There wasn’t much to be said about a day off. In most cases, Ryv did his best not to be seen by anyone until well past noon. He enjoyed sleeping in, eating a big breakfast, and catching whatever new holo-animation came out of Atrisia for the season. Some days he wound up busy due to errands he ignored throughout the week, like grocery shopping or picking up parts to repair BD-8. Those weren’t great days off.
Today? Today was a good one.
For the first time in a while he was having company. He busied himself throughout the afternoon and cleaned up properly. A few snacks sat atop the table, a number of drinks alongside them. He’d already placed an order for food and happily waited for either his guest or the delivery droid to arrive.
At a knock at the door, he hopped up and hurried over. He tapped a four digit code into a small terminal on the wall adjacent to the door quickly, the motions well practiced after years within the simple apartment. The door slid open to reveal Lucien Dooku on the otherside.
“Hey man!” Ryv greeted him with a wide grin. “Come inside! I’ve got grub on the way.”
He stepped aside and motioned for the exiled Prince to step on in.
And enter he did.
Luc flashed a smile towards his friend once the door opened, entering at the Jedi's command to take in the man's humble little home. They both had been busy- far too damn busy to consider visiting one another since their fated meeting on Muunilinst. Both the New Imperial Order and the Galactic Alliance were still cementing their existence in the galaxy, and it didn't help that recent infighting between the two allies had caused a strain on things for both sides.
His eyebrows perked up a bit once he heard food was on the way, and Luc closed the distance between the two, reaching out an arm to grasp his friend's forearm, embracing his fellow warrior with the respect the Sword of the Jedi had earned with his own two hands. "Don't gotta tell me twice that there's food on the way, brother." He commented back with a grin.
Once their mutual show of respect had ended, Luc wandered his way across to the table and prepared himself a drink. Then one for Ryv of course, handing it off to the Jedi a moment later. He sipped at the contents slowly, taking in the atmosphere and beginning to relax. It wasn't everyday that he managed to escape from the Unknown Regions, given the circumstances and all that.
"So.." He trailed off a bit, swirling the liquid inside his cup. "How've you been, man? It's been a while, hasn't it."
“Too long, honestly,” Ryv chimed in. “I’ve been alright. Big Chieftain and I spent a few months backpacking through what used to be OPA space. Got in a few fights, saved a few lives. You know, same old same old.”
Ryv dropped into an armchair beside the table. The Chieftain, his BD unit, hopped up beside him and nestled in. “What about you, Luc? I kinda thought after Bastion you might’ve taken some time off yourself. You been working since?”
"Never, it seems." He moved over to the sofa and sunk into it with a sigh. He thought things would get easier after Bastion, but so far the dice continued to roll against his favor. "I've been alright, though. Most of my time these days is split between telling those geezers at the assembly they're past their expiration, and dealing with the Sith on our borders. I still find time to disappear for a week or two every now and then, though."
Luc chuckled to himself, his thoughts mingling over to his most recent adventure in the Core. "Speaking of which-- I let myself get captured back during that Yincnhorri thing. Wanted to see what was up myself here in the Core. Ended up meeting a girl while I was there."
The kiffar perked a brow at that.
“A girl, huh?” Ryv grinned. “Can’t go wrong with that. Hell, Maynard’s been over the moon since him and Loske figured that out a few years back. I’ve never been any good at it, keeping a girl around. I just, uh, I dunno, man. I focus on the wrong things to have a girl in my life.”
He sighed as he reclined deeper into the big fluffy chair. “How are things going with the lucky lady? She princess material? I hear Serenno is gonna need a Queen here soon, with ol’ General Tavlar back on the warpath.”
"I think it's pretty admirable, actually." Luc replied. "At our age, most folks are more concerned with just tryin' to finish up their education, get a job and find a partner to settle down with. Your plate is king-sized compared to most of these folks, yet I don't see the Sword of the Jedi slowing down any time soon." He raised his cup towards the Kiffar. "You're one of a kind, man."
"But uhh.." Slinking further into the couch, he couldn't help but shudder at the thought of royalty and all that came with it. "Let's not get hasty now." He continued, straightening himself out and leaning against the arm of the sofa. "I'm not looking for a queen anytime soon."
"But she's cool girl, brother. I dig her, I think."
“That’s good. Baseline for any relationship, I’d say,” Ryv took a sip of his drink before he returned it to the table. “Difficult work, being Sword of the Jedi. Probably way too much for a kid to handle. I think I did pretty good, all things considered, but only time will tell. Smart of you not to run off to anymore crazy responsibilities. As important as it is, sometimes I wish things could go back to the way they used to be. Before all the GA and NIO stuff happened, I spent most of my time cleaning up a dusty old space station. I was like an assistant, I guess. No pay involved, but that’s being a Jedi.”
Another knock sounded from the door.
“Ah, one sec,” he stood up and made his way across the apartment. A brief exchange saw Ryv transfer the credits to the droid, get the food, and return in no time. “I didn’t think you’d mind if I ordered pizza. Pizza Hutt is doing a BOGO on large pizzas, so I snagged a cheese and pepperoni.”
He set both down on the table and dished out plates and napkins to Lucien.
“What’s got you interested in her? Some kinda badass warrior princess type chick?”
It dawned on him that, despite their friendship, much had indeed changed since their first meeting at the beginning of the war. Ryv cautioned and praised him for not running off to assume anymore crazy responsibilities, but in the world of Warlords and Moffs that he now lived in, there seemed to exist only one path forward.
At least in his eyes.
He also wished things could return to the way they were. It wasn't the greatest life, but it wasn't complicated either. Adventure and thrills were abundant, with his main worry being a need for credits to get by. Still, he did well for himself by the time he left the Infinity's Free. He even still had the keys to his apartment on Bespin. Something he kept in mind if he ever there was a need to disappear for good.
A few moments later, it was apparent that Luc didn't mind that pizza on the menu. "C'mon man, this stuff beats anything you can find out on Nirauan, hands down." He let out mid-chew, then paused, remembering his manners as the Jedi's guest.
"But not even, from what I can tell. She's down to earth, y'know? Kind of the peaceful type, but I swear she can kick some ass if she wanted. Plus she seems to genuinely dig me for me. The real me-- not what I have to be, for the Order."
“Likes the real you, she’s down to earth, and kicks some ass?” Ryv counted off the list in between bites of the greasy cheese pizza. “Sounds like the perfect girl to me.”
He set the slice down and wiped at his face. “What’s her name?”
“Perfect, eh?” He never thought about it that way, to be honest. He wasn’t looking for a Queen to fill a throne, nor someone to share in the delights of power and influence with. Truth be told, he wasn’t really looking for anything at all. Much like Ryv, things tended to get a little complicated when responsibility was thrust upon your shoulders, weighing down upon you with the weight of several worlds.
He finished chewing on a piece of pizza crust, washing it down with the remainder of his drink. “Her name’s Auteme. I met her after I let some GA official take me back to Coruscant, after that first mess on Yinchorr. Wanted to see what their point of view on the situation was and all that.”
“I’unno man-- She just popped up in the corner of my eye, and I broke the ice. Even took her back to Nirauan for a while, before Yinchorr sparked up and duty called her back to the Core. And you know me, man, i’m not really into the whole Jedi -- save the world -- types. I’ve got enough of my plate already, but she’s different.”
To Ryv’s credit, he didn’t spit out his mouthful of pizza. He took time to process Lucien’s words as he chewed the remainder of the food and swallowed it. The Jedi hadn’t expected Auteme of all people to be the girl in Luc’s sights, but could he blame him? She embodied everything you wanted in a partner. Intelligence, bravery, kindness, empathy, hell, he could go on for hours if he really put his mind to it.
“Auteme, huh?” Ryv nodded. “Yeah, I know how you are about that sorta stuff. She does care a lot about being a Jedi though. Big dream of hers has always been to show the galaxy the best side of the galaxy, while guys like me race from battlefield to battle, cutting down every Sith in sight.”
He leaned forward in his chair. “She does a lot of great work for the Order. It's a big part of her life. If you’re interested in her, Luc, and I mean really interested in her, that’s gonna be something you’ll have to accept. Know what I’m saying?”
"Sounds complicated." Luc replied mid-bite of another slice of pizza. He usually stayed away from the Jedi type, and for good reason too. Throw in the fact that his loyalty to the Order tended to complicate things from the start, and you've got the recipe for disaster just waiting to happen.
Usually that was the case, until one of them came around and started to change his perception. "..But I get what you're putting down. " He continued, reassuring himself for a final time. "Don't get me wrong, though. I feel like you do in a lot of respects, y'know? I've been fighting the Sith for a while now, and their destruction has been more than enough to keep my focus on."
The luxury of simply focusing on destroying the Sith had disappeared with the fall of Bastion. The weight of an entire world now rested upon his shoulders, and it was tiring, and drew him away from the distractions of war that kept his mind feeling tame.
"It might be going against my own rules, but I've got a good feeling about this one. I mean-- she's got her duties to the NJO, and I've got my own outside of the Core. Even then, somethin’ is telling me I should give it a shot; Make it work, let the force do its thing for once."
He pointed his index finger at his friend with a grin. "Don't quote me on that last part."
“Honestly, man, I think you should too,” Ryv smiled weakly in return. “As long as I’ve known her, she’s always deserved the best. And while the force is sorta weird, if you guys wound up meeting in the midst of all this craziness, there might be something real there. Who knows? Maybe you two can bring a bit of normality to each other’s lives.”
Ryv stood from the couch. “I’m gonna go use the bathroom, I’ll be right back.”
He hummed to himself as he crossed the room and stepped into his bedroom. BD-8 rested in the corner, deactivated after their busy afternoon. A basket with his laundry was tucked away beneath his bed, not yet touched considering Lucien’s arrival. He moved around to the otherside of the bed and lifted a framed photo from the bedside table.
Auteme, Loske, Maynard, and Bernard all looked up at the camera with smiles on their faces. Ryv’s face barely made the corner with his poor photography skills.
A somber smile settled on his lips.
“Maybe it's time to let go of the past,” Ryv muttered. “I had my chance and I ruined it, didn’t I, Chief?”
The droid in the corner perked up, its sensors long since awakened him. It chirped slowly back at its master.
“Luc is a good guy. He’ll do better for her than I ever could,” he set the photo face-down and moved back to the door. The droid whirred up at Ryv as he went, clearly in disagreement with the Jedi Knights decision. “Thanks for the support, little dude, but this is for the best. I’m not right for that sorta thing. Allyson proved it. What more do I need to know?”
He shut the door behind him as he stepped through and soon returned to the chair.
“Sorry about that, man. Anyway, yeah, I think you should make it happen. She really does deserve the world.”