Star by Star: CHAPTER 14.01
In a recent question-answer session, author Troy Denning said that he originally intended to write a romance scene for Anakin and Tahiri, but he couldn't quite fit it into the novel without upsetting the pace. He also said that, in the light of that admission, Anakin-Tahiri fans could imagine one, and to make it racy, as that is how he would have written it. Thus inspired, I have written what I think happened, and here it is. A serving suggestion -- listen to Westlife's "World of Our Own" just before reading.
Anakin opened his door quietly so he wouldn't disturb the small figure curled up on his bunk. He'd known she was there and that she was asleep. He always knew where Tahiri was and what she was doing, and anyway most of the time she was with him. It was just that tonight he'd had to meet with Lando to go over some of the finer points of their plan to get on to the worldship near Myrkr. Lando had also wanted to go back over some of the issues that had cropped up the previous day, when he had provoked an argument amongst the young Jedi about the limits to which they would be willing to go. So they had talked about the difficulties Anakin would have to be prepared for as leader -- about how sometimes he would have to make quickfire decisions which might not sit well with him when he thought about them later. The discussion had lasted longer than he had expected, and then Lando had taken Anakin down to an exercise and storage area to show him a few more of YV1-1A's capabilities, with the result that now it was past midnight, standard time.
He shrugged off his flight jacket, which he had donned to counteract the cool atmosphere on the Lady Luck's lower deck, pulled off his tunic top, and sat down on the edge of his bunk. Tahiri was on her side facing him, and he sat watching her for a while, marvelling again at her perfection: the smooth curve of her neck, the soft swell of her breasts and the way every part seemed in perfect harmony with the others. He took one of her small feet in his hands, and gently began massaging her toes, smiling when her green eyes flickered open. She blinked up at him for a moment blearily and then smiled in return, rolled over on to her back and stretched.
"Hi," he said and brought her foot up to his mouth, kissing her big toe. "This is a nice surprise. I've been dreaming about finding a scantily-clad blonde in my bed one day. Looks like I finally got my wish."
"Mmm. It must be your Jedi coercion technique," she said, her voice still slurred from sleep. "Who are you by the way?"
"Name's Anakin Solo," he grinned, picking up her other foot. "And you?"
"Tahiri Veila. I usually belong to this other guy -- he's called Anakin Solo too, funnily enough."
"Yeah I know him. He's a pain -- really egotistical. I don't blame you giving up on him." He finished massaging her toes and walked his hands up on either side of her until he could nuzzle noses with her.
"I dunno," she smiled slyly. "Egotistical he may be, but at least he was a gentleman. Are you sure you're not a Sith."
Anakin chuckled quietly. "You can check out the colour of my lightsaber any time you like."
Tahiri giggled. Anakin liked her giggle -- it was sort of husky. "If I'd known those mental prompts you were sending me were going to lead to this, I'd have brought a chaperone." She responded to his kiss.
"Glad you didn't," murmured Anakin.
"Yeah. Me too." She settled back on the bunk and pushed his hair off his forehead. "How'd the meeting go?" she asked softly.
"OK. Getting things sorted." He adjusted his position so he was resting most of his weight on his forearms. "Those war droids of Lando's are something else."
Tahiri regarded him thoughtfully. "It's not going to be easy is it?"
"Nope." His blue eyes lost their mischief and became serious.
"No," she said equally serious. "Don't even try suggesting it."
"Believe me. I value my life far too much. Probably end up with a gaffi stick through the heart."
"But you were thinking it."
"Hmmm. Going to have to develop some sort of thought cloaking device I can see. Won't even be able to surprise you on our anniversary."
"Our anniversary's tomorrow," she reminded him.
"It's already tomorrow."
"Well there you are -- you have surprised me. What did you have in mind to celebrate."
"Ah," he grinned, and pulled her up to sit beside him on the edge of the bunk. "Candles, nice meal, flowers, Bakuran liqueur. No expense spared." He waved his arms to encompass the imaginary treats.
Tahiri giggled again. "You forgot the music."
"No," he shook his head, and propelled her to her feet, slipping his arms round her waist and slow waltzing her round in a circle. "Can't you hear it -- your favourite, Pekki Blue and the Starboys."
Tahiri dissolved into laughter and pushed him down on to the bunk. "Now I really am going to kill you," she said holding his arms down with a strength that surprised him.
"Well, at least I'll go with a smile on my face," he grinned, a little breathlessly. The close contact was having its usual effect. Well, not strictly accurate, he thought, the merest thought of her is all it seems to take. I never knew you could feel this way about someone. Sometimes it was so overwhelming it blew him away. It was something he could never put into words -- this sense of loving and belonging to somebody else so totally. It was hard to know where he ended and Tahiri began, and since a month ago, their emotional and spiritual connection had found its physical expression.
"You're bad news. I knew I shouldn't have come," she teased.
"I'm trying hard not to," he said weakly.
"Sorry. Give me a few more years and I might just get this foreplay thing under control. Like when you're about sixty and we've both got arthritis."
"You need testosterone reduction," she said as he unbuttoned the lightweight pants she was wearing. She pulled off her croptop, and began to help him out of his pants.
"Is that a complaint?"
"No, it was actually a backhanded compliment. I can't make them too obvious -- your head's far too big as it is." She stopped, momentarily surprised at her unintentional double entendre, and then smiled mischievously.
Anakin's blue eyes opened wide as he sat up and guided her down on to his lap." "Tahiri! I'm shocked."
"Actually, that was quite good I thought."
He smiled. "Yeah -- I have to admit, that was one of your better ones." He kissed her nose and then traced a circle of kisses around her mouth. "I love you," he whispered.
"Mmmm. I love you."
"I missed you."
She sighed like a contented whisperkit as his lips began exploring her neck. They had each already discovered a number of things the other really liked. Tahiri wasn't sure whether this was a result of their Jedi sensitivity, or just because they were so in tune with one another. She suspected it was a bit of both. Usually, however, passion got the better of them before they could take the exploration stage too far. She still couldn't believe the sensations he could invoke in her when he caressed her breasts, and she revelled in the raw strength that allowed him to scoop her up enthusiastically in his arms, or, as now, to lower her gently down on to his bed. She loved the feeling of his body on hers and they way they fitted around one another so perfectly, and the way he ...
"That's not too bad either," Anakin murmured shakily. He found that he took a lot of his pleasure from pleasing her. In fact, her reactions still surprised him and he found them strangely flattering. He would have been the first to admit that, apart from the normal male teenage fantasies, he had had no real idea about actual lovemaking at all. It was not something he had had much time to talk about with anyone; he had been too busy fighting the Yuuzhan Vong.
"I want you, Anakin," she breathed, pulling him closer.
"Not as much as I want you."
Had Tahiri been able to conjure up a reply, she wouldn't have had the breath to utter it. Fortunately, words were at that point an unnecessary distraction anyway.
"Happy anniversary," Anakin murmured quite a while later.
"Happy anniversary to you, too," she mumbled into his neck.
"Can't wait until we have our first wedding anniversary," he said softly. "Or our first kid's birthday."
Tahiri smiled. For all his warrior abilities, Anakin was a romantic at heart. It was one of the thousand -- no, million -- things she loved about him. But there again, she knew him better than anyone. He'd been able to bare his soul to her ever since he was eleven and she was nine.
"We're going to have to organise something soon, or the second thing you mentioned is going to happen before the first. You're playing with fire you know."
Anakin found himself grinning in spite of the seriousness behind her words. The thought of making a child with Tahiri filled him with a deep-seated thrill of anticipation, and he could almost feel the pride he was sure he would feel when the day arrived. "I know," he assured her. "I'm sorry. It's a bit tricky at the moment. I need to be able to chat with Dad and Mum, but so far the timing hasn't been right. You know the state Dad's in. And now we've got this mission going ... "
"You mean we need to have a chat with them. And yes, I know it's difficult. As long as I can keep count of the days we're probably OK. But don't blame me if we enter the danger zone. You know I can't say no to you."
"I thought it was the other way round."
"I think that's half the problem," she laughed softly.
"Well, if something did happen, I wouldn't mind."
"Neither would I really. But it's not a good time to bring any children into the galaxy. And I can imagine how everyone else would react. A Death Star would have nothing on it." She paused, and pulled back a little so she could look up at his face. "And we are young."
Anakin gazed back, the ice blue of his eyes always softened when he looked at Tahiri, but he still looked serious. "Do you feel young?" he asked. The question needed no reply. Death, tragedy, disaster, and more death. In their combined thirty-two years the two young Jedi had seen more of all three than most people would in a lifetime.
She nestled back against him and sighed. His arm tightened around her protectively.
"When we have this mission under our belts we'll sit Mum, Dad and Uncle Luke down and let them know our plans. If we're old enough to be trusted with killing the voxyn, we're old enough for the responsibilities of marriage."
"Pretty hard to argue against that," she agreed.
Silence folded around them like a cocoon. Anakin was just on the borders of sleep when he remembered something he'd been puzzling about for a while. He'd intended to broach the subject several times previously, but other distractions had always succeeded in pushing it from his mind. He leant down and butted Tahiri's forehead gently with his nose.
"Hey -- you asleep yet?"
"Uh-uh," she shook her head sluggishly.
"You, um, having a bit of a problem with the other girls?" he asked, deciding to confront the problem head-on, and mentally preparing himself to regret that decision.
She was quiet for a while. Then she turned her face up to look at him, green eyes troubled and very faintly tinged with ice. Anakin had seen them become merciless. If she was ever forced to fight to protect one of her children, he thought, she'd be deadly. The thought was strangely arousing.
"I don't like the way they're always hanging around you," she said.
"Neither do I. It really annoys me -- makes me feel claustrophobic."
"Why do you put up with it then?"
"I figure if I make an issue of it -- it'll become an issue. If I ignore it, hopefully it'll go away."
"As long as you do nothing, they'll think they're in with a chance, especially Alema."
Anakin snorted sarcastically. "Alema's what you might politely call the town speeder bike, she'd let anyone ride her."
Tahiri's eyes widened. "Anakin Solo! Is that pilot language I hear? I think you've been hanging around with Corran and his friends too long."
Anakin grinned. "You know what I mean. And anyway, what they might think doesn't matter -- it's what you and I know that counts. I mean they must see we're together most of the time."
"Other than them actually catching us making love on the floor, I doubt they'll stop trying," she said.
"Well, I'm game -- which floor do you want to make love on? The mess? The lounge? The hallway? All three?"
Tahiri laughed, her green eyes warm again. Anakin mentally notched one more up to the wonders of post-coital diplomacy. I do believe I'm finally getting the hang of relationships, he thought. Might even be able to teach Dad a thing or two. He stroked her cheek.
"I will never, ever stop loving you," he said.
She reached up to him and returned the caress. "Me either. I guess I'm just a bit territorial where you're concerned. Perhaps you could uglify yourself, and then they'll go off you."
"I could start sniffing and wiping my nose on my sleeve," he suggested.
"Eeww! That'd probably put me off you, too."
Anakin chuckled softly, and slipped both arms around her. "I just don't want any bad feelings amongst the group," he explained. "We've got to be really together on this mission. If we let too much negative stuff in, we're shot."
"I realise that," she looked up at him seriously. "I know it's not going to be easy, especially for you having to make all the decisions. And I accept that sometimes you might order me to do things I don't agree with."
"Yeah." He pushed some strands of yellow hair behind her ear. Even worn in the short style she now favoured, it still seemed to swirl like desert sand.
"I can't promise you I'll like it, but I'll do what you say. And anyway, at least we'll be together."
Anakin nodded. He wondered if he should pursue the issue further. Lando had hinted that he would have to be prepared to make himself unpopular -- maybe even unpleasant. No, better to let it alone, he thought. Too many unknowns -- we won't know what we're in for until we get going. He gazed down at her. She gazed back, and noticed a small smile creeping across his lips.
"Anakin!" she remonstrated.
"Sorry," he said helplessly. "Anyway, it's your fault. Maybe you should start sniffing and wiping it on your sleeve. I can't help it if I find you irresistible."
"Well I hope you fixed the shower, because boy are we going to need one in the morning!"
"I seem to recall that last time we had a shower together, we had to have another shower not long afterwards. And that was definitely your fault."
"That's not how I remember it."
"I'm sorry, but I didn't expect you to ... you know."
"I didn't go in intending to -- but I'd read in a holomag that guys really like it, and it seemed like a good time to give it a go."
"Well next time prepare me, will you? If you're going to surprise me like that, you have to be prepared to take the consequences."
"I wasn't complaining about the consequences, I was simply observing that we'd need a shower, and checking that yours was working so we wouldn't have to skulk up the corridor and use mine."
"It's working," he said.
"Good," she replied. "It's good to have a guy who's good with plumbing."
"What's so funny?" Tahiri asked softly as they lay tangled together a while later.
"That plumbing joke," he chuckled, "that was quite good."
"Just registered has it?"
"Well you know me -- a bit slow at the best of times. Especially at whatever time of the morning it is."
"Whatever the plan for later in the morning is, I hope it doesn't involve an early start," she mumbled sleepily.
He yawned. "Me neither." He turned on to his back and nestled her against his shoulder. In the faint glow of the wall panel he studied her face. "Remember when we slept together in that cleft above the pool on Yavin?" he asked softly.
"Yeah," she breathed.
"I think that was when I first began to realise I was falling in love with you. You're even more beautiful now."
Tahiri's eyes fluttered open. She stared up at him and then reached up wordlessly and touched his lips. Anakin kissed her fingers and took them in his. He wasn't sure who fell asleep first, but he knew the last thing he saw and felt was what he always wanted to see and feel -- Tahiri by his side, in his heart, in his soul.
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