frying fires
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Star Wars - All Media Types, Star Wars: The Bad Batch (Cartoon)
CT-9904 | Crosshair & Omega (Star Wars: The Bad Batch), CT-9904 | Crosshair & CT-9901 | Hunter, CT-9904 | Crosshair & CT-21-0408 | CT-1409 | Echo
CT-9904 | Crosshair, Omega (Star Wars: The Bad Batch), CT-9903 | Wrecker, CT-9901 | Hunter, CT-21-0408 | CT-1409 | Echo, CT-7567 | Rex, Batcher the Lurca Hound (Star Wars)
Additional Tags:
Non-Traditional Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics, Angst, Emotional Hurt/Comfort, Introspection, Unreliable Narrator, Misunderstandings, Emotional Constipation, Scenting, Bonding, Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms, Disordered Eating, Enemy to Caretaker, Guilt, Trauma, Unresolved Emotional Tension, Hopeful Ending, Character Study
Published: 2024-03-05 Words: 3,985 Chapters: 1/1

frying fires


After escaping over the edge of the Empire’s frying pan, Crosshair tumbles head first into the fire of his old pack. They’re awfully quiet about the burning part.


Begins near the end of S03E04.
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frying fires

It takes a moment, in the gentle sweeping air of the planet, for their scents slam into him.


Crosshair stumbles.


He’d known that this was coming, that the hatred emanating from his ex-squad would soon be his punishment to bare head on, but all the self-deprecating thoughts he’d stewed over can never come close to reality.


Across the rocky ground, Hunter and Wrecker are silently glaring at him.


“Crosshair?” Forcing himself to look away from the other two, he spots the source of the voice; Omega frowning at him in concern, drying tears glinting in the distance. It almost makes him wonder if she can smell them yet, if maybe the two of them were in the Empire’s captivity for so long that she’d presented one day in her cell.




(There’s no way she wouldn’t have babbled about it to him sooner.)


“I’m fine,” he drawls, “why don’t you introduce them to Batcher?” Better not to let her know that her mere name is a reminder of why he can never escape the ire of his old pack.


“Who’s Batcher?”


“Oh, right!” She whistles. “Batcher! Come on out.”


Hunter’s nose twitches before she can appear. “You brought a lurca hound?”




Because reg or not, alphas aren’t supposed to be clones, and he knows he’s done more than enough to prove that statement right, until the galaxy breathes its final breath.




The only other alpha-clone Crosshair knew of, while in the GAR, was Boba Fett. But that boy had been a special case, a personal request from their collective template—Jango Fett. Even so, the stereotype had still held true. Crosshair remembers all the rumours and gossip circulating the cafeteria; of the trouble Boba had caused amongst the other cadets despite not being old enough to present yet.


Crosshair isn’t sure what became of him after Geonosis, only that, if alive, he’d be a little older than Omega is now. Perhaps taller.


The refresher door slams open, floor rattling under his feet as Wrecker stomps past, only in his blacks and struggling to open a packet of scent patches as he goes. He heads straight back to the cockpit with the others without saying a word, or even glancing in his direction at all—but it doesn’t make a difference, because after the automatic doors shut with a final hiss, Crosshair is still left alone to stew in the bittersweet fog of frustration that had been trailing from behind him.


The worst part about it is knowing just how rare it is for Wrecker to be feeling so conflicted like this.


Then again, it could be worse.


(He hasn’t been alone with Hunter yet.)


Omega is technically the pack’s—well, omega now. Or at least she will be, once presented. According to her, the Kaminoan scientist’s testing had discovered that, once active, her O-level would outrank any of the other clones by the dozens.


Completely unremarkable for a humanoid, but much too excessive for a soldier.


That distinction, however, is irrelevant in Crosshair’s eyes. Hunter will always be the Bad Batch’s pack-omega, no matter what the manual on dynamic hierarchies may say. Hunter is the one who had snapped their bonds that day on Kamino, not her.


Right now, through the faint, haphazardly-formed connection to Omega after their time imprisoned together, he can only just barely sense Hunter’s presence.


Kriffing hells.


It feels pathetically parasitic, violating even, to be touching the edges of his batchmate’s mind this way; second-hand and with the remains of their old bonds still floating in the back of his skull, like a brain-dead mutt too dull to realise its owners cut the leash long, long ago.


…He shouldn’t be on this ship.


Getting up from his seat, he walks over to the armoury, and slides out his sniper case from its storage slot. After retrieving some rags and a near-empty cleaning supply kit, he heads back to the table and settles down. Blaster maintenance was one of the few things that kept him sane while actively working for the Galactic Empire. He’d truly missed it while stuck in that cell for all those months.


Cracking open a tiny compartment on the edge of the table, Crosshair feels the corner of his lips spasm at the sight. A bundle of toothpicks sits there, waiting, still freshly packaged and without a splinter to be seen.


He peels the perforated seam to open the bag. Fishing one out, he pops it into his mouth, then nudges the dials on the black case to unlock it.




His passcode hasn’t been changed. Crosshair’s heart swells as he flips open the lid.


The power pack is missing.




Of course they don’t trust him.


He tumbles out from his bunk and rolls his shoulders with a groan.


Why would they? There were a hundred reasons before they’d parted ways, and he’d most definitely multiplied them by tenfold thereafter.


The Jedi had needed soldiers. Obedient soldiers. And what better way to achieve that than an army of omegas? After genetically engineering them to lack the detriments typical of the natborn ones—like debilitating heats and rut pheromone sensitivity—it was only a simple matter of selecting alphas from the large pool of Jedi to lead.


Crosshair had tried, tried so hard to prove himself just as worthy as his batchmates. In the end, his obsession with being a good soldier had only led him to following orders given out by the worst of the worst.


He wants to scream and say how was he supposed to know? How was he supposed to know just which orders he was or wasn’t supposed to be following?


(But that wouldn’t be the honest truth at all.)


Clipping on his armour, he passes by the kitchenette without bothering to pick something out, instead deciding to just get his shift over with. It doesn’t seem worth it to push past his utter disinterest in the task, especially when the shaking of his hand is easy enough to hide while out of the field. They’re on different sleep cycles to monitor the ship, so he doesn’t eat in front of the others anyway. He’d been certain that Omega would’ve snitched on him by now, but she doesn’t seem keen on talking about Tantiss in general—at least nothing outside of what little info she had to pass onto Rex’s network about the Empire.


The door in front of him slides open before he’s close enough to hit the button. He pauses.




The glossy star-trails of hyperspace pitch Hunter’s silhouette into shadow, hiding his expression from view. With Omega asleep, it’s even harder to sense what his other batchmates are feeling, but whatever those emotions are they must be strong enough to carry over anyway. He can’t identify it.


“Are you going to move?”


“Right.” He coughs, shuffling out of the way. “Hunter—”


“Don’t,” Hunter says. “Not right now.” He’s scentless as he steps past.


During missions? Maybe. But that certainly wasn’t the norm on their ship while only travelling with pack, and it definitely hadn’t changed up until now considering the turmoil Crosshair had scented when he’d stepped off that stolen ship with Omega.


It seems he’s as good as a stranger to them now.


He feels a distant swell of pressure, and Crosshair mentally reaches for it, struggling to sift out an answer from its vague and blurry form.


Hunter pauses, then flinches after a beat. “Stop doing that.”


Kriff, the delay must’ve caught up to him. “Sor—” Crosshair’s body locks up as everything in his head goes silent. “What?”


The door at the end of the hallway opens, and Hunter obligingly spares him just enough of a glance to let him see the look of challenge on his face, before heading off to rest.


Eventually, something thrums again—Omega getting to the dream portion of her sleep cycle. Crosshair lets out a breath, and gingerly takes a seat in the cockpit. He sets to work tidying up the console, before checking the ship’s readings and fuel levels. Then, he leans back to watch as the stars go by.


He doesn’t want to think about how he can’t feel his batchmates anymore.






Omega hasn’t acted any different since she woke up earlier, so he’s certain that, whatever Hunter did, it must’ve been complex enough to prevent her from noticing the tampering with her bonds.


As pack-omega, Hunter can control not only the Bad Batch’s collective bonds to each other, but each of their own separate connections to others. While Crosshair is clearly packless, Omega certainly isn’t. Hunter has complete authority to block him from sensing anything beyond her, without letting her notice a thing.


He could always tell her, of course, but he doubts she’d be very happy to hear about it, and he doesn’t want to give her a false perception of Hunter so soon after being reunited with him.


Whatever her assumptions about this situation may be, Hunter really had done the right thing. Manipulating one’s fraught connection with a pup just to reconnect with an old pack is a horrible social faux pas on its own, but with his past behaviour compounding it… he’s certain that in Hunter’s eyes, he must’ve seemed like such a danger.


And he is.


So there’s no use whining about it.


Crosshair presses a button to move his piece on the dejarik board, and Omega groans in frustration.


“Why didn’t you play balaans then if you’re so good at this.”


“Because that was your plan.” He sighs. “And this is a completely different game, either way.”


“So you’re saying that you’re bad at balaans? There’s probably a deck on board somewhere, let’s play that next!” Omega exclaims, finger inching towards the reset button.


“I didn’t say that.” Crosshair grumbles. “Hey.” He leans over to bat her hand away.




They keep playing, and he ignores a few of her openings to let it drag out. By the time they finish, she’s gnawing away on the remains of a sweet bun to mollify her frustration. Crosshair’s stomach rumbles.


“Whoa, what was that?” She looks up from the board, blinking. “Are you hungry?”


“I can have something later.” Crosshair turns off the hologame table. “Stay. I’ll go get the set.” He gets up to search through their card stash. There’s a patter of feet behind him. He sighs quietly.


Here we go.


“Crosshair,” she starts, as she pulls out a bucket of loose foodstuff from under the sink. “You’re not—we’re not back there anymore. We don’t need to stick to their schedule, or prisoner rations.” She rummages through it, then holds out a bar of energy pudding. “Can you stomach this?”




She opens it and hands it to him, before dropping the wrapper into the incinerator. “Once we rendezvous with Echo we can stock up on some tastier things.”


Crosshair waits for her to turn away so he can grimace before taking a bite. “It would be unwise to waste what little credits we have on such trivial things. Especially now that the Empire is most definitely looking for us.”


“We can always take on more bounties. It’ll be easier with you here.”


But Tech isn’t, he wants to say. Without Tech they’re back to square-one, maybe even less if his hand doesn’t improve. There’s no way of knowing how much bringing up Tech’s demise will affect Omega’s recovery—the med sensor certainly hadn’t said anything about this—so he keeps his mouth shut. Crosshair still doesn’t know the details of what happened himself; only that it had happened, and only after Omega had told him, a week into her visits to his cell.


If she hadn’t… without his pack bonds, he never would’ve known, and whether or not he should be grateful to have escaped the pain of feeling their connection to Tech snap is something that he’ll never know.


Even after seeing his shattered goggles left by the ship’s terminals, he hasn’t gotten the courage to ask.


It’s his fault, afterall.


There’s no blindsiding him on this. Once the rest of them finally get around to remembering that, their tense truce will soon fall apart. He’s sure of it.


Crosshair shakily shuffles the balaans cards and places the deck on the table.




The ship falls out of hyperspace.


Crosshair’s heart pounds under the buckle of his restraint harness as they prepare for landing. He gazes out the window at the planet below, trying to estimate which of the traversable landroutes he could realistically take. Echo and Rex are meeting them down there at one of the spaceports. Hm, well not exactly the spaceport, but somewhere nearby in the city. Crosshair couldn’t be bothered to eavesdrop on any of their comms.


He doesn’t particularly care about Rex’s opinions on traitors, but the idea of seeing yet another ex-packmate—especially one who had gone through so much more than he ever had, without ever forgetting where his loyalties laid—has him fighting the urge to flee.


The ship dips lazily into the atmosphere.


In the seat across from him, Omega is piloting, while Hunter gently instructs her on how to fly less suspiciously in a civilian spacecraft zone.


He still can’t feel his batchmates.


Even before Hunter had cut him off from accessing them through Omega, Echo had been missing. Crosshair was almost afraid that he too had passed while they’d been locked away, only to discover that, since Rex was Echo’s previous pack-omega, they had temporarily switched Echo’s primary pack to reduce separation stress while the four of them had been working in separate pairs to scour the galaxy for Omega.


Being so far out of the loop as he is, Crosshair isn’t sure if Echo will be rejoining the Bad Batch, but it seems likely assuming that Rex doesn’t need him for the moment.


He doesn’t want to stick around to watch it happen in front of him, though.


“You’re sure that the transponder signal is scrambled?” Omega asks, nervously glancing at the beacon as she trails them high above a skylane route to find the spaceport.


“Of course.”


“I wouldn’t put too much trust in what this fella says, he’s been so out of it recently.” Wrecker snorts, then smiles. “Don’t worry ‘mega, I double checked.”


Crosshair stays quiet.


They land a short while later, and after a quick glance around they alter their disguises to appropriately blend in with the assortment of lifeforms milling about.


It’s not by luck that this planet’s prime touristic attraction is their swathes of specialised and exotic pet grooming facilities. They’d chosen this rendezvous point meticulously, so that Batcher would be safe to tag along by them without standing out.


Hunter leads them out of the port and through the city, making their way towards the small, rooftop restaurant where the others are waiting for them. He trails behind them with Batcher—surprisingly—at his heels, the urge to bolt tampered only by the sensation of Omega’s hopeful excitement projecting across their bond, as they near the elevators in the distance.


She looks back from where she’d been jogging along to chat with Wrecker, and slows down to fall into step with him.


“I know that you’re nervous.”


“Of course you do.”


“I’m serious!” Omega huffs. “You don’t need to be worried about Echo. I told him that you helped me.”


He raises a brow and rolls the toothpick between his teeth. “Did you tell those two that?”




He sighs. “Then you can see why I might be a little apprehensive.”


“It’ll be fine, just you wait. Right Batcher?” She pets the hound after a bark. “See?”


Crosshair watches as she skips back to the front of the group, and glances down at Batcher wearily. Unfortunately, she doesn’t stop to give him any sage advice, instead just looks up at him blankly while panting.


He rolls his eyes, but keeps following at a quicker pace.




“What in the blazes is wrong with him?”


Crosshair hears Echo exclaim the moment he steps into the private dining room.


He feels something thud in his head, and Rex glances up from where he’d already started showing Hunter something on his datapad. “Echo? You’re switching back already?”


Echo doesn’t respond, storming over and lifting up his hand. Crosshair flinches back, but instead of hitting him, Echo simply sticks his wrist under his jaw to scent mark him. His body freezes, and before he can even hope to blink, his hindbrain is registering the intimacy of an old packmate and their broken bond flares back to life.


Crosshair gasps like he’s coming up out of water for air. “Why did you do that?”


Neither Rex nor Echo have any patches on, but the intensity of their scents is muted by whatever neutralising wash products they’ve been using to travel undetected. An unremarkable scent is always less memorable than no scent at all. He can feel the other two hovering in the distance once again via Echo’s connection, now that Hunter hasn’t had the opportunity to cut him off, and stares in confusion as Echo backs away to swing around and face the rest.


“Hunter,” Echo snaps, pointing backwards at Crosshair, “he’s still packless, why haven’t you rebonded? Don’t you know how dangerous that is?”


There’s an incredulous noise coming from Hunter, and he straightens from where he’d slumped against the door to watch the other man from over Echo’s bald head.


“We—uh, we hadn’t talked about it yet.” Hunter stutters, a sheepish expression crossing his face at having to be the one to address the bantha in the room. “There wasn’t any danger to worry about in hyperspace, we took the long way around with those neutral lanes you guys told us about.”


“That’s not what I’m talking about, he’s getting rejection sickness, can’t you see?”


“What?” It’s Crosshair’s turn to splutter. “That can’t happen to clones.”


“Don’t be an di’kut (idiot).” Echo turns to face him again with a frown. “You’re an alpha. We might be able to transfer between packs easily, but you need stability to survive. Most natborn alphas can form and maintain their own packs, but those blasted long-necks never boosted your A-levels so you can’t. You’re reliant on him.” He gestures back to Hunter, whose eyes are widening in what looks to be horror.




Wrecker crosses his arms from over by the corner of the table. “How did you know all this?”




The following silence is cloying.


“Well.” Crosshair sighs. “Regardless. I don’t think this is a decision that should be made based on one small genetic mishap they forgot to catch.”


“You’re deteriorating.” Echo’s concern ricochets through his skull. “This isn’t up for debate.”


“I thought the whole point of this was that we’re not lab rats anymore.” He places a hand on his hip to hide the tremors. “Decisions like this should be made for the good of the pack, not because you’re worried about losing one of your specimens.”


Omega scoots back the seat she’d taken at the table only seconds before Crosshair had walked in. “What do you mean? Of course it would be good if you rejoined, I didn’t even know you hadn’t.”


“It’s not that simple,” he responds. “We can’t function as a squad without trust, Omega.”


The chair falls back with a crash as she leaps up. “I trust you!” She snarls, baring her teeth. Crosshair’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise. That’s new. “So does Hunter! And Wrecker!” Spinning to look at them, she stares searchingly, with a slowly mounting realisation. “Don’t you?”


Wrecker looks almost heartbroken. “Omega…”


Well, That’s enough of an admission for him. Crosshair rolls his eyes and heads to the balcony, pushing back the curtains just enough to brush past. It opens out to the back of another building, so there aren’t any nearby cameras to worry about.


He tunes out the commotion behind him, and breathes in the crispy highrise air.


It’s not Coruscant by any means, that’s for sure, but the soundscape here isn’t quite so different. He listens to the traffic of the skylane only a few levels above, keeping an eye out for any patrol vehicles that might be scanning the area.


There’s a rustle, and then the argument behind him disappears with the snap of a latch. Crosshair turns to see Echo holding a plate and a bowl from the table, one in his hand and the other balancing on his upper arm.


“Oh, for me?” He asks, sarcasm dripping from his tongue. “You shouldn’t have.”


“Well that’s a bold faced lie,” Echo scoffs, and Crosshair takes the bowl before he can drop it. “I hope you brought a canteen. I’m not going back in there to face the flames.”


“And Rex?”


Echo snorts, leaning against the edge of the balcony with his socket-arm. “He’ll be fine.”


They watch the sunset, neither of them saying anything for the next few minutes as they slowly eat. Crosshair still doesn’t feel much inclination towards it, but at least the food is fresh and flavourful for the first time in ages. Out of the corner of his eye he notices that Echo’s pace isn’t much better, having to carefully dig in with his plate balancing on the rail.


Crosshair gets about half-way before his stomach turns uncomfortably. He sets his bowl down, and Echo doesn’t look at him despite the noisy thwack.


“...I thought you’d be more angry,” he says quietly. “The other two have just been giving me the silent treatment.”


Echo huffs out a bitter laugh. “Rex and I spent stars’ knows how long trying to get as many brothers as we can out from under the Empire. You wouldn’t believe how many clones I’ve seen refuse to even work as informants after putting in so much work to remove their biochips.”


“I’d believe it,” Crosshair mumbles.


“Right, I bet you would.” Echo’s cybernetics whir as he sits down. “I’m still kriffing mad at what happened, obviously. But don’t ever think that I would’ve preferred you to have never changed in the end.” He slides his empty plate under Crosshair’s bowl. “I really doubt that Hunter and Wrecker would disagree.”


He shrugs. “Still. It took me far longer than it should’ve to regret it. Chipped or not.”


“Like I said, you wouldn’t be the first.” Echo grins, then nudges him with his elbow. “So long as you’re not a spy, but we can always take you out then if that’s the case. No need to jump the blaster.”


“Sure.” He leans back against elbows till his head touches the glass behind them. “The others—”


“They’ll come around. They’re your brothers, aren’t they?”


“Yeah,” Crosshair finally relents with a sigh, “yeah. Whatever good that label does.” He frowns and turns over to Echo. “So are you.”


“I know.”


“Very secure, must be nice.” Crosshair smirks and pushes himself up, grabbing the dishes so Echo doesn’t have to. “Well, I can’t stay out here forever.”


“You could,” Echo says, “I know I said before that you needed pack stability, but if you ever want a new one… I’m sure Rex would be glad to make it last as long as you needed.”


Crosshair shakes his head. “I appreciate the offer, but Hunter is just it for me, unfortunately. I’d rather waste away than try to merge with a new pack—no offence.”


“None taken.”


“I really should have realised this quirk earlier, huh?”


“Eh, probably.”


“I don’t know what I’ll do when Omega takes over.” He mutters, pressing the door’s safety lock release. “Earlier it almost seemed like she was—”


The smell of sweet fruits and a salty ocean flows out into the open air. He and Echo freeze in their tracks.


“Presenting…” Oh kriff, here we go.


He takes one last look out across at the dimming horizon, then steps back into the room.


End Notes

Feel free to leave a comment if you enjoyed, thanks for reading!

(sorry about the abrupt ending, i've been struggling with a writer's block for the past few months, and i just wanted to get something finished without overthinking it too hard, so i didn't plan/plot out this fic at all (if that wasn't already obvious))


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