The window was open, just a crack, letting the star-filled night slip in. It would normally be a security risk, but this was a small turian town in the middle of nowhere, and he’d bested the leader of the local regiment in a friendly sparring match right before they had lunch together. This was not an apartment on the Citadel. This was not a stardock on Ilium. This was not a private residence on Omega. And so, paradoxically, it was okay. It was okay to leave the window open and the original encryption in the door. It really was okay.

Even Saren had agreed. Provided that a pistol was within easy reach.

Saren’s arm was heavy, but it weighed nothing compared to the armoured version. And, even better, it did not end in a fist. Saren had draped it over his waist. Bent it at the elbow, so he could anchor his hand on the other side of the ridge running down Nihlus’ chest and scratch there once in a while with his sharpened talons. Nihlus smiled to himself. Out in the world they said that those who grabbed your heart instead of your ass were keepers. And not in the weird-insectoid sense. The world had been right thus far.

Saren’s breath was tickling the back of his neck, filling the gaps between his plates with a strange but not unpleasant warmth. He wondered if Saren was asleep. Would he be? He looked out the window. No clouds, no pollution. He could see a million million stars (as he chuckled at the childhood memory), spilled like pearls across that fine black robe of Saren’s, the one with the mysterious, hand-woven fabric. (When’s daddy coming back? I want to see him, I do! The pirate king!)

Would Saren recognise any? Nihlus certainly didn’t. Saren seemed to know everything, though. Maybe he’d do some weird triangulation thing in his head and say yes, Nihlus, you were born on a planet doing its laps around that faint orange one. It’s about five hundred parsecs away. He’d say, as Nihlus nuzzled his cheek, lost in the afterglow, the charge in his spine tingling on and on forever. And where are you from, he’d ask, wrapping the robe tighter around both of them, the air surrounding them refreshing but chilly, holding on to the fresh memory of summer rain like he would to the memory of their lovemaking. Surely not this galaxy, he’d tease. Saren would punch him in the biceps, lightly (or maybe he would kiss Nihlus behind the fringe, make him squirm and laugh for a change). You can’t see Palaven from here.

What are you talking about. I can. He’d look into Saren’s eyes. If there’s one thing he remembered about Palaven, it was that it shone. Perhaps metaphorically. Jewel in the Hierarchy’s crest and all. But how those eyes would shine in the starlight. When it was safe to rely on the autopilot, when it was safe to open the narrow viewports in the bridge and see the redshifted emissions in a pitch black galaxy. He’d strip for Saren then and there. He’d press lips that still tasted of mud and blood against Saren’s ear and whisper, why don’t we have a go now. I’ve only got scratches. (Saren would insist that he patched up first but hey he was free to imagine wasn’t he? Those teeth across his neck and hands around his hips, that beautiful, dark energy that drove him forward and pulled him back every time. And for once in his life, sex and love would achieve equivalency.)

There were a million million stories he could make up as he gazed at the stars. Even the motes of dust that drifted, lazily, across the diffuse beam seemed to take on lives of their own. Oh, looky there. Those two are dancing. Oh so fair. Those two are courting. Those two are drifting apart. He was lying in bed, warm, sated in every way, and aroused as heck.

The rhythmic scratching stopped. Saren must’ve noticed.

“I’m just thinking. About a dream I had.” His throat was so dry.

“Go on.” Saren humoured him.

“It’s about you.”

And Saren certainly didn’t miss the present tense, because what followed was beyond his wildest dreams. Like it was every single time.

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