately trying to figure out what in the Core could possibly be causing all this, Eli nearly missed it when Thrawn’s fingers twitched in his.

“Thrawn?” Eli said tentatively, rising out of his chair without releasing Thrawn’s hand. He glanced at the readout screens, but couldn’t tell if there were any changes of note or not. “Can you hear me?”

Thrawn shifted, mumbling under his breath, his fingers tightening on Eli’s. After what felt like an interminably long moment, the admiral’s eyes fluttered open. 

“Eli?” His voice was quiet and slurred, hoarse; but he had definitely said Eli’s name.

“I’m here,” Eli said, his knees briefly going weak with relief as he gave Thrawn’s hand a reassuring squeeze. Red eyes found his and a smile started to spread across Thrawn’s face, but it was replaced by a brief look of confusion before his features twisted in pain. “Thrawn? Are you okay?”

Thrawn looked away, lips moving to form soft words that Eli could barely hear. At least, they sounded like words. They were certainly none that he recognized, though.

“I don’t— Thrawn, I can’t understand you,” Eli said helplessly, holding Thrawn’s hand tighter. If he wasn’t coherent enough to talk to the doctor… 

Thrawn’s head turned slightly to look at Eli again, his brow furrowing in concentration before he spoke, and this time Eli could understand him. 

“I am sorry, Eli. I did not… I am sorry,” Thrawn said, his voice tight and strained, though clearer, less slurred. He turned away again with his eyes squeezed shut, still quietly murmuring, repeating those three words over and over again. 

Eli’s throat tightened. “Thrawn, just… tell me what’s wrong. Please. The doctor doesn’t… she…” he trailed off. Thrawn had to know what was going on, what to do to make him better. He just had to.

Thrawn’s throat bobbed as he swallowed, his face still averted. He fell silent long enough that Eli was just starting to worry he’d lost consciousness again when the admiral spoke, his voice barely above a whisper. 

Catehe’ah.

“What?”

Thrawn paused briefly, obviously thinking. “It is… withdrawal.”

Eli just stood there for a moment in shock before finding his voice. “Withdrawal from what?

Blazing red eyes met his as Thrawn finally looked at him again, the grip of Thrawn’s hand suddenly becoming almost painfully tight. 

You.

Staring at Thrawn in stunned confusion and disbelief as the silence stretched, Eli was still trying to formulate a reply when the door hissed open and Kajit walked in. He snatched his hand back from Thrawn’s, hoping the doctor hadn’t noticed.

“Admiral, you’re awake. Excellent. Commander Vanto, would you please give us some privacy.”

It wasn’t a request, and Eli could tell by the look on Kajit’s face that this was non-negotiable. He turned to leave, but pulled up short when Thrawn’s voice rang out, firm and clear.

“No.” 

Eli turned back again. Thrawn had pushed himself up onto his elbows and was looking more awake already, his gaze locked with Kajit’s. “He will stay. I must ask you to leave, Doctor.”

“I can’t do that,” Kajit said in a tone just as firm as Thrawn’s. “You can talk to him later. Right now, I need to ask you some questions.”

“No,” Thrawn repeated. “You will ask your questions later. First I must speak with Commander Vanto.”

“Admiral, perhaps you don’t understand the gravity of your situation—”

“I am aware,” Thrawn said. “But I will speak with the Commander alone or I will not speak at all. He will inform you when you may return. Neither you nor anyone else will enter this room unless called for.”

He lay back again, staring at the ceiling with a calmly resolute expression, somehow still projecting his usual air of command despite the circumstances. Kajit shot Eli a look that was almost a glare, and he shrugged helplessly. He had no clue what was going on at this point; all he knew was that he still had a sour knot of dread coiling in his stomach from Thrawn’s words before the doctor came in. Surely Thrawn couldn’t really have meant… that. Maybe he had just mis-translated.

“Admiral, I must object,” Kajit tried again, frowning. “I don’t think—”

“Objection noted, Doctor,” Thrawn cut in. “You have your orders.”

Kajit glowered at Thrawn, who seemed not to notice, and for a moment Eli was certain she would pull medical rank to countermand the order.

“We’re playing this game again, are we?” she finally said. “Fine. But you will answer my questions when I return.”

“Of course,” Thrawn replied, and with one final, disapproving frown, the doctor left. 

“What did she mean, ‘playing this game again’?” Eli asked, confused, once the door had closed behind Kajit and they were alone again.

“We have been in disagreement before,” Thrawn answered, but didn’t elaborate. His voice and expression both were strained now, and Eli abruptly realized he’d been putting on a show for the doctor.

“Are you sure you should send her away? Thrawn, if you keep getting worse, you’re not… you won’t…” Eli’s throat closed up and he couldn’t force out the words.

“I am sure. Doctor Kajit cannot know the true cause of my condition, Eli. No one can.”

“So you do know what’s happening to you?” Eli asked. “What did you mean, withdrawal from me?

“Exactly that,” Thrawn said softly, his voice pained. “I am certain that I have become… addicted. To you.”

“No, that can’t— that doesn’t make any sense!” Eli burst out, his mind immediately trying to shove the idea away. But… he paused, his stomach dropping out and a dawning horror filtering through him as he really thought about it, his mind racing back through the last couple months.

What Kajit had said about suspecting substance abuse, combined with Thrawn’s actions last night… Thrawn’s erratic behaviour, particularly when they hadn’t been together for a night or two, all the way back to Thrawn suddenly changing his mind after their return from Coruscant… Thrawn’s demeanour, his words during that exchange in the turbolift before they’d ended up in the admiral’s quarters… 

I cannot stop thinking about you, Eli.

Reality almost seemed to lurch around him as the pieces slotted neatly into place. He didn’t want to believe it could be true, but… 

“How?” Eli finally whispered.

“I believe there is something in your bodily fluids that affects me,” Thrawn said quietly. “I do not know what, but it must be present in your semen, and, I suspect, in your saliva as well.”

Thrawn’s matter-of-fact tone nearly made Eli burst into hysterical laughter, the kind that always hit him when something just became too much to handle, but he managed to wrestle it down enough to answer. 

“We have to tell the doctor, then. She can… she can find a cure, she can do tests on me,” he said, moving towards the intercom to call Kajit in, but Thrawn reached out, grabbing Eli’s wrist in a surprisingly strong grip.

No. We cannot tell anyone of this. Ever.”

Eli stared at Thrawn for a split second— and then something in him snapped, all the pain and anger and confusion of the past week bubbling up and spilling over. 

“Don’t be a kriffing idiot, Thrawn!” he shouted, wrenching his arm away. “I don’t care about— about fraternization regulations, they can discharge me if they want! This is your life we’re talking about! I'm not going to just stand here and watch you die!

Thrawn just looked up at him, the muscles in his jaw visibly tight and twitching, and Eli glared back, hands clenched in fists at his sides and his chest heaving. He suddenly realized he was crying again, too; the tears falling hot and fast, burning twin trails down his cheeks.

“It is not that,” Thrawn finally said, and his voice was shaky. “This knowledge… it is a weapon, Eli. One that could be used to utterly enslave or exterminate my people. I will die before allowing such knowledge to fall into the hands of the Empire. Or any others. If I had more time and the proper equipment, I could attempt to synthesize a treatment, but… I did not see it soon enough. I did not realize…”

Thrawn trailed off, but a sudden, tiny hope flared up in Eli’s chest and he irritably brushed at his face, trying to wipe away the wet tear tracks. 

“What if… If it’s me you need, can I— could I give you that time? Would that help, if we…” This time it was Eli’s turn to trail off, unable to believe he was really asking if sex would save Thrawn’s life. 

Thrawn’s eyes seemed to flare brighter, his lips parting slightly and his breath catching as his gaze immediately raked down Eli’s body, a look of pure hunger crossing his face— and then he averted his eyes again, trembling on the medical bed with shame and sorrow twisting his features. 

“I cannot ask that of you,” Thrawn whispered. “Not after— not after everything I have done.”

“You’re not asking, Thrawn. I’m offering,” Eli said, his heart aching in his chest. He couldn’t seem to think clearly anymore, it was all too much to process; but he knew that if he could do something— anything— he would. “Please, let me help. If there’s even a chance… Tell me what you need me to do. I can’t… I can’t lose you.”

His voice shook and then broke, and he reached out to take Thrawn’s hand. After a long pause, Thrawn finally met Eli’s eyes again, a look of haunted shame still on his face. 

“Are you certain?”

Eli could feel Thrawn shaking, tense; and he nodded, holding Thrawn’s hand tighter and putting as much conviction into his voice as he could.

“Yes.”

 

After locking the door and quickly shutting down all the data recordings of Thrawn’s vitals— Thrawn insisted there would be too much evidence in them if this worked— Eli sat on the edge of the bed next to him, suddenly nervous. Unsure. 

“What… what should I do?” he asked, swallowing hard. Thrawn’s gaze was fixed on him, slightly sunken eyes intense, burning; occasional twitches quivering through him under the thin medbay sheet.

“Kiss me,” was the immediate answer. Heart pounding, trying not to worry about someone coming in, Eli turned towards Thrawn, leaning down to meet Thrawn’s lips with his.

Thrawn responded immediately, surging up into it with soft, desperate whimper, one hand moving to Eli’s thigh, his touch almost burning hot even through the thick material of Eli’s uniform. 

Thrawn’s lips were hot, too, parting eagerly under Eli’s, and Eli did his best to return the kiss the way he normally would, trying to forget exactly where they were and why as his tongue was sucked into Thrawn’s mouth. As the kiss went on, Thrawn only seemed to get more urgent, frantic, whimpering into Eli’s mouth, hand fumbling blindly— and ineffectually— at the fastenings of Eli’s pants under his tunic. 

Slipping his own hand up to cup Thrawn’s cheek, Eli finally tore away and gave him a searching look. “Is it… did that help? At all?”

Thrawn’s blazing eyes were half-lidded and he was panting, the sheet slipping off his heaving chest. “Yes— please,” he gasped, “I need to taste you, Eli please—” 

Thrawn cut off suddenly, twisting his head towards Eli’s hand and latching onto Eli’s thumb, sucking it into his mouth with a moan. Pushing away thoughts of just how wrong this was, clinging to the knowledge that it was the only way he knew to help Thrawn, Eli twisted his hand to slip two fingers into Thrawn’s mouth instead. 

He could hate himself for it later. For now, he was no help at all unless he could give Thrawn what he needed.

Letting his eyes drift partly shut to block out as much of their surroundings as he could, Eli focused on Thrawn’s face, the familiar feeling of Thrawn’s mouth hot around his fingers and tongue sliding slick across his skin enough to kindle a small flame of desire inside him. His cock finally stirring at the memories of being drawn into that wet heat, Eli reached down with his other hand, pushing aside his tunic and undoing his uniform trousers. 

Thrawn pulled off his fingers, leaving them glistening wetly with saliva, and twisted on the bed, eyes fixed down at Eli’s crotch as Eli pushed his pants and underwear down just enough to pull his mostly-soft cock out. As Thrawn curled forward, obviously trying to get closer, the sheet slipped off him completely, tangled between his legs. Eli realized with a jolt that Thrawn was hard, the sight sending a small twinge of arousal through his core. 

Swallowing hard, he shuffled over, awkwardly shifting up the bed towards Thrawn. Thrawn whimpered, pushing up on one elbow again, mouthing at Eli’s thigh but evidently too weak to sit up any further, and Eli cursed under his breath, realizing his own leg was getting in the way. He got to his feet instead so that he was standing next to the head of the bed— and then a hot mouth closed around his cock as Thrawn sucked him in with a moan.

Ignoring everything else as best he could, ignoring the tubes and wires that were still connected to Thrawn and keeping his other arm awkwardly pulled behind him, Eli got one knee back up on the bed so Thrawn wouldn’t have to stretch up and forward quite so much, moving one hand to support Thrawn’s head and closing the other around his own cock so it wouldn’t fall out of Thrawn’s mouth. Thrawn didn’t even seem to notice the shift as he settled back with his head in Eli’s hand, suckling at Eli’s cock with soft, needy little whimpers, tongue working over the head and along the underside of his shaft until Eli felt himself start slowly filling, thickening into Thrawn’s mouth.

Thrawn was just as good at this as ever, obviously using every single little trick and weakness of Eli’s he’d ever found— and Eli’s body responded. 

To his mixed relief and shame, it didn’t take nearly as long as Eli had expected— or maybe feared, he didn’t even know anymore— before he was completely hard. With the fingers of one hand threaded gently through Thrawn’s hair and helping his head move back and forth, Eli started stroking himself with the other while Thrawn sucked at him, his admiral’s near-constant soft moans and whimpers muffled around his cock.

Eli focused on the familiar sensation of Thrawn’s mouth and pushed away everything else, his eyes eventually drifting shut, memories running through his mind until he could almost believe they were actually back in Thrawn’s quarters. 

Gradually increasing his speed, Eli jerked his cock harder, his breath coming faster and little panting moans beginning to escape him as he drew closer to orgasm. Thrawn must have been able to tell, because he started sucking harder as well, his muffled whimpers becoming shorter and sharper. The heat building in his core, Eli was almost there— so close— when Thrawn jerked with a loud moan, sucking him in deeper. 

Eli’s eyes snapped open to see Thrawn shuddering, cock twitching as it spurted out over his stomach, streaking splashes of white across blue skin. The unexpected sight of Thrawn coming like that, completely untouched, drove Eli that little bit higher and he came too as he watched, hand tightening on his own cock, spilling himself into the heat of Thrawn’s mouth with a soft, bitten-off grunt.

Panting, Eli just stood there for a minute with his eyes half-closed, Thrawn’s head still resting on his hand, catching his breath as Thrawn kept sucking gently at his softening cock and making quietly contented humming noises. Wincing at the oversensitivity, he pulled away from Thrawn’s mouth to awkwardly put himself away one-handed, renewed awareness of the situation finally crowding back to the forefront of his consciousness. 

Thrawn was sprawled back on his pillow, by all appearances entirely oblivious to the fact that he was lying naked in the medbay with his belly a complete mess of his own come. He had immediately nuzzled into Eli’s hand after Eli pulled out, and was now sucking softly at Eli’s fingers again with a blissful, dazed expression. 

And Eli finally saw it, clear as day, now that he knew to look. 

Thrawn didn’t look happy. He looked high. 

Shame and anguish twisted in Eli’s stomach, sharp and sudden, replacing any last vestiges of pleasure. This was his fault. He’d done this to Thrawn. 

Eli’s stomach twisted again, churning with guilt, and he bolted across the room, just barely making it to the ‘fresher in time before he threw up.

 

Chapter Text

Thrawn looked up from his work when the door to his quarters hissed open. Eli walked in, still frowning at his datapad as he locked the door behind him. 

“Is there something wrong, Eli?”

Eli finally looked up. “Hmm? No, everything’s fine. Just a hiccup down in supply, nothing major,” he said, putting away the datapad as he approached Thrawn’s desk. “How’s, uh… how’s your research going?” he asked after a brief pause, his voice hesitant.

Since being released from the medbay nearly a week ago, and following a day or two of recovery, Thrawn had been spending the vast majority of his time attempting to identify the addictive substance in Eli’s bodily fluids, as well as learning everything he could about the physiological basis of drug addictions and their treatments. The official story was that he was temporarily off active duty to recover from complications following an adverse reaction to the flu virus that had affected a large portion of the Chimaera’s crew. Faro had remained in charge of day-to-day operations, with Eli regularly reporting back to Thrawn’s quarters throughout his shifts. A small cot had been temporarily installed in Thrawn’s quarters for him as well, ostensibly for someone to be near in case Thrawn required assistance or fell ill again— though of course, Eli had never used it, instead spending the nights in Thrawn’s bed once again. 

For these past several days, Thrawn had been running almost continual tests on himself— mainly bloodwork and brain activity scans— and analyzing blood, semen, saliva, and sweat samples from Eli as well. Doctor Kajit had nearly demanded a transfer when Thrawn had requisitioned the necessary medical equipment, files, and his own records from the medbay immediately after being released back to his quarters, all while refusing to give her any real explanation for his illness or sudden apparent recovery.

While Thrawn regretted the necessity of withholding the truth from her, it was just that— a necessity. He could not risk any of this going on Imperial record and had set up a secure partition for all his files, saving data only on a single datapad and keeping it entirely disconnected from the holonet and the Chimaera’s medical database. It meant his research took much longer than if he had assigned one of the medical droids to the task— but it also meant that nobody had access to the data but him.

And Eli, of course.

Turning his desk monitor to give Eli a better viewing angle, Thrawn brought up his latest results. “It is progressing well. I believe I have successfully isolated the compound responsible for my addiction.”

“I… don’t really know what I’m supposed to be looking at, here,” Eli finally said, after peering at the screen in silence for a moment.

“Here, and here,” Thrawn said, pointing. “A particular amine, present in all your fluid samples, but which spikes in my blood after performing oral sex on you. It slowly diminishes over time, eventually disappearing completely. The timeline correlates tightly to the onset of withdrawal symptoms.”

“Okay…” 

“It appears to be almost immediately absorbed into the bloodstream sublingually and either mimics a particular neurotransmitter, or acts as an agonist to one. These results—” Thrawn pulled up a group of brain activity scans he had taken under different conditions, including one he had managed to run shortly after swallowing Eli’s ejaculate, “—show abnormally high neuronal activity, specifically in the pleasure and reward centers and corresponding to the compound’s appearance in my blood. That strongly indicates an excitatory effect on—”

Thrawn. Stop. Just… just stop, okay.” 

Thrawn looked up from the screen to find his commander looking away, face flushed, jaw tight and twitching. 

“It’s bad enough knowing what I’ve done to you,” Eli continued before Thrawn could say anything, his voice strained and shaky. “What I’m still doing to you. I don’t… I don’t want to know the details, too.”

Sudden guilt twisted in Thrawn’s stomach, hot and sharp and bitter. In unspoken agreement, they had returned to their nightly habits and some semblance of their private relationship since Thrawn’s release from the medbay. This prevented him from going into withdrawal again, allowing him to keep a clear head and focus on his research, as well as providing him with necessary data— but they had avoided discussing the situation almost entirely, both of them preferring to ignore the darker necessity of their regular intimacy. 

Thrawn found his condition easier to deal with when he treated it as merely another problem to be solved. An intriguing and challenging puzzle— one which distracted him from the ever-present fear that he would not succeed in finding a treatment; distracted him from the nauseating tendrils of self-loathing that curled through him every morning when he awoke to blurred memories of the night before and the inescapable knowledge that he had used Eli yet again. 

Eli had been coping by pretending the situation did not exist as much as he possibly could. Not wanting to make this any more difficult for Eli than it already was, Thrawn had not insisted on discussing it, but it had somehow failed to occur to him how deeply Eli would be affected by actively and knowingly furthering his addiction every night. 

Or perhaps he had simply been avoiding confronting that thought as well.

“I apologize,” Thrawn said softly as he stood, filled with a bone-deep shame at his own cowardice. “I was not thinking. I am sorry, Eli.”

Eli was still staring fixedly at the far wall, his breathing ragged and uneven, and he trembled when Thrawn pulled him into a gentle embrace. “Just tell me you can fix it, Thrawn… please. I can’t keep doing this, not knowing what it’s doing to you.”

“You are not at fault,” Thrawn said, holding Eli tighter. “And you do not have to keep doing this. It is unfair of me to ask so much of you. I will… find another way.”

“There is no other way,” Eli replied, his voice muffled into Thrawn’s shoulder. “You’ll just end up back in the medbay if I don’t keep…”

Thrawn waited, but Eli didn’t continue, his arms tightening painfully around Thrawn’s ribs. Thrawn ignored the discomfort, reaching up to smooth Eli’s hair back. 

“You need not continue to be physically involved. If it is easier for you to simply… provide me with—”

“No!” Eli interjected with a strangled noise that was half a sob and half a bitter laugh. “Stars, no. That’s… that just makes it seem even worse, somehow. At least this way, I can pretend it actually means something.”

Frowning, Thrawn tried to take a step back, but Eli held on, keeping his face buried firmly in Thrawn’s chest.

“Eli,” Thrawn said, gently but firmly pushing his commander’s arms away and taking him by the shoulders. “Eli, look at me.” Eli finally let go, staring down at Thrawn’s midsection. “There is nothing to pretend. You mean a great deal to me, above and beyond the physical addiction.”

“You can’t know that for sure,” Eli said, his voice thick, unshed tears glistening in the brown eyes that still refused to meet Thrawn’s. “You told me that- that stuff is even in my saliva. Everything, everything since I kissed you back at the Academy that night could just be you… needing more of it. Even that was… I should never have done that, after you’d been drinking, it wasn’t right, it was never right, I—”

“Eli,” Thrawn said again, sharply, and Eli cut off, crying openly now, his shoulders slumped and shaking under Thrawn’s hands. “You cannot blame yourself for this,” Thrawn continued, softening his tone and reaching up to gently wipe the wet tear tracks from Eli’s cheeks. “You did not take advantage of me in that corridor. I chose that course of action, just as you did. I knew I should not have allowed anything to happen, but I wanted to.” 

A small, shuddering noise escaped Eli’s throat; a soft whimper that was perhaps a question, perhaps a negation.

Vah rehn’ekah ch’eo sei,” Thrawn said softly, the traditional vow rising to his lips— unbidden, unexpected; but no less true. “You mean everything to me, Eli Vanto.”

Eli finally looked up, tears still sliding silently down his face, eyes full of pain and hope both as they met Thrawn’s gaze. 

“It was true long before that night and it has not ceased to be true since. My sole regret in all this is the hurt I have caused you. I never— I never intended—” Thrawn broke off, trembling and unable to continue, barely even able to breathe for the crushing, burning pain in his chest.

A choked sob tore from Eli’s throat as he flung himself back into Thrawn’s arms, clinging to him desperately as though afraid of what might happen if he let go. Thrawn responded in kind, wrapping his arms around Eli’s shoulders and holding him while he cried; holding him tightly while they clung to one another through moment after endless, aching moment.

 

Eli slowly, slowly calmed in Thrawn’s arms, eventually mumbling something unintelligible into his chest.

“Hmm?” Thrawn pulled back just enough to look at Eli, stroking his cheek and smoothing a stray lock of hair off his forehead.

“I’m- I’m sorry,” Eli croaked, sniffling and ducking his head, wiping his eyes and nose on his own sleeve with a watery laugh. “I got your uniform all…” he trailed off, rubbing ineffectually at the wet smears on Thrawn’s tunic.

“It is unimportant,” Thrawn said, catching Eli’s hand in his and squeezing it gently. “I am concerned about you, not the state of my uniform.”

“I’ll be okay,” Eli said, drawing a shaky breath. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to… it all just… got too much.”

“You have nothing to apologize for, Eli,” Thrawn said seriously. “Nothing.”

Eli nodded, sniffling again, and Thrawn pressed a kiss to Eli’s forehead before turning away long enough to save his work, shut down his desk monitor and lock the datapad.

When he turned back, Eli was simply standing there, looking lost and exhausted. 

“Come,” Thrawn said softly, taking Eli’s hand and leading him towards the bedroom. “You need rest.”

“But… what about…”

“No,” Thrawn said firmly. “Not tonight. I will not feel any significant effects for some time yet, and you require sleep.”

Eli made no further objections, moving almost in a daze as Thrawn helped him undress, leaving briefly to turn the lights off while Eli climbed into bed in his underclothes. Thrawn joined him a moment later and Eli immediately curled up to his side, his head on Thrawn’s bare chest and small tremors still occasionally shaking through him.

Running his fingers lightly through Eli’s hair, Thrawn held him in silence, listening to the sound of his breathing as it gradually steadied. Eli was asleep within minutes, but Thrawn lay awake, unable to find peace from his own thoughts. 

Though he knew he would not begin to feel the withdrawal symptoms themselves until tomorrow, Eli’s nearness still affected Thrawn as strongly as it had for the past two months. It was, at least, easier to ignore the urge that Eli’s scent immediately kindled in him now; now that he could recognize it for the mindless need that it was. 

Easier. But not easy. 

Though he wanted nothing more at this moment than to let Eli rest; wanted nothing more than to fall asleep himself with Eli’s soft breathing warm on his skin… Thrawn still felt unwanted desire stirring in his core, still had to fight the slowly growing urge to bury his face in Eli’s neck, to taste him and touch him— to slip beneath the sheets, take Eli in his mouth and make him come— 

Gritting his teeth, Thrawn forced the image out of his mind— and abruptly realized he was breathing hard and fully erect, his cock stiff and aching between his legs. He hadn’t even noticed it happening; hadn’t noticed he had already begun turning onto his side, turning towards Eli and running one hand down his body while he slept.

Thrawn closed his eyes and lay back again, attempting to calm his breathing and relax enough to sleep, but eventually had to admit defeat. 

He could not control himself. Could not trust himself like this; not with Eli’s warm skin against his and Eli’s tantalizing scent filling the air.

Carefully extricating himself from Eli’s embrace, Thrawn retrieved his discarded uniform from the floor, padded barefoot out of the room and returned to his desk to continue working.

 

“Thrawn?”

Blinking tired eyes and suddenly aware of a dull, steady throb at his temples, Thrawn looked up as Eli emerged from the bedroom clad only in his underclothes. “Eli? Why are you awake so early?”

“Early? It’s nearly 0600 hours, Thrawn,” Eli said, his tone surprised. “Did you stay up all night out here?”

“I…” Thrawn finally looked at the chrono on his monitor. Eli was right. He had worked through the entire night without noticing. “I could not sleep.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes,” Thrawn replied, pushing down his fatigue and rising to meet Eli as he approached. “I have made some progress, in fact. I am… optimistic that I will be successful in synthesizing a treatment in the coming days.”

Eli came to a halt, a series of emotions flashing rapidly over his features. “Really? That’s- that’s great news.” 

“You are not pleased.”

“No- I mean yes. I am,” Eli said, moving forward again and slipping his hands onto Thrawn’s waist. “Really.”

Thrawn relaxed slightly at the genuine, soft smile on his commander’s face, inhaling Eli’s familiar scent, pleasantly warm and musky from sleep. Without thinking, he pulled Eli closer and leaned down for a kiss— but Eli stiffened and turned his face away.

“Thrawn— wait.”

Flushing with shame, Thrawn released him and stepped back. “Forgive me. I did not mean— I—”

“No, it’s okay,” Eli said, taking both Thrawn’s hands in his. There was a long pause as Eli fidgeted, frowning; a look Thrawn recognized to mean he was collecting his thoughts. “I just… I guess it just hit me that once you do… once you make the cure, I mean, well… that really will be the end. For us. Not that I’m suggesting you don’t take it,” he added hastily. “Definitely not. I didn’t mean— I would never want you to stay like this. Never.”

“I know you would not,” Thrawn said; then paused, unsure if he should bring up the idea that had struck him last night while researching potentially relevant drug treatments in greater detail.

Eli did not miss his hesitation. “What is it?”

“There… may be a way,” Thrawn finally said, searching Eli’s expression anxiously. “If I am correct about the mode of action.”

“What do you mean?” Eli asked, a thread of wary hope lacing through his tone. 

Thrawn paused again to collect his thoughts, pushing away the light haze of fatigue and desire clouding the edges of his mind, considering his words carefully in order to explain it clearly without going into more detail than Eli would be comfortable with. “In addition to the treatment, which would replace the… substance, but without eliciting the same degree of addictive response, it should also be possible to create a blocker that would inhibit the effects of the substance entirely. This would prevent re-addiction if… if we chose to continue our relationship.”

“You really think it would work?”

“The likelihood is high, but I cannot be certain yet. I am willing to attempt it, but I do not wish you to feel pressured in any way. I will understand if you do not want—”

“Shut up,” Eli said fiercely, his grip on Thrawn’s hands tightening. “You— you big, blue idiot. Of course I want to.”

Tentative hope rose in Thrawn’s chest, warm and bright. “You are certain?”

“If this ‘blocker’ works, yes. But only if it does,” Eli said, his tone becoming serious once more.

“Of course.”

Eli looked at him for a long moment, searching Thrawn’s face; then grinned, a delighted expression that lit up his eyes and made Thrawn’s breath catch in his chest.

He was suddenly, painfully aware that Eli was very nearly naked, and the arousal he had been attempting to ignore now flared up in his gut, hot and intense. Demanding. 

Thrawn tried to fight it back down again… but he couldn’t. Sliding his hands up his commander’s bare back, he pulled Eli close, pressing a hungry kiss to his lips, Eli’s tongue hot and wet on his— and then Eli broke away, leaving Thrawn twitching, almost shivering with need, desperate for more.

Eli … Eli, please—” 

His voice sounded rough and broken, even to his own ears. A distant shame twisted through him at the— pain? sadness? remorse?— that flickered briefly across Eli’s face; but it was quickly forgotten, drowned in the rising waves of desire that flooded through him as Eli’s mouth covered his once more.

 

Chapter Text

Time passed, as time does, and Eli quickly slipped back into the familiar routines of everyday life aboard the Chimaera. 

It was… easier than he’d expected, somehow. Almost unsettlingly easy, in fact, to go back to his old normal as though none of it had ever happened; not the relationship or the breakup, not Thrawn’s horrifying revelation in sickbay or the slightly blurred, nightmarish weeks that followed. 

At least, it was easy during the day. 

While he was on duty, his mind occupied, Eli could almost forget that it really had all happened. Though it had been difficult at the very beginning to focus on his work, to put aside his fears and worries, regrets and self-recriminations, that had passed surprisingly quickly. Most of the time now, it just felt… distant. Weirdly dreamlike. 

Even the fear had numbed and faded. Both the fear of Thrawn himself after that night in Eli’s quarters, and the fear for Thrawn after seeing him lying weak and delirious in sickbay on what had nearly been his deathbed. 

But it was a different story when the daily distractions were gone. 

Once Eli was off-duty and back in his quarters for the evening, like he was now, it all tried to come pouring back in on him. Sometimes he managed to exhaust himself enough during the day to drop almost immediately into the sweet escape of sleep, but sometimes he wound up tossing and turning, unable to rest, his mind racing, spinning, going back through everything over and over and over again. 

So many nights he’d lain awake like that, alone in the darkness, wondering what he could have done differently while his stomach and his heart ached with a sickening, churning guilt. Guilt at the quiet, underlying relief that he didn’t have to deal with it anymore, not directly; guilt over what he’d unknowingly been doing to Thrawn the whole time they’d been together. 

And most of all, guilt and a hot, prickling shame that he hadn’t seen it. That he hadn’t paid more attention to all the signs that were so painfully obvious now, that he hadn’t realized there was something definitely and deeply wrong with Thrawn. Instead, he’d just put Thrawn’s completely uncharacteristic behaviour down to… what? Being so in love that he would let a simple relationship interfere that much with his responsibilities? With his running of an entire task force? 

Stupid, stupid, stupid— 

Eli forced his mind away from that line of thinking, closing his eyes with a sigh. He knew where it led, and it was nowhere healthy. Beating himself up about it all again wouldn’t help anything, and gods knew he’d done that plenty already. 

He took a deep breath, and another; then turned his face up to the shower and let the hot water pour over his head. Maybe it could somehow wash his inner turmoil away, help him stop dwelling on what was past, on what he couldn’t change. 

Focus on the positives. 

The nightmares had stopped, at least. And, most importantly, Thrawn was no longer dependent on him. He didn’t have to try and convince himself every night that things were normal just long enough to get off; then try not to actually look at Thrawn, try desperately not to see the painfully clear evidence of exactly what he was doing to him. 

Thrawn had managed to synthesize a treatment incredibly quickly, all things considered. He’d worked himself ragged to do it, but less than two weeks after his release from the medbay he’d begun his daily doses of… whatever it was that replaced Eli in his system; whatever it was that let Eli finally stop doing that to him every night. 

Thrawn had called it a ‘partial agonist’. Eli hadn’t really cared what it was or how it worked, so long as it did work. 

And as far as he could tell, it was. Or maybe already had. Eli had no idea if Thrawn was actually still taking the stuff or not. He had explained at the start that he would have to carefully balance the treatment with the withdrawal, slowly and safely cutting the dosage back over time until he eventually weaned himself off it completely, but that he couldn’t be certain how long that process would take. Maybe a few weeks, maybe a few months. Maybe even longer. 

He had also explained that while the treatment would curb the worst of his cravings and keep the withdrawal manageable and— hopefully— not dangerous, he would still feel the symptoms, particularly at the beginning. He would still have to fight the urges for… the real thing. 

For Eli. 

They had both agreed, without hesitation, that spending time together in private before Thrawn was completely finished his treatment was entirely out of the question. They still had to work together, though, and Eli had been keeping a very close eye on Thrawn for both their sakes. 

The early days had been rough, to the point where Eli had been terrified it wasn’t working at all; but that had, fortunately, not lasted long. And while Thrawn had definitely not been himself for the first week or two— everyone else had apparently put Thrawn’s generally irritable mood down to leftover fatigue from his ‘flu complications’, and Eli had quietly encouraged that interpretation— that had improved with time as well, just as Thrawn had predicted, and he seemed to be entirely back to normal lately. On the surface, anyway, which didn’t mean he was fine yet, but surely had to be an indication that it was going well. 

Eli finally shut off the shower before he burned through all his water rations and started towelling off, staring blankly at the wall; his thoughts still turned inwards. 

Almost a month had passed since Thrawn had begun his treatment and returned to active duty. Almost a month since their relationship had become entirely professional once again; since Eli had returned to sleeping in his own quarters. 

Since he and Thrawn had spent even a minute together off-duty. 

Eli missed him. 

Despite everything, he missed Thrawn horribly; missed what they’d had together, so much so that it was a physical ache deep in his chest every time he thought about it. 

Thrawn had been confident that the treatment would work, and that he’d be able to develop a blocker to prevent re-addiction. He had insisted that his feelings for Eli were real, that he still wanted to be together if they could. He had promised to tell Eli once he had successfully ended the treatment so they could revisit that possibility with clear heads, discuss honestly whether they both wanted to pick up their private relationship again; and if so, how they would do it safely. 

But he still hadn’t said anything, about his progress or the blocker, and Eli couldn’t help being worried. Worried that the treatment wasn’t actually going well, but that Thrawn didn’t want to tell him. Worried that Thrawn was pushing himself too hard trying to develop a blocker that just wasn’t going to work. 

Worried that Thrawn had changed his mind about the whole thing. Maybe everything he thought he’d felt had just been the addiction, and nothing more. Or maybe the whole experience was too traumatizing and painful for him to want to get back together after all, even if he did care for Eli. 

Eli swallowed hard and paused on his way out of the ‘fresher, staring at his reflection in the little mirror above the washbasin. If it just wasn’t going to work, if Thrawn had changed his mind or was having doubts for any reason, well… never being together again was a small price, and one he would gladly pay for Thrawn to be okay in the end. 

In any case, Thrawn had promised they would talk once he felt he could trust his own judgement again where Eli was concerned; had promised he would say something if it went badly. One way or another, they would figure it out when the time came. 

Eli just had to wait until Thrawn was ready; just had to give him the time— and the trust— he needed. 

 

“Excellent work, Commander,” Thrawn said, handing back Eli’s datapad. “The task force will proceed to the Pakuuni sector immediately.” 

“Thank you, sir,” Eli said. “I imagine the pirates will be more than a little surprised to see us when we get there,” he added with a crooked grin. 

“Indeed.” Thrawn’s eyebrow quirked up with amusement, one of his familiar almost-smirks ghosting across his face. Eli’s own smile widened in response— and then he felt it slip as a pang of something bittersweet tugged painfully through his chest. 

It seemed like a lifetime ago that he’d last seen that expression on Thrawn’s face. 

“Well,” he said, clearing his throat to try and cover up his reaction. Maybe Thrawn would assume he was just tired. It had been a long few days, after all. “That’ll be fun. I— I’d better go. Goodnight, sir.” 

Inwardly cursing himself and hoping his sudden unsteadiness wasn’t visible in his stride, Eli was halfway to the door of Thrawn’s office when— 

“Eli.” 

Thrawn’s voice was soft, his tentative tone making it half a question. Eli pulled up short, hesitating briefly before turning back to face his admiral again. Thrawn had risen to his feet and was standing by the side of his desk looking uncharacteristically awkward. 

The silence stretched. This was the first time Thrawn had called him by name since… Eli swallowed around the lump in his throat, blinking, opening his mouth and then closing it again. 

“May we… speak, this evening?” Thrawn finally said, sounding almost nervous, and Eli nodded. 

He didn’t quite trust himself to speak right at that moment. 

 

Later that evening, after trying and failing to eat something, Eli tapped at the door panel for Thrawn’s private quarters and waited, nerves fluttering through his stomach. The delay was both too long and too short before the door hissed open to admit him. 

Thrawn was sitting at his desk, his expression neutral. 

“Eli. I have been monitoring my recovery closely since beginning my treatment,” he said without preamble the moment the door closed, getting to his feet and clasping his hands behind his back. “I would like to show you the results, if you are willing.”

Eli’s stomach lurched, and he couldn’t have said whether it was more from fear or hope. “Of course. How, uh… how’s it been going?” he asked, lamely. 

Thrawn didn’t answer, only stepped aside and gestured wordlessly at his desk monitor as Eli approached. Eli leaned down to look, his brow furrowing as he scanned carefully through the readouts. If he was reading them right… 

Something tentative but bright flared up in his chest. “It… it worked?” 

“The treatment appears to have been successful, yes,” Thrawn answered with a soft smile, and Eli didn’t know whether to laugh or cry with relief. 

He split the difference, his breath catching in a stifled sort of half-sob as he leaned heavily against the edge of Thrawn’s desk. “Gods, Thrawn. Why didn’t you just say so?” 

“I did not wish to influence your interpretation of the results, in case I was mistaken in my own conclusions,” Thrawn said, his expression sombering again. 

“How have you been doing?” Eli asked after a moment, searching Thrawn’s face. “I’ve been really worried, but… I didn’t want to make it any harder for you, or push before you were ready to talk.” 

“I realized that, and appreciated it greatly,” Thrawn said quietly. “It was… not a pleasant experience, to say the least.” Something dark flitted across his face, a shadow of pain that briefly twisted his features before his expression cleared again. “But I believe I am fully recovered. I ended the treatment a full three weeks ago, and have noted no adverse effects in that time.” 

“That’s great news,” Eli said. He felt like a huge weight had lifted, one he’d gotten so used to carrying he’d stopped noticing it until it was suddenly just… gone. “Are you… okay, though? You know, around me?” 

“Yes,” Thrawn replied. Glowing eyes found and held Eli’s gaze. “I have been for quite some time now. Long before I finished the treatment course, in fact. But… I have missed you, Eli.” 

Eli’s heart skipped a beat. 

“I’ve missed you too, Thrawn,” he said. His voice was hoarse, his throat thick and scratchy with emotion. “You’re positive, though? That it’s not just— not just the addiction?” 

“I am certain,” Thrawn said. “It is not merely our sexual intimacy that I miss, it is… everything. Your companionship. The conversations we shared. Holding you in my arms in the night and seeing you when I awake. I have felt the lack of your presence deeply these last months. My life has been… lonely, without you.” 

Thrawn’s voice cracked slightly at the end, and Eli was suddenly blinking back tears.

“Mine, too,” he whispered, nearly trembling, gripping the edge of the desk so hard his knuckles ached. He wanted to take Thrawn’s hand, wanted to pull him into a hug, but— 

“I was able to create a blocker, Eli,” Thrawn said softly. He held out a hand between them, open, palm up, a tentative invitation clear in the simple gesture. “I have already taken it. It is safe, if you—” 

Eli launched himself into Thrawn’s arms so hard he nearly bowled his admiral over backwards. 

 

They took things slow, after that, carefully re-building their relationship over the course of weeks and months; at first doing nothing more than cuddling and talking, neither of them wanting anything more than to simply enjoy the closeness, enjoy each other’s presence once again. Then, occasionally spending the night together, but only sleeping, holding each other tightly; and eventually, nervously, sharing kisses that started out soft and gentle and wound up anything but. 

Through it all, Thrawn continued monitoring himself closely, his bloodwork and his mental state alike, to be certain the blocker worked properly. 

It did. 


Chapter Text

It started with a kiss. Innocent, almost; tentative. Cautious. Maybe even a little afraid. 

Thrawn waited patiently as Eli hesitated; the moment stretching before Eli leaned forward in the tiniest of motions, slowly closing the miniscule gap that remained between them. 

Their lips brushed gently, and Eli tasted of comfort and warmth. 

Eli’s arm tightened around him under the blanket, mouth slowly opening on his, tongues flickering, touching, twining softly. 

Thrawn inhaled deeply, breathing in Eli’s unique scent. It filled his airways, filled him with desire for the man in his arms; but that intensely burning need was gone, replaced by something… deeper. Steadier. 

Better. 

Breaking the kiss, Eli pulled back slightly and Thrawn stilled, watching him. Those beautiful brown eyes searched his face, Eli’s brow creasing with the faintest hint of worry. 

“You sure you’re okay?” 

Thrawn smiled. He wanted Eli, yes— but did not need to have him. Simply being with him was enough. 

“I am. Are you?” 

Eli looked at him intently a moment longer; then his forehead smoothed once more and he returned the smile, reaching up to brush a stray lock of hair back from Thrawn’s temple with gentle fingers. 

“Yes.” 

Thrawn shifted, leaning into it as Eli pulled him back into the kiss; pulled him closer. Close enough to feel the warmth of Eli’s body against his own as their legs tangled together. Close enough to feel Eli’s desire stirring against him as their kiss deepened. 

They moved against each other, hands and tongues exploring and teasing; pausing only to slip one another’s clothing off under the covers. Piece by piece, until at last they were bare and Eli’s skin was warm on his. 

Eli moaned softly, his breath hot in Thrawn’s mouth as Thrawn rolled them over, rolled Eli onto his back and settled between his open legs. Eli’s hips twitched as Thrawn slid one hand down his side, over his hip to his thigh; and Thrawn thrust gently against him in return, feeling Eli’s cock stiffening further alongside his own erection. 

Twining the fingers of his other hand through Eli’s bed-tousled hair, Thrawn pushed up onto one elbow, nipping gently at Eli’s bottom lip before pulling back from the kiss to look at him for a moment. Eli returned Thrawn’s gaze, breathing hard, his lips parted and slightly swollen from kissing. His dark eyes were heavy with desire, and the heat of arousal was radiating brightly off his face, neck and chest. 

He was beautiful. 

“Still good?” 

Eli ran his hands lightly over Thrawn’s back as he spoke, sending a pleasant shiver up Thrawn’s spine. 

“Mmm, yes… I was merely contemplating how fortunate I am.” 

Eli grinned, ducking his head slightly as his cheeks flushed hotter with pleased embarrassment, and Thrawn waited until Eli met his eyes again before continuing in a more serious tone. 

“Do you still wish to continue?” 

Stars, yes.” 

Smiling, Thrawn met Eli’s lips in another kiss before leaning over to take out the little bottle of lubricant. He took his time getting Eli ready, opening him up, pleasuring him thoroughly, fingertips teasing carefully over his prostate until he was writhing and sweating and panting for breath, his barely coherent moans for more muffled into Thrawn’s mouth. 

When Thrawn finally pressed into him, Eli shuddered from head to toe; and Thrawn trembled, stilling, his eyes fluttering briefly shut as a shivering gasp of pleasure escaped his lips. Being inside Eli felt… exquisite. Even more wonderful than he remembered. 

Eli whimpered a wordless plea, his hips shifting, and Thrawn pressed forward further, gradually pushing in deeper until his cock was completely enveloped in Eli’s familiar, welcoming heat. He paused again, briefly, to slip his arms under Eli’s shoulders, to cover Eli’s mouth with his once more— and then he finally began moving, sliding in and out of Eli without ever breaking away from the kiss. And Eli returned it hungrily, wrapping his arms around Thrawn’s back and raising his legs up, his moans muffled into Thrawn’s mouth as he rocked his hips in time with Thrawn’s thrusts. 

They moved together, holding one another tight, hot mouths meeting and parting and meeting again in between panting breaths. The sheer pleasure of being with Eli again was nearly overwhelming, and Thrawn kept his pace steady, not wanting it to be over too soon. He was only barely pulling back on each thrust, loath to withdraw from the depths of Eli’s tight heat any more than he must; and still he found himself building rapidly towards release, the tension of orgasm already beginning to coil tightly in his belly. He twisted slightly without slowing, reaching down to close one hand firmly around Eli’s cock between them, and Eli cried out, trembling against him. 

“Ahhh- Thrawn—” 

His breath coming in sharp gasps, Thrawn stroked Eli in time with his thrusts, muscles tight and quivering as he tried desperately to hold his orgasm at bay without stopping. Eli’s open-mouthed whimpers and moans were growing louder, his fingers tightening on Thrawn’s sweat-slicked back, his deep brown eyes holding Thrawn’s gaze from under heavy lids. 

Eli… I cannot last, I—” 

“Yes- yes, come in me, Thrawn— I’m so close, please—” 

Thrawn could not hold back any longer, the desire and desperation in Eli’s voice pushing him over the edge, and his hips jerked erratically as he came, hard; spilling himself into that slick heat with Eli’s name on his lips. He was still coming, his orgasm still pulsing out when Eli followed mere seconds later, his pleas disintegrating into a long wail, his hips bucking and his cock throbbing hot and hard in Thrawn’s hand. 

As they both twitched and shivered through the aftershocks, Thrawn finally released Eli’s cock and slid that hand under his commander’s back, pushing Eli’s sweat-damp hair back off his brow with the other and pressing a breathless kiss to his lips. Eli hummed softly, a contented, happy sound, and Thrawn rested his own sweaty forehead down on Eli’s, holding him close, still buried as deeply inside him as he could be. 

They remained in that embrace, entwined together under the tangle of blankets, slowly catching their breath in between soft, lazy kisses. To his quiet regret, Thrawn’s spent cock finally, inevitably slipped out of Eli, but he stayed where he was, unwilling to break the moment. 

Eli breathed another quiet, humming sigh, a soft, relaxed smile lighting up his eyes as he gazed up at Thrawn, and a deep, sweet ache welled up in Thrawn’s chest; an ache that grew and expanded until it overflowed in the form of a gentle murmur. 

Ch’acah vah, seo.” 

Eli’s smile deepened and he nuzzled into Thrawn’s neck, his arms tightening around Thrawn’s back and his reply slightly muffled against Thrawn’s skin. 

“I love you, too.”