It was a Wednesday and Ben was excited. While he tried to play it low key, Hux had known him long enough to know what he was trying to hide. Hux just sighed.
"You really should just ask her out," he said as he wiped down a glass. "It'll save us all the trouble."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Ben shrugged as he took inventory of the drinks on the shelves behind him. He had already finished noting down the drinks that were stored under the bar.
"Please," Hux waved a hand. "Can you be any more obvious? Everybody knows, tell him Phasma."
The woman in particular just raised an eyebrow, not even glancing in their direction. The record books on the table in front of her needed to be completed before they opened.
The three have known each other since they started working at the bar. In time, Phasma got promoted to manager. Neither of the men minded. She deserved it. She worked harder than either of them. She was very level-headed when she dealt with things.
They stopped doing their tasks and stared at her, waiting for her to proclaim one the victor over the other in the argument. Phasma, as she always was whenever the two had a disagreement, spared them only a quick glance and dismissed their concern.
"Get back to work," she said, much too used to their shenanigans to be bothered. "It's almost opening time and we aren't ready yet."
"Yes ma'am," they both chimed.
Ben was glad that they dropped the topic. Or so he thought.
"Oh and Ben?" Phasma called out.
"Yeah?" he asked.
"Just ask Rey out already," she replied. "You're giving her mixed signals."
Ben turned to stare at her, his mouth gaping at her words. He spluttered as he tried to say something to the contrary, but Phasma had already tuned him out. On the other end of the bar, Hux snickered.
She was right and Ben knew it. Whenever Rey would come and perform, he would try to be nice to her, but everything he did came out wrong.
When he tried to compliment her performance, he told her that it wasn't inadequate.
When he tried to tell her she looked good, he ended up saying that she looked like a slob the last time she was there.
Ben should probably tell his mother over their weekly brunch that she should ask for a refund from the place he took charm classes at. He wasn't ashamed to admit that he was a bit of a mother's boy, but Hux sometimes gave him a hard time because of it.
A few minutes passed in silence. They were absorbed in their respective tasks. When Phasma was done with her records she slammed the book closed and gave a loud exhale.
"I can't believe that our work day is just starting," she said as she stood up. She raised her arms above her head and stretched out her back, groaning in relief.
"We did choose to work in a bar," Ben pointed out drily. "It's nobody's fault but our own."
"Don't you just hate it when he makes sense?" Hux said with a wry smile.
"He has his days," Phasma smirked. "Don't forget, it's a Wednesday. He just wants to look cool."
"I do not!" Ben denied, making the two burst into laughter.
Ben pouted at them for a moment, but then decided to chuckle along. They were his friends, and while they laughed at his expense, he could remember times when he laughed at theirs. That was just how friends were.
"Excuse me?" a voice asked as the door leading to the kitchen opened.
Rey's head peeked out from the door. Seeing her brought a wider grin to Ben's face. Hux and Phasma just exchanged exasperated looks. Their friend was so transparent.
"Hi!" Rey greeted, stepping out from behind the door. "Sorry I got here early."
"It's quite alright," Phasma replied. "You can start setting up. Ben will help you."
"Oh," Rey flashed him a smile. "Alright."
Rey picked up her guitar bag and was about to sling it over her shoulder, but Hux put a stop to it.
"Let Ben carry it," he suggested, giving Ben a look.
"Uh," Ben hesitated, looking over at Phasma who was also trying to get him to move with a jerk of her head. "Yeah, give it here."
Rey handed him the bag. Ben grunted at how heavy it was. He thought that just because she was a girl, it meant that her guitar would be lighter. She snickered as she saw him struggle with the bag.
"Hux, don't we have that thing to do in the kitchen?" Phasma asked, looking much like the cat that had the canary as she enjoyed her friend's dilemma.
"What thing?" Hux asked, obviously puzzled. At her look, he immediately backtracked. "Right! The thing! That we need to see to that's in the kitchen. That thing!"
"You two will be fine here, right?" Phasma asked.
"Yeah," Rey assured her. "I just need him to lug some stuff around, no problem."
"Ah," Phasma nodded. "Then we should get going. Come on Hux."
They went inside the kitchen, but not before Phasma gave Ben a well-meaning look, and Hux threw him a wink. If Rey saw, she didn't let it show. Ben mentally shook his head at his friends' antics. And they said that he was being obvious.
He helped her set up in silence, not really knowing what to say. He snuck glances at her when he thought she wasn't looking. But she noticed and just smiled at him. When she was done, Ben knew that he only had a few minutes alone with her before he would have to open the bar.
"Uh," he said as he garnered what courage he could. Sheepishly, he rubbed the back of his head. "We haven't officially met. I'm Ben."
She gave him a broad grin. He noticed that her eyes sparkled. Her name suited her. With the aura she gave off, it was just like she was a drop of golden sun.
"I'm Rey," she said, offering him her hand, which he took.
She had a firm grip. Her fingers had calluses that came from playing her guitar. He shook her hand and smiled back at her.
"Nice to formally meet you," he said, and he meant it.
"Nice to formally meet you," she giggled.
Ben stared dumbly at her. She shot him a questioning look which he answered with one of his own. This just caused her to snicker, which puzzled him more.
Her eyes pointed to his hand, which was still holding hers. He quickly pulled it away and blushed.
"Sorry," he murmured, very much embarrassed.
"It's alright," she replied. "Your hand is callused, not quite the calluses that one would expect from a bartender."
"Sword-fighting," he blurted out.
"What?" she asked.
"I do sword-fighting at this gym," he said in a rush. "It's at a medieval martial arts gym. Sword-fighting is good exercise and…"
He trailed off, seeing that her lips were pursed. He wondered if he was showing too much of his geekiness that she thought that he was a loser. He was ready for her to make fun of him, like Hux did before he got into sword-fighting too.
Instead, she laughed.
Ben stared at her. He figured he should just go stand at the bar and pretend that this never happened. He started to turn on his heel, but she raised a hand to stop him.
"No!" she said, out of breath from laughing too much. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have laughed."
Ben nodded to show that he accepted her apology.
"It's just," she continued, still trying to catch her breath. "That sounded so…"
"Geeky?" he supplied. He accepted that he was a nerd, quite far from the stereotypical bartender image.
"Cool," she corrected. "I've always wanted to learn that."
"Well you could always-" Ben said, but someone cut him off.
"Ben," Phasma interrupted. "We're going to open soon. Let Rey finish tuning."
She left to go get the rest of the staff ready. Hux was already at his spot at the bar, giving Ben a look that told him to get on with it.
In for a penny and all that.
"Right," Ben shifted uneasily on his feet. "I guess I have to go be a bartender."
"I guess you do," Rey agreed.
"Could I get you a drink?"
"You might be doing that later," Rey told him. "When I take my break?"
"Right," Ben nodded awkwardly. If there weren't butterflies in his stomach before, there were now. "I mean…"
Rey gave him an expectant look. Ben knew that Hux was trying to listen in, despite the indifferent look that was probably on his friend's face.
"Can I buy you a drink?" Ben asked, ignoring the conga line that the butterflies were doing. "Later. After your set."
Rey smiled her brilliant smile again.
"I thought you'd never ask."
I enjoyed writing this one. Headcanon that modern Ben is a mama's boy (that Ben is a mama's boy period).
So? How was it? Hated it? Liked it? Shoot me a comment to let me know!
P.S. I also accept prompts. ^.^