I'd like to dedicate this to Obi-Wan's most aweome fan...you know who you are!
That Night On Selonia
Kalinda Halcyon was not a Jedi who preferred to perform mind tricks, but at this moment she was seriously considering the option as she faced down the Weequay merchant who was in possession of a vital piece of equipment. However, he was being obstinate and it was growing harder and harder to keep her tone civil and Jedi-like. "I need that part if I'm going to get off of Selonia by first light...I'm supposed to meet someone and I-"
The Weequay cut her off with a sweep of his hand, sneering at the unassuming, dark-haired woman before him. "If you don't have the credits, I can't help you, lady." He turned to go and she resisted the urge to blow her cover and call the ignition coil to her hand with the Force; beside the crowded marketplace, surely such an act would draw far too much attention.
It will jeopardize the entire mission if anyone here knows I'm a Jedi. Her teeth gritted and she took another deep breath, hoping to quell the anger and frustration that seemed to have been brimming within her more often than not of late. I've only been a proper Knight for a few years...can't go ruining everything just because some scruffy-looking, scaly, kriffing...she frowned to herself. Crink, I need to get off this rock. "Listen," she snapped, ignoring the part of her brain that normally kept the harsh tone from her voice. "I need that coil and I need it now. You will trade with me, or I'll-"
She paused mid-diatribe as the marketplace crowd suddenly parted and she caught the sight of a very familiar-looking person, though she had to squint a bit in the fading light to make certain it was he. Obi-Wan Kenobi held her gaze and lifted a brow in the direction of the Weequay shop owner, his expression at once questioning and wry.
What in the blazes is he doing out here? She frowned and gave a miniscule shake of her head. Go away. I don't need anything from you.
But Obi-Wan knew her too well. He stood in the street, a calm pillar amidst the swarm of people hurrying to finish their business before the evening curfew went into effect. His gaze on her was serene and expectant.
The Weequay was watching her with mild interest. "What's the matter, girly? Narglatch got your tongue?" His scaled brows lifted as he leered at her, with was – for Kali – the final straw.
However, before she could throttle the miscreant, she noticed Obi-Wan straighten his posture and approach the shop, robes rippling behind him. He really is the poster-boy of a perfect Jedi Knight. It's a wonder they don't make him the Order's official mascot. She took a resigned breath and stepped away from the Weequay, pitching her voice to carry across the shop even as she smoothed her tone. "Look, if you'd just allow me to barter we can both be done with this very pleasant interaction and go about our lives...you and I both know that these power cells make a more than adequate trade for the coil."
Clearly wrong-footed by her sudden change in demeanor, the merchant's face tightened into a scowl. "I've told you..." He trailed off as Obi-Wan approached; Kali could sense awe and a trace of unease radiating from the Weequay as he noted the Jedi's appearance.
Pausing between the Weequay and Kali, Obi-Wan kept his face placid as he looked from one to the other. "Is there a problem here? Perhaps I can help."
"This...woman thinks she can just waltz in here and make the rules." The merchant snorted and gave Kali a derisive look. "Well, I have a business to run and I don't take kindly to being harassed in my own shop."
Kalinda pulled the power cells out of her pack. "This is a good trade, and you know it. I'm not asking for a discount or anything. I just want my ignition coil." She glanced at Obi-Wan, who nodded, his hands clasped before him though she could see his fingers lifting to wave towards the merchant.
"You will accept the young lady's trade." His voice was sonorous.
"I will accept the young lady's trade." The Weequay held out the coil and Kali handed him the cells, stowing the part in her knapsack.
But Obi-Wan wasn't finished. "You will tell me where a person can get a decent meal around here."
The merchant blinked and stared at him before naming a nearby restaurant. Kali rolled her eyes. She'd seen it and figured that it was far from decent. Obi-Wan looked at her. "Miss, do you require an escort? These streets are not always safe once the sun goes down." His expression was neutral but she knew the glint in his eyes.
Ignoring the merchant's look of bewilderment, she nodded. "Fine." He bowed once to the Weequay before offering her his arm, leading her away from the shop and towards the other side of the street. When they were well out of eyesight she turned to him. "You do realize that he pointed you towards a strip-club, right?"
Where annoyance should have crossed his face there was only a hint of amusement, which, for some reason irritated her. "I suppose that won't do for us, will it?"
"Us?" She raised a brow. "I have a mission to complete, you know. Some of us aren't traipsing about the Outer Rim for fun."
"As I recall, you're supposed to be on your way to Praesitlyn right now." He waggled a finger at her, which she pushed aside with a scowl.
"So you're keeping tabs on me?" They had paused at an intersection and she looked around, searching for a particular establishment. Her eyes fell on the building and she turned back to Obi-Wan who was watching her with that same, baffling amusement which normally found charming, though at the moment it was only maddening. "Come on." She made to step towards the restaurant but he took her hand instead, making her stop in her tracks. "What is it?" He scanned her face but said nothing, so she sighed. "You are hungry, aren't you?" After a moment he nodded and she gestured across the street. "There are no topless women here, but I think it will suffice."
Naturally, it was closing.
Kali gritted her teeth as the owner of the restaurant locked the door at their approach, giving the two a single nod as he turned to walk back to the interior, pausing to lift chairs atop tables. She glanced at Obi-Wan, who was watching the receding Twi'lek with interest. "Don't."
He raised his brow. "Don't what?"
"Do the mind trick thing," she said, waving her hand at him. "It's beneath you."
"Then, what do you suggest?" At that moment her stomach gave a rumble and he smirked while she surveyed the street. Lighted signs were being extinguished in windows all around them – except for the nearby 'gentleman's club – and she realized with dismay that it looked like they'd be eating whatever rations she could scrape together from her ship's stores.
Stupid backwater planet with its kriffing, pointless curfew...if I never return to Selonia it won't be a day too soon. Kali sighed and shook her head. "I have some protein bars on my ship. Wait..." she looked at him. "What did you come on? Do you have any rations?" He shrugged. "Food pellets?" He shook his head and she sighed. "Maybe you're not the perfect Jedi, after all."
Rather than reply, he pointed behind her. "Is that a market?"
It was; the flickering neon sign indicated that it was open all night, probably to cater to whomever stumbled out of the strip-club at all hours – curfew be damned. Her nose wrinkled involuntarily, as it didn't look very clean. The windows were smudged with some kind of brownish-gray substance that she didn't want to examine too closely, and the goods within appeared to be stacked haphazardly along grimy,tilted shelves. "I think I'll take my chances with a protein bar."
Of course her stomach chose that moment to let out another growl, as if in protest, though Obi-Wan politely ignored the sound. "Let's just take a look." He raised a brow at her. "You never know what we might stumble upon."
There was something in his tone that made her eyebrows knit, though she acquiesced and followed him through the door of the all-night market. It was no cleaner within than without, and none of the brands of food and other goods that she could make out on the shelves were recognizable. The cashier, a thick-waisted Bothan with bright copper fur, watched them with minimal interest above his holo-zine as the two Jedi perused the aisles.
Kali picked up a jar of something purple and viscous. "I don't even want to know what this is," she whispered to Obi-Wan, who was studying a box of what appeared to be some kind of pastry mix with interest. Her stomach gurgled again. "I'm about ready to hit that strip-club...I hear that their food is decent, anyway."
At this he snorted and set the box back down before giving her a wry look that she knew meant something interesting was about to happen as he strode to the counter. "Excuse me," he said as he gave the cashier a meaningful look. "Is this everything?" He gestured to the store as the Bothan straightened and set his holo-zine down.
What in the seven hells of Tethys is he doing? Kalinda could only stand by and watch as the cashier glanced around. Moments later, she was flabbergasted as he indicated that they should step in the back room, past a dirty flap of vinyl that separated the two areas. "Obi-Wan, what's going on?" she hissed as her companion slipped through the doorway and proceeded to make his way through a maze of wrapped pallets and piles of what she hoped was just water-stained flimsi.
But he remained bafflingly quiet as he lead her through the stockroom and up a section of gritty stairs, that seemed to go on forever. This building didn't seem so tall on the outside. She asked him where they were going several more times, but he refused to answer and eventually she gave up, telling herself that it was only to save her breath for the climb that was growing faster and faster as his steps quickened. Finally, as she was about to reconcile with the fact that she was never leaving the stair-well, they reached a landing, at the end of which was a slender door.
"Please tell me we're here," she said, the words coming out a bit more gaspy than she'd hoped, though she was quickly catching her breath. The old wound in her knee had started to ache and she rubbed at it while he reached for the panel beside the door.
At her movement he turned, his features etched with concern. "Your knee. Kali...I'm sorry. I didn't think about it..." He made to reach for her but she shook her head.
"It's fine, Obi-Wan." It wasn't, but she was too curious to care. She straightened and nodded to the door and after a moment he activated the panel and ushered her to the roof.
Where the air had been foggy and muddled at the street below, up here it was clear, revealing a swathe of stars that peppered the sky above their heads. Due to the strict curfew of the city, there were almost no lights, giving Kalinda an almost unblemished view of the night sky and for a few moments she was lost in wonder. It never fails to amaze me. Obi-Wan's throat cleared and she looked at him, blinking at the sudden, strange pricking in her eyes. Neither does he.
"I don't know about you, but that climb made me hungry as a wampa." He nodded behind her and she turned to see a row of tall, potted plants arranged to give the illusion of a garden of some kind, complete with a few glow-lamps – an incongruous bit of nature in the middle of the dark and silent city. Beyond the plants she could make out a thick blanket, atop which sat a silver cooler and an assortment of plates and flatware.
Kali looked back at Obi-Wan; her mouth opened but no sound came out so he gave her a small smile and took her hand, leading her towards the "garden." At his request she settled on to the blanket, stretching her scarred knee out in front of her and watched him reach into the cooler and pull out an array of packaged food, opening the containers and setting them between the Jedi. "Here," he said, offering her a bottle of pale liquid. "Would you like to do the honors?"
As she took the object, Kali continued to stare at him, though words were finally starting to trickle into her brain. "Obi-Wan...what is all this?"
He sat across from her and looked over the food admiringly, shifting containers around until he was satisfied that she could reach everything with ease. "It's Corellian white wine," he said, nodding to the bottle in her hand. "You still like it, don't you?"
With these words she looked down at the label, noting that it was as he said and her throat tightened as she nodded. "I do."
"Wonderful." He smiled and reached for her plate and began piling on servings of the contents of the containers, the smells of spices, salt and roasted vegetables filling the air. "It's all excellent. That Twi'lek certainly knows his way around a kitchen." His brow lifted at her expression as he handed her the now full plate. "What is it? You didn't think I meant to eat anything at that place downstairs, did you?"
She shook her head slowly as she reached for the food, setting it down before her. "I don't know where to start...what are you really doing out here?"
He began filling his own plate. "I told you, Kali; I was in the neighborhood. It was a happy accident that I happened to be nearby."
"So all this just happened to be here? On the roof? With the blanket and the plants and...everything?"
Again, the glint in his eye. "Perhaps."
She sighed and picked up her plate. "You're impossible when you get like this."
"And you still haven't opened that wine," he chided, lifting his hand. The bottle rose from its place beside her and he plucked it from the air. Moments later, he'd poured the pale liquid into a pair of small tumblers, one of which he handed back to her. As he lifted his glass to hers, he smiled at her again. "To serendipity."
Kali scooped up the final piece of namana-cream pie on her spoon and grinned at the taste; sweet but not cloying, creamy without being too rich, with notes of citrus and honey. "My compliments to the chef." They had cleared most of the accouterments of dinner away and were seated cross-legged beside one another, sharing the dessert and talking quietly of inconsequential things. A few spots of the whipped topping had made its way to her fingers, so Kali absently began licking it off, her eyes on the stars until she realized that Obi-Wan was watching her with an expression that she knew well.
Her fingers dropped to her lap and she did not meet his gaze, though she wanted to. But within her, some deep, nameless sorrow plucked at her heart, though she could not recall what it was that was bothering her so. What's wrong with me?
His arm around her waist was warm and when he pulled her closer to him, his body was solid and familiar. Some of the tension eased as she leaned her head against his shoulder; he kissed her forehead almost absently. "Nothing's wrong with you, Kali," he said at last, his voice quiet. "Today is the ten-year anniversary of Jonas' death."
Of course. Her eyes closed and she felt something warm and wet slide down her cheek. My Master and my father alike. Jonas. "I'd forgotten."
"No, you didn't," he said, kissing her again. "You just pushed the thought away. Like you do." There was a pause while he seemed to consider something. "I didn't want you to be alone tonight." His voice had taken a softer tone and she found herself turning to him like a flower to the sun and something in her throat caught when he smiled at her.
There was only a breath of space between them before the kiss and she felt a thrill pass through her at the sensation of the Force as it permeated her mind and body, filling her with an almost giddy lightness. It never changes. It never dims with time. How can it always be this wonderful? With this thought she deepened the kiss and wrapped her arms around his solid torso, pulling herself as close to him as possible.
Something small and hard that had been tightening within her chest over the past few weeks began to unravel as one of his hands made its way to the small of her back, then to her hips while the other reached behind her head and uncoiled her plait, letting her hair fall between his fingers. "Ben." Her nickname for him was a whisper colored with longing and he responded by murmuring her own name.
In her mind, the Force gilded their skin as he lowered her to the blanket.
The air was warm. They were offered privacy from the height of the building and the relative sanctuary of the makeshift garden, but even without these considerations, Kalinda thought that she would have made the same choice. As it was, there were only a few moments when she was not kissing him as he freed her from her clothing, after which she returned the favor. Obi-Wan's embrace was strong, as if he refused to allow her to become detached and distant with old grief; his kisses kept her in the moment, in the present reality of the overwhelming love that was interlaced with desire.
Despite the urgency that tinted her emotions his movements were tender and controlled as he ran his fingertips over every inch of her skin with a gentle devotion, with a healing touch. She may have said his name again, or she might have only thought it as he kissed her collarbone, her neck, her lips even while his hands traced minute patterns over her hips; the hairs on her arms rose as if to reach for him. Her name in his voice was a balm. "Kalinda." He kissed her again and she realized that she was trembling.
Obi-Wan leaned back and met her gaze even as they were both breathing heavily at this point. "Is this okay?" His expression was open and earnest even as he brushed his hand across her cheek.
She couldn't help but laugh as she pulled him on top of her, running her fingers over the smooth planes of his chest. "Yes, Ben. And then some." At this he grinned and leaned down to kiss her breasts, effectively altering her laughter to a gasp which faded into a groan as his worked his way to her navel. Her hips lifted to meet him; however, as was his fashion he paused at her core and looked back up, raising his brow suggestively.
"Are you sure?" As much as she wanted to be annoyed with him, she was far too aroused to do anything much beyond give him a half-hearted glare which he returned with a smile that made her heart beat faster. She felt rather than heard his chuckle against her skin, but her brain ceased most extraneous thought after the next moment; he brought her to the height of her pleasure within several minutes, though for her the time stretched to hours, days, a lifetime. A sheen of sweat coated her skin and he moved to lie beside her, smiling as he slid his hand down the length of her hip. "Feel better?"
For the second time that night she was speechless, but she found that she cared little as she moved to him, anxious to feel his body against hers. Finally, when she caught her breath she cleared her throat and looked up at him. "You're not done, are you?" He chuckled again even as he kissed her; he positioned her below him and kept his eyes locked on hers while their bodies joined. An involuntary whimper escaped her lips, deepening to a gasp when he entered her completely.
When she could feel his movements growing faster and more fervent she skimmed her hands over his back and kissed the hollow of his throat, whispering his own name as she did so and feeling the lift of his skin beneath her mouth as he murmured her name again and again; as they reached the zenith of their passion his blue eyes caught her own dark ones and held them. Part of her hoped he would never let go.
Afterward they lay beside one another on the blanket; her back was against his chest and his arm was around her shoulders, and she reveled in the warm press of their skin as well as the quiet rise and fall of his body as his breathing steadied. Above them, the stars glittered and she thought that she could relate. "Ben?"
Kali smiled and wondered if his eyes were open or closed, then decided it didn't matter as she settled closer to him and gave a contented sigh. "Thank you."
There was a gentle kiss against the back of her neck that sent prickles down her skin. "My pleasure." His voice was muffled as the kiss deepened, making her lean into him even as she tried to formulate a reply.
Finally she could speak again. "Well, that too, I guess. But I meant back at the parts dealer: you saved my ass."
"Infinitely worth saving, in my humble opinion." He had stopped kissing her for the moment; his voice left a breath of warm air against her ear.
At this she laughed outright and turned to him, watching as he leaned on one elbow and regarded her with a raised brow, waiting for what she would say next. "So it wasn't a 'happy accident' that you found yourself on this Force-forsaken planet?"
He chuckled and ran his other hand through his hair, grown a bit longer since his days as a Padawan. "I wouldn't go that far. After all, I was supposed to rendezvous with Master Piell nearby...but found that I was hungry and not in the mood for ship's stores." His shoulder lifted in a noncommittal shrug. "That was yesterday, when I found my way to the restaurant that provided our dinner. After that..." He paused and lifted his hand, smoothing back her hair that had fallen across her chest. "I felt your Force-presence and...remembered."
"Oh." She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, leaning forward to nestle against his chest again. "In that case, I'm sorry I was so cross with you."
"Forgiven and forgotten, Kali." He tilted her chin up and met her eyes. "Like I said, I didn't want you to have to be alone tonight."
As he kissed her, she marveled at how warm he was, how familiar and solid and she decided that she never wanted to leave Selonia after all – at least until the sun came up.