What is there for a bunch of SWTOR players to do while waiting for their beloved game to finish its maintenance period? Why, toss out ever increasingly ridiculous scenarios until they have to become a thing. And well, we had to keep each other entertained somehow, and I wound up writing another paragraph about every ten minutes when we sadly announced "Nope, no server's up yet". I blame all of my friends for this (even though I obviously wrote it.)
"I'm sorry, do you have a hearing problem? I already told you 'no' about five times."
"Yes, yes, your mouth keeps saying no, but this standard contract agreement I hold in my hand says 'Yes, Gault, I'd love to pose in your charity calendar."
"I didn't sign a contract!" Theron snapped.
"Of course you did." Gault shrugged lightly. "It was slipped in the middle of last week's requisition forms."
"You did what?"
"Really, you ought to pay more attention to your paperwork, Old Man."
"You'll be in breach of contract." The sing-song quality of Gault's voice made Theron's eye twitch.
"You'll be six feet under," he snapped back.
"But then, what will you tell the poor children when Old Saint Gault doesn't bring them their Life Day gifts?"
"I think the words I'll use are 'you're welcome'."
"Oh!" Gault staggered back, grabbing his chest in mock pain. "I'm so wounded! Well, I guess the poor children orphaned by the Eternal Fleet's assault on their worlds don't need any brightness in their lives."
"That's not going to work on me."
The Devaronian quirked a brow. "Well, you can't say I didn't try. Since you're in breach of contract, unfortunately that means you've forfeited the specialty caffa beans I so graciously negotiated the routine delivery deal on. I guess you and the Commander will just have to drink from the mess carafes like the rest of us plebeians."
"I didn't agree to that!"
"Your signature here says otherwise."
"I hate you."
If looks could kill, then one Gault Rennow would have been a pile of ash and cinders on the hangar floor. As it was he just waved jauntily at the Alliance's top spy (and laziest paperwork checker) as he beat a hasty retreat. "Don't forget, back room of the Cantina, 1800 sharp!"
It was later that evening, and the intense glare was still in place. It still had absolutely no effect on its intended target, who was futzing with what looked like a very expensive holo-camera. Theron shifted uncomfortably, and did his best to not look at the "outfit" that he was now sporting for this ridiculous scheme.
"Remember that time I promised to bury you in a hole so deep no one would ever find it?"
"I do, but I was more distracted by the Commander's outfit than your endless threats on my life."
The spy's brow started to twitch angrily. "I swear, if you've somehow swindled her into this crazy scheme-"
"No, no, stars no! This is an all-male calendar. I'm calling it 'Hunks of the Eternal Alliance', catchy don't you think?"
"Besides, if we put the commander in there then no one will ever look at the other months."
The angry snarl was Gault's clue that perhaps it was time to change the subject. "Anyway, that outfit really suits you."
"It's a bow."
"And you wear it well!" Gault crowed, clapping Theron on his bare shoulder.
"Don't touch me," he growled.
Theron was not really a bashful man by his nature. He had, after all, been awarded the Republic's highest honor for finishing a very dangerous mission (that he had been nearly naked by the end of, not that the Republic handed out medals for that, thank goodness.)
"Can't I put on something… more?"
"What more do you need?'
"Now, Theron, this is for the Life Day spread, and I do mean-"
"If you finish that sentence, I swear I will break off your other horn!"
"Moving on! If you would, please take a seat on that wampa skin rug."
"Fine, but I'm not asking how you managed to get a lit fireplace in the back of the cantina."
"It's wise to not ask questions you really don't want the answer to."
"Like why I'm only wearing a bow?"
"I told you, it's for the Life Day spread."
"That's not an explanation."
"You're wasting time."
"Are you sure that door is locked?"
"Theron. My buddy. My pal. I'm a professional, would I risk humiliation (not to mention horrible dismemberment) by forgetting such a simple thing?"
He really wasn't sure he trusted any word that came out of Gault's mouth, but seeing as he wasn't getting his pants back (nor his girlfriend's very special and favorite brand of caf he had accidentally signed away), there wasn't much choice but to go through with this.
The things he did for love.
"How long is this going to take?"
"I don't know!" Gault's well of patience, which was generally measured by how much money he stood to make from any given venture, was starting to wear thin. "Perhaps if you'd smile we could finish."
"What is there to smile about?"
"It's Life Day!"
"I mean for the holo. You want people to feel happy for Life Day right?"
"Not even the Commander?"
"That's low, Rennow, even for you."
"Hey, whatever works. Here, let's set the mood, get into the spirit of things. Tell me your favorite Life Day memory."
"Last year, when you were choking on the Commander's special fruitcake. It still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside."
"Yes, well," Gault said irritated, "that's because your girlfriend has the culinary skills of a bantha on life support."
Theron glared, but unfortunately as every word the Devaronian had said was true, couldn't really argue.
"Fine, if you insist on glaring, let me see if I can find an appropriately festive hat. We'll change the theme up, 'The Grouch Who Stole Life Day'. I'm sure it will become an instant classic."
"You've never really worked with models before, have you?"
"Sure I did, and well, not worked with so much as dated, but let's not get hung up on semantics. Matter of fact, there were one or two of these hats involved..."
Theron growled. "I do not want to hear about you playing hide the mynock with a bunch of models, Gault..."
"Your mind always goes to the worst case scenario, doesn't it? They were wearing the hats on their head! (At least for the holo shoot-what happened later, well...)"
"Can we just... get this over with? Please? It's a bit… drafty… in here."
"We could… if you'd smile."
"I'm experiencing shrinkage!"
"Well, I guess the bow will be able to keep you warm then."
"Did I mention the horrible way I'm going to kill you?"
"Only about ten million times. But hey, maybe if you threaten my life again I'll suddenly take you seriously."
To Theron's great horror, a gust of fresh recirculated air rushed in and added to the draft as the door slipped open a crack.
"You said you locked it!" Theron hissed.
"I lied," Gault shot back, starting to pack up his holo equipment in a panic.
"Hello? Is someone in here? There was a sign that said 'Private Holo Shoot', but the bartenders had no idea what it meant and-OH!"
"Commander." Theron nodded his greeting tightly. "Funny meeting you here."
Her face turned an almost brighter shade of red than Gault's, although Theron was fairly certain the conman had never felt an ounce of shame once in his life. "What, what-I don't-"
"It's... for charity?" Theron tried, but couldn't hide his wince.
"Oh, come on, Commander." Gault slung an arm around the shell-shocked Jedi's shoulders. "You're acting like you haven't seen all of this before."
"The bow's new." Her voice was so high-pitched, it was almost a squeak.
"Really?" Gault fixed Theron with a disappointed look. "Remind me to get you two some spicy holobooks when we finish up here."
"I'm not touching anything that you've handled and dubbed 'spicy'!"
"I never figured you for such a prude."
"Keep it up, and I'll wipe that grin off your face!"
"You know, you talk a big game, but I haven't seen you attempt to get up from that rug once."
"You want some action, I'll show you some action!"
"Probably not something you should be saying when wrapped up like a Life Day present."
"That's it!" The spy snapped and started to struggle to his feet.
"Oh-oh, no! Theron, your bow!"
His girlfriend, who had seen everything and more was covering her eyes and pointing blindly in his direction. He looked down, a deep flush creeping up from his neck and he quickly sank back down to the rug. The smirk spreading across Gault's face seemed to grow wider as the blush darkened on the woman watching the proceedings with nothing short of befuddlement.
Theron cleared his throat, shooting an uncomfortable, but pleading glance at his other half. "Could you close the door? It's getting a bit drafty."
She shot him a sympathetic (yet still thoroughly bewildered) look, before she very promptly slid the door shut. Thankfully, the drafty breeze finally died, and Theron was extra grateful to hear the telltale click of the lock setting into place. Bless that woman.
"What kind of charity is this for anyway?" The blonde shook her head slowly, as if still trying to figure out if she were trapped in some bizarre alternate dimension.
"It's for the children," Gault assured her.
"This is not child appropriate festive wear-no offense, Theron."
"Trust me, I'm changing my name and leaving the planet the minute I find my pants."
"That seems like an overreaction," she stated simply, a little too obviously looking anywhere but at Theron. At this point, the red had crept to her ears.
"Exactly how much alcohol is out in that bar?" he asked his photographer/blackmailer.
"Need a shot to relax?"
"More like an entire keg to forget. Please tell me we're done, Gault."
"But I don't have the money shot yet!" Gault's voice bordered on a whine.
Theron just buried his face in his arms. "Please never use that phrase again."
"Well fine, but you're ruining Life Day if you leave now!"
The love of Theron's life (and do-gooder pain-in-his-neck) eyes widened and flashed him the most pitiful look. He wanted to continue scowling, but found his steely resolve cracking as she resembled a kicked puppy. "We can't ruin Life Day!"
Theron's nose twitched as he glared daggers at his horrible, life-ruining photographer. "Fine. What do we have to do to 'save' Life Day." He might not have said "you manipulative son of a bitch" out loud, but it was very much implied.
"You know what you have to do."
"No chance in hell. Not even for Life Day."
"What does have to do?" The Jedi asked curiously.
"I need him to smile, just once."
"That shouldn't be hard. He smiles all the time."
"You're kidding, right?" Gault asked flatly. "We've been here for two hours and not once has that frown cracked. I'm not even sure it's possible."
"Maybe he's just camera shy."
"I'm right here, you know!"
"Maybe you're just not as good a photographer as you think you are," she shot back.
"Excuse me little Missy-"
Her eyebrow arched delicately.
"-er, I mean, Commander. But I've gotten holos of every other model for this calendar, and none of them were as difficult as your boyfriend."
"Maybe you need to work on your people skills," she said serenly. "Give me your holo-cam."
"What? No! This thing is rented-what if you drop it?"
"I save the galaxy on a weekly basis. I think I can handle taking one picture."
"Fine," Gault spat and handed over the camera, "I'll do anything if it gets me out of here."
"You could have just handed me back my pants and found another model," Theron pointed out.
"Except that! You have no idea what the Life Day spread will do for my sales!" At the sharp look that comment earned from the Jedi, he amended. "I mean the calendar sales. For the children."
"I expect to see a detailed invoice for all of this when it's done." She gave him a hard look. "Now, turn around if you please."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Clearly you're making him uncomfortable, I need you on the other side of the room."
"You two are sapping all of the fun out of this!"
"Good!" Theron shouted.
Gault noisily stomped over to the far corner of the room, making an exaggerated show of crossing his arms. "Fine, I'm not peeking and giving our super spy stage fright. Will you take the damn holo now?"
"Now who's being the Grouch that Stole Life Day?"
The blonde shook her head and gave Theron a wry look. "How about giving me a smile?"
"For you?" He quirked a brow, the corner up his mouth curling up into a smirk. "Anything."
There was a bright flash, and the moment was forever immortalized in its full holographic glory. The smile she shot back in Gault's direction was smug.
"I don't see what was so hard about that."
"What? You're done already?"
"I guess I just have better people skills than you."
"You cheated," he accused, starting to turn around.
"Uh uh," she waved a finger. "Let Theron get dressed first."
"Oh, you have got to be kidding me!" He grumbled. "At least let me see how it turned out."
She handed over the camera to Gault as Theron very quickly, and gratefully, found his clothes. From the pleased cackling, apparently the conman had exactly what he needed to finish his dubious charitable masterpiece.
"You're a life saver," Theron muttered to her as he slipped his shirt over his head.
"Anytime," she whispered back. "Oh, and Theron?"
Her ears turned bright red again, and she couldn't quite look him in the eye as she leaned in closer. "Keep the bow."