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#21
Cato Fett

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Cato nodded, standing and rubbing at his eyes, working the strain from his face until he felt proper, collected. The Bahj’la and Laira family connections hadn’t been apparent. From her tone, warning, he came close to blundering over achingly preserved alliances that’d been potentially bought through years of favours and counter-favours, ensuring Bothan and human relations. He turned to face the panorama, stepping into a centre of warm afternoon sun glowing across the flooring. The light penetrated him, warmth soothing his venom.

 

“We’ve the day, maybe two,” He said. Their rooms were well-appointed; chic furnishings borrowing from Coruscanti trends just ahead of the published season, unobtrusive appliances in brushed steel and sole-grip rubber, polished, thermal-circulated floorboards. Cato briefly paced to the balcony, looking over the street at angled, gated communes tiered down the verdant island country outside. Immense Yacht-speeders cruised overhead, turned languidly, steering for the scalloped bay.

 

“I’ve seen fine beds like this, but never slept in one before,” Cato admitted as he returned inside. “You could sink in all that softness. But, Mrs. Gibson, we’re on honeymoon. What would you, a very monied wife, spoiled rotten to the core by your old man, like to do to help sell the act? You’re the better actor here.”

 

Laira Darkhold


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#22
Laira Darkhold

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Laira offered Cato an unamused expression as he returned from the balcony and his quick overview of the hotel and island. She didn't mind some kissing here and there in public where as some time with Elpsis had opened her up a little more than she had used to be. And they had spent hours just talking and making conversation, Cato wasn't exactly a stranger. However spending two days alone in a room together and expected to act and perform was an entirely different matter. "Well," She said, thinking about her situation. There was a dilemma in the situation which no amount of subtly could easily solve. She was a flirt, and sometimes allowed herself to lean too far into an act which caused her problems and trouble when suddenly she was expected to do something about it. She decided to go back to smiling, but her body language was a little different. More closed off. "We should, ah, I should say we aren't going to actually do anything physical and I don't want to get too acquainted with you."

 

Their mission was simplistic, sell their cover identity until Bahj'la could return with a ton of plastic explosives and some information for them about the installation on Torolis. Unfortunately, Laira had no idea what she was doing at this point, inexperience and overconfidence rapidly catching up with her and her big mouth. The princess could talk a bigger game than some Zeltrons, but in actuality was more chaste than an Old Republic Jedi Knight. She'd kissed maybe seven people in any form of romantic way, and all of them had been after or during a legitimate date. Cato had very begrudgingly made it further than most of her relationships by virtue of the two of them being on an undercover mission.

 

"I, uh, need a drink I guess." She stammered, nervously going to the minibar and digging through it in search of her favorite spirit, Jawa Juice. It was mild enough that she could keep her wits about her while still getting a bit of warmth in her cheeks. She found a bottle, pouring herself a glass which she very quickly downed in a single long gulp. "So, you got a plan."

 

Cato Fett



#23
Cato Fett

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“Simple things,” He said, waiting for the tremor to leave her fingers. The Jawa Juice rushed colour back to her cheeks. Concepts beyond innocent flirtation and occasional hand-holding seemed beyond her. There was a fear that came with close proximity with a relative stranger, despite the tone of the mission, the stakes waged against their chances if they gave up the game in front of Imperial Intelligence. Cato took back his chair and sat, letting Laira have the span of the room to pace if she wished.

 

“We’ll blend in,” He said. “Simple things that won’t take much from us to enjoy. At least, appear enjoying. This is probably a resort locale. So, window shopping. Local shows. Strolls along the boardwalk. Sight-seeing. Dinner and holo-flicks.”

 

Cato watched her face for nervous slack or ticks round the eyes, trying to gauge her levels of personal comfort. They would need avenues to make it publicly obvious they were a vacationing, honeymooning pair. Without initiating close intimacy beyond innocuous hand-holds, cheek kisses, and idle flirtation. Club and dance scenes were out of the question; too many variables to account for, their safety could never be reasonably guaranteed.

 

“We can take dessert in our rooms,” He offered. “One of us sits up to keep watch, and trade out after so many hours. Keep an eye out for the Bothan’s call. Nothing extravagant.”

 

@Laira Vereen


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#24
Laira Darkhold

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"Alright." She said with a deep sigh of relief. She liked Cato fine, it was just they had been left with the suggestion they Feth each other's brains out and suddenly there had not been an escape, an out she could pull if she wanted it. Suddenly their lives had been in the balance and she was stuck, and it wasn't just harmless flirtation. "No, if they do decide to take a infrared view of the room and see us not sharing the bed they will be suspicious," She said, her mind at ease with his suggestions. It seemed as though her nervousness and anxiety about the subject had been perhaps too well broadcast. "We can share it, just you know, no funny business. Its not you," she said trying to be reassuring, "Its just I've, um, not you know."

 

It wouldn't be the first time she had crashed in a bunk with an extra person in it. On the Solemn Purpose the pilots had to share bunks on a schedule for a long time before they were given enough space. Sometimes they just both ended up in at the same time, granted fully clothed and in flight suits. This time would be a little different, but she would be in an armored bodysuit she wore under her clothes and the bed was big enough that they didn't have to sleep on top of one another like she had done in the bunkrooms.

 

"We can keep up the act in public like we have been, I don't mind that so much. Its just kissing. No one is expecting us to spend a lot of time out in the open anyway." Her smile and smooth confidence was slowly returning and working its way back into her mind. Cato was willing to respect her boundaries and she was no longer anxious about having to perform for the mission, and so for the redhead things were returning to normal. "So shopping, beach, and dinner?" She asked, her voice returning to its normal, sweet inflection. 

 

Cato Fett



#25
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“Yes. Let’s go, then.”

 

From the house, at the direction of a scrounged pamphlet, they hired a taxi service making quiet circuits through the neighborhood and glided into Teleliu township. Cato remarked on the Bothan architectural amalgams, tourist and local foot traffic occupying swept, white-cement sidewalks, at gilded storefronts glazed with attenuated hologram films. He wanted to know their lessons; he’d learn from the Asahian, their proud bushi caste and martial arts, and he had learned from the Noghri, their sombre dignity, family, and attention to assassin traditions. The Mando’ade survived sponging and sifting elements of outside influences. What did the Bothans have to teach them?

 

The taxi coasted to the end of Front’le Street. The pair were deposited before a boutique chain advertising to young adults. Its storefront sign was a tropical bird lit with hot neon citrus tones, crowds of trendy cliques wardrobed to look as immaculate as the display mannequins. One boy, glazed with a designer high, looked up blankly at Cato. Through him. White fire flickered like coronal discharge along the edges of gene-perfected iris’. He watched the boy giggle and nod off, stumbling to catch up with his ‘friends’. Wasted youth, Cato thought, the boy will be ruined before he ever sets foot into middle age.

 

He waited on Laira, who cooed at the seam lines of form-fitting jeans and cropped evening halternecks. Spring palettes weren’t her ‘thing’, he learned. Conversation was breathless, and with volume. They mingled into the ecosystem of self-obsessed, self-centred tourism peeling from store to store. Between inundated comments were moments of self-reflection. Cato always had a gnaw of insecurity. Born out of seeing many hot-mouthed Alor’s, warband chiefs, and other community warriors in the Mando’ade shout off, just to have their hypocrisies thrown back at their faces. He wasn’t sure he could endure that sort of shame, and thus was always plagued with morality. Cato blinked, asked Laira to repeat herself; …no, cardigans were not his style. No, they didn’t have to go in to try out a set. Or three.

 

They would and he did. For added measure, he bought out a twinset and a pair of knockoff shades. This was a life, he decided, a kind of life for some. …But not for himself, never. The Bothan couldn’t call soon enough. Cato wanted his sword and a sense of traction. The only advantage to the afternoon was Laira Darkhold herself.

 

“No.” She made him faintly smile. “…No, stop – “ The cone and two-scoop treat was thrust at his face. “Honey, come on – “

 

Laira Darkhold


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#26
Laira Darkhold

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She licked the ice cream before thrusting it out at him once again, "Share it with me babe," she requested, her tongue sliding across her lips to clean the melted white cream from them as she spoke, a broad genuinely happy smile on her face. "You wouldn't want me to get fat would you?" the redhead could never get used to this kind of life, not really. The shopping, vacationing was fun and all for a time, only made better by the constant threat of being found out and having to fight their way off world. But in truth she could only do this once in a while, she preferred to be out fighting, exploring, adventuring, or hunting where she could put herself to good work and feel accomplished at each dusk. She often told herself she wanted to see ever planet in her lifetime.

 

"Alright, well look at this!" Laira exclaimed holding up a pair of solid red swim trunks that looked to be about his size. They were fairly simple with white borders and drawstring at the front, nothing exactly high end about them. She turned the hangar around so he could see the swimsuit she had picked out for herself, a likewise simple red bikini without ornamentation or decoration that she held against herself. "I got them at the last store with your card, honey. Now we can go for a quick swim before dinner at that little steakhouse near the hotel." The princess explained. 

 

Cato was being a fine host for her, allowing her to lead the way and buy things from the shops that she just adored. She was trying to play the part, and it turned out she could play it rather well, without bothering to look at price tags while leading Cato from place to place with a smile. She tried to play grateful each time he spent money on her, and he was now laden down with several shopping bags he was very vigilantly carrying for his princess while they shopped, and now it was time for a few rewards. First ice cream, then beach. 

 

"Once we finish this we can get changed." she said attempting to act enticingly and adding some hint of begging to her tone.

 

Cato Fett



#27
Cato Fett

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“Alright,” He acquiesced. No option to otherwise, though Laria’s charms made it easier surrendering to the scene. They shared the cone, and the brainfreeze that chased their fast mouthfuls, Cato taking a glance down the sidewalk. Looking for IMPINT plants, any body that didn’t look a part of the afternoon’s hurried shopping. There were none; everyone looked accordingly, stenciled in tan-lines, popped collars, breezy palettes and aired ensembles that made him feel akin to floating amidst a walking sea of pastels.

 

They took up another rickshaw rig, droid operated this instance, trotting on rybocoarse digitigrade legs. At Cato’s suggestion, they returned to the ‘House’. It felt perfectly ‘snooty’ having their swim in the back-courtyard pool, instead of the public shore fronts. It likewise meant their behaviour needed to be impeccable. He forced soldiering instincts to subsume behind supplanted suggestions of personal vanity, elitism, money, and a taste for feminine sex-appeal. To a point, he reminded himself. Laira jumped at physical contact. Used to teasing, play-acting, woefully unprepared for interaction outside of hand-holding and the very rare kiss.

 

She had him model the swimming trunks and Cato turned red for it. He wore his left prosthetic hand as part of a gauntlet fitted over the stub and held in place with harnesses strapped and anchored over his chest and across the shoulders. His frame was lean and musculature compact and hardened. When Laira finished observing and teasing, he tucked up into a dive and pierced through the pool water smoothly. For the better part of an hour, he acted the part of a courtier, trying to ‘impress’ his new ‘wife’ with showcases of physical power and control. Nothing she hasn’t seen before, he thought once, rolling weightless in the pool, on doubtlessly far more impressive specimens.

 

At Laria’s beckons, he emerged at the pool’s edge and dried. They’d called for reservations at her chosen steakhouse. They redressed, groomed once over, putting up banter for outside ears. Time and again, issue arose over Cato’s dress shirt collar.

 

“I give up,” He sighed and allowed her to fold it as she desired. “And I’m hungry. You’ve won this battle.”

 

Laira Darkhold


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#28
Laira Darkhold

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"You're impossible," She said with a grin as she fixed the collar for him the way she wanted it to lay, "No tie. I'm worried you might strangle yourself with it out of instinct." Laira giggled as she looked to see how uncomfortable he was in dress clothes for dinner. They had spent the day doing everything she wanted from shopping through boutiques and bodegas, sharing an Ice Cream cone between the two of them, and finally having spent on hour out in the pool.

 

Cato spent most of that time swimming and showing that he was not just some old man with mush underneath his clothes, much to Laira's delight. She didn't mind poking at his abdomen occasionally and pestering him by showing off her own fit form, flexing for him. She spent her youth devoted to combat training and education, and enjoyed getting the chance to display what she considered to be physical perfection with the traces of abdomenal muscles lining her stomach and the slight bulging of muscles on her arms and legs. She wasn't a body-builder freak, but her form was athletic and she had a slight increase of muscle mass over most women her height.

 

When he had finally had enough they retired back to the hotel room to change once again, Laira ditching the red bikini for a short black cocktail dress she had picked out at some point during their shopping spree. It was a little shorter than she normally wore, but it was the only one she had found that fit her figure that she actually liked. Cato had found a decent charcoal grey suit that fit him that she was now straightening up for him. "Its like you were born in a barn. What did you do before me?" She asked playfully, running her hand down his chest and stomach once she was satisfied with his collar and lapels.

 

Cato Fett



#29
Cato Fett

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“I managed, thank you.” Cato tapped her chin with a thumb, checking his dress arrangement one more time before the full bedroom vanity. The charcoal aged him, and brought out the salt-and-pepper dying his brow and whiskers. In comparison, Laria looked like a piece of fun midnight that stepped out from the dark sky in a one-piece cocktail dress. Spirited. Young. Natural flirt and he thought, rest assured, there’s going to be attention following her. He checked for the las-ink pen stowed in a breast pocket, gladdened by its innocuous appearance and that he could brandish it in close-quarters if a struggle broke out.

 

They decided on an evening walk, foregoing taxying. The steakhouse was only a block west. With sunfall came a change from off the sea, shrouding Teleliu in refreshing cold. The island transformed for its evening clientele, Cato and Liara watching crowds emerge that dwarfed the day’s shoppers. There speakeasies and dance halls, more exclusive clubs catering to the young, discerning, rich, and intoxicated. All specimens of players and marks were out in force, playing at hard flirtation. He hurried Liara along, unwilling to be caught distracted.

 

At the steakhouse, the Salt & Scale, Circa. 808, a Lorrdian receptionist whisked them to their appointed table. Soon, they were provided with drink, menus, and a waiter balancing orders from two other tables. An in-house band played across from a small bar; tables had been cleared, an impromptu dance night underway from vacationers out of the Mid-Rim. Cato caught himself smiling and sipped ice and water. He checked their commlink; no missed notifications.

 

“Said a day,” Cato murmured. “Still have the night and morning. …Suppose we ought to order heavy, take leftovers – “ He caught her eyes straying back to the dance floor, back to him. “…Oh no.”

 

Laira Darkhold


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#30
Laira Darkhold

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Laira found that she had spent most of her time with Cato grinning. She couldn't tell if it was awkwardness that amused her, how he looked at her that flattered her, or how he kept trying to make a stand and not relent to her whims knowing full well she would get her way. The redhead found herself legitimately enjoying her time on Kothlis, despite the threat of being discovered or perhaps it was another factor in why she was having a genuinely good day. Cato was solid material for a good friend, and if he had been a few decades younger she could see them ending up courting in some manner. He was a mandalorian, but not like the ones she had grown up around. He had his code that he stuck to, was the strong silent type the princess was only rarely exposed to, and he was fun to spend time with.

 

"Oh, yes." Laira said, standing up from the table. She'd had a drink, but nothing too strong and was ready for some movement to hit the night off properly. "I'll show you some traditional Zeltron dances I learned from the Heart Beat House, and when you get up the confidence, you can join me." She stood, but didn't drag him along with her, instead walking off to the dance floor alone, looking back over her shoulder as she sauntered to the edge with a slightly exaggerated sway to her hips. 

 

She stayed on the edge where he could see her, moving her hips from side to side, remembering about her time spent dancing with Joza Perl where she had learned, but not mastered the art of exotic belly dancing. This wasn't the place to break out such a dance, but she was able to improvise something that she thought looked appealing with her hips moving in a hypnotic circle while her arms raised up over her head. As she danced in her slow turn, one hand reached out towards the older, greying haired Mandalorian at the table beckoning him to join her with one finger seductively. She mouthed the word 'come' with a smile but otherwise didn't stop moving her hips.

 

Cato Fett



#31
Cato Fett

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Her hips rolled and drew figure-eights in time with the beat in her shoulders and ankles. Cato watched for a moment, obviously enthralled. Dancers could transmute into fighters, fighters into dancers, each dependent on tempo, rhythm, footwork, and control over biomechanics. Laira straddled the line, contours of sleek muscle shifting under her hugging dress, at once provocative and formidable. Cato wished he could shed twenty years, take back each disfigurement. He found himself wanting her. Yes, for Miss Darkhold. Tt was a keen tension shared between he and a score of youthful restaurant goers. No, he scolded himself. You’re aged, as is fated, and you are mutilated, as was decided by karma. She’s a woman who knows everything and nothing and places on you her implicit trust. Accept what is. Tomorrow doesn’t exist, and never did.

 

Cato gulped the last of his water, standing and lackadaisically walking across to the dance floor. His sense of presence opened a part in the body-wall cordoning off Laira from him. He was on the warm dais, coasted up beside her, battling to get into the step. The tune was slow. It required a little more surrender and ‘slip’. He tried thinking of it as a kata rehearsal, and slowed to find the cadence in Laira’s motion. Neither reached to touch. They had proximity, body heat, enough to embrace almost by proxy. To any onlookers, IMPINT potentially included, they were a monied husband and trophy wife finding a moment of rare affection.

 

The song closed to applause. Someone in the crowd waved and called for something quicker. ‘Make it a number to help with digestion!’ The band obliged, reorienting to accommodate the shift. Their conductor stepped off his stand and took up the stacked electro-organs next to the paired bassists. Cato waited for the music to lead them in. A guitar began the melody, the second strumming rhythm. Then piped notes, the drums, the bass line and the keyboard sections. Cheers rose with the quickened beat. The tune woke up old memories for Cato. Young, with fighting brothers and sisters, in some dingy hole in the wall beating at a half-busted jukebox.

 

“Try and keep up, hon~” Cato managed a tease. He twisted at the hip, set his feet to the rhythm, and just danced.

 

Her hips rolled and drew figure-eights in time with the beat in her shoulders and ankles. Cato watched for a moment, obviously enthralled. Dancers could transmute into fighters, fighters into dancers, each dependent on tempo, rhythm, footwork, and control over biomechanics. Laira straddled the line, contours of sleek muscle shifting under her hugging dress, at once provocative and formidable. Cato wished he could shed twenty years, take back each disfigurement. He found himself wanting her. Yes, for Miss Darkhold. Tt was a keen tension shared between he and a score of youthful restaurant goers. No, he scolded himself. You’re aged, as is fated, and you are mutilated, as was decided by karma. She’s a woman who knows everything and nothing and places on you her implicit trust. Accept what is. Tomorrow doesn’t exist, and never did.

 

Cato gulped the last of his water, standing and lackadaisically walking across to the dance floor. His sense of presence opened a part in the body-wall cordoning off Laira from him. He was on the warm dais, coasted up beside her, battling to get into the step. The tune was slow. It required a little more surrender and ‘slip’. He tried thinking of it as a kata rehearsal, and slowed to find the cadence in Laira’s motion. Neither reached to touch. They had proximity, body heat, enough to embrace almost by proxy. To any onlookers, IMPINT potentially included, they were a monied husband and trophy wife finding a moment of rare affection.

 

The song closed to applause. Someone in the crowd waved and called for something quicker. ‘Make it a number to help with digestion!’ The band obliged, reorienting to accommodate the shift. Their conductor stepped off his stand and took up the stacked electro-organs next to the paired bassists. Cato waited for the music to lead them in. A guitar began the melody, the second strumming rhythm. Then piped notes, the drums, the bass line and the keyboard sections. Cheers rose with the quickened beat. The tune woke up old memories for Cato. Young, with fighting brothers and sisters, in some dingy hole in the wall beating at a half-busted jukebox.

 

“Try and keep up, hon~” Cato managed a tease. He twisted at the hip, set his feet to the rhythm, and just danced.

 

 

Laira Darkhold


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#32
Laira Darkhold

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At first Laira had been worried Cato would not join her, which wouldn't have been too much of a problem. An easy explanation existed and wouldn't draw undo attention to the duo for any IMPINT observers assuming there were any, he was older and not a dancer. But, he eventually, with great reluctance joined the redhead on the dance floor and did his best attempt to fall into her rhythm while the beat bounded off the ceilings and walls, thumping in time with the movements of her hips and beating of her heart. Laira laughed as he joined her, not at him but out of amusement that he had actually joined her and was doing his best to dance with her.

 

When the song was over, the Princess was quite pleased with herself and her company, breathing a little harder and smiling broadly. Cato was surprising her a little more, showing off a little more determination than she had expected of him. The old Mandalorian had put aside so many aspects of himself to fall into the role she had inadvertently picked for him while the Princess had more or less just turned up the amount of physical contact she was willing to put up with on a first date, and allowed the occasional torrid kiss and passionate embrace she was not normally known for. That realization made her feel a little embarrassed, more than a little. The redhead had so easily fallen into her teasing that she had forgotten the only other person with her and paid no attention to him or how Cato might be struggling.

 

And then the music shifted and at first Laira was willing to allow Cato to escape the dance floor, however he was adamant about staying. And he just let loose, whether it was some unknown skill or some memories that had been dragged to the fore she did not know, but he danced with the music. Laira stepped back out of his way and began clapping in time with the music, others joining her while he showed off an impressive display of coordination and rhythm that the princess was not expecting to find. Soon enough, the music began to fade as the band finished with the song, "Wooooo!" She exclaimed with excitement, others joining in with her in applause for the band and for Cato's dance.

 

And then she showed a hint of mercy and allowed him to escape the dance floor despite every fiber of her being wanting to request a slow dance for the two of them. She bit back the words with a grin and instead ushered him back to their table, "Wow, where did all that come from sweetie?"

 

Cato Fett



#33
Cato Fett

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“I was young once,” Cato guffawed with a full belly-laugh. They linked arms together and stepped off the dais, cutting a line through the renewing dance crowd. Eyes were still on Laira, to be expected and Cato took advantage of her distraction. Wheeling round to fix wide, bright eyes with his single, caustic glare. The Jealous Husband. Old man fighting to keep up with his young beau against salivating competition. They strolled back to their seats, ordered for the night, as Laira pressed him for a story.

 

“…We were very young,” He said. “’Mercing’ around Terminus. Took home with us our best pay-stubs to date and we were so flush. Had to have a drink. Had to celebrate. Found a hole-in-the-wall dive and took it over for the whole. The whole night. …The Commander was showing me how to dance. Was the only one out of the crew that’d never gone for a jig. They said there were two things you had to accomplish to be part of the outfit: coming of age, and learning your first dance. I only remember the steps out of muscle memory. The hangover devoured everything else.”

 

The waiter arrived, delivered their courses off a lacquered serving tray. Cato had ordered for cold noodles dressed in liquour and vinegar, fish, pickled vegetables with sides of warm rice. Meagre-looking, despite his assurances it was more than enough. He ate with chopsticks versus cutlery, deftly manipulating the bamboo utensils. He drank occasionally from a small liquour bottle from a semi-flat dish. Under Laira’s scrutiny, Cato paused to explain himself. “Spent a lot of my youth on Asahi. I was nearly a man before my Commander said it was time to ship. …I still miss it.”

 

Laira Darkhold


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#34
Laira Darkhold

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Laira enjoyed hearing about Cato's story, listening quietly and watching him intently with her shining grey tempests. The storm that filled her irises was not of anger or fear, but of deep concentration, giving the elder Mandalorian her full attention. Until the food came she propped her chin upon one hand, elbow resting on the table, occasionally batting her eyes at him while he spoke about his past.

 

Cato had a history she couldn't quite compare with. He had been a warrior with a long history of actually fighting, while the redhead had been a Princess with a long history of school and training. Yes, her combat training had started young and had been harsh and difficult, a miracle she hadn't broken her nose or had missing teeth, but she was green in real battle. Something about the mystery that surrounded Cato intrigued her greatly, but she thought she heard a hint of regret in his voice. "So, you and your commander were an item?" She grinned widely, "Isn't that against regulations?" It amused her greatly to hear about what could be his past love life.

 

Her plate was sat before her, a salad with fresh cut vegetables and mixed with honey mustard and a fish filet of pinkish meat over a bed of rice. She didn't use the traditional bamboo utensils but a fork. The Fish was cooked properly and didn't require the use of a knife, but before she began eating she cut the filet into bite-sized pieces before she began eating. "So, tell me about her. Was she prettier than me? A better dancer?" She was still grinning, obviously teasing the older man about what she believed to be his first love.

 

Cato Fett



#35
Cato Fett

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He chewed once through a heavier sliver of fish, as was polite, cleaned his fingers with the provided washcloth, as was polite. Then, Cato faced Laira from his chair and considered his problem. If IMPINT assets were occupying the restaurant with them, every recorded word, gesture, and facial tick would be funnelled into a digital profile and used to build a personal history and psychiatric outline. She thought the Commander an old flame. Cato had avoided Mando’a colloquialisms, never giving it away that their PMC combine had been anything but a standard mercenary outfit. His story balanced vagaries with motes of detail but it’d lead Laira into deceptive impressions. Cato cleared his throat coolly, as was polite, caught her eyes with his one.

 

“She was a career fighter,” He began. “And she was certainly beautiful. Not… quite to your style of dance, but, she knew a few steps. Which of you is prettier I won’t say. And you won’t make me,” Cato chuckled. “…We were never lovers, however. Myself, I was too young. She was my immediate superior. The woman virtually raised me from when I was six. Whether or not she ever had loves outside of – “ He caught himself, then immediately corrected. “Outside of uniform, it was best not to pry. You would have liked her. I know she’d have liked you. The Commander adopted us all as her surrogates. Always had room for one more daughter.”

 

Laira Darkhold


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#36
Laira Darkhold

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Laira kept her smile, but she could do some simple math about his story to draw her own conclusions. As far as she had decided to be aware the woman wasn't in her league, at least not to his memory however she held a special place in Cato's heart that to admit would detract from the memories he had built of his second-mother. Laira could respect that, especially because it still meant that Laira was the best he had seen, or at least in the romantic sense. Most people built their mother figures and sister figures up in their head, especially if they were no longer among the living as more beautiful than they were.

 

As for dancing, she hoped as much since she had been trained by a Zeltron dancer and she knew nothing about this other woman, but had hoped he would divulge a little more here and there. "We can always go back to the dance floor if you enjoyed it so much." Laira teased, taking a bite of her fish and rice as she listened to him reminisce with a shine in her own eyes. With a swallow she touched the fork to her red lips, "I know some other dances we could always try out. The hip grind, the Sorocco Tango," her grey eyes looked him up and down flirtatiously, "If you think you can handle them."

 

The redhead enjoyed learning a little more about where he came from and what forged him into who she had come to spend so much time with. "Are you so sure she would have liked me?" Laira reached across the table, dragging her fingertips across his real arm while she subtly bit her lip, she was giving him a playful look in the hopes he would tell her more about his past, "Why? Did she approve of any past lovers like me?" Their plates were almost completed, and they were running out of time to use food as a distraction from talking.

 

Cato Fett



#37
Cato Fett

Cato Fett
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What can I tell you? Cato picked his chopsticks through a shallow puddle of soy, gliding a last sliver of peach salmon flesh along. That I learned to kiss and hold but not much more? That my studies and training precluded time to devote to a woman? How desire was subsumed by duty and fealty, the loyalty I owed and gave freely to my Alor? That even Commander Yuna’sif pitied me for how much I lacked beyond my fighting strength and tactical wits? Might I tell you, Miss Darkhold, how everything we worked for was betrayed? Destroyed in a single day and night of fire? His eye grew inured, glazed with steel, looking down at the reflections playing in the soy.

 

How might you mock me? That I’ve not laid with a body, not anyone’s? Working ceaselessly across two decades to scrape together credits, for pharmaceutical and remedial costs for friends and family locked in coma? Restorative treatments demanding every spare income. He thought she hadn’t meant to stir fire in the cut but bitterness almost lethal stresses always boiled to the fore whenever he had moments of quiet. Cato managed a spare, vacant smile, shrugging at Laira. I’ve not had time or money or peace enough in twenty years to stop. You are everything I know other men and women go to bed and enjoy. Will you fault me if I’m envious of whomever you decide is right enough to share the Clouds and the Rain with?

 

“You’ve personality,” Cato said. “She said spunk and heart were things often lacking in the profession. Given how much of a cocky cuss you can be, you might’ve pissed her off on occasion.” He smiled, with depth now. “She would have liked you, though. Guarantee it. …Say, we’ve run out of food. Dessert to go, camp out in our room for the night? Rent something on the h-net, ‘till it’s late.”

 

Laira Darkhold


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#38
Laira Darkhold

Laira Darkhold

    Not always a Heroine

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Actually, Laira would have been happy to hear all of the information that he'd held back about himself. If anything it wouldn't have made her pity him, but made her respect him dearly for the sacrifices he had made and the things he had suffered. Despite her vanity and arrogance, the Princess was a kind hearted soul, and probably would have begged to help in anyway she could in regards to his family. In regards to his love life, they were similar, but not the same. 

 

Cato had devoted himself to combat in the effort to cull his demons and provide for others, Laira's hesitation was more selfish. She simply waited for the right person to come along and despite her own vanity about her appearance, she had little care for what that right person would look like. Sure every girl wanted a handsome, young, man with blonde locks and rugged stubble at some point in their life, but Laira wanted anyone, any species that connected with her on a personal level. That wanted to go see every star in person, would follow her as she visited every alien species, and support her when it came time for her to rule Alderaan. She wanted intelligence, to trust that person with all that she was, and to be with someone that made them more than the sum of their parts. So far she had only found one, maybe two now, that might have fit that bill. But she couldn't tell him that.

 

Instead she giggled as he made an attempt to joke with her, relaxing as his mood shifted back from bitter memories to comfort with just the two of them on the mind. "Hmm, I would like that very much sweetie." Laira said, sweetness dripping from her tone, her fingers patting his real arm reassuringly, "I wonder if they have some kind of chocolate cake and blue milk ice cream." And of course they did, which the restaurant packaged separately, one in a hot container the other in a cold one to be combined when the couple decided to eat. 

 

As they walked back, Laira wrapped her arms around Cato's real hand, interlocking her fingers with his and resting her head upon his shoulder comfortably. Perhaps it was the implication of danger, or just how he was, but Laira did feel comfortable around Cato, much to her surprise.

 

Cato Fett



#39
Cato Fett

Cato Fett
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The evening had stayed warm and was replaced in time by the night. Cato walked Laira ‘home’ to their quarters in Bahj’la’s bed and breakfast, acutely aware of bright eyes trying to remain innocuous in the dark across the long street. It was maybe his companion’s warmth, or the ease in her touch, more likely the weight of her little head laying atop his shoulder, but he experienced a different clarity. Ordinarily, he was trapped in combat readiness and unable to pull away from constant threat and scenario assessment. It hadn’t left him totally. He knew the avenues of entry, cover, potential ambushes, where along the street it’d be best to place explosives, which among the parked speeders they could convert into a getaway vic. The difference being, at least for a little while, he did not care.

 

They took their desserts to their rooms after a hand at the porch doors greeted them. How were they? They were fine, well fed, sunned from the day’s light, and wanting to not be disturbed. Cato wanted for a diagnostic kit. It’d take an hour, less perhaps, to debug their chambers and bathroom. To have a conversation not curtailed by threats of outside ears… His throat ached for a little Mando’a. Would his ancestors forgive his discretion?

 

Later, settled on their bed and in his own sleeping wear, he saw Laira emerge from the bathroom. He’d readied their desserts on a carefully settled breakfast tray. Chocolate cake slices arranged with dollops of melting blue ice cream and shaved coco-slices. H-Net was running credits for a dreadful romantic-comedy, something Cato assumed honeymooners appreciated or were at least modish. Missus Gibson cut a svelte figure outlined by the bathroom light. Aged pains struck him, in his breast and belly and down to the meat of his legs.

 

“You look pretty,” He said honestly, and offered a plate of cake.

 

Laira Darkhold


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#40
Laira Darkhold

Laira Darkhold

    Not always a Heroine

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Laira wore comfortable fleecy black pajama pants that were honestly a little tight around her hips, riding a little low, and a similarly small white tank top for sleep wear, nothing especially revealing other than the standard plunge in her neckline and her midriff exposed from her navel to waist. "Why thank you sweetie." She said as she approached taking the offered plate and scooching into the bed to Cato's right. "I'm digging the roughing it look you're going for. It works for you."

 

The rich chocolate cake paired very well with the blue milk ice cream, the redhead taking small bites from both at once with her fork as she snuggled up fairly closely to Cato to watch the HoloNet movie. It was a romantic comedy about two people, one the boss and the other her assistant who desperately wanted to be an editor at her magazine. The boss in question was suddenly in need of a marriage in order to secure a visa to allow her to remain at her extremely well paying job and worked out a deal to promote her assistant if he would be engaged to her long enough to secure a visa.

 

To Laira the movie was absolutely fascinating, she watched it intently while she ate her dessert. Once she was done, the plate was set off to the side on the nightstand and the redhead cuddled closer to Cato trying to get him to wrap his real arm around her while they lied in bed. "Just in case someone has an infrared camera on us we can't give them reason to be suspicious," came the Princess's excuse to the closeness and familiarity, but in truth she was more or less trying to ease the tension off her companion. The conversation at dinner had left him seeming dour, and though he tried to hide it she could still feel it emanating from him. And the redheaded Princess didn't mind a little PG cuddling.

 

As the movie carried on, its plot remained simple and funny, Laira's eyelids began feel heavy and her head listing against Cato's chest. Her fingers danced across his prosthetic limb. "You know I lost my left arm too?" She lifted her left arm idly, pointing at a hairline white mark that circumvented her arm just under the elbow. "I lost it fighting a zombie. It bit me, we had to cut it off right there. And I still had to help someone get to safety." She yawned, drifting further towards sleep. "It was the first and only time I honestly felt like I might not live. How'd you lose yours?"