Set somewhere in the world of the Bad Batch space time continuum non-canonically.
The nightmares of the past, the loves long since lost, are still plaguing both Echo and Hunter.
Even if they have an established their relationship, there are still doubts lingering of it all, for both of them. Whether the other really is the one they should be with or not. More so for Echo, because Fives is not coming back. But Hunter might still have a chance with his former love.
Can they overcome their doubts and move on with what they have now? Put the past behind them and concentrate on what is there for both now? Can Hunter finally utter out the three words, which Echo so desperately needs to hear?
The nightmares, never ending
'Dreams ever present, some call them nightmares, others, simply bad memories from the distant past.'
"No! I will go first. The shuttle? Fives? Please hurry!"
Echo's hands were grabbing something in the air. Something, or someone, which wasn't there any more. But he wasn't awake. He was having a nightmare. One of the worst ones in a long while.
Hunter had been immediately alerted and woken up form his own less than deep slumber. As if sensing it before hand and then having been prepared for a bad night. Something which both of them still endured every now and so often, Echo less so than Hunter did. But the bad dreams were indeed becoming less frequent than they had been for both men.
Still, the signs had been all there during the day. Something Hunter had learnt to read of his partner, sensing Echo's dilemma even before Echo realised it himself. Hunter had been sleeping rather lightly so far. Ready and willing to help Echo when he was right smack middle of the worst scenarios of his past.
"Don't go that way. There is danger there, I can sense it!"
Echo was clearly trying to either rectify the past or then simply steer the scene into some other direction than it had been in real life. The real life having Echo sacrificing himself for the others benefit. Dying there, in the Citadel.
Hunter could tell the dialogue was different now though.
It usually varied. Echo trying to control the nightmares. But he seemed to be as unsuccessful in doing so as he had been in reality. Having gotten himself blown up instead, even if his team mates had gotten to safety. Whatever it was happening there now inside of Echo's mind, Hunter only having the read the mission file by Rex and Fives. So, Hunter could only make an educated guess as to what Echo was going through even now. Reliving the past in his dreams.
"Echo, love, I am right here."
Hunter cooed the sleeping man, trying gently to rouse him from his dream.
"No, no don't go in there. Fives. Fives!"
Echo sounded distressed as obviously his dream having taken the wrong turn.
Echo's own mind playing tricks on him. Because Hunter knew from a fact that Fives had survived the incident only to die at a later point of the war. His sacrifice not in vane as the Bad Batch had learnt from Rex. Fives having been the one bringing the subject of the inhibitor chips to the light of the day. Thus saving not only the Batchers, but many other clones from a fate most horrid.
Of course not Crosshair, but that was a discussion for another day.
"Echo, please, come back to me."
Hunter pleaded softly, his tone low but close to Echo's ear, trying to bring him gently out of the state he was in now. Not wanting to make things worse for Echo.
Hunter could see the tears pouring out of Echo's eyes, even if they were still shut. The dream worse than it had been in a long while. Clearly.
It took several attempts for Hunter. Holding Echo in his arms and whispering sweet nothings into his ear, to bring him out of the nightmarish world Echo was completely engulfed inside of.
As Echo finally opened his eyes, in the dim light of their bedroom, Hunter felt nothing but relief.
"Hey sweetheart. Welcome back."
Hunter greeted the man he loved, even if he was yet to speak out the truth to Echo. Having a hard time bringing forth the three simple words which meant the world for both of them.
Echo blinked, once, twice, the tears rolling free now as he had woken up and his eyes were wide open.
Echo reached for Hunter, grabbing a hold of him. Burying his face into Hunter's front, holding on for dear life.
Hunter tightened his grip on Echo. Letting Echo simply cry off the remnants of his nightmare. This was not the time for words, but the presence. And Hunter would remain there for Echo, as long as he needed him to be there.
Am I a consolation price, or something more?
'Being the first love for someone is exhilarating, being the second chance for someone else, is hard.'
Hunter and Echo were in the galley together.
Preparing the evening meal for the team. Something which had become somewhat of a norm for the duo these days. Especially now, with no small thanks to Cid and her contacts. Having access to fresh produce from which to prepare the more healthy meals to serve their Batch.
They were both tired though. The missions for Cid and a few ops ran for Rex's cause as well had been frequent back to back jobs. The couple had hardly had time to spend with each other. It did not help either, that both their nightmares had become increasingly more frequent due to the hectic times. Having less sleep and time for each other. The correlation quite clear there.
And so, even if Hunter and Echo were rather amicable while working together, there seemed to be something unspoken hanging between them. Something most likely having been brought up to the surface because of the the state their lives were at now.
Too much to do and not enough time to do it. Their supposed free lives not really belonging to them at the moment. At all.
And so, the bad cycle continued. The gigs, the restless nights filled with nightmares, even if the two of them still remained there for each other. Consoling the other when the bad dreams got too much to handle.
After a while though, it was all starting to irk Echo as Hunter had become even more drawn the more hectic everything got around them. Keeping his distance from Echo during the days, whenever they were not on a mission.
And so, Echo had decided to confront Hunter, as to the reason behind his most recent behaviour and whether the whatever had been between them, was not something Hunter wanted any more.
After the meal had been consumed in comfortable silence, every one being tired because of the late hour and the long day. Echo and Hunter had excused the other three and agreed to clean up even if the particular task usually fell onto the other three because Echo and Hunter prepared the meals.
The table was soon enough cleared and the dishes done. The silence still present between the two of them. Echo hesitated for a moment before he spoke.
"Hunter, can I ask you something?"
Hunter sighed, knowing the topic would come up at some point. And this was it.
Hunter had been distant, from Echo.
But most likely not for the reasons Echo thought. But then again, Hunter also knew, he should have trusted Echo enough to tell him the real reason behind his, well odd behaviour. Still, this, romantic relationship, as it was how Hunter saw the two of them to be as… Well, Hunter should have known better and let his partner know why he had retracted from Echo in the first place.
"Of course Echo. You can ask me anything."
Echo knew something was wrong. As there was no endearment used and Hunter, well, he had been distant towards Echo, even in bed. Which could only mean one thing. Echo touched Hunter lightly, wanting him to look at Echo. As clearly, Hunter was avoiding eye contact.
Getting Hunter's attention, their eyes locked. Echo decided it was time. To ask the one question rattling around his mind.
"Hunter… is this thing, between us, over?"
Echo did not dare to use the real words. Not of how he had thought the two of them to be as. Their romantic relationship. Being lovers.
Hunter was caught. Standing there like a wild animal caught in the headlights of a speeder.
He knew he should have mentioned something earlier. But there were things Hunter did not share with anyone. Not even Crosshair or the others of their family. And well, now, he knew it was a mistake to assume Echo knew this had simply been the case and nothing else. Nothing to do with the two of them as this was Hunter's own internal struggle.
Hunter took Echo's hand into his own and drew him closer.
"I, no. I don't want us to be over. Ever."
Hunter was staring Echo right into his eyes. Wanting Echo to read him. To really see, that Hunter was being earnest.
"I love you."
And there it was, out in the open. The three little words Echo had yearend to hear for a longest while. Ever since he himself had blurted them out.
Echo simply glared at Hunter, not really sure as to what was happening.
But it was quite the opposite of what he had thought. What he had worried about for several days now. And clearly, Hunter was going through something. Something really personal he had not wanted to share. But, Echo did not want any secrets between them. Not if they were to continue this, relationship between them. The loving kind.
"And I love you."
Echo repeated the words once again.
"But, if there is something going on with you, I would hope you are able to share it with me. I can help you if you let me."
Hunter was silent for a moment before he spoke again. Echo's words sinking in.
"I hear ya. And, I know I should have told you before. But, well, there are things not even the others know about me. And guess, I have never really trusted anyone to share them either."
Echo grabbed Hunter's chin ever so gently and held him in place as he spoke to Hunter.
"I am here for you. When you are ready. You can trust me with anything and it will not change how I feel about you."
Echo told Hunter then, getting a nod in response.
"I do and I will. Soon. I promise."
Hunter leaned in to kiss Echo, sealing their deal. But also to assure Echo, they were indeed, a couple. A loving one at that.
Why can't I just be dreaming, of you?
'The nightmares shed, left to die with the past. Never forgotten, only put on the back burner. As new loves are given the chance and the reason to be dreamt of.'
"How are you feeling love?"
Hunter asked Echo as the two of them lay on the bed. The two lovers tangled with each other limb for limb in the after glow of their love making. Having made up for the past few weeks of bad times and misunderstandings. Well, having made up, period. And so, having put their life into perspective after agreeing on some basic rules from now on end.
"Always good when I have been with you."
Echo's eyes were closed, as he was simply basking in the warmth of the man he loved. The sex was always so good between them. And it had been a while with all the anxiety hovering over them and the busy schedule not helping any either.
But they had agreed on a few ground rules to follow.
To take on less missions. To spend more time together, both with the family and with Hunter and Echo by themselves. Then there was the other matter. The fact that Hunter had his little secrets and mental states which he had not shared with others.
Well, after some discussion, Hunter had promised to let Echo in on them, little by little. Which in Echo's mind, was a good start. Because secrets led to mistrust which in turn led to bad relations. Something to eventually destroy even a good relationship for sure.
But neither of them wanted their union to end. They had just found each other, in a manner of speaking. Having become lovers while consoling the other and sharing in the grief of loss. Sharing both in pain and love, becoming whole again, together.
Hunter leaned in for a languid kiss. Neither in a hurry to get things heated up. Not yet, because their love making never stopped with just the one round of orgasmic bliss. Still, there was time to do more. Soon.
Echo responded in kind. Letting Hunter's tongue enter his mouth. Starting a slow and gentle dance without hurry. But the gentle probing soon turning into a more fiery feast. Hunter's tongue becoming more insistent and demanding.
Their tongues doing their feisty ballet, fighting for dominance, but in the best possible way. Hunter having been the one to guide the previous bout. And so Echo decided it was his turn to take the lead for the next round.
Pushing Hunter onto his back, Echo manoeuvred himself on top of Hunter. Letting go of his mouth, while starting a trail of nips, licks, kisses and sucks along Hunter's jaw, his neck, before reaching his chest.
Halting his path as Echo reached Hunter's nipples, suckling and biting gently on each, eliciting the loudest moans from his partner. The sensitive nubbins standing erect to salute their caretaker.
"Harder, please Echo."
Hunter urged his lover, totally loving the ministrations of Echo's and wanting more.
Echo complied. Suckling harder into the tender buds, hearing Hunter's loud growl as a reward. Smirking against his lovers skin, Echo spent a few more moments worshiping the tiny peeks before continuing on his path down further south.
Echo had reached the place where he wanted and needed to be. Between the most gorgeous pair of thighs he had ever seen. And those, along with the man laying spread out for him in his full naked glory, belonged to Echo now.
Echo could not help but marvel the muscular and shapely appendixes, letting his hand glide across the length of them from the outside in. He took a moment for himself. While doing so, dwelling in the smooth surface, before Hunter urged him on again, his tone raspy and needy.
Echo smirked, having all the time in the world to admire Hunter's many assets later. As he had a more pressing matter at hand, literally and figuratively. Seeing Hunter was quite ready and waiting for Echo already.
"Be patient, love, I will take care of you."
Echo promised then in an assuring low timbre.
Echo had the familiar bottle at hand as he prepped himself before starting on his lover. Hunter's hooded eyes following each and every movement of Echo's as he carefully prepared himself first before turning to do the same with Hunter.
Lips, tongue, hand, fingers… all of them ready and willing, to do whatever it was Hunter needed to be brought to the precipice and to fall over it. As Echo was a man on a mission. A mission to please his lover. Hunter, as per promised.
Echo placed himself in the middle of Hunter's inviting thighs, leaning down, ready, to devour all that which Hunter had to offer.