First Kiss: Variations On A Theme

Unexpected Empathy

~by Jade_Max

Shortly after the events on Mandalore, TCW S5, Episode 16

The cantina was dark, dingy, on the lower levels of Coruscant and a place that Asajj Ventress felt at home. Here she could hide; disappear. Here she wasn't the hunted; she was the hunter, searching for her next bounty. Here she was the predator, lethal and above the scum who surrounded her; a master of her craft who now held a reputation to match.

Those who had crossed her no longer lived to speak of it and word had spread from those who had witnessed such encounters that she was a force to be reckoned with. It wasn't the acclaim she'd been promise as Dooku's apprentice and assassin, but it was a measure of real respect few had allocated to her.

Few, like a certain Jedi Master sitting in the booth where she normally sat, his hands wrapped around a glass of something red and orange. His shoulders were slumped at an odd angle, almost... dejected. Dressed in a brown tunic and trousers, his lightsaber nowhere in evidence, he didn't look at all like the man she'd crossed blades with time and time again.

The atmosphere of the cantina was all wrong for him, despite the way he fit in just now. This was the last place she'd ever expected to find a Jedi Master, let alone one as refined as Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Absently pulling her lightsaber off her belt, she collected her regular drink and headed for her table, expecting him to move, to turn; to acknowledge her in some way. She was disappointed when she stopped next to his shoulder with still no sign of reaction. Examining him freely, she noted the almost far off look in his glazed eyes, visible even from her angle of approach, and realized he didn't acknowledge her because he wasn't aware of her or his surroundings.

It was, she reflected, a good way to die in her world. In anyworld; especially among those who had no love of the Jedi. Perhaps he needed a reminder.

Sliding the cool metal of her lightsaber hilt along his neck, he jerked, head snapping her way and she offered him a half smile with a shake of her head. "Tsk, tsk, Obi-Wan; if I still wanted you dead, you would have perished without a whimper."



They stared at one another for a long moment before he spoke again. "I am not in the mood to deal with you."

"Then it's a shame you're in my booth," she leaned against his shoulder, twitching the sabre hilt and holding him in place as his eyes narrowed. "One would have thought you wanted to talk."

"I'm sorry to disappoint you, my dear, but I am in anything but a talking mood." He tilted his head, making to leave. "If you will allow me to depart, I-"

Shifting the hilt along the side of his jaw, Asajj delighted in how it cut him off and held him in place, wariness, and weariness, in every line his posture. "I find that I now I have seen you, Obi-Wan, I have no desire to see you go so quickly. It's not so often I find you stooping to my level... or at my mercy."

"Contrary to appearance, I did not seek you out, Asajj."

"Do leave a girl her fantasies," her tone was deliberately sultry and she tilted her hand and rubbed the backs of her fingers over the line of his jaw. His flinch intrigued her as he tilted his head away. "You'll find we're more cooperative that way."

"I don't want you to cooperate; I would like you to leave."

Sliding close, Asajj bent down, her hilt still pressed against his jaw, her fingers stroking his skin. "Now why would I want to go when I finally have you at my mercy?"

Obi-Wan snapped his head to the side. "I am in no mood to banter with you. Leave me be!"

Asajj regarded him for a moment and her smile died as she processed the pain she'd seen in the depths of his gaze. It was a reflection of an agony she well understood; loss. Jedi were not supposed to get attached and, in doing so, not supposed to feel loss. To mourn; to grieve; to... wallow.


"Now what could possibly have happened to drive you down here in such a state, hm? Has your little apprentice finally met his match?"

"My-" Obi-Wan deliberately turned his head away. "Go away, Ventress."

As he lifted his glass to take a sip, Asajj recognized the sickly sweet, yet spicy bite of one of the more potent concoctions on the menu. The glass touched his lips in a deliberate ploy to distance himself as he focused on his drink, but Asajj refused to be dissuaded.

Reaching out her left hand, she plucked it from his fingers as it left his lips. "If Skywalker's not around to save you from yourself, Kenobi, someone had best," she took an appreciative sip, shooting him a knowing look. "One of these is enough to drop a rancor."

"There is a reason I ordered it."


Shifting he reached out and took the glass back with a sigh. "What do you want, Asajj?"

"Why… you're in my seat. What else could I possibly want from you?"

"With you, one never knows." He took another sip of his drink. "Can you not leave me in peace?"

"Leave you in peace? You sought me out, Obi-Wan. It would be most impolite for me to let you suffer."

"I am not-"

She laughed softly, shaking her head. "My dear Obi-Wan," leaning in, she was gratified to see he didn't recoil. If he had, it would have cost her the delight of the moment. Closer than she'd ever been before, Asajj smiled faintly. "I probably understand what you're feeling better than any of your precious Jedi."

Their gazes connected, her fingers traced the line of his jaw, her finger nails scraping his skin through the bristles of his beard. For one, crazy, insane moment, she fantasized what it would be like to no longer be at odds with him and, almost unbidden, leaned in to brush her lips over his.

Soft and moist, he tasted of his drink and something more, his beard tickling her skin even as their eyes remained locked. Almost sympathetic, something within her responded to the wounding she could sense he'd received and, as a result, her kiss was more evocatively empathetic, instead of challenging; supportive instead of demanding.

To her surprise, he remained passive, accepting, making no move to break the kiss. There was a flash of something she couldn't read in his gaze as she slowly pulled back; appreciation perhaps? No; there, in his Force signature, as it reflected in his eyes, something she had never expected to see or sense in Kenobi until her dying day.

Honest gratitude - as if he'd needed the contact.

He said nothing as she straightened, pushing away from the booth. Staring at him for a long moment, watching him, watching her, Asajj finally turned away. Yet, she couldn't keep from tossing back one last parting shot. Anything to ignore the unsettling feeling her rash action had caused; what had ever possessed her to kiss him?

"Keep the booth, my dear," she spun gracefully and bowed with a flourish as she clipped her lightsaber to her belt once again, her cocky smile firmly in place, "no one will bother you here and so obviously under my protection."

Striding away, Asajj didn't look back… but she didn't miss the reflection of one Jedi Master lifting his glass in silent salute in the mirror above the bar as she left.