Preface

Echo/Hunter pairing.

Set somewhere in the world of the Bad Batch space time continuum non-canonically.

Pining after something and someone whom just might be gone for good from one's life can be taxing at best.

Crosshair has pledged himself to the Empire, for good it seems.

And Hunter? Well, he is not dealing with the loss too well. Stuck inside of his own head, reliving the good old times the two of them shared, going only through the motions of the real life instead.

Luckily for him, someone is there to console Hunter, in more ways than one.

Reminiscing the good old days (or being stuck in a rut?)

'Holding onto someone when they are gone is hard, letting go of the memory, is even harder.'

Crosshair was gone, becoming a part of the Empire and Hunter knew he needed to get over it.

Crosshair had made his choice, supposedly freely, without the pressure of the control chip and so now, it was time for all of them to move on.

Still, getting used to sleeping alone, having no one to share his inner most thoughts, having no sex… Well, it had been quite hard for Hunter, pun intended.

But the offer had been made and then, rejected. So what could Hunter do part from maybe shooting the other man with a stun setting on his blaster and force the sniper back?

Not an option really. Even if Hunter entertained the very though for a tad too long.

Hunter was in his bunk. Contemplating on his bad choices. Berating himself as per usual of everything gone wrong. Even congratulating himself for becoming the biggest shebshole known in the galaxy for letting go of his lover so easily. Never even once considering he was the one having made the mistake and not Crosshair.

And so now, all Hunter had, was his memories.

"Please, Hunter, I need you. Now!"

Crosshair pleaded, his impatience shining through. Rather loudly too.

But Hunter was in no hurry. Not at the moment, loving to tease his partner whenever he could. Simply because it got the sniper all riled up and the sex was always so much better during those times.

"I'm working on it."

Hunter tried to sound annoyed, but he could not help the tiny smirk forming on his lips.

"Hunter!"

Crosshair was hardly able to form any words, with his lover on top of him. Having Crosshair pinned to the bed. But Crosshair still managed to try to be the top, to be the one in command and to give the orders to Hunter.

"You are too impatient, sweetheart. I will get there when I get there."

Hunter was not going to allow Crosshair to control their love making even if he was basically controlling everything else in their lives. Not tonight anyway, as it was Hunter's turn to be the top massiff this time around.

Hunter was the designated leader of their squad. Their Sergeant. But he really did not mind sharing most command related things with his partner. None of the team members really cared about the structure anyways. Sharing was really key to their success in the field.

But, the exception now being the pace in which they were going along at the very moment. No, this night was for Hunter to control and he was going to do things his way no matter how much Crosshair bitched and whined about it. Hunter would get there when he would get there.

"Dear…"

Crosshair tried to be, well, polite perhaps.

As it was, Crosshair had been quite frustrated, or rather, horny ever since they had gotten back from their mission. So, his current mood was reflective of that state.

Seeing Hunter do his thing with his vibroblade out there, in the field… Something which always turned Crosshair on no matter how hard he tried to ignore it. Seeing his partner slice and dice the enemy droids with his knife, the movements of Hunter's body… Well, one had to be deaf, dumb and blind not to see the most beautiful killer ballet Hunter performed with his body and tool and not to get turned on by it! At least in Crosshair's opinion.

"You are being impossible again! You know how I felt already before we started this."

There was a small pause, Crosshair, having trouble even thinking, let alone speaking, but he was hanging right there on the precipice and Hunter was denying him his release.

"Please, I really need you to hurry the kark up!"

"Improbable sweetie. Not impossible."

Hunter smirked then. But, he knew he could not prolong the fine torturous play for too long. And so, before Crosshair retorted to any kind of violence, because he easily could. Hunter decided it was time to let him off the hook.

"But, since you put it so nicely, I will comply."

Hunter heard the surprised gasp from Crosshair as he pushed all the way inside of his lover. The warm sensations of the rough penetration enough to shut them both up. Both of them simply basking in heat of their merged bodies for a moment longer. Hunter picking up the pace to bring his lover over the promised edge…

"Sleep still eluding you?"

There was a hint of mirth in the tone speaking somewhere close, even if it was a mostly worried query.

Hunter had been totally submerged in his memories and was startled back to the present when a soft low voice spoke close by. The warm breath on his face, having surprisingly caught Hunter despite his enhanced senses.

Sleeping? Or just, tossing and turning?

'Ah, the ever elusive state called rest, the good sleep, that thing when you fall into the unconscious state of the dreamworld… what a wonder if you can catch even a glimpse of it!'

"You aren't sleeping again."

Echo's velvety tone spoke really close to Hunter's face, the man having leaned over Hunter.

There really was no hiding from Echo. Ever. Which really never had bothered Hunter.

"Just thinking of done things, is all."

"Lemme guess." Echo's voice had a hint of smirk in it. "Lost loves and missed opportunities."

Hunter chuckled. Echo had always been able to read him, like an open holo novel. Ever since they had first gotten him to join the squad.

"Something like that."

"So you wanna share your cosmic thoughts then?"

Echo was hovering real close to Hunter, not backing up either. So, guess no was not an option after all. But…

"I'm…no, not really."

Hunter felt his breath hitch though even if he tried to sound casual, solemn even. But, Echo was more closer than his usual stance. Close enough to… well, just really, really close and…. Hunter could almost reach for his face. If he wanted to.

There was a moment of silence before either of them spoke. Neither moving, just dwelling in each others personal space. It was comforting, on so many levels.

"Move over."

Echo ordered and before Hunter could object, he was already half settled in Hunter's bunk.

"Turn, so I can hold you."

It was a simple enough order and Hunter gladly obeyed it.

Despite his bony frame, Hunter felt quite comfortable being the little spoon in Echo's warm embrace. There was a certain familiarity to Echo, but Hunter did not want to go there. Keeping his mind in the moment and letting Echo do what he did best. For the Batch, for Hunter, which was to console and comfort them. Sometimes with his wisdom of words, other times his hugs. And tonight it was clearly the hugging thing which Hunter needed most of all.

They stayed like that for a long moment, submerged in the warmth of the cocoon created by them both. Until Hunter felt the elusive sleep finally catching up with him. But until it did, there was one thing which needed to be said.

"Thanks. For this. Echo."

Echo smiled softly against Hunter's hair, having snuggled close enough to him.

"Anytime, Hunter. Anytime."

And soon enough, they had both fallen into a deep slumber. The dreamworld capturing them both, letting them both dreams of the past, the present and the would be.

It's just platonic cuddling… or is there more to it?

'Sometimes the second chance you didn't even realise you were looking for is right in front of your very eyes.'

Hunter and Echo had spent most nights together in a longest row, cuddling and holding each other close. It was all very comforting for them both, having lost someone they loved. And now, having someone to share the pain with.

Echo had Fives he had mourned for the longest while. And Hunter had Crosshair. Only Fives would never come back. Not in this life time, while for Crosshair, the situation was somewhat different. But at the moment, neither man was happy. Being alone.

But, for the few past weeks, Echo and Hunter had been lonely, together.

Their arrangement comfortable and doing the world of good for both of them. And it showed too, The other three having noticed the two of them being more, well themselves than they had been in a longest while. Less sulky and moody too.

It had been like that as Hunter and Echo had started getting closer to each other. Sharing stories and laughs. Having started cooking together for the rest of the team as well. Well, it really was Echo doing most of the cooking while Hunter aided him the best he could.

It was all very friendly and brotherly for the while there… Until a kind of an accidental bump of their bodies had the two of them landing face to face. Really close like. Something which had ignited whatever there was lying dormant between them.

And then they had kissed.

It was a soft peck on the other's lips at first. The contact almost gone in an instant. But they could both feel the lingering touch of the other long after parting.

Having stood there a moment, simply staring at one and other. The surprise present, even if neither of them felt it to be that big of a thing. For it to have happened between them. The kiss simply an extension of what had come before, the cuddling, the nights slept together, the rest of it.

Guess, they had both unconsciously suspected there was more to their connection than simply supporting the other through a hard time. Being a good friend to the other.

"So, that happened."

Hunter's tone was breathy, the tingling sensations of Echo's touch still on his lips.

"Yeah."

Echo was no worse for wear, feeling equally breathless as Hunter looked.

The two of them stared at each other for a spell, before Hunter made the move. Hesitantly leaning in closer to Echo, his lips finding the soft flesh of his partner in crime.

Echo wasn't backing up either. Rather leaning in himself to the warm breath of Hunter's. Welcoming the kiss. As their lips met again, it was more urgent, more pressure placed on it than the first one had.

The heat igniting to a full bonfire, as the two lonely hearts kept on tasting each other. Afraid of letting go of the other, with the possibility of this being all a simply dream having been conjured up in their lonely minds.

But it was all, very real.

Called it!

'Sometimes it's inevitable, things happening when least expected, and then you can either accept the facts and adapt… or not, the choice is still there for you to make.'

"Called it!"

Tech stated factually when he himself, Wrecker and Omega had caught the two new love birds kissing in the galley.

Hunter flushed to a shade of red, while Echo simply laughed, with Hunter soon joining in the mirth too. The tension of the moment fading quickly.

"So, you two finally got together then. Took you long enough!"

Wrecker mock berated the duo. As if it had been a known fact to everyone except Echo and Hunter, that the two of them would become an item.

"So… guess, the tooka a is out of the bag then?"

Hunter rubbed the back of his neck with a coy smirk on his lips.

"It was never in the bag to begin with."

Tech told the duo then matter of factly.

"Yeah, we kinda all knew."

Omega had apparently also been in on the knowledge. That Hunter and Echo were, well, together.

"So, we are all okay with this then?"

Echo asked, just to be on the same page with the family.

"We are. Why wouldn't we be?"

Tech asked curiously. Not really certain as to why the hesitation.

"Well, you know, because of… well, Crosshair."

Hunter added, knowing why Echo had asked the question. After all, he knew they all hoped they could get Crosshair back. Still, guess it would not change anything, between Hunter and Echo. Not really.

"Yeah, well, we have to live in the moment. Don't we."

Wrecker suddenly had very wise words to share it seemed.

They all turned to look at him in surprise. As if he had sprouted out horns from his head all of a sudden or something equally odd.s

"What? I've been reading stuff!"

Wrecker looked at the others wide eyed and all defensive.

"Indeed!"

Tech patted him on the back then.

"And we all love you for it and your wise words you share."

Wrecker smiled rather gingerly at Tech, seeing he had made the right comment after all.

Becoming more than friends

'Sometimes there are no labels to what ever 'ship' is going on between two people. It just is, and guess, that is enough.'

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

Echo's words were a soft whisper, being totally enthralled by Hunter's soft touches.

The two of them were in Hunter's bunk room. The Marauder travelling through hyper space back to Ord Mantell after yet another successful mission pulled for Cid.

Their relationship, whatever it was called now, as there were no labels having been put on it, had grown since the nights spent together. Consoling each other at first, leading to the kisses shared, becoming more heated the more they had engaged. And now?

The development had led Echo and Hunter to this moment, where they had decided to take the next step, in becoming lovers. It had been a slow path leading them from there to here. But as they were finally about to take the plunge, there were still lingering doubts, for at least Echo.

The past was the past. The lovers left behind still mourned, by both of them, albeit in different ways. But, the more they had spent time with each other, the more Hunter and Echo had realised they had a future, together. Not just as friends and family, but as lovers too.

And so, this was the night they were finally going to seal the deal, as Wrecker had so fondly called it. Having been rather bold while asking directly from the two, whether they already had or not, had sex with each other.

Hunter let out a small laugh, halting his kisses on Echo's body.

"I might not be too sure about many things sweetie, but this." He motioned the space between the two of them, Echo lying beneath him. "This is something I am sure of. I want you more than I want anything right now."

Hunter and Echo had shared their inner most thoughts with each other, during those cold nights the two of them had cuddled together, in the effort of consoling the other. They knew each other most likely better than anyone had known either of them before. Not even their former lovers, knew all that which Echo and Hunter had shared in the dark corners of the nights.

Echo did not respond with words, rather captured Hunter's lips for another heated, passionate kiss. Wanting to convey all that he felt for Hunter in that single touch. After all the time spent together, the bond between the two of them having grown stronger and love had soon followed.

Echo knew he had fallen for Hunter, even if the other man would not return his feelings. But they were good together. Echo had finally gotten to the stage where falling for someone knew, was alright, as it would not erase the past, the love he had felt for someone else. But he also suspected Hunter would need some time before he got to the same place as Echo.

They broke free from the kiss, both panting heavily. Echo finally having the words he wanted to say to Hunter.

"I want you too Hunter. I've known it for a while now, and I don't want there to be any secrets between us. And I don't except you to feel the same way. Not yet anyway. But I want you to know this. I love you. Have for some time now."

Echo's tone was low, assured as he glared right into Hunter's eyes, while spilling his guts to his lover.

Hunter had his eyes on Echo, the revelation not really news to him, having sensed the feelings from Echo for some time too. Hunter loved Echo, very much so. But, he wasn't in the place he could comfortably tell Echo the words needed. Not yet.

So, simply nodding, Hunter leaned in for another kiss. Hoping it would be enough, for now.

"I've got you, love."

Hunter was panting into Echo's ear, still buried deep inside of him.

"I've got you."

Holding onto his partner, until the last shockwaves of their release had subsided.

"I know you do, sweetheart."

Echo's hoarse voice responded, holding onto Hunter for dear life. Never wanting to let go now that they had finally found each other, in the midst of all the sadness they had endured.