The Greater Antilles
Part Thirty-Five
by Paula

I walked into the cool air-conditioning and sighed happily. Turning to Nawara, I asked. "Do you want to clean up?"

He smiled and his iron-strong self-control slipped a moment showing relief. "Yes. Do you know where I could get a shower?"

"Up the stairs, third floor, fifth door on your right."

He let the lekku slip off of my shoulder. I didn't really want it to go, but I tried to shake that feeling off. "See you in a minute."

He moved towards the stairs and pressed my hand. I somehow managed to keep my face genial, but it was hard--I too am an accomplished liar, though I don't do it for other's benefit like Nawara does. What the hell is wrong with me?, I thought as I watched Nawara move up the stairs two by two. I watched him go. That flight suit really does suit him well... I mentally chastised myself for that thought. You have a history of speaking out loud. Better get off of that tangent now.

My stomach growled again. I needed to eat. It had already interrupted two promising moments and I didn't want it to happen again if I could help it. If there was another moment for it to interrupt. I crossed my fingers hopefully.

I could here the rucus in the dining room. Chatter, laughter, silverware on crockery. Moving down the hall, it got louder and closer--and the smells got better and better. Were those mashed potatoes? It seemed like Anti had gone all out for this. Bless her!

I quickened my pace. When I pushed the dining room door open, I was confronted with a sight that I had only dreamed about in my most absurd moments. Ton was holding up a piece of bread and looked to be about to fling it at Kell. Runt was chowing down like he hadn't eaten in days. Emote, Wedge's pet Ewok, was wandering around looking for food.

I grabbed a plate and plopped a three spoonfuls of mashed potatoes onto it--I live for mashed potatoes. Winding my way through the crowd, I eventually found a spot between Face and Ton and across from Piggy.

"Oh, hello again," Face greeted me. "I assume that your little spill didn't leave you grieviously injured?"

I realized I had forgotten my fork. I scanned the table for one, but it was slightly out of my reach and I couldn't imagine being rude enough to reach over Ton and get it. "No, thank you for concerning yourself with my well-being."

Face's air took on that of an aristocrat. His nose turned up in the air and he moved his hand lazily as if tossing back a piece of lace--the actor at his trade. "It was no problem. Only a gentleman's job."

I eyed the fork. Ton Phanan reached over and picked up for me. "Thanks."

Ton looked me over while I tried not to blush. "You didn't faint. Why?"

Piggy looked up from his plate of assorted foods. The mechanical voice came out over the grunts and squeals. "Yes. That's a good question."

"Not everyone fainted. And it's perfectly understandable anyway. I almost did."

Face handed me the pepper before I even asked for it. "I can see why you would faint when you saw me, but not when you saw everyone else."

"Oh get off of yourself, Face." Piggy's voice was laced with what seemed to be laughter.

I put the pepper down on the table. Ton moved it out of the way. I plopped my fork down onto the plate. "Are you three always like this?"

"Like what?" from Ton. "Who me?" from Face. A grunt from Piggy.

"While you're on a roll, can someone get me a glass of water?"

Face thought about it for a moment. "Nope."

"That's too hard."

A definite "Uh-uh". The mechanical translater let that be.

"They really do portray you well in the books, you know that?"

"I'm sorry," Face said and hugged me. It was a chaste hug. I didn't mind that, though. I was already taken twenty minutes into it.

"Forgive us?" Piggy reached over and patted my hand gently and grinned a Gamorrean grin that was much like a human's.

I felt a thump as a body landed on me. I tried not to let all the air in my lungs fly out of my mouth as my lungs colapsed, but I certainly couldn't retain all of it. There was a sort of half yell next to my ear. "Group hug!"

Phanan, of course.

Continued in 36