Chapter Eight: Frustration

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Fives was sick of being stuck in his cabin. Melia had lectured him about his delicate skin. He'd pushed it when they got Drake, about three days ago. The delicate skin on his belly had torn open a little, but it hadn't hurt him. He'd hidden the blood. It had been like a five on the pain scale. Which, yes, Fives used because he was a clone trooper and that was just the way he did things. Melia didn't need to know about that. He didn't trust himself around Drake and Melia, to be honest, scared him. Fives had too much freedom. He didn't know how to handle it at all.

He stretched out, rubbing the still pink and tissue like skin on his belly. It had gotten a little stronger, but it was still thin. It was soft and pink, as downy as a newborn cadet's skin. Just when they opened those big eyes and anyone with a heart melted.

Fives told himself to quit it and sat on his hands. No getting blood on the nice bedding!

He needed something to do. Fives would read if he knew how. The clone let a growl escape his lips. He hated this! He hated being a clone! He had rules and regs on him that went from one end of the galaxy to the other. And he was treated like he was far less than a person. Everyone who saw him saw him as a clone and decided for him that he wouldn't feel it if he was spit at. Or when they pelted him with rocks. Or when they asked if he liked it up the sheb from his General. Despite the hush job the PR department had done..Krell's little things had came to light.

Fives knew clones who had been abused by their Generals. One of them had been the shiny Dogma before he'd been spirited away from Clone Jail. The other one he knew for sure was Slick. That one, too, had escaped. The clones who couldn't manage it, either from a mental or physical defect, were usually put down. Accusing the GAR of abuse never did well. It was a surefire way to get the clone killed.

Fives sat up. Damn the wounds on his belly. He couldn't stay still much longer without going mad. He had to get up and do things. Clones didn't take well to enforced rest. They had to have something to do. He got bored way to easy. And he had to have something to do. Talking to Drake was looking like a better idea all the time. Drake was the only one aboard who couldn't hurt him.

"Drake?" Fives padded into the common room. The honey gold Zabrak was curled up in a chair. He had a copy of a book in his lap and Fives frowned. It had the picture of an expectant mother on the front of it. And the book was open, so he could read.

"Fives!" Drake yelped. Amber eyes met his. "Are...are you okay? Do I need to find Melia for you?"

"No, I..." Fives flushed a little. "I have to do something. I'm really bored."

Drake gestured at a book case. "Those are yours, too."

"That would really help, but I can't read," Fives sighed.

"You can't...?" Drake swallowed and moved to a table. Fives followed him. "That's not good. So...please sit?" Fives sat. Drake rummaged through a drawer and picked out a handful of things. He sat back down with a children's book. "I'll need the practice."

"Why?"

"I'm pregnant." Drake looked at his stomach. "My Master used me as a breeder, but the vets said I was too damaged to get pregnant again. Besides, they had bred me three times and it didn't take--that they could tell."

"Um..." Fives didn't know what to say.

"Fives." Drake covered Fives' hand with his own, warmer one. The long nails barely brushed the skin. "I'm still alive. You saved me and you saved my baby. I want to return the favor by teaching you how to read."

Fives settled down and tried to ignore the weirdness. A pregnant Nightbrother. The things they never taught you in the GAR sex ed... Those were the things that could actually be useful, of course. And would help out if you were dealing with something like you were now. Because he was dealing with a species where the guys could get knocked up.

"That was wrong," Fives snarled. "I'm sorry, but you're a person. Not a karking animal."

"Tell that to Master Omar," Drake muttered under his breath. He still rubbed his stomach, though, and Fives thought that he looked pleased. Maybe Nightbrothers liked having babies? They most certainly liked the attention. The two men worked comfortably, with Drake proving to be quite the patient teacher. Fives enjoyed being with his new friend and submitted to the hugs.

It might prove to be a false dream, but Fives would love it while it lasted. It was positive attention, something that he craved. Lapped up praise like people dying of thirst lapped up water. They might have been cuddled close, but Fives would blame it in Drake's hormones. And they all knew that the clones were a little touch starved.

"I'll kill him," Fives finally said. "And I'll set all the Nightbrothers free."

Drake shrugged. "Wouldn't make a lick of difference. If I had stayed as a breeder, I would have been pregnant by my next cycle. Ones from generations of kennel stock tend to make smaller beasts. I've seen more of the babies die after they're born..."

Fives grabbed Drake in a hug. "Yours isn't going to die, vod. I promise."

"Thank you." Drake held him close, his body shaking. "And...and this isn't even my first..."

"What?!"

"I've had three before this. One died and the first one almost killed me." Drake's voice was hollow, numb. He seemed to burrow deeply into Fives' side, his body shaking like a leaf. Fives held him close and tried to figure out what to say. This was going to be the first baby Drake could keep and hold. "My...my daughter died moments after she was born. They never touched her. Never."

"I'm sorry." Fives didn't know what else to say. His friend had lost babies...

"This one ought to slide right out," Drake bitterly said. He looked at his lap. "What's Melia gonna do when it does? Call me a whore?"

"She won't." Fives sounded so sure when he really wasn't. Melia seemed to be a nice person. That scared him. Nice people always wanted something in return. Fives didn't have anything to give. Neither did Drake, beyond the baby in his arms. Could you actually hurt a baby? Hurt it...just to hurt the parents? Or parent, in Drake's case.

"I don't know what I want," Drake softly said. His amber eyes seemed...distant. Like he wasn't sure of anything.

"We'll find it," Fives promised. He held Drake close and meant every word.

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