Trial by Fire

BY : Jade_Max
Category: +S through Z > Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Dragon prints: 3740
Disclaimer: Star Wars is George's sandbox, which now belongs to Disney; I'm simply destroying the sandcastles and playing with the action figures. I make no money off of this.

Title: Trial By Fire

By: Jade_Max

Rating: NC-17

Genre: Angst / Dark 'Romance'

Summary: When obsession and infatuation collide with possession and control.

Note: Big thank you to laloga who has graciously lent my Traxis [and Blaze] for the duration of this fic when he put a blaster to my head and told me to write. This one's for you; I can't thank you enough for letting me play in your sandbox - it's such fun!



Trial By Fire

Chapter 1

Traxis was checking the connection pins for the power pack on his DC-15 when the call came for Torrent Company to report immediately to the flight deck. It had barely finished echoing through the eerily empty billet before he was on in motion.

Slapping the power pack back into the chamber, Traxis collected his bucket and slid off his bunk, heading for the door. It wasn’t until he was part way there that he realized he was alone; he’d been so absorbed in checking his deece he hadn’t noticed the others leave. He stepped out of the barracks, clipping his helmet to his belt, he headed for the flight deck. As he passed the mess on the way to the turbo lift, Attie, Nax and Del fell into step with him. Feeling self conscious, Traxis deliberately stepped to the outside of the group near the wall, keeping the damaged side of his face away from them.

"Think the transfers are here?"

"Probably," Del told Nax before looking to Traxis. "How you feeling Traxis?"

The injuries he’d incurred on Teth was only recently healed and, having recovered, Traxis was now back with his unit; Torrent Company of the infamous five oh first. It was good to be back but uncomfortable too; he’d survived where almost everyone else in the company hadn’t.

“I’ll live, Del,” Traxis replied with a nod, downplaying his injuries as did most brothers. There was a jovial tone that had once graced his words which was now missing; another casualty of Teth. “Coric patched me up real good. I may have a few mementos from the party, but who doesn’t?”

Those mementos were in the form of jagged scars that ran down the side of his face like ribbons, starting within his hairline, the angry pink, puckered skin most prominent when the shot had struck, fading a little but no less noticeably as it ribboned across his cheek, thickening and twisting as it slipped below his neck to disappear into his armor.

Badges of shame, they were a testament to the fact that he’d failed, that he’d been too slow, too weak to come through on his feet. It set him apart from his brothers; labeled him as the weak link. It would have been better if they’d left him for dead; only Coric hadn’t thought so.

Attie slapped him on the left shoulder, drawing him from his thoughts. “That’s the spirit Traxis; take more than a group of under powered tinnies to take us down.”

The words fell flat, a reminder that they were only a few of the so-called privileged handful of Teth survivors. Of one hundred and forty four men under Captain Rex’s command, they were four of the remaining six, not including Captain Rex. They’d reported only five survivors for the whole mission until they’d come to check the corpses and salvage the equipment. Coric had been the one to return and check over the fallen brothers of Torrent Company.

He’d been the one to locate the severely wounded Traxis and save his life.

Nax elbowed Attie. “Should have named you Fimd, brother.”

“Fimd?”

“Foot in mouth disorder,” Nax supplied dryly. “You just don’t know when to shut up, do you?”

Nax’s observation broke the tension for a few moments as they passed the medbay, Coric and Zeer falling in with greetings to their brothers.

Coric matched his steps to Traxis’ near the back of the group despite his rank. “Good to see you up and about, Traxis.”

“It’s your fault, Coric.”

The medic smiled faintly and gave him a nod before leaving him alone. Of all the survivors, the medic knew best just how Teth had changed him.

They entered the turbolift, Traxis making a point to hold his face away from his brothers. If you looked at him from one side, he was the same as every other clone and he intended to ensure that was the case as much as possible. The others talked amongst themselves, speculating as to whom had been transferred, each well aware that the five hundred and first was a choice posting; they got some of the hardest assignments but also, the most recognition. Under Captain Rex they were known for their fierce tenacity and ingenuity.

How could they be anything but that working with General Skywalker, Trax didn’t know.

The turbolift doors opened and Trax held them open while the others filed out before falling in behind, once again at the rear right to keep his face to the wall. Their pace increased as they neared the hangar deck, Coric’s voice suddenly snapped with command as he stepped into the forefront as the only remaining Torrent Company Sergeant.

“Bonnets.”

Unclipping their helmets as one to tuck them under their arms, it was a precise and practiced move but, as he moved his arm, Trax felt his fingertips tingle. He forced the sensation away, ignoring it. Coric had warned him that there would likely be some nerve damage tied into the damage done to his neck that would, hopefully, pass with time.

The sextet passed through the hallway and into the hangar bay, marching with precision and deliberation towards where Hawk and Captain Rex were talking on the far side of the bay. As they approached, the Captain and the Pilot breaking from their discussion and Hawk slipped into the ease position.

“Reporting as ordered, sir.” Coric snapped off a salute as he drew the men up short, all six of them snapping into the attention posture, modified to accommodate their helmets.

“Coric,” Rex nodded to the Sergeant and then smiled faintly at the rest. “At ease, men.”

Traxis slid into the at ease posture with the others, averting his chin so his Captain couldn’t see the damaged side of his face, keeping one eye on the other men.

Rex nodded to each of them, his eyes lingering on Traxis for a moment before he spoke, singling him out. “Traxis.”

“Sir.”

“Good to see you up and about, trooper.”

Rex’s smile was faint but heartfelt and there was relief Traxis couldn’t remember ever seeing in his Captain’s eyes before that gave him pause. Relief for him? He dismissed it. Unlikely. He offered the Captain a brief nod. “Thank you, sir.”

“Coric, where are Echo and-”

“Here, sir!”

Both troopers, recently inducted into Torrent Company after an incident at a listening outpost, came to a halt next to Hawk. Wherever or whatever they’d been doing, their faces were flushed and they were breathing hard, as if they’d run to get there.

Rex regarded them for a moment before pacing away. Hawk, Echo and Fives stepped across to join the other six before Rex turned back their way. He didn’t keep them waiting. “The first wave of replacements for Torrent Company will begin arriving momentarily.”

Rex’s words were clipped and Traxis flinched as he realized why they’d been called to the deck. Men were coming in today to replace the fallen brothers from Teth; men they’d be expected to show around the Resolute; men that would need to be assigned the bunks those brothers had once slept in.

“I expect all of you to assist them with settling in. Over the course of the next week, our numbers will be replenished; readiness drills will resume with the General and Commander at oh six hundred tomorrow.”

He was cut off by the sound of gunships entering the pressurized atmosphere of the landing bay. Rex passed the small column of men to stand near Traxis, his arms hanging loosely, his distinctive jaig eyed helmet under one arm like the rest of them. It was only as the gunships began to turn in place to land that Traxis realized that he was now at the head of the column with his scar facing his brothers.

With a flinch, he straightened his shoulders realizing that his morning was about to get a whole lot worse.

+++++++++

Blaze adjusted his grip on the safety strap as he felt the abrupt pull of the gunship as it slowed for landing. Combat pilots all, the clone troopers at the yoke were no doubt showing off for the new guys as the ship set down easily as the doors opened. Grabbing the part of his kit he’d chosen not to wear for this transfer, which included the infamous  BT X-42 flamethrower, he dropped to the deck, looking back at his brothers with a flash of a smile. “So this is the infamous Resolute.”

Rukas, another of his unit, dropped next to him, kit also in hand. “We’ll have plenty of time to explore the ins and outs once we’ve met our new Company,” he admonished his brother with a faint smile. “I’m sure they’ll be plenty you can break.”

Blaze chuckled as the rest of his unit, Rook, Bishop, Coil and Heli followed them off the ship, their hefty gear ensuring they’d been the only six on board. Another nearby gunship was offloading a dozen more trooper, one of them with medic patches, but thus far, no Sergeants as far as he could see.

“Think the Captain’s as much of a hard sheb as the rumors go?”

“Must be,” Coil stepped in beside Blaze with a warning glance at Rukas. “He survived Teth without major injury and, rumor has it, stood up to the Force Assassin and took out a droid or ten with his bare hands.”

Finally,” Bishop stated dryly, “a Captain we can respect.”

“Get him on the bitch here,” Blaze slapped his flamethrower with a smirk, “and if he can handle himself, I’ll think about it.”

The sextet shared a laugh as the gunship before them revved its engines in preparation for takeoff, Blaze’s gaze going to the as of yet silent Rook at the back of the group, as far from Blaze as he could get. Deliberately, he knew, and he noted that Rook’s gaze wasn’t on the team. His expression tightened as he followed Rook’s gaze to the other gunship and then beyond as it lifted off, clearing his line of sight to the area beyond.

Seven troopers stood at modified parade rest, their helmets under their arms, wearing the distinctive blue markings of the five hundred and first. They moved forward as the gunship left, greeting the group of clones that had disembarked, two offering to ‘help’ with their gear and laughter drifted to the squad of fire troopers.

Looking the men over with a critical eye, Blaze gave a derisive snort. “Shinies; the whole lot.”

“Not all,” Bishop corrected him. “I see a shoulder patch in there with Geonosis markings.”

And, even as they watched, the Officer – no doubt their new Captain with his kama and pauldron and dual blasters – stopped next to the trooper and extended his hand. They clasped forearms , the new trooper saying something to the Captain which made him grin and shake his head before moving on.

Blaze’s gaze ran back over the other men, most intermingling with the new additions. All except one. A fairly average brother, with the standard high and tight cut, hung back from the others, his brown eyes taking in the meeting with an almost detached interest.

“He trying to figure out their armor size?”

Blaze looked back to the rest of his squad, glancing at his tag team partner, Coil.

“Kinda futile with them all the same size, ain’t it?” interjected Heli dryly. “’Course, it’s easier to get off.”

The crude joke drew chuckles from the rest of the fire troopers. Except Blaze recognized a gleam he’d seen in many an eye before.

This trooper was covertly examining his new brothers, and not just sizing them up the way brothers who’d never worked together before had the tendency to. Critically studying the clones who were now headed their way, he dismissed one brother after another, watching as they showed only polite, if strained, interaction; no doubt brought around from the fact they were Teth’s only survivors.

Blaze’s instincts kicked in as his mind began to calculate and correlate the information he was seeing; perhaps this posting wasn’t going to be as boring and regimented as he’d suspected.

Keeping his eye on the clone that hung near the back, Blaze watched as the other man’s eyes fell on Rook, widened fractionally, and then dropped to take him in from the top of his head and down. Rook, a shameless flirt, knew when he was being admired and flexed his bulging biceps, the most notable difference between the troopers who wielded the bitch and those who didn’t.

The air of… caution around the new brother suddenly made sense when he turned, obviously without thinking, to speak with one of his original brothers from Torrent Company and Blaze caught sight of the still new scar that webbed down the side of his face and neck into his armor.

The obvious self conscious way he held himself, the shattered confidence, the adherence to regime as the Captain drew them up short before the flame troopers with a salute.

The sextet snapped to attention, Blaze’s concentration still on the scarred brother at the end of the line; the one who was exchanging speculative looks with Rook, lingering on his physique the way the others didn’t all the while pretending to check out the flamethrower on the ground next to him.

It was a good ruse, a well done ruse actually, but Blaze recognized the interest and, as Rook showed a less than obvious one in return, came to only one conclusion. If Rook could flirt, so would he; he’d enjoy taking this man’s attention away from Rook if he had the potential to be interesting. He’d always enjoyed a conquest more if Rook lost out anyway.

He was drawn back to the present as the Captain stepped before him, looking around at all six of the special operation troopers .

“I’m Captain Rex; your new boss.”

“Blaze, sir,” he offered sharply, forgoing his designation as he took the cue from the Captain. “An honor to be here, sir.”

“Remember that, Corporal,” Rex returned, continuing down the line to Coil and then, finally, Heli, speaking with each one briefly based on what they responded.

The other troopers from Torrent Company came to meet them as Rex moved aside with his Sergeant Coric, offering assistance that was quickly refused. Flame troopers didn’t need help from clone troopers. Looking down the line, Blaze frowned as Rook stepped in to address the scarred brother, offering him a smile and a handshake that lingered a touch longer than necessary, Rook’s own interest obvious.

So. Rook was taking a shine to the new guys, eh? Blaze considered the scared brother for a moment and then suppressed a smirk. This would be entertaining. Picking up his kit, he stepped down the line to where Rook and the new guy were talking, eavesdropping as he placed his gear near Bishop’s, just far away not to be near Rook's as he stepped in and slapped Rook on the shoulder.

“Who’s your friend, brother?”

Rook shot him a dark look with a clear back off message in their depths; one Blaze decided to ignore as he looked expectantly at their new brother.

“Traxis,” offered the scarred clone, his tone clipped.

This close, Blaze could see the trepidation lurking in Traxis’ brown eyes, the uncertainty, the shame as he tilted his head away fractionally. Taking in the scared clone’s posture, his hesitation and caution, Blaze caught sight of something within the other man’s eyes that drew him like a magnet.

Vulnerability.

His mouth began to water, his cock hardening behind his codpiece.

Here was a tender morsel just waiting to be had and Blaze decided in that moment he would. This brother would be his; his personal screw toy and possibly more. This clone would be his, body and soul and he was going to enjoy building him up just so he could break him again.

He kept his thoughts from his face and instead, in response, offered Traxis a smile that was tinged with appreciation, his fingers digging into Rook’s shoulder around the plastoid guard as he offered his hand. “I’m Blaze. Traxis. That’s Bakuran, right – for heter valve?”

Traxis’ eyes widened in surprise and Blaze mentally tallied himself points as Rook shot him another dark look. Rook hadn’t read the manual for the deeces or, if he had, he hadn’t paid it that much attention. Blaze had always acquired strange facts; he was of the opinion that you never knew when one would come in handy. Like now.

“Right.” Traxis accepted Blaze’s handshake with a faint, cautious smile. “You’re the first to know that.”

“Well, the deece isn’t as labor intensive as the birch to maintain, Traxis,” Blaze told him, never losing his smile as he kept eye contact, one eyebrow arched suggestively as he kept a hold of the other man’s hand, “but you never know when you’ll need to know the intimate workings of one.” Traxis blinked at the innuendo, pulling his hand free, and Blaze glanced at Rook from the corner of his eye. “Right, Rook?”

“You don’t handle a deece unless you have to,” Rook returned evenly. “He’s a bit of a diva, Traxis; prefers to let others do it for him if his bitch is at hand.”

“Bitch, sir?”

“The BT X-42 flamethrower,” Blaze supplied, “care to see?”

Traxis nodded, his motion more eager than before, and Blaze stepped in front of Rook to lead the scared clone back to his kit. The others were mingling, Rook watching them, and Blaze mentally tallies another point in his favor. Crouching next to his kit, he flicked the straps and pulled away the covering and glanced up at Traxis.

“Ever seen one before?”

Traxis shook his head.

“No or not this close?”

“Not this close.

His answer was reluctant but Blaze ignored the flash of unease in Traxis’ eyes, instead turning to his flamethrower and beginning to highlight the salient points. “Kind of like the traxis in a deece, every bitch has one that allows for a proper regulation of ignition versus fuel.”

“The creation of flame.”

“Exactly. Now-”

“Blaze!”

He looked up, towards Coil. “What?”

“Put it away,” Coil’s eyes gleamed, showing he wasn’t just talking about the flamethrower. “The Captain’s ordered us to clear the deck to make way for more transports.”

Reluctantly closing his kit, Blaze turned back to Traxis with an apologetic half smile. “Rain check?”

Traxis glanced towards Rook and then back to Blaze. “Can I show you to the billet? You can tell me about her on the way.”

And another point to Blaze; Rook was falling behind. Normally Blaze would have turned the offer down flat but, to annoy Rook as much as to set the hook for Traxis, he hefted his kit and nodded. “Lead on.”

Traxis didn’t lead him out right away and waited instead for the rest of Blaze’s squad to collect their gear.

They left the hangar deck and Traxis led them straight towards the turbolift. Blaze could feel the interest in the other man’s eyes as he glanced his way. Guarded but present. He waited, knowing brothers as he did, that curiosity would win out eventually.

Behind them the others talked amongst themselves; they’d been stationed on Kamino for a fairly long time and the ships, while they’d been drilled in their design, were still a relatively new concept to the flame troopers. As it was, they moved swiftly but drank in their surroundings.

Coil shot a question Traxis’ way about a gun emplacement they were passing and, to Blaze’s surprise, Traxis not only knew the answer, but the firing rates and refresh cycles required for each one.

Weapons. Weapons were key to this man.

Rook put forward a question about the ship and, gratifyingly, Traxis’ short answer was to the point. He didn’t laugh or elaborate on any of the information; he didn’t tell silly little anecdotes; he simply delivered the facts as he knew it.

“Med bay there; Mess that way; master at arms two floors up over that way.”

Traxis surprised him, answering the questions with consummate skill and professionalism and squelching his own rather intense curiosity – Blaze had seen the gleam in the other man’s eyes when he’d looked at the flamethrower – about their squad. It wasn’t until they were in the turbolift and on the way up that Traxis spoke directly to Blaze once more – and it wasn’t the question Blaze was expecting.

“Sir?”

“Blaze,” he corrected immediately. “To you, anyway.”

Coil coughed behind him and Blaze knew his buddy was suppressing a laugh.

“Yes sir – Blaze.” Traxis stared back at the other man for a long moment before his eyes deliberately moved upwards. “An interesting choice.”

“It’s natural, actually,” Blaze’s grin turned suggestive as he tilted his head in invitation. His hair was as dark as any brothers but for a patch of pure blonde just above his right temple. Courtesy of a training accident that hadn’t cost him more than a few pigment follicles, the blonde hair was a striking contrast that gave him a rakish look. “Wanna touch?”

Traxis blinked and seemed to withdraw into himself, giving his head a firm shake as his hands clenched. A sign he wanted to touch but wouldn’t let himself.

“No?” Gratified by that little sign, Blaze straightened and then touched the top of his kit. “Shame. You wanna touch my hardware instead?”

Behind Traxis, Blaze caught Rook’s eye over Traxis’ shoulder and had to suppress a smug smile at the malice and aggression in the other man’s eyes. Satisfaction rolled through him. You lose, Rook. Next to Rook, Heli and Rukas were exchanging tolerant looks, using hand signals to place bets and Bishop was rolling his eyes as if to say, ‘not again”.

Traxis’ eyes widened. “Sir?”

“The bitch, Traxis,” he nodded to the covered flamethrower, delighted the other man had followed his line of thinking. “Or should we wait until we hit the barracks?”

“We should wait; we’re almost there,” confirmed Traxis firmly, averting his gaze as he seemed to realize he was looking at Blaze head on and instead offered him only the undamaged side of his face.

Interesting; Blaze filed that little tidbit away – they were alone and Traxis would have to get used to looking at him. In a mirror, in a reflective viewport, the reflective tiles in the showers. He bit the inside of his cheek to stop a groan as he grew impossibly harder behind his codpiece. At this rate he’d need to find himself a one off. Coil’s hand landed on his shoulder and squeezed, as if knowing what he was going through.

They finished the ride in silence, Blaze scooping his kit in one hand, showing off his prowess and preening a little for Traxis as he held the lift door. The others followed, collecting their gear just as easily before following Blaze. Rook fell into step beside him, his words soft but vehement.

“Laying it on a little thick, Blaze?”

“Back off, brother,” he returned to Rook in the same undertone the other man had used to speak with him. “You’ve lost this round; accept it.”

“We’ll see.”

Traxis followed the other men, walking just slightly behind them and at the right, Blaze glanced back to find the scared man checking him out surreptitiously instead of watching the halls ahead. His swagger increased to the end of the hallway before he finally stopped, the rest of his squad looking left and right and straight ahead. 

“Where to?”

“Left; end of the hall.”

Blaze waved the others on ahead until Traxis was even with him and fell into step. “So you’re a deece man, are you, Traxis?”

“They’re a most reliable line of weapons,” Traxis answered, a caution note in his voice, his gaze on the men ahead of them.

“You a single or dual man?”

“Single, sir.”

“Blaze,” he flashed a smile with a hard edge at Traxis. “Don’t make me make it an order.”

“Yes – Blaze.”

“Good. Get the door would you?”

The others had stopped at the code locked door and Traxis moved ahead, Blaze was pleased to note, without hesitation. He keyed in the code. “Five-oh-one,” he glanced back at the squad as he entered the code and opened the door. “Remember it.”

“Easy enough,” Rukas returned as he swept past Traxis into the barracks. “Even for a bitch carrier.”

The others entered the barracks ahead of Blaze, quickly picking their bunks and setting about stashing their gear. Going in last with a nod of his head that Traxis could interpret as thanks if he wished, Blaze looked around.

A half dozen bunks near the far end, by an emergency exit and about half way from the ‘freshers and showers were all occupied.  Rook and Bishop grabbed a pair near them; Rukas and Heli near the entrance door as was their custom, leaving Blaze and Coil in the middle.

Selecting a bunk across from the ‘freshers, Blaze dropped his kit on the locker at the end and turned to face their guide, hands on his hips and deliberately framing his codpiece; he was hard and aching behind it and, much as he might wish otherwise, he wasn’t going to be nailing the man before him today.

That didn’t stop him from drawing Traxis’ attention to the area; to assist the thought process along. “So; you wanna see it?”

“It?”

Blaze bit back a grin at the other man’s hoarse question. “The bitch, Traxis. Maybe once I show you my fuel injectors you can show me the modifications you’ve made to your deece?”

Traxis took a step back and Blaze realized he’d pushed too far, too fast as the other clone shook his head. “Thank you for the offer, Blaze, but the Captain requested I return immediately after this escort.”

“Rain check,” Blaze repeated his words from earlier, interjecting a hopeful note into his voice.

After a moment’s hesitation, Traxis nodded and confirmed it before leaving Blaze alone in the barracks. The Resolute and Torrent Company suddenly didn’t seem like such a bad assignment after all.

+++++++++

Traxis shook his head as he walked back towards the turbolift that would take him once again down to the flight deck and the brothers that would look at him with varying degrees of pity and revulsion, the odd one indifferent or uncaring as to his new scars. None of them would greet him like Rook and Blaze had.

Both men were nothing if not confident and his imperfections, his badges of shame hadn’t so much as rated a bat of an eyelash. But then, he’d felt the calloused lines of scar tissue on Blaze’s hand when they’d shook so perhaps he had a reason not to care about scars.

Blaze.

Blaze had flirted with him from the start, something he’d not been expecting and, because it was so appealing, so easy, he didn’t trust it. The other man had been almost forcefully arrogant in his advances, as if Traxis wouldn’t be able to resist him.

Certain that the other man was just toying with him until something better, someone undamaged, came along, Traxis tried to put Blaze from his mind.

And couldn’t.

+++++++++

Blaze backed off and for that Traxis was glad, leaving him alone for the rest of the morning and afternoon as the flame troopers explored the ship.

When it came from for the evening meal, though the flame troopers all sat at the same table, and Blaze selected a spot that would give him an unimpeded view straight to Traxis. As a result, Traxis found himself a little flustered, keeping his eyes on his plate as he deliberately cut into what qualified as food for the troops.

His table mates had learned the hard way he wasn’t on to join in on conversation and Fives and Echo had saved him by sitting nearby, Fives drawing the attention of their new Company members.

Eating slowly lest he embarrass himself and do something like choke, Traxis ate methodically. Self conscious, he took a sip of his water, his gaze colliding with Blaze’s across the mess hall and, as he swallowed his drink, Blaze lifted an oblong vegetable supplement to his mouth and closed his lips over the tip before deliberately sucking it between them and in.

Traxis fumbled with his cup as he placed it back on the table. Get a grip; he’s not really interested. He’s just flirting to pass the time.

Or that was what he told himself even when, a couple of minutes later, it happened again - and Blaze winked at him.

 



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