The whole time you stand at the bar, fingers tapping anxiously on the cool metal and knee bouncing with barely restrained energy, you feel the burn of curious eyes turned suspicious skimming across the back of your head. You haven’t been here long: a small, backwater town on a forest-dense planet you can’t even remember the name of. The little vacation hadn’t been planned - the scars that now mar the right side of your body, a mixture of cuts and burns, are testament to that. You adjust your collar to hide the worst of them, just creeping along the skin of your neck. The rate that they’d healed had been far too quick. Unnatural. And though a part of you is grateful that you aren’t in constant pain, you do wish his fingers hadn’t touched your skin.
Those same fingers slowly slip around your waist, digging possessively into curves as he glances into the seated crowd behind you. A frustrated sigh hisses through your teeth - both at the bartender and the man at your side.
“Someone is curious.” He speaks softly, voice only just heard over the clanking beat of out of time music.
“Someone is curious.” He speaks softly, voice only just heard over the clanking beat of out of time music.
“I’m aware.” You respond in kind and feel your fingers come to a sudden halt as the bartender walks past you yet again. Another sigh, this time more aggressive, passes through your lips. “Couldn’t use some force mind trick to get him to pay attention to me, could you? The man is driving me up the wall.”
A soft noise, something close to amusement, hovers just above your head. It only deepens your scowl.
“Wasn’t it last week that you referred to such mind tricks as wicked?”
“You overestimate my patience.” You admit as you cast the bartender one last icy glare. It’s then that you turn and look up at the man beside you with your elbow resting on the bar, ankle crossed over the other. His hand remains still on the soft curve of your hip. “Speaking of, shouldn’t you be off testing the patience of a certain curious patron? I don’t enjoy watching over my shoulder.”
Deep amber eyes peer down at you, wrinkling at the corners in a taunting way that does nothing but rile you up. He knows it too… the bastard.
“Interesting career choice for someone that desires security.” He smiles, bringing his free hand up to your cheek. You force yourself to smile as he brushes away a stray lock of hair. Both of you have a part to play - it’s just unfortunate that he seems to be getting much more joy out of this than you are. Slowly, you lean into his hand, relax your smile into something you hope seems more genuine, and peer up at him beneath hooded lashes.
“Interesting career for a man of the Republic.”
His hand freezes in place and you think you see a multitude of scenarios flicker through an amber kaleidoscope. The force restricting your breath, a lightsaber in your chest, you on your hands and knees, begging for your life - but instead he simply rests his hand along the side of your neck, pushing his thumb against your pulse. It’s a threat, plain and clear, but you know you don’t imagine his fascination with the beat there. You wonder how much it would take to speed his up.
He smiles then, covering up an icy bite with a practiced fondness. You’re not naive; you know that he is not to be trifled with. Darth Erebus is a danger, a man filled with unspeakable rage.
But you’ve never really been one to take a hint. If you’re going to die, you’re going to die being a menace.
“Would life really be so boring if you kept quiet?” It’s spoken quietly, punctuated by the thumb that gently slips down to the divet of your collar bone. Your grin, sharp and smug, is genuine this time.
“Terribly.” A hand, smaller than his own but just as calloused, rests over the one at your neck. His eyes raise to meet yours again and you tilt your head. It feels like a game of cat and mouse - you’re just not quite sure who is playing what role. “Now go be a hero for me, won’t you? I’ll make sure there’s a drink waiting for you when you get back.”
That’s when he steps in close; once perfectly polished boots, now marred with muck and dust, brush against the tips of your own. If you take a deep enough breath, your chests will brush. This you can just about handle - but you can’t help the way your brain seems to stutter and your lungs constrict when his lips touch your forehead. It’s less of a kiss, more the pressing of skin to skin, but it’s the lingering that leaves you speechless - the way the hand on your waist slips round to the small of your back and presses you in close. There’s a shiver running down your spine.
“Try being more approachable.” He whispers against your skin. As his hands drop, and he steps back, he smirks. “You’re lovely when you’re not scowling - use it.” And then he disappears off into the crowd. Even without his light-stick and dramatic robes, he exudes authority. Eyes follow him, drawn to every step and the impossibly straight line of his back. Curious. Hungry.
After you finally wave over the bartender and order the fruitiest drinks he can manage, you stare off into the crowd - at the space that Erebus had disappeared into. It’s not hard to let your mind wander.
The last week has been...different. Testing, if you’re being polite. A complete kriffing wreck, if you’re being honest. Crash landing in the middle of a forest, Separatist ship hot on your tail, was definitely not a part of the plan - but it was something you could deal with. An unconscious Sith Lord on the other hand? Not your speciality. You’d both been carted back to this town, you littered with scars and burns, Erebus in some sort of meditative state. It hadn’t taken long for you to slip into darkness, and when you finally woke Erebus, had been standing over you, calling you his wife.
If you hadn’t still been stiff from whatever weird force magic he’d used on you, you likely would have gone for his throat.
In hindsight, it was smart. Not only that… but in some sick way, the lie leaves you with a burst of adrenaline you only usually truly feel when flying. You think it’s the presence of Erebus. Everyday is a dance with death, purposefully treading on his toes, slipping your fingers along broad shoulders and tickling the ends of light, auburn hair. You like teasing death. You like peering over the edge, daring it to stare back. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that keeps you moving - and Erebus is death incarnate.
It’s just a shame no one in this town has quite figured it out yet. For once, it’d be nice to grab a drink without invading eyes peering from all corners.
By the time you’ve made it through your first drink, straw clattering around the empty glass, Erebus still hasn’t returned. Really, something like this shouldn’t be taking so long. You understand the situation is fragile - no lightsaber for him to use, seeing as it is tucked away at your temporary residence, and using any force tricks would be an immediate giveaway - but surely the man knows how to manipulate someone, or at the very least throw his weight around.
You wait a few more minutes, leg bouncing with further frustration, before you drop the glass onto the table and take off in the direction Erebus had strolled in. The path drops you off in some back alley; spilled alcohol drips into gaps between cobbled stone along with some other liquid you’d rather ignore. Outdoor lights are beginning to be turned on, fluorescent and somewhat angry in their glow.
Erebus is nowhere to be seen.
When you’d told him to go be a hero, you certainly hadn’t expected him to go galavanting off into the night. Half of you wonders if he’s managed to find some way off the planet, planted an idea in someone’s head, climbed aboard the ship of an unsuspecting pilot. You wouldn’t put it past him - but you’re also the only person who knows who the holocron is with. Getting you back to Sith-base is his top priority, even if it means putting up with your attitude for a while longer. And, reluctantly, you need to stay as well. Keeping him distracted is the only thing preventing him from jetting off-world to stalk your smuggling partner. So, resisting the urge to hang him dry, you slip further down the alley, periodically checking over your shoulder for any other lurking dangers.
It doesn’t take as long as you thought it would to find him. Though, instead of standing over the quivering form of your stalker-for-the-evening, you find quite the opposite.
Darth Erebus, intimidating and powerful Sith Lord, bane of both yours and the Republic’s existence, stands with a blaster pressed to the back of his pretty head. If you weren’t so tired, you’d find the situation amusing. The stalker stands between you both, hissing something unintelligible into the ear of your hero. All credit due, Erebus doesn’t even appear alarmed. If anything, his posture is bored. You imagine he’s too busy debating whether force choking the fool is worth the hellstorm-consequences to listen to what he’s actually saying - but either way there is a blaster pressed to his head, and you’re feeling too agitated to let it pass. Quickly, your eyes scan across the ground for anything you can use… and land on an empty bottle. It’s likely covered in kriff knows what, and definitely isn't ideal - but needs must, and you don’t think twice before swiping it into your hand.
Glass shatters in a rain of triangles and diamonds, catching in the man’s hair as he slumps to the ground with a final, confused mumble. You drop what remains immediately, rapidly wiping your hand on the fabric of your trousers. Whatever’s on your hand makes your skin crawl.
“Disgusting.” You all but gag, only looking up when you spot Erebus’ foot curiously nudge the unconscious body on the floor. “Some hero you are. Couldn’t you wipe his mind, or something?”
“Unfortunately, the force has its limits.” Your eyes roll at his response.
“I think we should take this as our queue to leave.” He watches you with the hint of a smirk, and you feel your lips pull back from your teeth in a sneer. “What, Erebus, not sick of this town quite yet?”
“Just admiring your beautiful scowl.” He shrugs, only to step over the slumped figure. “And haven’t I told you to call me Ben? Erebus is far too formal for my wife to use.”
Ben. You’d been taken aback when he’d first told you to call him that instead. It had sounded so normal, so unsith-like that it had taken you a few moments to roll the sound across your tongue. You stand there, now, staring up at him as he peers down at you, lips twisted into something between a grimace and a smirk.
“You’re lucky you’re pretty.” You finally mutter, before walking back in the direction you came. “Come on then, Ben. I need to wash my hands.”