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12.05.2012 , 01:55 PM |
All My Love to Long Ago
(Maneera Sindri, I love this bar)
minor spoilers for Smuggler chapter 1
Dealer’s Den cantina, Coruscant. 10 ATC.
Much to her relief and pride, Maneera held back the shudder until after they’d left the private room. For all their apparent differences, Pollaran was just another Jax. Better looking, maybe, and definitely slicker, but under the polish was the same greedy stare.
“You alright there, Captain?” Corso, bless his big dumb farmboy heart, had that white knight look in his eye. Again. Maneera resisted the urge to pat him on the head.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Your buddy back there just reminds me of an old business partner.” She could see the inevitable question coming together, so she headed it off with one of her own. “You up for a drink? I think we’ve earned ourselves a little celebration.”
“If you reckon we can spare the time,” Corso replied with an eager-puppy grin.
“After what that slicer girl did to Skavak’s record, he’s gonna be tied up for a long while.” As Corso started ambling toward the bar, Maneera grabbed him by the elbow and hauled him to the front door. She needed to get out of here, out of this place that reeked of Pollaran’s slimy charm. “Come on. I know a better place.”
Maneera tried, without much success, to bite back a snicker at the dismayed look on Corso’s face when the cabbie demanded danger pay, up front, on top of their regular fare. She handed over the credstick with a grin. When the cab pulled up to a grimy dive ten levels below the Senate tower spaceport, the cabbie promised to pray for their safety. Corso paled; Maneera laughed outright and tossed the driver an extra tip.
The same old sign flickered above the doorway — a mynock lounging along the lintel, grinning in contentment as one wing fluttered to pat its distended belly. A pair of Rodians staggered arm-in-arm into the perpetual dusk of the lower levels. Inside, badly synthesized swing played
loud enough to blur the edges of furtive conversations; dusty yellow lights shone down on the tables below in fuzzy-edged cones. Maneera surveyed the room. Her searching look exploded into a bright, sudden smile as she beelined for an empty booth, dragging Corso along behind her.
“I wouldn’t have picked you for this kind of place, Captain,” said Corso as he eased onto the cracked faux-leatheris seat.
A waitress ambled up. “Whatever won’t outright kill me — don’t bother with dosing it out, I’ll take the bottle,” Maneera replied to the girl’s mutely questioning glare. “And a draught for the kid here.” The waitress nodded and wandered up to the bar.
“I guess it’s maybe a little upscale.” Maneera returned her attention to Corso. “But the Bloated Mynock’s next-best to home. Had my first drink here. First kiss. First fight.” She snickered. “All over a stretch of a couple hours. Best birthday party I’ve ever had.”
Corso’s eyes went saucer-wide. “
were in a bar fight?”
“Yup. Started right here in this very booth.” The waitress returned, glassware chattering on her tray as she tilted it to maintain some kind of precarious balance. Maneera smiled and slipped a credstick into the pocket of the girl’s apron while she was occupied with doling out their drinks. “Matthew threw the first punch, I got in the last one.” She poured herself a shot and knocked it back. Just like she remembered, her throat felt like she’d been gargling with rocket fuel. “And I deserved every hit along the way.”
“What’d you do?” Corso took a cautious sip of his half-liter.
“Kissed his cousin.” Maneera grinned proudly. “Full on the mouth, tongue and everything.”
“That doesn’t sound like something worth starting a fight over.”
Maneera poured herself another shot. Rather than downing it right away, she tilted the glass this way and that, watching the alcohol slowly collapse from where it clung to the sides of the glass. “We were all a bunch of dumb kids,
we were ridiculously drunk on...” She raised her glass, smirking. “I still don’t know what this is.” She paused, shaking her head. “Matthew had just enlisted and was gonna be shipping out the next morning. He asked me to wait for him... friends for damn near forever, and it takes half a bottle of rotgut and the threat of facing down the Empire to move him to do anything about it.”
“If my girl went kissin’ another man after I’d proposed to her, I reckon I’d be mad too,” Corso pouted, taking another drink of his beer.
“I tried telling Matthew I wasn’t really into him — not enough to promise myself to a lifelong ‘maybe,’ anyway. He just kept on about how happy we’d be if I’d just wait till the war was over and he came back home.” Maneera shrugged. “I figured if he wasn’t listening to words, only thing I could do was
him what I meant.”
“I guess,” Corso allowed, reluctantly.
“Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the most outstandingly tactful thing I’ve ever done.” Maneera downed her shot, poured another. “But in my defense, I’ll remind you that I was A) sixteen, B) plastered, and C) crushing like mad.”
“Your fella’s cousin?” Corso smiled wistfully. It figured the kid would be a sucker for romance.
“Yeah. ‘swhy I kissed her.”
“You kissed a girl.”
“After a boy just asked for your hand.”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
“On the mouth?”
“I figured I might as well go for broke. The first twenty, thirty seconds were a little awkward, seeing as I had no idea what I was doing. Ana was a fantastic tutor, though.”
Maneera nodded, then burst out laughing again as Corso scooted out to the far end of the bench, trying to shore up his delicate sensibilities with a long pull from his glass. Warm memories, questionable booze, weirding out the farmboy. Good times.
"I may be on the side of the angels,
but don't think for one second that I am one of them."