A Box of Lies
The nighttime on Nar Shaddaa was the best time to have a good time, at least if you wanted to hit the cantinas for a shot of your favorite poison and then settle in the pazaak den for a few rounds and win some credits. It was the best time to watch the entertainment, which was the same no matter where you went: the usual Twi’lek dancing girls. The music was the same unless you requested music and that was rare. Everything is in one place where you can get away from all your troubles, or look for trouble. Trouble was exactly what had caught two figures running through the refugee sector.
Serena was running at top speed along the docks trailed behind by Atton. Her auburn hair had fallen loose from its usual complicated knot and was trailing behind her, flapping like a flag in the wind. Her green eyes were flashing and her golden skin was flushed from the excitement. Atton, trailing behind her, thought she looked beautiful, just like the last time she got drunk. He quickly dispelled these thoughts when Serena shouted at him, “Are they still following us?”
Atton cast a brief look behind him to see two large thugs chasing after them. He turned his head forward and putting an extra spurt into his legs, he pulled alongside Serena and said in a friendly drawl, “We’ve got two of your friends following right behind us and I think they’re sweet on you.”
Serena rewarded him with a scowl, “Of course this was supposed to be easy.”
“Since when is anything easy around you. You’re the silly little Jedi,” Atton teased.
A groan and a scowl were replaced by a sudden burst of speed that Atton had no choice but to follow. They had come to Nar Shaddaa to drop off Mira and pick up a hint about Revan since Serena was anxious to follow her to wherever she went. Atton took the news with mixed emotions. Part of him was glad that the journey they had been through was over. He thought that he could improve his relationship with Serena but when she announced her intentions to follow Revan, his hopes crashed like he had done to their ship on Malachor. It took him by surprise when Serena shyly asked him to stay claiming that she couldn’t fly a ship if she tried. It was a load of poodoo but Atton readily accepted, never once questioning why.
So here they were back on Nar Shaddaa all because of a hint that Revan may have come here. They had gone to meet someone in the cantina and he amused himself for a while in the pazaak den and gleaned some information while Serena talked to their contact. He admitted that it was nice to be on familiar ground, but after the first time they were there and he went with T3 to rescue Serena from Goto, he was wary of anything. His attention was drawn to Serena when she ducked into a corner and hid behind some crates. He followed and crowded her against the walls listening as their pursuers ran past. Standing to make sure that the coast was clear, Atton turned to face Serena who gave him a hard smack to the arm. He looked at her and asked, “Hey, what was that for?”
Serena pulled out a strange box from her pouch and held it between her first two fingers and her thumb and frowned at Atton. She said, “You told me that you won this at pazaak.”
Atton grinned sheepishly and said, “Well I may have been mistaken. I did win it but…”
“You lied to me,” Serena retorted still holding the box.
“I lie to everyone. What makes you so different Sweets?” Atton replied pushing it slightly. He hated to make her angry, but she had to stop being so damned innocent. He had to make her understand that sometimes you had to bend the rules.
“I am your…your…I am your friend,” Serena spat out and flushed a shade of pink.
Atton was pleased that he caused a reaction in her. At least he knew where he stood…maybe. He smiled, “And that makes you all the more gullible at times. You know ya gotta learn to live a little.”
“Atton you stole this from a drunken gang boss at the pazaak den,” Serena retorted.
The pazaak den was cheering loudly as Atton laid down the card that won him the match. He smiled demurely at his opponent and held out his hand. He said, “I believe you owe me something.”
The guy looked at him with a malicious smile, “I don’t owe you a damned thing. You cheated.”
Atton kept his temper in check. “I won the match fair and square. I suggest you give me what you owe me.” He then held out his hand again and added, “The box.”
What happened next was inevitable. Somehow Atton managed to collect his winnings and leave but not before his opponent said that he would pay. He met Serena in the hall where they could still hear the crash of the fight. She asked him, “What’s going on in there?”
“Nothing,” he said, “nothing at all.” It was a harmless lie. After all what Serena didn’t know wouldn’t kill her. He then pulled out the box and said, “I won this at pazaak. It may help where we are going.” He placed the box in her palm. “Think of it as a one of many favors I owe you.”
He watched as she gave him gave him a smile, one she specially reserved for him. A question was forming in her eyes and he answered it, “No I didn’t cheat. I only do that with you.”
The result was a gentle smack on the shoulder.
That was before those two guys started chasing us
, Atton thought before replying, “I won it fair and square Sister and he did put it up for collateral in a high stakes match and he lost. I collected.” He gazed at her, daring her to challenge him.
Serena gazed at him, her green eyes flickering as if they were alive. Atton had never gotten used to that searching look she always got when she was searched for a lie. Not that he blamed her. After all, the old witch had lied to her, and heck, he did too because he was ashamed of what he had done to Jedi during the Jedi Civil War. He was just about to break her gaze when she looked down and said softly, “I’m sorry.”
“I lied too. I thought I could convince myself that it wasn’t possible but my heart is too wild. Too many years in exile.”
“I kind of like you the way you are,” Atton replied.
Not hearing him, she continued, “I have been trying to keep this hidden but I can’t any longer.”
“Keep what hidden?”
“Well, when I said you were my friend,” Serena looked at him in the eye, “that wasn’t true. I do care for you, but more than that.”
Atton choked, “You do?”
Atton knew what she was going to say and silenced her with a kiss. When he broke the kiss he saw that she was wearing a look of a thousand emotions. She was still holding the box, which had sprung open. Inside was a piece of paper with some strange markings. Picking it out of the box, he handed it to Serena and took the box from her. Glancing at her with a smile he said, “I think we should put all the lies into this box.”
“You think it is big enough to hold all of them?” Serena asked.
“As long as we are honest to each other,” Atton replied. He closed the box and pulled Serena into an embrace.
“A box full of lies to keep hidden away,” Serena spoke softly, resting her head on his chest.
“Yep, a box full of lies.” He rested his head on top of hers.