Note: Remember Chapter 15, when Rex sees a picture of Cody and Barriss? This starts when Ahsoka is taking the picture. And a warning: OOC. Ye gods, OOC. Remember, it's humor! Otherwise, enjoy!
Nothing Against Looking
Bonus Chapter: The Quiet Ones.
"See, now that wasn't so bad, was it?" Ahsoka asked as she lowered the holocamera.
Barriss and Cody, almost in unison, sighed. They were standing beside each other, Cody with his helmet tucked under his arm, and Barriss with her hands folded neatly in front of her. Neither knew why Ahsoka was so insistent on getting a picture of the two of them together, but it was difficult to come up with a reasonable excuse not to when she had the camera right there in her hands.
"It was good to see both of you," Ahsoka continued, sweeping forward to give Barriss a quick hug, and Cody a brief smile. "Take care of yourselves."
Cody nodded in polite acknowledgment. "Commander Tano."
With a wave, she was gone.
Cody and Barriss exchanged a look. Barriss shrugged. With the mission over, she would be returning with Master Unduli to Coruscant for debriefing, and Cody would be returning with Master Kenobi. Ahsoka caught them both heading to the hangar bay for their departures.
Barriss cleared her throat politely. "Are you on your way to the hangar, Commander?"
They stared at each other, stiffly. Barriss tried not to fidget and think of sweaty grey exercise uniforms and the muscles within them. Cody tried not to stare and think of black leggings and the flying legs within them. He coughed once. "Um, yes. Commander Offee. May I escort you?"
She turned a darker shade of green. He was being polite. Nice. How could she say no? "Of course, Commander Cody."
They turned and walked together down the corridor towards the turbolift. Barriss snuck a glance at Cody, then looked away. Cody snuck a look at Barriss, then looked away. They both snuck a look at each other, caught the other one looking, then quickly looked at anything else. Barriss cleared her throat. Cody coughed.
They reached the turbolift. Cody reached out and summoned it.
Barriss looked at the floor. Cody looked at the ceiling.
The turbolift opened. Cody let Barriss on first, then stepped in behind her and punched in the hangar bay's level.
Barriss said, uncomfortable with the awkwardness, "I have to apologize for Ahsoka. She's planning something with the pictures, but I'm not sure what. She told me she'd send them on to me later. If you like, I can send them on to you. If you'd like to see. The pictures. Since you're in them, I mean." She winced, feeling foolish.
"Of course," he replied, desperately searching around for another topic. All he could think of were black leggings and flying legs. Would she think it too weird if he bashed his head into the wall a few times to distract himself? "Your Soresu is very good. From what I saw. In the gym."
She looked up at him and nodded nervously. "Thank you. So was your…ah, sparring."
He reached out and paused the turbolift, then stood up straight and formal, at parade rest excepting the helmet under one arm. She looked at him, startled. "I'm sorry about the men, if they got too rowdy. I hope you weren't made uncomfortable."
Her cheeks darkened further. He seemed to expect her to be annoyed and scold him. She knew that she and Ahsoka were being watched, but Cody didn't have to apologize for it. The cheering was a little embarrassing, but no one did anything inappropriate or out of line. It was thoughtful, though, for him to be concerned. "It's alright." Muscles. Grey sweaty shirt. Muscles. Nope, he had nothing to apologize for at all. Oh dear. He'd been watching her during the flip. Half the men in the gym had been watching during the flip, but Cody was the only one she'd been watching afterwards. She tried not to bury her face in her hands. All this embarrassment because she didn't want to lose to Ahsoka. This was all Ahsoka's fault.
She forced herself to look upward. Cody was staring at her, even leaning slightly forward, with the strangest combination of protectiveness, curiosity and intensity on his face. She'd seen that same face hundreds of times on hundreds of men, but none of them ever looked at her quite like that. It was…flattering.
In retrospect, she couldn't remember who moved first. Perhaps they moved at the same time. Just that in one moment, they were gaping awkwardly at each other like idiots, and the next, she was letting Cody wrap his arms around her, and she was wrapping her arms around him, and somewhere in the middle of all the grasping at each other, her mouth made contact with his, and they almost tripped over his discarded helmet as they clumsily stumbled backward into the wall.
Attraction wasn't attachment, was it? She kissed him back, sliding her arms around his neck and burying a hand in the hair on the back of his head. The rest of him was covered in armor. Stupid armor. No, they had to be two completely different things. Absolutely different. Definitely. So, clearly, this was perfectly fine. It was, however, entirely, "Unprofessional…."
He nodded into her neck and mumbled back, "Inappropriate."
Then she couldn't talk for awhile.
A few minutes later, the turbolift doors opened. Barriss cleared her throat. Cody coughed once.
"Commander Offee." He stepped to the side and allowed her to pass.
"Thank you, Commander Cody." She stepped into the hallway. He fell into step beside her. They walked side by side towards the hangar in silence. Barriss snuck a glance at Cody, then looked away. Cody snuck a look at Barriss, then looked away. They both snuck a look at each other and caught the other one looking. They looked away from each other for a moment.
Cody said, thoughtfully, "You know, there is a more scenic route to the hangar bay."
"Oh? I was unaware of that. We are running a bit early."
"Would you like a tour, Commander Offee?"
"That would be very kind, Commander Cody."
He offered her an arm. She took it.
They turned around and hurried back towards the turbolift.