Disclaimer: I don't own KotOR:TSL, although I very much wish I owned Atton ;) I can say that I partially own my Exile Lilliandra Jade.
Please R&R. I'd love to hear what you think, it'll only help my writing get better.
A/N: This fic was inspired by Aimo's fanart drawing Dancing Queen, which is one of my favorites. If you have never seen any of her work, I would strongly suggest you take a look at her profile on deviantart. She is absolutely phenomenal.
Something to Hold Onto
Atton was leaning back against a wall at the entrance to one of Nar Shaddaa's innumerable and crowded alleyways with his arms crossed across his chest and his eyes half closed. To the casual observer he appeared to be just another bored spacer, lounging around and waiting for... something. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't having to work too hard to make his affectation believable. He almost wished that the seedy looking Exchange thug that kept eyeing him would pick a fight just so he could add some excitement to his day.
She owes me for this, he thought to himself, mentally adding this outing to the growing tally of favors owed to him by the Jedi Exile. He couldn't stop from grinning as he pictured his plan of collecting on the debt involving a bottle of juma and Lilli in that little dancer's outfit.
Yeah, well you won't collect on anything if you don't pay attention, his voice of reason cut in, reminding him that he was supposed to be watching out for any trouble that their glorious leader seemed to attract on a non-stop basis. Atton reluctantly pushed aside his mental images of Lilli and glanced over to his left to check on her progress with yet another refugee. They had spent the better part of the day chasing down vague rumors of the hidden and ever elusive Jedi Master and it seemed that Lilli felt it necessary to talk with every Force forsaken being on this moon.
Lilli must have sensed Atton looking at her for she stopped talking to the Twi'lek and turned her head back over her shoulder towards him. He unconsciously straightened up a bit at her attention. Giving him one of those smiles that took his breath away and made his pulse race, she mouthed, Just a minute more, before turning back around to finish her conversation.
Atton felt himself nodding dumbly and was dimly aware that at this precise moment he would have cheerfully agreed to just about anything that she wanted. You've got it bad, you know, his voice of reason stated, making another appearance.
Well, so what if I do, he shot back defensively.
She's a Jedi, it observed. That usually doesn't end well.
Yeah? What do you know, anyway?
Atton could almost feel the voice giving a mental sigh. Lost in the argument, he failed to notice the little scrap of humanity that was barreling towards him until he was nearly knocked over from the impact.
"Hey! Watch where you're going kid!" he grumbled irritably to the young boy that had bounced off of him and was in the process of slowly picking himself up off the ground.
"Is everything all right?" Lilli asked coming up to them, looking from Atton to the flustered boy, having finished her conversation with the refugee. The boy kept his head down and mumbled something while Atton just scowled.
"Come on sweetheart," she said to the boy, leaning down to brush off his shirt and give him a quick kiss on the forehead. "Run along now. Everything is fine,"
The boy gave her a toothy smile before turning to continue his mad dash down the alleyway. Atton took the opportunity to come up behind her and leaning in close enough to brush her ear with his lips, murmured suggestively, "So angel... where's my kiss?"
With a smug grin, he watched a shiver run down her spine and idly wondered if he would ever grow tired of pushing her buttons.
More likely that one day she'll push a button, the one that says airlock, was the answer he got.
"Well, since you didn't fall down and hurt yourself... you don't need one," Lilli answered impishly, turning to smirk up at him, apparently deciding to ignore the whole thing.
"That's not fair," he said dejectedly. The scoundrel then brightened up and waggling his eyebrows at her asked, "Can I get one the next time I get hurt?"
"We'll see about that, flyboy," she answered lightly, her gaze drifting over his shoulder and towards the ground. "Hey, look, that little boy dropped something," Lilli said, taking a few steps past him and stooping to pick up some sort of advertisement.
"What is it?" Atton asked, coming up to her.
"I'm not sure," she replied, handing the advertisement to him. "Its for something called a… rave? Do you know what that is?"
Several hazy memories, both good and bad, clashed in Atton's brain, making him wince imperceptibly at the word 'rave'. He had spent a lot of time on Nar Shaddaa in the past, so yeah, he knew what a rave was. But slowly, a thought started forming in his mind and he... grinned.
From the corner of his eye, he saw Lilli narrowing her eyes, giving him a suspicious look. She knew him well enough by now to know that he was plotting something and wasn't too sure she wanted to know what it was.
"So... tell me angel," Atton began nonchalantly, casually looking down at the advertisement still in his hand, "when was the last time you had some fun?"
"Yeah, Jedi, fun," he said looking at her, his eyes twinkling with amusement. "You know... laughs, a good time... that sort of thing."
"Atton, I... I'm not sure of what your idea of fun is. Does this have something to do with this... this rave?" Lilli asked petulantly, seemingly even more suspicious of him than before. Then abruptly letting out a small sigh, her head drooped and she said a bit ruefully, "Anyway, I'm not sure this is the time for fun."
"Hey... hey," Atton said, moving towards her, reaching out with his hand to gently lift her chin and gaze into her eyes, caught off guard by her unexpected gloominess. Something in his chest gave a squeeze when he saw her sad like this. Cupping her face in the palm of his hand, he said, "We all need to have some fun in our lives. Otherwise, we have nothing to hold onto to and we might forget what we're fighting for."
He watched her breath catch in her throat. After visibly swallowing, she asked him in a soft voice, her eyes never leaving his, "And when did you become so wise, Atton Rand?"
Embarrassed, he dropped his hand and moved back a step. Attempting to recover his wits, he shrugged his shoulders, gave her a sly grin and said, "Yeah... well, Miss Lilliandra Jade, you know me..."
"Mmhmm," she answered, scrutinizing him a bit longer. "Alright then. Lets go and along the way you can tell me about this rave and all of the fun I'm going to have."
The scoundrel was immensely relieved that Lilli wasn't going to pursue the matter any further. He knew that as a Jedi, she could just rip anything out of his head if she had wanted to and the fact that she respected him and his privacy enough to play along only served to deepen his feelings for her.
I'm telling you, this won't end well, his voice of reason chimed in.
Oh shut up, will you.
"Yeah, sorry. I just... never mind," he said, rubbing his temples, willing the voice into silence. Damn it! Pretty soon she'll peek into my mind just to make sure I haven't gone completely insane.
He took her by the arm and started leading her through the maze of streets and alleyways towards the address on the advertisement. "Uh... Listen angel, a rave is basically a lot of beings crowded into a small space with pulsating lights, dancing and having a good time." Stopping to give her a leering grin, he slowly looked her up and down and said "And I know you can dance."
"Please... Don't remind me," she sputtered, a blush spreading across her cheeks. "And if thats the kind of dancing you're talking about, then you can forget about me going to this rave, flyboy."
"Sorry... can't help it... no... not that kind of dancing," Atton managed to say in between gasps of laughter at the indignant look on her face.
"You're never going to let me live it down, are you?" Lilli asked resignedly, watching him reign his mirth back under control.
"Not a chance, angel."
"Fine," she huffed at him. "But... I will find a way of getting even with you."
"Yeah?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "Can't wait."
They came to the warehouse where the rave was being held. Before going inside, Atton took Lilli aside and said, "There's one last thing I need to tell you about a rave. There's a lot of... hmm... exotic chemicals to be found here." At her questioning look he continued, saying, "Just be careful of anything someone offers you." He knew that she was trained in resisting poisons, but he didn't want her taking any chances. There were enough threats to her life as it were. Damn, I really am getting soft.
Lilli furrowed her brow in thought for a moment before understanding dawned on her. Smiling, she quickly gave his hand a squeeze and leaned up to kiss him on the cheek. "You don't have to worry about me, Atton. I've been around for a few years," she said. "But I do appreciate it, though."
"Oh yeah? How much do you appreciate it?" he asked, grinning at her lecherously as they started walking towards the door of the warehouse.
Cocking her head to the side, eyes glittering with mischief, she floored him by seductively pressing her body up against his and purring, "Someday... maybe very soon... you just may find out." And sauntered through the doorway without a backward glance.
With his mouth hanging open and blood furiously pounding, Atton couldn't form a coherent thought. Although he was secretly pleased that the Jedi wasn't simply falling into his bed, because somewhere in his heart he knew that he wanted much more than just a casual fling with her, he wasn't the type to stop until he got what he wanted.
Don't get ahead of yourself, he told himself in an effort to calm his raging body. She's just getting back at you for the dancing crack. Fervently hoping that he was wrong, he hurried after Lilli.
Atton stood just inside of the entranceway, his eyes scanning the crowded and dimly lit space for Lilli, irritated by the pulsating lights hanging from the ceiling that made it difficult for him to focus on any one thing. Finally, he saw her in the far corner, at the edge of the dance floor, being chatted up by some muscular, pretty-boy type. Damn it, he cursed, a frown twisting his mouth, unconsciously clenching his hands with jealousy. He should have realized that someone as beautiful as Lilli wouldn't be left alone for long.
Just as she had earlier in the alleyway, Lilli seemed to sense his presence. Her gaze flicked over to him and she gave another one of those heartbreaking smiles. Atton wasn't sure if he should be worried that she always appeared to know the moment he started focusing on her. Deciding to leave the thought for another day, he quickly pushed his way through the crowd, over to her side.
"Hey there angel," he drawled by way of greeting, staring daggers at the man in front of Lilli and moved to stand possessively close behind her. The scoundrel was sorely tempted to put his arm around her, but that thought was hastily tempered by the image of the Jedi flicking her wrist to hurl him into the wall for being presumptuous. Even though she had never shown the slightest hint of using the Force in retaliation, past experience had taught him that Jedi were apt to use the Force in a wide variety of situations.
"Atton," she said, turning to smile up at him, her eyes twinkling with some secret amusement. "I want you to meet Tonio. He's a model who's here on Nar Shaddaa to record a fashion holovid."
Atton barely managed a curt nod, all the while glaring menacingly at the pretty-boy, who was by now fidgeting and showing signs of becoming very uncomfortable with all of the hostility being directed towards him. Atton knew that he could be intimidating if he concentrated and at the moment he was most certainly trying.
Unable to take any more of Atton's animosity, the model stammered an excuse and backed away as rapidly as possible. Lilli turned around to face to Atton and unable to stop the corners of her mouth from twitching at his obvious jealously, said to him mock-scoldingly, "You didn't have to scare the poor guy that much, you know."
"What?" Atton asked, shrugging his shoulders innocently. "He looked like he was bothering you. Besides, I promised you a good time and pretty-boy over there," he nodded his chin contemptuously towards the retreating figure, "isn't part of the plan."
Lilli simply smiled knowingly at him."It's going to get hot in here, especially after we start dancing. Why don't you go and store my cloak along with your jacket and I'll get us something to drink," she said, gracefully shrugging out of her heavy outer robe and holding it out to him, which left her clad in her short-sleeved tunic and leggings.
"What about your 'saber," he asked, not wanting to blatantly advertise her Jedi status, mindful of the bounty. Suddenly another thought occurred to Atton and looking at her warily he asked, "Hey, since when did Jedi start drinking?"
Lilli was busy tucking her lightsaber into a special loop sewn into the inside of her tunic and didn't answer immediately. "There," she said brightly. "No one can see it now." Giving Atton a mischievous smile, she said, "I never was considered a model Jedi. And I did spend almost a decade outside of the Order. I probably do quite a few things that the Masters wouldn't approve of."
"Oh really? Will I get to find out some more about these un-Jedi like things you do?" he asked, his eyes gleaming with possibilities.
"Is that all you think about?" she groused laughingly, turning towards the bar.
His mind filled with all sorts of lurid images, Atton answered, "With you? Well... not all the time."
Atton came back to Lilli waiting for him with a bottle of juma and two shot glasses. What is she trying to do to me, he groaned inwardly, his pulse racing. It was as if she was deliberately doing everything she could to keep him agitated.
"I never took you for the sadistic type, angel," he told her as they settled into a couple of seats in the lounge area. They planned on having a few drinks before hitting the dance floor. Atton was perfectly happy with this, since he felt an ever increasing need to get drunk in order to deal with Lilli's unusual behavior.
"What are you talking about?" she asked, looking at him from under her lashes, all wide-eyed innocence.
"Oh, don't give me that," he retorted. "You know that I'm good at reading people, particularly you, Jedi and I'm a master at scheming. There's something going on in that pretty little head of yours. I just need some time to figure it out."
"Will you relax, Atton," Lilli said soothingly, filling their glasses with the juma. "There's nothing 'going on'. I simply decided you were right in that I needed some fun." Raising her glass in a toast and looking straight into his eyes, she said, "Here's to finding something to hold onto."
Atton felt his mouth go dry. Right then and there, he knew, without a doubt, that he was falling in love with the Jedi. Probably had been since the moment he first saw her on Peragus. He tossed back his drink and wondered what in the hell he had gotten himself into. Does it matter, though? Shaking his head lightly, he reflected that this wasn't the time, nor place and filed the thought away for another day. He was mildly surprised at the amount of 'filed for another day' thoughts he had collected since joining up with the Exile.
Seemingly oblivious to his internal musings - Although with her, who knows? - Lilli poured them another round and said, "You seem to know a lot about these raves."
"Yeah, well, you know I spent some time here before. I got to know my way around," he answered. Noticing that she was looking at him curiously, he asked, "What are you giving me that look for?"
Giving a casual wave of her hand to indicate their surroundings, Lilli replied, "I didn't think of you as being the dancing sort of person. I thought of you as more of a 'watching pretty Twi'leks dance in cantinas' kind of man."
Atton gave her a pained expression and said half-seriously, "I'm not sure if I should be offended or not." Pouring them another shot he gave her a wicked grin and said, "A man needs skills to be successful with the ladies."
Giving him a long look, Lilli burst out laughing and after a moment he joined in. Suddenly, the scoundrel jumped to his feet and held out his hand to her, rakishly saying, "Come on angel, it's time I showed you just one of my many skills."
The dance floor was fairly crowded as Atton took a moment to get in tune with the beat of the music. His body gracefully slid into a series of complicated dance moves and he grinned, pleased that he hadn't lost his touch. He was, in fact, a very good dancer and he planned on flaunting his best to Lilli. It didn't take him long, though, to realize that he had completely forgotten about his own plan and was instead utterly captivated by her.
With her eyes closed and arms flung up into the air, Lilli was using the Force to anticipate and match his movements, sinuously moving and swaying in such a way so as to hold herself mere inches away from him. Hell, her dancing for that slimy Hutt was nothing compared to this, Atton thought to himself, luxuriating in her nearness, the heat from her body enveloping and caressing him. He felt an irresistible need to touch her and on an impulse caught hold of her hand and twirled her away from him, watching as she laughed with delight.
Using an intricate two-handed move he spun her back to him, throwing one arm around her waist and the other behind her back to dip her low to the ground. They stayed like that for a moment, Lilli's mouth curving into an amused smile at his showiness. Thrilled at the opportunity to be holding her and unwilling to let go, Atton slowly raised her up, wrapping her in his arms while tucking her head under his chin. He felt her return his embrace, albeit hesitantly at first, and let out a small sigh of contentment. Tilting her back slightly so that he could drink her in, he watched her languidly raise her eyes to his and what he saw in them made his heart skip a beat, leaving him to feel as if time had suddenly stood still.
Lilli's eyes were sparkling, momentarily free from worry and doubt. Atton's gaze traveled across the planes of her face and for the first time he saw her genuinely at ease. He imagined that this is what she must have looked like as a girl, before Revan, the Mandalorian Wars and her exile had all taken their toll. Keeping one arm firmly around her waist, he brought his other arm up and tenderly brushed the back of his hand across the curve of her cheek, down the side of her face and followed the line of her jaw to delicately trace her lips with his thumb, watching as she closed her eyes and shivered with pleasure. Unable to resist her any longer, Atton moved his hand to cup the nape of her neck and brought his lips down to gently capture hers. For the briefest of moments, Lilli stiffened in surprise before snaking her arms around his neck, coiling up against him and giving herself over fully to the kiss.
Never in his wildest dreams could have he imagined that a single kiss could be so electrifying, sending sparks of pure energy running through every nerve in his body. Atton's hands were now roaming up and down Lilli's back, desperate and demanding, crushing her to him, while she tangled her fingers in his hair, pulling on his head to deepen the kiss. They continued on in this way, wholly lost in each other, until Atton began seeing stars from lack of air. He reluctantly ended the kiss, gasping lightly, dizzy and weak-kneed from the need to breathe and the phenomenal woman in his arms. He glanced at Lilli and saw her mirroring his dazed look as she brought her fingertips up to touch her mouth in wonder.
"That was-" she began, still a bit breathless.
"-incredible," he finished for her, leaning in to give her a feather-light kiss on the tip of her nose.
Keeping his arm around Lilli, Atton moved back towards the lounge area and dropped himself into a seat, pulling her down into his lap where he gathered her close once again. He knew that soon enough reality would come intruding in and he wanted to savor her for a while longer. Lilli wiggled as if moving to get up, but Atton ignored her attempts and after a brief struggle she gave a resigned sigh, snuggled into his embrace and said teasingly, "You'll have to let me get up at some point, flyboy."
"Yeah, but not yet, angel. I finally found something I want to hold onto," he replied huskily.