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Lovers in a Dangerous Time

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Theron eyed her across the table, eyebrows raised. “Do I even want to know?”

Though she’d have liked to just collapse into the booth, Maia sighed and stayed on her feet, holding herself with what dignity she could manage - a losing battle, given the state she was in. She felt all too conscious of the sidelong looks and the wide berth the other patrons of the Carrick Station cantina were giving her.

Not that she could blame them. The smell alone was enough to hold people at arm’s length.

“Rakghoul outbreak on Corellia,” she explained, and saw several heads turning sharply in her peripheral vision. “Don’t worry, I’m verified non-infectious. We were just touching base with the T.H.O.R.N. rep on the station when I got your message.”

“…Right. I did hear something about that.” He was still staring, the look on his face akin to fascination as he took in the rainbow of muck and ichor that had streaked her clothes and the fading crust of luminescent fungus pulp still caked to her boots. “You know,” he said, “I would’ve accepted a rain check.”

Her face heated. Even though she’d spared the handful of seconds to at least wash her face and hands before she’d left the Defender on her way to the T.H.O.R.N. rep’s office, Maia reached up reflexively to scrub an imaginary smear from her cheek with the back of her hand.

“Sorry,” she said, glancing away in search of anything to look at that wasn’t his face. “That would have made more sense, wouldn’t it? I just…”

Wasn’t thinking, she couldn’t very well say. It was rare enough that their schedules and flight paths intersected since they’d parted ways after Yavin 4. They met when they could, an hour or two here and there for drinks or whatever else they could manage in the time they could wrangle. When his message had come through, the choice between going back to her ship for a sonic shower and a change of clothes or taking the chance to see him again had seemed incontrovertibly clear.

Now, feeling very foolish, she fumbled for some halfway graceful way to apologize for wasting his time and make a quick exit.

“All right,” Theron said, “change of plans.”

He dropped a credit chip on the table and stood, catching a relatively clean part of her sleeve to pull her along as he started across the cantina. “There’s a couple of suites for visiting bigwigs attached to the VIP lounge. I haven’t been in one before myself, but I have it on good authority the baths are pretty plush.”

Too surprised to balk, Maia blinked at him as he towed her along. “You have access to the VIP lounge?”

Instead of answering, he held up a slicer’s spike between two fingers with a flourish like a stage magician.

“…you’re a terrible influence,” she told him.

“So I’ve heard. You coming or not?”

Trying desperately to smother her incredulous laughter behind her hand, she gave in and let him lead her to the turbolift.