Written for a prompt from captainderyn on Tumblr: Patching up a wound | Forehead or cheek kisses | One character adjusting the other's jewelry/neck tie/ etc.

This takes place during the Eternal Championship, and is an indirect follow-up to another story, "The Art of Disguise".


"Stop fidgeting."

"I don't fidget," Theron grumbled, but let out a breath and focused on remaining still. "It just stung a little is all."

Even in the dark of the alcove they were sitting in, he was still able to make out her brows knitting together slightly in concern. He was just a little tired and irritated, so suppressing his urge to roll his eyes at that small act of worrying on her part was a little too much effort that he was willing to expend.

She caught it, and the breath she let out contained a hint of exasperation. "I just want to help."

There wasn't much privacy in the Arena Grand, especially for those that were still in the beginning stages of the Eternal Championship. The highest ranked fighters got private break rooms to relax in during fights, but the "Mysterious Stranger" and her companion had only just progressed past the second match, so they had to make do. The small alcove they had found was just isolated and dark enough to escape from any prying eyes that might recognize the face underneath the steel and red mask. Safe under the cover of darkness, she had removed it, as well as the gloves and jacket of her "disguise" in order to try and administer first aid.

"I'm fine." He tried to tamp down on the urge to shift uncomfortably, because as previously stated, Theron Shan did not fidget. "I'm not going to complain about a little spider bite."

"Little? You're joking right?" The knitted brows rose into an expression of disbelief. "Those Iknayids were almost as big me!"

"As I said," he couldn't resist shooting her a teasing smirk, "little."

She huffed, cheeks puffing out as she tried to reign in her annoyance. "They're also poisonous. Koth got bit by one when we were cleaning out the Gravestone, said it felt like his blood was on fire. He was quite uncomfortable in the time it took Lana to find an antivenin out in the middle of the Endless Swamp."

Okay, that maybe sounded a little painful. "Maybe I'm just made of sterner stuff than Koth."

"Or maybe he just has less to prove," she shot back, irritation rising to the surface. "I still can't believe they let him bring an entire nest full of those things into the arena. Isn't that against the rules?"

"What rules?" Theron corrected. "I told you these guys don't play fair."

"It's barbaric," she muttered darkly. "When those things swarmed you, everyone just cheered, like it was some big thrill. And it made me want to—"

She broke off, instead choosing to focus on carefully applying kolto to the puncture mark that had been meticulously cleaned. Her expression had flickered to something darker than he was used to seeing, hinting at a suppressed anger and outrage, before it was quickly replaced by a carefully crafted neutral expression. That mask was different than the one lying on the ground next to her, but she wore it just as well in her attempts to disguise her true self.

He laid one of his hands on hers as she reached for another small patch of kolto. The mask slipped, and when she raised her gaze to look at him, he saw the naked concern and guilt shining back at him. The taught, square set to her shoulders mirrored the stance she'd had when she'd barreled into the pile of Iknayids that had swarmed him, lightsabers whirling in an endless fury. He hadn't been able to see her face then, hidden behind the featureless mask of her disguise, but the protective way she'd stepped in front of him spoke volumes, as she used the Force and her spinning blades to shield Theron from both the creatures and the wild blaster fire their master was laying down until he'd managed to find his feet.

"I shouldn't have asked you to come," she said quietly. "I'm sorry you got hurt."

"Now you're being ridiculous."

"It's not ridiculous." Her brows narrowed, chasing a way an inkling of the guilt. "You didn't want to come here in the first place, but I talked you into it anyway. Didn't listen to you about the people I was wanting to go up against, and now—"

He pressed the index finger of his free hand against her lips, stemming the tirade and earning himself an affronted look. "I'm okay. And you are being ridiculous if you think for one moment I was going to stay back safe on Odessen while you risked your life in this place."

"But—"

"You're always going to be the person who can't sit still when you could be out there helping. Freeing slaves, saving worlds, just doing what has to be done. Just the kind of person the galaxy has been missing for about five years." Theron felt the corners of his mouth twitched up into a half-smile. "And me too if I'm being honest."

Even in the darkness he could see color rush to her cheeks. He let his finger slip down from her lips to gently rest in the cleft of her chin.

"You shouldn't feel like you have to follow me wherever I go," she finally said quietly.

"We're a team. You go, I go." He quirked a brow. "Or are we not partners still?"

"We are." Her eyes crinkled up as a small smile lit up her features. "As long as you'll have me."

"Well then, that's going to be a long, long time." He pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. "Count on it."

She dropped her eyes, visibly fighting to keep her smile from growing as she adjusted the collar of his shirt to cover up the bandages before smoothing his jacket back into place. "You sure you're all right?"

"Kolto's already kicked in, can hardly feel it. And no burning thanks to your antivenin, but I'll keep you updated if you're worried." He gave her an exaggerated wink, and she snorted indignantly.

"Now who's being ridiculous?"

"You," he shot back easily, grabbing the mask up from the ground and tossed it between his hands. "I'm always serious."

"Right." Somehow she managed to draw the single syllabic word out to about three times its length.

"I am. Now, if the chronometer on my implants are right, our next bout is about to start. And these next guys I wouldn't mind putting in their place."

"Oh? Not a fan of the Heralds of Zildrog?"

"Not a big fan of apocalypse cults. Or fanatics." He held out the mask for her. "What do you say about the best dressed team here showing them who's boss, eh, 'Mysterious Stranger'?"

She pressed her lips together, trying to smother a full-on grin as she clipped the mask back into place before sliding the replica red and white leatheris jacket back over her shoulders. "I guess we can do that."

He quirked a brow at her ridiculous disguise, and carefully adjusted the stiff collar until it looked right. "Let's not keep them waiting then."

He didn't need to see under the mask to know she was still smiling, as he heard it in her voice. "Let's."