“I-I-I-I’m n-not sure I understand the c-c-concept.” Jenkins stuttered and stammered half perplexed and half flustered. Still though he couldn’t refuse the handsome raven haired man before him. Ben’s eyes nearly sparkled as he explained.
“It’s easy! We just have a meal, spend some time together and do whatever! It’s a date.” He made a broad sweeping gesture as if he were revealing the physical concept of a “date” which really just meant he was gesturing to the small crates of supplies in the corner of their cave.
“B-but Ben..w-w-we-we already spend our time together and and eat together. H-h-h-h-how is this different?” The meek and skittish student was very confused by this idea, he very much wanted to be good at dating but he had to first understand what that entailed. He wanted to be the best date ever, which meant research.
“Well it’s uhh…you see it’s…a date? I dunno. But I really wanna do it!” He smiled with his usual infectious exuberance. Just that grin would be enough to replace all the energy lamps in their whole cave Jenkins mused to himself. And then Ben’s word’s rattled around in the shy Jedi’s mind.
“Yy-y-y-you wanna do…IT!? W-w-what!? I-i-I aadsgfsaahh” The former padawan starts to suck in the damp cave air and exhale before it ever hits his lungs. Ben wraps his arms around his friend and his voice and tone become calm, serene, he knew what this was.
“Shhh Jenkies, it’s okay bud. Thaaats not what I meant. Just breathe. I’m here. Remember what we practiced? Breathe. I’m here, I’m your rock, I’m your shuttle, I’m your star. Breathe.” He recites his careful mantra and he can feel his love start to calm, start to still. It was one part force, one part psychology, four parts friendship and four parts love.
“M-my….rock…..I’m….your wind….wind that breathes. I’m…your passenger, passenger that breathes. I’m your planets…planets that breathe.” He calms himself, soothing himself, inhaling slowly, even the stillness, the touch, the excitement of his “bonded one” did not quicken his pulse, it slowed it, air filled his lungs. The smell of the rain outside the cave, the scent of Ben, of a hundred adventures and warm beds and lightsabre flashes enshrouded the nervous young man. The sound of that calm comforting voice, the patter of the rain, it grounded Jenkins, even as he felt himself slipping outside his body he was pulled back, routed in place.
“Theeere we go, that’s my brave little knight. I’m right here.” He smiles into the soft grey robes of his friend’s shoulder. A surprisingly soft meek voice comes from up the tunnel. Tyler is clearly awkward having walked in on….whatever he’s seeing.
“Uh hey, everything is ready for you guys. But…no rush.” When Jenkins looks up at the cyborg they both do their very best to give re-assuring smiles. One of them was unsure, jerky, and robotic, and the other one had a metal jaw. The sound of metal on stone fades away as Jenkins slowly, reluctantly, disengages from Ben.
“Th-th-thank you Ben. I…I’m ready.” He rises to his feet, walking towards the faint smell of food. The stronger sleeker man wraps his arms around him from behind and speaks softly in his ear.
“Ahhhh, Jeenkies.” *His tone is chastising and teasing and the scrawny young Jedi turns bright red. He slowly turns around and gives Ben a small kiss on the cheek and mumbles to him.*
“…B-b-b-Benny bear.” No sooner had he mumbled it than he felt the arms around him let go and a strong hand clasp his, tugging him away.
“Thaaats better! Come on, Everyone worked real hard on this, lets not waste it!” The confused and questioning stammers go unanswered as Ben drags Jenkins into the largest area in their network of caves. The entire room is lit not by the colorless energy lamps, but by several blue, green, and pink jets of flame spouting from several tall cylinders set on a large table made of old mag-crates. There was a tablecloth made from the hide of some great furred beast that roamed the jungles and two Bone plates adorned with fresh salads and even a cooked dinner. It was the closest anyone there had ever had to a real candle-lit dinner. Darth Dragon stood by the table holding a tall glass bottle of some strange beverage, he even had on his black robes, the best facsimile to a waiter they could manage. Never had Jenkins laid eyes on something so beautiful, so much hard work must have gone into all of this. And secretly no less!
“Oh…my…force….B-ben th-th-th-this is…is…ama—stupe-Unbel-the…the sweetest…per-” It was clear too many sweet words were battling to escape at once.
“Do you like it?” Ben smiled and pale arms wrapped around his neck as Jenkins hugged him close, furiously nodding and crying into his shoulder. It was the most beautiful, amazing, stupendous, perfect thing he’d ever seen, let alone that anyone had ever done for him.
“Good, than that’s all I need” He hugged his love back for a long moment before the Sith mentor cleared his throat. Suddenly remembering there was an actual meal Ben sat Jenkins down, pulling in his crate-chair for him before taking his own seat. With a nod Dragon poured each of them a glass of wine before nodding and slipping away.
“H-h-how did you…prepare all this? B-ben you ca-can’t cook at all darling.” Even knowing anything Ben served was usually on the fine line between terrible and Toxic Jenkins speared a forkful of salad and tried some, to his surprise it was quite tasty.
“Heh Sally did the actual cooking…I told her what I had in mind and she adored it, plus she got to show off another of her thousand and one useful skills.” He chuckles lightly and also starts with his Salad.
“Ahh heh th-that explains a lot. A-and the c-candles?” He gestures to the breathtaking flames that dance artfully in the cavern dark.
“Heh Orion made them, some kind of Cerean chemical fire, smoke free and really pretty. He also got the room ready” He gestures to the wide open pristine cavernous area that not long ago had been an ugly dirty cave reeking of fungus.
“W-wow..so…so everyone…h-helped out? J-j-just for us?” He is truly touched by all of this, that his friends would put through such an effort like this. Never at the academy had their fellow students gone to this length to make him feel welcome, feel loved.
“Heh of course Jenkies! If it weren’t for our love…none of this would have happened. I’d just be some washed out failure at the academy, or rotting in a cell somewhere. Your love, and your big sexy brain, saved me, saved all of us.” Every word is from the heart, every bit of emotion flows free and real and unbidden. The red of the meeker Jedi’s face rivals the burning flame between them. Jenkins lifts his spoon, looking at his reflection in the polished handmade silverware. His fingers gently touch his hair, lightly brushing the sides of his own head, noticing his hair was getting longer. To anyone else it would seem like vain priming.
“W-well…without you Ben…I’d have never gone grey”