Shara looked around the dim cantina and fought against rolling her eyes. If she weren’t living the life of a rebel, then maybe this would be in some restaurant. Not even a nice one, she thought to herself, just an honest-to-goodness restaurant. With actual utensils and more than three choices on the menu. She sighed and stepped down into the place. But I’m in the Rebellion and this is the best we’ve got.
There was a little village about three klicks away from the base, and its only point of interest was a dingy little cantina. It wasn’t much, even as cantinas went, but it made do, especially for dates, mainly because it was the only place off-base one could go. Unless you want to have your first date in the middle of the kriffing jungle, Shara thought.
Shara deliberately flexed her fingers out of the fists that she’d clenched them in. First dates, she thought. Frist kriffing dates. She licked her lips. Blind kriffing first dates. She flexed her fingers again. But I’m not nervous.
No, not nervous.
She’d been telling herself that since she’d left the base.
It had yet to sink in.
She looked around the dim interior, trying to spot the guy that Lu promised was amazing. This is stupid. I shouldn’t be trying to start a relationship during a kriffing war and… She blinked and cocked her head to the side. Kes?
She instantly relaxed. Kes was wearing his usual, but with the shirt buttons buttoned all the way up. And it looks like he’s finally shaved, she thought with a smile. Then, she realized how nervous he looked: sitting ramrod straight, drumming his fingers on the table. He must be waiting for a date too.
She started over to the little booth in the back. “Kes?”
He spotted her and smiled, letting out a sigh. He stood and quickly folded her into a hug. “Shara,” he said. “Damn good to see you.”
She nodded to the seat across from him. He hesitated for a moment before gesturing to it.
“No,” she said. She took a chair from a table a few feet away and pulled it over. “Big date?”
“Yeah,” he sighed out, sitting back down and glancing at the door. “She’s supposed to know what I look like.”
“Yeah,” Shara said.
Shara nodded. “Lu set it up, said he gave the guy my picture.” She shook her head. “Can’t believe I let Lu set me up on a blind date.”
Kes chuckled. “Tell me about it. Biggs kept saying she’s perfect for you. You’re gonna love her. And then he won’t tell me a kriffing thing about her! For all I know, she’s a Hutt.”
Shara laughed. “A perfectly lovely Hutt, if I know Biggs.” Why is Biggs setting him up? And why is he setting him up with some random being? She tried to ignore the flare of jealousy that spiked through her. What? Am I not good enough?
“When’s he supposed to get here,” Kes asked.
Shara looked up at the chrono on the wall. “Now,” she said, dread clear in her voice.
“You sound super excited,” Kes said.
“Well, so do you, Dameron,” Shara countered.
They fell into an uncomfortable silence, both staring at the door. Finally, Kes finished off his drink and stood. “You want anything while we wait?”
“What are you drinking?”
“Something cheap and terrible,” Kes said with a smile.
“Sounds perfect,” Shara said.
When Kes returned, he looked again at the chrono and frowned before setting their drinks on his table. “How long do you give a blind date before you call it a bust?”
Shara shrugged. “Wouldn’t know. Never been on a blind date before.”
“Me either,” Kes said, staring at his drink. He swished it around in the cup.
Shara looked back at the chrono and then to Kes. Poor Kes. Who in the hell wouldn’t want to date him? She looked back at the door, suddenly wanting to tell his date off. She set her mouth in a tight line and murmured, “No.”
“Huh,” Kes asked.
Shara got up from her table and sat down across from Kes. “Screw them.”
He held up his cup to toast. “I’ll drink to that.”
Shara clinked her cup into his. “Yeah, stupid beings don’t know what they’re missing.”
“Here here,” Kes said with a smile. As he took a sip of his drink, he kept his eyes on Shara. Beautiful, amazing, so-far-out-of-my-league it isn’t funny Shara.
Shara slapped both hands down on the table. “So, now what?”
Kes thought for a moment and then put his drink down. “Well, now, I guess, we have our date.”
Shara didn’t want to admit the thrill that rolled through her body at that. She leaned back and gave Kes a calculating glance. “Oh yeah?”
Kes dipped his head down, suddenly bashful, and shrugged.
Is he blushing? Shara’s breath caught.
“I just figured,” Kes said, looking up. “We both got dressed up. We both trekked out here. We might as well have our dates, yeah?”
Shara smiled and leaned forward. “Sounds good.”
She ran her teeth over her bottom lip. Kriffing hell, that’s hot, Kes thought, momentarily mesmerized.
“What’s a date with Kes Dameron like, anyway?”
Kes laughed and gestured at the cantina. “Well, obviously, only the best for any being I take out.”
“Obviously,” Shara said.
Kes shrugged, contemplating his drink again, and suddenly getting serious, “I honestly wouldn’t know.” He looked back up at her. “Never dated much.” He started playing with his cup. “Joined the Rebellion first chance I got and then,” he shook his head, “never seemed like the right time to start a relationship, you know?”
Shara nodded. She reached over and put her hand over his. He looked up at her and there was this moment—both of them stopped breathing and it was like time froze while they both looked deep within each other.
Shara pulled away first, frightened by the intimacy of it. “But yeah, I…I understand. Haven’t dated much since I signed up. Didn’t want to start something and then…”
“Yeah,” Kes said, staring into his drink.
Shara ran her teeth over her bottom lip again. Why is this so awkward? Dameron and I have been friends for months! I love talking to him. I love hanging out with him. I love…
Her breath caught. Oh kriffing hell.
She blinked. “I should,” she started to get up.
“Wait,” Kes said, standing up and moving to block her exit, standing suddenly way too close. “I didn’t mean to bring things down and—” He realized just how close they were. His eyes went big. Please don’t go.
Shara stared into Kes’s eyes and she could see a future there—her future—and it was terrifying.
“I,” she started.
“Please,” he whispered.
Shara nodded and sat back down.
Kes very reluctantly went to his side of the table and sat down. “What’s got you so spooked?”
Shara looked over at him—he was wearing that serious Pathfinder face, the one he wore when he was out on a mission. The one, if she were being completely honest with herself, that always made her feel safe and secure.
“Shara,” he asked, leaning forward.
She shook her head. “Just…” Her first instinct was to lie. Just laugh it off and… She kept her eyes down. “You ever look at something and want it so bad that,” she licked her lips, “that it terrifies you?”
Kes held his breath and nodded.
Shara’s hands bunched into fists again. She hated being vulnerable. She hated being anything other than in control. “Dammit, Kes, say something.” She looked up at him, her eyes pleading.
Kes took a quick drink and then got up, moving over to her side of the booth. He slid in next to her but kept his eyes forward. “First time I saw you in the hangar,” he said, his eyes narrowing and those adorable crinkles appearing as he chuckled, “I tripped over my own kriffing feet. Bo had to reach over, keep me from falling on my face.”
Shara smiled at the thought of the-always-perfect-solider tripping over his own feet. Because of me. She felt warm all over.
He reached across the table, picked up his cup, and downed the rest of his drink. Then, he turned his head and looked at her. “Every damn time I’m in the same room with you, it’s like…” He pursed his lips, searching for the right words. “It’s like everything dims except you.” He met her eyes. “You know how many damn times I’ve missed what they were talking about in a de-brief because I was too busy staring at you?”
Shara surged forward, grabbing Kes’s shoulders and pulling him into a kiss.
It wasn’t pretty—the booth was too small, and everything was mostly forward acceleration and want, but for both Shara and Kes it was just about the best thing that had ever happened.
As they broke apart, panting, Kes looked up, hopeful, and then relaxed as he saw the smile on Shara’s face. He smiled back.
Shara reached over, tracing it, shaking her head in disbelief. She bit her lip as she felt his soft skin under her fingers.
“Damn, Shara,” he whispered. “Do you even realize you’re doing that?”
She looked up to him, questioning. He very slowly bit his own lip. “Oh,” she said, shaking her head. “I didn’t…”
“So damn sexy,” he murmured, pulling her back in for another kiss.
# # # #
Across the cantina, Lu slid into a booth where Biggs was keeping to the shadows, nursing his drink. Biggs nodded over to a booth on the other side of the place where Shara and Kes were clearly having a very good first date. Lu looked over, shaking his head.
“Told you it would work,” Biggs said, taking another sip.
“I figured she’d see through the whole two blind dates at the same time thing and realize we were setting her up.”
Biggs chuckled. “Sometimes beings don’t see what’s right in front of them.” Lu nodded at that. “I mean, Bey may be the best damn pilot in the fleet, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a normal being like the rest of us. Everyone needs a little nudge, even one as contrived as this.”
“Think they’ll be mad,” Lu asked.
“I think she’ll pretend to be mad,” Biggs said.
Lu shrugged. “As long as they’re happy.”
“Exactly,” Biggs said, looking over half in awe and half in concern. “Uhhh, at what point should we go over and suggest they take this back to base?”
Lu looked over and sighed. “Probably about a minute ago.”
Biggs made to get up, but Lu shook his head. “Let me. Loser buys the drinks, which I guess means that loser also tells Bey and Dameron to put their clothes back on.”
Biggs chuckled into his drink as Lu started over. “Good luck!”