Sunday, December 10, 2006

Painful Moments

Maya hummed happily as she washed the night's dishes. The bar was closed and this job usually belonged to one of the girls but with them doing her work lately, it only seemed fair to do theirs for once.

She was rapidly developing a better appreciation for just how much her staff did for her each day. There were a lot of dishes here. Between glasses and meal plates, she'd been at this for more than an hour already and, judging by the massive stacks still to come, she had at least another hour to go.

Sweat was beading along her brow, a sign of effort she'd not felt since her days on the Viscount. Owning a bar had made her a little soft, something she found herself regretting now. She was slower than she used to be, slow enough to let a Trandoshan get the drop on her. There'd been a time when she wouldn't have needed rescuing from the likes of that thug.

That was then. The reality now was that she'd been too out of practice with her blasters to defend herself properly. She'd just been lucky they were still charged. Maya blushed at the thought of how long it had been since she'd last checked them. It would have served her right for them to have been as dead as the Death Star. Of course, if they had been, she probably would be too.

No, she corrected herself as she scrubbed mushroom paste off the recesses of an aluminum bowl. She'd still be alive, but only because of Darrus. With the way he'd handled that Trando, he could have easily dealt with the other two. There probably wasn't anything in the Outer Rim he couldn't take out...

Now she was blushing again. When had the hero worship started? She was acting like an Academy first-year again, all giggling and bashful. She groans, world-wary enough for that thought to make her roll her eyes. Adolescent crushes were for adolescents, not women with laser scars and a Rebel service record. She'd been through too much to act this childish.

Still, she'd never seen anything like what happened that day, now nearly a full week ago. The way that violent merc was just hanging in the air, eyes wide and throat constricting, rasping in shock as the air around him crackled and whirled. He'd been so terrifying until that moment, but in a heartbeat he'd become something to be almost pitied.


She had to remember that the Trando'd ordered one of his comrades to murder a patron of hers. Even if the human was a member of a hate group like the Scarlet Wake, murder was still murder and a slashed throat was still the act of a villain. The Trandoshans deserved no pity; she hardened herself to that fact.

Still, there'd been a pang of sorrow when she and Vaaro pulled the lizardman out of the wall and felt how liquid his body had become. The impact had been so severe that every major bone was practically powdered. The only thing that had kept the body upright in the standing crater he'd left was the gore of his...

Maya shook herself to banish the memory. That wasn't something she needed to recall. Ever. She'd seen her share of death on the Viscount. She'd come to Tatooine to escape such things.

Yeah, that had been a brilliant move. Coming to a planet held by a consortium of ill-tempered crime lords-in-conflict squabbling over the fallen kingdom of a dead Hutt. What a stroke of genius on her part. "Tatooine's independent," her friends in the Rebellion had said. "Neither side rules there. A person copuld go there and forget all about this conflict."

If Vader and his snowtroopers hadn't killed all her friends on Hoth, she'd be beating them with a skillet right now. Her friends...

Maya sank her hands into the scalding water, letting a little pain drive those memories out of her mind as well. As her skin began to redden, she felt a single tear roll down her cheek. Damn the Empire. Damn the Rebellion too.

"Why... are you... hurting yourself?"

Maya's whipped her hands out of the basin so fast, water splashed everywhere. "I!" It wasn't an answer; it was more a cry of surprise. She turned to face the rasping voice, surprised to see her guest up and out of bed again. He'd been walking and talking a little in these last few days but he'd not left her room since the Trando incident.

"Were your hands bad?" The black-eyed stranger took a deep breath, words still obviously painful to push past his tortured throat. "Did they need to be punished?"

It took Maya a moment to realize he was joking with her. Of all the moods she'd expected from him, this was unexpected. Did Jedi have a sense of humor? Were they allowed to be funny?

Darrus leaned heavily against the door frame. "Allowed to? Yes. Have the ability to be? Well... that's debatable." He chuckled, an oddly hollow sound considering his limited capacity for speech. "Millinae used to say... I was funny like a..." His voice rasped painfully. "Bantha with a head wound."

Maya laughed, helping him back to bed with wet, throbbing hands. "What in the Core does that mean?"

Jeht chuckled again. "I have no idea."


Erisraven said...

A Bantha with a head wound. Well, would that be physical comedy? *Shrugs* Very well-written.

Zay said...


Excuse me while I butcher a classic;

Every little word you write is magic. :)