Jaikus had been spending an increasing amount of time on Chandrila these past few weeks. Since going public with his relationship with Emryc, the Axxilan had fully committed to his public role as Altair Malik – which, of course meant committing to his role as an adjunct History professor. It had already been a few weeks since the pair departed from Onderon, and Jaikus had since spent a large majority of his time buried in his work - just getting into the swing of the winter term. It was a job that finally put that fancy degree of his to use, and it was something that he had started to develop a passion for. Always having been an academic at heart, the Axxilan genuinely enjoyed teaching.
Not least of all, because no one could fault him for his long-winded spiral trains of thought as a professor.
Of course, there were some things about the job that Jaikus hadn’t anticipated. One of which happened to be just how many of his students – male and female alike – were members of his partner’s obsessive fan club.
Since the nature of their relationship was revealed to the public, it seemed like every other question from one of his students had nothing to do with the lecture topic at hand and everything to do with the half-Sephi. On more than one occasion, Jaikus had caught one of his students attempting to get a quick glance at his datapad as they passed – as if expecting to find some message from Emryc plastered across the device. It was yet another reminder of how wide-spread his partner's popularity was, and it was simply something that the Axxilan started to grow accustomed to by this point.
Unsurprisingly, today had been no different. The Axxilan had been busy with his lectures for the better part of the morning, skillfully dodging the personal questions about his partner left and right. There was almost a sense of relief when the hour turned and students finally started to filter out of the hall, leaving Jaikus to gather up his belongings and make for the exit. In that moment, Jaikus couldn’t deny feeling more than a tad bit eager to get back to the hotel where he’d been staying for the past since the day prior – where he knew Emryc would be waiting - likely still watching the Huttball game that Jaikus had left the Half-Sephi with when he left that morning.
Just as they had on Onderon, the pair had communicated with each other well in advance, aligning their schedules in order to have a few days to spend together while Emryc had business in the Core - staying in a upper-class hotel in the heart of Hanna City during that time. Being apart was something that Jaikus had come to find increasingly agonizing to endure, and the man worked dilligently to ensure that those periods of separation lasted for a little time as possible.
Jaikus stepped out of the busy lecture hall after a few moments, taking in a breath of the chilly air. The Axxilan had dressed in his usual stylish manner - which just so happened to work rather well for his career-field. He wore a snug-fitting black suit vest and matching dress pants, alongside a blue-striped tie and white button-up underneath. His outfit was accessorized with his chrono-bracelet combo and a pair of wide-framed glasses, while his dark hair was allowed to retain its natural curls - very much operating with a life of its own.
Of course, winter on Chandrila meant that Jaikus was once again - somehow - subjected to the frigid temperatures. While he could control the temperatures within his own lecture hall - literally to the point of drawing the ire of his students - outside was another story and the Axxilan had taken extra precautions to handle the weather. Just as he stepped out into the cold, the Axxilan donned a knitted cardigan over his dress clothes, alongside a fuzzy beanie - which of course had a fuzzy pom-pom - which was pulled over his head, dark wisps of hair stick out from the bottom of the hat. Like a man on a mission, Jaikus very quickly shuffled his way from the lecture hall and made a beeline for the private speeder that was waiting for him - miraculously avoiding slipping on some ice and falling on his ass in the process.
Stepping into the droid-driven vehicle, Jaikus quietly flicked through his datapad for several minutes as he was transported through the streets of Hanna City - going over his own lecture slides as he gradually made his way back to the hotel where he and Emryc had been staying. The droid driver pulled the speeder into an underground garage before opening the door for Jaikus to step out - avoiding any unwanted attention as the Axxilan made his way towards an elevator. While the public nature of their relationship meant that he didn't need to sneak around, a degree of discretion was still taken in keeping their hotel a secret - as to avoid having a small army swarming the building.
It didn't take Jaikus very long to make his way back to the hotel room, striding his way down the hallway and sliding keycard into the door once he reached their shared suite. The Axxilan didn't even bother taking off his beanie as he stepped past the door - tossing his cardigan and bag into the corner as he made a beeline for the living area. "I'm back, babe." He called out from across the room.
"You would not believe the amount of my student asking about you."
While Emryc’s days were generally horribly packed, he had a bit of downtime this week. As a result, he chose to fly over to where Jaikus took up position as part of his teaching rotations. While he had his downtime, Emryc still left during the days to meet with local officials or industry executives to look into business ventures. With the economical hit the Core took since the sanctions, it was a great time to buy into businesses before everyone realized that getting around sanctions was incredibly simple.
Unlike his partner, the half Sephi absolutely loved the snowy weather and frigid cold. Snow was something that would always remain fascinating to Emryc. Having grown up on a space station, he had a completely different level of appreciation for weather elements everyone else found trivial. Rain or snow falling from the sky always gave him pause, as did the roiling oceans and trembling earth.
By the time Jaikus opened the door and announced himself, the Axxilan would be greeted to the sight of Emryc very much not lounging on the couch. In fact, the half Sephi was in the process of drinking from a homemade vegan shake after a very rigorous workout. He was shirtless and had some black track pants on. His heavily muscled and scarred torso was completely lined with sweat and his hair was matted down. There was a slight flush to his face from the brisk chill outside. Frustrated with the puny gym at the hotel, he had opted to jog himself over to a much further one, do his lifting, and then jog all the way back.
Emryc eyed Jaikus before chugging down his shake and wiping his mouth off, “Yeah?” He asked with a grin as he tilted his head, “Did you remember to give my number to anyone hot?”
While Jaikus knew his partner to be an exceptionally active person, he was fully expecting to see Emryc still lounging on the couch by the time he arrived – still engrossed in the Huttball game that he so enjoyed. There were few things that the half-Sephi enjoyed and could keep his attention like that sport in particular, and the Axxilan would likely never say how much time he had secretly spent trying to freshen up on the ins and outs of the game.
The keyword being ‘trying’, as he was still largely clueless.
Just before he rounded the corner into the living room, Jaikus passed in front of a mirror in the hallway – catching a glimpse of his attire. The Axxilan tugged the hem of his vest to straighten it and adjusted his tie a bit, instinctively freshening up his appearance before walking in on his partner.
He stepped past the hallway, emerald eyes fixating onto the half-Sephi and immediately going a bit wide. The Axxilan very clearly wasn’t expecting to see his partner in his post-workout state, though Jaikus had no shame in allowing his eyes to travel across his partner’s sweat-lined body – drinking every inch of his exposed torso. There was soon a bit of redness that brushed across the man’s cheeks, allowing his gaze to wander a bit more before flicking back up to meet those silvers.
“Oh, that isn’t fair.” He muttered in an almost pleading tone, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips.
Without really thinking, the Axxilan reached up and idly pulled off the beanie he was wearing – freeing the hair hidden inside. Unfortunately for Jaikus, the beanie had successfully ruined any sense of styling that went into his hair – his dark curls sticking out in random directions as soon as the fabric was pulled away.
Without a mirror in sight, Jaikus was largely oblivious to the state of his head.
Jaikus couldn’t help but arch a brow when his partner spoke, rolling his eyes dramatically when the half-Sephi asked his question. The Axxilan drew a hand back, playfully tossing that beanie at his partner’s chest in response. “Hmph.”
He took a few steps forward, closing that bit of distance between himself and his partner. “The hottest person in that lecture hall happens to be standing right in front of you.” Jaikus muttered, a playful smirk plastered across his lips. “So eyes front, Gundark.” With that, the Axxilan leaned up to plant a kiss to the half-Sephi’s cheek, leaning in to hug him close for a moment.
“Missed you,” He muttered, not seeming to matter that he was only gone for a few hours tops. The Axxilan already looked far more at ease back with his partner in the room. He lingered in place, staring up at his partner with a raised brow. "Let me guess - hotel gym didn't have enough free weights for your liking?" He giggled a bit, playfully nudging the half-Sephi with his index finger.
With that, the Axxilan finally stepped towards the kitchen - snagging the half-Sephi's wrist and guiding him towards a kitchen chair to take a seat. "That isn't your lunch, is it?" He gestured to the shake.
Emryc simply flashed Jaikus his infamously charming Presidential smile when he whined it wasn’t fair. He watched as his partner pulled off his hat, unleashing a mop of curls. Truth be told, the half Sephi had grown to adore those curls. While the Axxilan was stunning with his perfectly styled hair - it was how he appeared the first day Emryc found himself drawn to the man after all - there was something far more warm and familiar about those goofy curls. It was a side of Jaikus he spared only for those important to him.
The half Sephi tilted his head as Jaikus tossed the beanie at his chest. To the Axxilan’s great bemusement, Emryc purposely didn’t reach to catch it. It collided with his chest and fell pathetically to the floor. An organized man like himself, Jaikus would be severely compelled to walk over to pick it up at some point, making the entire exchange all the more entertaining.
Emryc couldn’t help but grin as Jaikus confidently declared himself to be the hottest, “Hmmmm,” He said as his gaze flicked up and down, “Maybe if you waltzed in wearing some thigh high Life Day stockings,” The half Sephi said with a playful wink. The affectionate kiss on the cheek, as usual, made his ears shift the slightest bit. However when Jaikus went to hug him, Emryc grabbed him by the shoulders to keep him in place, “Babe, please,” He said almost sternly as his gaze moved over his partner's crisp attire, “I have the sweatiest pits right now,” He said rather bluntly. Instead, Emryc leaned in to steal a quick kiss from his partner. His features softened as Jaikus vocalized missing him, his face betraying the same even though he didn’t say it back.
The half Sephi allowed Jaikus to drag him over to the kitchen, distracted from his original idea to go take a shower with a question that seemingly unleashed a tidal wave, “The gym was a joke,” He stated icily, “I could barely get through the damn door first of all. And then this idiot that was way in over his head kept abruptly dropping the weights from a mile up with each rep, and you know my ears-” Emryc rambled for a while about the minuscule gym, “And that’s not even including the part where I got the usual ‘Are you the President’ bullshit. This time, there was the bonus joy of them asking if I was a personal trainer and if I could correct their form. So I just started jogging and went to a gym in 20th District,” That region had to have been over ten miles away. It wasn’t in Emryc’s nature to ramble or rant, but this was clearly a topic that he was passionate about.
He blinked as he looked over to his shake and then back to Jaikus, “...Why?” He asked very suspiciously as his eyes began to narrow, “I don’t want another Sushi Surprise,” Emryc declared very firmly. The Axxilan often tested Emryc’s limits with trying new foods. One thing the half Sephi learned quickly was that he absolutely despised most seafoods. The last time they tried sushi, Emryc almost vomited. And that was not even including when he took a spoonful of the green napalm concoction that he hopefully thought was mashed up peas.
Jaikus couldn’t help but flash a smug expression, watching as the beanie proceeded to collide with his partner’s bare chest – finding satisfaction in that petty little bit of retaliation for Emryc’s comment. Of course, any sense of satisfaction was thoroughly dashed when that beanie fell to the ground – crumpling up at the half-Sephi’s feet. The Axxilan narrowed his eyes a bit.
The half-Sephi would be able to tell immediately what was going through his partner’s mind, already feeling the intense urge to pick up the misplaced hat from an otherwise neat and tidy hotel suite. For the moment, however, Jaikus made a point to resist the urge – choosing to close that bit of distance between himself and his partner instead of reaching for the beanie.
Likely, he’d purposefully wait until Emryc’s back was turned or he was out of the room to pick it up. Just out of principle.
Jaikus’ smile tugged a bit wider, a single brow arching when Emryc gave him the up-and-down and made his comment about the stockings. “Oh? In that case, maybe I just might.” He said teasingly, returning the playful wink. The Axxilan had a habit of memorizing the half-Sephi’s preferences and what he liked based on observation, and this would be no different. While he said nothing else about it, the Axxilan’s mind already began to wander on that topic for a few moments.
Unsurprisingly, the Axxilan looked exceptionally grumpy after being denied his much-needed hug, exhaling sharply through his nostrils in response to his partner’s protests. “Emryc..” He groaned his displeasure. Despite usually being overly conscious of his attire, Jaikus didn’t seem to care whatsoever about ruining his crisp attire if it meant snuggling on his partner’s chest.
The Axxilan looked as if he was going to say something else when Emryc leaned in and captured his lips, stealing a quick kiss instead. Almost instantaneously, all the grump on Jaikus’ face melted away and was replaced by one of those wide, giddy smiles that he was known for. “Acceptable.” He muttered, his tone clearly playful.
Jaikus proceeded to drag his partner into the kitchen, pulling out one of the table chairs and plopping down to sit just opposite to the half-Sephi. His lectures often required the Axxilan to be on his feet while he gave them, and the man clearly wished to just sit down for a moment or two.
He listened intently as his partner started to go off on his gym-related tangent, unable to help giggling a few times as the man spoke. It was very clearly a topic the half-Sephi was passionate about and gave his partner his full attention throughout. “To be fair though, you have that issue with most doors.” He quipped, giving his partner a playful nudge.
The Axxilan shook his head, flashing the half-Sephi a toothy grin. “Alright, next time, we’re scoping out a hotel that is within walking distance of a gym that is suitable to your standards. No more of this ‘I’m going to run across the fucking city for better equipment selection’ bullshit.”
“If it makes you feel better, perhaps the only thing worse than dealing with someone dropping weights is trying to deal with one of my students.” The Axxilan grumbled, rubbing his temples. “You know I’m pretty sure most of them weren’t actually even listening to the lecture? Every five minutes, I had some bubbly freshman popping up their hand, just to ask me shit like, ‘Are his ears that cute in person?’ or ‘Do you have any pictures of you two together?’ and ‘How long have you been together?’.” He narrowed his eyes a bit. “I literally caught a few of them trying to sneak a glance at my datapad – probably expecting to see us texting back and forth or some pictures plastered in plain view.”
He groaned. “If they bomb their exam, that’s entirely on them.” He stated very matter of factly.
The Axxilan tilted his head to the side a bit when Emryc spoke, immediately picking up on the suspicion in his tone. “I did try to warn you.” Of course, his frantic warnings came a split second too late – just after his partner gleefully wolfed down a spoon full of wasabi. Jaikus didn’t have nearly the aversion to spicy food that Emryc did, and even he cringed at the memory. Never mind that it had ultimately been his suggestion in the first place.
He abruptly pushed himself back to his feet, strolling over towards the kitchen. “I did tell you I was going to make you something, didn’t I?” He grinned. “It isn’t a hat, though,” He quipped, playfully making reference to his partner’s previous guess back on Onderon. “So you’ll have to settle with lunch.” There was an undeniable edge of giddiness to the Axxilan’s tone. For all of their food adventures thus far, Jaikus had yet to demonstrate his cooking skills – only very recently feeling confident that he wouldn’t burn the room down in the process.
He proceeded to dig through the kitchenet drawer for several moments before finally pulling out an odd-looking spiralizer device – holding it up successfully, not unlike how the Axxilan had victoriously flaunted his laser pointed back at that water temple. It had taken him an ridiculous amount of time to actually find a store that carried the damn thing, but he had struck gold after scouring a mall in Hanna City.
Jaikus planted the kitchen utensil onto the counter before he then made his way towards the fridge, glancing through the shelves for some of the fresh produce he had stocked in it since arrival. “No cheese, no spicy, and no fatty oils, and not a ton of carbs. And enough veggies to feed an army of rabbits.” He glanced back to his partner, peaking up over the fridge. "So it should be right up your alley. But those are the only hints you are getting.
Emryc opened and promptly closed his mouth as Jaikus mentioned he had trouble getting through most doors. This resulted in a sufficiently moody expression on his face. It was cold, hard fact. The half Sephi struggled with most entrances, and it made exploring old tombs from times when people were shorter all but impossible sometimes. Their nerdy history dates sometimes consisted of Emryc grumpily waiting outside while Jaikus gleefully explored old tunnels and graves. And worst of all, he couldn’t even point out Jaikus’ habitually wrong opinions when the Axxilan could easily drop the ‘well you didn’t see it’ card.
Jaikus would be able to tell his partner just had a spiral moment as he stared off into space about his inability to fit through doorways. However, his silver gaze flicked back to Jaikus as the man began to complain about his own day. Emryc’s brows rose slightly as he crossed his arms over his chest.
“Perhaps you should teach something more interesting than the Core World histories in the pre first republic era then,” He stated flatly, “Clearly the Mid Rim had the most interesting wars happening as we’ve learned with-” And he went off on a long rant that would no doubt result in some back and forth debate before the topic switched back to food eventually.
Emryc grinned at his partner then, shamelessly reaching over to cop a feel of his rear as he leaned in to murmur near Jaikus' ear, “Why? I got all I want to eat right here,” He clearly had no qualms with very blatantly flirting with his man. However, it was obvious the Axxilan was on a mission and Emryc simply rolled his eyes and gave in.
Emryc walked with Jaikus into the kitchen area, his face betraying his surprise at the suggestion of Jaikus actually cooking. A part of him almost dreaded it, but he wouldn’t be caught dead admitting that. The half Sephi stared blankly as Jaikus dramatically held some kitchen device he didn’t recognize.
“Yeah okay you have fun with that,” He muttered dryly, “I’m going to go take that much needed shower,” He rose up and walked over to do just that, tired of being drenched in sweat.
He emerged only a few minutes later in some sweat pants and a tanktop, his hair still damp and tousled. Emryc sniffed the air, curious about whatever his partner was doing. He had only been half listening earlier, convinced Jaikus simply planned to heat up some microwavable veggie dish (which was absolutely fine with him) and call it a day. Jaikus didn't seem the type to have the patience for cooking.
Jaikus flashed his partner a wide, toothy smile at that moment - amusement dancing within those emerald eyes as the half-Sephi went down his own spiral moment. Even if his tone was entirely playful, the Axxilan knew he hit the nail on the head when it came to Emryc’s height – knowing from experience that his bulky partner often struggled to fit into tight spaces – whether that was ancient ruins or trying to squeeze through the entrance of some up-scale restaurant that the Axxilan practically had to drag his partner to in the first place.
On some levels, it was for that reason precisely that Jaikus purposefully blazed a trail ahead during their nerdy dates and adventures – cautiously scoping out doorframes and low ceilings to warn the half-Sephi ahead of time, just as he had done back at that water temple. And while Jaikus frequently enjoyed dropping the ‘well you didn’t see it’ card on his partner, his solo exploration of sites also came with its disadvantages – namely, there was no one to save the Axxilan from his own clumsy self.
More than once, Emryc had been treated to the lovely sound of Jaikus tripping over himself or some unseen protrusion on the ground, loudly eating shit while exploring one of those dusty tunnels or ancient graves – with only the echoes of his profanity-laced, post-fall tantrums echoing back towards the entrance.
Which, naturally, Jaikus would completely deny ever happened whenever he emerged into view.
Naturally, Jaikus’s smirk faded when Emryc crossed his arms over his chest and proceeded to flatly call into question the riveting nature of his history lectures. The Axxilan couldn’t help but blink a few times, looking almost dumbfounded by the ridiculously assertion. “Excuse you,” He fired back, narrowing his eyes onto his partner. “Pre-Republic histories of the Core is interesting.” He declared confidently, even if a good chunk of his class would heartily disagree.
Just as was predicted, Emryc’s long-winded historical rant was met with no lack of interjection from the Jaikus – frequently cutting in to debate the half-Sephi on multiple different issues – often nitpicking the minute details and facts. It was precisely the kind of thing that drove his students to near insanity, but it was clearly something both men had shared a nerdy passion for.
At one point or another, Jaikus finally capitulated on one point in particular. “..Fine. You bring up a good point on the Induparan Unification Wars of 19,045 BBY.” He grumbled. While he rarely gave up even an inch during these debates, even Jaikus couldn’t deny his interest in that particular Mid-Rim conflict. “But that doesn’t prove the Core was without its own significant and interesting wars. All you need to do is look at the Tepasi Civil Conflict of—”
And so began yet another long, back and forth debate about individual, historical conflicts that would’ve caused an average person to fall asleep from sheer boredom.
“And don’t even get me started on the Treaty of—” Suffice to say, it took several minutes for the topic to gradually shift back to food.
Jaikus felt as Emryc reached around to cop a grab at his rear and whispered against his ear. Goosebumps suddenly began to work their way across his bare skin, and there was a flush of red that suddenly spread across the Axxilan’s cheeks. It took a solid few seconds to resist the urge to take Emryc up on the offer – motivated almost entirely by his desire to actually get to the kitchen to cook.
He glanced back over his shoulder, biting down on his bottom lip. “Keep it up, and we’ll both end up covered in sweat.” He muttered softly, staring back at the half-Sephi before forcing himself towards the kitchenet – internally reminding himself to stay focused on the task at hand.
Jaikus didn’t miss the look of surprise on his partner’s face when it was revealed that the Axxilan intended upon cooking – and he really couldn’t blame the half-Sephi. Up until this point, Jaikus had displayed quite literally zero interest or skill in the kitchen – opting to go with whatever his partner was eating. Emryc was notorious for his bland food that entirely lacked seasoning, but Jaikus never complained. The sight of his partner pre-making little meals for him alongside his own was something that warmed him beyond words, and it was enough to keep him completely quiet the entire time.
Nevertheless, the Axxilan had practiced for this moment and was determined to see his mission through.
He glanced back over his shoulder when the spiralizer was revealed. Given his partner’s love for the end product, Jaikus was half-expecting Emryc to put two-and-two together right then and there, but was clearly satisfied when the half-Sephi had nothing but a blank expression on his face.
“You may just like it,” He called back to Emryc, sounding exceptionally confident in his meal-to-come. Emerald eyes turned to watch as the half-Sephi rose and started to walk away, headed for the much-needed refresher.
Before he could get away entirely, Jaikus stepped towards him – leaning in to plant a quick kiss to the back of the man’s neck, tasting the salty, bare skin. Additionally, he finally reciprocated the flirtatious gesture from earlier, reaching out to shamelessly squeeze at his partner’s rear before he was out of reach. “Don’t take too long,” He muttered, despite knowing full well his partner took showers at military-grade pace.
With that, Jaikus finally turned back to the fridge, pulling out a variety of fresh produce – including squash, zucchinis, tomatoes and other items – and proceeding to set them out on the countertop. He immediately went to reach for the spiralizer, though his hand froze in place. He blinked a few times, his face scrunching up in thought.
“..Just to be safe,” He muttered to himself, withdrawing his hand and reaching instead for his datapad. The Axxilan proceeded to pull up the recipe once more. While normally confident in his decisions, Jaikus found himself inexplicably second-guessing himself on the first step and was going to make completely sure he was on the right track.
Several minutes would pass, and Jaikus kept himself busy in the kitchen the entire time Emryc freshened up. By the time the half-Sephi reemerged from the refresher, the hotel room was filled with the scent of food being cooked – immediately indicating that this was far more than just a reheated veggie meal.
Jaikus’ back was turned to Emryc when the half-Sephi first walked back into the kitchen, entirely engrossed in whatever he was doing over the stove.
While the Axxilan opted for his usual coffee to bring, Jaikus knew his partner well enough to only set out a tall glass of ice water for the half-Sephi. By now, Jaikus had ditched the dress-vest and worked in just the white button-up he wore underneath – the top buttons undone to reveal the upper parts of his leanly muscled chest, while his blue-striped tie had also been undone, now only loosely tied around his neck. Additionally, the Axxilan had taken to rolling up his sleeve to prevent them getting dirty – which of course meant needing to cuff them practically up to his elbows in order to keep them from slipping down his naturally smaller forearms.
If Emryc glanced at the table, the half-Sephi would finally be treated to the sight of what Jaikus had been doing the entire time.
There were two empty plates which had been set out on the table already on opposite sides of each other, alongside a large bowl filled with heir main course. The half-Sephi would likely be estatic to see the dish filled to the brim with a large portion of zoodles, though these were far from the usual ones that the man ate.
It would be obvious immediately that these, unlike their usual counterparts, hadn’t come out of a box – appearing to have been freshly spiraled and blanched in boiling water, just enough to lightly cook the veggies without turning them mushy. The zoodles were accompanied by fresh grape tomatoes and little disks of cucumber and edamame’s for protein which had been tossed together. Much to Emryc’s pleasure, the Axxilan had made some minor alterations to the recipe to fit his partner’s preferences – omitting the oily dressing and cheese that was normally meant to accompany the dish.
Instead, Jaikus merely finished the zoodles with some diced basil, finely chopped pine nuts and a large squeeze of lemon juice over the entire bowl.
For the side, Jaikus had even prepared a small platter of oven-roasted squash to go with the zoodles. Taking less than half-an-hour to cook, it was clear that the roasted veggies had only just come out of the oven – large wisps of steam still wafting off the dish.
If Emryc took another whiff of the air, the man would likely notice the hints of something burnt mixed in with all the veggie goodness. A quick glance towards the stove would reveal the source. Laid out on an oven tray was the the burnt remains of the squash that didn’t make the cut – having somehow been turned to little pieces charcoal during the cooking process. Far from an expert in the kitchen, it was clear that Jaikus had neglected the damn things while attempting to beautify the bowl of zoodles.
The squash on the table was more than likely the pieces that had been handpicked from the wreckage and were still suitable for consumption.
Like the zoodles, The Axxilan had gone intentionally light on the seasoning on the squash, dusting the roasted veggies with only a minimal amount of rosemary and salt before putting them on the table.
It was at that moment that Jaikus finally turned away from the stove – emerald eyes fixating back onto the half-Sephi, a wide smile suddenly spreading across his bronze features. It was very clear that the Axxilan was more than a little bit excited about his partner’s reaction to the meal, finally revealing that he’d been planning this for quite literally months.
“Surprise,” He muttered, taking a few steps towards his partner to close the distance. Emerald eyes flicked up to affectionately regard his partner’s damp, tousled hair before meeting those silvers again, leaning in to finally capture that hug that he’d been denied before.
Emryc sniffed the food and looked pleased, “Damn babe, that smells great. Where did you order it-” His eyes visibly widened almost comically when he realized that Jaikus was actually cooking this entire time. He looked over at the zoodles, finally putting two and two together what that ridiculous machine Jaikus presented was for. The half Sephi stared at the squash and the entire spread of food, not even noticing the burnt bits.
“Jai…” He said almost weakly as he took it all in, “You…..” He paused for a long moment, “....didn’t burn the hotel down..” Emryc finished his very profound statement with genuine shock. As much as he loved his partner, he knew where the man excelled and where he failed spectacularly. The fact that Jaikus pulled off this lunch without injury to himself or destruction to the kitchen was a remarkable feat.
He said nothing for a long while, even when Jaikus closed the distance between them. His gaze lingered on the food and the way the table was set up. He wrapped his arms around Jaikus, and still he didn’t look at the other man. He had a pensive look on his face, his mind entirely elsewhere. He held the Axxilan tightly in his arms, but Jaikus would be able to tell Emryc had a faraway expression on his face.
Emryc took his time before he finally spoke, “It feels like home..” He said at last. He hadn’t known what that word meant for the vast majority of his life. He had only known it to be the confines of his ship. Something about this moment, the effort Jaikus put in, having the other man here in his arms, that sense of an almost routine in their lives this past week made him realize he didn’t miss Ship for the first time in his life. Because he could feel at home elsewhere. And it had little to do with location, and everything to do with the man he was with.
The precise moment that Emryc laid eyes on the table, Jaikus’ expression began to twist just a bit brighter. He was an expressive person by his nature, there was absolutely no masking that the Axxilan was ecstatic that his efforts in the kitchen had proven a success - never mind the still lightly smoking burnt squash in the corner.
Jaikus glanced up towards his partner when the half-Sephi started to speak almost weakly – muttering that exceptionally profound, shock-filled statement. In truth, the Axxilan really couldn’t blame his partner for being surprised. Up until this point, the closest thing Jaikus had done to cooking around his partner consisted of popping a frozen veggie meal into the microwave before collapsing back onto the couch while it heated up.
Without another word, the Axxilan closed that last bit of distance between them and wrapped his arms tightly around Emryc holding the half-Sephi close to savor that familiar comfort that came with being close to one another. A quick glance up towards those silvers, and Jaikus knew in an instant his partner was in another place entirely – immediately recognizing that distant, pensive look on the half-Sephi’s face.
In that moment, Jaikus was in no rush for Emryc to say anything, nor to break away from the comfort that came from having the half-Sephi’s arms wrapped tightly around him. Instead, the Axxilan merely laid his head comfortably against the man’s larger chest – once more letting out one of those low, satisfied little hums. His arms rose to loop around the back of his partner’s neck – using his fingers to lightly scratch at the back of the man’s hair affectionately. Minutes or more could’ve passed, and Jaikus would’ve been perfectly content to remain exactly where he was.
Jaikus couldn’t help but go completely wide eyed when Emryc finally broke the silence, those simple-yet-profound words seeming to catch the Axxilan entirely off-guard and surprised. He knew his partner exceptionally well, and knew just how attached the half-Sephi was to his ship. How it was the thing that followed him through his entire life, and was the only place he could truly feel at home over the years.
That simple-yet-profound statement from his partner - and the knowledge that Emryc could feel at home elsewhere, with him, meant more to Jaikus than he could ever hope to put into words. It filled him with a sensation of warmth that radiated through ever inch of his body, and it brought a notable wetness to the Axxilan's eyes.
Those statement from his partner seemed to repeat in his mind over and over again, and in that moment, Jaikus couldn’t help but begin to consider them himself. For him, home had always been that penthouse back on Axxila - surrounded by his family and the environment that he’d grown up around. Home was that familiar comfort that came with no expectations, where he was entirely at ease allowed him to be entirely himself completely. It was wherever the people he loved were, and where the Axxilan constantly craved to be.
As he'd come to realize, home was all the things that Jaikus had felt whenever he was around his partner, and it didn’t seem to matter what they were doing, or where they were physically. All that seemed to matter was that Emryc was by his side – and all the other details managed to fit into place.
Jaikus finally lifted his head off the half-Sephi’s chest, emerald eyes flicking up to stare at him affectionately. “You,” He muttered softly, leaning in to plant a long kiss to the man’s cheek. “Feel like home. Wherever you are.”
To Jaikus’ delight, not only did Emryc enjoy the food, but he ate it to his heart’s content without fussing about any calories. Of course, this naturally meant the half Sephi snuck away hours before the sun would come out for a long run and work out. Jaikus was used to Emryc lying in bed with him as he fell asleep, but the half Sephi would always leave eventually to a different room. However, he was usually the one to wake his partner up as the man could sleep well into the afternoon with his ridiculous snoring to boot.
Because his workout had been extra early this time, Emryc decided he would simply stay up for the day. He heard Jaikus’ familiar snoring resounding throughout the entire hotel suite as he entered, rolling his eyes and shaking his head. Though he would deny it till the end of time, Emryc thoroughly enjoyed cuddling and nuzzling against his partner. And this time he could do it without some smug grin or remark thrown his way.
His ears almost flattened at the snoring, but he got back into bed anyway. He planned to simply hold Jaikus close for a bit before promptly getting back up to start the day. Of course, none of that happened. The half Sephi fell fast asleep, lying behind his partner while holding him tightly to himself. His face was buried near the nape of Jaikus’ neck. The fact that he was able to conk out despite the snoring was exactly why he feared falling asleep around others - he was entirely dead to the world when it happened.
Early morning came and went, and Emryc didn’t budge. If Jaikus moved, Emryc only pulled him closer, nuzzling against his warmth. There was something exceedingly peaceful in the half Sephi’s demeanor as he remained there, completely relaxed and sleeping in way later than he ever normally did. It was clear that the half Sephi was entirely comfortable and very cozy as he used the Axxilan as an oversized teddybear. This was especially comical as Jaikus was more or less stuck unless Emryc woke up.
Whether it was the way his face lit up like a Life Day Tree during the meal, or the faint smiles that lingered long after the dishes had been washed and dried, there was no denying that Jaikus was beyond delighted by his partner’s reaction to the food. It had taken a ridiculous amount of practice to successfully pull off the meal in practice, the zoodle-squash combo being one of the few things that the Axxilan was confident would fit his partner’s picky palate.
Even if the half-Sephi wasn’t the type to verbalize or gush over the gesture, Jaikus truly didn’t need him him. He knew his partner exceptionally well, and the combination of Emryc eating without his typical calorie-counting and the initial reaction to the table spread was all the confirmation that Jaikus ever needed to know that his efforts were appreciated.
The rest of the day came and went, and Jaikus eventually found himself sprawled out within the bedroom of the hotel suite – cuddled up comfortably against his partner. There was an undeniable sense of warmth and comfort that came from having the half-Sephi snuggling and nuzzling him. As a result, it only took a few minutes for him to fall right to sleep – completely dashing any notions of getting through that movie he put on as originally intended.
Naturally, The Axxilan’s slumber brought about the familiar sounds of a rusty buzzsaw that was his characteristic snoring, indicating that he was completely dead to the world for hours to come. Jaikus was entirely oblivious when Emryc removed himself at one point or another to go workout.
By the time Emryc finished his workout and returned to the room, the half-Sephi would likely be unsurprised to find Jaikus in exactly the same position as when he’d left – curled up onto his side and hogging practically all the blankets on the bed. Despite being one of the most vocal sleepers known to the galaxy, the Axxilan was thankfully a rather still sleeper – mercifully sparing the half-Sephi from being kicked throughout the night.
Despite being completely conked out, the Axxilan visibly seemed to relax a bit when Emryc rejoined him – his body unconsciously shifting and snuggling back against the warmth of his larger partner.
Hours came and went before Jaikus finally began to rouse from his deep slumber. This buzzsaw snores gradually grew softer until his emerald eyes cracked open to the world once more – a yawn immediately escaping from his lips as he went to stretch his limbs a bit.
His attention was immediately drawn to Emryc snuggling up against him – feeling as the half-Sephi pulled him a bit closer when he groggily started to move, as well as every soft exhale of hot air against the nape of his neck. It was a sensation that brought the Axxilan a level of relaxation and ease that couldn’t be replicated elsewhere, and it took an exceptional amount of strength to avoid falling right back to sleep.
Instead, Jaikus simply snuggled back against his partner and laid in place for another ten minutes – letting out one of those soft, satisfied little hums whenever Emryc pulled him closer or nuzzled against his back. Hours and afternoon could’ve easily passed, and Jaikus would’ve been just as content to remain exactly where they were.
His gaze eventually flicked towards the HoloScreen mounted on the wall just ahead of their bed – noticing that it was still on, their movie from the previous night still paused less than half-an-hour in. Much to the half-Sephi's dismay, it was one of those cheesy, Life Day movies that Jaikus insisted upon watching this time of year, justifying the film by labeling it a ‘classic’.
After a few minutes more, Jaikus finally shifted to wake his partner after a quick glance at the alarm clock. Rather than breaking away from their comfortable position, the simply Axxilan reached an arm back as best he could, curling his fingers along the back of his partner’s neck and starting to trail faint scratches – moving from behind his sensitive ears to the back of the man’s hair. As he scratched, the Axxilan leaned down to plant feathery kisses along the man’s arms – trailing along the biceps that were wrapped around him.
“Emryccc,” He muttered, nuzzling back against the half-Sephi. “I don’t have any classes today or tomorrow,” His voice was soft, though loud enough to hopefully start to rouse his partner. Not that Jaikus could really mind if they happened to remain in bed for a bit longer. “We should go out and do something today,”
Emryc felt Jaikus stir as he slowly came to consciousness. There was a low rumble of satisfaction from his baritone voice as the Axxilan scratched against his neck. Jaikus would feel the half Sephi’s body relax even more behind him, though his grip grew firmer. Emryc was surprised to realize he was still in bed, but he was exceptionally comfortable.
He nuzzled against the back of Jaikus’ shoulder when he spoke. Emryc responded by tracing tender kisses along the back of his shoulder, “Hmm? Are you sure?” He grumbled quietly as one of the hands wrapped around Jaikus began to slide down the front of his body. Fingers traced along the toned chest and stomach, down to his intended target. He pressed closer against Jaikus as he gently bit down against the top of his shoulder.
His teasing lingered for a moment before he abruptly stopped and drew back, “But if you insist,” He said as he rose to sit up, rolling his shoulders and cracking his neck. Emryc ran his fingers through his hair, rubbing his forehead.
“Can’t remember the last time I slept in this late..” He mused aloud, feeling and appearing exceptionally groggy. It was a whole new side of Emryc that Jaikus hadn't witnessed before.
Jaikus exhaled softly, nuzzling back against his partner as soon as he heard that familiar, baritone rumble from the light scratches to his neck. Even as the half-Sephi relaxed, Jaikus felt as the man’s grip grew a bit firmer - unable to help snuggling back against the man in response - never seeming to be able to get enough of having the man’s arms around him.
There was absolutely no denying just how comfortable they both were, and the desire to stay exactly where they were was almost impossible to resist,
The Axxilan couldn’t help but smile as Emryc began to trail kisses along his shoulder, humming softly with each tender gesture. Nevertheless, Jaikus couldn’t help but gasp softly as the half-Sephi’s hand began to dip low - grasping and teasing however he pleased. Emryc would be able to feel just how quickly Jaikus’ body reacted his touch, alongside every little indicator from the Axxilan - including the way his back seemed to curl ever-so-slightly and his breathing took on a new pace.
Jaikus blinked a few times as the teasing abruptly stopped, groaning his displeasure that the half-Sephi agreeing to get up just when Jaikus didn’t want him to move an inch. “That isn’t fair..” He muttered, repeating the same words that he’d thrown at Emryc the day prior. It was the second time his partner had shamelessly teased him so far, that same bit of pouty pleading lacing his words.
Nevertheless, the Axxilan rose to sit up alongside his partner - stretching his arms and muscles for a few moments before closing in on the half-Sephi. Jaikus scooted himself close and wrapped his arms around the man he loved, laying his chin against the crook of Emryc’s neck.
For just few moments, Jaikus couldn’t help but silently take in his partner’s current state - clearly noting just how groggy the half-Sephi appeared. Whether it was the way the man’s eyelids hung heavy or the way his hair stuck out in all different directions, it was a side of Emryc that Jaikus hadn’t witnessed in the past - and he took his time in appreciating every second of it.
It was a sight that was far more endearing than Jaikus ever realized it could be, and it was enough to momentarily banish any grumpiness about the other issue that the half-Sephi had mercilessly created for him.
He leaned down, nibbling at his partner’s shoulder and planting a few kisses against every little bite mark. Jaikus lingered in place for a few moments before crawling around on the bed, turning so that he was once more facing his partner.
Without another word, the Axxilan leaned in to capture the half-Sephi’s lips - closing in to capture a quick kiss before abruptly drawing back, only to repeat the gesture once again. He proceeded to shower his partner with quick, feathery kisses to his lips and cheeks, seeking to banish any lingering grogginess with each tender gesture.
After a few moments, Jaikus finally leaned in for a more prolonged embrace - lovingly touching his forehead to his partner’s in their characteristic show of affection. “I’d like to wake up every morning with you next to me,” He muttered softly and very matter of factly. It was a thought that had lingered on his mind for months, and it was a desire that he had no qualms about vocalizing for the man he loved.
The Axxilan lingered in place, though his hands began to traverse a path all their own. Fingernails rose and curled against the half-Sephi’s chest, lightly dragging as they drew low and slow across the man’s torso - shamelessly slipping out of view to reciprocate that bit of teasing. After a few moments, Jaikus leaned in for another kiss before abruptly drawing back, moving to slide off of the bed and onto his feet.
“We’ve got a few days of free time to ourselves,” He spoke, just as he began to do his morning stretches right in front of his partner - bending and twisting his body at the foot of the bed. “We should go do something. Something that doesn’t require us freezing our asses off.”
Emryc had a sufficiently moody look on his face, despising this feeling of being groggy. His hair was messy and he felt tired even though he slept. His throat was dry, and he just wanted to lie back down. Naturally, Jaikus abruptly interrupted his line of grumpy thoughts with a kiss. Emryc returned it earnestly, wrapping an arm around his partner. He couldn’t help but squeeze his eyes shut, fighting back a grin as he was showered with kisses, “Jai-” He began with mock protest until Jaikus pressed their foreheads together.
He paused for a moment before exhaling, “I want that too, baby,” He blurted before he could stop himself. Emryc drew back, sitting in silence for a moment. He considered the words, though he drew a blank on what it meant. Did it mean this continued routine of lining up their schedules whenever it worked? He looked around them, “Suppose I’m racking up loyalty points at this hotel chain..” He trailed off vaguely, clearly not entirely satisfied with the status quo.
Emryc was about to pull Jaikus back into bed when he returned the teasing, but the man already slid off the bed. The half Sephi didn’t move for a moment, simply sitting there to admire his attractive partner sans clothing. And of course, Jaikus began to do his stretches right there, practically putting on a show.
“Staying in is a perfectly valid option,” Emryc stated dryly as he watched Jaikus get into interesting shapes, “Your case for leaving this room is falling apart by the second..”
He scooted back in the bed with a pillow propped up behind him. Emryc traced his fingers down the front of his own torso, “Perhaps I can propose a counter argument?” He said with a grin as his hand continued down his body, pushing his shorts down easily enough as the teasing path he began continued. Clearly Jaikus wasn’t the only one that enjoyed putting on a show.
There was a clear flush of crimson that spread across Jaikus’ cheeks at that moment, and he couldn’t help but smile in that goofy, ridiculous way when his partner expressed that they wanted the same thing. In the months since they’d been together, that single thought hadn’t left Jaikus’ mind for very long at any given time – silently nagging him and growing more pronounced whenever the pair were apart.
The thought of waking up beside his partner regularly – being there for the little moments and weaving each other into the others daily routine - was something that filled Jaikus with a profound sense of comfort, and it was something the Axxilan desired more than perhaps even he realized.
Jaikus stared blankly at the half-Sephi when added in that second comment about hotel loyalty points – indicating that the Axxilan’s underlying meaning had gone completely over the half-Sephi’s head. Jaikus cherished every single moment that he could get with his Emryc, and the location never seemed to matter in the slightest. It could’ve been a hotel, Ship or anywhere else in the Galaxy, and Jaikus would’ve been just as pleased. But the status quo – going weeks at a time without seeing each other, just to finally get a few days in a hotel – was something that was clearly leaving neither of them completely satisfied.
Rather than delve into that topic any further at that precise moment, Jaikus focused his attention in an entirely different direction – allowing his fingers to delve beneath the half-Sephi’s waistband and boldly return the bit of teasing. He purposefully didn’t linger for very long before very abruptly slipping off the bed.
For as much as Jaikus advocated for going out for the day, the Axxilan knew precisely what he was doing when he began with his usual morning stretch routine – operating entirely without clothing. Each new position seemed to put the Axxilan’s flexibility to the test, and he couldn’t help but glance back towards the half-Sephi a few times throughout – a grin tugging wide at the corners of his mouth.
Of course, Jaikus paused for a moment when Emryc shifted on the bed and scooted himself back against the pillows. Emerald eyes followed the half-Sephi’s hand as it traced down the man’s muscular torso and worked down to the shorts he was wearing. “I may be willing to hear alternative proposals..” He muttered, biting down against his bottom lip as emeralds drank in every bit of the show his partner was putting on. Jaikus’ stretches promptly came to an end after that, and the Axxilan seamlessly began to move his body in different ways entirely.
While there was no music to follow, Jaikus suddenly lifted his hands above his head and began to weave them hypnotically through the air, fingers snapping and wrists rolling only to the beat within his own head. At the same time, the Axxilan’s hips began to sway and roll with fluidly with almost serpentine grace, rising and falling with sudden pops and drop movements every few moments. It was a hint of the dancing that Jaikus had flaunted for his partner on multiple occasions, knowing full well that it was something the half-Sephi found enticing each and every time.
Jaikus lingered in place for a few seconds more, slowly spinning in place as his hips rose and fell hypnotically. When he finally turned back to face his partner, the Axxilan began to steps towards the bed once more – his body undulating and rolling even as he crossed that bit of distance.
When he finally reached the base of the mattress, Jaikus lowered his body towards the bed and planted both hands onto the plush surface – starting to slowly crawl his way up to where his partner was enticingly sprawled out.
It didn’t take the Axxilan very long before he arrived at his partner, slithering a hand forward to grasp at the half-Sephi’s foot as soon as he was within reach. At once, Jaikus began to knead his thumbs into the bed of the man’s foot – leaning in to plant light, feathery kisses against the top of his limb. Jaikus didn’t linger there for very long – planting a few more kisses against Emryc’s foot before gradually beginning to work his way up towards his intended target.
Starting at the half-Sephi’s ankle, Jaikus began to trail light, feathery kisses up the man’s leg – crawling upwards as he worked up from calf muscle to his thigh. Every so often, the Axxilan leaned forth and bit down against his partners flesh – giving a playful nibble before showering that spot in particularly with extra attention.
Slowly but surely, Jaikus finally worked up between his partner's legs, lightly dragging his teeth across the half-Sephi’s thigh as he closed in. “Maybe we can stay in for a bit longer..”
Several minutes has passed, and Jaikus still made absolutely zero attempts to get up from where he was – taking the time to fully catch his breath and relax for a few more minutes snuggled up with his partner. As he had been for some time, the Axxilan was sprawled out on his side – keeping one arm wrapped around the half-Sephi’s shoulders while the other laid lazily across his chest. He kept one leg layered over the top of Emryc’s own, resulting in Jaikus really only laying half on the bed while the other half laid on his partner.
There was still a light sheen of sweat to the Axxilan’s bronze skin, and his chest rose and fell with slow, heavy breaths – emerald eyes listlessly staring off at nothing in particular. As he laid there, Jaikus lightly grazed his fingers across the half-Sephi’s chest, drawing little circles across his partner’s bare skin.
Emerald eyes tilted up after a few more moments, a faint smile brushing against his features when he locked onto those familiar silvers. It didn’t seem to matter how many times the two of them found themselves snuggled against one another, as Jaikus cherished each and every second. Hours could’ve passed and he would’ve been just as satisfied to remain exactly where he was.
After a few more moments, Jaikus lifted his head off the half-Sephi’s chest ever-so-slightly, just to lean in and plant a few feather kisses to the man’s torso. “I was serious, you know,” He finally muttered against the half-Sephi’s skin. “About wanting to wake up every day next to you. And I don’t mean by cashing in on all your hotel reward points.” He said, a light bit of amusement lacing his words.
"I want to wake up beside you every morning, and be there at the end of your day." Jaikus said softly. It was a thought that had come to linger in the back of his mind whenever the pair were together, and it always came to the forefront during those agonizing moments when they had to separate for weeks at a time. It was a topic that the Axxilan knew he wanted, and he knew that neither of them were entirely satisfied with their current arrangement. "I don't want to leave you for weeks, and have to move carefully maneuver our schedules to have a few days together."
He exhaled. "I want to be with you, and be able to call the same place home. I want to live with you, Emryc."
Jaikus slid his hand down the half-Sephi's chest, moving down to grasp Emryc's hand - giving his fingers a squeeze. "And it doesn't matter where we are. It could be Ship or anywhere else.. Just as long as we're together, if that is also something you want."
While Emryc was affectionate with Jaikus, it was unsurprising that cuddling only held his attention in limited capacity. Where Jaikus was content simply laying there doing nothing, the half Sephi soon had his datapad back in one hand as he scrolled through the latest Huttball stats. His other arm was firmly wrapped around his partner, enjoying how the man was sprawled across him. Like Jaikus, sweat lined his body as well, and his chest rose and fell deeply, reeling back from their earlier activities.
He felt Jaikus’ feathery kisses against his torso, but it wasn’t until he began speaking that Emryc lowered his datapad to give the man his full attention. The half Sephi was silent as the Axxilan spoke, silver eyes calmly gazing at him as his face remained entirely neutral. By the time Jaikus finished speaking, Emryc’s ears almost flattened slightly and his body tensed a bit. He felt the grasp against his hand, and he gazed down towards there in silence.
Emryc had been faced with this before. And it had also been with a man he had loved back then, someone he had been with much longer. He went into a full blown panic then, the thought of giving up his own space making him physically ill. In the end, he never moved forward with that decision, always finding some excuse to drag his feet. The first difference he noticed this time was that he didn’t pull away. Even though he was within the deep confines of his mind, he didn’t physically draw away like he had before. The difference was that Jaikus put it on Emryc’s terms. He simply mentioned what he wanted and was willing to move into the space Emryc had created. It was no different than when Jaikus had declared how he had felt before Emryc ever opened that door towards getting into a relationship.
The half Sephi physically relaxed, blinking a few times before holding Jaikus close. The difference this time also was that Jaikus would never be offended if Emryc had no intention of taking this step. If he shut the door on the topic, it would never be broached again. It was one of the many traits Emryc had grown to love in the other man.
They remained there in silence for a very long time and it was unclear what Emryc thought of the topic. After a few more minutes passed, the half Sephi exhaled, tilting his head to look at Jaikus, “What about Thyferra?” He asked very quietly. Though he didn’t spell it out, that question alone spoke volumes about the fact that the half Sephi wasn’t scared off by the idea. It was a milestone he had never crossed before, and for the first time, it didn’t make him deeply uncomfortable.