Return of the Knights

by Jane Carnall and Atropos

It was a dark and stormy bar. Cowley scowled into his glass. No one could make a good malt whisky this side of the Orion Nebula, and he was damned sick of paying over the odds for whisky of this quality. He was damned sick of this planet, but he couldn't afford to pay passenger fare, and no one was hiring engineers. It was all slot-in replacement technology these days. Half these young so-called engineers on a modern space ship wouldn't recognise a cracked dilithium crystal if they saw one, or know what to do about it if they did.

Over on the other side of the bar, a tall dark-haired human was arguing something with a bufoid. It was getting so you couldn't even drink bad whisky in peace anywhere. Then a wookie loomed up behind the dark-haired man and Cowley's interest grew more pointed.

He liked wookies. Straightforward, and not ill-tempered providing you didn't rub them up the wrong way. They never could articulate any language but their own, and that led some stupid people to believe that wookies weren't really sentient. That and the fur. Furry species always had a hard time being treated as intelligent beings; some psychologist had called it the Teddy-Bear Syndrome. God knew what a teddy-bear was.

The argument was getting louder and Cowley heard the wookie growl at the bufoid. It sounded insulting; certainly the toadling seemed to think so, because he drew his weapon. Cowley sighed and finished his drink in one gulp. Bar-room brawls could get nasty and he obviously wasn't going to get a berth on any ships today. The whisky tasted no better for being gulped, he might as well be drinking cold tea!

The wookie roared again. Definitely time to leave. Before he made it to the door, however, the toadling fired at the dark man. He looked startled, as if he hadn't believed the bufoid would actually pull the trigger, before he collapsed sideways on to the floor. The wookie snarled, picked the toadling up, and threw it across the room. It landed with a sickening thud on the fizzbin table, and the half-dozen players leaped up, shouting outrage in seven different languages.

Cowley paused. He was right by the door, and could be outside in thirty seconds, but he was interested. The wookie was standing over the body of his human, gun in hand, roaring a challenge. Unfortunately at least a dozen beings from all corners of the bar were evidently ready to take him up on it. The wookie could hold them off, but he couldn't get his partner out of the bar without letting down his guard.

It looked messy. Cowley frowned. He really couldn't afford to get embroiled in something like this. Opening the door, he was about to leave inconspicuously, when he realised that the barman must have called the Imperial cops; the flitterpark was full of them. They'd deal with the problem by arresting everyone in the bar, himself included.

Cowley turned, pulling his gun, and barked "I'll hold them off! We'll get out through the kitchens!"

The wookie snarled surprised agreement, and Cowley moved forward, gun raised, making it clear he was ready to kill. "Don't get excited," he said in Basic, quietly but clearly. "If you get excited, some of you will go to hell. We'll just leave. Now."

The wookie had picked up his companion, and started to retreat towards the staff door; Cowley followed him, repeating "Don't get excited," keeping his eyes on the crowd. No one was getting excited until the cops burst in, and Cowley whipped through the kitchen door and slammed it behind him. He looked for a lock. There wasn't one.

"Here," a small blond man -- well, hardly more than a boy -- handed him a broom. Cowley shoved it through the two handles, making a rough bolt.

"Thanks," he said briskly, and growled to the wookie, "Run!"

"Which way?" the wookie responded.

"What's the fastest way out?" Cowley asked the blond.

"I'll show you," the blond said, and ran; Cowley and the wookie followed him, down dark greasy passageways smelling of stale frying and mould, and out, finally, into the open air. There wasn't a cop in sight; they were all round the other side of the building. Cowley could hear them.

"Where now?" he asked the wookie. "Hospital?"

"Our ship's at the port. We need to leave."

"The port's five klicks away!" Cowley snapped.

"Where are you going?" the blond man asked tentatively. He obviously didn't understand wookie.

"To the port, if we can find transport," Cowley told him.

"The owner's flitter is over there," the blond man offered.

"We can't drive that -- it's got one of those DNA code locks."

"It's been coded for me, so I can take it to be cleaned. I'll drive you."

It was no time to argue. The man in the wookie's arms was very pale, and the wookie was making small worried growls over him. "Right," Cowley said to the blond man, and to the wookie, "The cub's driving us to the port."

The wookie groaned. "That's Daft Luke!"

"Daft who? Never mind, so long as he can drive!"

The young man -- Luke? opened the doors of the flitter and the wookie climbed in, careful of the man he carried. Cowley climbed into the front, beside the blond, who was running pre-flight checks with speed and efficiency. The wookie growled "So long as he doesn't start seeing things!"

The flitter took off. Daft or not, Luke obviously knew how to drive the thing. They reached the port faster than Cowley would have believed possible, faster than Cowley liked with the ground so close, but without mishap. "Which is your ship?" Cowley asked.

"That one," the wookie growled. "The Millenium Falcon."

Cowley looked in disbelief at the gleaming, modern expanse of the ship in front of them. "That one?" He pointed at it.

"No. The one next to it."

It was saucer-shaped, with bits stuck to it. Cowley gestured to Luke. "Land us beside it."

"That ship?" Luke said in horror, but he landed the flitter within metres of the airlock.

The wookie was out within seconds, and Cowley followed him, adding over his shoulder "Thanks," to the blond man. They were at the airlock before he realised Luke was following them.

"Where do you think you're going?"

"Well, I'm not going back," Luke said. Cowley followed his glance. Storm Troopers were landing at the edge of the field.

"Move," Cowley barked, and the wookie yelped and slammed his paw against the airlock control. It closed; Luke was inside with them.


The Falcon was sized like a Wanderer-class planet-hopper, but not designed like one. Cowley had no idea where the flight deck would be; he followed the wookie, down a cramped passageway into a cabin. The wookie set his human companion down on the bunk, grabbed Luke by the shoulder and snarled "Look after him!" to Luke, who flinched back.

"He's not hungry, is he?"

"Look after him," Cowley said in Basic, impatiently, and the wookie shoved Luke towards the bunk.

The flight deck wasn't far; and the controls were familiar enough. Cowley slid automatically into the co-pilot's seat and started running the pre-flight checks, very fast. The controls had been modified for human/wookie operation; at least that meant everything was in easy reach. "What's your ID? I'll get us cleared for take-off."

"Three-seven-four-five-alpha," the wookie growled.

The spaceport official made no trouble about giving them an immediate take-off slot; this wasn't one of the big ports. "Five minutes," Cowley snapped, and the wookie shook his head in acknowledgement, his paws flying over the console as fast as an old Imperial pilot.

Thirty seconds before take-off, the communicator buzzed again, and the official's voice said frantically, "Abort take-off. Acknowledge, 3745ALPHA, abort take-off!"

Cowley made a crackling noise into the communicator. "Say again, tower? Didn't catch you." For good measure, he crackled once more, over the official repeating himself.

"Sorry, tower, we are not receiving you. Take-off in fifteen seconds."

The wookie indicated the rear-view scanner. Imperial troopers were getting into position. Cowley grinned; so did the wookie, then pressed ignition.


Once safely free of the planet's gravity-well, the wookie unstrapped and stood up. "My partner," he growled.

"I've had paramed training," Cowley said, turning on the autopilot.

The boy -- Luke -- obviously wasn't as daft as advertised. He'd stopped the bleeding, and strapped the dark man into the bunk. He looked frightened when the wookie loomed over him, and Cowley said hastily, "Can you find me a medikit?"

The wookie was only out of the cabin for a minute; Luke said apprehensively, "I did my best..."

"You did fine, son," Cowley told him. "I'm afraid we've hijacked you, though; we can't go back to Tatooine any time soon."

"We're off planet?" Luke's face lit up; "Yes!"

"We were being chased by Imperial Troopers."

"Really? Wow."

Cowley could understand for the first time why he was called Daft Luke. The wookie came back carrying a medikit, and Cowley got to work on the unconscious man. The wound didn't appear to be that serious, and Cowley couldn't work out why he was still unconscious. He hadn't lost too much blood, though. The medikit, Cowley noted, had an Imperial registration number on it. Well; scratch a free trader and you find either a smuggler or a pirate. Or both.

He finished patching the man up, and turned to the wookie. "He'll be fine, once he regains consciousness. Did he hit his head when he went down?"

The wookie nodded, no.

Cowley picked up the handscanner again and adjusted the settings. It beeped loudly. "Oh. Someone slipped him a Mickey."

The wookie growled "Slipped him a what?"

"A fast-acting soporific drug. He'll wake up in five or six hours with a hangover."

"That's nothing new." The wookie sounded relieved; he grinned, showing most of his teeth. "If you're sure he's OK, we'd better set the bucket of bolts on course before the Imperials come after us."

"Where are we going?"

"Away from here."

"Good plan."

"Will he be OK?" Luke asked tentatively.

"Yes," Cowley said. "We'll be getting away from here now."

"Ask him if he can cook," the wookie growled.

"He -- " Cowley suddenly realised that in all the rush he still didn't know the wookie's name " -- wants to know if you can cook."

Luke looked markedly relieved. "Yes."

"The galley's down the corridor. Tell the cub to make us something to eat."

Cowley translated. "We should be finished in about an hour," he added. "Luke, isn't it?"


"My name's Cowley -- George Cowley."

"Ch'rru bak'ha," the wookie supplied.

"Chewbacca?" Luke said, incredulously.

The wookie laughed -- and Luke, to Cowley's astonishment, took two quick paces backwards until he met the bulkhead, standing pressed against it, looking panicky. "That's what Bodie always calls me," Ch'rru said to Cowley. "He can't speak the Talk either, though he understands it well enough."

Cowley shrugged. "I grew up on Gles'ga." It was the only world in the galaxy where humans and wookies mixed on equal terms.

"That explains it." Ch'rru grinned. "Tell the cub I won't eat him unless he provokes me."

"That's unkind." Cowley laughed, and added to the boy, "It's all right, Luke, he was only laughing. This is a small ship; if we've got any hope of getting along, you'd better lose this nervousness. We'll be on the flight deck; get moving. I'm hungry."


They laid course for Atfordgap, the second waystar away from Tatooine; it was a good jumping off point for most planets in the second spiral arm, and it put off having to make a decision for their final destination until after Bodie had woken up.

The boy turned out to be a fair cook and they ate heartily. They were just finishing their third cups of coffee when they heard shouting and cursing from the little cabin along the corridor. Bodie was awake, and still strapped down. Ch'rru got up and went out; a minute later, Cowley heard "Chewie, what the hell -- " and then Ch'rru growling more quietly. After a while, they came back, the dark-haired man a pace ahead of the wookie, rubbing his head and looking furious.

"Would you like some coffee?" Cowley asked. "Someone slipped you a Mickey."

"Who the hell are you?" Bodie turned and raked the boy with his glare. "And what's -- " the hesitation was momentary, but perceptible " -- Luke doing aboard?"

"He drove us to the spaceport and stopped you from bleeding to death," Ch'rru snarled. "Sit down."

Bodie collapsed rather than sat into the chair Cowley vacated for him. "Chewbacca, what the fuck is going on?"

Cowley poured him a mug of coffee. Luke had retreated again, looking as if he wished he were invisible. Bodie drank the coffee while Ch'rru growled a brief explanation.

"Oh, wonderful. Another port we can't go back to. Look, Cowley," Bodie said rather more politely, "we'll put you and the boy down on the first decent planet we come to. Probably Alderan. No offence, but we need a co-pilot like a Horta needs NaOH."

"Your main drive needs re-tuning. Your crystals are badly out of alignment, and I think at least two of them are cracked. And the electronic carbohydrate carbonizer's on the blink."

"What? Chewie!"

"I didn't tell him that."

"I trained at the MetaInstitute of Technology," Cowley said flatly. "I'm an engineer, and this ship badly needs one."


"He speaks the Talk," Ch'rru managed to make it sound smug.

"Oh, God." Bodie poured himself another mug of coffee. "I suppose you're from Gles'ga?"


"Fine." Bodie sighed. "I'm not arguing with the two of you. What about the boy?"

"Please take me with you," Luke said. "I won't be any trouble."

"I sincerely doubt that." Bodie looked him up and down. "Can you do anything besides cook?"

"I'm training to be a Jedi Knight."

"Oh, God." Bodie looked at Ch'rru. "Did you have to bring him on board?"

"Well, at least he can cook," Ch'rru growled.

"What else can you do?"

"I'm a good flitter pilot, and I can fix droids, and I'm a good shot, and -- " Luke was running out of ideas " -- I can run farm machinery..."

Bodie snorted. "At least you'd fetch a fair price on Wormit." Then, at Luke's appalled look, he chuckled, and added "Or Danube."

"Isn't that the pleasure planet?" Cowley asked, with apparent innocence.

Ch'rru snarled, showing most of his teeth, and finally laughed. "Tell the cub we don't trade in humans. The market's too fragile."

"So's the merchandise," Bodie said blandly. "It's all right, kid, we're not going to sell you. We'll put you off at the next world." He stood up, rubbing the back of his head. "I'm going back to my bunk. Chewie, can you get a cabin clear for our new engineer?"

"What about the boy?"

"Oh, he won't be staying. He can have the other bunk in my cabin meantime."

"Subtle, Bodie," Ch'rru growled.

"I've got a headache, you over-sized teddy-bear," Bodie growled back, in Basic, and ignoring Luke's startled look, went out.

The other cabin was occupied with large plastic cartons clearly labelled CLEANING DROIDS -- THIRD CLASS. They were fairly heavy; Luke couldn't move them. In the end Ch'rru, with Cowley's unobtrusive help, stacked them all along the only uncluttered passageway in the ship, narrowing it until it was barely wide enough for a wookie. The storage units were full of clothing.

"From the last crewman," Ch'rru said, which Cowley translated and left Luke to pack most of it up. There were a lot of pairs of black leather trousers, and several heavy white silk shirts.

"Interesting tastes he had, this crewman," Cowley said, very blandly.

Ch'rru grunted.

"Did he have blond hair, too?"

Ch'rru sounded amused. "Yes. Long blond hair. His name was Brian."

"What happened to him?"

"Lost his nerve."


Luke reluctantly packed the last of the silk shirts. "Lovely stuff."

"Take some of it," Ch'rru said. "He was about your size. And he won't want it any more."

"He says you can help yourself," Cowley translated. "You might as well; there's no room to store a lot of useless stuff aboard a ship this size. It would only go out, or be traded somewhere."

"Thanks," Luke said brightly. "Are you sure the other man won't mind?"

"I doubt it," Cowley said evenly.


It would take two ship's days to reach Atfordgap (reckoning in standard units of 26 hours). Cowley spent the rest of the first day looking over the engines, and tutting to himself. Bodie had obviously been choosing the third crewmen for their looks, not their engineering talent, for years.

He surfaced after several hours concentrated work, with a list of parts needed, and sat in the galley making notes and eating the food that Luke supplied. When he'd finished, it finally occurred to him to ask "Been getting on all right?"

"Yes," Luke said, but sounded a little shaky.

"Sorry. These engines are in a right state. What's worrying you?"

"I've never met a wookie before."

"It's all right. Their bark's a lot worse than their bite."

"He'd bite?"

"It's only an expression. Where did you go to school?"

"I didn't. I did all my lessons over the satellite link. The school was in town, you see, and Uncle said he couldn't spare me from the farm for a whole term..."

Cowley tried, very hard, not to laugh. It wasn't fair. But it was such a cliché he couldn't quite believe it. "So you're a farm boy?"

"Yes." Luke was quite serious. "I really can fix all kinds of machinery."

"So you left the farm to study to be a mechanic, did you?"

"No, I left to become a Jedi Knight."

Cowley sighed. "Look, son; the Jedi Knights are just a legend."

"No they're not. My father was a Jedi."

"Was he?" Cowley frowned. "What's your name? Besides Luke."

"Luke Skywalker."

"Oh." Cowley drank his coffee. "Well, Luke, whatever stories your father may have told you, he should have warned you that talking about the Jedi legend in a public place is illegal."

"Why -- if they're only a legend?"

"Because the legend is," Cowley said dryly, "that the Jedi were sworn to defend the galaxy against evil oppressors. That's why the Emperor doesn't care for talk about Jedi Knights."

"I thought the Jedi served the Emperor?"

"If there were any Jedi, they certainly wouldn't serve the present Emperor. They'd keep their heads down, stay quiet, and forget about being Jedi. The only reason you weren't arrested, I'll bet, is that everyone who heard you talk about being a Jedi assumed you had to be daft."

"Jedi Knights wouldn't hide!"

"Maybe that's why the Jedi are only a legend. How old are you, son?"


"If you want to live to be seventeen -- " Cowley looked at the boy's face. Absolutely useless to tell him to forget about the Jedi. "Just don't go blurting it all out to perfect strangers. Like me, and Bodie, and Ch'rru. For all you know we could be loyal Imperial subjects, or at least badly enough in need of cash, and we'd turn you in to the nearest informer."

"But all I've ever wanted to be is a Jedi Knight."

"Learn to be a mechanic," Cowley suggested. "It's much safer, much better employment prospects, and you could always consider it your cover identity. Even Jedi Knights need some way of earning a living."

"Will you teach me?"

"Teach you?" Cowley was startled.

"Yes. To be a mechanic."

"Well, if you can persuade Bodie to let you stay on board long enough, I suppose I can use an assistant."

"Will you teach me to speak wookie?"

"I doubt if I can. I might be able to teach you to understand some of it, though."

Ch'rru came in. Luke got up, and served him his supper.

"We need another couple of seats," Ch'rru said.

Cowley raised his eyebrows. "Is Luke staying around that long?"

"Probably," Ch'rru growled.

"I'm tired," Luke said tentatively, "I -- I think I'll go to bed."

They watched him leave, and Ch'rru turned to Cowley and winked. "Make that certainly."


The cabin was darkened; Luke went cautiously to the lower bunk, and realised it was still covered in junk. He began to lift it off, piece by piece, unable to tell what it was in the dimness, aware by feel what was metal and what was leather and what was plastic. Then something he'd picked up thinking it was all one piece turned out to be in two pieces, and the second one fell out of the first, on to the floor with a chillingly loud thunk.

Luke landed on the floor, which was surprisingly hard, as the swift darkness which had thrown him switched the light on and became a half-naked Bodie, frowning with sleep. "What? -- Oh. You. -- God, can't you even get into bed quietly?"

"I was trying to clear the bunk..."

"Next time, switch the light on," Bodie suggested tersely. He leaned over and swept everything remaining on the bunk onto the floor. Some of the things bounced and landed on Luke. "Sorry," the older man muttered, unapologetically, and climbed back into his own bunk.

Luke got up, cautiously, and sat down on the edge of the bed to take his shoes off. Bodie was watching him. Luke was trying not to watch Bodie in the mirror on the opposite wall. The man was solid muscle, firmly defined under pale smooth skin. He looked beautiful and dangerous. Luke decided not to take off his trousers, which were safely baggy; he peeled off his jerkin and shirt, folded them neatly, and put them tidily on top of his shoes. He slid quickly under the covers; Bodie reached up and touched a switch. The room was once more in darkness.

Cowley climbed onto the bunk in his cabin and turned off the light. He was pretty tired, had been through a lot today, and wanted badly to sleep. He closed his eyes and tried to still his racing mind. The boy and his talk of Jedi knights had unsettled him -- he'd thought that sort of foolishness gone from the Galaxy for good. He lay back and called to mind some of the old disciplines, forcing patterns of relaxation on his tense mind and body. When he finally slept, thinking of the wookie, he was smiling.

At first he thought it was a nightmare, but he woke and realised that the growls and grunts were on the other side of the wall. He sat up and turned on the lights. Definitely a distressed wookie. That was impossible -- the cabin walls should be soundproof. Unless?

He climbed off the bunk and probed the walls with his fingers, finding nothing. Closing his eyes and concentrating, Cowley ran his fingers over the panels again... bingo! He pushed, and one of the panels sprang back revealing a hollow space where the soundproofing had been removed. Typical smugglers' trick!

Cowley stepped into the space and listened. Yes, that was Ch'rru all right, having a bad dream by the sound of it. Great, just what he needed tonight... a noisy neighbour. He turned to scramble back to his own cabin when the wall behind him gave way, damn these concealed controls, and he tumbled out onto the floor of Ch'rru's room.

Before he could get to his feet the wookie was awake, with the light on and a blaster pointed at him. "What the hell are you doing in my cabin?" he growled.

Cowley scowled at him. "You were keeping me awake, so I was trying to repair the soundproofing." He shrugged at the hole between their two cabins.

Ch'rru grinned and put the blaster away. "I'd forgotten about that. Brian never slept in that room so the soundproofing wasn't necessary. I'll fix it in the morning."

Cowley grinned back. "I'm the engineer... I'll fix it in the morning. Now that I've woken you, d'you want a cup of tea?" Ch'rru nodded. "Okay, I'll go and get us one."


Cowley smiled as he nudged the door to Ch'rru's cabin open with his shoulder. Kicking it shut behind him he walked over to the bedside and placed both cups of tea on the shelf by the pillow. Ch'rru had dozed off again, curled on top of the covers, his furry tummy exposed and inviting. Berating himself for foolishness Cowley reached out and ruffled the soft belly fur. The wookie woke immediately and grabbed his hand in a large paw.

"Sorry, couldn't resist." Cowley smiled ingenuously.

"You don't strike me as a man who is given to whims," Ch'rru growled.

"Not most whims, no."

"So what's so compelling that you risk losing an arm?"

"Memories, I suppose."

"George Cowley!" Recognition dawned on Ch'rru's face. "I knew I'd heard the name before. The wookie-lover."

"It was hardly uncommon on Gles'ga."

"Interspecies homosexuality is rare on any world!"

Cowley shrugged. "The scandal is old news." Very old news.

"Yes. My granddam told me the story. I'd have said you were in your fifties, but if that story is true... you must be three times that age!"

Looking for a distraction Cowley reached for his cup of tea and took a sip. Yes, he was getting old. Very old to be so careless! "And what else did your granddam tell you to frighten little wookies?"

"Oh this and that." Ch'rru said casually, leaning back against the bulkhead. "Stories about Jedi knights, and lovers who meet and part throughout time." He reached out a large, leathery hand and pulled Cowley towards him. Too startled to resist Cowley found himself curled against the soft belly fur. After a moment, he relaxed into it. Ch'rru's hand wandered over him, stroking him gently. "But I always liked the story of the man and the wookie best of all."

"A bit kinky wasn't it? Didn't your granddam tell you off?"

"She probably thought it was sweet. She always liked to undermine authority, it's thanks to her I became a smuggler."

"You mean free-trader."

"Very free!" Ch'rru's hand kept moving, stroking Cowley's legs through the thin sleep suit. "Do you like this, George?"

"Umm, Ch'rru, I don't think we ought to continue with this."


"Well, Bodie..."

"Bodie and I are not lovers, we're just friends. Besides he always gets the fun."

"Look, I started out as a naive farm lad, not much better than daft Luke. I might have gone on like that if I hadn't met Mm'rrk -- he was tall and strong and furry and I fell in love. It never occurred to me that other people would be bothered, I'd grown up in a place where human and wookie mixed as equals. We never had any problems on Gles'ga. It was only after we left..."

"So the rest of the story is true, as well?" Ch'rru asked softly.


"I mean the bit about it all happening over a hundred years ago... and the fact that you and he were both Jedi Knights?"

Cowley froze under the persistent stroking, then relaxed all at once. "Yes, it's all true. What do you intend to do about it?"

"I don't know. I'm certainly not going to turn you over to the cops. But I know what I want to do right now... if you won't feel it's imposing on Mm'rrk's memory."


"This." Ch'rru drew him closer into a warm furry hug. "Stay the night with me?"

Cowley closed his eyes and leant back into the embrace. "Yes. Yes, please."

Cowley woke a couple of hours later, hot and sweaty. He'd forgotten how much heat a wookie generated. Yet it was strangely comforting, feeling the damp fur plastered against his back where Ch'rru spooned round him, the weight of the great arm over him, and hearing the deep, even breathing. He should be worrying about having been recognised, about Ch'rru turning him in -- if not to the cops then to the rebels. Instead he thought of the wookie's gentle hands, stroking him and rousing him to fever pitch... he'd not responded to anyone like that in over a hundred years. Foolish, foolish!

Ch'rru's arm tightened round him and he snuggled back into the embrace. Foolish, maybe... but it was nice. Sighing, he settled his head on the wookie's other arm and drifted back to sleep.


When Luke woke up, for an instant he didn't know where he was. Then a wide grin spread across his face as he remembered. He was on a starship. At last, he was on a real honest-to-God starship. And there in the upper bunk, Luke could hear him breathing, was a man who looked like a Jedi Knight. And maybe, just maybe, Bodie would let him stay on board.

Bodie snorted, turned over, mumbled something in a voice so thick with sleep it was unintelligible, and sat up. Luke watched in the mirror, through half-closed eyes, as Bodie kicked off the covers and swung his legs over the edge of the bunk. "Hey, you..." Bodie yawned. "What's your name, Luke... make us some coffee."

Luke got up, trying to keep his eyes from the interesting lump in Bodie's shorts. He was halfway to the door before Bodie said, in a voice not quite so sleepy, "Hey, you don't have anything else to wear, do you?"

"No..." Luke turned round.

"There's some spare clothing in the cabin Cowley's using. You can have it all, if you want. It should fit."

"Thanks," Luke said, and retreated.

The galley was empty, but a few minutes later Cowley came in, rubbing his eyes. "Coffee? That's great, Luke."

"You look tired," Luke ventured.

Cowley sat down at the table, smiling. "I didn't get much sleep last night... it was a bit hot."

"The temperature seemed OK in Bodie's cabin."

"I'm relieved to hear it."

The wookie appeared in the doorway. How could anything that big move so silently?

Cowley looked up and said something in the growly language. The wookie made a sound like a snarl and showed most of his teeth. Cowley replied, grinning, and added in Basic "Ch'rru says black with sugar."

Tentatively, Luke came close enough to hand the wookie a steaming mug; the big alien growled something and sat down across from Cowley.

"I'll sort out the chairs today," Cowley said. "and the electronic carbohydrate carbonizer. Oh, and fix the soundproofing."

The wookie choked on his coffee. Bodie walked into the galley. He was wearing a towel wrapped round his middle, and his hair was sleek with water. "Morning, Chewie. Cowley. Soundproofing?"

The wookie barked something.

"Oh. Yeah. Sorry, Cowley. Should have warned you about that. Coffee."

Luke handed him the mugful he'd just poured for himself, and started brewing up another batch. Bodie took it, drank a long mouthful, and stared at the wookie and Cowley. "When are you going to sort out the chairs, Cowley?"

"Today. And the electronic carbohydrate carbonizer."

"Oh. Good." Bodie drank some more coffee. "What about the drive crystals?" he asked, sounding more awake.

"I can't fix those till we pick up some replacement crystals."

"We can do that on Atfordgap... Ballybran's should have everything you need."


Bodie finished his coffee, putting the mug down on the table, and stared again at Cowley and the wookie. "Chewie? You all right?"

Cowley growled something. Bodie choked. "What? Chewie?"

"I thought you understood wookie," Cowley said smoothly. "I said, he's more than all right, he's wonderful."

Luke stared, and then blushed; the wookie was watching him. There was an odd gleam in those violet eyes. But Cowley couldn't mean... Luke stared at the back of Cowley's head, avoiding Chewie's eyes, unable to believe it. What could a human and a wookie do?

The wookie was snarling something, very softly.

"Of course I'm not bloody prejudiced!" Bodie shouted. He looked at Cowley, swiftly, and then back at Chewie. "It's just... unexpected, that's all." Another side-long glance at Cowley. "You've never been interested in anyone who wasn't furry, before."

Chewie bared his teeth. It was a grin; Luke was beginning to get the hang of reading wookie expressions. Though the barking retort still sounded aggressive.

Cowley laughed. "Yes, I have, haven't I?"

Bodie folded his arms across his chest. "Well, it's not my fault. I'm going to get dressed. Luke, can you make us breakfast?"

"Yes..." Luke said, still shaken.

The wookie growled. Bodie snarled "No, I bloody did not!" and went out.


It was early evening, shiptime, when they made orbit around Atfordgap. Cowley had fixed the electronic carbohydrate carbonizer, and sorted out the seating in the galley. He didn't bother with the soundproofing; from the way things seemed to be moving, nobody was likely to be sleeping in that cabin.

Cowley finished the list of parts they needed to buy, and showed it to Bodie, who grunted moderate approval. He still seemed a little resentful.

"It's going to take a lot of work, fixing this lot," Bodie observed.

"Yes. I could probably use an assistant."

"I'll be too busy."

"Ch'rru's paws are too large," Cowley countered.

"Well, I won't have time to help you." Bodie shrugged. "Don't suppose Daft Luke would be any use?"

"Well, he did say he had plenty of experience fixing farm machinery," Cowley said, suppressing a smile. "Perhaps I could teach him something. It might be quite interesting."

"Look," Bodie snapped, "what's going on with you and Chewie?"

"I don't think that's any of your business."

"I'm in command of this ship. Everything that goes on in it is my business."

"Ah. Well then, ask Ch'rru; he can fill you in on every furry detail. Unless you'd like me to draw you some diagrams?"

"I don't mean that," Bodie blustered. "Chewie's my partner and I don't want him getting hurt."

"Are you asking me what my intentions are, Bodie?"

"Yes, I suppose I am."

"I like him very much. I don't intend to hurt him. Beyond that -- I'm not a soothsayer. And about Luke."

"What about Luke?" Bodie asked suspiciously.

"He's a nice lad, even if he has got some daft ideas in his head. Go a bit carefully, would you?"

"What's your interest?"

"Oh, he's far too young for me." He just reminds me of someone I used to be.

Bodie stood looking at Cowley for a moment, frowning, and then grinned. "All right. I can see you and I are going to get on just fine."

"Good," Cowley murmured.


As they left the ship, Bodie turned to Cowley. "Do you know Frantic?"

"No. I haven't been here for years." Decades.

"It's the traders' bar right next to the Lost Arc...?"

"Oh. Henry's. I remember. Right, Luke and I will meet you there."

Luke looked at Cowley. Bodie said quickly, "Yeah, you'll need someone to help you carry all the stuff."

Once Bodie and Ch'rru were out of earshot, Luke asked diffidently, "Does this mean he's going to let me stay?"

"Yes. I told him I needed an assistant."


Cowley glanced at him. Luke's face was one beam of delight.

Ballybran's had expanded considerably since the last time Cowley was here, and no one recognised him, which was just as well; it could have been embarrassing. Luke was fairly loaded down with everything they'd bought by the time they left. "Just one more stop and we'll go back to the ship," Cowley assured him.

This shop was small and cluttered. A large lapinoid came lolloping through from the back, twitching his nose. "How can I serve you?"

"Don't you know me, Paddy?"

"Oh -- oh -- Cowley!" The large pink ears twitched enthusiastically. "Cowley, long time no see!"

"A lot of hydrogen through the ramscoop," Cowley agreed. "How's your partner?"

"Hr'vey's fine. He'll be so sorry to have missed you. Unless -- can you come back for supper?"

"I wish I could, but this is just a short stopover. I wonder if you can help me? I'm looking for some hypnotapes -- for the Talk," Cowley added in wookie.

"Surely you don't need those?" The lapinoid rested his paws on the counter, looking from Cowley to Luke and back again with inquisitive brown eyes.

"Luke here and I have just joined a ship whose first officer is a wookie," Cowley said, and shrugged. "It would be much easier if Luke doesn't think he's going to be eaten every time he's given an order."

Paddy sniggered, whiskers trembling. "And what about you?"

"Oh, I'm not worried about being eaten."

"No, I didn't think you would be." The lapinoid scurried round the counter and started burrowing in among the clutter on the other side of the shop. "I know I have some somewhere. Klingon, no, kzinti, no, ursine, no, ah, here we are, wookie. Only the basic tapes, I'm afraid, and you know he probably won't be able to pronounce the Talk properly?"

"As long as he can understand what's being said. Thanks very much. What do I owe you?"

"Nothing, George. Let's just say, for old time's sake." The lapinoid sniggered happily. "Do you ever see any of the others these days?"


"Not even Sh'ommy?"

"No," Cowley said abruptly, and softened it with a smile. "No. I'm just a simple ship's engineer."

"Oh, I very much doubt that, George. But good luck to you. You know how to get in touch if you ever need me."

"Yes. You too. Thanks for the tapes. Come on, Luke," Cowley added, switching to Basic.

Back at the ship, the parts safely stowed away, Cowley suggested Luke start making supper. "I'll go meet Bodie and Ch'rru."

"Can't I go with you?"

"No. If they're in the middle of a deal I'll slip away quietly; it's not easy for two to do that. I'll be back in an hour, with or without them."


Bodie and Ch'rru were talking to a pale young man with dark smooth hair and an oddly expressionless face. Cowley hesitated, not wanting to interrupt if they were coming to an agreement, but Bodie looked surprisingly pleased to see him. He leapt to his feet. "Good, you're here. Sorry, we have to go. Urgent business, won't wait. Come on," he added to Ch'rru, and was on his way out of the bar almost before Cowley reached the table.

The young man looked up with an abrupt movement of his head. Cowley stared at him, realising that this was not a man. Well, that was none of his business. Ch'rru rumbled an apology, rising to his feet and following Bodie. Cowley shrugged. "Goodbye," and turned to go.

Outside in the corridor, Bodie looked in a thoroughly bad mood. "Damn bastard came straight up to us and kept on at us for the entire time. So bloody persistent you'd think he was a droid."

"He was," Ch'rru and Cowley said simultaneously.

Bodie turned to look at them. "He was? Bloody hell, that bar's supposed to be live beings only. How can you tell? He didn't look like a droid."

"He didn't smell right," Ch'rru growled.

Bodie looked at Cowley. "How could you tell?"

Cowley shrugged. "He didn't smell right."

"Well, whatever," Bodie muttered. "Let's get back to the ship. We're not going to get any business done tonight."

"So we'll be stopping over until tomorrow?" Cowley asked, falling into step beside Bodie. It would be good to see Hr'vey again, if they were staying, though perhaps not very wise.

"Maybe," Bodie said curtly, and went on.

They had reached the airlock when the pale young man who wasn't a man appeared silently out of the shadows. Bodie whirled, reaching for the blaster that he wasn't wearing.

"I must speak to you," the droid said quietly.

"You had your chance in Frantic," Bodie snapped.

"Not to you." The droid was looking past Bodie, at Cowley.

Cowley froze, a crawling sensation of horror creeping slowly up his spine. Oh no. The droid couldn't be about to say what Cowley thought he was going to say. The droid knelt, his expressionless face somehow conveying desperate appeal. He was. If Cowley had had a light-sabre, he would have reached for it.

"Obi-wan Cowley, you're our only hope."

A sharp intake of breath behind him alerted Cowley; Luke was standing on the ramp, staring at him with awe written all over his face.

"Lagavulin!" Cowley swore. He swung round and would have walked off except that Ch'rru extended a furry arm to stop him. "George."

"It's all over and done with," Cowley snarled. He turned back, glaring at the droid. "It's finished. Who are you, and how do you know about me?"

"I am Data," the droid said. "I was made to the specifications of Obi-wan Picard, your friend."

"Jean-Luc's alive?" Cowley brushed past Bodie, reaching out his hand to pull the droid to its feet. "I thought he died... years ago."

"He is dead, Obi-wan," the droid said, rising smoothly with his hand barely touching Cowley's. "I serve his daughter."

"His daughter?" Cowley was incredulous.

"I was sent to find help, Obi-wan."

"Stop calling me that," Cowley said through gritted teeth. He glanced round. Fortunately this part of the docks was deserted at the moment. "For God's sake, let's go inside. I don't want to be overheard. Any more than we can help, that is," he added grimly, firmly ignoring Luke on the way up the ramp.

Once the airlock doors were shut, Bodie drew breath and exploded "Will somebody tell me what the fuck is going on? What is all this Obi-wan crap? I thought you said your name was George!"

"It is."

"Obi-wan's a title," Luke said breathlessly. "All Jedi Knights are called Obi-wan."

"That's ridiculous. Jedi Knights are just a story for children. Cowley, why the hell have you brought this damn droid aboard?"

"I want to hear what he has to say. Data, tell me about Jean-Luc's daughter. Where is she?"

"She is imprisoned at Port Security HQ," Data said. "We came here seeking help for the rebellion. She was recognised and arrested. I was trying to hire a ship to help us escape. But if this is your ship, Obi-wan, we have fulfilled our mission. You will not let Obi-wan Picard's daughter die."

"This isn't his ship," Bodie snarled. "It's mine."

"Ours," Ch'rru corrected.

"You don't want to help some dumb bitch escape," Bodie snapped.

"There would, of course, be an appropriate fee for the hire of your ship."

"How appropriate?" Bodie was interested in spite of himself.

"Five million credits," Data said. "Payable the moment we reach Alderan."

"Interesting," Bodie said, with a masterfully uninterested shrug. "But I don't deal with droids. Get this woman out of prison, and we'll probably be heading for Alderan."

"The full fee is only if you assist in her escape," Data said.

"I'll help you," Luke offered.

Data looked at him. "Thank you," he said very politely. "Obi-wan -- "

"I told you to stop calling me that," Cowley snapped. "Bodie, I have an obligation to get Jean-Luc's daughter out of trouble. If you get the ship ready for take off, Data and I can get her out of the prison."

"Just the two of you?" Bodie looked them over incredulously.

"No. I'll go with them," Luke repeated.

"You'll stay here," Cowley said firmly. "Bodie, if I can't get her out no one can. I need Data along to find her."

"Oh, bloody hell," Bodie said disagreeably. "I'll go with you. Chewie, you get the ship ready."

Ch'rru growled a protest. Bodie snarled back "You're too bloody conspicuous. It's human-only security here. Come on, Cowley."


Data located the prisoner they were interested in -- she was three levels down. "You stay here, Data," Cowley ordered. "Keep control of the security systems so we can get out again."

"Very well, O -- sir."

It wasn't very difficult. Cowley simply caused the guards they met on their way down not to notice them. It would have been easier without Bodie, but the man might come in handy on their way out.

Unfortunately the corridor they were aiming at was full of guards. Half of them would have been easily distracted, but the other half would be enough to kill them. Cowley spoke into the small badge communicator. "Data. Cause something noisy to happen in the stairway off the far end of this corridor."

There was a brief pause. Then the door at the end of the corridor blew in and the hall was full of smoke and choking guards. Bodie was out ahead of Cowley and running down the corridor; Cowley followed him.

Cowley had intended to unlock the cell door quietly; Bodie shoved his blaster up against the lock and fired, shoving the door open with his shoulder. "Come on, what'syourname, we're rescuing you!"

The tall, thin woman, dressed in white, who had been crouching at the back of the cell with her arm shielding her face, stood up. Auburn hair crackling with electricity, she snapped "Who the hell are you?"

Bodie grabbed her arm. "Listen, green-eyes, we don't have time for the social niceties! Let's get out of here."

"That's the first sensible thing you've said," she answered, diving out into the hall. Cowley took hold of her arm and pulled her in the right direction. She stared at him. "Obi-wan Cowley! You're our only hope -- "

"Oh, shut up," Cowley snarled, yanking her along. "Let's get out of here!"

The escape was simplified by Data locking all the doors except those they needed to go through, and locking those behind them. The droid met them at the entrance looking expressionlessly relieved. "Princess, you're safe."

"Princess...?" Bodie and Cowley said simultaneously.

"We don't have time for that," she said crisply. "Where's your ship?"

"Come on," Bodie said. The prison entirely locked up behind them, they walked briskly but not running towards the docks.

They reached the ship safely. Once inside, Bodie sealed the airlock and made for the flight-deck. "Another port we can't go back to," he flung at Ch'rru, sitting down in the co-pilot's place.

"Ready for take-off," Ch'rru said.

The ship left Atfordgap without incident. Cowley sighed. "Well, at least we got the crystals for the engine." He turned to look the woman up and down. "So you're Jean-Luc's daughter."

"Yes," the woman said. She evidently believed it. "Obi-wan -- "

"Don't tell me I'm your only hope."

"But you are." She ran her hands through her wayward curls. "I was going to thank you for rescuing me, Obi-wan. How long till we reach Alderan?"

"Four ship-days," Bodie said. "Five million credits to be paid on landfall, Princess."


"It's his ship," Cowley said. "I'm just the engineer. And don't call me Obi-wan."

"Why not?"

Luke came bursting through the doorway. "Obi-wan! You told me that the Jedi Knights were just a myth -- why did you lie to me?"

Cowley sighed. "That's why." He turned to Luke. "The Knights' day is over, Luke. You'd do better learning to be a mechanic. Ah, Luke, this is ...I'm afraid I don't know your name?"

"Raya," the woman said, staring at Luke. "Raya Picard, Princess of Alderan."

"And this is Luke Skywalker. Bodie you've met. Ch'rru bak'ha. Ch'rru, I'll move into your cabin, if that's all right -- "

"Fine," Ch'rru growled.

"So Raya can have mine. Luke, did you get supper ready?"

"Er, yes," Luke said. "But, Obi-wan -- "

"Luke. Don't call me Obi-wan. Ever. I don't do that any more."


They got away safely. The Falcon had cleared Atfordgap space before the alert really got into full swing. Bodie came through to the galley where the others were sitting drinking coffee. Luke stood up, unasked, and Bodie sat down in the newly vacated seat.

Absently taking a sip of Luke's coffee, he turned his most charming smile on the Princess. "Isn't there something you want to say to me?" he asked sweetly.

"You mean like, 'that was the most incompetent rescue I've ever suffered'? Well it was." She ignored Bodie's wounded look.

Bodie was hurt. Not because he really did see himself as a shining knight but because he wasn't used to people who ignored him when he was being charming. "Now you don't mean that. You're just tired and upset, Luke will make you up a bed in the spare cabin and you can rest. You've had a hard day..."

"Don't patronise me, you grinning baboon! It was your incompetence that meant we had to leave the planet in the first place..."

"Wait a minute," Luke interposed, "you were already in jail when we got there."

"And who rattled your cage, junior!" Bodie snapped, then returned to the fray. "Look, you were in a top security prison cell in an Imperial prison, and who got you out?" He paused, rhetorically.

"I did," Cowley said dryly. "Data helped."

Bodie's smile never wavered. "When I got the door open, you were crouching in the back of your cell with your arms wrapped round your head!"

"Of course." Raya tossed her auburn curls, angrily, green eyes flashing. "I was afraid you were going to blow the cell up with me in it."

"If I'd known what you were like, I might have," Bodie retorted. "Luke, go and get that spare bed ready."


It was getting late. Cowley stretched and yawned. "I'm bushed, think I'll go to bed. Luke?" The younger man looked up from where he sat in the corner. "I'll get those tapes and set up the hypnolearner for you before I turn in."

"Thanks." Luke sounded pretty miserable. "That way I'll understand what at least one person on board is talking about."

I must try and be nicer to the boy, Cowley thought as they made their way to Bodie's cabin. I have to remember that he is very young and far from everything he's ever known. "It must all be pretty strange to you, Luke, all this."

"It's what I've wanted all my life." Luke's tone was a trifle defiant.

"Ah, yes, but you might find that having is not, altogether, quite as satisfying a thing as wanting."

"That's not very logical."

"No, but it does tend to be true." Cowley made short work of linking the hypnolearner up to the power source. "Which pillow do you want this put under?"

Luke blushed. "The lower bunk is mine."

"That wasn't what I asked," Cowley teased gently.

Face scarlet, Luke fought to keep his voice steady. "The lower one." His voice cracked and he added, "Bodie's not interested in me!"

"Oh, I wouldn't be too sure of that." Cowley laid a reassuring hand on the boy's arm. "All that flirting with the Princess? Is that what's bothering you?"


"I think you'll find our friend Bodie looks on her as a challenge. I rather think he's not used to people who can resist his charms."

"Well, it isn't only that."

"Hmm?" Cowley was distracted by an object which fell onto the bunk as he unwrapped the wookie tapes. "What was that you said?"

"I said it isn't only Bodie who's upsetting me, it's you as well."

"Me?" Cowley was startled. "What have I done to upset you?"

"You're just as bad as the others, treating me like a kid and a skivvy. Well, I'm not!" Luke was almost shouting.

Cowley gave him an appraising look. "No, you're not. I'm sorry if you feel that I've been treating you that way and I'll try not to do it in future. You just remind me of a couple of fellas I used to know, and I'd hate to see you end up like them."

"Who?" Luke was intrigued.

"Well, me for one."

"But you're a Jedi Knight."

"I was a Jedi Knight." Cowley smiled at Luke's triumphant look, "yes, all right I admit it. But that's in the past, two of my closest friends are dead -- one of them my lover -- one of the others turned to the Dark Side of the Force and would be better off dead, and I... I am an outlaw and a fugitive. I've travelled the Galaxy for over fifty years, hunted and despised. The Jedi Knights have become no more than stories for children, and it's better they stay that way. Remember that, Luke, and forget your dreams of the Knights."

"No." Luke was more confident now, more confident than he could ever remember being. He reached out and gripped Cowley's wrist. "The time has come for the Knights to return. The legends all agree that they will. Train me, let me help you start the 'Band of Brothers' again."

"We never called it 'The Band of Brothers', that really is fictional. The women would have objected." Cowley smiled and twisted his arm to free himself of the boy's grip. To his surprise he found he couldn't. He tried harder, exerting more strength, this couldn't be happening. The lad could not be this strong! Reluctantly Cowley dropped his shields a little and recoiled. The Force was strong in this one! Only once before had Cowley encountered it so strong in an untrained youth. Shying away from the implications he thought of the dangerous consequences of leaving such a power untrained. "Very well, I will give you some training, but don't get the idea that you've bullied me into this. I have my reasons for agreeing."

"Which are?"

"Which are my business -- for now, at least."

"So what do I do first?" Luke dropped Cowley's wrist and turned to face him fully.

"First you go to bed, and sleep. Self-discipline is the first lesson. You also need to learn wookie, it will make life so much simpler aboard this ship. Good-night, Luke." Cowley turned and left the cabin.

"Good-night, Obi-wan," Luke said very softly to the closed door.


Ch'rru was already in the cabin when Cowley came in looking thoughtful. "What's the matter, George? Worried that I'll bite?"

"What?" Cowley looked up, then grinned as he saw the way his lover was lying on the bed, displaying his soft belly fur. "Are you trying to tempt me, fuzzy one?"

"Who, me?" Chewie growled innocently.

"No, the six-foot pink rabbit in the corner."

"Where?" Chewie sat up and looked wildly round. "Aw, George, there's no such thing."

"It's a big galaxy, all things are possible."

"But a six-foot, pink rabbit! Really, George. Where do you think you'd find one of those?"

"Oh, in a small shop on Atfordgap."

"You're serious? Did you see him today? By chance?"

"Yes, yes and no. Paddy is a friend of mine from the old days. I went to get some hypnotapes for Luke. He sent us a present." Cowley opened his hand and displayed the object that had fallen from the packaging on the tapes. It was a small, fine-toothed, curry-comb.

Chewie grunted appreciatively, then, tone changing, "Just what did you tell him about us?"

"Oh, not a thing." Cowley smiled at the look of disbelief on his lover's face. "Well nothing other than the fact that I'm now engineer on a ship -- and the first officer's a wookie."

"And that was enough to tell him that we...?"

"Paddy shares my taste. His lover, Hr'vey, wasn't there today, but they were both good friends of mine. Of mine and Mm'rrk's."


"So I would say that Paddy sent this present in the hope that he guessed right. Does it matter?"

"No, I suppose not." Chewie grinned and rolled onto his back once more. "Make that definitely not."

"Has anyone ever told you that you're wanton?" Cowley laughed indulgently as he sat on the bed next to Ch'rru.

"No, but then I didn't know you until the other day. Are you going to keep that comb to yourself, or would you care to share it?"

"I'll keep it to myself, thanks. For my own use..." Cowley paused, then started to comb the soft fur on Ch'rru's belly, "for my own use on you, that is."

For some time Cowley concentrated on the motion of the comb. Short gentle strokes, teasing the day's tangles out of the fur, fluffing it up, softening it, watching the muscles underneath shiver and relax. Ch'rru had a look of ecstasy on his face, his eyes were half closed and soft moans, almost purrs of pleasure escaped his powerful mouth. Slowly, with knowledge and patience born of experience, Cowley moved down the powerful abdomen, concentrating on the groin area, blowing the combed fur into whorls and peaks.

When he got the response he had hoped for he sighed with pleasure. The wookie's sex lips began to part, revealing the genitals protected within. Like a bud progressing to flower Ch'rru's swelling prick emerged, its dark head blindly seeking towards the soft belly. Cowley stooped and licked the bead of moisture from its tip, eliciting a moan of pleasure from his lover.

Carefully Cowley laid the comb down on the shelf by the bed, freeing both hands to wrap round the large cock which was now the centre of his attention. Lightly, at first, then with increasing pressure he squeezed the hard shaft. Sucking and licking the sensitive head, taking as much as possible into his mouth. All the while Ch'rru moaned and growled his delight, moving his hips and patting Cowley's head tenderly with his huge paws. Yet somehow keeping his vast strength under control, never once risking hurt to George. After a long while Cowley could feel Ch'rru's cock harden even more and pulse under his ministrations and without further warning Ch'rru came, bellowing his joy and pumping vast quantities of hot, pink jism into Cowley's mouth. It was too much for the human to swallow and ran down his chin, dribbling onto the wookie's stomach.

The feel of the fur, the taste of the cum, the warmth of being loved were heady and potent. Cowley collapsed across his lover as his own orgasm pulsed through him, happy as Ch'rru hugged him in a warm and loving embrace. After a while they slept.


Luke turned from making coffee as Cowley and Ch'rru came in. "Offspring of a self-fertilised Denebian slime devil," he said cheerily.

Data raised his head and looked at the other three with expressionless curiosity. Ch'rru grunted "What?"

Cowley laughed. "Don't try to talk wookie, Luke, you haven't got the accent quite right."

"What did I say?"

"Never mind." Cowley put a hand on Ch'rru's arm. "I gave Luke some basic tapes for the Talk last night."

"Coffee," Ch'rru growled, sitting down. "That's if you think the offspring of a self-fertilised Denebian slime devil can drink coffee."

"I thought he was talking to me," said Cowley, sitting down beside Ch'rru.

"Well, if the bandolier fits," Ch'rru grunted.

Luke stared at Cowley and the wookie. "I didn't say that... did I?"

"Yes," Data interposed. "I have found that human vocal chords are not really adapted to pronouncing the Talk, although it is interesting that a certain pseudo-sub-species native to a planet called -- "

"Shut up, Data," Raya said. "Coffee, white, with sugar." She sat down beside Data.

Luke glared at her. He finished making coffee, poured himself a cup, and went to lean against the wall where he could see what the electronic carbohydrate carbonizer was doing to the toast. Unexpectedly, Data stood up, moving aside.

"What are you doing?" Luke asked quietly. The others were talking.

"Please sit down," the droid said.

Watching unobtrusively, Cowley raised an eyebrow. Droids were sentient, if not living, beings. He didn't like seeing the subservience which had been programmed into even a droid as sophisticated as Data.

Raya glanced sideways and realised who was sitting there instead of Data. "Hey, you, where's my coffee?"

"In the jug. And my name's Luke."

Data put a cup of white coffee down in front of Raya, who glanced up at him with an unreadable expression in her jade eyes. She tasted it. "You found the sugar. Thanks."

Bodie strolled into the galley. "Coffee. Good morning, Princess."

Luke bumped into Data as he stood up to get the coffee. Data stepped back, a look of expressionless amusement on his face. Bodie sat down beside Raya. "Have a good night?"

Raya looked over at Cowley. "No. It was... rather noisy. Do you think you could check the soundproofing between my cabin and..." she glared at Bodie, "his, before tonight?"

"He can't do that," Bodie said gleefully, watching Cowley go slowly bright red. "Your cabin doesn't adjoin with mine."

"Then who...?" Raya looked over at Cowley and Chewbacca again.

Ch'rru brought both paws up over his head and bowed his forehead to the tabletop. Still blushing, Cowley placed a hand reassuringly over the topmost paw. Raya ran both hands through her wayward curls, looking startled as the implications dawned. "You... Obi-wan..."

"Yes," said Bodie, grinning, "kinky, isn't it?"


Three days later, Cowley having fixed the soundproofing, they were beginning to get on a little better. Not that they could be called a crew, not yet, but at least they could get through a meal together without it degenerating into the third galactic war. Cowley had solved his distaste at Data's habit of giving up his seat by putting an extra two chairs in the galley, which was now rather crowded.

It was late the third ship-day when they popped out of hyperspace in the Alderan system. Bodie called Raya to the flight deck.

"Princess, we can't find your planet."

"Don't be ridiculous," she snapped. "Even an incompetent like you can find a planet -- it's too big to miss. It's a big round thing with moons. Should be right in the middle of your screen."

"I can see the moons, all three of them," Bodie said tightly.

"There are only two moons."

"Three. See? Right there, in that asteroid field."

"There's no asteroid field in this system...." Raya looked at the scanner. "Kitblat!" she swore. "We've got to get away from here, fast!"


"That third moon -- it's a battle station."

"Don't be ridiculous, it's too big...." Bodie's voice trailed off. "By the Seven Dwarfs!" he swore. "That's a bloody big ship!"


"Could do a lot of damage with something like that."

"It blew up my planet, you stupid bugger!" Raya yelled.

"You mean... the asteroids? Oh, shit!" Bode palmed the intercom button again. "Chewie, get your furry ass to the bridge, this instant. We've got trouble. Cowley, see what you and Luke can do about the gun turrets, we might need to shoot our way out of here."

"You don't think you can fight that, do you?" Raya said, half incredulous, half admiring.

"You still here? Just get out of the way and let us do our work."


In the engine room, Cowley had been teaching Luke the first elements of control, when Bodie used the shipwide intercom. "What's going on?" Luke asked, taking off the blindfold.

"I have no idea. Let's go. We'll find out soon enough."

Cowley rubbed the back of his neck. He had felt a vast disruption in the Force some hours ago, and since then he had an odd, prickling sensation, as if evil lurked nearby. But there was no use worrying about that. Evil was always lurking, and he wasn't really a Jedi Knight any more.

It was a moment, looking through the gunsight, before Cowley realised what he was seeing. It was a ship, as large as one of Alderan's moons, except that Alderan wasn't there any more.

Luke climbed into the control chair of one of the other gun arrays. Cowley frowned. "Have you any idea how to use those?"

"Yes, of course, they're just like the guns on the defence perimeter of the farm."

"Except you have to remember to think in three dimensions here. Don't forget they can come at us from below."

"I won't."

Cowley prayed he wouldn't.


The battle was short and oddly satisfying. The vast battlestation had launched several attack fighters at them, which Cowley and Luke had managed to pick off one by one. Cowley went about the task silently and methodically, Luke yelling with delight.

They didn't have to keep up their concentration for long. Bodie and Ch'rru slewed the ship round and pushing the acceleration to its limit, took the Falcon back into hyperspace.

"We did it!" Luke yelled.

Cowley smiled wryly at his youthful exuberance. "Yes. Now we find out what it's all about."

Luke was out the door and heading for the flight deck before Cowley called him back. "To the galley, Luke. They'll all want coffee. So do I."

Raya and Data were already in the galley. Raya was sitting at the table with her head in her hands. Data was standing behind her, almost protectively, looking down at her with expressionless sympathy.

"What happened? What's wrong?" Luke asked, almost but not quite daring to pat her on the shoulder.

She raised her head. Her green eyes blazed hatred. "That mad bastard has destroyed my world."


"Darth Vader," Raya spat the name.

"The Dark Lord of the Sith," Cowley said very quietly.

"You know him?" Luke asked.

"Everybody's heard of Darth Vader," Raya said bleakly. "The Emperor's executioner, and now commander of the Deathstar."

"What?" Bodie asked from the doorway. "You knew about that thing? That does it -- I want my five million credits and I want out. Now."

"Oh, you're welcome to go and pick them up if you can find enough bits of the planet to pick them up from," Raya snarled.

"Actually," Data said, "within the precise terms of our agreement, we don't owe you five million credits at all. The money was to be paid when we reached Alderan, and we will never reach Alderan."

"Shut up, Data," both Raya and Bodie said in unison, and glared at each other, horrified to find they were in agreement over anything.

"I think we should all sit down and discuss this calmly," Cowley said through gritted teeth.

Ch'rru growled agreement, and shoved Bodie down into a chair, seating himself beside his partner. Bodie glanced at the wookie. "All right," he said. "Where do we go now, and how soon do I get my five million credits?"

"There's a rebel base on the third moon of Somethingorother," Raya said. "Data has scanned the security readouts of the Deathstar. I must get that information to the rebellion. It's our only hope of defeating them. Obi-wan -- "


"But -- "


"You're our only hope!"

"Then you really are lost. I am not a Jedi Knight. Not any more."

Raya sighed. "I'll keep trying to persuade you, you know."

Cowley looked at Bodie. "I think the terms of your agreement would be fulfilled if we went back and left Princess Raya on the largest chunk of Alderan you can find."

Bodie shrugged. "You're right... but the Deathstar's there. Princess, shut up and leave my engineer alone."

"My engineer," Ch'rru growled.


At the rebel base, Data was carried off by a team of weaponry specialists, Raya was summoned immediately to a strategy meeting, and the crew of the Falcon were shown to as luxurious guest quarters as might be expected on a rebel base.

"Well, at least there's hot water," Cowley said, kicking the side of the bed experimentally. It creaked. "I checked the shower earlier."

"You didn't see what was growing in the soap dish," Ch'rru grunted.

"Never mind, I don't suppose Bodie will be willing to stay around too long. At least I'll be able to do some work on the Falcon's external circuitry without having to work in vacuum."

Ch'rru grinned. "That's if you get any peace from all the rebels coming round to gaze in wonderment at the great Obi-wan Cowley..."

"Shut up, Ch'rru."

"Make me." Ch'rru's grin got wider.

"Not on that bed," Cowley chuckled, "it creaks."

"You'll have to keep very, very still, then." Ch'rru growled softly, pushing Cowley backwards until he sprawled across the bed. "Lie back and think of the Empire."

"I'd rather think of you."


"Hush, if Luke hears you he'll want to train for that as well." Cowley laughed.

Snorting, Ch'rru began to undo the fastenings on Cowley's clothes. "Well, I'm not teaching him. I've got my hands full with you."

"Mmm." Cowley wriggled to help Ch'rru remove the garments, luxuriating in the feel of the wookie's hot breath on his chest. Ch'rru's great tongue darted out and licked his nipples, the contrast from cold to hot to cold making them harden to tight little nubs. He moaned and thrust his hips, pushing his hard cock against Ch'rru's hand which cupped his groin. "Please, Ch'rru. Now."

"Impatient," Ch'rru said censoriously, but moved his hand to undo the fastenings of Cowley's trousers, freeing the straining prick. Strangely gentle for their size his huge hands squeezed his lover's balls, feeling Cowley's prick buck and pulse. "Very impatient." Ch'rru bent his head and engulfed prick and balls in his great mouth. The vast jaws which could have ripped a human limb off, holding these most delicate of organs safe and warm in their embrace.

Cowley closed his eyes and thrust into his lover's mouth. "Ch'rru, I can't hold back. Ch'rru." He threw his head back in ecstasy as he felt the climax build.

Ch'rru said nothing, just continued to suck Cowley's cock and caressed his lover with huge, tender hands that teased the fine hair on Cowley's arms and chest. Never altering the rhythm of either activity as George's cum exploded into his mouth to be swallowed down with satisfaction. When the aftershocks of orgasm had run their course through Cowley's body, Ch'rru gathered his lover in his arms and curled up on the bed with Cowley sleepy and content against his chest.


The computer resources of the rebellion spent one complete revolution of the planet analysing the information from Data, and then summoned all the fighter pilots to a supposedly top-secret meeting. Everyone knew about it.

It didn't occur to Cowley to keep an eye on Luke. He, Ch'rru, and Bodie, were busy loading the five million credits' worth of trading goods aboard the Falcon. Cowley had assumed that Luke was working inside the Falcon; Bodie had assumed that Luke was with Cowley. When Ch'rru mentioned that he'd seen Luke going to the top-secret meeting, Cowley snapped "Why didn't you stop him?"

"I assumed you knew." Ch'rru shrugged. "Might be interesting."

"Volunteers for a suicide attack?" Cowley snarled. "Interesting way to die."

Luke came running across the hangar. "They're going to let me join the attack on the Deathstar!" he said proudly.

"What the hell would you want to do that for?" Cowley demanded, wishing he could shake some sense into the boy.

Luke looked disappointed. "But -- we have to destroy the Deathstar. It's evil."

"You felt that?" Cowley asked, and then shook his head. "Luke. You're not ready. The Deathstar is too powerful."

"I have to try." Then he noticed the array of packing cases. "You're not going? But -- Obi-wan -- "

Bodie came down the ramp and glared at Luke tiredly. "Oh, you came back in time for some of the work? Get those red cases into hold 4 and make us some coffee."

"Sorry, Bodie." Luke drew himself up stiffly. "I'm not coming with you. I'm staying with the rebellion."

"Then you're a bloody fool," Bodie said dismissively. "And we're well rid of you. Chewie, would you get those red cases into hold 4? We want to get out of here before that bloody big ship comes and blows up the base."

Luke turned away, shoulders drooping. Relenting, Cowley called after him, "May the Force be with you, Luke!"

Luke turned back, for an instant. His eyes were shining. "And with you, Obi-wan Cowley!"

For once, Cowley didn't protest.


The Falcon had taken off from the moon only minutes before the Deathstar appeared out of hyperspace. Cowley went to the gun turret he had used before. He regretted Luke; the boy would die, to no purpose. And even if there was any use to Luke dying, it had been a relief to stop being a Jedi Knight and not have to watch idealistic young fools get themselves killed heroically.

Cowley watched through the gunsight. The Deathstar was moving ponderously into the system, approaching the third moon and the rebel base. Suddenly, like killer bees when the hive is kicked over, X-wing fighters swarmed out from behind the moon, and zoomed in. Too close for the Deathstar to use its weaponry, the Imperial fighters swarmed out in response.

The rebel pilots were better, on the whole, but there were no more of them; the Imperial pilots died but more kept coming. The rebel fighters seemed to have no strategy; they fired on the Deathstar whenever they could spare a moment from defending themselves. A lucky shot from one fighter got a powersource which triggered a series of explosions on an arc hundreds of kilometres long over the surface of the Deathstar -- but although Cowley could sense what destruction that had wrought within the Deathstar, it was not enough.

The task was too large. Could a couple of attack squadrons destroy a world? That was the task they faced. Nothing but another Deathstar could hope to destroy the Deathstar. Cowley watched, counting the X-wing fighters killed, despairing. He knew that Luke wasn't dead yet. He would feel the destruction of someone so strong in the Force.

Then he realised what the X-wing fighters were aiming for; a channel almost no wider than an X-wing, a kilometre long, ending abruptly. One by one they tried to fly down the channel; and the Imperial fighters attacked. They were destroyed or they swung up out of the channel and escaped; sometimes they were shot down as they escaped.

Cowley saw one X-wing approaching the channel, and knew it was Luke. He would have said that he had not trained the boy for long enough to form a bond with him; but he knew it was Luke flying that X-wing. "Bodie," he said to the intercom.

"Cowley. We're going in."

"Cover that X-wing," Cowley said urgently. "It's Luke."

"Yeah," Bodie said, and Cowley heard Ch'rru roar agreement. Then he was with Luke. It was as if he were leaning over Luke's shoulder, in the tiny X-wing cockpit, watching the target.

"Use the Force, Luke."

"I can't -- "

"The Force is with you. Use it."

With a feeling of greasy unease, Cowley could sense Vader's presence in the Force. He concentrated. Vader was shielding -- he was somewhere close, in one of the Tie-fighters, but Cowley could not sense which one. No more could Vader sense where Cowley was, but Cowley could feel him searching, the undertone of confusion and anger. Luke's presence would confuse him.

Making the most of this advantage, Cowley projected the Force against Vader. A part of himself was still with Luke, willing him to control the Force, to use it, not to let it use him.

Suddenly Cowley felt Vader's will clash with his, as the dark Knight resisted. Cowley was abruptly aware of Vader, as Vader must be aware of him, mind parrying mind, as if they were fighting with lightsabres. For the first time Vader knew who it was he fought. If Cowley wasn't to lose his advantage he would have to leave Luke and pit the full strength of the Force against... Vader.


"What the hell is Cowley doing down there?" Bodie yelled at Chewie. It was taking most of his concentration to control the Falcon down this narrow metal gully after the three Tie-fighters that were sitting on Luke's tail. The Falcon was not as small as the fighters, not as manoeuvrable. Chewie had had little success using the cockpit guns on the trio -- they kept dropping below the line of fire. Dammit, they needed the range of the gun turrets. "Go and see, will you, Chewie. I'll try and get closer, maybe we can keep their attention on us, give Luke some chance."

Ch'rru had unstrapped even before Bodie had finished. He was worried about Cowley. It wasn't like George to freeze in any situation. Something must be badly wrong. He hurried, as fast as the eccentric motion of the ship allowed, to the forward gun turret. Pausing at the entrance, he felt his heart skip a beat. George was there all right, yet not all right. Cowley's eyes were fixed in the middle distance, his fists were clenched and sweat ran down his face as if he were fighting an inner battle. Ch'rru took one step towards him, then shook his head and made for the other gun array, strapping himself awkwardly into it. "Okay, Bodie," he growled, "let's get them."

His first shot caught the fighter on the right. The pilot veered against the side of the gully, and ricocheted back to hit the middle plane, sending it spinning out of control, heading for deep space. Ch'rru heard Bodie's whoop of triumph as they went after the remaining Empire fighter.


Luke had felt the warmth and protection of Cowley's presence, giving him confidence in his own skills. Suddenly, that protection was gone, Luke was alone. For an instant he panicked but Cowley was still there, in his memory. All that Cowley had tried to teach him in the last few days was there. Luke turned off his computer, closed his eyes and called on the Force.


On the ground they waited anxiously. Raya was in the Command Centre with the rebel generals, watching the growing despondency as report after report of failed attacks came over the radio. Then the scanners registered a massive explosion. For a moment there was silence as those assembled stared incredulously at the readouts before their import sank in. Someone had done it. Someone had destroyed the Deathstar. Then Raya felt, rather then heard, cheering that filled the base.


Cowley came back to himself with a great paw gently shaking his shoulder. "George? George, are you all right?" the wookie growled softly.

"Fine, Mm'rrk," Cowley mumbled. His eyes slid open. Ch'rru was bending over him, a concerned expression on his face. "Ch'rru. I'm sorry."

"It's all right," Ch'rru rumbled quietly. "What happened?"

"I was -- " Cowley stopped. "I can't tell you, Ch'rru. Maybe someday. How's Luke?"

"The cub's fine. He did it, George -- he destroyed the Deathstar."

"Good for him," Cowley said shortly. "Now have you got something for this headache?" The death of five million people hurt inside his mind. He hoped for Luke's sake that the boy had not felt it too clearly.

The rebel base was celebrating, noisily, when the Falcon landed next to Luke's X-wing fighter, where the rebellion hailed them as heroes.

Bodie bounded down the ramp and hugged Luke. Ch'rru glanced back at Cowley. "Sure you don't want to come with us?"

"Quite sure," Cowley said. Ch'rru went on down the ramp, and was startled to be hugged by Luke. Cowley grinned and closed the airlock door.

Cowley watched the ceremony on the cameras with slight distaste; Bodie, Ch'rru, and finally Luke, having honours of the rebellion hung round their necks. Bodie looked as if he was privately assessing how much gold was in the bright alloy.


Cowley and Chewbacca had gone off together, and Bodie was left sitting with Luke. They sat there looking at each other in silence for about a minute. Bodie cleared his throat. "So. How does it feel to be a hero of the rebellion?"

Luke smiled a little. "So are you."

Bodie shrugged. "I bet the gold in that silly dangle will fetch a few credits on one of the metal-hungry worlds."

Luke leant back against the padded bench, trying to sound very cool and casual. "So, uh, can I sleep in the Falcon tonight?"

Bodie quirked an eyebrow at him. "I'd have thought you'd be sleeping with the other rebel pilots."

Luke's eyes dropped. He said, not realising how forlorn he sounded, "I don't know...."

"Yeah, sure," Bodie said impatiently, "we'll be staying here another couple of days to make sure the Falcon's all fixed. Sleep aboard if you like. I'm going back now." He stood up.

Luke got to his feet and followed. He didn't know whether Cowley and Chewbacca were aboard or not, but he had the feeling that he and Bodie were alone. It scared Luke, and excited him, both at once. Bodie didn't act interested; most of the time he treated Luke like a pesky kid.

In the cabin they had shared for the past few days (how few surprised Luke when he thought about it; it seemed as if he had known Bodie and Chewbacca and especially Cowley since forever), Bodie was undressing, as casually as ever. Luke half-stripped and slid into the lower bunk, averting his eyes from the sight of Bodie climbing into bed.

Bodie turned the lights down. After a moment or two, in the darkness, Luke ventured "Bodie? Are you awake?"

"Yes," Bodie said in a heavily restrained voice.


"What?" Bodie snapped.

Luke changed his mind. "Doesn't matter."

Bodie took a deep breath, counted quickly to ten, and asked "What is it?" in a somewhat calmer voice.

"Do you like me?" It came out awkwardly.

Bodie snorted. "Yeah. I like you. Now go to sleep."

Luke gave up. He had no idea how to go about this; he'd hoped that Bodie would make the first move. Maybe Bodie wasn't even interested.

After a moment, Bodie said "Too much, maybe. You're just a kid."

"I'm sixteen," Luke offered.

Bodie chuckled. "I'm thirty-two. Old enough to be your father. Besides -- " he never finished it, not wanting to say that Cowley and Chewie, especially Chewie, being so certain he couldn't resist Luke, had made him absolutely bloody determined that he was not going to succumb to temptation. He was not.

"Besides what?" Luke asked after a pause.

"Besides, Cowley wouldn't be at all pleased if I hurt you," Bodie said blandly. "And I like to stay on good terms with my partner's bedmates."

"You wouldn't hurt me," Luke said. It sounded a little wavery. He firmed his voice up. "You wouldn't hurt me."

Bodie sighed. He was not going to succumb to temptation. Absolutely not. "No, I won't," he said with dismissive reassurance.

Luke's eyes were fixed firmly on reading that line as encouragement, and did. He climbed out of his bunk and stood on the edge, arms on the upper edge of Bodie's bunk. There was a rustle, and the lights turned up a little. Bodie was looking at him unreadably, blue eyes very dark in the dim light.

"What do you think you're doing?" Bodie asked, very very evenly.

Luke went red. It made him look even more appealing. "Sorry," he said, looking away, and started to climb down again.

He was not going to succumb to temptation, absolutely not. Bodie swallowed, eyes on Luke. Why not?



"Come on up here."

Looking up, almost disbelieving, Luke was hardly aware of the smile stretching his mouth. He reached the top bunk and hesitated a moment, eyeing Bodie almost cautiously, unsure what Bodie would expect him to do. Bodie reached out and yanked Luke neatly into his arms, settling him so that Luke was lying on top of him, their bodies meeting all the way down, Bodie's arms wrapped round him.

"All right?"


"Good," and Bodie's hands stroked soothingly down Luke's back. He had no idea how much experience the kid had, but it probably wasn't much with anyone but his own left hand. Though, just in case, "Luke," Bodie inquired, "did you recognise anything of the things that were stored on the lower bunk?"

Luke hadn't been paying any particular attention to them, at least not once Bodie switched the light on. "No...."

"All right." Slow, subtle, and nice. Bodie went on rubbing the peach-smooth skin of Luke's back. It wasn't often a kid this age had no pimples, Bodie thought, enjoying it. When Luke felt relaxed enough, Bodie's hands slid downward to get the kid's trousers off.

Just lying in Bodie's arms, feeling warm skin against his own, the tiny nubs of Bodie's nipples, much more defined than Luke's, wasn't quite enough. But Luke didn't venture to make any moves. When Bodie started to slide his trousers down, Luke moved to make it easier, finally sitting up to kick them off. He paused, staring at Bodie.

When pushing, invisibly demanding, against Luke's clothed groin, Bodie's erection hadn't seemed particularly strange. Pulsing erect from Bodie's dark-haired groin, it was noticeably larger than Luke's and shaped differently around the head.

"You're not circumcised," Bodie said, sounding interested. "Planetary custom?"

Luke glanced down at his cock, bobbing erect now that it was free of his clothing. "I don't know."

"Never get your hands on another one before?"

Luke blushed. "No," he said in a small voice.

Bodie reached out and pulled him in against himself. He felt Luke shiver with over-excitement as naked skin touched naked skin. "All right. Easy. No hurry." Carefully, going slowly, he turned Luke and eased down the bunk himself until he was kneeling over Luke. He circled the root of the kid's erection with thumb and forefinger, safeguarding against premature climax. He intended Luke to take his time and enjoy this, no matter what ideas Luke's cock might have. He went down on Luke, hearing almost abstractedly Luke's gasp of pleasure -- and surprise -- evidently that was one thing the poor little sod hadn't managed to do for himself. It tasted good, and Bodie took his own sweet time enjoying the seeping pre-cum and the pulsing feel of velvet-over-hardness.

Luke was hardly aware of anything. He had fantasised this, but hadn't known what it would feel like, the warm mouth enclosing him, making him writhe and moan. He would have come long ago in his self-pleasured fantasies, but Bodie somehow stopped him, keeping him on the brink of pleasure, till Luke was whimpering, pleading, shaking with the need to come.

Bodie let Luke come in his mouth. The kid had earned it. Bodie was achingly erect, his cock wanting more than a blow-job or a hand-job, but if Luke wouldn't...

It wasn't that Luke was under Cowley's protection. It was partly that Bodie really did like the kid. It was also that somehow Luke wasn't someone Bodie wanted to hurt.

Luke stared up at Bodie, utterly drained, almost too breathless to speak. "Thank... you..."

The older man smiled, leaning over and tracing a line down the side of Luke's face. "All right?"

"Wonder...wonderful." Luke reached up, trying to pull Bodie into a hug, but the older man resisted him, his muscles tense and hard under Luke's hands. "Bodie?"

Bodie's right hand slid underneath Luke and started to tease his arsehole. "You don't have to -- if you don't want to - " he said, almost harshly, his hands gentle on Luke.

That was another thing Luke had fantasised about for years. Oral sex had been far more wonderful in reality than in fantasy; he rather hoped that anal sex would be too. "Yes, I want to."

"Sure?" Bodie jerked out. That was as fair as he thought he could manage. Luke's nod was enough. Bodie reached for the lubricant-tube and smeared some on his cock, sliding one finger gently into Luke's arse. Then another, spreading Luke wider, preparing him for penetration.

It felt strange, Bodie inside him, but not unpleasant exactly. Then Bodie pulled Luke's legs up over his shoulders, and he was suddenly aware of being helpless -- Bodie bearing down on him, so much bigger and stronger, there was no way out and nothing Luke could do. "Bodie -- "

"What?" Bodie sounded like Bodie, irritated at an interruption.

"Nothing," Luke mumbled.

"What?" Oddly enough, the snap in Bodie's voice was reassuring. He was holding quite still, his erection still pressing against Luke's bottom but going no further, and that was reassuring too.

"It's OK. Go ahead... slowly."

"Slowly," Bodie confirmed, with a faint grin. He intended to; Luke was tight -- as a virgin, was Bodie's first ironic comparison, and then he realised what he had thought with a gleam of genuine humour. He and Luke were even -- if he was Luke's first, Luke was definitely Bodie's first virgin. Well-behaved innocents were not normally Bodie's type.

Slowly, millimetre by millimetre, Bodie frowning with concentration, his cock slipped inside Luke. It was not uncomfortable -- though not actually pleasant, either.

Luke felt very good around him. Hot, tight, little shivers running through him. Bodie started to thrust, very gently at first, moving faster.

It was odd. Half pain, half not-quite pleasure. Bodie was obviously being very careful. Luke tried to relax. It didn't seem to work. Suddenly, just as Bodie thrust in, a flash of utter pleasure rocked Luke; he pushed back at Bodie, trying to get it again, and that hurt -- he yelped, but the sound turned into a mewl of pleasure as whatever-it-was happened again. It still half-hurt, was half rocking-almost-pleasure, but through those feelings came, unpredictably, the wonderful jolts of ecstasy, more often now -- Luke was trying to hold himself still because it hurt less that way, trying to squirm to increase his pleasure, unable to be quiet, Bodie's thrusting inside him was faster and harder, hurt more and was more wonderful --

Bodie had passed beyond limits of control. Luke was twisting under him, trying to thrust back against him, making small cries of pleasure, and Bodie moved, faster, harder, driving himself to orgasm --

Suddenly there was a warm spasm inside him, Luke felt pulsing fluid hot deep inside, and a prolonged jolt of the overwhelming pleasure. Luke came. Bodie was crouching over him. Luke could feel his cock softening inside him. Gently enough, Bodie withdrew.

"All right?"

"No. Wonderful."

Bodie laughed. "Good. Can you get down to the lower bunk?"

Luke swallowed. "Yes," he said forlornly.

"Because what with one little thing and another, this bunk's a tip -- so we're sleeping in yours."

"Yes," Luke agreed more cheerfully. He climbed down with caution. Bodie pushed him into the lower bunk.

"Hold still. Your arse hurt?" Bodie didn't wait for an answer, which was just as well. Luke felt the gentle fingers touch him there and winced. "It does. You're OK, though; nothing torn, no bleeding." He shoved Luke over and lay down beside him, throwing a companionable arm over the younger man's chest. Within moments, Luke was asleep.


Bodie was making the coffee when Raya walked into the galley the next morning, Data at her heels as usual. "What are you doing here?" Bodie asked politely.

"Good morning, Bodie. Thanks, I'd love a cup of coffee. White, no sugar." She sat down.

Luke wandered in, still looking a little dazed. "Hello, Raya... what are you doing here?"

"I came to add my private thanks and congratulations, to you, and Bodie."

Ch'rru growled a comment from the doorway. Raya turned. "And you, Chewbacca."

Cowley followed Ch'rru in. "Any coffee, Luke... Bodie?"

"I was surprised not to see you at the ceremony, Obi-wan," Raya said.

"Were you?" Cowley asked dryly. "And I've told you not to call me Obi-wan. I take mine with milk, without sugar, Bodie."

"I know, I know."

"Oh, he's good," Raya said sarcastically. Bodie was plunking cups of coffee down on the table in front of each of them.

"Oh, he's more than good," Luke said, almost innocently. "He's wonderful."

Bodie, Cowley, and Ch'rru choked on their coffee. Raya stared in surprise from Bodie, to Luke, and back again. Then she went red.

Data looked expressionlessly amused.



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